Merry Fridgemas

During this holiday season be ye pagan, muslim, jewish or christian may all your fridges be full of sustenance and ice!

It is a time of giving, a time  of caring and a time of sharing, remember this fellow Freons, when family gets on your nerves, take a chill, they are the only family you got. If ye have no family, look again for there is someone surely that loves you and that is as good as family is it not?

As surely as light pours forth when opening the door, the goodness of this season spills unto all. Let’s not take the Fridge out of fridgemas, lets open the door and share what we have been blessed with.

It is no coincidence that this time of sharing falls during the coldest times of the year, for thus saith the fridge verily verily Be n-Ice!

 

 

 

The Problem with Polygamy

Polygamy within the LDS church is probably the most well known controversy by members and non-members alike.

Brigham Young said:

“There is another principle that has caused considerable uneasiness and trouble i. e., the idea of some men having more wives that one. Such tremendous fears take hold of some that they hardly know how to live; still they can’t die. Begin to whisper and talk around and actually afraid to go on a mission for fear some man will be sealed to my wife and when they return home, some will be babbling about, you don’t know but what you have got another man’s wife, are afraid to speak to a young woman for fear that she belongs to somebody else or for fear somebody else wants her. (others deny the faith as they think they never had much; and say it is all of the devil.) Such foolishness ought not to be cherished among a wise, prudent people.”

Brigham was right, it does cause members considerable uneasiness. That is surely at least one of the reasons the church recently released this article in regards to polygamy as they continue their efforts to address all these issues that are so readily researched with a google machine and the inter-webs these days.

Polygamy has been a thorn in the side of the church since early times. Joseph Smith brought it back as part of the ‘restoration of all things’ according to believers, or he did it simply because he was a horn dog if you don’t subscribe to the whole prophet of God thing. It upset many of the early leaders of the church such as William Law who was booted out (read excommunicated) by the council of the fifty*, fundamentally because he didn’t like the polygamy. It lead to Joseph Smith actively decrying people such as William who spoke of this polygamy and deceiving new members about the practice as he stated in this address to new converts implying that he had only one wife when in fact by church records you can see there were at least 30. William Law was frustrated by the slander in the speech Joseph Smith gave that day, so much so that he started a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor and put in print all the polygamous affairs of the prophet. That lead to an emergency session of the Nauvoo city council (of which Joe was mayor) and an order to destroy the printing press. Ultimately this destruction of the press lead to a gunfight and the murder of Joseph in carthage jail not long after. Why is William important to understand? Well he was the second counselor in the first presidency of the church, it would be like Elder Utchdorf getting kicked out of the church today for not agreeing with Thomas S Monson on letting 18 year olds go on missions.

So you see polygamy’s checkered past goes clear back to the beginning of the church. It has always been a problem. Maybe this is why the church even in its recent press release isn’t completely forth coming and honest about the practice of polygamy and polyandry that happened in the early church.

Polyandry? What is that? You might be asking if you are a member reading this. The reason it is a surprise is this is part of the secret about polygamy that you haven’t heard from the church. Polyandry is the practice of marrying other mens wives. I know as a member that I used to think Paint your Wagon other than just one of my favorite Clint Eastwood movies was just satire in regard to the polygamy of the Mormons. Turns out it wasn’t. Prophet Joe did marry other mens wives, and he did it after sending them on their mission. The fears that Brigham Young referred to were very real, because it had happened before.

As a former well versed personal apologist, I was pretty well read on the topic of polygamy, but the polyandry was news to me. Turns out I’m not alone, not long ago members in Sweden were pretty upset about this as well. So much so that they sent church historian Marlin K Jensen to ‘rescue’ them from all this angst. In a rare moment of full disclosure, he admitted it is true that the prophet practiced polyandry as well as the many wives thing.

Turns out lots of those anti-mormon things that they used to say were lies really are true. This can be seen by the confirmation of many of these facts in the church article on the topic. What is even more revealing are the things that were left out. You see polyandry isn’t the only problem with polygamy, there are more, there is the fact that Joe married very young girls, as young as 14 years old, making his exploits far far closer to Warren Jeffs than most members are comfortable with.

Then there is the logic of it all. The Book of Mormon says the purpose of polygamy is to raise up a seed unto God. If that was the case then why didn’t Joe have any kids from his wives? Or how the revelation that is still part of LDS cannon that enshrines polygamy says the first wife must agree and the new wives must be virgins, both things that clearly weren’t the case with Joe’s first wife Emma or several of his other wives that were already married. There is the case of Fanny Alger, the very first plural wife whom he married as a plural wife before the priesthood to do so had been restored. Knowing these facts is it any wonder why the people that have left the church see this article as an attempt to ‘inoculate’ members? All this information can now be quickly discovered with a few clicks of the keyboard and to many it is very upsetting.

The problems with polygamy didn’t stop with the death of the prophet. They continued when the church was established in Utah. You see polygamy was never legal in the United States. Even when it was practiced in Nauvoo it was against the law. The church fled the US however, making their home in the territories that eventually became Utah. There polygamy was practiced openly. I recently discovered in the journals of Wilford Woodruff that Brigham Young felt it was better to be open in this practice and seemed to think the reason Joseph was removed had to do with his secrecy on the matter. This is what Wilford recorded: 

WW journ BY on JS

Polygamy got even a little crazier for a while with the ‘law of adoption’ and the sealing of men to men for a time.  Once you study this bit of history you might be able to see a glint of how in the future gay marriage sealings might be similarly justified by quoting Brigham in much the way they did so in regards to him seeing the future of black people, for example:

Brigham Young on blacks and priesthood from the church website today:

“February 1852, Brigham Young announced a policy restricting men of black African descent from priesthood ordination. At the same time, President Young said that at some future day, black Church members would “have [all] the privilege and more” enjoyed by other members…” (Brigham Young, Speeches Before the Utah Territorial Legislature, Jan. 23 and Feb. 5, 1852, George D. Watt Papers, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, transcribed from Pitman shorthand by LaJean Purcell Carruth; “To the Saints,” Deseret News, April 3, 1852, 42.)**

 

Brigham Young on gay marriage at some future date:

The sealing of men to men actually was a more sacred principle than Celestial Marriage, according to Brigham Young. In a discourse Young gave on September 4, 1873, he said, “We can seal women to men, but not men to men without a Temple.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16, p. 186). ***

Now truth is, the men to men sealing wasn’t about gay marriage at all, but it is readily apparent that the church is very willing to pull such quotes far out of context to make them support their current agenda.

Back to polygamy. So it happened and then it stopped. Why did it stop? Well that is written in church cannon as well. It was stopped because of…(wait for it)… persecution! Because if they didn’t, they’d lose the temples and all gods work would be halted. Now if you stop and think about this for a minute, it is very ironic. The whole church up and moved last time they were persecuted, because they felt they should do what God wanted not what society says. And now they change practices because of persecution? (It is also interesting to note this is the same place it is canonized that prophets won’t ever lead you astray, unless of course its about black skin being a curse)

So in summary, plural marriage was first about raising up seed, then about restoring everything, then it was weakly removed because of persecution. Add in the polyandry, law of adoption and some of those other niggling details, no wonder it is such a confusing and embarrassing topic for the church.

Now that you know the rest of the story, is it any surprise that there are whole fundamentalist groups that have broken away thinking the efforts of Wilford Woodruff were off the rails when compared to canonized scripture?

Is it any wonder that the church actually still believes in polygamy from an eternal perspective and there are tens of thousands of cases where men are sealed to more than one wife as far as temple marriages are concerned? In these cases the men fully expect to have two or more wives for all eternity. Ask them if you don’t believe me.

I know that I was raised with the idea that someday when the millennium happened polygamy would return, it was only really gone because it was against the law after all. I am willing to bet that other 40 somethings out there had a similar understanding. Of course these days the church is disavowing all sorts of things prophets said in the past, even the ones that told us we’d never be lead astray by them because God wouldn’t allow it.

Gay marriage is now legal in Utah, even anti-cohabitation laws were recently repealed so that if you wanted a plural church marriage, well that is just fine so long as you only have one wife as far as the state is concerned. The world is realizing what Joseph Smith once said:

“Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive…”

It is obvious that legal plural marriage is just around the corner, and that at least as far as the church with it’s flip-floppin’ doctrine is concerned… Well it’s gonna be a problem.

 

 

* Yeah I said 50, not 12, trust me, more fun for you with the google machine on that particular topic :), and BTW it wasn’t just the polygamy, William also had issues with the sanctioned hits on people JS didn’t like as well as a few other issues, but Polygamy was one of his top 3!

**I highly suggest looking up the full discourse referenced here

*** Is this really taken more out of context than the previous quote?

 

10 Mormon Myth Myths

I recently read a post explaining 10 Mormon myths. Being a member for 44 years, I understand exactly why she relates these as myths and how it appeals to good people in the church. Before some very deep introspection and research, I think I would have answered these exactly the same way as she did.

More recently in life I have gained a new perspective; extensive study brought me to the realization that the answers to these myths that I thought were legitimate were, well actually myths themselves. Generally speaking, Mormons are good people, as I have mentioned before here. On the inside there is commonly talk of how we as a people seem misunderstood. I say we because technically I am still a Mormon. While I no longer believe in the truth claims I have yet to resign my membership. I fear if I did so my mom’s heart would completely break; declaring openly my disbelief was hard enough for her as it is, but I digress.

The fact is on the inside there is a culture of these-are-the-things-people-don’t-understand-about-us-and-we-need-to-correct-that-missunderstanding. One reason that this culture exists is at various times church leaders have made statements along these lines on both sides of the myth and it has caused internal Mormon meme generation to deal with it. Ultimately though, if you dig deep enough, there is more to the controversy that even the members trying to dispel the myths realize. Turns out their effort to dispel the myth, is in reality a myth itself. So in an effort to bring further light and knowledge to those on the inside as well as those on the outside, here are some comments from the Fridge on Mormon myths.

 

Mormons can’t have any type of caffeine.

This bit of myth has its roots in the word of wisdom. Read it here. This is a revelation given to Joseph Smith, the original prophet of the church. It wasn’t originally a commandment to follow, says so right there in the revelation. Brigham Young was the prophet that declared members should follow this as a commandment. That’s fine and dandy because prophets tell the members what god wants even though they get it wrong some times as we learned in last week’s post. Even though Brigham declared it a good idea to follow the word of wisdom as a commandment, it wasn’t really official, it just sorta became something we all do and started being reinforced by later church leaders as you can see here. The whole coffee, tea, and even tobacco constraints came along later as well. Here is the myth of the myth, the reason that we don’t specifically drink tea and coffee is because in the past those are what were considered ‘hot drinks’ culturally speaking. This leads to things like burning hot, hot chocolate and Postum as being A-Okay to consume. Here’s the thing though if you look at one aspect of the WoW through the lenses of the past to figure it out shouldn’t you be willing to look at all of those phrases similarly?

The WoW declares, “All agrain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life…barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.” Did you catch that mild drinks from grain and barely are just fine, if hot drinks were tea and coffee back then, just what were mild drinks made from grain? That is actually very easy to answer, beer.

Of course Mormons don’t drink beer, in fact on the inside it is considered even worse than coffee and tea. Why no beer? That probably has to do with prohibition, alcohol consumption became a big deal in the US during the prohibition years, and with last week’s announcement we now know that sometimes prophets and leaders just get caught up in the times and make mistakes declaring things as doctrine that are just things of culture. So you have a reasoning of an interpretation of the WoW that really isn’t very consistent. Other odd things pop out when you read it from an outsider’s perspective, like wine being ok for sacrament so long as the church provided it and the encouragement of lots of carbs that these days are blamed for all of the obesity in the world. Don’t blame your Mormon friends for not knowing these details, for the most part they just do what they are told and don’t dig this deep.

But where did the whole caffeine myth come from? As you can see none of this history so far actually touches on caffeine. Well you need to fast forward a few more decades to find that. In the 70’s and 80’s caffeine was all the talk, it was condemned as a bad thing in nutritionist circles. They even invented decaffeinated coffee in response to the market change this buzz created. Church leaders saw this as a prophetic vision of the WoW, there is a belief that science will eventually confirm all the prophetic announcements of past prophets and this seemed to surely be the case. This led to leaders not outright banning caffeine but much like Brigham Young said back in his day they said they would avoid it.

This got pretty heady during my Mission in 87, where I met missionaries that felt people shouldn’t get baptized if they drank Coca Cola. For decades this has been an on and off debate in Mormon circles about caffeine as it relates to the WoW. Some see the caffeine as bad enough they should avoid anything in it, others just won’t eat anything with mocha flavoring. In the small circle I run in, the more zealous individuals would avoid caffeine in nearly anything, except for chocolate and Tylenol and other things that they had no idea it was in there in the first place. The more liberal Mormons drink Diet Coke by the gallon and only abide by the temple question of obedience to the WoW, which is just no coffee or tea; herbal teas are your own decision 🙂

Cup-Coffee-Steam-Hot-Grains-Table-Wallpaper-2560x1920

So if you are a decaffeinated Mormon, chances are you are stricter and probably a little more judgmental than those caffeinated Mormons. I tend to get along far better with the caffeinated ones myself, but I wonder if they realize that pretty much all the caffeine in the world that is used in candy, medicine, hot chocolate and Diet Coke is extracted from that lowly coffee bean they use to make that sinful hot drink.

I mean you didn’t think they just threw all that stuff out when they made decaffeinated coffee did you?

 

The Mormon Church is a Patriarchal Church, Women get no say.

Not true! Women in the church do get a say, they just need to run it by their husband or leader first. This is also talked about in the church more than out of it. Just over the last year we have seen women make statements about controlling their own destinies by aghast, wearing pants to church. As far as rebellions of subjugated persons go, wearing pants is as weak as it gets. Granted these feminist thinkers are pushing farther though, they even tried to get in the male only priesthood session and were turned away, blocked by a garbage truck even. So yeah isn’t not really a patriarchal church because even though moms can’t bless the family or conduct a church meeting they are still moms and besides dads are sinning if they exercising dominion in an “unrighteous” manner. Righteous dominion on the other hand is good and fine, that of course is why wives covenant to husbands in the temple and the husband to the lord.  If you missed the sarcasm please read it again till you get it.

 

Mormons vote as a block

The origins of this myth go way, way back, clear back to the time of Joseph Smith, the founder of the church. You see back then they were a lot more active in bringing back the kingdom of God to the earth. Joe saw it as a democratic theocracy where God told the leader what to do, but people still had a vote. He started the council of 50, kinda like the council of the 12 but with members that weren’t LDS on it. The council did a few notable things; they ran the Prophet’s political campaign for president of the United States. They excommunicated William Law because he was against polygamy and some of the other things that were going on, and get this they ordained Joseph king over the council under the King of Kings who is Jesus.  You see Joseph Smith very much had intentions of setting up a theo-democracy to run the nation. Later prophets thought eventually the government would collapse and the church would step in to take over. (There are some vestiges of that belief still bouncing around.) Point is, back then they very much did vote as a block. The voted typically liberal as well apparently they were more accepting of the polygamy they were practicing. It is my opinion that this voting as a block was part of what wound up the mob that killed him at Carthage, these people had recently gotten out from under a theocracy just a generation before. They weren’t about ready to return to one.

So Mormons did vote as a block, but not so much anymore, right? Well right so long as you don’t consider the pressure to support prop 8 as desire for members to vote as a block. Yeah, I have met a few politically split Mormon families so you can’t say the block is 100%, but 9 out of 10 Mormons love Glenn Beck, I think that should tell you something.

 

Mormons blindly follow their leaders

This is interesting; most people you would ask in the church would say they don’t blindly follow their leaders. They would however in the same breath tell you to doubt your doubts, thus asserting the need to at times blindly following their faith.  If I had a nickel for every time I was told to ‘follow the brethren‘ retirement would be a cinch. I supposed free thought is completely allowed, so long as it doesn’t lead to speaking evil of the lords anointed, which according to this poll is pretty much any church leader. Saying the leader is wrong is a bad thing; so bad that you make a covenant in the temple to not do it. (some of us older folk made the promise on penalty of death.)

Saying anything about the brethren that isn’t supportive of whatever they say is considered ‘in a class by itself’, from a talk on criticism by Dallin Oaks, one of the prominent brethren:

“Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947,

“‘When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.’ (In Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 24.)” (Address to Church Educational System teachers, Aug. 16, 1985.)

So blindly following leaders is just a myth… really?

 

Crazy stuff happens in Mormon temples

What is done in there isn’t crazy at all, I mean chanting isn’t crazy, watching the same video over and over isn’t crazy, learning secret handshakes to get into heaven isn’t crazy…promising to die if you don’t  keep the covenants and the blessing you get where they touch you while naked under a poncho affair that isn’t crazy either.  Ok so the last two things aren’t done anymore, they only happened to us pre 1990 attendees. But to say the things in the temple don’t seem crazy to outsiders… that is a real stretch, even for a person on the inside. I remember my dad’s words to me after I went through the first time. ‘Kinda makes you wonder about the church you joined doesn’t it?’

 

Mormons still practice polygamy

Absolutely not true, except if you are already dead, then its ok. Oh and except for those apostate mormons that never went mainstream like the rest of us. It’s not a good thing anymore for living people. Now Polyandry that is definitely something we don’t practice anymore. Remember though God commanded polygamy, its right there in D&C 132. Later prophets stopped it because God couldn’t keep his church going in the face of all that opposition. Since it was part of the restoration of all things, some of the older dogs in the church figure it will return someday. But right here right now it is not ‘still’ practiced so long as the word ‘still’ only applies to living people. To make all that make sense you have to forget for a moment that Mormons don’t believe in eternal marriage, too. Because those eternal marriages are still good to be polygamous in nature.

 

Mormons aren’t Christian

Most believers will be offended to be called non-Christian, after all the church is named after Christ except for the 4 years it wasn’t.  If name continuity is important you ought to consider the Strangites. Naming aside, even though from the inside this seems so obvious while on the outside there are fundamental doctrine differences pointed out by Christians, such as the nature of the God head and things like the doctrine of grace.  Maybe both Mormons and Christians should study the history a little more. Way back in the 1830 edition of the book of Mormon as well as in the Lectures on Faith that Joseph Smith Taught, the nature of the God head was far closer to the Trinity doctrine of Christians today. So give the Mormons a break they had it right at the beginning!

Grace on the other hand is a bit stickier. Grace is really the proof that God loves us unconditionally, but in Mormon’s view that just isn’t true. Ok well 99% of Mormons will not agree with that statement, but they would be wrong when considering the actual doctrine, that is in the scriptures and preached by leaders in modern times.

So, myth or not? Well that really depends on your perspective.

 

Mormons don’t believe in the Bible

This is an old favorite myth on the inside to talk about because it is so obviously untrue. Mormons got a Bible, plus more! Thing is on the inside though you are taught the Bible is full of errors, it lost some plain and precious things in translation. Not near as perfect a book as the Book of Mormon that only had about 4000 known errors. Mormons believe in the Bible, they just take it with a grain of salt and if the most recent church articles are any indication the same will soon happen to the Book of Mormon.

Also you better not forget the Book of Abraham, the best not-really-translated translation ever! Mormons love scripture, you not only get the Bible and all that old stuff, you get new stuff too in the D&C and plus every general conference you hear the prophets declare things that are scripture until decades later when they become philosophies of men.

 

The Mormon Church is rich

Ummmmm, there is no way to call this a myth. They are definitely cheap though, members scrub the toilets in the meeting houses to learn service; all but the highest few in the clergy work for free, that way the billions in tithing can go to better things like shopping malls and 2% of the state of Florida.

 

Mormons can really network

I agree this isn’t a myth at all, there is a connection between believers that is strong, how else do you think those contractors win the bids to build, temples, churches and malls? Mutual backscratching is definitely Mormon theology, you can see it every sacrament meeting.

Back at the beginning of this post I said I haven’t yet resigned because of my mom. That’s only part of the reason due to this networking that I personally feel my job is at risk if I decided to bail all the way. Networking is a good thing; right up until it’s a bad thing.
What is Myth

If you follow the Fridge at all you know that myth isn’t all bad, that includes the Mormon myth as well. Myth helps us strive for more; it gives us a goal and direction. Generally speaking so long as we don’t take it too seriously it will help make the world a better place too. Ironically myth busting is a fun pastime as well. So what about the myth that most LDS members don’t actually know their own history… I think it’s plausible.

 

Skin Like Flint

I served a mission in Guatemala. I whole heartedly believed I was in Book of Mormon territory! Preaching to the Lamanites in their native tongue of K’ekchi.

For those of you that may not know about the Book of Mormon, it is a story of two groups of people; They fight wars, build great nations and worship God, all sorts of great stories of faith, redemption, even subterfuge and war. It spans 1000 years, starting about 600 BC and tells of a family that left Jerusalem and ended up in the Americas.

One fundamental theme running through the book is an ongoing war between the good guys and bad guys. The bad guys are the Lamanites, named such after following Laman and Lemual (the rebellious bothers) and not walking the path of God.

They are generally annoyances in the side of the folk known as the Nephites. Named after, you guessed it, Nephi! Nephi isn’t a lazy good for nothing gomer like his brothers though, he is a spiritual giant. He does exactly what God wants done, when he wants it done. He is even willing to chop off a guys head and impersonate him because the spirit of God told him to.

In summary, you have a family feud that results in some people following Nephi and others not so much. The lord didn’t like how these Lamanites were acting and told Nephi this. Rather than me summarizing I think you should read it for yourself.

In the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi chapter 5 it says:

20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will anot hearken unto thy words they shall be bcut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were ccut off from his presence.

 21 And he had caused the acursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair andbdelightsome, that they might not be centicing unto my people the Lord God did cause a dskin of eblackness to come upon them.

 22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall bealoathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

 23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that amixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

 24 And because of their acursing which was upon them they did become an bidle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

 25 And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to astir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.

Did you catch that? The lord cursed the Lamanites, gave them a black skin like the color of flint. Made sure they were loathsome to the exceedingly fair and white Nephites. He even made sure that if you hooked up with a Lamanite you’d have little flint colored babies too. Once cursed they got all lazy and became a scourge to the good people that did what God wanted.

Over the next 1000 years recorded in the book these two factions fought back and forth. Sometimes the Lamanites were even the good guys, especially when the Nephites got prideful. But eventually the Nephites were wiped completely out, only the darker skinned evil Lamanites were left, there was still hope though. They were told if they repented they would eventually blossom like a rose and become white* and delightsome people. They just had to do what God wanted. One of the overriding morals of the story in the Book of Mormon is God curses you when you don’t do what he wants you to. In this case he cursed them with a skin of blackness.

Ok so by now you are wondering why the lesson on this book? I promise I will get to that, but first understand, on my mission I taught the people that I thought were the Lamanites above, the ones that were promised if they came back to the truth they would blossom like the rose and become less tan and more delightsome. I had the truth for them too. I believed it to the core.

Now to my point. There are some people that read those passages and say they are racist, I didn’t think so back then. You see the way this doctrine was explained to me was that this whole skin color thing was part of a greater plan that started in the preexistence (the life we lived before this one). When we were up in heaven before being born I learned one third of us followed Lucifer and two thirds of us followed Jesus. Those two thirds are everyone that has or ever will live on earth. (what happened to the followers of the light bringer is a whole other topic)

Now since everyone is different I was taught not everyone was as valiant as everyone else in our pre-earth life. The Book of Abraham even specifically says there were some noble and great ones, lending credence to this understanding. If there were more valiant spirits, then that meant some were less valiant. It was also explained to me that some were just not ready for the responsibility of holding the priesthood here on earth, they chose not to have it in the life before this one. I suppose some where just plain female too 🙂 but again I digress. Given this understanding it made sense to me that God might color a people with his skin crayons.   By doing so he made it easy for us to understand who got what in this life. I felt if a guy before this life didn’t cut the mustard or just didn’t want the responsibility of holding God’s sacred priesthood who was I to second guess that? It was either Gods, or that persons prerogative. Also there was a great plan in execution as well. I was taught that eventually all those (male)souls that didn’t deserve or didn’t want it would have come to earth. Once all of them were born, grown old and passed on, it would be at that point God would give the black people the priesthood (well the males at least).  This happened when I was 7 years old, cheers were heard all around. 12 years later I was teaching the poor cursed remnant of the Lamanites telling them the good news! Your time to blossom is now! I felt like I was fulfilling prophecy. I hope you can see how in light of this greater plan I didn’t believe these passages to be racist at all.

Fast forward another 25 years and this happens. The church that I preached for makes this declaration in the linked article posted last week.

“Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

Please let me draw your attention to the first sentence:

the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse…”

Say what??? Isn’t that exactly what the Lord did when he was talking to Nephi? Didn’t the lord himself divinely curse the poor Lamanites with a skin like flint?

Then it says:

“…or that it reflects actions in a pre-mortal life”

Which completely eliminates the way I was able to view those scriptural doctrines as non-prejudicial. In one swoop, not only is the scripture called into question, but the justification for it being in the book is completely destroyed. The statement from the church goes on to say it condemns these racist doctrines unequivocally. Leaving no room for misunderstanding their stance on this. Racism is bad, even in the past, even if it was Nephi’s theory as to why people are black and considered a scourge.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy as a clam that the church is trying to put the racist stuff behind it and look to the future. But, didn’t they just disavow the very foundational book that the church was built on? The Book of Mormon is why we are called Mormons after all. It is a story of white guys and flint guys, good guys and bad guys, blessed guys and cursed guys. I mean the whole book is based on these two groups. I can’t imagine how the story would read if you took out the references to colors and curses.

Maybe that is the long term plan, maybe in 50 more years that book will be just an allegory, a remnant of the past as taught by female priesthood holders. Maybe they are saying the entire Book of Mormon was just a theory of some guy. Or maybe this is all just a ruse to appease the masses and win more converts while deep down inside the leaders still believe that God will curse the evil apostate with a dark skin for causing the church grief.

Speaking of which, do I look more tan to you?

*Pure in the post 1987 version of the book
Update,

In case you were wondering if this release was approved by the leaders of the church, Apologist Mike Tannehill recently called the church headquarters upset for the very reasons posted here, he was assured this release was approved by the presidency and council of the 12.

 

Past feeling

In the Book of Mormon, Nephi accuses his brothers of being murderers in their hearts, right after that he says the following:

“Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words…”

In a recent discussion with an old mission companion about the validity of the Book of Abraham as a literal translation I posed a tough question. But rather than answer my question, he accused me of embracing Sherem.* He also warned me that this expanse of knowledge would lead to depression, anxiety, divorce, suicide, fear, doubt, disobedience, and loneliness.

After this diatribe, my friend bid me goodbye with a “take care my friend.” I suppose he wanted me to feel the loneliness part of his warning as soon as possible. This companion had also been my zone leader during a time of trial in my life, he earned my respect then and I still appreciate his leadership at that time. Later in my mission we were companions and became friends. Sure we drifted apart in the 20+ years that followed, but I always remembered our adventures together fondly. So when he signed off abruptly in our conversation, it meant something. It made me think of the scripture above. I still think of scriptures even though I don’t attribute them to divine origin anymore. Comes from the decades of likening the scriptures to my life I suppose. This one came to mind because I remembered on our mission that if we ran into an investigator that wasn’t persuaded by our testimony we figured they were ‘past feeling’ and moved on. Right or wrong I got the impression that this is what was going through my friends mind as he typed that final sentence. To him, I was ‘past feeling,’ to him I wasn’t worth the effort anymore.

All I had was one question about the Book of Abraham that was really hard to answer because of all the conclusions an honest answer leads to. I get that difficulty, I remember clearly being in his position. The uncomfortable feeling as you try to make it all fit together so you can cling to your faith. I truly feared then all the things he described, I even passed through some of them.

Depression, does losing ones religion lead to depression? Yep I think it does. Discovering the organization you trusted and supported with significant time and money was not honest with you is pretty depressing at least temporarily. Also if you have to hide from your coworkers, friends and family how you really feel about the church, that can be pretty depressing too. I know some that are still in the closet in terms is disbelief and I do think it makes them depressed to be there. Coming out and being honest with others is the best way to lift that depression. Of course you are taught in the church to keep your doubts to yourself. If you don’t believe me try bringing up something that questions the validity of the church in Sunday school, see how people respond.

Anxiety, yep you will feel that too. Of course you are anxious if you think reveling your disbelief might lead to divorce. Which it does in some cases. Luckily in my case it did not. We are still together, but I do know some who have left the church and yet still live with a spouse that regularly attends. Their husband or wife secretly judging the one who left by all the doctrines in the scriptures that call them anti-Christ’s. Thinking they are of the devil for simply not believing. That would cause a lot of anxiety if you chose to stay married to a spouse in this situation. If you are as lucky as me and your spouse decides to search it out themselves rather than simply discounting outright what you have found then there is a chance you will get past the anxiety stage. Anxiety comes from the fear of speaking your mind.

Divorce, disconnect between religious ideals often leads to divorce. That is true. Maybe this is the reason marriages between atheist couples are less likely to end in divorce. Other reasons this may occur is because of the pressure put on by the church to get married quickly. I know many couples that got married because they were supposed to, it was expected as part of the religion. So when religion failed them there really wasn’t anything else keeping them together.

Suicide, does a loss of belief in the church lead to suicide? Think about that statement for a minute. If you stop believing, then you will kill yourself. What kind of incentive to believe is that? What kind of threat is that? Sadly though suicide related to religion is true. Just this last week a man committed suicide in a temple in Las Vegas. Why? Is it possible that the church has ingrained an ideal in them that they can’t live up to? We know one young man committed suicide on church grounds because he couldn’t change being gay and be the person the church expected. Personally I think coming to terms with the fact the church is man made can prevent suicides provided his or her family accepts the non believer.

Fear, does not believing lead to fear? Well in my case it did and still does. I still fear my disbelief might affect my job and my ability to support my family. I certainly feared telling my parents of my disaffection. It was one of the scariest moments in my life. I fear how my kids will be treated at school. I don’t think I would fear any of these things if I didn’t work for a Mormon run business or live in Utah though. No doubt there is some fear even now. I take courage however because I believe speaking honestly is still the right thing to do even if it is scary.

Doubt, well it all started with doubt didn’t it? I am unclear why doubt is such a bad thing though. To me truth doesn’t fear doubt. If something is true it will stand up to doubt. Doubt is just a willingness to examine your reasons, a desire to check yourself and see if you were really right in your understanding. So doubt is definitely part of the process. In my case I became more skeptical in general. Being fooled once and figuring it out will do that to a guy. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Once you gain a little healthy skepticism, you realize that fantastic claims require fantastic evidence. Does it take a little magic out of the world? I think it does. What kid isn’t a little depressed when they learn there is no Santa Clause. Magic tricks are fascinating till you know how they did it. Is it really such a bad thing to question the validity of what people tell you? Maybe… but I doubt it.

Disobedience, interesting that this comes up, because disobedience is relative. It depends on perspective and what code of ethics you are using for judgement. Is it possible to disobey a rule that you don’t believe in? If you think drinking wine is a sin and to do so means to disobey your leaders then it does mean you are disobedient. But what if they are not your leaders anymore? What if you no longer believe they speak for God for that is the ultimate authority you are appealing to? Christ drank wine, so did Joseph Smith, every other religion on the planet says coffee is ok but Mormons, even though Joseph Smith drank it. If I have a cup though I am being disobedient. To who? Your God or some other persons? I realize that in the church we are raised to be obedient, we are supposed to follow the leaders without question. To me this runs so contrary to the idea that we are here to learn to think and reason for ourselves. If we are here as gods in embryo and we are learning to be gods one day, if we make it to that point who will we be obedient to then?

Loneliness, it can definitely lead to loneliness, especially since the members tend to shun those people that do not believe. In this day and age though a little internet searching and you can find others that have been through the same disaffection as you. The loneliness used to be one of the strongest binds the church had on people because we humans are social creatures. Not so much anymore thanks to how easily it is to connect socially with others that aren’t in the same physical location as you. Personally I think this is one reason the church is losing members at an unprecedented rate. There are ways to find new friends when the old ones shun you.

I have a good friend that no longer believes in the church. He told me once he wished he had never learned the truth and had remained ignorant. I have thought about this a lot because there was real pain in his eyes when he told me that. I would have to say in his case he is currently suffering many of the things listed above. Things that I personally have gone through as well during my journey out of the church. For the most part I’m beyond them now and feel quite at peace with my new direction in life. So I pondered why he was not. I think it is because he still has a foot inside the door. His wife doesn’t know he doesn’t believe and every Sunday he goes to church to support her. I think I might be the only one who even knows how he really feels. So I do think he’s lonely, very lonely. It is probably depressive for him. He certainly doubts, he has fear and anxiety that if he were to come clean to his wife about his disbelief that she might leave him. The question is, is it his fault that the history of the church doesn’t stand up to examination? Is it really his fault that he can’t overlook the repeated falsehoods the church has passed on over centuries? Or is it the fault of the church that teaches members to avoid those that doubt, to chastise them for not having enough faith to ignore the obvious and just believe?

So yeah, my friend warned me the future would be filled with depression, anxiety, divorce, suicide, fear, doubt, disobedience, and loneliness. He said he had seen it happen before. Honestly, minus the suicide, I did feel every one of those things on his list, but for the most part they were fleeting and passed. For some they continue to exist, but they only exist because the church made them exist. The things on that list are threats of the church alone, if you stop giving the church power over you the threats disappear.

To me this entire journey was due to one aspect of my personality, the need and desire to know truth. Ironically this is the very thing I taught as a missionary of the church. I taught you can know the truth. I taught that the truth will make you free. Never did I expect that when I discovered new truth that ran contrary to the claims of the church rather than answer the questions raised by them the council I would receive from a trusted friend would be. Don’t look at that. If you do terrible things will happen.

What happened to the beauty of finding truth? Why as soon as there might be a conflict or criticism does the negative come out? And why is the answer to doubt simply, oh don’t think about it. Just have faith?  Is God really so powerless, his church so weak that its members and leaders can’t handle a critique with at least a modicum of respect? Instead of a rational answer you are simply accused and threatened with dire consequences that only occur because you believed in the church in the first place.

Nephi accused his brothers of being murders in their hearts and that they were past feeling. This is the same Nephi that chopped off a drunk mans head as he lay in the street with his own sword. He calls his brothers ‘past feeling’ because they might question things for themselves, they might doubt and that is bad. I think my friend is simply following Nephi’s example.

im with stupidPersonally I don’t think I am ‘past feeling’ for one simple reason. I had a friend, sure we met because of the church, but we were friends none the less, good friends. I am hurt because if I doubt the church openly then I fear we won’t be friends anymore and that is something I definitely feel.

*I had to look that one up, I don’t know the names of all the scriptural anti-christs all that well.