The First First Vision Mashup

I don’t know if my readers can tell or not, I don’t write all that much specifically on Mormonism these days. I think that is normal. This blog being initially cathartic during my transition away from the LDS faith has become more of a social commentary for me personally. It also seems to be a half hearted attempt at shining a new perspective on keeping the positive aspects of faith in a world that is becoming increasingly secular.1 But today is an exception. Today I watched the new First Vision video that was recently released by the LDS Church.

This video is admittedly a mashup of 9 different accounts of the first vision. It is complete with modern sound effects and plenty of emotional theatrics. The reason this video bothered me enough to return to a post that is specifically Mormon related?

Simple, the stuff they left out. You see my own journey out of the faith involved a lot of study on the first vision. I spent weeks reading each account and creating a timeline of events to help me personally understand what happened and when it happened. In fact a large chunk of my work ended up here on a website created by a friend that had a similar interest at the time. http://firstvisiontimeline.com.

Now there are plenty of step by step comparisons of these different accounts on the internet. Here and here are a couple of good ones for further study. Even if I were willing to go into painstaking detail on this post, I have learned that people who don’t want to question don’t care about the details.  People that are willing to be wrong will look them up on their own. So consider those links to be some teasers if you really want to better understand this ‘historic’ event. I’m sure a little googling and you will find a plethora of detail on your own.

I’d suggest this first mashup of the first vision, is really important as far as the LDS church is concerned. You see up till now the primary narrative has been to repeat the canonized version that is the churches scriptures. That narrative doesn’t hold anymore as Richard Bushman, LDS historian and believer points out.

It’s part of the effort of modern leaders (that I personally think have been as surprised by the actual history as I was) to come clean and retell this stuff in light of availability of information on the web. Information that in the past was dismissed as anti-mormon rhetoric, not to be believed. That doesn’t work anymore since anyone with a little curiosity can quickly find most of this ‘anti’ stuff is by and large legit historical fact.

That means this new video is part of the effort to inoculate members against the complications of discovering the history of the church wasn’t all that much like you were taught it was.

Let me put it in Elder Snow’s words:

“…And now curriculum and seminaries and institute can safely weave these essays into a future curriculum to in a sense “inoculate” is a word I use quite a bit for the rising generation.”

Now I totally balk at the idea that truth must be a disease  requiring the seeker to be protected against it. Maybe that is why this video release struck a nerve bringing me to a keyboard today. Because when this apologetic tripe goes down, I see subtle deception at play. It’s done by half truths. For example:

In this video the opening text identifies when these accounts were written.

That part is true, but right off the bat I think some important information is left out. The fact this took place in 1820… 12 years before the first account, and 18 years after the official account isn’t mentioned.

Why is that relevant? Because we don’t naturally expect a world shaking vision to remain unwritten for over a decade, let alone 5 years after we have accounts of Moroni and the plates and 2 years after the church this vision was presumably all about was founded. Maybe they left that part out even though it’s clearly stated in LDS cannon because these other accounts don’t much agree on when it actually happened, one says he was age 14, some 15, others 16, 17 even 18 years old.

For me personally half truths are the worst kind of lie, the ones that the used car salesman uses to gain your trust while selling you a lemon. Unfortunately this video is loaded with them. Please don’t take my word for it, go find all the original accounts and read them for yourself as you watch it.

When I did my own research, the timeline presented a far different narrative as to what went down and when. One detail left out from all the apologetics is the fact no one really talked about the first vision till the late 1850’s. Another are the common themes found in the 1838 canonized version shared with the obituary of a 14 year old boy who saw God and Jesus and just happened to be printed in paper that Joseph Smith was the editor of a few months prior… 2

Could it be that JS was just retelling the angel Moroni story and it took on a life of its own? That would explain how up till nearly 1860 all the leaders of the church talked about was the story of the angel that visited Joseph, completely omitting the idea that God himself came down to get this ball rolling. Could each retelling be a fabrication rather than a recitation of events that happened? Maybe a one-up on other visions being talked about in the community so that Joseph was always the most prophetic?

That’s something you will have to decide for yourself. Maybe it really occurred and this messy history is the best God can do for his one true church. After all that’s what the apologists would have you believe.

Here and now though we can look closely at what we are being told by this new video. It’s obviously leaving out some pretty big details that I think would matter to anyone investing 10% of their income in buying the reality of this story.

One of the biggest IMO? They totally gloss over the part where God calls all other churches an abomination. Probably because these days God is more worried about offending people of other religions than he was back in 1838.


Is the first vision an important event that it warrants a lot of investigation on the part of those who would believe? I think so, after all these are things of eternal importance. So important that you should wait 12 – 20 years to write them down and nearly 40 years before you talk about it. Am I right?!!

I doubt this is the first historical mashup we will see as apologists take over the official narrative of church history. Gone are the days of clear obvious church statements. We are now in the world of mushy careful wording to support shelves heavily weighted with readily available facts. Obfuscating mashups are the new normal. Or to put it in terms of a Jedi to the weak minded… these are not the droids you are looking for… *waves hand*

 

 

  1.  Sometimes all you can afford to put into it is half a heart when it’s not your day job! 🙂
  2. Personally I think it’s very enlightening to read and compare the original first vision story written by Joseph himself to this obituary and to the official account in the Pearl of Great Price. Noting that it came out just months before the official account was dictated.

The Real Mormon Mafia

 

So #mormonmafia became a thing this week as our country is nearing the end of an election cycle like none other. More than ever before it’s becoming obvious that we humans tend to make our choices emotionally and rationalize them logically.

This particular hashtag has taken on a life of it’s own especially among those sympathetic to the faith. Better watch out or the #mormonmafia might show up and mow your lawn in white shirts and ties. They might bring you a jello salad and invite you to church of all things! Take a look at the twitter feed for more funny quips.

However, under the light hearted fun of it all, I think it might come as a surprise to most Mormon’s. (Especially the super nice ones out there mowing your lawn.) That there is a kernel of truth to the mafia tag that recently made headlines.

To understand we need to go back in history to the foundation of the LDS church. To a political movement called the Council of Fifty.

 

 

This organization formed by Joseph Smith was supposed to become Christ’s government on earth. They very much considered the return of Jesus to be imminent at the time. Here’s some words from BYU on this because I’m pretty sure the average Mormon is saying, ‘No way!’ right about now:

The Church already had a well-developed apocalyptic outlook, including belief in the latter-day collapse of existing governments before Christ’s return. In this framework, the Council of Fifty was viewed as the seed of a new political order that would rule, under Christ, following the prophesied cataclysmic events of the last days. (source)

The Council of Fifty was supposed to get Joseph Smith elected president of the USA. I think it’s kind of ironic1 that this #mormonmafia hashtag coincides with another guy vying for election that like old Joe uses his position of power and prestige to get the ladies to do his bidding. I will say this for Trump though, He seems to at least steer clear of the 14 year olds… sorry, I mean nearly 15 year olds.

Some other interesting things about the Council of Fifty:

  • It ordained Joseph to become King of the earth. On 11 April 1844, the council voted to receive JS as “our Prophet, Priest & King.”
  • It excommunicated William Law after he balked at practicing polygamy and had issues with Joseph’s efforts to combine church and state.
  • It threatened members with death if they were to reveal the secret council to others.

This council was VERY active in the days leading up to the death of the prophet. They even gave instructions to the Danites to remove political enemies of the church by any means necessary.

The main goal of this council in 1844 was to establish a theocracy in the United States.2 Think about that for a minute and what the state of the Union was back then. The constitution of 1776 guaranteed the separation of church and state. The first amendment (right to free speech) and the 4th amendment (protecting against search and seizure of personal property) were ratified in 1791.

Then along comes Joseph Smith, setting up the city state of Nauvoo, creating a nascent theocracy and crowning himself King. He goes on to lie about his polygamy to the saints while at the same time vilifying William Law for exposing it.3 A few days later as mayor of Nauvoo, he orders the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, William’s newspaper.

Yep that’s right Joseph; recently ordained King of God’s new theocracy on earth, general of the Mormon armed forces and Mayor of Navuoo ordered a printing press destroyed for telling the truth about his ‘carefully worded denial’ of polygamy. He was running for president, he had secretly made himself King and he ordered the destruction of private property for exposing his deception. Let that settle in for a minute… Just think about that…

 

The people of this era had recently founded a country with a constitution explicitly preventing a new theocracy from rising. Parents and Grandparents of this generation had fought and died to protect against theocracy, against unwarranted seizure of property and against a government that might destroy their freedom of the press. This history of Joe Smith all happened less than a month before a mob overran a jail and killed him. Had he not clearly shown his disregard for these deeply held rights of a recently born nation of freedom?

This election cycle wether you are voting for Trump or Hillary consider for a moment how you’d react if one of them had just ordered a printing press destroyed. Assume it had just printed an article about what’s really in those emails. Consider the destruction of news station cameras a week after posting footage of some nasty comments about women. Then you might be able to see how the outsiders at the time viewed the Mormon faith of 1844.

What if Hillary or Trump followers considered them to be the King of the last days prepared to take their place at the head of our nation? Is it that hard to understand why a mob might form in this situation? How a group of people could be concerned about a theocracy over taking the free nation they had just established? How they might feel like a need to take matters into their own hands?4

For me this shed some new light on core concepts that have been around since the LDS church was founded. Sure these days we are told the Council of Fifty doesn’t exist anymore. But something called the SCMC certainly does. Sure the church claims to have no political ambitions anymore. And yet they broke the law in funding proposition 8 in California. Sure they say every member chooses politics for themselves, but recently leaked videos show how important it is to them to have ‘church broke’ LDS faithful in government positions.

And finally, anyone that has been exposed to the LDS temple knows every stalwart member of the religion takes an oath. They promise to give everything the have to build up of the kingdom of God on earth. Meaning specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sure, these days it isn’t a death oath in the temple like it was pre 1990. But it is an oath none the less. This faith at its very core believes it will save the nation by taking it over in the last days. It has all along, ever since the Council of Fifty.

So amidst all the giggles about the Mormon Mafia taking you out with green jello and cheese salad. Try to consider some of the legitimate fear a non-mormon feels about this institution getting too much power.

  1. Always remember irony is a sign of enlightenment from the Fridge!
  2. JS specifically called it a theo-democracy, a kind of a hybrid church and state if you will. If you look at the sustaining vote in today’s LDS church though you can see how ineffective a dissenting opinion is in practice. Plus reading through the bylaws of the council you discover a dissenting member of the Co50 is essentially ejected from the committee.

    Personally I can’t see any legitimate democracy in this theocracy. Feel free to disagree in the comments though, I will just pretend you didn’t :).

  3. Not long before that William was the second elder of the church. It would be like Monson calling Erying liar in general conference. History of the Church Vol. 6, p. 408-412
  4. Don’t forget that Joseph had been in jail several times and had also started a fraudulent bank called the Kirtland Safety Society. Non believers would trust him about as much as a republican trusts Hillary given the background.

We All Bleed The Same, Love vs Hate

Acceptance strikes a cord

Last night I had a chance to hear this song in person:

Acceptance… The message struck me at my core. It is exactly what I feel deep inside. It connects with me. I felt lucky to be there and experience it live. I also suffered many levels of irony which is how the Fridge touches me and inspires these posts. 😉

Levels of irony

The first level was the fact I wasn’t quite in my own skin at this event. I couldn’t be entirely myself, I couldn’t openly declare my lack of faith. Fear of the results of doing so kept me from taking that leap. I was me… just not entirely me if that makes any sense. Living in the Morridor of Utah, you take notice how people that aren’t of the main religion are treated. You see what opportunities are lost to those that would openly counter the faith’s views.

Irony hit me again as I did a little research on Alex Boye and found out like me he also has a Mormon background. Yeah I know you are wondering what rock I have been living under the last decade right? I’m sure I’d heard this, but not having him on my playlist till now I wasn’t sure if he was a member or not.

Love each other, stop the hate

I felt the next level of irony when I watched the video above the next morning. In it there are some really awesome concepts, loving not hating, and a clear message that he includes the LGBT community in that concept. It kind of made me wonder just how much of the LDS history and the current stance of the church he is aware of. A little more research turned up this video where Alex describes why he believes in the Mormon faith. The following bit of his talk stood out to me:

“being a member for me started out … a lot less about the facts, a lot less about what was in the scriptures, a lot less about what certain things meant, and certain books and the content. It was about the fact there were principles in it that could…keep my family name above board so to speak”

Cherry picking is ok

I have found I get along best with the faithful that don’t take every scripture to heart, that only care about the good stuff in the holy book. Good people have always cherry picked the best parts of the religion as a point of focus in my opinion. Often I discover that they don’t ever dig really deep in the history or the ‘facts’ as Alex puts it. I get that and have no issue with it. From the believing perspective they have a tool to improve their lives. From my point of view I see a person that would be good, kind and just even without a religion to follow. To me their faith is like dumbo’s feather, a talisman of zero actual merit and yet somehow containing the power to focus works, beliefs and efforts on good things.

This concept has often been a topic of Fridgy goodness and is close to my heart. I think that’s why his song resonated deeply with me. In the past I would have called it a spiritual witness as I sat there pondering why I feared being openly apostate amongst my fellow men. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel accepted when scriptures decry the non-believer as the anti-christ. Like in the case of Korihor worthy of imprisonment without cause eventually leading to his death by trampling of those that pity him.

The final irony

Alex’s video implies the importance of accepting gay people that in my believing days I thought were damaging families with their desire to marry the one that they loved. Something that today I see as their right to be protected. I simply can’t imagine a loving father who would deny them that right in this life or the next.  I just don’t believe a decent God would inspire policies excluding LGBT people. Not when he is the one making them that way!

For me the final irony struck as I pontificated on this post. It’s how this very religion that is loved so dearly by such a prominent member not that long ago would have denied him and his wife the right to an eternal life. Why? Well for the same reason that they deny those who are LGBT the same right today. Because God said so:

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” -Brigham Young

 
I hope that one day I will have more courage to be myself, especially my apostate self amongst family, coworkers and friends. We need people like Alex to inspire us to accept each other. People like Jane Manning who buck the status quo, and instead pressing forward, leading against divisive dogma that seems to insidiously insert itself into our politics and faith at every turn.

Calling attention to something wrong isn’t hate

I truly believe in love not hate. I feel lots of love towards Mormons, they are still my people even though I no longer believe. It is part of my history that becoming LDS meant following a different path than all the rest. If only I could help those that feel like I’m hating on the church as I leave it realize isn’t the case at all. To me, I am loving the underdog that is getting the short end of the stick. Kind of like how past LDS people like Dr Lowery Nelson were speaking up and saying this is wrong. We are better than this. 

Love wins

Just look at it this way. If being black and preventing your marriage to a white person so many years ago was just a prophetic screw up. Isn’t is possible that here and now the same mistake is going on right before our eyes? Could not questioning these revelations now rather than decades later prevent some of these LGBT teen suicides? This is a faith that dictates a persons worth. I think is it reasonable to doubt if that faith leads to death. Please accept that. I honestly don’t mind if you know the facts and still believe. I really don’t, it is fine by me. My only desire in exposing them is to give everyone the opportunity to know and chose with full disclosure.

Because, well because I never got that chance and somewhere out there someone is hurting, believing they aren’t good enough for the celestial kingdom and considering drastic measures. I think they have the right to consider all the facts before believing in a father in heaven that would make them Gay and then deny them being with the person they love.

I desire you know one thing though. Believer or not gay or straight, we shall sup together and care for one another. I believe that truth needs no religion to make it worth doing. Or the words that pricked my heart last night:

 

I’m so glad that we are different

Nobody can be like you

To thy own self be true

Just be yourself

Don’t be afraid

Just come as you are

love each other, stop the hate

 

 

Who Does God Obey?

Who does God obey? To answer that question I’d like to start with a personal observation. The LDS religion isn’t what it used to be. Over the course of my life I have noticed an effort by the church to become more mainstream. PR responses if you will, to make the doctrine more palatable to the world at large. In many cases it’s a good thing. For example, the Book of Mormon declares skin color to be a sign of a curse that God put on those who were wicked specifically to make them loathsome to the good guys. In 1978, realizing the growth opportunities in countries with dark skin as well as facing some serious tax repercussions due to racist policies at BYU. God ‘revealed’ that all men no matter the color of their skin were now worthy to get the priesthood. An old doctrine went away and a new one of equality was ushered in.

A little history lesson

To better understand where I am coming from you might need a little education on this blacks getting the priesthood thing. Look here at the critics position and here for the apologists. You might notice that the apologetic response doesn’t mention the fact that other universities were feeling tax exemption pressure when all this went down. When I dug back into it, I also noticed that FAIR mentions a letter from Kimball to Carter, but neglects to point out “U.S. President Jimmy Carter commended President Spencer W. Kimball for “compassionate prayerfulness and courage.” In a telegram right after the ‘revelation’ was announced. I think the full text of that commendation is relevant so I took some time to find it for you. President Carter specifically mentions the courage of president Kimball to get a revelation. Does it really take a lot of courage to talk to God and ask him if he really, really wants to keep banning black people even if it means loosing BYU’s tax exempt status?


To add insult to injury why would FAIR neglect to mention this telegram in their rebuttal? Could it be because in hindsight it adds weight to the idea that the revelation was contrived due to pressure from the president of the United States? I leave that up to you to decide.

Changing doctrine isn’t new

The idea that the church changes policies and doctrine dependent on society isn’t something new. In fact exactly that situation is part of the LDS cannon. The faith was under fire for its polygamous doctrine (D&C 132) long before the black priesthood thing came up. Polygamy was preached and practiced openly once the faith moved the Utah territory, (before that it was a secret practice in Nauvoo.) Slavery and Polygamy were hot topics of the time when Utah was applying to become a state. The church was even in danger of losing a lot of church property due to the Morrill anti bigamy act of 1862. Then president Wilford Woodruff took the matter to the Lord and got the revelation to stop marrying multiple wives. This is canonized in D&C, official declaration 1 of LDS scripture. What I find interesting is the commentary on this revelation that is also canonized. Church President Woodruff declared:

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty”

He says this:

“The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for … any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice.

And thus, the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, the one where most of the revelation is dedication to justifying lots of wives for one man well stopped… lasting, sorta. It’s still there for eternity if you dig a bit, just not while people are alive well… kinda. It must be hard for God to give a command and then rescind it. Sure takes away from his ‘never changing modus operandi’ that he’d like to propagate don’t you think? This has to make you wonder though. Why did God have to change because of the threats of little ‘ol mankind?

Who Does God Obey?

To me this is a very relevant question for a lot of reasons, one of them is the idea that we need to obey God is core to nearly all religions. In fact it is often considered by the faithful the only way we can be morally good people. But, if these two examples are carefully considered doesn’t it look like God obeys man’s will rather than the other way around? That seems kinda whack for an all powerful being though doesn’t it? Almost like man invented God to do his will rather than the story we have all been told.

Up till now, I have used examples of God’s changing but not changing doctrine due to societal pressures that were a good thing. But what if good ideas lose out to popular opinion thanks to man pushing his will on God?

Man Can Become God

This is or at least was a core doctrine of the LDS faith. Man can become God. It’s right there in the same revelation as the polygamy stuff section 132 verse 20:

“Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

Joseph Smith declared this concept just days before his death in the King Follett Sermon. Men get to be Gods. Just like the God before him became God. Blasphemy cried the rest of the Christian world! The response of the church to this public defamation? Well, I first noticed it when one of my favorite prophets President Hinkley when interviewed said regarding this topic.

“I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.” 

When I heard this I felt kind of taken aback. I loved this doctrine. As Joseph Smith stated, it was sweet to me. It made sense with the idea of free agency that the purpose of this life was to learn how to responsibly handle the power one would get when they became well… god of their own universe. But that doctrine seems to be getting down played more and more. Even to the point of selectively editing prophetic statements to make it go away. Most recently becoming a god is now describe as becoming like god in the LDS essays. The faith seems to be embarrasses of the entire concept of human’s following the same path as God from man to Godhood. That’s where this obedience question comes in.

Who Do You Obey?

If we do get to become Gods, who will we obey then? For myself and my family I have always felt the right thing for a parent to do for his kids was to teach them to think for themselves. Strict obedience for obedience’s sake makes no sense in this paradigm. As our children matured we decided to let them make choices on their own only suggesting how some of the consequences might turn out badly but letting them try it out anyway if they chose to. (Free agency right?)

Ultimately our goal was that our kids would be making their own decisions by the time they left the house. If they weren’t making nearly all of their own rules by age 16 to 17 then in my opinion they were totally unprepared for going it alone at 18. For this reason hard curfews in our home were replaced with mutual respect for each other. We didn’t say, ‘you must be home by 11:30.’ We asked the 16 year old when he planned to be home and then expected him to abide by his promise.

Can you see the difference from a ‘strict obedience’ style of parenthood to our apparently uber-liberal ‘fostering personal growth’ way of approaching it? Now of course this method isn’t without its bumps in the road, and I found more than once my gut just wanted to scream, ‘because I said so!’ when my own children questioned my judgement. But overall, so far with two kids out of the house and three more on their way I’d say the results are far, far more positive than negative.

Don’t Be A Dictator

Who do my kids obey? Certainly not me, I’m not a dictator. Maybe that is why I respect so much the ideas of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris when it comes to the terrible concepts of unflinching obedience demanded by so may religions. In fact 10 years ago when I was still a true believer I’d probably said people like Hitchens and Harris just didn’t understand Mormon doctrine well enough to realize there is a religion out there that isn’t just obey, obey, obey. Looking back maybe it was some of the recent focus on obedience to the leaders of the faith no matter what that helped me realize that my own faith was every bit as flawed as all those other abominations as God called them.

Obedience without question is lauded as the best thing to do in Mormonism, that’s what Abraham did with Issac, it’s what Nephi did when he killed Laban. It’s what Joseph taught the women he wanted to marry to increase his harem when they balked at the idea. If God says so, that makes it right. Especially if God sends an angel with a sword to make sure you are listening. It seems to me that a path like this only leads to subservient soldiers that can’t think for themselves.

Think For Yourself

Contrary to the idea that men are here to think for themselves the core tenant of the faith really is “when the prophet speaks the thinking is done.” First taught here. Of course the response from then church president George Albert Smith says God won’t ‘force anyone to heaven’... He will just deny you access to your family for all eternity if you don’t do exactly what he says, which means becoming LDS, and pledging 10% of all your income to the church so you can be eternally sealed in the temple. Because that’s the ONLY way you get an eternal family according to LDS doctrine.


The Mormon faith teaches obedience is core, thinking for yourself not so much. Don’t believe me? Try this experiment, go to LDS.org search for ‘obedience’ see the hundreds of links that popup. Now search for ‘thinking for yourself’ and notice there is only one link with that phrase in it from 1971. Don’t fool yourself like I did that the Mormon religion encourages you to not be anything but a blind and obedient sheep.

If you feel mankind is more than obedient sheep to be lead merrily to the slaughter without defiance. You will soon discover as I did the people that think like you have a hard time with this jealous Yahweh/Allah/Jesus guy. A guy that is ready to damn anyone that isn’t gonna worship him and can’t let people think for themselves runs counter to the concept of free agency and responsibility. If you think that our destiny is truly divine you might want to stick with the Fridge, after all you can’t prove it didn’t inspire Rick to dispense this wise council. 🙂

 

On Dreams and Reconciliation

I don’t dream very often, but when I do it provides a very clear picture of my emotional state. Worries and fears that plague my subconscious make their way into dream land, and via sleep I become consciously aware of those problems.

For example – when I fled my abusive relationship, I found myself in a state of hyper-vigilance. For several months, I kept having dreams where my abuser would just “show up” in seemingly benign situations, interacting with the people around me. Everyone seemed unaware of the problem his presence presented or how it was causing me to go rigid with fear. I’d try to leave, and he would keep following me. In my dream, I’d be constantly looking around corners and finding him there. I just couldn’t escape, and I’d wake up with my heart racing.

Clearly, my dreams were feeding off my fears of being found by my abuser. Those dreams ended with a blast when I was able to ensure a sense of safety and security for myself. In the last dream of the series, he came to my home. When he knocked on my door, I pulled out a shotgun and sat waiting on the other side. When I refused to let him in, he forced the door open, and I pulled the trigger. No more bad dreams.


I’ve recently had another very telling dream which has brought me to a reflection on my path of self-acceptance; a path which has included a departure from religion and a recognition of my LGBT identity. There’s a whole story building up to this dream; a story worth telling.

As a Young Woman in the Mormon church, I believed it was my duty to reach out to my non-member peers and invite them to attend church activities. I believed that this inviting was a sign of true friendship and compassion, as I was sharing the truth of the gospel with them and providing them with an opportunity to experience the blessings promised by the church. So when I found myself forming a friendship with a butch lesbian struggling with anger management issues who’d shared with me her story of having been molested by her father, the first thing I thought to do was to invite her to church, thinking it would help her.

She accepted my invitation and she clearly enjoyed coming to the activities. She also extended an invitation to me in return, to attend one of her church meetings with her (which I did) and then to see a movie with her. When we went to the movie, she wanted to hold my hand, and I realized she saw the outing as a date. I told her that while she was most certainly my friend and I enjoyed her company, I was not interested in dating women. She was okay with that and kept coming to church.

However, rather than participating in what had been planned, she opted to “hang out” in the gym, play basketball, and interact with the Young Men doing their scouting activities. Several of the Young Women started following her lead, and the Young Women’s President perceived my friend as a threat to her “flock”. She asked the bishop to speak with her, and so the bishop took her into his office and instructed her to adjust her dress and manner before coming back to any activities. My friend told me about what had transpired in the office, told me that she wasn’t interested in a church that wouldn’t accept her for who she was, and we parted ways.


For many years after, this experience has plagued me. It was the first time I’d seen church members (church LEADERS) behave in a way I considered to be un-Christlike. I was deeply hurt, seeing my friend turn away from what I considered to be the only thing that would bring her true happiness, because of the way my church leaders had treated her. The experience also opened my eyes to other faults in members of the church and even in church teachings and history, especially as it relates to the LGBT community. I was stubbornly obedient and naive though, and it took me many more years of uncovering problems to bring my illusion of truth crumbling down.

Even deeper than my disillusionment with the church, however, was my own buried and repressed sexuality. My experience with this friend has stuck with me after all these years, because it became linked not only to the first time my trust in the church had been broken but to my very own identity. I never dated anyone as a teen. I just wasn’t interested. Or at least that’s what I told myself. Looking back, I realize now that part of why this situation affected me so deeply was because I WAS interested in this individual as MORE than a friend. I just couldn’t admit it to myself while mired in the teachings that gender was a divine trait that had been predetermined and could not be “mistaken” or “mismatched”, and that interest in those of the same sex was a Satanic temptation meant to lead individuals astray from the straight and narrow path of eternal happiness.

It took rejecting these “truths” to FINALLY be able to start exploring who I was on the inside and what my interests and preferences actually entailed. I started internalizing EVERYTHING and really thinking about every belief that I’d accepted as truth without evidence. I slowly started realizing that much of my unhappiness and poor relationship decisions could be tied to a failure to accept and follow my own inner feelings and desires. I’d been pursuing relationships with men because that was what was expected of me, not because I had any actual interest in men, and I’d long considered my lack of interest to be a problem. I thought I was somehow broken inside and in need of fixing.

Then there were the other issues – how in my dreams I typically saw myself as male. I kept picturing myself in the roles of my favorite heroes like Spiderman, Robin Hood, and Han Solo. I never wanted to do anything feminine, despised dresses, make-up, shaving, etc, and fit in better with the guys than I did with the girls. My parents said I was a tom-boy, which was explanation enough to satisfy me while growing up, but when I cast aside the Mormon-centered concept of divine gender, I started questioning everything.

In the past couple years, I’ve been treading a journey of self-acceptance that could never have started without first rejecting the religion of my birth. As that journey has progressed, and as I’ve opened myself up to expressing the “me” I’d repressed for so long, I’ve been becoming happier and happier. I’m less stressed, less guilt-ridden, more confident, and even more outgoing. As I’ve been becoming comfortable with my identity, I’ve been starting to share it with others and “come out”. Shortly before my dream, I attended my very first LGBT event, a major step forward in being open about my authentic self.


The dream that put me on this path of reflection was really very brief and simple. In the dream, I was able to reconnect with this old high school friend in a surprise encounter. I recognized her, but she didn’t recognize me, so I shared with her everything I remembered about our brief friendship, and I told her about how her refusal to participate in a church that would not accept her had stuck with me for all these years. I told her about my own journey and how I’d slowly come to realize what a wonderful example of courage, confidence, and self-acceptance she had provided for me. We hugged, we cried, and we wound up dating.

When I woke, it struck me as odd that I would dream about this individual, but I realized that it was a dream of reconciliation. This dream was a sign that I had finally come to terms with my past and that I am now ready to embrace my path forward.

My journey is not all that unlike what many LGBT individuals born into the Mormon church find themselves going through. While the world is becoming more accepting as science shows that gender identity and sexual orientation have genetic and developmental foundations that cannot be altered or “cured”, the Mormons remain intolerant, even going so far as to exclude the children of LGBT couples from the ordinance of baptism. They still teach that gender is of divine origin and that “same-sex-attraction” is a temptation not to be acted upon. Affiliation with LGBT friendly groups renders one unworthy of their temple recommend, and anyone “struggling” is counseled to speak with their bishop.

The Mormon church has a long history of repression, suppression, and oppression of anyone who doesn’t fit their hetero-normative lifestyle. From political involvement to attempted conversion therapies, they have systematically treated homosexuality and trans-sexuality like a disease to be eradicated. As long as churches like this remain, there will always be those who spend lifetimes questioning and repressing their sexuality rather than accepting their unique identity and pursuing a life of happiness. While I have found my own sense of inner peace, I yearn for the day that journeys such as mine are no longer necessary and everyone can have the strength and confidence of my high-school friend in rejecting oppressive teachings and cultures.

But Polygamy was a Commandment!

Last post we discussed the normality of young brides and polygamous unions in the 19th century. Once the difficulty of lying about it is pointed out to the Mormon faithful most will retreat to the final bastion of all religious when pressed with assessing their faiths morality. They will say something like, ‘it was a commandment’ justifying it because God said so.

In fact apologists are fond of pointing out this quote from Joe the prophet himself implying this defense:

That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill’; at another time He said, ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. – Official History of the Church, Vol. 5, p.134-136

When you think of Abraham and Issac or and how God flooded the whole planet killing babies, this sort of makes sense. The believer tells himself, ‘sometimes God does stuff I’m just too stupid to understand.’ And that makes it ok to shelve the thoughts that are causing cognitive dissonance.

In fact when your own spiritual feelings are screaming wrong, wrong, wrong to you, what is the counsel of LDS leaders? Just shelve it. 1

Wait a minute! Wut? Aren’t those very feelings the ones we are supposed to use to find truth? Apparently not if they are telling you the LDS church isn’t the #onetruechurchonthefaceoftheearth

Convenient isn’t it?

But moving on. I think there is some merit to revealing exactly the situation in which Joseph Smith said these words.


You see Joe was trying to get Nancy Rigdon to be yet another of his wives and she was not at all interested in the idea. In fact it lead to a blow up over the whole situation where Nancy said:

“if she ever got married she would marry a single man or none at all.” Grabbing her bonnet, she ordered the door opened or she would “raise the neighbors.” She then stormed out of the Hyde-Richards residence. (Sidney Rigdon Biography by Richard S. Van Wagoner, p.295)

So did you know that it was specifically to get under the skirts of a reluctant woman in Nauvoo that the idea of God commanded, it so it must be ok was such a core teaching?

Eh, maybe now that I think about it that is the underlying assumption right? So what is different between Joe and Warren then?

  • They both pushed young girls into doing things that are abhorrent to most people then and now.
  • They both assured their victims or faithful (depending on your perspective of the whole deal) that God said to do it and that was why these young teen girls should submit to their leaders and do as they were told.

Imagine for a minute that you were a bride of Warren Jeffs. Imagine if your family and church leaders all pressured you to do this thing that felt so wrong. Imagine then if you were told not to doubt the leadership of Warren the prophet. To stay in the boat. That if you bail on this religion that you are risking eternity with your family and that you’d never see them again. That if you stood up and said no, this isn’t right you were a taffy puller and not capable of commitment.

Can you see how hard it would be to leave the FLDS faith? Can you see how even today there are followers that are so sure they are doing what God wants (even if in their heart they find it abhorrent) that they still comply?

If so you can see exactly how religion can mislead you. It promises amazing things for compliance and terrible consequences for not doing EXACTLY what you are told no matter how bad it feels.

The hardest question to ask though is this:  What if is has already happened to me?

  1. Did you catch that even GA Turley tried to claim it was ‘normal’ for a 14 year old to get married implying a poly marriage to a 37 year old man was ‘you know what they did back then’ and one of the swedes called him out on that poor comparison?