“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”
As a child in the LDS church I was taught principles of honesty and integrity. I learned that although doing the right thing was sometimes not easy, that should never stop you from doing it! As a child I loudly sang ‘do what is right and let the consequence follow!’ Now I think if only that same religion could heed its own council… As it and many other religions move into this new millennium I believe they are facing an accounting. Sometimes past leaders kicked the ball of deception so far down the road that current leaders are hard pressed to stop the ball rolling.
The thing about deception in this age of free access to information is you can’t keep it up. It’s far too easy to get caught redhanded in the cookie jar swearing it wasn’t you. Believe me, I don’t envy LDS leadership at all with this current state of affairs. Especially the local leadership that, based on my anecdotal conversations, most times doesn’t even know about the church’s essays and efforts to inoculate the current membership from the realities of its history.
Case in point. Here is a link to the new seminary teaching manual in regards to the polygamy practiced in the early church.
Reading through this I was dismayed at the deception employed to caution members from looking beyond the blinders it endeavors to put on the student.
This was the lesson’s first glaring evidence of deception. Any dedicated student of church history knows that celestial marriage = plural marriage to the early leaders of the church. Later in the lesson we are told that it is only ok to get additional information from two places…
Interesting, because in ten seconds I found this link via the google search engine (but not the search function on LDS org :))
As I said, in the early days of the church celestial marriage and plural marriage were one and the same. The 132nd section of canonized scripture in D&C was dedicated to this concept. Over and over in every history book you read from that time celestial marriage was equal to polygamous marriage. In fact Sarah Pratt who resisted the prophets advances called the results of these marriages ‘celestial consequences’ in this rather disturbing testimony as to why we can’t find of the seed of Joseph that according to the Book of Mormon is the only legitimate reason according to God for polygamy in the first place.
So why are the educators in the church so adamant about ‘avoiding speculation’? Why is it so very important to keep our eyes straight ahead and not look to either side? Why is the church putting blinders on its seminary students?
Are the blinders for the benefit of the horse? Or more for the owner who doesn’t want his cart overturned and to end up walking…
Speculation is a natural human trait. It’s the beginning of critical thinking and us opening our mind to new ideas. Before we can change our mind about something we need to speculate about alternative explanations.
Go make yourself a timeline on polygamy using only the josephsmithpapers site for reference. I dare you! You will find out just like I did that this statement in the lesson contradicts the facts of history.
“(As students respond, write the following principle on the board: Plural marriage can be authorized only through the priesthood keys given to the President of the Church.)”
The fact is, the very first plural marriage1 went down BEFORE the keys were restored to do them. (And a long time before the “revelation” that made it all legit was ever penned down. Seriously from a normal perspective it totally fits the bill of an excuse made up after getting caught!)
That is just one of the things you will find if you do your own followup research. No wonder the teacher is repeatedly warned to avoid any derailment! 2 This seminary lesson is rife with internal contradiction and careful wording designed to keep the student from digging any deeper and speculating any alternative explanations for polygamy in the early church. Was Joseph Smith a con man bent on duping people out of money and coercing women into his bed and in the process created a religion, just like Muhammed with Islam? That is the speculation that you MUST AVOID at all costs in order to still believe. Why is that? Frankly, because it makes too much sense. If you start considering this possibility and you for a moment realize that you can’t always trust your feelings, you might just start looking and eventually discover the tangled web of lies that have been intricately woven since one horny guy told a girl that God was gonna kill him if she didn’t do the nasty.
Yes, avoid speculation, don’t even consider the possibility that Joseph might have just been a Warren Jeff’s type con man a couple hundred years ago when he could get away with it. Don’t remotely postulate that he could have been smart enough to make it all up and charming enough to get people invested. Don’t ever question the validity of your own feelings and for the love of Fridge never ever consider you might be the one that has been fooled by your own emotions in the same way you are sure the Muslim is when he proclaims the same devout belief about Muhammed. Don’t ever speculate. 3
Because speculation leads to questions and questions lead to the collapse of your own shelf and then… The cart will have one less horse pulling it. Because unlike horses, once our blinders are off we humans are smart enough to ditch the yoke too.
- To the maid Fanny Alger. Seriously, it is that cliche, we are talking about the 17 year-old live-in maid!! ↩
- Personally I see this whole thing as fulfillment of Fridge profesy in regards to polygamy. “As the profet of the Fridge I kind of expect this particular admission to have more of an effect than all the others to date…” I have found that self proclaimed profets love it when they get a hit with their own speculations!! ↩
- Here are some more things to not speculate about:
GBH has a video link on the lesson where he vehemently denies a church belief in polygamy… so why can you get sealed to another wife after the first one dies?
Why would God need to send an angel with a sword to force polygamy onto Joseph Smith? Isn’t force Satan’s plan?
Why did the guy that gave his 14 year old daughter to Joe think it was for a guaranteed place in the celestial kingdom?
Why in the world is this topic detailed now if the history of it all has been in the church archives and documents all along?
And maybe the some of the most important questions. Why are the exact same actions if done by Warren Jeffs despicable? And honestly do you think he has followers that just as devoutly believe he is telling the ladies God’s word? Why are they confused and you not? ↩