No Small Coincidence
The LDS church makes a couple of big promises, they are pretty awesome too. One is the idea of eternal marriage, and the other is the idea is you will become a God. I think it is no small coincidence that the first one is super appealing to women and the second is super appealing to men. What girl do you know that doesn’t swoon at the idea of eternal love and companionship? What man doesn’t thrill at the idea of being all powerful and capable?
The theology ties both of these concepts together using beautiful buildings constructed for that very purpose, you can’t miss the elaborate temples this faith builds. They claim to be the only church that can keep a family together forever once you die. The only one. I used to think they were the only church that believed in family ties after death, that is until I started actually asking people of other faiths what they believe and looking at their doctrines. Turns out lots of religions believe in continued family ties post death.
So that means the Mormon church banks its promise of eternal families and Godhood on another idea, they are the only authorized church of God to seal you together forever. But is this a real promise?
I get some pretty awesome promises via email all the time. Typically from some Nigeria prince that needs my help. But do I believe Nigerian emails just because it is a really cool promise? I don’t and most like you don’t either. Maybe it deserves some investigation into the claims of authority that the church makes1 then doesn’t it?
Would you just trust that Nigerian email and send in 200$ a month for them to send you millions? Or would you check things out? If you aren’t one to check things out you can stop reading now and watch Hanks video. It just might help you see the reason to continue reading.
Ok so you are still with me! Whew! That means you must agree at least in principle that checking the validity of these claims is super important right? I mean if these are just empty promises then we are this is a big waste of time, energy, even possible heart break.2
The veracity of this promise is simple to figure out and it boils down to what president Hinkley said:3
“Well, it’s either true or false. If it’s false, we’re engaged in a great fraud….”
And Apostle J. Ruben Clark said:4
“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
I list these quotes so you realize it is ok to question! You should be figuring out if this is an empty promise and it is also important to do so. But how do you know if something is legit? Should you always trust your feelings? Maybe maybe not. Love is something you feel and you should trust that right?
Have Your Feelings Ever Been Wrong?
Can you imagine a doctor that diagnosed you based on his feelings alone and ignored things like blood tests and examinations? Would you trust that doctor to treat you? I highly doubt it. Another question I think is important to ask yourself. Do you think God would force people to do something they didn’t want to do? Do you feel that is right? Consider this:
“…the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.”5
This is what Mormon founder Joseph Smith said when people questioned his marrying young teens and other mens wives. He said that an angel was sent to threaten his life if he didn’t obey. In total he said God made him marry well over 30 women, including 11 that were married to other men at the time and 10 that were teenagers (he was in his 30s).6
Does it make sense that God would force Joseph Smith to marry all these women? Does that ‘feel’ right? If it doesn’t and you are still a believing Mormon, why do you justify it? Why do you try not to think about it. Why do you call it lies and anti-Mormon stuff even when it it is right here on the churches website?
Now I suppose it is possible that God did force him at sword point, but it is also possible Joe was just a charming guy making up stories and getting followers the same way Muhammed did with Islam. Muhammed also married teen brides… and he said God told him to as well.7 Why would God force this polygamy to happen with an angel and a sword and let something like racist color-of-skin doctrine go unchallenged for over 100 years? Does that make sense at all? Should you not at least question the promises of the people that say all this forced marriage stuff was ok?
Two Really Big Promises
The doctrine of Eternal Marriage and Godhood is tied irrevocably in with polygamy at the beginning of the church. The entire section in D&C 132 on eternal marriage and exaltation was given in regards to polygamous marriages. It’s why all those early church leaders married so many women that to them it was like buying a cow. Either this is something God really wanted to happen or it is a guy like Warren Jeffs just making it up. There is no middle ground. The fact is simple, at the beginning of the church you couldn’t be a God in heaven with only one wife. It wasn’t in the programme, dropping the extra wife stuff was something that came later and only because the USA basically forced them not to because it was against the law. 8
Plural marriage was clearly tied to becoming a God. Maybe we should look at how it got started. Joe’s first poly wife was a 17 year old that lived in their house named Fanny Alger, she was a maid helping with house work and stuff. Oliver Cowdry called it a nasty affair… so even the church leaders back then weren’t all on board with this… But for a minute assume Cowdry was wrong. We know that Joseph Smith married Fanny in 1833. 9
This is an important date to remember because according to Joseph Smith he didn’t get the power from Elija to do eternal sealing polygamy marriages until 1836.
WAIT A SEC! Do you mean to tell me Joe was getting extra wives before God gave him the authority to? Yep, that is way I am saying. Even the new church essay on this is really carefully worded so as to not draw attention to this fact.
After the marriage to Fanny he started marrying lots of women, even though Emma his wife hated it and denied it even happened some times. God of course rebuked Emma (via Joseph of course) for not being willing to do so. It’s recorded in the scriptures we have today. From the church essay:
“In the summer of 1843, Joseph Smith dictated the revelation on marriage, a lengthy and complex text containing both glorious promises and stern warnings, some directed at Emma.” footnote 41;
Make sure you check out footnote 41! God’s ‘stern warning‘ is that he will destroy Emma if she doesn’t accept the polygamy! Really? God is saying ‘Emma you better let Joe have the maid and your neighbor and those two young sisters or I will destroy you!’ Really? Is that the context this is in? Yep it is. Maybe now you see why the church really didn’t want to talk about this stuff before and only did it once the internet pretty much forced their hand.
So God (according to Joseph Smith, remember all the words of God are coming from the guy getting the women) is threatening people for not swapping wives or condoning teen brides getting hitched to old dudes. Does this still sound like the divine loving father you have been taught to believe in? Would any loving father you know do this to their daughter? Does this feel right? Of course not, the problem though is if you are like I was. There were other things about the church that did feel right. So then what? How do you decide?
It Gets Worse
This problem with polygamy doesn’t just stop at the first wife though. For me personally the biggest issue is Helen Mar Kimball. She was 14 and didn’t want to marry Joe at all, here story is here. The basics are Joseph went to Heber C. Kimball and asked for Helen Mar as his wife (after Heber didn’t want to give Joe is own wife). If he gave Helen to Joseph, Joe promised God would give Heber mansions in heaven for the exchange.
What do you call a person that trades a girl for riches? A pimp? So what gives? Is God really calling the shots on this? Or is it more likely that the guy who claimed to be telling us God’s words is really just a nut case like Warren Jeffs?
So if we look at just one aspect of the church and its claim to truth, for it to be true than God not only condoned this polygamy, he sent a an angel with a sword to force it to happen. He traded the innocence of a 14 year old girl for the salvation of her family. I don’t know about you but these things feel terribly wrong to me and it doesn’t make sense a loving God would command it. It makes more sense that the guy was a charming pedophile like Warren Jeffs. Which if that is the case, then he was lying and by logical extension means the church does not have the power to seal eternal marriages and grant Godhood.
Empty Promises Hurt
Discovering this stuff myself was really difficult and for a long time I couldn’t even believe it happened. I had a burning testimony of the church, reading the Book of Mormon made me feel good. Because of that I could hardly believe these revelations on polygamy were real. But eventually I realized the simplest explanation is it was made up. 10 Then I had a choice, either reject or deal with this possibility. I think in the end it did come down to feelings, when you read the Book of Mormon it makes you feel good. But when you read about 14 year old girls being forced to marry 37 year old men it makes you feel sick.
But which feeling are you going to trust? I realized that when I read Harry Potter or Hunger Games those stories make me feel good. I realized just making me feel good doesn’t prove a story is true. It just means there are morals in there that I agree with. Forcing a 14 year old girl into a marriage she doesn’t want however is very morally wrong. This I did not agree with and my feelings confirmed that.
Consider my simple logic, if the Book of Mormon isn’t historically accurate, then the whole deal, the church, temples, everything is as Hinkely said a great fraud. If it is a great fraud that explains why Joseph Smith acted like Warren Jeffs and it makes me feel sick. That makes this next question really important. Can a story be fiction and make you feel good? Yes! I am sure of that, just watch The Fault In Our Stars as an example. That movie made me cry with emotion. Does that make it real or just a great story? On the other hand, I personally can’t believe in a loving heavenly father that would force his 14 year old daughter into marriage with a 37 year old man especially when she didn’t want it. That is not the definition of loving to me. Not even close. Heber C. Kimball might have believed and been willing to trade his little girl for a promise of eternal life. But I don’t buy it.
To me it sounds like a million dollar Nigerian email, it is an empty promise.11
Whether you buy what they are selling or not is up to you. It’s not my choice, it’s yours. If you have any reason to doubt though I implore you to give heed to what Helen confided to a friend after all this went down.
- This is implicit in the testimonies you hear on Sunday when people say I know the church is true. They mean the one true authorized by God religion. ↩
- I have met so many women since my disaffection that turned away a good man they loved deeply to chase this promise of an eternal marriage. They walked away from the person they loved for the promise of priesthood and marriage in that pretty castle/temple that is repeatedly sold to them as the best possible way to marry in this life. In many cases they didn’t pick the guy their heart told them to. They picked the guy the church told them to. In the end the regret they have felt and expressed to me is heart wrenching. Nothing hurts as bad as discovering you have been deceived. Especially when you gave up something wonderful for the deception. ↩
- http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/hinckley.html. ↩
- https://progressiveexmormon.wordpress.com/non-lds-quotations/ ↩
- https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng ↩
- http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org ↩
- Joseph claimed he would be a ‘Muhammed’ to people as well. “The Prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith’s prophecies are superior to the laws of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, ‘the Alcoran or the Sword.’ So should it be eventually with us, ‘Joseph Smith or the Sword.’ These last statements were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adam-ondi-Ahman was between three and four hundred” (History of the Church 3:167) ↩
- Ironically it is this same declaration the church accepts as Gods truth that also tells us the prophet will never lead the church astray. But for 100 years after that they taught doctrine of black people being cursed of God which is now some sort of giant mistake on their part… so did they lead us astray or not? ↩
- Yeah I realize that some historians (typically on the church payroll) argue that this wedding happened as late as 1835. But hey if you can say a 14 year old girl was ‘almost 15’ to make your point I’m allowed some latitude here right? Either way it doesn’t change my point. ↩
- You can see the evidence of it everywhere once you start looking. I found clear evidence that Joe Smith lied to followers when he needed to, that he destroyed a printing press for telling the truth about him. That he lied about his ability to translate. You can even find evidence that the BoM is just fiction. The facts are everywhere if you look. ↩
Every person in the church should read all of the Essays that have been released. Personally I think they should read the critiques on them as well. Far to much is carefully worded leaving out crucial information needed to make such an important decision in my opinion.
Here are links to the official ones http://mormonessays.com.
Here you can find information that isn’t completely revealed in the essay on polygamy.
The CES letter summarizes all of the issues that didn’t make sense that I found with the churches claims, it has lots of links to the source information.
Lots of references here to what prophets have said over the years that leaders today never talk about, things that you really should know are at the foundation of your belief system.
Great article.Thanks.All religions promise things that are not true but that’s the beauty of it.As humans we want so much to believe that we will suspend reason logic and even life it’s self to have it .Mormonisim however does tend to take it a step further.Truth is one of those rare commodities that is so easily confused and manipulated by others
Thanks for the article and all the links. Just wish I could get my TBM hubby, sons, and parents to see what is so obvious to me and to so many others!