If Polygamy Was Normal, Why Lie About It?

One apologetic response you are guaranteed to get if you bring up Joseph Smith’s polygamy and the 14 year old girls1 he wed is this idea that getting married at that age was normal for the time. I get that this is very commonly taught in the hallways of church as a way to help members shelve their doubts and just keep on believing. But was it really normal?

This justification even made it into the hard to find LDS essay on the topic that seemed to be very carefully worded in an effort to keep people in the boat after finding all this stuff out. After all it did mention that getting married at ‘almost 15’ years old wasn’t illegal at the time. But that really isn’t the whole story is it? Helen Mar honestly wasn’t keen at all on the idea of marring a 37 year old guy as his 20th plus bride. But that alone doesn’t make it abnormal nor illegal. I mean sure a girl could legally get married at age 14, but it it turns out it was in fact completely illegal to do it as a polygamous bride. 2

Which is probably why Joe the prophet lied about it to over 300 recent converts that had just showed up in town and heard the rumors of polygamy that would soon make the first and only printing of the Nauvoo Expositor’s paper. Only printing because surprise, surprise the press would soon be ordered destroyed as a public nuisance by the Mayor of Nauvoo, also known as Joseph Smith, self proclaimed prophet of God.

Don’t believe me? Go read about it for yourself in the LDS history books here.3 The prophet clearly indicated he had only one wife to this group of saints and carefully worded it might be it, was as least as deceitful as Bill Clinton’s claim he didn’t have sexual intercourse with Monica.

 

So even if you ignore census evidence that shows this age of marriage wasn’t at all normal. The most obvious and least asked question in this profet’s opinion is simply this:

If it was normal for the time and place for a 37 year old man to wed a 14 year old girl…. Then why did Joseph lie about it?

  1. Yes there was more than one! Google it if you need to find out more!
  2. Sneaky how they used the word illegal to imply it was normal for the time wasn’t it?
  3. For more on the destroying the press you can start here and then do some googling on your own. See if you can discover how that act led directly to his arrest and incarceration before he was killed.

Oh My God, I’m So Offended!

One of the fundamental flaws of religion is it replaces a persons innate sense of morality with a list of rules. In doing so, it makes obedience more important than personal responsibly. How often have you seen the religious go off on someone that offended them by doing something that is forbidden by their particular list of rules? For me this happened recently, I saw a person take offense at the use of the word ‘God’ in a Disney movie, particularly the phrase ‘oh my God!’

Funny thing is they never stop to think about where their list of rules came from nor how they already pick and choose their rules. For example, the ten commandments in the bible are often touted as necessary to follow in Christianity and its various sects, but why? Why those 10 and not the other 76 from the same part of the book? When you ask a believer why they wear clothes with mixed fabrics defying their God you get a couple different reactions. Most often they have no clue what you are talking about. If they do know they will tell you that Jesus came and fulfilled the law of Moses so that doesn’t stuff doesn’t matter anymore.

But wait, aren’t the 10 commandments part of the law of Moses? It was Moses that brought them down off the mountain right? Moses that said God told him, “Thou shalt not kill!” Right before he ordered the deaths of thousands partying around a golden calf… yeah that guy.


I mean Jesus came along and when he was asked what commandments were most important he could only come up with two of them. Both positive and all about love. So why are we even considering that something like saying ‘oh my God’ is offensive? Which of the two rules of Jesus is it really breaking? The love god one or the love your neighbor one? If you insist that the original 10 that were replaced by Jesus still apply as part of the ‘love god’ stuff, then what does it mean to ‘take the lords name in vain’? Sure church leaders teach that is all about swearing. But is that really what it means? After all these guys have been wrong before. I decided to look up the word vain:

So lets try out this statement with these two definitions.

Thou shalt not take the lords God’s name in having a value of ones appearance. Hmmm seems nonsensical. It could mean you shouldn’t think you are better than anyone else when taking on God’s name. I could get behind that. But how that means you can’t ‘say oh my God’? I’m not seeing it. Let’s try the next one.

Thou shalt not take the lords God’s name producing no result. This is more interesting. You shouldn’t use the name of God without producing a result? I could see saying, ‘oh my God’ being kind of a prayer for help in a scary situation. And if God didn’t show up to help you out the prayer would certainly be ‘in vain’. But don’t a lot of payers meet that criteria? Have you ever prayed and felt it was in vain and received no help?I supposed it could also mean if you doubt God is gonna help you at all you shouldn’t be praying. Gah, it just doesn’t make sense. Maybe Jesus was right and all that law of Moses stuff was a bunch of bullshit.

I say we stick to his 2 commandments. Love the Fridge and love your neighbor. (ignore that part where Jesus says to hate your family though that’s no bueno.) Why change Fridge for God? Well, the Fridge teaches that God is really just you helping you, and we can’t have you loving who you are can we? Ok, ok if you insist, you can change it to love yourself. Loving who you are is not a bad thing, just don’t love yourself too often, you might go blind. 🙂

The moral of this rant where I’m offended at others being offended? I’m going with this:

If you are gonna ask yourself for help. Don’t do it in vain. Help yourself, love who you are. Then after you have figured that out. Help the person next door.  – Thus saith the Fridge.

Abraham Was A Coward

The worlds two biggest religions celebrate the faith of the same man. A guy named Abraham. 

Abraham was so faithful that he took his own son strapped him to an altar and plunged a knife toward his chest.  

Now the believers will tell you no harm was done because an angel stopped Abraham before it was too late. 

  
I kind of doubt this is true because I can’t imagine that the kid didn’t feel traumatized after such an event, but even then. So what? 

So what if God stopped him before it was too late? How does that make what Abraham did ok?

Let’s put this story in another context to see what I mean. Suppose a powerful leader demands a person kill his kid as a sign of faith in thier leadership. Go ahead, pick one. Hitler? Obama? Al Capone? Is a faithful submission to such a demand ok in that case?

The God of Abraham is presumably a really powerful person and can kill others pretty easily.  So why does he need someone else to do it for him? And why celebrate that act as something only the most faithful person would do? Why make that a model to strive for? 

I think religion f%#ks up a person’s sense of morality and the story of Abraham is a prime example. In any other setting Abraham would be considered a coward. A man too chicken to do what is right. To concerned with saving his own eternal skin to consider the morality of tying his own son to a rock and attempting to kill him. 

This is a guy trying to ‘win favor’ with the mob boss by any means necessary. But religions call it ‘faith’ and celebrate it. The more I contemplate this the more I think deep down the religious are cowards. They seek out the biggest wolf in the pack and fight others in his name and for his protection.  

We see this all the time in the animal kingdom. I have a couple of pet dogs that are more than willing to take on others for the protection and home I give them. Given mammals share a lot of DNA I can understand the genetics that reinforce this behavior in humanity.  

But isn’t being human about going beyond our animal instincts? Shouldn’t we celebrate standing up to oppression rather that accepting it? 

I think it’s high time we celebrated people like Jack Harper more than cowards like Abraham. 

In short, we should do what is right and let the consequence follow. Even if you fear the consequence is eternal damnation. True courage is doing what is right even when you have everything to lose. 

  

The Shame of Being Good Looking

Elder Bendar of my old faith recently helped me realize why I have struggled so much with the LDS faith. He pointed out the difficulties of homosexual members that don’t actually exist in the church and compared them to something I immediately connected with. The difficulties of being ridiculously good looking! In case you missed it. This is what he said:

“Would it be a challenge to be very beautiful or very handsome, and in the world in which we live, never develop deep character because we are able to open doors and have success just because of our physical appearance? And we become shallow and superficial in many aspects of our lives.”

Knowing that my good looks have made it hard for me to look myself in the mirror every morning has really helped me a lot. I can get up now and feel completely accepted by those lucky plain people by knowing just like those with same sex attraction that I too have a place in the church!

Today I realized that just like people with different color skin, that my beautiful face doesn’t define me. In the way LDS black people of old weren’t really born that way but given a trial to overcome as they endevored to make their skins white. I only need to make continuous effort each day to overcome my tendancy to be so good looking.  

I now know if I simply endure this inborn attractiveness to the end and strive to be plain and unbecoming that I too can be worthy of all God has to offer! 

This is such a comforting thought. It reminds me of when I was young and jealous of the burden my Lamanite brethren had to bear and how prophets promised them they would be blessed for their trials:

“The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised (2 Ne. 30:6). In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.”

The prophet Kimball was so right! There were no ‘black’ people in the church! Only various shades of God’s children striving to be white!!

The truth that those that are gay will one day be made straight as modern day prophets like Bednar have so recently promised gives me hope that this difficult curse of handsomeness I have been blessed to bear in this life will be eventually removed as I find my place amongst God’s homely chosen ones. 

Thank Fridge.

  

The God in You

When your faith fails in light of evidence or lack thereof. You might wonder how all those years you believed, God seemed to be there for you.  He always knew your fears, he always shared your innermost thoughts and feelings.  You might even have secretly believed God was a she because she knew you so well.

The best explanation for it when you conclude there is zero evidence for God is this. God was in your head all along. You made him up to help you and like a childhood imaginary friend it worked. You searched and cried and pleaded and ultimately you answered your own prayers.

The most liberating realization post belief is this: The divine you needed was in you all along. You have the ability to save you! Knowing that also means you know it’s up to us to make the world a better place cause God sure ain’t gonna do it. – Thus saith the Fridge


“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” ~ Douglas Adams

Losing a Loved One

Some days it just hits me, usually by surprise. I think I won’t ever see him again… he was like my own son. The only pain I could imagine feeling worse is if it were my own son. Then I think of my best friend and his loss. Then I replay over in my head this scene from Lord of the Rings.

No parent should have to bury their child. 

It rings in my ears. This scenario happens every few days, sometimes several times a day, even now, months later. I can only image how much harder it must be for my closest friend, the parent of this wonderful kid.

If I believed in God, I think I’d shake my fist at the sky in rage. Why allow such pain and suffering? I’m not buying the ‘its for your own’ good baloney. When its someone else you don’t know that died its easy to think that. But not when it’s close to home. Not when presumably God is so willing to jump in and help someone else. (if their FB post gets enough likes) It just makes no sense in my mind.

Of course neither does this loss. It is senseless, a stupid mistake that didn’t need to happen. I can’t find shelter in the ‘all part of Gods plan’ motif either. Thing is, I want to. When I’m honest with myself, I want to believe in another chance at this life. An opportunity to right wrongs, a do-over to avoid the mistakes of the past. A chance to see his bright smiling face again. This is nothing like losing my grandma, she was 96 years old. She got to spend 86 more years here and experience what life had to offer. I was close to her too. I loved her dearly. That progression seemed natural. This one was all sorts of wrong.

Does the Fridge help me? Well, yes and no. The Fridge is a self avowed God of the little things and the loss of a loved one is a big thing. Close to, if not at the top of the list, so in that way not helpful at all.

On the other hand I write. I write things and I put them on the Fridge door. There they remind me. They remind me of the places I need to be and more importantly the things I want to be. One thing on my Fridge that I that will be posted till the day it’s my turn to go was etched there by a little boy that always looked on the bright side. It says:

 

A note he had left on his family’s Fridge. Coincidence? In this case I choose to think not. Because it reminds me of things. It displays accomplishments, wedding announcements and words of advice. It is very much a symbol of things that I need to know.

One thing I think about when I look the Fridge is how cool human beings are to invent something like that. Being able to preserve food turned out to be pretty handy in the big scheme of it all. Hell, we are even freezing people in an effort to cheat death right now. More chill coincidence? You be the judge. What does this mean? It means I still have hope. As an electrical engineer with a decent grasp of physics I realize our lives leave an imprint on this universe. Each thought that has cruised through your connectome was accompanied by an electromagnetic wave that left your noodle at the speed of light wafting out into the universe.

There is a record of you, in energy that you expended, yesterday and the day before, and the day before that traveling out into the cosmos just like a cell phone signal. If we could collect that, and imprint it on an exact clone of a new you, wouldn’t that be a resurrection?

Now this is not an easy problem to solve. Sorting out a single person from the billions of brain wavefronts alone is mind boggling. Let alone building the systems to pick up those signals and turn it all back into the person we know today. It’s such a crazy improbable task that I expect us to figure out how to live forever and record living humans long before we pull this off. But if we can get along, If we keep from wiping ourselves out we have a long time to work on this problem. Another 5 billion years or so…

5 BILLION years???!!!! We invented the Fridge in about 50 years… computers in a century… the internet… space travel… medicine… we are already manipulating our own DNA! The list of what has happened since we took matters into our own hands and instead of waiting for something ‘out there’ to save us is impressive and long and can easily fit in the last 1000 years. Think about that. What kind of problems will we be able solve in 5 million of those millennia? Sure it’s a problem but isn’t that what we humans are particularly good at? Solving problems?

 

“If you solve enough problems you get to come home” – Mark Watney

 

I can’t imagine a better homecoming than one more hug from a bright eyed kid ready to take on the world. So you see my lack of faith in the divine hasn’t caused me to lose hope. If I’m right and a couple billion years down the road we have figured out how to resurrect someone. To them it will be but an instant. To me it will be a blink of an eye. 1The Fridge gives me hope. Not because it is magical, but because it is a symbol of how once breakthrough human achievement can become mundane and so commonplace it is in everyone’s kitchen. Is it really that big a stretch for me to think the same thing could happen to the way we will cheat death in a few billion years?

So when the pain hits and I hurt because I lost a loved one this is how I deal with it. I find hope in what humanity can achieve, and that gives me a reason to be happy all day.

 

  1. To the future scientist reading this blog I hope to be in your top 10 people you bring back if you found it at all inspirational 🙂