So I just read a recent release from the church I used to love. I also realized yet again how much I love and care for many of the people that still believe in said religion even if I can’t condone the behavior of the corporation as a whole. This particular article is interesting because it purports to have the answer to all the hard questions. It has, as these things often do, caused me to ponder yet again1 the faith I was raised in and the shelf I once held up with nothing but sheer faith and will power. So what are all these hard questions? Well the article doesn’t bother to actually list them out, but a lot of them are brought to light recently by the churches own admission,2 from problems with being a seer translating ancient records to changing versions of the first vision along with polygamy and polyandry and pretty much a whole slew of stuff that if you’d asked the average member a couple of years ago were nothing but anti-mormon lies crafted by satan to deceive you and make you doubt your faith.
The church has been striving to be more open about its past. Mostly because it has to in this age of information. Otherwise it just looks like a liar outright. Elder Snow said as much recently when the church first moved to publish these essays.
I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation — with the access to information on the Internet, we can’t continue that pattern; I think we need to continue to be more open.”3
So this article rather than actually list out the concerns (which would probably weaken testimonies even further) just rolls them all up into one loaded question: “Do you trust God?” Well do ya? I hope that you think about that question because there is a lot of implicit stuff in there. Who’s God are we talking about? Is it the Mormon one that tells us stuff via his prophets? Is it the average Born Again Christian one that says Mormons are totally non-christian with all their funny beliefs? Is it Allah? Or is it whoever the pope talks to? 4 Maybe it is meant to be really personal, maybe it should be the God inside each of us that the doctrine of the Fridge promotes.
The article does seem to lead you down that path, the one of a personal answer to your prayerful doubts. Of course we already know the answers to prayers are yes, no, or wait for it, and they come in ways you need to be watching out for. The Fridge works the same way so that is all good 🙂 But the question is: “Do you trust God?”
I’d like to suggest you make it a little more specific.5 Do you trust that God sent an angel with a sword to coerce women to marry Joseph Smith? That is actually the crux of the matter. At least for the most recent turn of events when the polygamy admission blew up in their faces as the Fridge foretold in this post before it made all the major news outlets. Why not get right to the issue and determine if God really would command his prophet to do such a thing. I beg of you, ask that question in your prayers tonight. Because Joseph said God sent an angel with a sword and threatened him to do it. Do you trust that? Do you believe a loving father in heaven would do that to any of his daughters? If you do, you will be fine. If you can shelve that and stop thinking about it, you can most definitely still have faith… at least until you discover the next thing you thought was anti-mormon turns out to be true as well. But hey, you start the process over and repeat it till you believe. It really is that simple if belief is more important that principles. Which brings me to my last thought, there was a quote at the end of the article from the current prophet of the church:
“It is impossible to stand upright when one plants his roots in the shifting sands of popular opinion and approval. … We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us—all of us—have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle.” 6
Do you really believe God told Joseph to take all those teen brides and other mens wives just like Warren Jeffs? Or do you think that is wrong and against your principles? Because if like me you think coercing any female in that way is wrong… and that is one of your principles. You have to wonder. Are you gonna have the courage to face the fact that you might have been wrong all along about the church you placed your faith in? It could mean loss of family, of social status of friends or even spouses.
Do you have the courage to stand for your principles even if it means realizing Joseph Smith was just making it all up? Even if it means that eternal family you hoped for was a false promise? Or that your path to Godhood wasn’t real? Or that you might be one of those outer darkness apostates if you were wrong about declaring that teen bride polyandry stuff is all BS and God would never force his prophet to do that! Because if you question that was a legit revelation to be honest with yourself you have to critically question all the revelations that Joe claimed to have. If he were lying about this one it behooves you to more critically examine the rest of your assumptions does it not?
Will you stand for what is right even when the church you trusted to tell you right from wrong is against you? It is a hard hard question and unlike the article that inspired this post you can’t just put it on a shelf, not without being a coward and seeing it every time you look in the mirror. 7
- And people wonder why I can’t leave it alone! Someday when the spin stops and you stop misleading the people I love… then I might be able to leave it alone. ↩
- I linked a list here that is kept on non-church run websites because if you go to LDS.org and start browsing or searching for them you will quickly find out that in the age of google they are notoriously hard to find. Here is a hint, make sure to show all results and look way down the list for the topic. I also have a list in the footnotes of this Fridge article. ↩
- Truth in Church History: Excerpts from the Religious Educator’s Q&A with Elder Steven Snow” http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/truth-in-church-history-excerpts-from-the-religious-educators-qa-with-elder-steven-snow/… and in case you are wondering there are a bunch of records quoted in the new essays that the church won’t give outside access to. ↩
- None of which has directly faced any of these questions since good old GBH. Even the essays came without authors or dates on them… why is that? so they could be plausibly denied? ↩
- The same could be said for many of the other issues that are being admitted to. Do you trust that God gave the prophet the ability to translate the Book of Abraham and then let the papyri show up and prove him totally wrong? Or that God was good with destroying a printing press hiding the polygamy that lead to the death of the prophet, or that God stuck anachronisms in the Book of Mormon or that he totally diddled with the DNA evidence, or that he told The prophet to start a fraudulent bank, or buy up swamp land in Nauvoo only to sell it at outrageous rates to new converts? The list goes on and on if you do a little research. ↩
- President Thomas S. Monson, “Be Strong and of a Good Courage,” Ensign, May 2014, 68–69. ↩
- One last footnote, I want people to know that I still appreciate many of the principles the church espouses. I find a lot of good in it and in much of what the mythology inspires and idolizes. I even think that the leaders for the most part are caught up in the cognitive dissonance as well and kind of trapped in the system. I believe many are trying to point the ship in a new direction to correct the past and make it into a good club. But the thing is the church is its past. It isn’t just a good club to belong to, at least not for me. For some people it is though. So if it works for you and you love it, by all means stay the course, but hopefully my words will help you understand the perspective of one that couldn’t continue and face himself in the mirror every day. ↩