Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Polygamy Issue Part 3: The LDS Church's 2013 Statement on Polygamy and My Response Because My Response is Important - Okay, Not Really

The church has planned 13 different statements (I don't know what else to call them so I'll refer to them as statements which is probably wrong) relating to problems within church doctrine that members have discovered since they've been able to investigate for themselves. Thank you internet.

The latest is on polygamy.

Here it is and my comments. Bear with me, it's long. So was polygamy. I am not a scholar nor do I pretend to be one, so forget about jumping back and forth with footnotes. This is a blog, not a college paper. So back up on my statements are on your own time.

For the statement in full you can read it at this website. But to get my brilliant insights you can stick around here.

To clarify, the statement is in italics, my comments are not. And only parts of the statement that I'm addressing is here because anything else is superfluous. See, I stuck a big word in there.

The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that the marriage of one man to one woman is God’s standard, except at specific periods when He has declared otherwise.

Ah, no they don't. The footnotes given go to a place in the BOM that condemns polygamy (more on that later) and the Bible has examples of polygamy but no declaration of God saying it's okay although there are lots of examples of dysfunctional families living polygamy. In fact I read all the scriptures last year and I didn't find anything in any of the scriptures (except  D&C 132) which has God commanding polygamy. Even in the D&C there's a part that says one man one wife.

In accordance with a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage—the marriage of one man to two or more women—was instituted among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early 1840s. 

 The "revelation" is section 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants. As far as I know there were no witnesses to Joseph getting this revelation. You would think that something this earth shattering would have witnesses. And he didn't tell anyone about it until after he could no longer deny that he was practicing it.

In 1890, the Lord inspired Church President Wilford Woodruff to issue a statement that led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.

Yeah, except look at this following paragraph.

 On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years.

So the Manifesto did not end plural marriage in the church. In fact just read it through and see how it actually says that they were not performing plural marriages. Which statement tells the truth? That one, or the current one? It appears that Wilford Woodruff had a little problem with telling the truth.

In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages. Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church.

Except in the temple. Men can marry as many women as they want in the temple. Women can't. A woman has to get a sealing removed before she can remarry in the temple. A man can have as many wives sealed to him as he was married to on earth. So if he's like Mickey Rooney who had eight wives or something like that, he can be sealed to all of them. The only exception to a woman being sealed to more than one man is if she's dead and she had several husbands and no one knows which one to seal her to. In that case, they seal her to everyone but she has to choose which one in heaven. Men don't have to make that choice.

This essay primarily addresses plural marriage as practiced by the Latter-day Saints between 1847 and 1890, following their exodus to the U.S. West and before the Manifesto.
Latter-day Saints do not understand all of God’s purposes for instituting, through His prophets, the practice of plural marriage during the 19th century. 

Maybe because God didn't.

The Book of Mormon identifies one reason for God to command it: to increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant in order to “raise up seed unto [the Lord]” (Jacob 2:30).

Read Jacob 2. Here I'll give you a moment.

Are you done yet?

This scripture talks about how awful polygamy is and how wrong Solomon and David were and how much it hurts God's daughters and people better stop doing it.

No where does it say "but you guys can do it if you want."

I have no idea how anyone got that out of verse 30. I suppose someone with authority justified his polygamous ways by saying "this is what this means" and because he had authority and was a man everyone said "okay. You must know because you're a man with the priesthood."

But it doesn't actually say that polygamy is okay. You would think it would be as plain as the rest of the scripture that says emphatically that it isn't.

Yet Mormons ignored the plain and simple and forthright and the "don't do that" and put an interesting twist on a scripture that can be interpreted in other ways.

God even warns women not to get involved with married men in verse 28.

I don't know how plainer it can be.

The following is an example which I made up.

"Johnny, your sister came crying to me that you hit her. You can't hit her. It's wrong and it hurts her and it hurts me when you hurt her."

"But Mom..."

"I said you can't do it and I mean it."

"But if you said I could do it, then could I do it?"

"Yes, but I wouldn't say that. I said that you can't."

"But I could if you said I could."

"Yes, but Johnny, I said you can't."

Johnny runs away shouting to his brother, "Hey Marty, Mom said we could hit our sister!"

Plural marriage did result in the birth of large numbers of children within faithful Latter-day Saint homes.

I"m sure there would have been large numbers of children without polygamy. I bet there would have been more. Think about it. Wouldn't ten monogamous couples produce more children than one man trying to impregnate ten women? With a monogamous couple she doesn't have to share him with other women so the chances of getting it pregnant is greater because she's having sex more often.

If producing a large population were the reason for polygamy then why was there only Adam and Eve?  Where were Debby, Kathy and Maggie? And why didn't  Noah and his sons have more wives? Wouldn't populating a world where everyone has died be important?

 It also shaped 19th-century Mormon society in other ways: marriage became available to virtually all who desired it; 

 Well, except for young men who saw the young women married off to old guys. Kind of hard to get one wife when the leaders were grabbing all the young women.

inequality of wealth was diminished as economically disadvantaged women married into more financially stable households;7 

And then were left to fend for themselves as single mothers. Yes, it's so much more financially stable to be a single mom than to be single and not have children.

and ethnic intermarriages were increased, which helped to unite a diverse immigrant population.

What? Didn't Brigham Young rail against intermarriage? Even recently, as in very recently the church has said not to mix race. No I don't have a link. You'll have to look it up. It was in a recent young men's manual.

 Plural marriage also helped create and strengthen a sense of cohesion and group identification among Latter-day Saints. Church members came to see themselves as a “peculiar people,”

Of course it did. You have to unite when you're in misery. You have to have people buoy you up and tell you you're doing the right thing. You have to create an us against them mentality to survive when you're doing something that's weird and goes against every other religion in the country you reside in and every other social norm. It's a way to keep yourself separate.

And yes, you do become peculiar.

Besides, no one wants you in their society. You might take one of their daughters. Duh.

 covenant-bound to carry out the commands of God despite outside opposition, willing to endure ostracism for their principles.

Perhaps the opposition happened because the outside world recognized that it was wrong and cared enough about their children to not want them to get caught up in this.

For these early Latter-day Saints, plural marriage was a religious principle that required personal sacrifice. 

No kidding. And my heart goes out to them. Somehow though I don't think that sacrificing for God is supposed to be so nightmarishly painful. Sacrifice is supposed to bring you greater blessings and fill you with something more than what you give up. Giving up a faithful marriage is not a good sacrifice.

 Accounts left by men and women who practiced plural marriage attest to the challenges and difficulties they experienced, such as financial difficulty,

 What happened to the financial stability mentioned earlier in this document?

 interpersonal strife, and some wives’ longing for the sustained companionship of their husbands.

 You mean women wanted to actually have a relationship with their husbands? What a novel idea! And maybe when there's a disagreement she might want more footing rather than him being able to walk away and find comfort in someone else's arms. She will always lose in that situation because he has no reason to work things out.

And what could women who are sharing a man possibly be fighting about? Hmmm.

But accounts also record the love and joy many found within their families.

 I'm sure that mothers loved their children. And I'm sure that women got to the point where they banded together in their misery. And I'm sure that siblings loved each other. And I'm sure that a man would have a favorite wife and she felt more special than the others (although not as special as a woman in a monogamous relationship).

They believed it was a commandment of God at that time and that obedience would bring great blessings to them and their posterity, both on earth and in the life to come. 

Of course they did. They trusted their prophet. Just like the Saints trust their prophet now. LDS people are taught to believe in their prophet and that he will never lead them astray. So if the prophet says it's a commandment, then it's a commandment.

While there was much love, tenderness, and affection within many plural marriages, the practice was generally based more on religious belief than on romantic love.

 You mean like when a teenage girl is told she has to marry a middle-aged man with several wives when she actually is in love with the teenage boy down the street?

 Church leaders taught that participants in plural marriages should seek to develop a generous spirit of unselfishness and the pure love of Christ for everyone involved.

 In other words - Women, shut up and do as your told by your husband.

During the years that plural marriage was publicly taught, all Latter-day Saints were expected to accept the principle as a revelation from God.

 Revelations from God cannot be questioned. We don't want anyone questioning things. That would lead to people thinking. We don't want that.

Not all, however, were expected to live it.

 Kind of hard when there weren't enough women for every man to have a dozen each.

 Indeed, this system of marriage could not have been universal due to the ratio of men to women.


 Church leaders viewed plural marriage as a command to the Church generally, while recognizing that individuals who did not enter the practice could still stand approved of God.

Actually that's not what Brigham taught. He said something about men not going to the celestial kingdom unless he had several wives. You'll have to look this one up on your own.

  Women were free to choose their spouses, whether to enter into a polygamous or monogamous union, or whether to marry at all.

 Really? This part of D&C 132 relating specifically to plural marriage:

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and acleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be bdestroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

That was just God joshing around? You mean Emma had a choice? Well I guess accepting what Joseph was doing or getting destroyed is a choice. Not a good choice, but a choice. But from what I understand Emma didn't even know Joseph was doing it for awhile. She never actually chose to enter into polygamy, forced or not. Joseph did that on his own.

And really what kind of choice does a woman have when she's told she'll be destroyed if she doesn't agree to marry Uncle Larry? Especially if she's been raised to believe that's the only way to have a marriage?

That's the part of the scripture that doesn't sound like the Lord at all. It sounds like a power hungry guy using his power and authority to get what he wants and what he wants is women in his bed. Many did it before, and many did it since. Like David Koresh.

In Joseph's case he was smart enough to get men to agree with him so it wasn't just him doing it.

I honestly believe that God loves us more than this and he would never violate free agency by telling someone that if they didn't do something horrible they would be destroyed.

This is religious abuse at it's worst and in this day it would be considered rape. And no, I'm not kidding about that. In fact this whole point makes steam come out of my ears so let's move on.

Some men entered plural marriage because they were asked to do so by Church leaders, while others initiated the process themselves; 

I'm sure they were inspired - by parts of their anatomy.

all were required to obtain the approval of Church leaders before entering a plural marriage.

It makes it easier to convince a young woman or the parents of a young woman to allow the marriage when they can say "the prophet commanded it."

The passage of time shaped the experience of life within plural marriage. Virtually all of those practicing it in the earliest years had to overcome their own prejudice against plural marriage and adjust to life in polygamous families. 

 You mean the prejudice that says "this is wrong." You mean that part of you that tells you when something is wrong. You mean the Holy Ghost, your conscience, your intuition, your gut, your intellect, your traditions, your upbringing, your every fibre of being that tells you something is wrong. They had to overcome that prejudice?

The task of pioneering a semiarid land during the middle decades of the 19th century added to the challenges of families who were learning to practice the principle of plural marriage.

So did the fact that no one knew where their husband was.

 Where the family lived—whether in Salt Lake City, with its multiple social and cultural opportunities, or the rural hinterlands, where such opportunities were fewer in number—made a difference in how plural marriage was experienced. It is therefore difficult to accurately generalize about the experience of all plural marriages.

It's difficult to accurately generalize about the experience of all marriages.

Still, some patterns are discernible, and they correct some myths. Although some leaders had large polygamous families, two-thirds of polygamist men had only two wives at a time.

 Only two? Yes, that makes it so much better. He's only cheating on his first wife with one woman instead of several.

Church leaders recognized that plural marriages could be particularly difficult for women.

Well, I'm glad they recognized that. ESPECIALLY SINCE IT SAYS THAT IN JACOB 2! You know, that scripture that says "DON'T DO IT!"

 Divorce was therefore available to women who were unhappy in their marriages; remarriage was also readily available.

 In fact marriages among the early pioneers were pretty much disposable. People were marrying and divorcing and remarrying all over the place. And they say that we're in a bad state of marriage now?

 Women did marry at fairly young ages in the first decade of Utah settlement (age 16 or 17 or, infrequently, younger), which was typical of women living in frontier areas at the time.

 I understand this is not true. I could be wrong.

 Almost all women married, and so did a large percentage of men. 

You mean the men who were allowed to marry? The ones who managed to snag a wife that a married man didn't want?

In fact, it appears that a larger percentage of men in Utah married than elsewhere in the United States at the time. 

Let's do the math. There are 100 men and 200 women. (Random numbers even though it was probably closer to even). If 50 men marry 4 wives each that leaves 50 men without wives. So in the rest of the states more than half the men never married? 

The experience of plural marriage toward the end of the 19th century was substantially different from that of earlier decades. Beginning in 1862, the U.S. government passed laws against the practice of plural marriage. Outside opponents mounted a campaign against the practice, stating that they hoped to protect Mormon women and American civilization. For their part, many Latter-day Saint women publicly defended the practice of plural marriage, arguing in statements that they were willing participants.

Of course they did. What else were they supposed to do? They had to protect their marriages. They may have fully believed that polygamy was right because that's the only belief they were ever taught. They didn't want to have the stigma of being a mistress and having their children being considered bastards under the law. They didn't want to be condemned by their church. Of course they defended it. There wasn't another option.

After the U.S. Supreme Court found the anti-polygamy laws to be constitutional in 1879, federal officials began prosecuting polygamous husbands and wives during the 1880s. Believing these laws to be unjust, Latter-day Saints engaged in civil disobedience by continuing to practice plural marriage and by attempting to avoid arrest.

A lot of husbands abandoned their wives leaving them without any income. Civil disobedience is not an avoidance of arrest. Civil disobedience often requires an arrest to prove a point.

So with all these priesthood holders in hiding did they give the priesthood to women? Nope. Remember, women don't need the priesthood. (I say this with my eyebrows raised.)

 When convicted, they paid fines and submitted to jail time.

You mean there's a choice not to when you're convicted of a crime?

 To help their husbands avoid prosecution, plural wives often separated into different households or went into hiding under assumed names, particularly when pregnant or after giving birth.

That's right. Hide the women in their shame.

By 1890, when President Woodruff’s Manifesto lifted the command to practice plural marriage, 

 Hold it. A command? Didn't it say earlier in this document that there was a choice?

For many who practiced it, plural marriage was a significant sacrifice. Despite the hardships some experienced, the faithfulness of those who practiced plural marriage continues to benefit the Church in innumerable ways. Through the lineage of these 19th-century Saints have come many Latter-day Saints who have been faithful to their gospel covenants as righteous mothers and fathers, loyal disciples of Jesus Christ, and devoted Church members, leaders, and missionaries. 

 You mean those people wouldn't be faithful if they hadn't been born in polygamous families? Don't we teach that we lived in the pre-existance and we are all meant to come to earth? According to LDS doctrine, these people would have been born anyway and most likely into LDS families. In fact, maybe there would be more LDS people because there wouldn't be the stain of polygamy attached and more people would have joined.

On another point of this, coming from those polygamous families we also have the fundamentalist groups and all the problems that has created. Warren Jeffs for instance and all those young women forced into marriages and those young men thrown out of their families. They trace their history to the same source.

My ears are steaming again.

Although members of the contemporary Church are forbidden to practice plural marriage, modern Latter-day Saints honor and respect these pioneers who gave so much for their faith, families, and community.

They gave far more than they should have and I'm sure the majority of them were righteous people trying to do what God wanted them to.

Yes, we honor them, by pretending that it didn't happen. We honor them by leaving the wives of Brigham and Joseph and John and Wilford and the other prophets out of the church manuals.  We honor them by denying there were so many of them.

I find it hypocritical that a church that is so conservative and has such a strong stance against pre-marital sex, "petting",  masturbation, homosexuality, pornography and even how women dress, still defends adultery, child-rape, sexual abuse, and religious/spiritual abuse and puts it under the title of plural marriage.

I know that's a strong statement. I let it stand.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The List

There is an informal list that as LDS people we are given to do to reach the highest level of exaltation. It's not written down anywhere (well, except where I wrote it) but it is understood.

Here is that list. Read the list.  The List.

Exhausted yet?

Yeah, me too.

LDS people know about grace. They believe in grace. They just don't accept grace.

Other Christian people fully embrace grace because why would you want to do that big long list?

Fully accepting grace means that you don't have to do anything. As long as you accept Jesus then you are saved. You may want to do something but you don't have to. You have no responsibility. After all you are a horrible sinner, there is nothing you can do to deserve grace. It is completely free because Jesus is so good and you are so terrible. You are no better than a serial killer.

LDS people on the other hand are children of God who Heavenly Father loves. But we are also  convinced that we are never good enough and must do everything possible to be accepted by Heavenly Father. He loves us, but He won't let us come to live with Him unless we are perfect. We live in that constant paradox.

So few of us believe we are saved because who can be with that big long list? Sure some will say "you don't have to do everything at once. There are seasons."

True, but have you ever talked to an LDS geneologist? That is the most important thing. This is the season.
To a mother, raising her children is the most important thing. This is the season.
To a home schooler, that is the most important thing. This is the season.
To the ward food hoarder specialist that is the most important thing. This is the season.
And to all of them their most important thing is your most important thing.
Everything is in season.

As for me, I prefer a middle ground.

I don't have to do everything on that list.

That was so freeing to come to that conclusion.

Jesus gave us three things to do.

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. - Luke 10:27

That's it.

1. Love God.
2. Love your neighbor.
3. Love yourself.

Now the things on The List are all good things. But they are merely tools. You don't have to use every tool in your tool box. Some become your favorite tools that you use over and over again. Some you don't even know how to use or ever need to use and sometimes you need a completely different tool that isn't in the toolbox and you have to go out and get it or make it.

I don't believe we can be saved by proclaiming Jesus and then doing nothing or doing evil things.

I don't believe that following a long list of things to do is necessary to be saved.

What I do believe is that we need to follow the path He lays out for us.  Along that path we will have to fight dragons and help people and learn things. Each of us has a different path. As long as we are headed in the right direction, on our path, then He will come to meet us wherever we are.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer

“When Elder Packer interviewed me as a prospective member of Brigham Young University’s faculty in 1976, he explained: ‘I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting." - Boyd K. Packer, President of the Twelve, apostle in the LDS church to Michael Quinn LDS scholar.

As a woman in the church that quote is offensive in so many ways but mostly because it justifies withholding the truth from the members.

As a member I want to know! I have a right to know! I shouldn't have to go outside the church to know the truth. History is for everyone, not just something for a select few and hidden in vaults somewhere.

And so I have been on a search for truth.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

I don't normally do reviews on this blog. I have a review blog for that. However I thought this one would be best served here.

The LDS church which I officially belong to admonishes it's members,when reading things about the church to only read church sanctioned materials, because there is so much out there that isn't true.

In some ways it makes sense. If you want to learn about dentistry you don't ask a plumber. If you want to learn about Mormonism, you ask a Mormon.

For years I followed this advice because when I did read something from non-Mormons it was mostly false and nothing like my experience.

When I wanted to find out more history about my church, I decided to look a little further than the Mormon sanctioned sites. Because I discovered that the church publications didn't tell the whole truth. My manual about Brigham Young does not talk about his many wives. There's a statue in Temple Square in Salt Lake that shows the love between Emma and Joseph Smith. Nowhere are there statues for the other women that Joseph married and caused Emma so much heartache. The church glosses over the bad stuff.  I found sites that were Mormon friendly but told the whole truth, not just the parts that the church wanted me to know.

Which has sent me on a whole other journey which will be part of this blog although not so much this post.

Jon Krakauer is not a Mormon, nor has he ever been one, however in reading this book and knowing what I know now about the LDS history I find this book balanced even if it is scary.

The main purpose of the book is to tell the hideous but true story of the Laferty brothers who murdered their sister-in-law and her baby girl by slitting their throats. To understand what happened the author found it helpful to link the thought process of the brothers to their religious upbringing and the history behind it.

The Laferty's were ex-communcated from the church before they did their crime. So let's be clear about that. They were not acting for the church in any way.

However, one wonders if somehow the history of the church does have something to do with the craziness of fundamentalists. It's the same history.

And the history is far more brutal than I realized. The author tells about Joseph and his sordid past, about Hauns Mill, about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and about Brigham Young and his stand towards women, blacks, the American government and murder in the name of God.

It's fat and ugly.

Now the author does get some things wrong. He calls Lyman Wight, Lyman Wright (I happen to actually know this since my children are related to him). He tells the story of Elizabeth Smart and makes the mistake of saying that her abductor wore the robes that Elizabeth would have seen in the temple. Elizabeth would not have seen anyone wearing robes in the temple because she wouldn't have been in that part of the temple.

However he does use proven scholarly books written by Mormons for his history. Books that are well respected in the Mormons scholars world.

This book however, is not an attack on the church. It merely attempts to make sense of how two formerly devout and honorable LDS men can become so evil.

Don't read this book if you don't want to know the history of the church or if you want to follow the admonition of President Packer to not know the truth.

As for the quote at the top of this post -

It's like a woman asking her husband where he's been and he answers "I went to the movies," which is the truth. It just leaves out the part about how he went with another woman and later they went to a motel.

I'm sure Packer would approve.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Yes I am a Liberal Mormon - I Just Didn't Know There Was a Name For It

Meridian Magazine published a post from Joni Hilton that created such a commotion that it caused Meridian to take it down. I wish I could share that article with you but copywrite laws prevent me from doing so and I don't want lawyers breathing on me. I think it's better that you read it for yourself instead of my spin on it, but it can't be done.

So I will say this. Hilton wrote a horrible article that made a lot of presumptions about people with nothing to back it up.

I could write a post about everything that is so wrong about her article and pick it apart piece by piece, which I may do just so people can read it . Mainly she created two versions of Mormons, "The Good Mormon Camp" and the "Everybody that Doesn't Think Like Joni Hilton Bad Mormon Camp." But that isn't really the purpose of this post.

Frankly those of us who are "Liberal Mormons" hear this stuff all the time. Joni hasn't said anything new. We hear it in church conference. We hear it in sacrament meeting. We hear it in our classes at church. We read it in the Ensign. We hear it from other church members. What Joni said is the safe way to go at church and among church members.

Except it's not so safe on the internet. Because guess what? A lot of those liberal Mormons go to church  and do their callings and are in disguise as Good Mormons and don't say what they really think at church or even in their homes when their home/visiting teachers come but have no problems expressing quite different opinions on the internet.

So it must have been a shock to poor Joni to discover that she wasn't surrounded by high fives and hugs.

Meridian was faced with a difficult choice. They don't want to alienate their readers. Yet this is exactly what this article has done. They don't want to send their writer to the stocks to have tomatoes thrown at her. As a writer I appreciate a publishing company (however they publish) standing by their writers. I wouldn't want Meridian to abandon her. That seems unfair and not very Christ like. So they took her article down and then wrote another one to excuse it and assure everyone that we should love each other.

"You're Not a Member In Good Standing If..." by Maurine Proctor

Which caused another round of criticism because Proctor said that readers misunderstood Hilton.

Readers didn't misunderstand Hilton.

Other than that, Proctor wrote an article that was positive.

Frankly I think that Hilton's article should have stayed up. Along with all worthwhile comments (comments that attack the article and not Hilton, and are articulate).

I think that Proctor's article which speaks of loving each other, should not have referenced Hilton's or tried to make apologies.

I think Hilton should either be given the opportunity to fight for her stance, or apologize as she sees fit in the same place where she made her original statement.

Because you see, even though I don't agree or like what Hilton said, I believe in her right to say it. I want that. I want to be able to say what I think without having insults hurled at me, or be called names or be accused of who knows what. I want to be able to have constructive conversations - yes even with those who disagree with me. And because I want that for me, I want that for Hilton too.

I am currently at a state where I want to reclaim my spirituality. For me that means that I find God in my own way, and I recognize that others who disagree with me spiritually are not spiritually bereft, but are on their own spiritual paths. I believe that He tells each of us different things because we are each different. Are there absolutes? Absolutely. Jesus stated those absolutes in two commandments that encompass all others. But there is room for each of us to find our own way.

For some people it is following closely a church and what the leaders say and not questioning anything. Sometimes I wish I could be like that. It seems so much easier. I do not condemn others who choose to live that way. Life is hard. If it makes it easier for them, if it keeps them close to God, then who am I to say it's wrong?

But He gave me a questioning mind. And no matter how hard I tried to follow the path of least resistance, it didn't work out for me.

I am also choosing not to be offended by this article. Do I find it offensive? Yep. I understand why others are offended. But in this instance, I really don't care what Hilton thinks of me as a Mormon because I'm on my own spiritual journey and she has no idea what that means for me. I do not condemn her. Her experiences are hers, and mine are mine and she has come to her own conclusions and I have come to mine.

Instead I offer sympathy for her. Not in a "I feel sorry for you" way because that's a feeling of superiority and I don't feel that. I feel sympathy as a fellow writer. I can imagine what it would be like to write something you feel passionate about, something you feel will help others, something that you think will be received positively and instead you get slapped in the face, and in the head, and in the heart. I can imagine her shock, her hurt and her embarrassment.

And so I extend my hand to Joni, not because I agree with her, I don't. But because that's what we do when we love Christ. We extend our hand of love to those who are different from us. Joni, you are welcome to express an opinion on any one of my blogs - not that I expect you'll ever see this.

PS. I have found other blog posts that have reacted to this subject. I will link them here as I find them.

Dear Sister Hilton
I'm Joni Hilton's Computer
A Response to Joni Hilton's "Are You a Liberal Mormon"
Why Yes, I Am a Liberal Mormon
See the Bandwagon, See Ardis Jump on the Bandwagon

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Things I Wish That I Had Told You

Today I saw you sitting in your van while a man stood on the outside screaming obscenities at you. When I stopped to help you told me you were fine and he was your husband and you thanked me but said you didn't want me to call the police when I offered.

I knew you weren't fine. Your eyes, and your mouth, and your entire face told me something different from what your tongue said.

I told you to drive away, but I realized later that you probably couldn't because the repercussions later might be worse.

So I drove away, and I went to the police.

Here's what I wish I could have done and said.

I wish that I could have got out of my car and opened your door and held you.
I wish that I could have convinced you to drive to my house where you would have been safe.
I wish that I could have kicked his butt all the way down the street and through the park and into the lake.

I wish that I had told you

  • that you are beautiful and you deserved better than what he was giving you.
  • that even though you love him and that he is probably your whole world, he doesn`t love you,     because if he did, he wouldn`t treat you that way.
  • that all of the nasty things he calls you, is not about you. It's about him. If he calls you stupid, it's because he knows that he is stupid and that you're not and that drives him crazy, so he tells you that so you will feel worse than he does. If he calls you ugly, it's because he knows you have more beauty than he can hope for. If he puts down your dreams, your ideas, your desires, it's because he thinks so small and he is afraid that you will become greater than he is.
  • that just because he doesn't love you, does not mean that you are not loveable. It means that he is not capable of loving someone.
  • that being alone is not terrible. It is better than being with someone who is your enemy.
  • that being with this guy means that you will never find someone who will love you. 
  • that even though you may never find someone else, you can still love yourself.
  • that staying with him means that you will start to hate yourself, hate who you've become, hate the fact that you let your dreams die.
  • that he may apologize later, and you may make up, but it will only happen again, and again, and again.
  • that there are other women out there who understand exactly where you're at because they've been there too.
  • that you may not see yourself as an abused woman, because that happens to other women, not you, but you are. And that it doesn't always have to be that way.
  • that you are abused not because you are weak, or stupid, but because someone has taken advantage of all the good things in you. Your ability to love unconditionally, to forgive, to see the good in people, to see the potential in others, to sacrifice, to be unselfish.
  • that the most unselfish thing you can do for others, is to take care of yourself first
  • that just because he's not hitting you, does not mean he is not hurting you. Words destroy too.
  • that if you have children, you have a responsibility to them to not raise them to be like him, or to be with someone like him and the only way to do that, is to remove the bad example.
  • that he has issues that are too big for you to solve, and even if you could, you are too close to the situation because you have become his trigger.
  • that he does not take responsibility for his behavior. Did you notice when he turned on me for trying to help you and called me nasty names? They were the names that he should have directed at himself.
  • that you deserve better and only you can claim it

You haunt me now, because I couldn't do more. Because I didn't know what to do at the time. I pray that you are safe and that soon you will realize, that life is too short for crap like this.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Young Women Survey

I found this really interesting.

The Young Women Survey Results

As explained, this was not done officially by the church but by members within the church.

None of it surprises me although I'm sure it will surprise a good number of members.

Some really interesting results.

76% said that they were taught that their main objective was to marry in the temple yet only 58.5% said they were taught that their main objective was to have a testimony of the Savior and a relationship with Heavenly Father. Related to that, 48.9 % were taught that their value is dependent on marrying in the temple and that 53.2 % felt their value was dependent on finding a temple worthy husband.

97.1% were taught that they are a daughter of Heavenly Father (which is good and I know this is a real focus and theme of YW), however only 19.6 were taught that they are a daughter of Heavenly Mother and 48.5% felt that Heavenly Mother should never be spoken about.

47% believed that the consequences of sexual sin is that they are less value as a person. (Note, sexual sin within the church is more than just having sex outside of marriage. Even thinking about sex is viewed as sexual sin although admittedly on a lesser scale).

68% say that men and women do not have an equal say in what happens at church and 79.1 % say that men have the final say.

79.3% were taught that polygamy happened because there were more women than men and almost half were taught that polygamy was their eternal destiny.

54.9% were taught that sex outside of marriage is as bad as murder.  (This is so sad. No wonder why she feels of less value when she commits this sin. I mean, you might as well commit murder once you've crossed the sexual sin line by this way of thinking.)

55.4% do not feel equal to men.

Like I said. I don't find these results surprising. However, I do find them sad. What are we teaching our young women?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Journal of Discourses: Vol 1.1 Salvation

I'm going to attempt to read the Journal of Discourses. This is not scripture. It's a series of sermons and speeches given by latter day prophets in the LDS church.

It tends to be controversial. So I'm going to try and do a balanced look at different things in it. Not everything, there's too much. Critics use the Journal of Discourses to prove Mormonism wrong. Certainly there are things that make us go "huh?" So the church's answer is that it's not scripture. I can accept that prophets are human and say stupid things. I can also believe that sometimes they say inspired things. It's our job to figure out what to accept and what to reject.

The first one was called "Salvation" and it was a sermon given by Brigham Young delivered in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on January 16 1853.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of BY. And he was certainly a man of his time when he writes
"the fair-skinned Christian, and the dark-skinned savage". You would think that a prophet would know better, but he didn't. We have to remember when we see things like that, that this was the American way of thinking up until the last couple of decades. All In the Family, a show in the 70's was so popular because it showed the ridiculousness of this thinking that was so prevalent at the time. 

But I didn't want to write about that. It's this gem that I wanted to comment on.

There is another thing, brethren, which I wish you to keep constantly before your minds, that is with regard to your travels in life. You have read, in the Scriptures, that the children of men will be judged according to their works, whether they be good or bad. If a man's days be filled up with good works, he will be rewarded accordingly. On the other hand, if his days be filled up with evil actions, he will receive according to those acts. This proves that we are in a state of exaltation, it proves that we can add to our knowledge, wisdom, and strength, and that we can add power to every attribute that God has given us. When will the people realize that this is the period of time in which they should commence to lay the foundation of their exaltation for time and eternity, that this is the time to conceive, and bring forth from the heart fruit to the honor and glory of God, as Jesus did—grow as he did from the child, become perfect, and be prepared to be raised to salvation? You will find that this probation is the place to increase upon every little we receive, for the Lord gives line upon line to the children of men. When He reveals the plan of salvation, then is the time to fill up our days with good works. 
Let us fill up our days with usefulness, do good to each other, and cease from all evil. Let every evil person forsake his wickedness. If he be wicked in his words, or in his dealings, let him forsake those practices, and pursue a course of righteousness. Let every man and woman do this, and peace and joy will be the result.

There are those that believe that it isn't good works that gets us saved. And to some extent that is correct. It is Jesus who saves us. Without Him, no one would be.

However, there is no point in claiming to be a follower of Christ, and then not follow Christ. It is more than just saying "I believe." We can't do evil and claim that we follow righteousness. The free gift that He gave to all, was not salvation. It was eternal life. We all get to live forever whether we want to or not. Salvation on the other hand is offered  but we need to accept it. And it's no good accepting it and then throwing it in a closet. It's like getting a guitar for Christmas and then never learning how to use it. You won't learn to play the guitar by merely having one.

BY's statement gives us tremendous power to accept Christ's offer and honor it.

It isn't important where we are on the path when Christ comes to get us. What is important is that we're on the right path, facing the right direction, and trying to get home.

To read the full sermon you can go here. Brigham Young: Salvation.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Facebook: Family First Weddings

Sometimes when I share a story on FB I end up embroiled in controversy. I end up in a debate, which annoys people because they don't want to see fighting on Facebook. Sometimes I've had people message me privately to tell me what they think because they don't feel safe to post on FB.

So I thought I would try posting some of the Facebook links here on my blog. If it's controversial I want it here so people can be free to comment, and comment at length if they choose. I don't need to have people agree with me. But I do want to take the fight off of Facebook. If they're interested enough, they can follow me here.

I will be posting some Facebook things just because I want to comment on it. But for some, like this one, I would like to just post it so people have a space to speak.

I will allow comments as long as they are respectful and don't use foul language.

So, here's the first controversy. By the way, I am in support of this and at some point I will make a comment either in this post or another one, why I am in support of people being able to ask the first presidency for changes.

Family First Weddings

I will also be calling this my Facebook Series, and you can see all the posts in the series on the sidebar, so you can comment at any time.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Learning to Not Be Tolerant

A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk in church. That was a risky thing to ask me to do since no one ever knows what I might say but perhaps they have no idea how much of an apostate I am. Okay, not really. I just find it funny that we like to throw that word around whenever someone in the church says something that doesn’t agree with what the latest leaders say.

They asked me because it was my turn. What other church has the congregation give the sermons? I think it’s great. We all have the opportunity to speak, and if once every few years isn’t enough, we have the opportunity once a month to stand up and bear our testimony in whatever way we want. No one has control over this. It’s great.  Testimony meeting is sometimes exciting because you never know what people will say. For the most part, people tow the line and say the required words, but I’m going off on a tangent. Back to what I want to write about.

I was given the topic of the 11th Article of Faith which is actually quite a nice one – they all are by the way. 

 11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

It’s a great standard. It’s too bad the world doesn’t follow this. It would be so much better if they did.

I was going to write my talk and then post it here but as it turns out, I never actually wrote a talk. I just quoted some scriptures, told some stories and gave a brief history lesson on Martin Luther, which was really the only part of the talk that I wrote. To look at my notes you would see "tell story about Narnia" (referencing my stint as the White Witch in a play), or "tell about grandfather" (which is a big long story that I don't want to get into right now. Basically it was "here's a scripture, this is what I think."

I just wasn’t in the mood to write anything, and I worried that I would fall into preaching. I didn’t want to preach. It’s not my place. So I asked the Lord to help me out and say what He wanted me to say, and not what I wanted.

I hope that’s what happened. I can’t say one way or the other if it was. I can say that I received several positive comments about my talk, but again, that could have been politeness. It’s expected when you see someone who has given the talk to say “great talk”. And you can’t tell by applause if you’ve done well, because we Mormons don’t applaud in the chapel. I guess it's felt that applause takes away from the spirit. I tend to agree. Trouble is, we never know when we can applaud at church. But I'm going off on a tangent again.

What I do want to mention in this post, is one idea that I came away with that I hadn’t thought about before giving this talk. Perhaps that is the kernel that comes from the Lord. I don’t know.

I spoke mostly about the love of Jesus, and I mentioned the world Tolerance.

It’s a word that we use a lot. We look at it as a positive word. It’s a pat on the back word. “I’m tolerant of my neighbor.”

But it seems to me what it really means is “I’m right and you’re wrong, but I’ll put up with you anyway.”

It’s filled with pride, self-righteousness and lacks understanding of the other person or their ideas.

When did Jesus teach that?

If instead of telling our children “I love you,” we said to them “I tolerate you,” what kind of message does that send them?

I don’t recall anywhere in the scriptures that we are to be “tolerant.” We are to love. We are to be compassionate. We are to help and serve. We are to try to understand. We are to live together.
But tolerant?

Now tolerance is certainly better than being hateful, and given the choice, by all means let’s choose tolerance, but we can do so much better than that. We can try and be like Jesus.

That doesn’t mean we should embrace everything that comes along nor agree with everything.

But we can disagree with our fellow man and still show love and compassion and try and understand.

In fact it seems to me that tolerance is showing allowance for serious hurtful sin that damages another, which should never be tolerated.

And it isn’t just outside of the church that we should love and accept those who are different from us, but inside the church as well. Are we calling those who we disagree with, who don’t toe the line, who don’t blindly follow everything that is being said, an apostate? Is that loving?

Perhaps we’re not, but instead we are being tolerant. We are looking down on them and saying “I’m right and you’re wrong, but I’ll tolerate you and you’re weird and completely wrong ideas, and I will continue to tolerate you even though you’re an apostate and I am filled with love and compassion because I am so much better.”

I too am guilty of tolerance, but I’m trying to do better.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Polygamy Issue Part 2: The Scriptures

I am frequently admonished by members when I say that I don’t believe that polygamy is correct that “I should read my scriptures.”

It’s an arrogant statement. It insinuates that they have read their scriptures but I haven’t read mine and therefore they know more than I do. Perhaps they do. I could be completely wrong. But it isn't because I haven't read the scriptures.

In 2012 I made a goal to read all my scriptures straight through. I read the Old Testament, the New
Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I also read the Relief Society Book, "Daughters In My Kingdom" that was published that year, and the Relief Society and Priesthood manual for that year. I accomplished this in that year.

While reading I was looking for specific instances where the Lord commands the people to practice polygamy.

Except for the one scripture in the D&C 132, I didn’t find one instance where the Lord commanded people to enter into polygamy. 

But what about Abraham, and David, and Jacob?

There is no record of the Lord commanding them to practice it, except in D&C 132 which you can read for yourself here.

For most people in the church, that one scripture is enough. After all, it's scripture.

There's a lot in that one scripture, not just plural marriage, but other things that are basic beliefs that hit close to home with the Saints. Some things sound wonderful, others are down right scary.

I have some problems with this scripture and I will explain that in another post after I've dealt with some of the other issues I will be posting about.

I want to deal with this subject as honestly as I can, and as scripturally as I can.

What I did find in the scriptures is a lot of examples of how plural marriage doesn't work. And a lot of scriptures that command monogamy. And some scriptures where the Lord condemns polygamy. In order to follow D&C 132 (the plural marriage part) you would have to ignore all those other scriptures.