Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Questions for Devout LDS Members: That 14 Year Old Girl

I was once a devout LDS member. I'm still an LDS member, but not so devout. I have heard it through the grapevine (channeling Gladys Knight who is as far as I know  a devout LDS member) that I am thought of as an apostate, or possibly a bad person who is probably going to Outer Darkness.

My crime? I have held on to my integrity and tried to follow God.

Yes, folks. I still believe in God. I still believe in right and wrong. I still have a moral core which in spite of what many LDS members believe has nothing to do with bare shoulders which I don't show anyway because I have flabby upper arms. If I dared to bring them out in public I'm afraid a gust of wind would come along and sail me into the air. I could coast along with those things. Not that I'm afraid of flying. I've gone parasailing (with a sail, not the arms), but I'm not sure about the landing.

So I am sincerely asking questions from those of you who still believe. Questions, which now that I'm brave enough to bring them out, study them and outright ask them, don't make any sense to me.

Help me out here and be patient while I ask.

I discovered this a little while ago and then the church brought out an essay confirming it. I'm going to bring out a quote from that essay, and give you a link in case you want to check it out for yourself. Note: This is not an "anti-Mormon" essay. It is put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is totally safe and you will not go to hell by reading it. It can be found on the church website.

Here's the excerpt I'd like to focus on.

"Most of those sealed to Joseph Smith were between 20 and 40 years of age at the time of their sealing to him. The oldest, Fanny Young, was 56 years old. The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday. Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.26 Helen Mar Kimball spoke of her sealing to Joseph as being “for eternity alone,” suggesting that the relationship did not involve sexual relations.27 After Joseph’s death, Helen remarried and became an articulate defender of him and of plural marriage.28

And here's the link. Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo

Okay, so obviously I want to focus in on a fourteen year old girl marrying a thirty eight year old man - who is already married.

I'm hoping and believing, that there are devout Mormons out there who are squirming and going "ick".

So let's put the ick factor aside and look at this logically and also with faith.

Do you really believe that God would tell a thirty eight year old man to marry a fourteen year old girl?

If so:
  • Why would God tell a thirty eight year old man to marry a fourteen year old girl?
  • What is the purpose?
    • She's still under the care of her parents, therefore she doesn't need the care of another adult. And even if she did, why can't you help someone without demanding marriage?
    • Fourteen is really too young to have a baby safely. It would be better to wait until she's older.
    • Polygamy does not lead to greater amounts of children. It leads to lesser. Ten monogamous couples will produce more children than one man and ten wives simply because of opportunity. A woman's ability to get pregnant goes up the more sex she has. Obviously she has less sex when she has to share him with more women.
    • It prevents her from marrying a young man who is more age appropriate. It also prevents her from being loved by a man.  Helen Mar Kimball remarried only because Joseph was killed. If he hadn't been she would have stayed married to him.
    • Is there a fear that at the ripe old age of fourteen she might never marry and have children so she should marry the first guy who comes along?
    • A fourteen year old does not have the knowledge or ability to make such a life long decision. Therefore she is either forced or manipulated into it. If forced or manipulated, then when the marriage is consummated, she is raped.
Okay, so for those of you who are devout and love your beautiful teenage daughters, and believe that those daughters are special and deserve to be honored, cherished and protected, how do you reconcile that with a much older man who claims to speak for God, asking to marry your young daughter?

Here is what Helen said about her experience:

“Without any preliminaries [my Father] asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives...The first impulse was sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure; for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, ‘No I wouldn’t!’...This was the first time that I ever openly manifested anger towards him...Then he commenced talking seriously and reasoned and explained the principle, and why it was again to be established upon the earth. [This] had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake.” 
Then father “asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph...[and] left me to reflect upon it for the next twenty-four hours...I was sceptical-one minute believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast her off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right. I knew that he loved me too well to teach me anything that was not strictly pure, virtuous and exalting in its tendencies; and no one else could have influenced me at that time or brought me to accept of a doctrine so utterly repugnant and so contrary to all of our former ideas and traditions.” 

 Unknown to Helen Mar, Heber and Joseph had already discussed the prospect of Helen Mar becoming one of Joseph’s wives.  Heber now sought her agreement.  Helen recalls, “Having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet Joseph, he offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet’s own mouth. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the alter”

Now, does that sound like a  young woman who wants to marry a middle aged man who already has several wives? In fact, doesn't that sound like a young woman who is being manipulated and guilted into something by the person she loves? She was the sacrifice. The previous year, Joseph had tested Heber's devotion by asking for Heber's wife, which Heber gave. Joseph then told him it was only a test.

More from Helen:


The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home.  "[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage...After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.[‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God& his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing...She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come...; but it was all hidden from me.”  Helen’s mother reluctantly agreed and in May of 1843, Helen married Joseph Smith.


Do you see what's happening here? Joseph manipulated this girls feelings and beliefs by promising her family eternal salvation and exaltation. This was not Joseph's to give. Only God can give that. So Joseph came representing himself as God and promised things he couldn't give. If she went against him, she would always be haunted by the possibility that her family would not be saved and exalted because of her actions. Furthermore, her own mother was against it but agreed because of the manipulations and their devotedness to God. Later, her father Heber was rewarded with a ton of wives (I'm sure if you added up all their weights it would equal a ton or more). And her mother was rewarded with a ton of sister wives which she had to share with her husband - and the knowledge that her husband had no problems giving her and her daughter away. Helen was rewarded with Joseph and all his wives.

But would God want this?

Helen didn't even realize what she was agreeing to.

During the winter of 1843-44, there were weekly parties at Joseph Smith’s Mansion House.  Many of Helen’s friends attended, as well as her sixteen-year-old brother William.  Disappointed, Helen wrote, “my father had been warned by the Prophet to keep his daughter away...I felt quite sore over it, and thought it a very unkind act in father to allow [William] to go and enjoy the dance unrestrained with others of my companions, and fettered me down, for no girl loved dancing better than I did...and like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself  an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur.”


Of course she murmured. She had every right to murmur. She was FOURTEEN YEARS OLD and she should have been enjoying dances and giggling with the other girls and getting awkward attention from boys her own age. Instead she had to sit at home like an old woman, punished for doing exactly what she was told.

To read more of what she said you can go to Helen Mar Kimball But beware. This is not a church site and if you go claws may reach out through your computer screen and drag you down to hell. I would rather send you to a church site showing what Helen said but I don't know of one. The church hasn't put one out that focuses on the voices of women. At least not that I know of.

So I would love it if you devout Mormons out there can explain to me why this is all okay. You see, I love my daughters. I know you love and cherish yours. I cannot make the leap of loving and cherishing my daughters to "sure middle aged guy who speaks for God and has other wives - you can have my daughter even though she really doesn't want to marry you because your a middle aged guy with other wives. It's important that I prove to you how devoted I am and here's my sacrifice."

And how do you link this to keeping your daughters "virtuous and chaste"?

What about the phrase "men are that they might have joy." Does this not include women? Are only men supposed to have joy? Because frankly I doubt that there is much joy in forced and coerced marriages.

And how is this different from what Warren Jeffs did? Wasn't he just following Joseph's example? Whether we all like it or not the FLDS do stem from the same root. They too are the branches of the same tree.

Sure, I know Joseph wasn't perfect. I can accept imperfection. But there's a difference between imperfection and "guy who forces himself on women by using his authority status". Nowadays that's illegal and immoral. Even from those who say they speak for God.

So if the church decided to again practice polygamy in this life (they already practice heavenly polygamy) and the prophet came to you and asked you for your teenage daughter so that he could marry her, would you be okay with this? Would you willingly sacrifice your daughter to him? Would you quote "follow the prophet, he will never lead you astray" to your daughter who won't want to marry an old guy? Is it worth offering your daughter up as a sacrifice so that you can have salvation? Is that what you believe God wants?

And no fair saying "that was then this is now" because members still sing "Praise to the Man" still teach that Joseph talked with God and Jesus and was commanded to set up the church, still believe the Book of Mormon which was translated by Joseph, still believe that Joseph was a prophet of God and still follow the leaders who have been handed down that authority by Joseph and still say "follow the prophet, he will never lead you astray."

Someone please explain to me how you consolidate all this.

And also, please explain to me, how not getting on board with this makes me an apostate who is going to outer darkness - or maybe the telestial kingdom where the thieves and atheists dwell.
And how come I'm the one who's lost God because I don't believe that God would do this?

I just don't understand. Enlighten me please.

Monday, April 20, 2015

If the LDS Church Ruled the World

I'm letting you in on a little secret.

The LDS church wants to rule the world.

Oh, I'm not saying this is something that anyone says outright from the pulpit. As far as I know there's no madman sitting in a room of high tech computers plotting with his sidekick how they're going to take over the world while they eat funeral potatoes and green jello.

Nope. It's far more subtle and long reaching than that and actually, they aren't the only church that has the dream.

There's a phrase - "Every member a missionary." It means that every LDS member is obligated to find "investigators" so they can be taught the gospel. Not just any gospel. But the gospel of the LDS church which they believe to be the only true gospel of Jesus Christ.

They want to "flood the earth" with the gospel so that each person will bow when Jesus comes - however, to them it doesn't just mean each Christian, but that every person will be a Mormon when Jesus comes.

I remember telling a sister missionary (the LDS church sends out young people to convert the world) that I thought that a pastor of a church becoming LDS might not be right since he might be needed in his congregation. The look on her face showed horror, as if I suggested that we start dancing naked in the moonlight around a sacrificial fire.

Oh sure, they know it won't happen. They know there will be other religions on the earth at the coming of Jesus, but they believe when that happens they will all come to realize that the LDS church is the one true church and the world will be divided in two, between Latter-Day Saints and bad people.

Again, this is not different from what other churches believe about themselves.

So let's just pretend. Let's pretend that the LDS church rules the world simply because the great majority of the people are members. What would that mean?

All you have to do is look at how the church is currently set up to understand how it would work in the real world.

It would mean that there would be no woman leaders. There would be no women doctors, lawyers, police officers, politicians or women in any other career.

Women would be in the home.

Women's voices would not be heard.

When women would be allowed to speak it would be to confirm what men have told them to say.

Don't believe me? In the 1980's then prophet Ezra Taft Benson counselled every woman to return to the home. Every woman. Not just women with small children, but every woman who had a husband no matter her age, should stay home. Single women and single mothers were exempt since they needed to support themselves.

And although currently most of the women I know in the church work outside the home, the counsel of Ezra Taft Benson has not been rescinded. It is still advised that women stay home but because we live in the real world, the church recognizes that this may be unrealistic for now.

So if the church ran the world, every woman who had a man to financially care for her, would not be in the work force. Furthermore, it would be hard for single women to get decent jobs because why would you invest in a woman who might get married one day?

The church would only allow men to be leaders - it's that way right now. They may allow a single woman to have some leadership keys in an area, but that would merely be for show, to say that they do see women as equal.

They would tell women that they are so special that they do not need to work. They would tell women that men needed to learn the skills that women naturally have. They would tell women to be happy in the home and if they wanted other work, to volunteer in their community. They would tell women that if they don't like cooking and cleaning then they better pray to like it because that's what women are meant to do.

They would tell women how to dress, how many children to have (as many as you can physically have), and encourage them to marry the first worthy man to come along even if it means giving up their education to do it.

They may even reinstitute polygamy to take care of those single women so that they aren't in the workplace.

Sounds bizarre? That's the way it is now within the church. Women do not lead (except under the leadership of men - even the women's church group is run by men), women do not handle money, women do not make decisions, women do not baptize, women do not even write the manuals that are taught to women and young women. Women are encouraged to marry young and have babies right away even if it means putting her education and career on hold. Women do not even hold their own babies during blessings. Women hold no authority in the church. Women have been told that if they don't like being in the home that they better pray to like it. When women speak, they only say what men have said before. Women who have different voices are excommunicated.

Even when women speak of something that has been taught, they may face excommunication like Margaret Tuscano did for writing about Heavenly Mother.

And although women are treated decently in the church for the most part, if men are given the power of the world and the power to completely control women, then that power would only become abusive. What little rights women would have under LDS leadership would be taken away, perhaps gently at first so that no one would notice much and it would be done in a way to make it sound loving.

The car keys would be handed over and her drivers license would be taken away so that she doesn't risk her life.

Laws would be passed requiring her to wear clothing that completely covers her so that she doesn't tempt men.

She would be told that her husband must accompany her on outings so that she can be safe from other men. Even if the whole world is LDS, there are LDS men who can't control themselves when they see women - at least that's what we're told in church. That's why we're never supposed to be alone with a married member of the opposite sex - because men and women can't control themselves. Another reason not to allow women in the workplace. They might have to work with married men thereby leading to adultery.

She will be told that she doesn't need to worry her pretty little head over money and let the men have the headache. Her bank and credit cards would be taken away. Her bank accounts would be handed over to her husband. Only single women would be allowed access to money out of necessity.

She will be told that she is higher and more righteous than any man and is to be worshipped and not have to deal with earthly things - other than child care and cleaning house which is the most noble and fulfilling thing that anyone can do and that's why men are so eager to help do the dishes and scrub the toilets - oh wait. Scratch that last part.

Hmm, I think I have a dystopian novel in there somewhere.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

In Which Religious Freedom Equals The Right to Be a Jerk

To the ultra conservative Jewish men out there...

There have been recent reports that certain members of your group have been holding up planes - not with guns - but with refusals to sit down and behave themselves.

Why? Because you don't want to sit by women. Apparently women have cooties.

You claim religious freedom.

I'm all for religious freedom. Until it infringes on someone else's freedom. And holding up a plane because you can't sit down and behave yourself is infringing on every one else's freedom to get to the place that they already paid to go to.

Furthermore, dear airlines, stop asking and pressuring women to move to accommodate these men.

Sure there are those who say "why can't she just be accommodating. Moving is not that big a deal."

I'm all for being accommodating. If you are a mother who wants to be near your children so you can keep an eye on them, I'll move for you. If you're a couple who wants to sit together, fine, especially if I can have a window seat.

But if you're asking me to move, not because of a specific need, but because of who I am, then that's where I say no.

Imagine if the airline asked a black man to move because the KKK member refused to sit next to him because his "religious belief that God hates black people" prevents it. Or if a member of the Westboro Baptist church insisted that he can't sit by a gay man, would the airline ask the gay guy to move?

I highly doubt it. And nor should they.

But it's perfectly fine to ask a woman to move. Women are nice. Women are accommodating. Women aren't that important anyway. And if the woman would just get up and move then the nice Jewish man can sit down and the plane can get up in the air and everyone will be on their way.

It's always the woman's fault.

Seems to me gentlemen, if you want to play ring around the rosie with seating plans, then buy your own plane. If you really don't want to sit by a woman then buy two tickets. Or talk to the airlines when you purchase your ticket. Or bring a friend who isn't afraid of girl cooties. Or walk, bus, drive a car, or swim to where you're going.

And if you fear that if you sit by her she will jump your attractive as you think you are - it's unlikely to happen. Don't believe those letters about the mile high club that you read from the secret Playboy you stash under your mattress.

And if you can't control yourself when you sit by a woman, then you should not be in public at all and perhaps should check yourself into an all male facility where they treat sex addicts. You might want to sit by women after that as the safer alternative.

Look, when we get on a plane we all may have to sit by people we don't want to. The guy who smells like he rolled in whiskey, the four year old with the full on tantrum, the man who looks at you like he has a chain saw in his luggage and he wants to take you for a drive when you get off the plane, the woman who chews gum with her mouth open. It's part of the whole airplane experience along with body cavity searches, lost luggage and travelling with our knees up at our ears.

Airline personnel, the next time a man refuses to sit down because he has to sit by a woman, either give her a seat in first class (because it is insulting to be told that you are unclean and she sure deserves first class, free drinks, and a foot massage, just for being humiliated), or strap the guy to the wing of the plane. He can have a seat all by himself out there.

Ladies, please, if you are ever asked to move your seat because you are a woman, don't. Please don't. It is not okay. It is not acceptable. It is not being nice to other women to cave in like that. You are only feeding the egotism that these men have and you will perpetuate the problem.  Although - if you are offered a seat in first class you are more than welcome to take it. We don't want to be unreasonable here. Just remember to drink to the rest of the people in cargo who have to travel with the guy who believes that one touch of a woman will cause him to turn to dust.

Oh, and for the rest of you ladies who have to travel with this guy, touch him over and over again. He just might turn to dust.