Women don’t necessarily need the LDS priesthood to be equals in Mormonism. But they are certainly not equal at present, and major changes are needed to bring gender equality to the church.
To suggest that women are somehow “different but equal” in the LDS church at present… is like pretending that women in the united states were “different but equal” even though they were barred from every LEAD position in politics. Like saying they were equal because they could sit on City Councils and many auxiliary government positions, but were barred from being president, barred from being in the president’s cabinet, bared from congress, the house and supreme court as well as from being governor or even mayor. To pretend that THIS is equality… is a sham. And to do it in God’s name and say it is the will of God that women be barred from top leadership and virtually all the most important decision-making callings is blasphemy.
It’s understandable that because the Church and much of the Western World’s economic & political structures were CREATED BY MEN FOR MEN in environments of intense battle & natural selection, that women would have been largely excluded in the formative periods of these institutions. BUT WHEN THE WOMEN IN A SOCIETY GAIN THE SAME LEVELS OF EDUCATION AND FREE TIME AS MEN, ITS TIME TO CHANGE THIS.
The LDS church should follow the temple’s lead of making the women priestesses with their own priestess organization. I think this was the idea from the beginning and why it’s in the temple ceremony. Joseph Smith was incredibly progressive, and perhaps now the the church might be ready for what he envisioned, we should take some leaps. Women should be allowed to ordain their youth into that female priestess organization. And their leadership structure should be equal to men’s (at least in developed areas of the church). I’m sure if the church would simply open their hearts to the justice of equality, the Spirit would lead us to a structure & label that would satisfy everyone, in the same way the spirit slowly led the church to give those of African decent the priesthood (something which was wrong to bar them from in the first place–even if the demand for black priesthood holders was minuscule during that time period).
As one looks at the history of brutal warfare that marked the advance of civilization it’s fairly obvious why the physically strong ended up being ‘naturally selected’ to rule and hold power. It’s also obvious why social leaders, religious leaders and the divine would have had men start and run religions in their formative periods. As also why it was so important to shelter women to assure the survival of a clan’s future generations. But that time has past in the civilized world and the church needs to heed the Spirit which has pervaded the nations in showing that today is a time for complete gender equality in civilized regions of the world. The church would do well to understand the meaning of the following scripture and work to assure its fulfillment before God steps in and fulfills it in ways we do not like.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
30 But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created. (D&C 29:30, Matt. 20:16; Luke 13:30; 1 Ne. 13:42; Ether 13:12; )
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/reform-banners22-1.png250500MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2018-01-25 09:25:092021-05-14 08:47:46Make Women Truly Equal
In LDS theology, it’s quite common for leaders and teachers to use biblical examples of murder and genocide as example’s of the faithfulness of individuals in scripture. Scriptural stories such as Abraham’s attempted murder of his son, the Levites’ murders at Sinai, Nephi’s murder of Laban, or the Israelite’s genocidal campaign during the conquest of Palestine are constantly used as examples of how obedience to “god” is more important than the sixth commandment or teachings of Jesus.
These types of teaching are common among radicalized Islam and Christian fundamentalist sects and have served as the basis for numberless heinous acts of violence and brutality from the Mountain Meadows Massacre, to the Crusades and Inquisition to the current violence of Islamic Terrorism.
I believe it should be taught that all such teaching are based on distorted biblical theology. I think instead of properly viewing Old Testament violence as part of a “lower law” given to ancient Israel according to their own desires for wickedness, and done away with by Christ and the higher law of love and mercy— LDS have too often supported or even glorified the violence and brutality of the Old Testament as a way to promote obedience to religious authority at all costs.
14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble. (Jacob 4:14)
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; 24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. 25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; 26 And the lesser priesthood continued… (D&C 84:23–26)
Stories from the Old Testament should not be used to justify violent, archaic and conscionably wrong practices. The Old Covenant, according to most LDS and New Testament theology, was a lower law given to individuals too evil and selfish to live the higher law brought by Christ. Thus it is not to be followed by those professing Christ’s higher law.
D&C 84:23–27 teaches that because of the wickedness of the ancient Israelites, God took the Higher law away from them, and “in his wrath and anger” gave them a lower, preparatory gospel that they might actually be able to live. Christ echoes this same principle when he tells the Pharisees that certain dictates of the Mosaic law were given “because of the hardness of your hearts” (Matt 19:8, Mark 10:5). David puts forward this same logic in Psalms 81:10–12, stating that because the ancient Israelites “would not harken to my voice”, “I gave them up to their own hearts lust: and they walked in their own counsels”. Stephan went as far as to say that “God turned, and gave [Israel] up to worship the hosts of heaven” after their sin at Sinai (Acts 7:42). Paul echos the same teaching saying that after Israel “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man”, God “gave them up to uncleanness though the lusts of their own hearts” (Romans 1:21–25).
The Book of Mormon states that because the ancient Jews were such a “stiffnecked”, “blind” and murdering people, God took “away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14)
Instead of glorifying Old Testament acts of violence, or using them as examples of righteousness, these acts should be seen as examples of how Old Testament prophets and people’s were given instructions to help them accomplish “their own heart’s lusts” (psalms 81:12). Instead of pretending that Old Testament Jews were blessed for their murders and genocide, we should look for ways that they were cursed.
Nephi’s Murder as a Curse
Nephi’s murder of Laban is a perfect example. If we are to hold to the historicity of this account, instead of using this murder of an unconscious man as an example of how Nephi was obedient, heroic, righteous and made the best choice, we should consider that “the Lord delivering Laban into [Nephi’s] hands” (1 Ne 3:29) was either an instruction from a lower angel (see D&C 76:86–88) or a test which Nephi failed.
Even though the text suggests Laban was a murderous thief who not only stole Nephi’s family property, but sent his servants to kill Nephi and his brothers, Nephi should have supposed that if his God was strong enough deliver Israel from the army of the Egyptians by miracles, he would be strong enough to deliver Nephi and the plates to the promised land in a way that did not require cold-blooded murder of a pathetic, wicked man as a sign of obedience. If God’s Justice called for the death of Laban, God could have accomplished this himself by illness or any one of many divine means. Does it not make more sense to teach that Nephi was being tested as to whether he would obey God’s law which says, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay?” (Deut 32:35, Romans 12:19, Mormon 3:15; 8:20, D&C 82: 23.) What does the following scripture say about Nephi’s murder or Israel’s genocidal takeover of the promised land?
5 But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; (Mormon 4:5)
Christ’s higher law given to deal with those who seek our lives is this: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:38–39) Perhaps had Nephi passed this text he may have won the hearts of his brothers instead of simply exacerbating the already growing divide between them. A valid case can be made in the Book of Mormon text that continual warfare between the people of Nephi and the Lamanites was a curse or karmaic retribution that may have been avoided had Nephi been progressed enough to live the higher law and show an example of love to his brothers. Nephi murdered Laban and then his brother’s sought to murder him. Nephi’s murder is the start of long cycle of violence perpetuated in his posterity. Nephi goes to great lengths in his text to justify his killing of Laban, suggesting it was an act which constantly pricked his conscience. And it is certainly conceivable to imagine the destruction and curse which comes upon Nephi’s people as a result of the divide between him and his brothers, was a lesson which God used to try and show Nephi the fruits of the lower law of justice verses the higher law of mercy and love. Nephi’s focus on God’s justice instead of his mercy comes back to bite him as it proves the complete destruction of his seed.
“7 O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are just…. 10 And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my people; for, notwithstanding the pains of my soul, I have seen it” (2 Ne 26:1–10)
Contrast Nephi’s story with that of Jesus and the people of Ammon, who chose the higher law of laying down their own lives instead of lifting the sword to defend themselves. As a result of these individual’s self-sacrifices, divides are healed and unified, while those who seek justice instead of mercy, tend to simply exacerbate growing divides.
In fact, note how ironic it is that the exact rationalization that Nephi received from the “Spirit” when directed to kill Laben that “it is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” (1 Nephi 4:13), is almost word-for-word the rationalization used by Caiaphas to kill Jesus. In John 11:40 it gives Caiaphas’ rationalizations saying, “then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’” (NIV John 11:49–50)
The Murder of the Levites & Conquest of Palestine (Genocide)
Take as another example the account of murder associated with the Golden Calf in Exodus 32. After coming down from Mount Sinai with the law from God which commands Israel not to kill or to make and worship human-conceived gods, Moses finds his brother Aaron is already making the people an Egyptian calf idol to worship. The text then states, that Moses, in his anger, “threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain”. After this he takes the calf they made “and burned it, then ground it into powder… and forces the people to drink it” (v. 20). Finally he commands his tribe of Levites to,
Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.” (Ex 32:27)
Moses was likely so angry because he had just finished pleading for mercy on behalf of his people to a Lord who was threatening to destroy them (Ex 32:11–14; Deut 9:9–14, Num 16:43). In his wrath, Moses’ commands Aaron and the Levites to mercilessly slaughter everyone involved in making the calf (even though Aaron and the Levites were apparently just as at fault for the episode), after which he ordains Aaron and the Levites to the “service of the Lord” because they “obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. [for which] Today you have earned a blessing.” (Exodus 32:29)
For those looking for a scriptural excuse to be violent, or for leaders looking for ways to teach unquestioning obedience, these violent murders and conquests can be used as examples of obedient, righteous desirable behavior. (As it is used by LDS Apostle Jeffery R Holland in #3 of this article for instance). But for those who subscribe to Christ’s higher law of mercy, there are more consistent explanations.
We’ve already gone over how Jacob 4:14, D&C 84:23–27, Matt 19:8, Mark 10:5, Romans 1:21–25, Acts 7:42 and other scriptures paint Old Testament acts which conflict with Christ’s higher law NOT as examples of righteousness, or obedience to a violent god who later “changes” because of Christ’s atonement, but as examples of an ancient people who rejected the higher law and were thus allowed to build for themselves a god largely of their own creation (a temple or idol fashioned by human hands. see Acts 17:24, Heb 9:11,24). Twice in the New Testament, God and His revelations are compared to a mirror (see 1 Cor 13:12, James 1:23) which somehow reflect only the “part” of God’s glory that we are currenly ready for according to our own desires for wickedness or righteousness (see also Jacob 4:14). Is it not likely that Moses and Aaron were not allowed to enter the “promised land” as a symbolic gesture showing how they, like Israel itself, failed God’s tests and reflected their own wickedness and thirst for vengeance on God? In fact, the scriptures suggest that ONLY JESUS passed all of God’s tests— symbolized by the three temptations of Jesus for food, religious prestige and political power (Matt 4:1–11). Christ teaches the higher law by passing up ALL THREE OF THESE, choosing martyrdom before all worldly rewards.
Is it not possible that the God’s of human religion and the archetypes of religious scripture are mirrors which reveal what lies in our own human hearts more than the actual councils of an omnipresent superuniversal being?
We should be more careful in the ways we glorify violence, and use the Book of Mormon & D&C’s sound advice showing that the higher law is sacrifice and martyrdom (people of Ammon, Jesus). And through the lower law, violence and killing in self defense is permissible (Alma 43:9–15). Whereas preemptive violence is only permissible under the lower law once several attempts and mercy and peace have been made (D&C 105:38–40, 98:34-36).
34 And if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue;
35 And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord;
36 Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people. (D&C 98:34–36)
Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac
In closing, consider John B. Newbrough’s version of the story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Issac. Like the Book of Mormon it’s one of many of New England’s 17th century channeled spiritualist texts.
24/9.10. Now after Abraham and his people had returned to Jireh, his camp, and it was night, God said to Abraham: Be steadfast, and show your people so that they may understand my words.
24/9.11. And while they were still praying before the altar, God withdrew from Abraham, and allowed the evil angels, who had followed them from Sodom and Gomorrah, to draw near the altar. And one of the angels clothed himself in a great light, and, adorned with sparkling gems and a crown, he appeared, so all the multitude of people could look upon him.
24/9.12. Abraham said: Who are you? And the spirit said: I am your God, ruler of heaven and earth! Abraham said: I am your servant; what may I do for you? And the spirit said: You shall take your only son, Isaac, and your hosts who were with you at Sodom and Gomorrah, and go with me where I will lead you, for I have a great work for you.
24/9.13. Abraham said: I will do whatever you put upon me to do.
24/9.14. So in the morning Abraham and his son Isaac, and the hosts who had been with Abraham to Sodom and Gomorrah, assembled together. And Abraham spoke, saying: Where to, O God?
24/9.15. The spirit answered, saying: Take sticks and a firebrand (torch) and come to the summit of the hill over there, for you shall restore the rites of burnt offerings. || Abraham told the people what God had said, so they began, and Isaac carried the bundle of willows, such as basket-makers use, saying: This will light the large pieces; but what will you burn for an offering, O father? And Abraham said: God will provide.
24/9.16. And when they ascended to the place, Abraham gathered logs and heaped them up, and Isaac placed the willows.
24/9.17. Then the spirit spoke, saying: What shall a man love above all things in the world? And Abraham said: God. And the spirit said: For which reason you shall offer your only son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. And it shall be testimony before your people that you will obey God even to the sacrifice of your own flesh and kin.
24/9.18. Abraham said: Show me that you are God, so that I may not err; for I have been commanded not to kill!
24/9.19. And the spirit departed away from Abraham, perceiving that he knew the higher law. And Isaac was grieved at heart, for he desired to witness what a sacrifice was. And the people, seeing a ram near at hand, went and caught it, and slaughtered it, and sprinkled the blood on the sacrifice, and they lit the fire, roasted the flesh, then took it and gave it to the poor.
24/9.20. And Abraham called the place Jehovah-Jireh, and they returned to the camp; and Abraham, being moved by God, spoke before the people.
24/10.1. Abraham said: This testimony I declare to you, regarding which, your own brethren are witnesses, that even the chosen of God can be deceived by evil angels; for they can take any name and form; and, having no fear of God before them, declare falsehood for truth and darkness for light.
24/10.2. And also, as you have seen, the evilest of cities, even as well as the purest, may be the abiding place of angels.
24/10.3. For which reason you shall not seek signs and miracles, for these may be from evil spirits, even though they show their bodies or converse learnedly. It is not in the power of man to know by words and signs, or by oaths or promises, what is truth.
24/10.4. But the Father has created one thing besides, which is His Own Light. For which reason be believing toward men and angels; and when they teach you according to Jehovah, which is life to all, and happiness to all, without sacrifice to any, they are holy.
24/10.5. If man or angel says: Visit the sick, and administer to the distressed, || follow his advice, for it is of the Father.
24/10.6. But if man or angel says: Do this, and you shall have profit, or glory, or applause, || do not obey him, for he advises for yourself and not for the brotherhood of man. He is not of God.
24/10.7. For spirits will come disguised as your fathers and mothers who are dead, professing love and profit to you. Do not believe them, except when they teach you to sacrifice self for the good of others.
24/10.8. The wicked in heart, having profited in herds, and in gold and silver, say: Behold, God has blessed me! But I say to you, they are cursed, and not of God. Has he gathered you together here because you were rich? You were slaves, and in poverty; sick, and in bondage. And he came and delivered you. Be like him, and he will abide with you.
24/10.9. If a man comes to you, saying: Behold, this is my coat; give it to me! You shall say: Prove yourself as to who you are. But if a man comes to you, saying: Your herd has gone astray; you shall not say to him: Prove yourself as to who you are. But go, and see after your herd.
24/10.10. If a spirit says: Behold, I am your father, say to him: It is well; what do you want? And when he answers you, consider if his words are of God, which are for the glory of the Creator. And if his words are not of God, you shall challenge him to prove himself.
24/10.11. As God is captain of heaven and earth to all righteous souls, so is there a satan who is captain over evil spirits.
24/10.12. And to the extent that the kings’ peoples do not have faith in the Father, so do their souls fall prey to satan and his hosts.
24/10.13. Yet, neither shall man flatter himself by saying: Behold, I have joined the Believers; my soul shall escape hell. || For in that day and hour God may be putting him to the test, to see if his heart is for good works and holiness. || For, because you profess God, you are doubly bound to practice godliness in your behavior toward men and angels. (Oahspe 24/9:10 – 10:13)
Footnotes (↵ returns to text)
All examples are epitomized by this talk by Ezra Taft Benson. The quote he uses from Joseph Smith is taken from Joseph’s attempt to seduce a 19 year old girl to marry him. “Whatever God requires is right,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979, p. 256)—and so Nephi slew Laban. And God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.”
from General Conference Address What’s in It for Me? by James E. Faust
Another prime example is this one… where the author equates Nephi’s murder of an unconscious man with Christ’s refusal to condone the execution of a convicted adulterer. “Choose to obey the higher law when two principles are in conflict. This is exactly what Adam and Eve did when they elected to eat of the fruit, what Nephi did when he slew Laban, and what the Savior did when he forgave the adulteress” from Principles In Conflict – Ensign Jan. 1971 – ensign
With the recent Church Essay regarding Blacks and the Priesthood, this reform is now done! (although the church still needs to apologize and explain the incorrect scriptural interpretations which were used to justify the racism)
The LDS Church needs to completely disavow it’s historically preached doctrines concerning priesthood racism. Excluding “Blacks” from the priesthood is based on several very faulty assumptions.
That Blacks of African decent are descended directly from the biblical Cain, Ham or Egyptus.
That Christ did not open the doors for the priesthood to be given to all the worthy races of the earth instead of just the tribe of Levi.
The official position and doctrine of the church going from Brigham Young to Spencer W. Kimball, can be summed up in the following letter from the First Presidency in the 1960’s.
LDS first presidency letter and policy concerning blacks and the priesthood.
This attitude was based on a particular interpretation of both LDS, Christian and Jewish Scripture. It was the official “doctrine” of the church, and was based on many quotes spoken “as a prophet” such as this one from Brigham Young.
If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called Negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon them, until the residue of the posterity of Michal and his wife receive the blessings, the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and hold the keys of the priesthood, until the times of the restitution shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the earth, and from Michael’s seed. — Brigham Young, Feb, 5, 1852
After listening to a Brigham Young speech in the Tabernacle, Wilford Woodruff records the following Brigham Young quote in his journal:
“If any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the only way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children.”
-Brigham Young (1852, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 4, p. 97)
These attitudes were likely derived and certainly upheld by an incorrect interpretation of LDS scripture. LDS leaders did not recognize that accounts in the pearl of Great Price describing the curse of Cain & Ham were not revealed in order to justify some kind of continued belief in this curse, but as a needed backstory to help modern people understand the basis for ancient Jewish racism.
The truth is, that ancient Jews, along with many ancient peoples were racist. Galatians 2, is only one of many examples showing the feelings of racial superiority of Jews over gentiles. The entirety of the Old Testament is an account of the Jews rejecting Moses invitation to be reconciled to God on Mount Horeb, and instead being given up to a “lower law” and “preparatory priesthood” run by lower rulers and lower rules of conduct.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;
26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
In my article “Oh ye fair ones: The implications of racism and genocide on Book of Mormon DNA evidence“, I show how the entirety of the Bible and Book of Mormon are history lessons, showing modern Israel the errors of the past, and exhorting us not to make those same mistakes. I show how it was the systemic continued racism of the Nephites against the darker skinned Lamanites which eventually led to the wholesale genocide of the whiter Nephite people (largely Nephites who held to Israeli purist doctrine, maintaining their “fair” complexion) by the darker Lamanites (compose largely of darker skinned natives wrongly thought to be “cursed” Lamanites along with a smaller faction of mixed-race Lehite decedents and dissenters).
But instead of seeing and learning from the important lessons being taught in the Book of Mormon racism along with its explained racist foundations revealed in the Pearl of Great Price. Early LDS leaders simply fell into the same mistaken sins as these ancient Jewish people. And, of course, the Book of Mormon explains this is part of the test given to the latter-day Gentiles.
9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.
However, the invitation is extended to repent of this wickedness and work to restore the wrongs of the past in order to be numbered with Israel at the end of the Times of the Gentiles, when the gospel is taken from the fair skinned Gentiles of Europe and its colonial outposts, and is returned to the Muslims of the Middle East, the Latins of the America’s and of course the elect of Israel scattered densely among those of African heritage.
The word “cult” typically has a fairly derogatory meaning. So most of us Latter-day Saints really take offence to those who stigmatize our religion with this label. On my mission I was simply baffled by how so many other Christians could call us this with real concern.
It wasn’t until years later when I started looking at the practices of fundamentalist organizations (like the FLDS under Warren Jeffs in Colorado City) that I began to see what so many protestants and even Catholics were referring to when they called us a cult. Its very hard for us LDS people to see these errors in ourselves, but we need to study what is wrong with organizations like North Korea, The FLDS, Scientology or other “cult-like” organizations… and stop being like them in the subtle ways that we are.
In one sense a cult is simply “a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherent“. By that definition, every religion is a cult. But what I (and most the world who call us this) are talking about is another definition. One that deserves the derogatory association it has. It is “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing” especially misplaced faith and/or admiration of a charismatic leader leading to some level of psychological enslavement. As in a personality cult. A cult in this essence is a dictatorship of sorts, where the leader or leadership has convinced a body of adherents into adoring and upholding them using manipulation. Really it boils down to leaders holding more control than they rationally deserve. Control based on physical force, or on psychological manipulation. (For example, ‘you should obey me because God told you to, or because I have mystical powers, or because your eternal soul is at stake, or because I have a divine mantle, not because I have rational evidence to support what I believe God’s Spirit has taught me.)
This is why closed dictatorships like North Korea and many other similar governments of the past are usually called “personality cults”. Many of the masses in these systems absolutely adore their leaders. In fact they are fanatically loyal to their leaders in psychologically troubling ways, because that loyalty has less to do with what their leaders have actually done for the society personally, and more to do with a culture of manipulation and indoctrination which trains children from a very young age to see and consider their leaders as divine with mystical qualities out of reach for the general masses. To understand the troubling ways Mormonism behaves like a cult, (and the things we should change) simply read this list and watch these videos on known personality cults and then compare them to Mormonism and then a respectful and intelligent discussion on what might need to change can begin. Another good starting point is the article The Priesthood of God & Its Relationship to the Only True Church Doctrine, which gives a scriptural basis on why Mormonism should not maintain power or authority by virtue of its priesthood.
Here are some warning Signs that your in a Cult, From the Cult Institute.
Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions, promoting fear of leaving the organization.
Opposing critical thinking.
Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving. (families & friends disowning or ostracizing members who leave the organization)
Excessive and inappropriate loyalty to leaders. (unquestioning and often irrational obedience)
Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability of leadership.
No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
Followers feel they can never be “good enough” (love and acceptance is far from unconditional).
The group/leader is always right.
The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.
Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
The remainder of the reform steps outlines in the ‘needed reformation’ section of this site outlines ways to eliminate the unscriptural, cult-like practices which have crept into Mormonism from its earliest days.
What’s your polygamy? Lance Allred speaks in a TED talk about his experience growing up in an FLDS cult in Montana. One of many modern FLDS cults which simply carry on the polygamous system created by Joseph Smith and lived by mainstream Mormonism until the United States Federal government forced its abolition.
If the LDS church were a government, and its leaders held political power as well as religious power (as we assume they may some day), what would it look like? It may be hard to nail down exactly, but we know it would be autocratic (absolute top down governance). And it would have very little transparency in its finances and in the inner workings of the top most leaders. North Korea has been changing rapidly since Kim Jong-Un took control, but it strikes me as strangely similar to Mormonism…
Much like with Mormonism, North Korea’s “order” and righteousness come at a great cost. The facade of happiness and beauty hides the sinister shadow of those who don’t conform. The non-conformists are dealt with strictly, harshly and often without mercy. Some documentaries demonize North Korea and its history, others paint it as misunderstood and benign. Whats the correct view? I guess it depends on your perspective.
What is it that makes this Islamic cult creepy? Its the sneeky suspicion that these “happy” ladies aren’t actually thinking fully for themselves. Much like the North Korean’s there’s a feeling that someone has manipulated them in a way the robs them of their human right to full self determination (free agency).
I’m not saying Mormonism is just like any of these organizations. I am saying that Mormonism shares incredible similarities with them. And if there are things that seem “cult-like” and unnerving as you watch these videos… then make sure Mormonism isn’t like that… and if it is, work to change it. In my view that starts with eliminating the unscriptural autocratic governance system that has developed within Mormonism.
As previously mentioned, the remainder of the reform steps outlines in the ‘needed reformation’ section of this site outlines ways to eliminate the unscriptural, cult-like practices which have crept into Mormonism from its earliest days.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/reform-banners22.png250500MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2017-01-24 10:20:302021-04-24 10:52:30Work to Eliminate Any Cult-like Behaviors
The church needs to come to grips with the fact that Joseph’s Polygamy (if it happened) was not divine in the way it was revealed or implemented. And that even if polyamory is to be tolerated as a workable marriage arrangement among consenting adults, it should NEVER be institutionalized, promoted, or used in a spiritualized environment of manipulation by men in power.
In this theological essay, I’d like to make a case for the idea that admitting Joseph screwed up with possible polygamy at the end of his life does not need to destroy anyone’s belief in the LDS church or Joseph’s earlier more altruistic revelations. Much like admitting King David sinned or that parts of the Mosaic law were an uninspired product of the times wrongly attributed to divinity (think Numbers 5:11–22), or that the old LDS doctrines of racism through priesthood were as well, I believe it’s simply a step the church needs to make in order to try and make past wrongs right.
[See ‘A Timeline of Joseph’s Polygamy‘ for details concerning information in this article. I still need to go through add add scores of footnotes with primary sources to everything I summarize in this article… so be patient]
To Begin. It’s Important to address Emma’s Testimony
The following first hand account of a question and answer session between Emma Smith and her son Joseph Smith III was published just after her death. In it, Emma flatly denies Joseph ever engaged in polygamy.
Question. What about the revelation on polygamy? Did Joseph Smith have anything like it? What of spiritual wifery?
Answer. There was no revelation on either polygamy or spiritual wives. There were some rumors of something of the sort, of which I asked my husband. He assured me that all there was of it was, that, in a chat about plural wives, he had said, “Well, such a system might possibly be, if everybody was agreed to it, and would behave as they should; but they would not; and besides, it was contrary to the will of heaven.” No such thing as polygamy or spiritual wifery was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband’s death, that I have now, or ever had any knowledge of.
Question. Did he not have other wives than yourself?
Answer. He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever have.
Question. Did he not hold marital relations with women other than yourself?
Answer. He did not have improper relations with any woman that ever came to my knowledge.
Question. Was there nothing about spiritual wives that you recollect?
Answer. At one time my husband came to me and asked me if I had heard certain rumors about spiritual marriages, or anything of the kind; and assured me that if I had, that they were without foundation; that there was no such doctrine, and never should be with his knowledge or consent. I know that he had no other wife or wives than myself, in any sense, either spiritual or otherwise.
Joseph Smith himself also Denied and Denounced Polygamy in every public instance
In ‘Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo’ (Sunday, May 26, 1844), shortly before his death, Joseph stands by his assertion that everyone accusing him of Polygamy was lying.
Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bare down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors. (
Even though the question of whether Joseph engaged in polygamy is a he said/she said investigation into which the answer cannot definitively be known, there is substantial evidence that he did engage in polygamy and in this article we will suppose that Joseph did indeed participate or dabble in some type of polygamy for at least the last 3 years of his life (This author does not believe the ‘affair’ with Fanny Alger was sexual or polygamous and that his polygamy didn’t occur until around ~April 1841 to June 1844). We will also give him the benefit of the doubt in which sexuality only existed in a few, if any, of these relationships. (Early accounts, such as Fanny Alger, and other young women, are highly suspect.) And that he likely repented and disavowed polygamy after this period, which played a part in his death.
Many of the church’s most prominent founders rejected polygamy
Oliver Cowdary and David Whitmer believed polygamy was not of god. After supposedly acquiescing to it for a time, Emma also denounced it – and ever after denied she or Joseph were ever involved in it. Joseph’s living sons were all ardent opponents of polygamy and made trips to Salt Lake City to try and convince the Saints of as much. Many of the early members of the Quorum of the twelve who left the church, denounced polygamy. Both its institution and cessation caused the largest schisms in the church’s history (involving both members and top leadership). David Whitmer, one of Joseph’s closest family friends, wrote an entire book combining his faithful testimony of the Book of Mormon with an outline of Joseph’s mistaken dissent into infidelity and polygamy. His treatment of Joseph is kind, faithful and fair… but firm that Joseph was deceived in instituting polygamy. One of Brigham Young’s wives likewise wrote an expose on the horrors and ungodly beginnings of the practice. Along with some of these early church members (whose testimonies are unfairly denounced as apostate), I hope to show within a framework of one believing and faithful to the modern LDS church how polygamy could not have been from the same source as Joseph’s earlier revelations.
For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him. (D&C 3:4)
From my reading it seems hypocritical to believe that the “god of good” and god of moral agency taught of in 3 John 1:11; Ether 4:12 and especially D&C 121:35–44 would send an “angel with a drawn sword“, to impose polygamy on his supposed people by coercing his prophet to go behind his wife’s back, and perform a secret mock wedding before a secret sexual relationship with his hired 17 year old house-help. (Emma did not know about this supposed “marriage”, and kicked Fanny out of the house when she found out about it). LDS members can read about this first “polygamous” relationship in paragraph 9 of the new church gospel topic essay, and the rest of the story in the online version of the new book “Joseph Smith’s Polygamy” sold at Deseret Book. As hard as it is to believe, this is exactly how polygamy was “revealed”, and it’s the narrative the new church essays are tacitly asking members to believe! Of course the church essay leaves out all the above details which are readily available in contemporary first hand sources. Instead this is what the Church essay says of his affair with 17 year old house nanny, Fanny Alger.
Fragmentary evidence suggests that Joseph Smith acted on the angel [with a sword’s] first command by marrying a plural wife, Fanny Alger, in Kirtland, Ohio, in the mid-1830s. Several Latter-day Saints who had lived in Kirtland reported decades later that Joseph Smith had married Alger, who lived and worked in the Smith household, after he had obtained her consent and that of her parents… After the marriage with Alger ended in separation, Joseph seems to have set the subject of plural marriage aside until after the Church moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. (lds.org > plural marriage in kirtland and Nauvoo)
I suggest that once members investigate all the facts of early LDS polygamy it becomes obvious, even to the faithful lds worldview, that Joseph and the Saints were at best allowed like the ancient prophet/king David and other prophets of the scriptures to “follow the dictates of their own wills and carnal desires” (D&C 3:4) in introducing the doctrine of dynastic polygamy. The Book of Mormon makes it pretty clear that “God” gives to people according to their desires. And learning the details of early LDS polygamy that are coming to light, it’s easy to see how the same might be said of the early LDS Saints as was said about the ancient Jews in LDS scripture. Jacob 4:4 suggest God’s covenant people can be “stiffnecked” and “blind”, without being disavowed by God—in fact according to this, divinity eventually just gives people what they want even if it leads to trouble.
But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness… Wherefore, because of their blindness… God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble. (Jacob 4:14. See also Alma 29:4, Ether 12:29)
All earlier revelations (including the Bible) forbid or frown upon polygamy
In fact in every instance prior to D&C 132, Joseph’s revelations denounced and forbid polygamy. Although current LDS apologists like to twist and redefine the meaning of the Book of Mormon phrase “to raise up seed unto me” into meaning “multiply seed” ( see Jacob 2:30), the Book of Mormon actually condemns polygamy (click the following expando-link for a deeper understanding of the Book of Mormon phrase “raise up seed unto me” and how a revelation denouncing polygamy was twisted into an excuse to practice it!) Expand Me
The Book of Mormon explicitly condemns David and Solomon’s use of polygamy to multiply children and build their dynasties (see Jacob 2:23–26, as does Deut 17:17). Early LDS leadership ignored the context and meaning of this condemnation and used a few ambiguous words in the revelation to justify the righteousness of polygamy. Specifically they twisted the words “raise up seed unto me” into something meaning “increase the population for me”— something that the revelation does not say. The verse in question says,
“For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise [polygamy is to be forbidden]”. (Jacob 2:30)
To “raise up seed” does not in any way infer the use of polygamy to take many wives to multiply seed or increase the population. It is a direct quote from Genesis 38:8, referring to a caveat of the Mosaic law in Deut 25:5–7 (which Christ referred to in Matt 22:24) where if a man dies without having children, his brother (even if already married) was to take his brother’s widow as a (second) wife in order to “raise up seed” “in the name of his brother”. In other words, to “raise up an heir” to the brother. Or if a wife is infertile a second wife could also be taken to “raise up seed” to the family (like Abraham & Sarah). Since in ancient law, property was tied exclusively to men and their children, in this way the wife could bare children who could still lay claim to the birthright and her dead husband’s assets, and thus preserve the family name under civil law. (or a childless couple could get a property heir through a surrogate.) Both the story of the early Patriarchs as well as Judah and Tamar draw on this law of birthright to illustrate how god “rose up” seed or a “righteous branch” through the folly of his servant’s gross improprieties (see Gen 38, Gen 21, Gen 29:21–35, Jer 23:5–6). To suggest that this reference meant that God might randomly command his people to start engaging in rampant dynastic polygamy in order to increase population is unfounded in scripture and frankly a bit twisted.
Even the Mosaic Law — which suffered the cultural practice of polygamy — forbid that it be practiced by Jewish leaders as a dynastic tool to multiply many wives (see Deut 17:14–17,17).
“Neither shall he [a Jewish King] multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” (Deut 17:17)
The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants stated specifically in section 101 that, “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife.” (It was taken out in 1876) I suggest that instead of using and searching for scriptures to justify and defend the rightness polygamy as we have since 1845, the Saints need to begin to use and focus on scriptures which prove that historical prophets and church leaders often made mistakes! And also emphasize scripture which teach that when some spiritual being comes and commands a person or prophet to do some puzzling act they know might hurt others, they should “try the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1).
“I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation… that that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils…Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;” (D&C 46:7–8)
Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand (see Jacob 4:14), and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God. And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God— (D&C 50:31–35)
Once you educate yourself to all the facts of early LDS polygamy, you’ll see why its a pity Joseph and the Saints didn’t better follow the advice of these early revelations which taught the saints to constantly be on the lookout for false revelations which lead to poor outcomes. The problem is that according to the records, some of the girls and women that Joseph propositioned, did seem to receive spiritual confirmations that polygamy was right — they seem to have seen it as a great honor to be “chosen” to be with the prophet, whereas likely as many (including Emma) felt inspired to denounce it as not of God (go figure). Joseph’s revelations also gave a great answer to deal with these types of contradictions concerning personal revelations. It can be found in the Law of Common Voice & Common Consent which teach that all supposed revelations should be democratically put before the church for a vote of confirmation (I write about this elsewhere). If Joseph and these assorted girls felt polygamy to be right, it would have needed to be put before the body of the church and voted upon so that Emma and the church as a body could receive a spiritual confirmation for or against it as official church policy (Mosiah 29:26, D&C 1:19–20, D&C 26:2; D&C 28:13, D&C 38:21–27, D&C 102, D&C 104:71–85, D&C 51:4). These scriptures apply democracy to revelation, knowing it’s easy for a few people to confuse their own feelings or false revelations with real ones, but it’s far more difficult for a whole church to do such. And no one should have been coerced into accepting any supposed revelations by threats of destruction from God or stories of destroying angels. Nor should anyone have been coerced to believe Joseph’s revelation of plural wives with indoctrinating sermons suggesting “the prophet is always right”. Putting a vote to the body of the thoughtful and prayerful members of the church as a whole is the best way to avoid the deception of false revelations and assure church revalators are receiving revelations which represent the desires of the whole church, instead of just the desires of a few.
4 …for I know that [God] granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. (Alma 29:4)
The scriptures are full of prophets who sin or misrepresent god’s will
The scriptural record suggests its fairly common for prophets and priests to royally screw up. The mistakes and misunderstandings of Old and New Testament spiritual leaders seems to be a central theme of the Bible. Some of the most prominent prophets in the Christian scriptures seem to be allowed (or led?) to do stupid and sinful things which end up fulfilling their roles of being archetypes or symbols of the people they lead. Moses & Aaron were not allowed to enter the promised land because they boasted and took credit for God’s miracle of giving living water to Israel from the rock (Num 20:12,24). This harsh symbolic curse may have been related to Moses’ and Aaron’s previous acts of murder (Ex 2:12; 32:25-29). The deep symbolism in their mistakes and curse almost certainly was meant to be a foreshadow of Israel itself not entering Christ’s Kingdom of God because of pride, fanaticism and genocidal violence all in the name of God — culminating in their rejection and murder of Christ with his living waters. (see Num 20:8–12, Jer 2:13, John 4:10, D&C 11:24). In a very similar vein, David who was a prophet and king “after God’s own heart”, killed Uriah to sleep with his wife and was not allowed to finish God’s temple (Acts 13:22, 2:30, 1 Sam 13:14, 2Sam 11-12, 1 Chron 28:2-6). This was yet another sin almost certainly foreshadowing Israel’s coming inability to fully build the kingdom of God amidst their whoredoms and thirst for blood. Abraham’s willingness to transgress former commandments and murder his own son (see Gen 9:4–6), and then faithlessly have a child with his servant who he later allowed to be banished, may have been a foreshadowing and archetype of the violent division which would develop among his posterity and his posterity’s eventual murder of the “Son of God”. We should not forget that even Peter, the chief apostle, denied his Savior– likely as a scriptural foreshadowing of his dispensation’s coming missteps (Matt 26:75, Thes 2:3).
In fact LDS scriptures such as D&C 84:23–27 and Jacob 4:14 strongly suggest that the unchristian aspects of the Old Testament narrative like polygamy, brutality and genocide were not the will of God, but the result of Israel’s own wickedness and “hard hearts”. Scriptures like Romans 1:24, Acts 7:42 & Psalms 81:12 echo the same message by stating that “god turned away from [from the ancient Israelites]” and “gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” The narrative advanced by these scriptures is that God gives “his people” and leaders lots of freedom to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” as Paul put it (Phil 2:12). Paul seems to suggest that an individual or prophet’s relationship with God ends up being a “mirror” of themselves (1 Cor 13:12 see NIV version). Perhaps this is why Mosiah tells us that a “seer” who “looketh for that which he ought not” would cause him to “perish”. Because both personal and prophetic revelation often ends up being a reflection of our own desires. And evil, violent or lustful desires bring revelations of evil, violence and lust which lead to destruction (Mosiah 8:13,19. see also Alma 29:4).
Instead of the redemption of Zion occurring in Joseph’s generation (D&C 10:33), and in Missouri as the “only place appointed” (D&C 101:20), the Doctrine and Covenants says that because of divisions and “in consequence of the transgressions of my people”, they would have to “wait a little season for the redemption of Zion—That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands” (D&C 105:9–13). It seem obvious when one really gets to studying the polygamy and crazy fundamentalism of the Kirtland and Nauvoo Saints, that they largely reaped the consequences of their own sinful issues. And if one is to believe the revelation’s of Joseph Smith, an argument can be made that they were chased to Utah to have some quiet time to learn to actually obey the early revelations they were given— revelations such as the one’s that forbid polygamy and sexual exploitation (D&C 90:35–37; D&C 42:24–25,75,80D&C 59:6; 66:10).
Joseph’s revelation on polygamy in D&C 132, coerces Emma into polygamy in an evil way
To show how ridiculous the idea that God commanded Joseph to introduce polygamy the way the record says it was introduced— we’ll use the churches new essays on the topic. But first sit back and enjoy a short video illustrating what “positive spin” is. You’ll need this humor as we go through the Church Essay and see how certain forces in church leadership continue to try and positively spin Joseph Smith’s polygamy in ways that aren’t telling the whole story. It’s not unlike the positive spin applied in the past to the church’s doctrinal denial of Blacks to the Priesthood. But just like the Church has finally admitted their complete error concerning that historical misstep, (without the church imploding!), I have faith the Church will also eventually stop making excuses for the early prophets and saints and just admit that there’s no way Mormon polygamy was of God. And church leadership will be able to stop making fools of its members by trying to spin obviously evil things off as good. This kind of honesty is the first step in helping repair the breach of trust that the whole polygamy experience has left many members and ex-members with.
Part of the problem with the church essays and portrayal of polygamy is that they use “positive spin” to distort the details and temporal relationships of what went down in Mormon polygamy. They make it sound like Joseph and the early Saints were all continually against the idea of polygamy and then God suddenly came out of the blue and commanded them to do this hard, hard thing. They leave out the context that many of the Saints were pushing for polygamy as early as ~1832 because they had been seduced by the doctrines of Jacob Cochran. Joseph and the saints are instead portrayed as faithful and innocent as they selflessly obey a sudden and impossible to understand commandment from God. Once you look at the historical facts, however, this narrative falls apart. You see instead that in about 1834 Joseph foolishly put himself in a compromising situation by allowing a well-endowed attractive 17 year old girl to live with him in his home— quite likely when his wife was sick, pregnant and likely not fulfilling him sexually (look carefully at the timelines of his Marriage to Fanny vs the birth of Frederick G.W. Smith). This situation led to a sexual relationship to which Joseph “confessed humbly, and begged forgiveness” after the truth came out. Around four years of fidelity go by before Joseph and other leaders come up with the spiritual justification of polygamy which they begin to practice completely in secret behind their wive’s and their people’s backs. A story of an “angel with a drawn sword” is used to convince women that these men are just fulfilling the commandments of a forceful Old-Testament-like God (and have little say in the matter). And D&C 132 appears in order to justify the practice. A “revelation” which manipulatively threatens Emma and other wives, saying that if they don’t let their husbands fulfill the practice “they will be destroyed”. After three years of marrying somewhere between 33 and 40 women (and documented sexual relations with as least eleven of them), Joseph is strangely the one who gets destroyed, instead of the women who were threatened in the revelation. To illustrate the distorted nature of D&C 132, think carefully about the manipulation being used in this verse of Section 132, and the irony of who actually gets destroyed after Emma rejects polygamy. Bracketed clarifications mine.
64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things [of polygamy], then shall she believe and administer [additional wives] unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law. (D&C 132:64. see also v. 26)
Did you catch what this verse is saying? It manipulatively has “god” saying that if a man who has the “keys” to the law of plural marriage teaches his wife about it, and she does not believe it and administer the law by granting him additional wives, then God will execute her!
Some of the other language in the revelation make a lot more sense when you draw from letters and other historical information from the time. Verse 51 for instance opaquely commands Emma to “not partake” of something in relation to polygamy that Joseph had already offered her.
51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice. (D&C 132:51)
What was it that Joseph offered Emma that she’s later command not to partake of? There are multiple sources which suggest it was some kind of mutal agreement where Emma could take a “spiritual” husband (aka plural husband). William clayton, Joseph’s scribe said this,
This A.M. President Joseph took me and conversed considerable concerning some delicate matters. Said [Emma] wanted to lay a snare for me. He told me last night of this and said he had felt troubled. He said [Emma] had treated him coldly and badly since I came…and he knew she was disposed to be revenged on him for some things. She thought that if he would indulge himself she would too. (William Clayton and George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton)
Some FAIR apologists try to assert that it was a divorce that Joseph offered, which as we’ll see makes absolutely no sense given the context. But William Law, Joseph’s second counselor in the first presidency at one time, echoes William Clayton’s testimony about what Joseph offered her in regards to plural marriage. He suggests that Joseph had offered Emma a plural husband in return for allowing Joseph to take plural wives.
Joseph offered to furnish his wife, Emma, with a substitute for him, by way of compensation for his neglect of her, on condition that she would forever stop her opposition to polygamy and permit him to enjoy his young wives in peace and keep some of them in her house and to be well treated, etc (Letter from William Law to Editor Dr. W. Wyl – 1887)
As we’ll see toward the end of this article, the part of this statement concerning keeping “some of them in her house” is corroborated by some of the very girls (plural wives) that were allowed by Emma to “room with Joseph” for a short time. In yet another document, Law states that he talked with Emma about the polygamy issue and revelation on multiple occasions, in one of which Emma concluded that she clearly got the message in the revelation telling her that she must submit to the doctrine or be destroyed.
“Well, I told you that she [Emma] used to complain to me about Joseph’s escapades whenever she met me on the street. She spoke repeatedly about that pretended revelation. She said once: “The revelation says I must submit or be destroyed. Well, I guess I have to submit.” On another day she said: “Joe and I have settled our troubles on the basis of equal rights.” (William Law interview with the SLC Tribune – 1887)
Really the best evidence that the above accounts are accurate is the crazy emphasis that D&C 132 puts on the idea that polygamy was not to be an “equal rights” endeavor. After saying essentially, “just kidding Emma, I was just testing you” in verse 51 the revelation spends verses emphasizing the fact that only men of the high priesthood could have multiple spouses, not vice versa… and they had to be virgins. A detail that Joseph seems to have overlooked as he sealed himself to already married and widowed women.
61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. 62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. 63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed
So the revelation makes it official— Joseph and the other high priests could have one or two or ten virgins and it wasn’t adultery (with or without their spouses consent). But contrary to Joseph’s earlier offer, if Emma tried to take an additional husband she would be destroyed. And not only that, if she didn’t give her consent for Joseph to take additional spiritual wives, she would be destroyed and God would give Joseph “an hundred-fold wives” regardless of her opinion on the matter.
52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those [women] that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.
53 For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.
54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment [of giving more wives] she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.
55 But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundred-fold in this world… wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. (D&C 132:52–55)
Once again, the coercive manipulation is glaring. By July 1843, when this “revelation” was given, Joseph had taken some 28 women to wife. All but 3 of those were within a year of the “revelation”. Its unknown at what point Emma found out about these secret marriages going on behind her back. The only solid date that can be given is May 1843, a few months before D&C 132 is “received”. As is often the case of women who find out about their husbands affairs, perhaps Emma began making excuses for her husband who she believed to be above such infidelity. The revelation seems to suggest she had raised objections to Joseph suggesting that many of these woman were adulterous predators praying on his fame and notoriety (instead of the other way around). To assuage these fears the “revelation” assures Emma that any of those women “given to my servant Joseph… who are not pure… shall be destroyed”. But once again, Emma is threatened with death if she didn’t accept and promote Joseph’s polygamy. The records suggest that this manipulation worked on Emma long enough for her to “give” Joseph four women to wife and bed (see evidence of sexuality). But after some soul searching she joined the three witnesses in rejecting the revelation and the doctrine of polygamy, but not Joseph’s prophetic calling or the Book of Mormon. Her behavior of denial, acceptance, regret then denouncement helps make sense of why she seems to have lied to her children until her death about her and Joseph’s involvement in polygamy (she blamed it all on Brigham Young).
Joseph’s excuse that an angel with a drawn sword forced him to institute polygamy is reminiscent of this Back to the Future’s scene. “Silence earthling! I am Darth Vader from the planet Volcan”, you must take multiple wives and sleep with them or I will melt your brain!” 🙂 It’s really kind of a ridiculous idea to suggest God would ever behave that way. (Yet the recent church essay’s suggest just that!)
The evidence is overwhelming
I know this is a lot to take in for a faithful LDS member who wants to believe the best of Joseph Smith. Especially when the Book of Mormon and so many of his early revelations teach such profound sacrifice, wisdom and self abnegation. But after reading pages of dairy entries, transcripts and quotes in the polygamy repository I reference at the end of this article, this seemed to be the most probable conclusion. Let me hit this home by quoting the legal transcript of the court deposition of Emily Partridge (Young)—Joseph’s 17th “plural wife”, who “married” Joseph at age 19. This testimony was given during the “Temple Lot Trial“, where the Utah LDS Church was attempting to prove ownership of the Independence Temple Lot. In the court case, plural wives of Joseph were sent to testify of their marriage and sexuality with Joseph in hopes to secure legal title of the land. Emily Partridge (who married Brigham Young after Joseph’s death) was one of the few that Emma actually knew about and “gave” Joseph out of fear of disappointing the Lord and being destroyed. Like all of Joseph’s conjugal relationships, she would have sex with Joseph (according to her testimony), but never live in the same house. You can see how confused she is in the deposition, lying, stumbling over her statements and not fully understanding the questioner’s use of the words “roomed”, “ever” and never. Her confusion, and likely fear, is a good example of how most LDS people feel as they learn that Joseph’s “polygamy” was often nothing more than two years of “marrying” scores of girls and women so they could come and have sex with him but never share in any of the actual joys of marriage. (After two years of this, Joseph is murdered.) Bracketed notes mine.
Q. Had you roomed with him [Joseph] prior to … the night after you were married the last time?
A. No sir, not roomed with him.
Q. Well had you slept with him?
A. Yes sir.
Q. [Had you] slept with him … before the fourth of March 1843? [their marriage date].
A. No sir…
Q. Did you ever live with Joseph Smith after you were married to him after that first night that you ‘roomed’ together?
A. No sir. Emma knew that we [her and other girls] were married to him, but she never allowed us to live with him.
Q. Do you make the declaration now that you ever roomed with him at any time?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Do you make the declaration that you ever slept with him in the same bed?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How many nights?
Q. Only one night.
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then you only slept with him in the same bed one night?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you ever have carnal intercourse with Joseph Smith?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How many nights?
A. I could not tell you. [obviously a lot more than once]
Q. Do you make the declaration that you ever slept with him but one night?
A. Yes sir. [apparently many sexual visits but only one full night stay?]
Q. And that was the only time and place that you ever were in bed with him?
A. No sir. [no because there were many sexual visits]
Q. Were you in bed with him at any time before . . . you were married?
A. No sir, not before I was married to him. I never was
(Temple Lot Case depositions. full transcript available here. See also the Malissa Lot deposition here, which is very similar, but perhaps even more specific about the nature of the sexual relationship)
Emily Partridge was the daughter of Edward Partridge, the first Bishop of the Church. After the Saints came to Utah, Brigham Young took the girl (who was 23 years younger than him) as one of his many wives. This heartbreaking confession by a young girl manipulated into sex at age 19 and a life of polygamy by both her father and “prophet”. Read the following LDS scriptures and re -read Joseph’s earlier revelations and contrast them with Joseph’s last few years of life—and ask god what is true and what is not. And more importantly, ask yourself which parts are good and worthy of supporting, and which parts in need of being reformed.
12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. (Moroni 10:12–14)
11 But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.
12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good… (Ether 4:12)
8 Yet you [Joseph] should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.
9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.
10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;
11 Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift. (D&C 3:8–9)
Another damning confession is that of Sylvia Sessions Lyons. On her deathbed in Utah, Sylvia confessed to her daughter Josephine that she believed her to be the daughter of Joseph Smith. Josephine wrote in 1915,
Just prior to my mothers death in 1882 she called me to her bedside and told me that her days on earth were about numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and from all the others but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the Church. (Wells, Emmeline, “Patty Sessions,” Women’s Exponent, v. 13, September 1, 1884, p. 95)
This testimony is supported by many other pieces of evidence, including the admission of church presidents of it’s truth in order to prove to Joseph Smith III (who did not at the time believe his father practiced polygamy) that his father was indeed a polygamist. The worst part of this confession is that recent DNA tests on Josephine decedents show conclusively that Josephine was mistaken… proving that not only did Joseph have sex with his his “plural wife” Sylvia… but he was doing so while Sylvia was still married to, and having sex with her lawful husband (Joseph married Sylvia during the time of her husband’s disfranchisement from the church. After he short time, they got back together). One can see all the available evidence of this adulterous relationship called “plural marriage” by Joseph in the following well-researched video.
Please go to the online version of Brian and Laura Harris Hales new book on Joseph’s Polygamy (sold at Deseret Book, but available in it’s entirety online). If nothing else, read each piece of evidence concerning Joseph’s Sexual relationships, and connect the dots by comparing it to the new church essay on Joseph’s Polygamy. http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/common-questions/sexuality-2/ Read the many links I provide in this article. I think everyone will come to the same conclusion, that no matter how you look at the evidence, Joseph’s Polygamy appears to have been contrary to the character of Jesus Christ and the revelations given to Joseph earlier in his life.
Really this is all pretty common information, and I encourage you to search the issues yourself. Hundreds of original documents can be found at mormonpolygamydocuments.org. Another great resource is josephsmithpolygamy.org. The more comprehensive but less faithfully framed information at MormonThink is also worth some study. But in the rest of this article, lets just go through these truths hidden within the positive spin of the Church Essays. I’ve copied relevant parts of the first essay on polygamy, and placed my commentary in red. Click the image below to go to the annotated essay.
“Soon after this he was at my house again, where he occupied my Sister Almira’s room and bed, and also asked me for my youngest sister, Esther M. I told him she was promised in marriage to my wife’s brother. He said, “Well, let them marry, for it will all come right.”” – Joseph Smith’s personal secretary and church patriarch, Elder Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review” http://www.i4m.com/think/history/angel_sword.htm
Create a system of activism and unsolicited volunteerism. Perhaps a system of self appointed callings? (or something to this effect).
For any free system to work people need to feel like they have a voice, and a system or avenue to effectuate change. There are many people with passion burning inside of them who have not yet decided whether they are going to focus that energy on selfishness, selflessness, unity or division. One of the church’s most important jobs in society is to lead people to focus their energy/passion on selfless work which leads to unity. This is one reason why “every member needs a calling.” But more than this the system must allow for advocacy where people can direct their energy toward the things God puts in their heart.
The evangelical community tends to be more effective at starting non-profit service organizations than Mormonism or Catholicism. I believe this has to do with a culture of activism stemming from the lack of centralized authority. In Mormonism, members often feel like they are not authorized to start a radio ministry or an organization which promotes activism in teaching the public. Because religious activism has the potential to spur divisive (apostate) groups, church leadership has almost ubiquitously shut down such activities. Forbidding members to meet in their homes and talk about church topics or start organizations that might threaten church authority. This then create an atmosphere of fear and dependence among church members. I believe such a climate does more harm than good.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/reform-banners18.png250500MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2017-01-06 16:13:142017-01-31 09:55:59Create a system to promote activism and unsolicited volunteerism
Create transparency in Church monetary policy. Take steps to decentralize the monetary system and allow stakes far greater latitude in deciding how much money to spend on structures (meeting houses, temples, etc) & programs. Do a better job of separating “for-profit” arms of the Church. The presiding bishopric, not the traveling twelve should be involved in these “temporal matters”.
I believe the church looses many members because of what is perceived to be a direct violation of the scriptural warnings in 2 Ne. 28:13
12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.
13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up. 2 Ne. 28:12-13
We have a whole lot of work to do in this arena. Get members and ex-members together to find solutions. One idea is to make a habit of attaching some type of halfway house, soup kitchens or homeless shelters to ward buildings or temples. If the building is put to true humanitarian use, we won’t lose so many people who sense the inherent wrongness of spending so much money on buildings built exclusively to “worship God”, which are only occupied twice a week and do nothing for the poor. In general we need to stop spending so much money on temples and the “fine or precious things” of the world. There is value in having beautiful and uplifting places of worship which everyone has claim to, but our current temples are often flagrant, exclusive and elitist. Spending 100 million dollars on a structure for only “worthy members”, when there are starving people living around the building is pure wickedness. Do we apply the words of Jesus to ourselves as an organization?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:21–22)
The church must never let the City Creek Center happen again. The traveling twelve and Melchizedek Priesthood of the church is to administer over the “spiritual affairs of the church”. They must not be intimately involved in the temporal affairs of the Church (ie. for profit arms) which responsibility belongs to the Presiding Bishopric (the lower or Aaronic priesthood). They should not be involved in planning, announcing, building or ribbon cutting ceremonies to shopping malls, etc.. This unscriptural behavior has destroyed literally thousands of testimonies. It gives the appearence of a church in love with money and prestige…
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. (D&C 70:14)
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
Greatly reform the teachings and strictures concerning sexuality, health and substance abuse in the Church by being more clear between the “commandments” (governed by the Aaronic Priesthood) of the lower law — and standards (epitomized by Christ & His perfect Character) of the higher/Melchezidek law. We need to be more careful not to add or takeaway from the commandments, like the Pharisees of old. Leave the specifics to the patriarchal order where they belong.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
The Church has confused the important differentiation between a “standard” and a “commandment”. A standard is a suggestion. It is goal or ideal toward which all are encouraged to strive. In the Gospel our standard is to attain the Perfect character of our example Jesus Christ (D&C 92:12). Creating high standards is good for society and good for individuals. But our church has changed religious moral standards into commandments which manipulate, enslave and divide the church more than perhaps any other aspect of our theology.
One classic example is the Word of Wisdom. This standard was specifically commanded not to be given to the saints by “by commandment or constraint.” (D&C 89:2) However, church leaders “declared more or less” than the revelation and turned the standard into a commandment much like the Pharisees did to the Mosaic Law in Christ’s day. They even pushed this standard onto mature members of the Higher Priesthood who should not be governed by lower law of Carnal commandments anyway–but by divine principle and Jesus example (D&C 84:18. See reform ‘Teach the Higher Law’), fully disregarding Christ & Paul’s words.
And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matt 15:10)
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (Luke 7:34)
God’s kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks. Rather, God’s kingdom consists of God’s approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives. (Romans 14:17)
Outside of the abolished Mosaic law, neither Christ nor the scriptures gave many commandments for sexuality either. In fact, there are basically two– Do not lust and do not commit adultery. (We must remember that Christ did away with the Mosaic Law, those able to live the higher law are no longer bound by the strictures of the old covenant.) In contrast, in the church today there are simply too many distorted principles concerning LDS morality and cultural strictures which appear to be more “commandments of men” which have “added to” and “taken away” from God’s law (Deut 4:2, D&C 10:68, read JST Col 2:21-22, NLT Col 2:21-22, Mark 7:7–8, JS-H 1:19 ). Just as occurred with the Catholic Medieval church, the suggestions and standards have become commandments because of our over-centralization of authority, and our beliefs that the “brethren” can establish commandments instead of simple non-doctrinal standards under the law of common voice & common consent.
Contrary to God’s law or standard, we are too often “commanded in all things” (which is why so many consider us a cult… we act too much like Jews who haven’t been redeemed from the old covenant by Christ). The Church hand-book of instruction has created an environment of commandment dictating every aspect of the average church members lives. Words of Wisdom have become commandment (D&C 89:2, 28:4-5). Our youth worthiness interviews and temple recommend interview process have “added to” God’s commandments in virtually every aspect of members lives, from our food, our dress, our income, to the minutia of our sexuality. As non-binding standards these suggestions on living can be good for society, but only if they are not pushed as the will of God or something that makes individuals feel spiritually damned for “transgressing”.
Our law of Chastity is another example of “adding and taking away” from scripture by creating a Pharisee-like system of commandments in lieu of a standard.
[I need to fully rewrite the following sections to flesh out the concepts I’m getting out]. Parents and those under the Aaronic (local leaders) priesthood have every right to make whatever rules they feel will guide their sheep. This is the purpose of the lower priesthood and the ward/parish level. But at some point every disciple is to graduate to the higher law of Christ. These are no longer bound by the lower laws. If they live them, they do so in sacrifice just to show a good example. But their salvation and church standing are detached from obeying the commandments of the lower law. ie. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. — 1 Cor 10:23”]
There is very, very little by way of specific commandments concerning these topics in the scriptures for a reason. Even the ten commandment’s simply say “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Not even the Mosaic law gave harsh penalties to sex out of wedlock, and it was in most cases far more strict than the law Christ replaced it with. Scripture clearly calls sex out of wedlock sin, but to make it into a “sin next to murder” as Mormonism has, is drive the millions of youth who experiment with premarital sex away from God. (see the article The Sin Next to Murder) The specifics of how to be sexually “chaste” or physically healthy are highly personal and difficult to define with blanket prohibitions (see this article on moral purity). Much like dietary fads, cultural religious proscription on sexuality rarely take into account the uniqueness of each individual’s different physical background and spiritual makeup. Priesthood overreach has caused many “words of wisdom” to become strictures, dogma, and commandments. Unwisely “adding to and taking away from” the standards of righteousness God has given to men. God’s loving standard has been made into a self-righteous burden.
Only very generalized dietary guidelines of balance can be made to apply to both a 350 lb Samoan and a 90 lb Tibetan. Likewise only very generalized guidelines of sexuality can be made to apply to individuals along the diverse spectrum of human sexuality and passion. It is unreasonable and unrighteous to create overly-specific and idealistic strictures concerning masturbation, self-stimulation, gender identity, minutiae in sexual media consumption, kissing, dress and many aspects of sex (again, standards are good for society, strictures are highly divisive). To take God’s name and draw a line which says if you do X, you are righteous and approved by God but if you do Y, you are wicked and condemned by God is the most solemn and awful of responsibilities. Any individual who does this becomes karmically responsibility for those they make to feel evil and demonized. There are far too many who leave the church because the churches blanket prescriptions on sexual practice are unreasonable and demonizing because they often are. When they realize how unreasonable they are… they then lose faith in God because how could “god” make a commandment that they are literally incapable of keeping? When in truth it wasn’t god, it was a man unjustly using god’s name to make a needed social standard into a divine commandment. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ himself chastised Israel for turning the trivial standards and minutia of the Mosaic “law” into divine commandments.
Almost universally, everyone understands that cheating on a committed relationship (adultery) is wrong–this is why it is specifically forbidden in scripture. God didn’t just write this law on stone, he wrote it in the human heart. Everyone is capable of keeping this divine law which is written in human conscience by God. But nothing is said in scripture of dating, kissing, masturbation for a reason, and little is said of fornication for the same reason—because the “rightness or wrongness” of these things is complex. God’s goal is the happiness of each individual—and when religious prohibitions & demonization cause more pain than the personal & social consequences of the “sin” itself, then you know something is wrong. “Sin” is by definition a thing which has negative or destructive consequences for an individual and society, and strictures tend to befuddle that principle and turn people into pharisees who call good evil and evil good.
Whenever possible, specific regulations should be withheld in lieu of words of wisdom which point to “scientific” studies and examples which teach people which actions most often lead to which consequences without generalizing, demonizing or spiritualizing the matter. Avoiding as much as possible taking the name of God in vain. (wrongly speaking by God’s authority.)
Continue to greatly reform the for strength of youth pamphlet to teach principles and not proscriptions. Standards, not commandments. Great division comes from trying to “add” to the scriptures or law on matters of sexual morality. Great evil comes from demonizing sexuality. It is better to teach people how to pray and how to listen to their heart and mind (emotions and logic) on details of sexual morality. Hold up the standard, which is healthy lasting marriage between a husband and wife, but be more careful about telling people how to achieve that standard. Never insinuate a person is “evil” for inability or lack of desire to live the standard. Focus on what is right and desired, instead on what is wrong, bad or “contrary to God’s will”.
Sexual morality should be handled locally. First by parents, then by Bishops/Stake Presidents, and seldom by General Authorities. Give correct “principles” (not rules) and let people govern themselves. Create and sustain forums where parents can get and exchange information. Religious dogma and over-controlling strictures surrounding sexual morality and the Word of Wisdom are in my estimation among the number one reason for apostasy and division. Members have not been allowed to follow the Spirit in this highly personal issue because of the priesthood overstepping its bounds. Youth are inundated with rules and individually unrealistic standards but rarely actually get taught meaningful information about human sexuality. Demonizing human sexuality in any degree is the surest way to divide & destroy the Church. As warned in D&C 121, it creates many “anti-Mormons” who esteem the church “as their enemy” (D&C 121:43), as well as creating a class of religiously active hypocrites and self-righteous sycophants. (This author was one of them… thinking he was so much ‘more righteous’ than those he knew who had sex before marriage.)
Given the information we have on Joseph Smith’s sexual difficulties and the law of Polygamy given to the saints (because they wanted it), the current proscriptive tenets which rule LDS sexuality are completely hypocritical, contradictory and idolatrous.
-use the patriarchal order as much as possible in matters of legalism and discipline.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/reform-banners12.png250500MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2017-01-06 16:11:432021-05-14 11:25:51Reform the teachings and strictures concerning sexuality, health and substance abuse
Reform institutionalized temple worship. Especially stopping temple weddings. (This came to me very strongly.) Sealings and endowments should not be performed until an initiate is ready to graduate from the lower preparatory law of carnal commandments (administered by the Aaronic/Ward Priesthood) to the higher and freer law of Christ & love later in life (administered by the Melchezidek/Stake priesthood). See reform #Teach The Higher Law for details. Reforms need to be made in accordance to the revelations of the coming modern Messianic Jewish prophets such as Jachanan Ben Kathryn (see Chapters 48-60). The current “assembly line” system of pressuring young adults into temple initiation, covenant making & endowment all at young ages before marriage without even knowing beforehand the full idea of what covenants they will be making, can be highly detrimental and should be reformed as quickly as possible. (although most of these reforms likely won’t happen until the coming purge of the church)
18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—
19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
20 The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments. (D&C 107:18–20)
Simply put, the LDS temple rites have been corrupted into an assembly-line ritual. Take a number, and “next“….
The temples will soon be the location where the church communes with the “general assembly of the first born” or heavenly church. This will and cannot happen until we radically reform our hearts, our doctrines, and our church in general. (The Book Oahspe explains in detail how this has worked in past dispensations, and will work in the coming dispensation).
The temple is meant to be highly esoteric and mystical. Shortly after the coming harvest, “tribulation of Israel” in Mathew 24, restoration of the Jewish Temple (70+ years from now) and accompanying changes in the earth’s magnetic field the temple will be a place where visible communion with spirit emissaries of the Heavenly Church occurs regularly within the Prayer Circle. (Which should actually be formed in the shape of a horseshoe magnet — NOT a circle — in order to provide the needed materialization energy for the visiting Spirits to be visible to all those in the room.)
Spiritual initiation literally leads a person through the symbolic and literal veils, so they can commune with the spirit world. The key in this process is desire. The candidate must desire initiation or no change in consciousness can occur. The current system places social pressure for people to go through the temple to be married & “initiated” when, in many cases, they couldn’t care less about the outcome. The current system is no better than a club, and no different than the base aspect of our religion itself.
Initiation should not be done assembly-line style at 14 or 19 before a mission, but instead it should be a completely a personal matter which happens in small steps over the years. Like a Buddhist system of apprentice/pupil and master/guide, an applicant should desire these spiritual rituals and seek them out without social pressure. They should be assigned a permanent escort who has proven they “see” the truth behind the symbolism. The apprentice should interview with parents (according to the patriarchal order) as well as with Bishops (for the first two step of baptism & initiation in the first two levels of the temple), and then Stake Presidents (for the last two step of endowment & sealing in the upper two levels). Each applicant or apprentice should have specific “masters” and these adepts should be the temple escorts who guide them through the initiation process. There should not be set “interview” questions but an open discussion where each applicant’s understanding & readiness (not so much “worthiness”—as we are all unworthy) is assessed. If they grasp through word & deed the spiritual meaning behind each ordinance, they are ready to receive the spiritual ordinance. Once an adult is a high priest there should be no “readiness” discussion at all. If members are “unworthy” let them be accused according to the system given in D&C 102.
Once initiation has taken place, candidates can enter a school of the prophets in the instruction rooms of the temple. Here they learn to hone spiritual gifts such as the gift of prophecy, gift of revelation, gift of healing, power of group consciousness/true order of prayer, mediumship, this includes communion with the righteous dead through the veil.
Used properly, the temple ceremony is meant to teach mature members the true order of the priesthood (patriarchal order), the true order of prayer (group consciousness), and the true order of organized religion (as a lower man-made law pointing to the higher natural law). Practiced effectively, it will keep mature spiritualists from apostatizing, withdrawing or going inactive from church participation. It is meant to be a personal experience where those who “see”, lead those who are blind. The current system is broken. It is the blind leading the blind. It needs work.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/reform-temple-worship.png250500MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2017-01-06 16:10:422021-05-14 10:08:08Reform institutionalized temple worship & especially temple preparation
Stop excommunicating or marginalizing dissidents. Excommunication should conform strictly with the principles delineated in D&C 42:20–28 and D&C 102. Public or private differences of opinion are not grounds for excommunication. Witch-hunts should be avoided at all costs. The church is meant to be a ‘type’ or example of perfect government, there must be effective channels for group secession and re-absorption to and from the ecumenical union.
Jesus did not excommunicate Judas, even though he knew he would betray him to be murdered. The excommunication of the September Six and countless other dissidents in the LDS church is among the greatest causes of division. When we as a church excommunicate those with strong dissenting opinion we crucify Christ afresh (Heb 6:6). This cult-like behavior only restricts and shows the inadequacy of our own priesthood. Strong differences of opinion are an opportunity for leadership to show their superior wisdom. Excommunication simply shows members that the priesthood lacks the superior wisdom needed to harmonize the difference of opinion or false conception. D&C 42:20–28 and D&C 102 delineate that excommunication must follow an accusation of breaking major moral commandments (see Alma 1:17).
Having channels for willing group secession when differences of opinion cannot be reconciled (and later re-absorption) is subtly taught in the LDS temple endowment as the order of heaven. Nearly all popular religion, nations and scientific breakthroughs are started by ego filled humans who are influenced by both good/unselfish and bad/selfish forces to branch off from the mainstream. Whether it be Peter or Paul, Joseph Smith, John Calvin, Martin Luther or John Wesley– reformers and apostates need to be free to create offshoots and righteous branches. It is a dangerous practice for priesthood hierarchy to reject these stones (Matt 21:42). It is not the place of Church hierarchy to use their “position, power or influence” to prevent branches of thought. It is their job to maintain the unity of the faith (Eph 4:11–14) through loving & Christ-like wisdom & persuasion (D&C 121). We might take a lesson from the academic community which has learned how to deal with rogue ideas; dissident thought is not forcefully expelled by the institution, but combatted with truth and evidence. (Even wrongly sometimes, but eventually truth prevails!) We should follow the examples of the scientific community, which has learned branches of thought are healthy to the pursuit of truth, even if they come across a bit antagonistic. They do not need to be shunned or thrown out, because consensus will eventually prove whose views “have God’s Spirit” or are best at describing and mimicking God and his natural law (Acts 5:38–39).
An effective method of dealing with these issues can come from an understanding of the way the “lower” and “higher” priesthoods work in heaven. (see this article)
Create a process where apostates or reformers are allowed to gain converts and form their own church “branches”, schools of thought/monasteries or congregations. By the same process, these groups need an avenue to be reabsorbed or grafted back into the mother church’s priesthood structure, once the leaders have achieved their dissenting egoic desires to lead others according to their own understanding. Almost like a combination and harmonization of Catholic & Protestant Christian systems. A rigid “by ordination only” Catholic-like priesthood and hierarchical structure exists, but a “self-ordained” or ordination by the Spirit system is also allowed. The travelling twelve constantly and actively court these “priesthood of all believers” types systems for reabsorption back into the central communion.
https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/reform-banners20.png250500MormonBoxhttps://gatheredin.one/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/newest-logo-all-together2.pngMormonBox2017-01-06 16:08:052017-01-31 09:55:10Stop excommunicating or marginalizing dissidents