The Salt Lake Tribune published an article earlier this month: “New Mormon mission: How to teach members the messy part of LDS history, theology.” Written by Peggy Fletcher Stack, the article looks at the need for the Mormon Church to shift its “simple” historical narrative to something that comports more with truth. She writes,
“These [simple] tales of Joseph Smith’s founding of the LDS Church have been repeated across the globe by generations of Latter-day Saints, as well as Mormon missionaries, eager to convert others to what they believe.
“Trouble is, the real history is much more nuanced, complicated, even contradictory…
“Now, prompted by the rise of social media, the availability of LDS documents, groundbreaking scholarship, widespread Internet sharing of little-known aspects of the faith’s past and a disturbing exodus of the formerly faithful, Mormonism is in the midst of a landmark effort to integrate new details about its founding — without losing the power of a simple narrative.
“Can it add layers of what some see as controversial information without scaring away new converts or longtime members whose devotion is built on the account as they’ve known it all their lives?”
I hope not. I would like to see Mormons and those investigating Mormonism recognize that the true history of Mormonism demonstrates that it is impossible for it to be what it claims to be; and therefore, it is unable to lead followers to eternal life.
However, a comment included in the Salt Lake Tribune article goes some distance to rob me of that hope:
“‘No religion I know of would want to turn its founding stories into history, at least as history is understood today in a scientific sense,’ says Kathleen Flake, who heads up Mormon studies at the University of Virginia. ‘Faith is not about fact; nor about fiction, for that matter. It’s certainly not a question of sophistication, at all, but of religious sense.’”
Dr. Flake wants to divorce faith from fact, and I think doubting Mormons will find comfort in following her lead. But faith divorced from fact is not really faith at all.
Christian apologetics ministry Stand to Reason addresses this issue in an article by Greg Koukl titled, “Faith and Facts.” In it, Mr. Koukl explains,
“I don’t like the word ‘faith.’ Not because faith isn’t valuable, but because it’s often deeply misunderstood. ‘Faith’ in this twisted sense is what you use when all reason is against you. It’s religious wishful thinking, in which one squeezes out spiritual hope by intense acts of sheer will. People of ‘faith’ believe the impossible. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to fact. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of ‘faith’ ignore reality…
“Some suggest we cannot find facts to support our faith, nor is it preferable to try. Faith is not the kind of thing that has anything to do with facts, they say. If we have evidence to prove what we believe, then that takes away from real faith.
“Somehow these people think that genuine faith is eviscerated by knowledge and evidence. We’ve made a virtue out of believing against the evidence, as if that’s what God has in mind for us. This is all wrong.”
I’ve heard this same reasoning from many Mormons over they years. They tell me there is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, for example, because then there would be no need for faith, and God wants us to have faith. As Mr. Koukl says, this is all wrong. What these Mormons are holding up as a virtuous faith does not resemble biblical faith. Mr. Koukl illustrates how the Bible defines faith:
“If we want to exercise biblical faith–Christian faith–then we ought first to find out how the Bible defines faith. The clearest definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. This verse says, ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ Now, there’s something very important in these words. We see the word ‘hope,’ we see the word ‘assurance,’ and we see the word ‘conviction’–that is, confidence. Now, what gives us confidence?
“If you buy a lottery ticket, do you hope you’ll win the lottery? Yes, of course you do. Do you have any assurance you’ll win the lottery? Absolutely not. You have no way of knowing that your ticket is any better than the millions of other lottery tickets out there competing for the same pot.
“But what if you had x-ray vision, and you could see through the gray scratch-off coating on the lottery tickets you buy at the supermarket? You’d know if you had a $100, $200 or a $1,000 winner, wouldn’t you? In that case, would you merely hope you’d win? No, you’d have assurance, wouldn’t you? You’d have assurance of those things you previously only hoped for. It would be hope with conviction, not a mere hoped, but a hope buttressed by facts and evidence.
“That’s why the Christian faith cares about the evidence, friends. For the biblical Christian, the facts matter. You can’t have assurance for something you don’t know you’re going to get. You can only hope for it.
“This is why the resurrection of Jesus is so important. It gives assurance to the hope. Because of a Christian view of faith, Paul is able to say in 1 Corinthians 15 that when it comes to the resurrection, if we have only hope, but no assurance–if Jesus didn’t indeed rise from the dead in time/space history–then we are of most men to be pitied. That’s what he says: We are of most men to be pitied.
“This confidence Paul is talking about is not a confidence in a mere ‘faith’ resurrection, a mythical resurrection, a story-telling resurrection. Instead, it’s a belief in a real resurrection. If the real resurrection didn’t happen, then we’re in trouble.
“The Bible knows nothing of a bold leap-in-the-dark faith, a hope-against-hope faith, a faith with no evidence. Rather, if the evidence doesn’t correspond to the hope, then the faith is in vain, as even Paul has said.”
So I disagree with Dr. Flake. Biblical faith is about fact. Saving faith is based on fact. And so the facts surrounding Mormonism and the Mormon Church do matter to the question of whether this religion can lead its adherents to eternal life in the presence of God.
Mr. Koukl tells his readers that faith does not stop at the point of belief.
“So, faith is knowing, and that knowledge is based on evidence leading to confidence or conviction. But biblical faith is more than that. There’s another element. Faith is not just knowing. Faith is also acting. Biblical faith is a confidence so strong that it results in action. You’re willing to act based on that belief, that faith…
“Friends, Christianity is not denying reality. Some people think it is. I’m sympathetic to them because some Christians act as if faith is a kind of sanctified denial. But that isn’t what biblical Christianity is about. Biblical Christians don’t deny reality, they discover reality. And once they’ve discovered it, they act on what they’ve learned.”
My continuing hope is that Mormons will indeed discover reality and act on what they’ve learned. My hope is that they will abandon the empty promises of Mormonism for the sure and certain promises of Christ. And here’s why. Applying Mr. Koukl’s closing argument to Mormonism by substituting the word “Mormonism” where he had “Christianity,”
“if [Mormonism] is true, in the deepest sense of the word, then it must fit the facts of the real world. So, when we discover the facts of the real world, they can only support [Mormonism]– if [Mormonism] is true.”
Conversely, if the facts of the real world do not fit Mormonism, Mormonism is shown to be untrue. And for those who cling to this hope against hope by continuing to place their faith in a false religious system — for those who will not act on what they’ve learned — devastatingly, their faith is in vain.
A very timely article.
And as ever a very sound article.
I find the circular reasoning of Mormons to be troublesome and funnily enough, my LDS friend has used that very same line about a lack of evidence = requirement for faith. Despite the fact there is a ton of evidence for the Bible yet somehow the BOF requires faith..
It’s a mine-field for sure….
As a side note, for those who remember, I have been sharing the Gospel + a few home truths with the afore mentioned LDS friend and I have since been asked by said friend to discontinue contact as I am ” looking for excuses ” it’s a sad day but it’s in God’s hands now…
Thanks for your help everyone.
Now stop and think about all of the things we could take on faith and believe in, divorced of evidence, just because it made us feel good.
I remember listening to John Dehlin on Mormon Stories a few years back giving the facts that pretty much destroy any notion regarding the truth of Mormonism and the LDS church. I did a LOL when John said, “Now these aren’t reasons to leave the LDS church.” Well as it turns out, as time has gone by, John got the boot from the religion that he was trying to defend while exposing its fantasy.
Josh McDowell wrote a book titled, “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”. In that book Josh provides evidence for the Christian faith as it is centered on Jesus Christ. The verdict he was demanding was that folks make a decision regarding who Jesus claimed to be based on historic fact. The Apostle Paul said that if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead than all hope is lost. Any man can die on a cross as many have. But the significance of that atoning work can only be true if that “man” were indeed the Son of God proven by the resurrection.
I know that faithful LDS members get a lot out of their devotion to the LDS system that they suppose will provide a reward for them after death. The problem is that none of it’s true. The evidence proves it isn’t true. No amount of wishing and hoping and excuse making can make Mormonism true. No amount of feeling, that the LDS folks think is “evidence” because, they suppose, the feeling comes from God confirming the truth, makes it true.
That’s not the way it works and anyone who believes so can be seduced by any spirit who whispers in their ear and moves their emotions.
Thanks again Sharon for the info on polygamy i shared it yesterday with a friend and good man still deep in the church . His words ” i know this is the only true church ” No surprise there . But he also said ” i havnt studied anything on polygamy. So planted seeds and having patience .
Faith doesn’t exclude truth; faith embraces truth. Some outspoken people — even a Mormon prophet — on the need for truth:
Our doctrine and practice is, and I have made it mine through life — to receive truth no matter where it comes from… ~ Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p.11).
We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. … For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth…. ~ Patrick Henry
We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. ~ Thomas Jefferson
What does truth require? It requires us to face the facts as they are, not to involve ourselves in self-deception; to refuse to think merely in slogans. .…Let us deal with the realities as they actually are, not as they might have been, and not as we wish they were. ~ John F. Kennedy
Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ~ Jesus
Truth advances, and error recedes step by step only; and to do to our fellow men the most good in our power, we must lead where we can, follow where we cannot, and still go with them, watching always the favorable moment for helping them to another step. ~Thomas Jefferson
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. ~ Mark Twain
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. ~ Aldous Huxley
Truth never damages a cause that is just. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. ~ Søren Kierkegaard
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have. ~ Abraham Lincoln
The truth is not for all men but only for those who seek it. ~ Ayn Rand
The chickens are finally coming home to roost . The way Mormon leaders have ruled their followers
and have sought to keep them in the church by not being completely forthright about their history is now resulting in an incredible amount of unrest among the rank and file . Those new Essays won’t
be the cure to stem this unrest , they only raise more questions than they answer .
So the challenge for the LDS church is, how do they keep members from leaving when they find out that what they’ve been told isn’t true? We could also say, what they haven’t been told because I would guess that in most cases, this information has been hiding in plain sight. The LDS church cannot afford to lose members because these folks supply all of the money and the work-force for the organization.
What we generally hear from former Mormons is how devastating it was to learn that what they believed to be true wasn’t. They feel violated, foolish and have lost all trust in the men who lead the organization and the system they had believed in and what defined their lives.
I can understand how former Mormons, after going through all the stages in the process of rebuilding their lives, don’t want anything to do with religion.
The Salt Lake Tribune article cited above contained the amazingly deluded response of an LDS missionary to the disclosures about Joseph Smith’s polygamy, lies, fabricated revelations, and violent reprisals. The missionary proclaimed the disclosures to be, “the greatest faith builder I ever read. ‘I thought, ‘if God could work with a vessel that imperfect to bring about the restoration, maybe he could use me, too.’ ”
The missionary is completely oblivious to the fact that Joseph Smith was not working through his own personal sins to complete a divine work. All of us are called upon to do that. Instead, Joseph Smith was taking all of his personal sins and weaving them into a tapestry of religious beliefs that he presented to the world as a divine work. He wasn’t overcoming his personal sins; he was celebrating them and pawning them off as God’s work.
There’s a tremendous difference between the two, and until Mormons are prepared to confront reality and be accountable for their decisions, they will never comprehend it.
The issue of how Mormonism’s top leadership felt it dangerous to their flock to have a unvarnished
account of Mormon history given their official endorsement for distribution finds it’s start largely because of people like the Tanners ( Jerald and Sandra) work in the 1960’s . They would publish rare or suppressed documents relating to Mormon history . They were not taken seriously as they were deemed ” apostates ” , but their audience continued to grow , and Mormons wanted official answers to their work . When in the early 1980’s some conscientious Mormon historians stepped forward with wanting to publish an unvarnished history , church leaders became upset . In 1981 Mormon apostle Boyd Packer would state in a speech : ”
” There is the temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything ,whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not . Some things that are true are not very useful .”
[ BYU Studies summer 1981 p 263 ] .
But later that year BYU Prof. D. Michael Quinn gave a speech at BYU disagreeing with church leaders suppression policy concerning Mormon history . His speech titled ” On Being a Mormon Historian ” , drew the ire of Mormon leaders . The whole controversy exploded when in Feb of 1982
Newsweek Mag ( 2-15-1982 ) ran a story entitled ” Apostles and Historians” . What is or is not officially sanctioned to be published concerning certain events in Mormon history has been a vexing problem for Mormon leaders ever since , and with the creation of the Internet the pressure on Mormon leaders to publish official answers to some important issues in Mormon history has only grew . The Essays published in the last year or so are supposed to reassure rank and file LDS that all is well . But is it ? Hardly .
The same hierarchy which does’nt view rank and file members deserving of the right to know exactly how much in the way of finances they receive , have these same leaders truly made the church historical archives completely open to rank and file members ? How about the historical documents in the First Presidencies vault ? Rank and file LDS have been short changed by their leaders for a long time . Latter days false prophets can dress well , act polite , and talk about ” following Christ” , but many sincere people just don’t understand that fact .
Rank and file Mormons are the victims of a broken trust . Their leaders were not sent by Jesus .
It’s more than a little distressing that a Mormon missionary would look at Joseph Smith’s life and legacy and deem it faith building. That is if God could use such an imperfect vessel as Joseph Smith to do this great and glorious work of Mormonism, what could God do with other imperfect beings. That is distorted and delusional thinking of the highest order. But in the context of a true believing cult member, it all makes sense.
Just think of all of the diabolical persons in history that a true believer could point to and say, “Yes he/she was imperfect, but look at the outcome.” What about the Third Reich at its zenith? Yes Hitler may have been flawed but look at the marvelous work he did in rebuilding Germany after it had been ravaged by WWI and the prohibitions of the Treaty of Versailles.
The point is that people like this Mormon missionary are perceiving Joseph Smith’s work as good and glorious and accepting the “restored” gospel as true. They don’t get it that what Smith and those who followed him created was not just a fantasy but another gospel that the writers of the NT warned against and that should be rejected.
correction : the article in the Newsweek mag ( 2-15-1982 ) I cited above was titled :
” Apostles vrs Historians ”
For overview of this controversy see ” The Mormon Purge ” by Jerald and Sandra Tanner 1993 .
Speaking about Mormons , Sharon said, ” My hope is that they will abandon the empty promises of Mormonism for the sure and certain promises of Christ .” Amen to that !
Some of the important promises that the Mormon hierarchy have made are :
– They will never teach/condone unsound doctrines to their flock. [ Gospel Principles 1978 p. 46 ] .
– The Mormon church is the very same church that Jesus established through His apostles with the very same gospel of salvation His apostles preached by the very same authority they possessed– these have all been restored after 1700 years of absence on the earth .
All of those promises are empty . All of those claims sound good , but are proven to be false advertising .
Some of the glorious promises of Jesus :
– Matt 11:28 ; 18:20 ; Jn 3:26 ; 5:24 ; 12:48 ; 14:6 ; 16:33 ; 24:11, 24-25 ; Acts 1:8 ; Heb 7:25
May the Mormon people dismiss their leaders , walk out the door of their Ward and walk on over to
Jesus , He alone is all they need to be accepted by God , receive complete forgiveness , and receive the gift of eternal life . No secret temple rituals , no prophet at the top of a rich powerful religious organization is needed in order to receive complete salvation from the Lord of lords and the King
of kings .
I suppose for some Mormons, the fact that Smith had so many ah “short comings”, is all the proof they need that Mormonism is true. I know it’s convoluted “logic”, but that’s the way a true believer’s mind works. We don’t get it because we’re not in the cult. In fact, a true believer at some point could distance themselves from Smith worship and still be totally sold-out to the LDS organization. There are people who just flat out like Mormonism and the LDS version of it.
In my mind, those folks are unreachable. At least they’re unreachable unless God intervenes and does something to release their minds, souls and spirits from the incumbering shackles. I remember in the 1970s all of the efforts that were done by “de-programmers” who would go so far as kidnap cult members, isolate them and flip their thought processes. This was most often done at the behest of family members concerned about what had happened to their loved ones.
It was all very controversial of course and we don’t hear much about it any more. What I’ve noticed is that from the time a person gets some serious doubts about Mormonism and the LDS church and the time they leave is about 18 months. It’s a very private venture, husbands and wives often not aware that the other is searching for information. After the person leaves it takes months, often years, to recondition their mind. Jack Garcia, a former Mormon and poster on MC from the past, told me it took five years to get the Mormonism out of his brain. He said there was a point where he still wanted it to be true, even though he knew it wasn’t.
It’s not easy to leave something that has been the focal point of a person’s life and has defined who they are.
When someone of Joseph Smith’s character begins to preach a gospel message contrary to the one that was once and for all delivered to the Saints, it’s a case of “buyer beware”. I don’t think anyone gets involved in Mormonism and the LDS church with full knowledge of either Smith’s character or his “restored” gospel.
There’s a reason why the Mormon missionaries push people to read the BoM and achieve an emotional reaction. There’s enough Bible, Jesus and other aspects of revival evangelical Christianity woven into Smith’s fantasy to cause someone to have a warm feeling. It’s definitely a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” type of scenario.
If a prospect spends any time at all examining the evidence and Smith’s basic premise of a “lost gospel now restored, they aren’t going to jump into the LDS baptismal font.
Just one simple question would get the job done. That question would be, “Does what the LDS church preaches, teaches and practices, what the first century church taught, preached and practiced?” A follow-up question would be, “Is LDS doctrine contained in the BoM?” Most notable of the features of LDS doctrine is that there are millions perhaps billions of gods in the universe, all who were men on various planets, who by following the LDS system, were deified and became gods. Is this what the first century Christian Church taught? The answer is, of course not! But here’s where the myth of the “lost gospel” really gets into major conspiracy theory mode. Because it was “lost” there is no record of it.
We’ve come full circle now and have to believe Smith’s tale since there is no evidence that what he preached ever existed before he started spinning his web.
When faced with the reality that Joseph Smith isn’t what he’s been portrayed to be by the LDS church and that the LDS church can’t deliver on it’s promises, what’s a true believer to do? Evidence is a very nasty thing when it comes intruding on the mind-set of the true believer. So what does such a person do? Well what I’ve witnessed over the years here on MC is that the true believer, when backed into the corner by evidence, falls back on the Mormon testimony.
The testimony is prefaced by the emphatic “I know…..” and then followed with Joseph Smith is a prophet, the BoM is true, the LDS church is God’s one true church and the current prophet is indeed a prophet who hears from God. As an after thought to sort of legitimize the whole thing is a stated belief in Jesus Christ. I don’t know if the true believer knows how the LDS Jesus differs from the Jesus revealed in the Bible but the LDS Jesus is a different Jesus just as the LDS god is a different god.
A testimony is a recitation of how a true believer has come to know these things and the supposition is that the knowing is based on revelation. The reality is that the “knowing” is based on the person’s emotional response to what they feel is an attractive set of ideas. The flip side of the coming to “know” that the list from the testimony are false is quite unpleasant.
I can state emphatically that I know that each of the points in the LDS canned testimony are not true. They are false. How do I know this? I’ve checked it out. I would suggest that the questioning LDS member do the same.
If you need to shock a believing Mormon out of their complacency, I would recommend showing them what Joseph Smith did with polygamy: seducing 14-year-old girls and the wives of his closest friends; lying to his wife Emma and the rest of the church members and the public; creating a phony revelation claiming there isn’t any polygamy; attacking those who disclosed his polygamy; and then reversing course and claiming that this secret polygamy was ordered by God.
Are those the acts of a prophet? And if he was truthful on some points of his gospel, how can you possibly know when he was conveying the will of God and when he was just making it up?
Mormonism must rely on feelings and professional caliber sales techniques to make it successful in gaining converts . Mormon missionaries are sincere people who come our doors with a message that God has a prophet we must submit to if we hope to receive salvation . Jw’s come to our doors with the same type news . So it’s vital to test these ( and all ) prophets 1 Jn 4:1 — since Jesus warned to beware of the many false prophets who will come in the latter days . Spiritual safety is at stake so anyone talking with Mormon Missionaries owes it to them themselves to get informed about Mormonism lest they be influenced by the sales techniques of it’s missionaries .
How many of those who Mormon Missionaries are speaking to have heard what kind of claims Mormon leaders have made ?
One example: A complete apostasy of the Christian church and from the gospel of salvation Jesus’ apostles preached occurred soon after the deaths of His apostles . Christianity had sicked and died .
That claim is obviously false but it is a fundamental part of the message of Mormonism . Through a mixture of half truths and reliance on emotions Mormon missionaries are successful at selling that claim .
With Mormonism it’s a message about a church , a latter day prophet , and a Jesus .
With the Christian message it’s about the Savior — Jesus . Jn 14:6
Its always baffled me how otherwise reasonable people can claim that evidence destroys true faith.
I wonder about those Mormons who use to post here telling us that we didn’t know anything about Mormonism. Now they are faced with these essays that challenge what they’ve been taught by the folks who are now, to a degree, back-tracking. Any guess what these former posters are now thinking? I would guess it’s another phase of the rationalization process. The LDS church can’t be wrong, in their sight. What they’ve believed in and held dear isn’t untrue, is it?
No the mind of the true believer allows them to continue to believe what isn’t true because it forms a separate reality.
The rationalizing and denials from Mormons who learn the truth about their religion result not just from normal mental processes or a desire to “stay and help others”, but also from the very real consequences they can face if they leave the Church or even ask questions. They risk divorce, ostracism by their friends and family, loss of their entire social structure, and even loss of their jobs.
They have to be strong to confront all that, and many are not. At risk of being redundant, Patrick Henry had it right:
“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. … For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth….” http://genius.com/Patrick-henry-give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death-annotated/
You made a good point about Mormon polygamy because what Mormon leaders taught about it , as well as their behavior concerning it , proves to identify those latter days prophets as men who were not sent by Jesus to restore His church/gospel .
There is one question I have about what you said : you stated that Joseph Smith seduced the wives of his closest friends . That does’nt sound quite right , so could you elaborate ?
Speaking about Joseph Smith , history buff said : ” And if he was truthful on some points of his gospel how can you possibly know when he was conveying the will of God and when he was just making it up? ”
That’s a good question because obviously not everything Joseph Smith ( or Brigham Young etc ) taught was false doctrine . However , to be wrong about who Jesus is , who God is or how a person can receive eternal life , are the wrong things to be wrong about . Mormon leaders were wrong . That identifies them as latter days false prophets — Matt 24:11 — no matter how well they dress , how polite they may be or how many good deeds they do .
So how can we know when he was conveying the will of God in what he preached vrs preaching unsound / false doctrine ? I would test any prophets preaching by comparing what he taught with what God’s true prophets/apostles taught — 1 Jn 4:1 . It’s God’s will that mankind know who He is , meet His Son and accept the good news(gospel) about how to be saved ( gain eternal life ) — Jn 17:3 .
That’s the test I would start with . Preaching the very same gospel of salvation which Paul preached
( Rom 1:16 ) is the dividing line which separates the true from an imitation .
An interesting note :
Latter days false prophets , such as Mormon leaders ,can teach some truth in their gospel preaching , in other words not everything they believe and teach is wrong ,but what they so often succumb to is to add their own man made teachings onto the true gospel of salvation thus altering it . That mixture
renders their gospel ” another gospel ” — see Gal. 1 :8 .
That’s a main reason why the great apostasy happened according to Mormon leaders , i.e men altering the gospel by mixing their own man made teachings into it , but that’s exactly what Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders did 1700 years later !
The true gospel of salvation is found in the teachings of Jesus’ apostles in the New Testament.
Mike R –
You asked, “There is one question I have about what you said: you stated that Joseph Smith seduced the wives of his closest friends. That doesn’t sound quite right, so could you elaborate?”
I can give you one example of a close associate of Joseph Smith who discovered his wife was seduced and married by Joseph Smith, but there were several others, too, cited in the sources listed. We need to understand that Mormons see the hand of God in plural marriage: If Joseph Smith took young girls – or the wives of other men — as polygamous wives, Mormons believe it was God’s will.
Such was the case with devout Mormon Henry Bailey Jacobs. When he learned that his wife, Zina Huntington Jacobs, had secretly been seduced by and married to Joseph Smith, he wrote, “W]hatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God’s authorities bend to the reasoning of any man.” Compton, Todd (1997), In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, pp. 81-82. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Joseph_Smith%27s_wives ;
We even know how Joseph Smith seduced his polygamous wives, thanks to the writings of one of them: with promises of salvation, exaltation, and prestige, for their entire families. One of Joseph Smith’s 14-year-old brides, Helen Mar Kimball, was possibly the strongest and most vocal defender of plural marriage. Later in life, she explained:
“[My father] asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph… [Joseph Smith] said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.[‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.” Compton, Todd (1997), In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City: Signature Books.
And these were not all “platonic”, sex-less marriages.
“…Utah Mormons (including Joseph’s wives) affirmed repeatedly that Joseph had physical sexual relations with his plural wives…
– Faithful Mormon Melissa Lott (Smith Willes) testified that she had been Joseph’s wife “in very deed.” (Affidavit of Melissa Willes, 3 Aug. 1893, Temple Lot case, 98, 105; Foster, Religion and Sexuality, 156.)
– In a court affidavit, faithful Mormon Joseph Noble wrote that Joseph told him he had spent the night with Louisa Beaman.(Temple Lot Case, 427)
– Emily D. Partridge (Smith Young) said she “roomed” with Joseph the night following her marriage to him and said that she had “carnal intercourse” with him. (Temple Lot case (complete transcript), 364, 367, 384; see Foster, Religion and Sexuality, 15.)
In total, 13 faithful latter-day saint women who were married to Joseph Smith swore court affidavits that they had sexual relations with him.” http://www.i4m.com/think/history/joseph_smith_sex.htm
I took your statement where you said ” Joseph Smith seduced the wives of his closest friends ” to mean he was having sexual relations with them etc . It appears that you were referring to temple sealing ordinance of polyandry , i.e. the teaching introduced by Smith where a man and woman married for “time ” ( married only for the length of their time on earth ) but then another man could marry the same woman for eternity but he would not have sexual relations with her as husband on earth , only afterwards in heaven for eternity . On the Mormon apologetic site you cited Mormon apologist Mr Hale believes there is’nt enough proof that the polyandrous marriages of Joseph Smith involved sex during his life on earth . He believes that Smith practiced ceremonial polyandry but not sexual polyandry . Mr Hale may be correct on that point but that hardly salvages polyandry from being a strange man made doctrine ( Heb 13:9 ) . In recent years many Mormons have been very troubled at finding out about this doctrine of Smith’s , and Mormons apologists are trying to calm them down .
Hopefully many LDS will see through the anemic attempts at trying to defend a latter days prophet who drifted from the true gospel of Jesus into introducing false doctrine .
Anyway , it’s late so that’s about all I can say about this now .
Mike R —
True, there are a lot of unanswered questions about Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages to 14-year-old girls and the wives of other men, and a lot of speculation. There are, however, enough undisputed facts to help us form conclusions about Joseph Smith and Mormon leaders.
Joseph hid most of the marriages from his wife Emma, from the members of his church, and from the public. He lied about it his entire life — even creating phony revelations and scriptures denying that polygamy ever happened — aided in his lying by his closest disciples, as well as almost all Mormon leaders up until last year. That’s a lot of lying by Mormon leaders: 172 years to be exact, and literally tens of thousands of bishops, stake presidents, regional leaders, and general authorities. And those who weren’t lying were being lied to.
When Noah was getting drunk and running around naked, he didn’t fabricate revelations and doctrines making drunkenness the will and sacred order of God. When Peter denied Christ three times, he didn’t claim that his cowardice was a virtue and that God mandates cowardice among his chosen people. Joseph Smith, however, did just that, claiming that his sins of adultery, lying, fornication, child molestation, slander, and assaults on those who objected to polygamy, were directed by God.
We can speculate whether Joseph had sex with some of his wives but not others, or on certain days of the week, or while wearing a tutu, but that begs the point. The paramount question for Mormons, and for everyone else, too, is this: Knowing what we know about Joseph Smith, can we really trust him for the truth about anything?
What you said in your last paragraph sums it up well .