After visiting the massive farmers’ market in downtown Madison, Wisconsin two weeks ago, my family ran into a woman on a sidewalk who was holding extremely still, looking at a beautiful swallowtail butterfly on her clothing. The butterfly had just barely emerged from a cocoon between some bricks on a building, and had managed to fly only a few inches before landing on her. This beautiful “born again” creature was drying off its new wings and preparing to take flight. Soon it would be soaring above the trees, but at the moment it was completely helpless, dependent on the mercy of its protector. The woman kindly allowed me to take some photos, shown above, and several others joined us to admire this delicate and gorgeous creature. It tried to fly again but only went a few more inches before landing on another part of her clothing. After several minutes, it gathered its strength and launched into the air, and we cheered as it flew up into the sky and disappeared into the upper branches of a tall tree.
As I pondered the successful emergence of the butterfly from the cocoon into the freedom of flight, I remembered how delicate we all are at various stages of our lives. This is especially true for those who are newly born again as freshly baptized members of the Church just beginning to recognize the power of the wings of the Spirit that can guide our flight through the challenges and dangers of life.
For newborn converts, there are many who lie in wait to ambush their faith with hostile literature and slander, belittling a religion that has long been “spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22). Without some protection and loving help, the attacks of others can lead delicate converts away and make quick prey of them.
We all may need nurturing and protection from kindly hands, often unappreciated at the time, who watch over us and shelter us in our most vulnerable times. For some, it may be a home teacher or bishop, a parent, a friend, or a mission president. Rarely can we succeed on our own without the help of other mortals in addition, of course, to the help and influence of the Savior.
Many thanks to that kindly woman in Madison for her example of care.
65 thoughts on “Drying the New Wings of Converts”
Thanks for a great post Jeff. Its been a month since my baptism and I see myself in that situation. Some days I feel I made the right decision and some days not.
The attacks against the church are many and I’ve done alot of research but it seems like even after a tremendous amount of investiagation there just seems to be more that I have never thought about.
Some of the things that JS did surrounding polygamy and how some women rejected him and their stories are truely nerve racking.
Some of the comments made by current apostles about how the truth isn’t so important when we look at mormon history is also worrying.
I struggle every day and years from now I guess I will know if the decision I made was the right one.
Some say that the holy spirit will guide me. Well.. Nows the time. I hope it happens.
I was baptized six years ago this fall, and your site helped this new fledgling when I found it. I have Anti family, and I was bombarded by things that frightened and confused me, and you helped me.
It was only very recently, last month in fact, that my testimony solidified and slid over the shelf, with a solid to thunk, to the permanent side of my soul.
Anonymous, hang in there. Sometimes it takes a while, and the Spirit doesn’s always say what we want when we want it…
Thank you for this post. I was born again 13 years ago and first years were simile to new born butterfly’s flight.
Hang in there also, Anonymous. I’m no fan of polygamy, either – whether it’s how Joseph Smith did it or Abraham, Jacob, etc. – all leave troubling questions behind that we can’t answer well because we are so removed from the people involved, and are likely to add all sorts of our own assumptions about those distant events. “Dynastic” marriage versus regular marriage and other issues around polygamy discussed by Richard Bushman and those at FARMS, etc., can tilt the balance of blame and error one way or the other, but when we focus on what the Gospel message is, what it teaches, what it means for me and my relationship with my Savior, the mistakes or even sins of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Abraham, Jacob, etc. take on a different light and become much less important. Somewhere between our failure to understand what really happened and the reality that all humans make mistakes, even when trying to do good, is a mature appreciation of what polygamy in Joseph’s day should mean for us now. I’ve grappled with the issue and as unflattering as polygamy can be for the Church and for its early leaders, it did not and does not take away the basis for accepting them as leaders called of God, nor does it take away the validity of the Book of Mormon as divine scripture for our day. And it certainly offers no reason for me to abandon my covenant relationship with Jesus Christ (though He, too, surely has puzzled some who are appalled at polygamy by calling the polygamist and questionable father Abraham “the friend of God”). Given that, I’m in no position to point fingers of condemnation at the prophets of the Lord, and will not give up all that I hold precious because my sensibilities and cultural views on marriage are highly offended by polygamy and the way it was practiced.
So hang in there! The joy of the Gospel is not found in mulling over the potential errors of others, but in finding the power and joy that comes when we follow the Perfect One, the Messiah, and seek to serve Him by serving others and building up His kingdom.
One of the hardest things for any man or woman who joins and studies the Church will be the issue of polygamy. Our cultural training and even the cultural training of Joseph’s day makes us instantly turn to the worst assumptions. I personally have a testimony that it was despite all appearances, it was a truly divine calling from God. In which the people who humbled themselves to practice it were all strengthened in every other facet of their lives. As others have said the answers don’t come easily a lot of the time, so hang in there,as I too can add my testimony of the Savior, and his church.
With divorce and remarriage, we almost have polygamy and polyandry today. Almost.
Beautiful post Jeff. Thank you
Anon, the new convert,
I don’t know if I should be posting because I am an old used convert not a new fresh one but I remembered back to my conversion and first exposure to the anti-Mormon views. For me most of the answers to the tough questions did not come for many years but I keep going back to Christ and pleading for the spirit to return as a witness to the truth of the Book of Mormon and the living prophet. I kept trying to keep my agreement to study and keep the commandments so Christ could keep His promise that the Holy Spirit would reconfirm the witness on such matters as the Book of Mormon and a living Prophet; the rest I was told not to worry about but answers would come in time. I did try and Christ did kept His word. I still do not have all the answers after 30 years but the Holy Spirit has continued to bless me more than I will ever be worthy. I have found out that if the Holy Spirit continues to confirm there is a living prophet at the head of the church then it does not matter what others say or do because Christ sill acknowledges that this is His kingdom on the earth at this time. I have more important matters to worry about like my misguided acts that I have to answer for.
This may be only one of your many trials. You may not need to worry about the dead Mormons but the living ones. I have been married and divorced twice in the church and have had many bad things happen to me in the church but regardless of what has happen the Holy Spirit keeps confirming to me what you have joined is Christ’s restored church. I only bring this up because of how hard life may become, regardless of any of the doctrines or challenges, the restored gospel is true. As far as polygamy, it is told that Joseph Smith had an angle with a drawn sword tell him to practice it, this is about what it would take to get me to get married again. But regardless of this I know that marriage is of God and is the only way we can truly be happy and return to our Heavenly Father. Our loving Heavenly Father may test our metal in many ways but I always liked Brigham Young when he said that he was not as visionary as Joseph but he had grit. Some times that is all we are left with is faith and grit, because there may be times we are left to ourselves to understand that Christ wants us to return to Him for reconfirmation of the Holy Spirit that all this is true.
“Some say that the holy spirit will guide me. Well.. Nows the time. I hope it happens.”
I have found that this happens after the trial of faith.
I think what the first anonymous person is referring to is the way in which J. Smith handled polygamy and his attempts at marriage of a already married Mrs. Pratt and the daughter of Sidney Rigdon.
I agree… This is a problem.
If this is true the Joseph Smith did some bad things.
Did he ever deny that he was married to more than 1 woman? Yes
His quote is here…
What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.
Did he attempt to marry Sarah Pratt? Yes.
Found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Pratt
(look at the the section on abortion, thats interesting isn’t it)
Did he attempt to marry Nancy Rigdon? Yes.
Found here: The Letter of the Prophet, Joseph Smith to Miss Nancy Rigdon
When the LDS Church starts becoming more open about our past and present we will then and only then greatly increase our ministry.
What really happened with polygamy (I feel that Sarah Pratt lied)?
Why do we not open up financials so that everyone can see?
Why isn’t the Joseph Smith translation used in the church and the entire version made available to everyone?
The little known 2nd Endowment Ceremony. Can those who give this Endowment really say who should become gods?
The changing of the rules as regards to how long a person must wait to be married in the temple as it references different countries.
If you marry outside of the temple in England you can immediately marry in the temple that same day.
If you marry outside of the temple in USA you have to wait one year to marry in the temple.
~From a faithful mormon
All I have to say is that the truth doesn’t depend on whether any particular individual, culture, or organization accepts it and abides by it.
I joined the LDS Church in 1981 and had to listen for years to people telling me to pay no attention to “anti-Mormon” literature. I was told that people like the Tanners were pure evil.
After the Internet came along I was able to look at their claims and let the chips fall where they may. It was a painful ordeal, but it brought me peace.
The thing that amazed me was that it just wasn’t Mormonism where struggles like this take place. I’ve been on sites for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, ex-Scientologists and ex-Fundamentalist Christians and we all tend to share a common bond.
I would suggest that the LDS leadership just needs to be up front and honest about its history. No more stories about polygamy being practiced because women couldn’t own land or there were too many women that needed husbands. Just tell the truth about it and about post-Manifesto polygamy. That way people like me won’t invest 15 to 20 years in a religion that we conclude is not true.
If the LDS Church, or Scientology or the Jehovah’s Witnesses gives you peace and happiness I say stay and enjoy! But if you have serious doubts….perhaps those places are not for you.
Oh my, the anti’s and the ex-mo’s and wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing have ganged up on this blog again.
Just about all the questions have been asked and answered on this blog before, and on Jeff’s LDS Faq, even the polygamy ones.
I think most of the answers to the polygamy questions can be found in the pro-LDS church book “Rough Stone Rolling”, a biography of Joseph Smith Jr. by Richard Bushman,
I’d suggest reading that book for anyone who has questions about what happened in relation to polygamy during Joseph’s lifetime. But keep in mind, that is not an official church publication.
And like usual anti-mormon tactics, only a skewed portion of the facts or information is given in many of the above question on this thread, which gives a false impression of the situation.
“Why isn’t the Joseph Smith translation used in the church and the entire version made available to everyone?”
First part: Historical background:
When JS was killed, his family (Emma and children) retained the notes and writings used to create the Inspired Version. From what I understand, it was not a complete new Bible written out by hand, but the corrections/additions were done in the margins of a King James Bible, and possibly some additional papers. Emma retained those notes made in a KJV, plus any additional papers.
The RLDS church then came into possession of those papers through Emma and her son Joseph Smith III, who at age 27 became first president and prophet of the RLDS church in 1860, almost 16 years after his father’s death.
The RLDS has since owned the copyright on the Inspired Version, or what is also called the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).
The LDS church obtained permission from the RLDS church to use _some_ of the JST in the _foot-notes_ and appendix of the LDS-produced KJV Bible.
So in essence, the LDS church _does_ use many important parts of the Joseph Smith Translation, just look in the footnotes and appendix.
I’ve used a special colored-pencil and highlighted the super-scripts for the JST in the text, and the corresponding footnote for easy identification in my scriptures.
To answer the second part of the question: The entire version is available to everyone. You can buy a copy of the JST Bible from the RLDS church. They’ll sell a copy to anyone who wants it.
I bought a used copy on Ebay. Not a “full Bible”, but it’s a “paralllel changes” edition, showing just the JST (Inspired Version) changes, alongside the corresponding original KJV portion.
So it is available.
The answers to the temple-wedding rules in the church have been given plenty of times and places before. Those are so easy to find out, that I’m surprised that someone is asking them here.
In the US, LDS temple-sealers can get their government licenses to perform civil marriages, so they perform a government-recognized civil marriage in the temple along with the ecclesiastical sealing.
In many other countries, their government requires a civil-marriage to be performed by a government employee, and doesn’t grant a license to ecclesiastical pastors to do civil marriages.
So in those countries, in _all_ churches, if a couple wants to get married in their church, they have to have two wedding ceremonies. A civil wedding at a government office by a government official, and then their religious wedding at their church or temple by their ecclesiastical official.
The LDS church accomodates the laws of those countries that require such.
When people had to travel long distances in the US to get to a temple, exceptions were also made. But now, generally, the civil marriage, as well as the ecclesiastical ceremony are both done in the temple.
Jeff, as a fairly recent convert, I really appreciate this post. I have heard all kinds of bad things about the Church, and am suprised that I haven’t been deterred by any of them while still growing in this Church ( i tend to analyze everything, so I guess I can see through their attacks). It really is because of the wonderful people in my ward that I have stayed as solid in the faith as I have. I give them and my Heavenly Father credit for those things. It’s good to know that I can be in an environment where people truly care about and look after each other. I just posted my conversion story/testimony on my blog if you care to look at it. I felt impressed to do so after having the Sisters in my area request that I write it down for them.
Your post brings up two points I’d like to see addressed.
1. You wrote:
“I think most of the answers to the polygamy questions can be found in the pro-LDS church book “Rough Stone Rolling”, a biography of Joseph Smith Jr. by Richard Bushman,
I’d suggest reading that book for anyone who has questions about what happened in relation to polygamy during Joseph’s lifetime. But keep in mind, that is not an official church publication.”
Why doesn’t the LDS Church put something “official” out about the history of polygamy, the reason it was practiced, when it REALLY ended…stuff like that.
2. Why not have a civil wedding in the United States for those who wish to attend the weddings of their loved ones but can’t go to the temple?
None of my family was LDS and most of my wife’s family was inactive. The only blood relations either of us had at the wedding were her Mom and Dad. The only saving grace for me was that my family were 2,000 miles away and could not attend anyway.
Why not make LDS weddings family affairs?
I’m sure most people know the reasoning behind who can attend these temple marriages.
The LDS church talks so much about ‘family’ and in the most part I agree but when it comes to weddings LDS is hurting the families.
Sure there are situations where both sides can attend but if you live outside of Utah its often the case where feelings are hurt and someone is left outside staring at the grass.
LDS needs to address this somehow. I don’t know what the answer is. But seeing parents being hurt and trying to patch everything up with a ring ceremony isn’t the answer.
“When the LDS Church starts becoming more open about our past and present we will then and only then greatly increase our ministry.”
This is just silly. Just about everything that anyone wants to know about the LDS church is out there if someone wants to find it. Most don’t care and no church goes out of its way to dwell on any wrongs that has been done.
“When the LDS Church starts becoming more open about our past and present we will then and only then greatly increase our ministry.”
This is just silly. Just about everything that anyone wants to know about the LDS church is out there if someone wants to find it. Most don’t care and no church goes out of its way to dwell on any wrongs that has been done.
Why doesn’t the LDS Church put something “official” out about the history of polygamy, the reason it was practiced, when it REALLY ended…stuff like that.
I think they already have. It may not be all in one place, but it’s out there.
The 2nd Manifesto itself is evidence that some things went on after 1890 that still needed stopped or corrected. A couple of apostles left the quorum and were either disfellowshipped and/or excommunicated over the polygamy issue in the early 1900’s.
Those things are all in the published histories of the church.
You can find out more details of polygamy in the Church Educational System’s Institute courses and manuals. You can buy those, and they might be available to read or download online.
Utah public schools also teach about the history of polygamy in Utah.
You can also find out about Joseph Smith’s and Brigham Young’s multiple marriages at the church’s own genealogy web sites.
Seriously, what you’re asking for is already out there. Your question assumes, or at least implies, things that aren’t necessarily so.
Granted, it’s not handed to you on a silver platter at church like the Gospel Principles Sunday School manual, and the annual study guides for the Gospel Doctrine Sunday School class, or the Priesthood/Relief Society study manuals.
But such historical stuff is out there, and available, both through the church, and pro-LDS or church-owned publishers such as Deseret Books.
I get surprised at people who say they had no idea of Joseph Smith’s polygamy, and that it hurt their testimony, because it states it right in the Doctrine and Covenants.
All history of all religions is “messy.” Geesh, look at the Old Testament. You can take just Genesis and Exodus alone and re-tell those stories in a cynical light easier than you can the stories of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
That tricky Moses, telling the Hebrews he was taking them to the promised land, and then changing his mind, and making them wait 40 years in the desert. Moses lied, and people died!
Moses denied them their right to “Freedom of Religion” too. When he came back from the mountain, he found thousands of them practicing their old pagan religion from Egypt, and he had his henchmen kill over 3,000 of them.
People getting killed for breaking his religious rules, stoning a man for breaking the sabbath rules, was pretty common too.
“2. Why not have a civil wedding in the United States for those who wish to attend the weddings of their loved ones but can’t go to the temple? […]
Why not make LDS weddings family affairs?”
That’s a good question. My understanding is that it’s a policy, not doctrine. If President Monson asks the Lord if it can be changed, and the Lord approves, it will be changed.
But as of now, US-based couples still do have a choice. You can get married civilly first, either by a Justice of the Peace, or by your bishop, and then waited the year to go to the temple.
And people can get their endowments on their own before they marry in the temple. So people can still be endowed and civilly married, but not sealed yet.
So the option to appease non-member family is still there.
Temple-weddings in the United States are still a two-part deal, the government-licensed civil wedding part, and the LDS “sealing” part. Technically, it is possible that the church leadership may some day allow them to be split without having to wait the year.
But if people have to wait a year, so what? They still plan on being married in a year, don’t they?
“But if people have to wait a year, so what? They still plan on being married in a year, don’t they?”
After over 30 years in the church this the first I have heard it is different in other places in the church that people do not have to wait to get married. I waited and was not told to get married first the go to the temple. It caused a great deal of problem and you say “so what.” This is so typical of a mormon mind. I followed the churches advice with the thought I would be dammed if I did not and now I find out it is “a policy, not doctrine.” This is one reasion I am no longer a member. So what! I don’t care why the G.A. give out policy just make it clear what the options are without making people feel they will be dammed baised on policy.
“I followed the churches advice with the thought I would be dammed if I did not and now I find out it is “a policy, not doctrine.”
If you knew that you could be sealed 1 year after getting married outside of the temple why would you think you would be damned? That doesn’t make sense. Someone being damned, I am guessing, couldn’t get a temple recommend. 🙂
As LDS people we are encouraged to be married in the temple. We are definitely not forced to do so. Every person makes up their own mind regarding their own lives. (Free Agency) If this is something one felt strongly about and wanted their family to attend that couldn’t, then they could be sealed the year later. Nothing to be ashamed of. I know because I did that very thing.
I have heard this thing complained about often with ex mo’s. I doubt this was a deciding factor in their leaving but it does sound good, talking about the evil church that really doesn’t love the family structure. Just another transparent attempt of misdirection.
“I have heard this thing complained about often with ex mo’s. I doubt this was a deciding factor in their leaving but it does sound good,..”
Like you know me. Just pointing out the guilt trips you mormons play then are not man enough to stand up to. But that is ok I would not except any different concidering the many bad experiences I have had at the hands of mormons. It is just the general attitude “it is no big deal to be decived.”
Having said this I still know that church and the restored gospel is true even there are so many members that are will to do so much damage to the church.
“Like you know me. Just pointing out the guilt trips you mormons play then are not man enough to stand up to.”
I am sorry if I offended you with the generalization of the ex mo’s dislike of non-member or without-recommended-member family being excluded from the temple experience.
I did mention the fact that I did get sealed a year after my civil marriage right? No guilt trip here. Don’t lump together all LDS folks with the self-righteous ones.
“Having said this I still know that church and the restored gospel is true even there are so many members that are will to do so much damage to the church.”
I hate to hear of this type of thing happening. People being offended. I know it does happen. That is too bad. I love Elder Bednar’s talk regarding this titled: And Nothing Shall Offend Them. I don’t know how to link. Just go to LDS.org and use that title. This just isn’t for those offended members but for those that think they should have been translated yesterday :-). Awesome talk.
I apologize to Later-day James, Jeff and anyone else that my have been offended or hurt by any comments on this blog that I may have written. I know that Later-day James is a righteous dude and is engaged in the good work . I am sure that I took you statement wrong. Just a oldnew convert that has had some very bad experiences that could have gone better. But as it relates to me when I was a new convert there were many things in the church that are just policy, or Mormon culture not doctrine and members make other members feel guilty so they comply with their ideals rather than doctrine then you find out later that they were just running the old guilt game on you.
“*If this is true the Joseph Smith did some bad things.”
After putting in over 50 years on this planet the one thing I am sure of is most of history is deceptive. It does not lend its self to crystal clear facts. Even the best historians must guess as to what happened or the motives of any given person at any given point in time. As far as Joseph Smith, he would do some of the most shocking thing to test those around him. Like “give me your wife,” no it was just a test. We have many cases where he tells the person this after he make such an outrageous requests. He even tells why he did this in many cases. He could not tell if they were loyal to him and the restored church or not. It has always been strange that God did not just tell him, it would have saved him a lot of beatings. In reading much of his history it is hard to tell if he is serious or just testing many of the members.
“*Why do we not open up financials so that everyone can see?”
It is none of my or your business unless you hold some stock in the church or they have some fiduciary responsibility to you. I give freely of myself and if I want to know about such things then I should ask God not request this information from the church.
“*The little known 2nd Endowment Ceremony. Can those who give this Endowment really say who should become gods?”
This is no big secret now that the internet is out there. I would worry more about obtaining it from God than worrying about if they “really (can) say who should become gods?” I have my concerns of just making the cut to get into heaven without all the worry of becoming a god.
“*I would suggest that the LDS leadership just needs to be up front and honest about its history. No more stories about polygamy being practiced because women couldn’t own land or there were too many women that needed husbands. Just tell the truth about it and about post-Manifesto polygamy. That way people like me won’t invest 15 to 20 years in a religion that we conclude is not true.”
*”I think most of the answers to the polygamy questions can be found in the pro-LDS church book “Rough Stone Rolling”, a biography of Joseph Smith Jr. by Richard Bushman,…”
As a new convert there was only one story that I read about that resolved for me the practice of polygamy. Others on this blog may know who this couple is and can supply the name and better details. Joseph Smith again was testing members and told a male member that he must start the practice of polygamy but he must not tell his wife. He went home and could not eat, sleep and was a basket case not being able to tell his wife. His wife kept after him as to what was wrong but he kept the commit to Joseph and kept silent. Because she could not prevail upon her husband to tell her she went into the woods to pray to God as to what was wrong. As she did a vision opened up to her of this principal and the economy of God and Heaven. As I read this I knew by the power of the Holy Spirit that this was true. I understand very little about this life but this I know is true.
Thanks for taking the time to go into detail about the questions I posed even if I find your answers to be standard boilerplate.
I think that Post-Manifesto polygamy goes a little further than the scapegoating of John W. Taylor and Matthias Cowley. I’d like to see an official position paper from the First Presidency on why certain people (like Spencer Kimball’s father-in-law) were able to marry plural wives after 1890 with no repercussions.
I think if Monson and the rest of the Twelve could publicly say something like “the early Brethren believed polygamy was essential to salvation. We don’t. They were wrong we are right.”.
As for your statement “But if people have to wait a year [to be sealed in the temple], so what?”, I find that flies in the face of everything that I heard taught by General Authorities about temple marriage:
Joseph Fielding Smith:
“I have heard President Joseph F. Smith say on several occasions that he would rather take his children one by one to the grave in their innocence and purity, knowing that they would come forth to inherit the fullness of celestial glory, than to have them marry outside of the Church, or even outside the temple of the Lord.”
Sort of shoots the “so what” attitude down.
In a broader sense, it would be better for the First Presidency to issue statements on a host of controversial doctrines so that they could clear the air. I believe part of their job description is to make sure that church members are not “…tossed to and fro by’ every wind of doctrine…”.
I just don’t understand why they don’t make an “official” stand.
HI Bookslinger and Latter Day James,
I’ve read both of your comments in answering questions regarding temple marriages and civil ceremonies, and thought I’d interject a bit.
I certainly understand that every LDS member is encouraged to have a temple marriage. But, I also agree with the position that such emphasis on temple marriage is divisive of families. Maybe this isn’t as much of a problem in Utah where large portions of the population are mormon. But out in the rest of the country where people are Christian, but not necessarily mormon, its quite common to have hurt feelings with family members sitting in the garden while their children are getting married in some “secret temple ceremony.” I use that phrasing because that’s how it feels to those family members sitting outside the temple waiting for their sons and daughters.
I don’t think your church shows a sensitivity to the way family works. Every daughter has a mother who has for years dreamed of attending thier daughter’s wedding. Father’s spend their time dreaming of walking their daughters down the aisle. Parents are proud to see their sons committing to this wonderful young woman who is to become the daughter they never had. All are let down when they are told, sorry you can’t come in, you’re not one of us. Can you imagine the devestation that causes in a family?
Yes, one can have a civil ceremony outside the temple. And yes one can marry in the chapel with a ceremony, then marry in the temple, but it isn’t the same. Its like comparing chocolate to carab; they look the same, but they aren’t the same; carab is a poor substitution for chocolate.
I’ve posed this thought before, and typically the response I get, is that these families are exercising their free agency, and they could choose to join the church, which would get them on the path to enter the temple. Another common response has been, well not everyone gets to enter the temple, even LDS need to be deemed worthy to enter and must possess a temple recommend.
The truth is, none of us are worthy to enter God’s house, yet he invites us all in;saints and sinners alike are welcome at God’s table; except in the mormon house of God, then you have to have a card that says you’re worthy to enter. Does that really seem right to you that God’s house is closed to those who need to enter it the most?
Will, Maybe you’re asking or complaining at the wrong place.
Let me back up a bit. What do you hope to get out of this discussion?
Are there any possible explanations or counseling that strangers (LDS or not) can offer you to resolve your frustrations, or make you happier, or improve things for you? Or do you have a ready slap-down for any possible response?
Do you hope to influence change in the LDS church by discussing things here?
If you just want to get things off your chest, and have a sympathetic audience, the ex-mormon discussion boards might be better.
If you really want to see the LDS church change things for the better for their members, write a letter to your local bishop and local Stake President, letting them know your story and your suggestions.
It takes a while, but the LDS church does make course corrections. (Raising the bar for missionary standards was one. I wish they had done that 20 years earlier. It would have made things better for me.)
Anon at 8:59 PM, August 17, 2008.
I’m sorry you had bad experiences in the church.
I did too, back in the 1980’s. My mission experience was emotionally devastating, and I came back pretty wounded from my interactions with other missionaries. It took a long time to heal from that.
After I got back, I got imposed upon for being single (“Oh, you’re single, you have extra time to do all this.) And one of the big things was people showing up at my door unannounced, including mentally-ill morbidly-obese women who thought I was, or should be, their boyfriend.
But after 15 years, I did come back. And I learned that you don’t have to let bad Mormons run your life, or ruin your life.
You don’t have to believe false doctrine. You don’t have to believe rank-and-file Mormons, or your Sunday school teacher, or your Elders Quorum President or EQ instructor, or your Relief Society Pres or RS instructors, or even your bishop, when they spout off _false doctrine_.
You don’t have to tolerate people unrighteously imposing on you. You’re allowed to say “No.” You’re allowed to say to a pest, “stop calling me”. You’re allowed to say to someone, mentally-ill or not, “Please don’t show up at my door uninvited again.”
And if the pests don’t leave you alone, you’re allowed to complain to the bishop about them excessively imposing on you, or calling you, or showing up at your door uninvited.
The world has plenty of idiots, and the Mormon church has its fair share.
But when you have something (the gospel) that’s intended for every living soul in the whole world, it’s awful hard to have a “goober-free” zone.
So I’m sorry you guys got hurt by toxic members, or bad missionaries, or bad Mormon guilt-trips, or bad Mormon attitudes, or false/confused/mixed-up doctrine, or whatever, or whoever it was.
I’ve met some Mormons who I hope I don’t have to associate with again, so I realize there are plenty of people who might be called “difficult members.”
Here’s a hint I’ve learned to get along better: I try to remember that before I get too worked-up about other people’s sins and flaws, I ought to repent of my own.
I try to get my doctrine from the scriptures, from the prophet and apostles, and from official church publications. But there is precious little “official doctrine” of the church.
The missionary lessons change from time-to-time. And the “Gospel Principles” manual has been slightly revised over the years.
But I think the safest course is to listen to the current prophet and apostles. Pay attention to what they say at General Conferences, and the First Presidency message in the Ensign. They really are prophets, seers and revelators.
The church isn’t perfect. It never has been, not in the days of Adam, nor in the days of Joseph Smith, nor anytime in between or since.
The church won’t even be perfect in the Millenium. Towards the end of the Millenium, Satan is going to be released again for one last war.
The church probably won’t be perfect until the day after Judgement Day.
“Are there any possible explanations or counseling that strangers (LDS or not) can offer you to resolve your frustrations, or make you happier, or improve things for you?”
$100,000.00 in cash would be a good start. 😉
I once in my life made the very serious mistake of not challenging Mormons on their beliefs. I was young and naive and trusted that they were telling me the truth about their religion.
I will give you one example of what I’m talking about:
A few months after joining the LDS Church I was confronted with the Adam-God Doctrine. I asked members about it and was told “Oh that never happened. It’s just a bunch of anti-Mormon lies…. “
I was told to read McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine where he claimed that Brigham Young’s words might have been written down wrong.
I went for several years trusting that the LDS Church had told me the truth on the matter. They had not. It was not until I had access to the Internet that I discovered the Eugene England letter in which McConkie, speaking of the Adam-God Doctrine said:
“Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him……What I am saying is that Brigham Young, contradicted Brigham Young, and the issue becomes one of which Brigham Young we will believe.”
I’m not here to debate Adam-God, but to point out that McConkie could have printed that same sentiment in Mormon Doctrine. The question that I continue to ask is why not just be honest with potential converts about what you believe?
I’ve learned from my mistakes and now firmly believe that ALL authoritarian organizations should be challenged, scrutinized, questioned and exposed if need be. There are non-Mormons out there who lurk on sites like this and I believe that they need to see a good back and forth on the issues.
Also, I posted a comment and then YOU responded to it. You started a dialogue with me.
I feel that an organization that sends out 50,000 missionaries to go on private property at all hours of the day and knock on doors has, by doing so, entered the arena of ideas and that their beliefs are fair game for anyone to challenge. I will exercise my right, as do other former members of authoritarian organizations, to ask the tough questions.
I’m sorry that your responses can’t be more creative but that’s not my fault.
“Also, I posted a comment and then YOU responded to it. You started a dialogue with me.”
You admit I went second (responded), and then you say I “started” something? I don’t think I like your logic or how you redefine words.
“I’m sorry that your responses can’t be more creative but that’s not my fault.”
I admit I’m lazy. Your issues, arguments, and counter-arguments have been dealt with over and over again on many apologetic web sites, online discussion forums, and even books. I guess I don’t like re-inventing the wheel. The rejoinders to your points have been given on such web sites as http://www.fairLDS.org, http://www.farms.byu.edu, http://www.shields-research.org, http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/, etc.
Moreover, I don’t like dealing in the negative unless there’s a corresponding positive, or resolution/improvement. For example:
Yes, people have questions, but do they really want answers, or are they asserting there are no answers?
Yes, people have been hurt, but do they want healing, or do they want to wallow in their festering wounds, forever blaming others, and gobbling up pity? (Hmmm, I spent a few years in that state.)
Yes, there have been, and continue to be problems in the church, both as an institution, and false traditions/cultures among the members. (Just like in any church or organization.) But do the complainers want to just tear down, or do they want to fix the problems?
Yes, there have been, and continue to be individual members who spout off false doctrine and mislead other members. Does that mean the official doctrine and authority of the church is all wrong? (No.)
Yes, there have been, and continue to be individual members who are “toxic” in mental/emotional ways, and some have even been criminal predators. Same is true in every church and organization. Does that mean the official doctrine and authority of the church is all wrong? (No.)
Yes, there have been, and continue to be some “Nephite-diseased” members who keep all the outward ordinances and practices of “Mormonism”, but are arrogant and condescending to the more humble members. Does that mean the official doctrine and authority of the church is all wrong? (No.)
“The question that I continue to ask is why not just be honest with potential converts about what you believe?”
What parts of the missionary discussions do you consider false?
I don’t think there’s anything false in the missionary discussions. Neither in today’s version, or the version I taught on my mission, or the version I went through as an investigator in the early 1980’s.
What you seem to be implying is that missionaries should teach the “warts and all” version of Mormon history.
Well, there just ain’t time for all that. The message of the Plan of Salvation, faith in Jesus Christ, repentence, etc., is more important than history lessons, whether you include the warts or not.
“I went for several years trusting that the LDS Church had told me the truth on the matter. They had not.”
I think it possible that people confuse their peers (just people) in the church with “the LDS Church.” What you hear _casually_ from other members, even if it’s the bishop, is NOT official. It’s just their opinion. Only when someone is teaching from the scriptures, or official publications published by the church, does it carry any degree of authority.
In fact, if it’s not right out of the scriptures, or comes from the First Presidency or Quorum of the 12, or taught with the Spirit, I think you can safely ignore it.
We are told, even Brigham Young said, that we should seek spiritual confirmation of what we’re taught, and not blindly follow.
McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” isn’t. He specifically claimed it was his, not the church’s, and that he alone was responsible for it.
The closest anything from that book gets to official are only those parts that get quoted in church-published material, like some of the CES manuals.
Another point is that knowledge of church history doesn’t save us. Knowing or not knowing the warts-and-all version doesn’t save or condemn.
This will be my last post on this topic because I think I made my point in the last post. But I will try and answer a few things that you have brought up.
“Your issues, arguments, and counter-arguments have been dealt with over and over again on many apologetic web sites…”
Please direct me to the wesbsite that has the official LDS Church position on my issues.
“Yes, people have been hurt, but do they want healing…”
Maybe this is about more than just taking Prozac and pretending. The LDS Church destroyed my life, but I’m slowly rebuilding it and things are getting better. I think accusing people of nursing wounds, and living in self pity (I think Hinckley called it savoring a pickle) is just a way of steering them clear of criticizing the LDS Church. It’s an appeal to vanity.
“…do the complainers want to just tear down, or do they want to fix the problems?”
In authoritarian institutions pressure from the outside is the best way to fix the problems they have. What Joseph Smith came up with has been torn down over the years and replaced with an instiution that is becoming more and more Fundamentalist Christian as the years go by. The goal is to make sure the entire history is told to prospective converts.
“Yes, there have been, and continue to be individual members who spout off false doctrine and mislead other members.”
Hey, that would be a GREAT title for a missionary discussion!
“What parts of the missionary discussions do you consider false?”
It’s not what is false. Religion does take faith and I won’t dispute that. But history does not take faith. I don’t have to engage in faith to believe that the United States and her Allies won WWII. I can consult documentation and gather facts about the event.
If by “warts” you mean teaching that polygamy was once as essential to salvation and exhaltation as baptism now is or that Joseph Smith “married” other men’s wives or that you are expected to wear a certain type underwear…then yes. If there is such a terrible rush to baptise a person (I never really understood that) and their “ain’t time” to give them all the facts…then perhaps the LDS Church could set up a special website to deal with issues such as these and then prospective converts could read it and decide if they wanted to join or not.
The whole unofficial doctrine of “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” won’t last much longer.
“Another point is that knowledge of church history doesn’t save us. Knowing or not knowing the warts-and-all version doesn’t save or condemn.”
If I’m going to sell you a house or a car you would want to know the “warts-and-all” version, right? Well it’s the same when choosing a religion like Mormonism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses or Scientology…unless letting people know about the warts would kill the sale.
“The LDS Church destroyed my life,”
I used to think that too. But in reality, it was not “the Church”, it was some individuals.
Like many other ex’s, you give me the impression that you considered your fellow local members as “the Church”, and gave too much credence and allegience to what local people said and did. Maybe I did too back then. But one’s peers and local leaders are not “the Church”. They are just people.
In my case, it was as much my own inability to handle some particular problem people (on the mission and later) as it was the problems of those other people.
And my life wasn’t destroyed, or rather, I didn’t have to let things get as bad as they did before seeking help and resolution for the problems.
“but I’m slowly rebuilding it and things are getting better.”
I’m glad to hear that. I wish you wholeness and happiness, inside or outside of any church.
“In authoritarian institutions pressure from the outside is the best way to fix the problems they have.”
I’d disagree. Contention and confrontation rarely work. Maybe a little outside pressure. But leaders don’t often consider change until there is a noticeable need for change from within, until trusted people within the organization say “Maybe we should consider such-and-such.”
Bookslinger: “What parts of the missionary discussions do you consider false?”
Will: “It’s not what is false. Religion does take faith and I won’t dispute that. But history does not take faith. I don’t have to engage in faith to believe that the United States and her Allies won WWII. I can consult documentation and gather facts about the event.”
Or fer cryin’ out loud. So you want missionaries to be history teachers? How about preachers of all Christian denominations and teachers/preachers of all religions?
Do you want Catholic’s catechism classes to offer full disclosure about the Inquisition, sale of indulgences, child-abuse by priests, popes with wives and children, Nazi collaboration, etc, etc?
Do you want Southern Baptists to disclose their past association with slavery and then KKK before baptizing people?
Do you want the Muslim Imams to go into the bloody world history of Islam before making converts?
Sorry, history is not required for faith or salvation. It’s good to know. It’s important to include it in one’s course of religious study. But it’s not a prerequisite, and it’s not essential for salvation.
The truthfulness of the LDS teachings is not found in historical analysis. It’s in the confirmation by the Holy Ghost.
I don’t think the leadership of the LDS church wants “historical converts”. They wants converts who obtain a testimony of the restored gospel via the Holy Ghost.
“and their “ain’t time” to give them all the facts…then perhaps the LDS Church could set up a special website to deal with issues such as these and then prospective converts could read it and decide if they wanted to join or not.”
The problem is that you’d have them read the whole 7-volume “History of the Church”, and the 20-something volume of “Journal of Discourses” plus a myriad of lies and half-truths sprinkled in dozens of anti-Mormon literature.
If they read the anti-literature, then they’d have to read the anti-anti-literature, and the debate would never end.
It would take years (or never) for someone to jump through all your hoops and hurdles.
“Well it’s the same when choosing a religion like Mormonism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses or Scientology…unless letting people know about the warts would kill the sale.”
The anti’s and ex’s who point the finger at confusing or messy items in LDS church history don’t settle for just some items. As soon as one item is addressed, they add more items to the list. Then they start back at the beginning of the list as if those previous items hadn’t been addressed.
It goes back to the basic premises that missionaries teach: Was Joseph Smith Jr a prophet of God, and is the Book of Mormon true?
If the answer to those is yes, then messy or confusing history, or problem members, don’t matter a hill of beans.
The question of Joseph Smith’s prophetic role, and the divine origin of the Book of Mormon have to be discerned through spiritual means. Historical analysis of any church’s claims, LDS or other, has never worked, and will never work.
People who are intellectually converted to Mormonism can be intellectually converted to something else, by better and smarter debaters from other religions.
People who are “sold” by smooth talking missionaries, can later be “sold” something else by smoother talkers from other churches/religions.
To me, it wasn’t historical discoveries that pushed me out of the church.
But it was a definite shocker for me to learn how imperfect the church was then, how inefficient the programs, how disorganized, how sloppy, how things and people fell through the cracks, how things that “must be” weren’t being done, how imperfect (and sometimes downright “bad”) some members were.
Kaimi Wenger had some good comments over on timesandseasons.org about members who get upset because they weren’t told the warts-and-all history in Sunday school growing up, or within the first year of their membership in Gospel Essentials Sunday School class.
It’s probably too late for that to do you any good, but may offer a perspective to some others who feel shocked, or get into a double-bind about how the church is true, but it’s not perfect.
I went for several years trusting that the LDS Church had told me the truth on the matter. They had not. It was not until I had access to the Internet that I discovered the Eugene England letter in which McConkie, speaking of the Adam-God Doctrine said….
I’m sorry, but I fail to see how personal correspondance between Elder McConkie and the late Eugene England concerning BY statements on Adam-God is binding on the general body of the Church.
What gorgeous pictures! I’m a convert of 25 years with a viciously anti-Mormon family. I will be eternally grateful to those who gently held me while my wings strengthened. Thanks for the lovely image.