June 19, 2009

Good vs. Evil

A very intriguing scripture in the Old Testament is Isaiah 5:20. The KJV translates it as such:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
This scripture sums up the overall theme of this blog; the question of what is actually correct and right over what is merely being portrayed or interpreted as such while actually leading away from truth.

The LDS church would, of course, use such a scripture to stress the momentum of the gay rights movement, pointing out how homosexuality is slowly being passed off as okay, when from the LDS perspective it is evil. They would also point out how things like modesty are getting unpopular, drinking is portrayed as cool, sexual abstinence is frowned upon, etc.

I wonder how such intelligent people miss the application of that scripture into their very own history, however. For example:
  • In the LDS world, it was put forth as God's will to forbid interracial marriages, and was a grave sin for a "pure blood" to marry anyone with a drop of African blood (source).
  • Joseph Smith married several teenagers, including two 14-year-olds (source; see also Compton, 2001).
  • Joseph Smith married the wives of other men (same sources as preceding).

How can such things be praised as godliness? Intuitively these acts are evil, and yet the LDS church claims that they were righteous, or even beyond righteous; they were absolutely necessary. Not only did Joseph Smith claim that pressuring teenagers into marriage with him was not evil, but he would have the world believe that these things were of the utmost sanctity: that the form of polygamy he practiced was as divine a form of marriage as exists (Compton, 2001). I cannot help but feel that this is a prime example of an individual calling evil good.

Even more paradoxical, leaders of the Church outright condemned monogamous marriage. Consider this quote from Brigham Young:

Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout Christendom, and which had been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 128)

Heber C. Kimball adds his thoughts:

I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality [of wives] looks fresh, young, and sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he honors His work and word. (Journal of Discourses, Vol 5, p. 22)

I love this one from John Taylor:

...the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people. (source, p. 227)

That sounds an awful lot like presidents of the Church felt that monogamy was less than, and even worse than, polygamy. I fundamentally disagree with such statements, as I have stated in a previous post. I feel that the LDS church attempts to redefine what is fundamentally good or evil in order to explain its controversial history. I have a very hard time imagining a perfect, just, and merciful god who would esteem multiple wives above monogamy, and think it righteousness to let salvation hinge on participation in it, especially when unnecessary.

It seems to me that the Church's history contains several prime examples of individuals calling evil good, and good evil.


Compton, T. (2001). In sacred loneliness: The plural wives of Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books.

Journal of Discourses (1860). A. Lyman (Ed.), London: Latter-Day Saints’ Book Depot.

1 comment:

Joel said...

You've put so much work into how you feel and i'm impressed! I totally agree with how you feel. Cause i also had these questions in my mind. I now, and have always disagreed with polygamy! It is wrong and evil. I don't believe God would ever ask his children to do that.