June 13, 2010


Most believers who are aware of common criticisms of the LDS church admit that, at first glance, some of them seem concerning. Most agree that the idea of polygamy initially rubs them the wrong way, and that the official denial of priesthood to persons of African descent seems like it may have been a mistake. But these same believers tend to discount the serious ramifications of these problematic doctrines, giving past leaders of the Church the benefit of a doubt. Believers generally tend to say something to the effect of, "Although it looks really bad, there's probably a justifiable reason for it somewhere."

The Bible counsels believers not only to avoid evil, but to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22.). It seems troublesome, however, that the same God who inspired this counsel, also appears to often flirt with the appearance of evil by commanding His chosen instruments to do things which go against moral conscience.

The most obvious example may be Joseph Smith, Jr.'s form of polygamy. He lied to his wife about courting women behind her back, and then consummated marriages with them. He pressured girls as young as 14 to marry him. He took women from their first husbands to become his own wives. He used followers to pose as husbands to some of his several wives (e.g., Compton, 2001; another source). He publicly and privately lied about his practice several times (source), and he supposedly did these things under the direction of God.

It is a difficult argument to make that these things did and do not, at a minimum, appear evil, especially because it took years for Smith to own up to them - he never admitted his deeds to anyone but his elite - and the current LDS church condemns the practice of polygamy (source).

How are we to interpret these events? The Bible counsels us to avoid the appearance of evil, and yet past Church leaders have done so much that appears evil without ever offering reasonable explanations. Are we to err on the side of the wise biblical counsel and truly hold leaders accountable, or are we to allow them the appearance of evil under the protection of our faith?

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

1 comment:

Nick said...

This kind of behaviour by Joseph Smith was one of the reasons I couldn't continue in the church anymore despite what seemed like my favourite church and community of believers.

Even worse is that for the two years I spent very actively investigating NOT ONCE was anything ever said or even hinted at that Smith was a polygamist. Every presentation presented him as a loving monogomist husband.

Investigators were being deceived.

The reality is he was every womans nightmare of a husband.

Would anyone in the LDS church today (knowing of Smith's past behaviour) let him home sit their teen daughters or let him alone with their wife?

Discovering this aspect of early LDS and many other sinister and definately 'evil' things from the cult leaders helped me to decide 'No Thanks' and I got out from it all.

I reject the claims of the LDS church and believe they are a fraud.

Thats not to say ordinary members are not sincere on the whole. Many are sincere though duped, some have mental issues(JW's attract suchlike also).

I think the worst members are the ones who know the crap and quite happily allow some unsuspecting person to be misled and deceived about Joseph Smith's character. Imagine the massive fall and potentially destructive scenario that person is headed for many years later after paying tithe and serving all the hours they can manage and not to mention the potential initial family backlash of a son or daughter being taken in by a cult(and a lying one at that).

My mormon missionary told me that if the church wasn't true then her life would be destroyed.

She was duped and baptised at 20(pressured by her own admission), did her plageurised Masonic Hand shakes at around 28 (giggled in the Endowment by her own admission), served a mission at 35, bumped into me and never even heard of the hat and stone translation amongst many other (disturbing for her)things.