About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

The Redemption of the Endowment

France Paris Notre-Dame-Adam and EveThis past Saturday I attended the temple with my husband. This was the first time I’d experienced the endowment ceremony since coming to believe that Hyrum Smith, rather than Joseph Smith, may have been the third man Martha Brotherton described in her 1842 affidavit.

In my post earlier this summer suggesting Hyrum was implicated in promoting illicit intercourse, I described honored figures of the past who had fallen into transgression, only to repent and become the greatest. I mentioned Saul of Tarsus, Alma the Younger, and Moses’ brother Aaron.

I completely overlooked Adam and Eve, the iconic figures who transgressed and yet were then promised the salvation of Christ could redeem them.

For those not familiar with the endowment, let me repeat Glen M. Leonard’s description. The endowment:

[set] forth a pattern or figurative model for life. The teachings began with a recital of the creation of the earth and its preparation to host life. The story carried the familiar ring of the Genesis account, echoed as well in Joseph Smith’s revealed book of Moses and book of Abraham. The disobedience and expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden set the stage for an explanation of Christ’s atonement for that original transgression and for the sins of the entire human family. Also included was a recital of man’s tendency to stray from the truth through apostasy and the need for apostolic authority to administer authoritative ordinances and teach true gospel principles. Participants were reminded that in addition to the Savior’s redemptive gift they must be obedient to God’s commandments to obtain a celestial glory. Within the context of these gospel instructions, the initiates made covenants of personal virtue and benevolence and of commitment to the church. They agreed to devote their talents and means to spread the gospel, to strengthen the church, and to prepare the earth for the return of Jesus Christ. 1

I have previously made reference to the commitment to personal virtue, the requirement that the endowed individual refrain from sex with anyone other than a legal spouse. 2 What I had failed to understand was the power of the creation narrative for those affected by the heresy of illicit intercourse. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Leonard, Glen M., Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 2002), 258-259, cited by Devery S. Anderson, The Anointed Quorum in Nauvoo, 1842-45, Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Fall 2003), pp. 137-138, available 22 Aug 2016 at https://archive.org/stream/AnointedQuorum/Anointed%20Quorum_djvu.txt
  2. I am not certain what the wording of the original endowment was, but I am certain that it did not allow for random liaisons of temporary duration, which was the hallmark of Bennett’s illicit intercourse or “spiritual wifery” heresy.

Saul, Alma the Younger, and the tale of Martha Brotherton

Saul at stoning

Saul (seated) holding the coats of those stoning St. Stephen, from the tympanum of Saint Étienne du Mont, Paris

As we consider scripture, we see great individuals who have overcome a terrible past.

Saul, later Paul, began his career of tormenting Christ’s followers by volunteering to hold the clothing of those who stoned Stephen, a believer. He went on to actively persecute Christians, until he was stopped by a divine revelation on the road to Damascus. Yet he went on to become one of the greatest of the early Christian apostles.

Alma, son of the Alma who had been a priest in the court of King Noah, went about actively destroying the Church of God. It is unclear how much of the later apostasy and warfare that troubled the Nephite and Lamanite peoples were directly attributable to the youthful actions of Alma “the younger.” Yet the younger Alma went on to become a great political and religious leader, honored in his own time as well as by modern Mormons.

I have suggested that some early Mormons were like Alma the younger and Saul/Paul. We know them and honor them for their great goodness. But I detect the traces of a troubled past of which they repented.

This past month, as a tangential result of my foray into an alternate Mormon-themed website, I tumbled across something that has stood in plain site, yet unseen across the decades. It makes sense of things, yet it does not make me glad. I am now persuaded that someone I previously saw as uncorrupted had an episode in their past that rivals the evil of Saul and the youthful Alma. Continue reading

Free Book, or What I learned at MHA

RP 160627 CoverI had a delightful time at the Mormon History Association Conference this past weekend. I met scores of individuals, many of whom I had only read about. They were uniformly gracious in person, including those with whom I have sparred online.

But I realized the road to being accepted by some in this community is paved by scholarly papers.

As I evaluated why I have written this book, I realized I simply want this version of Joseph Smith to be available to a large number of people as soon as possible. So I am making the pdf version of the book available to anyone who wants to download it. Just click on the cover image in this post.

If you really want a physical copy of the book, it is being carried by Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City and you can get the book from Amazon. Even though I’m now giving away the pdf, I still think the nicest format is Kindle, making it trivially easy to access the footnotes. The version currently available via these sellers has the old cover and doesn’t include the updates based on Ugo Perego’s latest DNA analysis. The updated version represented by the pdf will be published on June 27th. Continue reading

Public Faith – conversation at Wesley Theological College #publicfaith

Join the live stream as Mike McCurry (former White House Press Secretary), David Gregory (CNN), and Reverend Ginger Gaines-Cirelli talk about faith in public life.

https://www.wesleyseminary.edu/support/faith-in-a-public-vocation/?bblinkid=18305467&bbemailid=1486059&bbejrid=97920914

If you have a question, comment – I have access to index cards and am sitting in the front.