Emergency (Gospel) First Aid

Roughly 175 years after the terrible accusations of summer 1842, I got an e-mail from a friend. Various family and friends had told my friend all about why Joseph Smith and the Church were wrong. They didn’t know who to ask other than me (which is a sad commentary of some sort).

They trust me to be honest – perhaps a bit too explicit and open mic, in fact. But for this person, they didn’t want to feel like they were being “handled.”

The questions were:

Q: Did Joseph destroy public property?

Q: Did Joseph lie to Emma about Eliza snow? Who caught them in bed? Was it Emma? How old was Eliza when this happened? Why was the revelation received after the incident?

Q: Why didn’t Joseph use the urim and thummim? If those were God’s tools, why didn’t he use them?

Q: To obtain the priesthood, do you have to be a full tithe payer? Are you denied the priesthood if you don’t pay tithes? In particular, did Joseph demand money for ordaining people to the priesthood and did he demand that people pay for the Book of Mormon?

Q: Where in scripture or the Family Proclamation is it stated that those who engage in same sex marriage (or relationships) cannot hope to ever be saved. Why isn’t someone who beats their wife and children, for example, punished the way we punish those who marry someone of the same gender?

My friend, like many of us, no doubt, has someone (or a few) in their extended family who don’t identify as hetero-normal or CIS (i.e., comfortable with the gender one is born with).

My first thought was “you didn’t read my book…!” But when someone is bleeding, you don’t say, “Have you read my thousand page dissertation on transfusion?” You just whip out a bandage or tourniquet and help stop the bleeding. Then you can point them to the academic literature.

So here are a few answers I gave my friend. Posted since I suspect my friend isn’t the only one with these questions.

Question: Did Joseph destroy public property? I’ve been told he wrecked a printing press, but it’s unclear why… There are public documents that show he did. So I want to know why.

Answer: In 1844 Joseph had reason to believe there was a conspiracy of several men plotting to kill him and others (The number of conspirators was as many as several hundred within Nauvoo, if we believe the story told by Dennison Harris). At any rate, there had been open threats against Joseph’s life by those reported to be in on the conspiracy, threats which included drawn guns and explicit statements that Joseph would be shot. Joseph had routinely been attacked and the US government had denied assistance when Mormons had been raped, murdered, and burned out of their homes.

In this this setting, the Expositor was published, which accused Joseph and other leaders within the Mormon movement of a wide variety of ills, including sexual coercion and giving themselves leave to commit any action except cold-blooded murder.

The question of what should be done was debated openly for days. Eventually, the City Council was persuaded that the Expositor press should appropriately be declared a nuisance. They felt that the writings of William Blackstone 1 supported destruction of such a nuisance. 2 John Taylor would describe the matter in 1854 and assert that Governor Ford had said they were within their rights to destroy the Expositor, though John recounted that Ford said it would have been better if a unknown “mob” had been commissioned to do the deed, rather than have it be done as an open act of governance.

In modern times “freedom of speech” is so sacred that we’re allowed to burn flags, call sports teams “Redskins,” and show (even celebrate) art that explicitly depicts rape and ingesting human waste products. But in 1844 it wasn’t as clear that destroying a press threatening the safety of several individuals was so problematic that it should be avoided at all costs. However the destruction of the Expositor was a rallying cry for those wishing to put an end to Joseph Smith and the Mormon influence in western Illinois.

Question:  Did Joseph lie to Emma about Eliza snow? Who caught them in bed? Was it Emma? How old was Eliza when this happened? Why was the revelation received after the incident?

Answer: This is a confusion of several different stories, and we know far less than people like to say we know.

First, the original revelation regarding the New and Everlasting Covenant was received before March 7, 1831, if we believe Erastus Snow’s account that Joseph reported receiving the revelation while Joseph was translating Genesis. This is long before any of the various events that are rumored to have occurred.

We do not know when Joseph informed Emma about the commandment Joseph reported he was under to teach and practice plural marriage. There is reason to suspect she was the one who prompted the revelation, by questioning Old Testament plural marriages. Others believe she never knew about Joseph’s covenants with other women, though Whitehead told Joseph’s sons that Whitehead had witnessed Emma participating in ceremonies where Joseph covenanted with women.

The assertion that Emma caught Joseph in the middle of having sex with another woman was implied by Oliver Cowdery in 1836. Oliver was inferring this must have been the cause of Emma’s anger at a matter that had transpired between Joseph and Fanny in a barn. Fanny was 18 or 19 at the time, and several contemporaries report they considered Fanny was married to Joseph.

Most scholars suppose the event in the barn was sex, but Emma and Joseph did not ever say that Oliver’s interpretation of why Emma was upset was correct. To the contrary, Joseph challenged Oliver’s account at the time and Emma insisted in later years that Joseph was completely honorable. Fanny refused to either confirm or deny that she had been Joseph’s wife, much less what that might have meant. The child she is rumored to have conceived has been demonstrated by DNA analysis to have no descendants who are related to Joseph Smith.

Oliver was not an eye witness, no matter how certain he was of his interpretation of events. My own ancestor was an eligible bachelor living in the Smith household at that time, so I hold at as plausible that Fanny had grown weary of “marriage” as a second wife where Emma wasn’t allowing Fanny to engage in activity that could result in a child. So I put forward as possible that Fanny was talking with Joseph about him either making the marriage “real” or releasing Fanny to become a true wife to some other person.

Now on to Eliza. Eliza covenanted with Joseph in June 1842. Emma never explicitly acknowledged what she knew about the covenants Joseph was entering into. Emma’s Relief Society counselor was present at the ceremony and Eliza was the Relief Society secretary, so it is certainly plausible that Emma was aware of the covenant.

There is a story that Eliza Snow became pregnant in 1842, then fell and miscarried the child. Those telling the story believed Joseph was the father and the recorded version of the story suggests an enraged Emma pushed Eliza down a flight of stairs. However there are various problems with that story.

First, if Emma was suddenly enraged at learning Eliza was pregnant with Joseph’s child, it would seem the fall should coincide with Eliza moving out of the Smith household, which occurred in February 1843. But Eliza was teaching school at that time and maintaining a daily record. It is not deemed possible that she suffered a fall so severe that it caused a miscarriage and then got up the next morning and taught her class as before. The records of the teaching do not allow for any time for recuperation in Feb 1843.

Second, if Eliza’s reported fall and miscarriage occurred at some earlier time, then Emma was not enraged enough to eject Eliza from her home. To the contrary, there is a story that George A. Smith came upon Joseph washing his hands, explaining to George A. Smith that Joseph and Emma had been assisting at the birth of a child born to one of Joseph’s plural wives  Analyzing all of the ~40 women who are believed to have covenanted with Joseph, the only one that fits the George A. Smith story is Eliza Snow, if we consider she might have prematurely gave “birth” as a result of the fall. November 1842 is a possible time, based on Eliza’s poems describing death and two weeks where the poems were not dated. But Eliza’s poems speak of a vile wretch who feeds upon the blood of innocence, suggesting Joseph might not have been the father of the child Eliza is reported to have lost.

Eliza was in her late thirties when the incident is reported to have happened. For what it’s worth, a grand-daughter of Bathsheba Smith wrote in her journal that as a child she had overheard Eliza Snow and Bathsheba talking about a time when Eliza was gang-raped by eight men. That grand-daughter also indicated that Eliza was rendered barren as a result of that rape. So many female researchers discount all stories suggesting Eliza Snow was pregnant in the 1840s.

There are those who suggest Eliza asserted she had sex with Joseph in a conversation with Heber Kimball. However the record of that conversation comes from an account of a conversation Joseph Smith III had with Angus Cannon in which the Heber Kimball conversation was described. Eliza’s response to a questions was “I thought you knew Joseph better than that,” which is hardly an unambiguous assertion of anything. As Angus Cannon was still very young when Heber C. Kimball died, it is more likely the conversation was with Heber’s son, Heber Kimball. So the third-hand report of the conversation doesn’t even appear to have gotten the identity of a key participant in the conversation correct. Therefore I question putting too much weight on the interpretation of what was clearly an oblique answer related at best third hand.

So the bottom line is that there is a lot said, but little is certain when it comes to the widely touted assertions regarding sex and betrayal.

Question:  Why didn’t Joseph use the urim and thummim? If those were God’s tools, why didn’t he use them?

Answer: Hyrum suggested Joseph use the “Urim and Thummim,” a term that was also used to refer to Joseph’s seer stone, which Joseph had used when he was translating the Book of Mormon and presumably when he was translating the Bible. But Joseph replied that he knew the words by heart, which makes sense if the original revelation occurred before March 7, 1831. We have many different sources attesting that Joseph repeatedly struggled against the command to take another wife in addition to Emma (there’s a quote from Mary Elizabeth Rollins in 1905 where she explains that Joseph quoted scripture to an angel, solemnly refusing what the angel was telling Joseph to do).

By 1843 Joseph was more comfortable in being a prophet without needing the crutch of the folk magic tools he had relied on so heavily circa 1830. While the seer stone was revered as a sacred artifact for many decades after Joseph’s death, it is not certain how much (or if) it was used after 1830.

Question: To obtain the priesthood, do you have to be a full tithe payer? Are you denied the priesthood if you don’t pay tithes? In particular, did Joseph demand money for ordaining people to the priesthood and did he demand that people pay for the Book of Mormon?

Answer: Since being a tithe-payer is a standard requirement for being given a temple recommend, it makes sense that one might be asked if one was a tithe-payer to receive the priesthood. I don’t know, since I don’t conduct those interviews and haven’t ever been interviewed for worthiness to be advanced in the priesthood.

I am not aware that Joseph charged for ordaining people to the priesthood. On the other hand, William Smith was in the habit of charging folks when he would voice a patriarchal blessing. William made his living for a while from giving blessings, before he was excommunicated for various other issues. William would encourage people to get their patriarchal blessings again and again, seeing this as a renewable income stream.

The first printing of the Book of Mormon was funded by mortgaging a farm (Martin Harris’s farm, as I recall). In those early days it was hoped people would pay for the books so that the farm could be redeemed.

Question: Where in scripture or the Family Proclamation is it stated that those who engage in same sex marriage (or relationships) cannot hope to ever be saved. Why isn’t someone who beats their wife and children, for example, punished the way we punish those who marry someone of the same gender?

Answer:

The case of same sex marriage is not the first case to evoke strict measures from the Church. It is likely not the last case that will evoke strict measures. This strictness is not an indication that this is the “worst” sin, but that it is the error most likely to be made or condoned by compassionate people who haven’t internalized the implications of the error.

Currently there are strong sanctions for individuals who engage in same sex marriage. It happens that these are the same sanctions that have long been in place for individuals who persist in practicing polygamy contrary to Church policy.

The work of the Church is to bring people to Christ and perform proxy ordinances for the unbaptized dead so they can accept Christ prior to Final Judgment, if they so choose. According to the 1920 vision of Heber Hale (which he was requested by the First Presidency to relate in an event associated with General Conference), the work of the faithful in the spirit world is to preach the gospel to those who did not accept it in life and perform spiritual ordinances analogous and complementary to the ordinances we perform on earth.

Thinking of children and others involved in modern plural marriage families, is there any reason to believe they are forever to be damned? Of course not! The current policy is just to emphasize that the form of family in which they grew up, by it’s very nature in opposition to the Church, is dangerously incorrect.

Similarly, is there actually a reason to believe that an individual in a same sex marriage or raised in such a family will never be permitted to accept the saving ordinances?

Of course they will be permitted to accept the saving ordinance eventually, if they so choose.

In the case of polygamy, people strongly believe they are right to perpetuate a marriage system that was practiced by some Mormon faithful during the 1800s. The Church uses these sanctions to make it very, very clear that these practices are not appropriate now (e.g., in opposition to the will of God received by the prophets, starting with Wilford Woodruff).

In the case of same sex marriage, people strongly believe they are right to embrace a marriage system that is widely accepted by the world. The Church has put in place these sanctions to make it very, very clear that these practices are not appropriate now (e.g., in opposition to the will of God received by the prophets, as no known prophet has ever revealed that same sex marriage is deemed acceptable in the eyes of God).

Kings and Presidents and Magistrates may permit a practice. And while we believe in being subject to worldly rulers, that does not mean that we abdicate leadership of the Church to embrace all practices accepted by the state.

We live in our culture, so we take it for granted that our culture is obviously good. But to those who are not inside our culture, our actions may not be so obviously meritorious.

King Manasseh was a Jewish leader who embraced worldly practices of his day, the practice of sacrificing firstborn children to the fires of Moloch. In that era, sacrificing a firstborn child was entirely legal and fashionable, as it was believed such a sacrifice would bless the family with prosperity for the rest of their lives. Though I can imagine there are some who would revile me for mentioning King Manasseh’s child sacrifices in a discussion of acting on same gender attraction, we live in a world where expectant mothers are often encouraged to consider aborting their unborn children, certainly in any situation where birthing the child might be considered anything but advantageous. At least in King Manasseh’s day they placed the ashes of the sacrificed child into exquisite urns, celebrating the life of the child for the remainder of the parents’ lives. Few aborted children in modern times are as honored in death.

But what of those who “practice” sinful behavior but are not sanctioned as harshly? In the case of beating one’s spouse and children, there is no reason for an offending party to state their abuse is widely accepted. While it is true that most abusers were themselves abused as children, abuse is not in the same category of ideology that is fiercely defended. There have been small groups who have promoted the idea that certain sorts of abuse are justified. When this has occurred, the Church has taken measures to address the abuse. For example, the Family Proclamation itself makes it clear that abuse is not acceptable. There are other changes that have been made in response to abuse, but I have these as hearsay so won’t elaborate in this venue.

It appears clear that same sex attraction is sometimes thrust upon a person. I understand it is possible to confidently create same-sex attracted rodents by subjecting the mother to sufficient stress during gestation. 3 In a similar manner, it may be that some who report being same sex attracted are made that way by events over which they had no control. Those who advocate for those with same sex attraction argue that they should be free to love as they are inclined, much as interracial couples needed advocacy to be able to marry the one they loved. Same sex marriage is being touted as the modern equivalent to inter-racial marriage, which was illegal in most states as recently as the late 1960s. I myself was born into an interracial family where my parents’ marriage was considered “void and prohibited” in the state where I was born.

But here we get to a key difference between interracial marriage and same sex marriage. Interracial marriages can produce children that are the biologic get of both marriage partners. Same sex marriages cannot produce children that are the biologic get of both partners.

Studies repeatedly support the benefit to a child of having married parents who are the biological parents of the child. While most adopted children are loved and cared for, most adoptive parents will admit to the angst adoptive children experience because they were given up by their biological parents. To intentionally do this to a child, by design, speaks to the objectification of children, rather than seeing the proper care of children as the primary reason for the institution of marriage.

There is much debate about whether marriage is primarily procreative by nature or companionate by nature. If marriage is necessarily procreative (as it was for millennia prior to 1000 AD), then those unions that by their nature cannot produce children ought not properly be called marriage. 4 In modern times, however, marriage is seen as primarily companionate and is associated with a wide variety of benefits that, while benefiting children born into a marriage, are very desirable to those who merely share companionship.

Whether marriage ought to be restricted to those unions of a class that could be procreative (e.g., males and females) or simply unions of consenting adults primarily for companionship, Mormonism stands out among all religions in the value it puts on each individual soul, seeing every person as a child of God. The fundamental structure of Mormon belief and ordinances suggests that all will eventually be tied into the family of mankind and offered the saving ordinances.

Yet there is ample precedent in Mormon practice for sanctioning that which is seen as rebellion and error.

Some of my ancestors in their day were disobedient. The major offender (the husband, Apostle John Whitaker Taylor) was excommunicated and his marriages were considered void. The marriages were not formally acknowledged as valid until all John’s children had died, which was decades after the longest-lived of his wives had breathed her last. Members of the family had continually petitioned the Church to publicly restore John’s blessings, so the delay wasn’t for lack of asking. 5

To repeat, the case of same sex marriage is not the first case to evoke strict measures from the Church. It is likely not the last case that will evoke strict measures. This strictness is not an indication that this is the “worst” sin, but that it is the error most likely to be made or condoned by compassionate people who haven’t internalized the implications of the error.

Summary

There is an old phrase, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” The precious “child” of the Church is the universal offering of Christ’s salvation to all peoples of the earth.

Since the beginning of the Church, there have been those who had been called of God and appointed, yet who then “putteth forth [their] hand to steady the ark of God…”

These would “fall by the shaft of [spiritual] death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightening.” 6

It isn’t that God smites such folks, but that they, by presuming to know better than God and His Church, reject God. Even bath water has its time and place in promoting the health of the baby.

All are children of God, and so all may come back, even from spiritual “death.” But it becomes dangerous when one listens too much to those whose primary wish is for the Church to accept the obvious rightness of today’s politically correct correctness.

Is the eye of these PC advocates single to the glory of God or is it single to their socio-political agenda?

Whether or not they are attempting to push an agenda, are they in possession of basic historical facts, or are they spreading rumor and innuendo?

The best path is to keep one’s eye single to God’s glory and be guided by the best available historical understanding.

Notes:

  1. William Blackstone wrote four volumes of commentaries on English law starting in 1765. Blackstone’s synthesis of English law was very influential as the US sought to formulate its own approach to legal matters. For more on Blackstone, see the Legal Dictionary article on Blackstone, online 26 Jun 2017 at http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Sir+William+Blackstone.
  2. Dallin Oaks, writing in 1965, found that the Nauvoo City Council was justified in finding the Expositor a nuisance, but found that the law of the day did not justify the destruction (see Carthage Conspiracy, p 26 note 48). However John Taylor, in his 1854 address marking the tenth anniversary of Joseph Smith’s death is clear that he believed the destruction to be legal. Taylor and Smith did not have access to the legal advice of Oaks.
  3. See Wikipedia regarding prenatal hormones and sexual orientation, particularly maternal stress, online 5 Jul 2017 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_hormones_and_sexual_orientation#Prenatal_maternal_stress.
  4. Obviously some heterosexual marriages are unable to produce children, due to infertility or menopause. Thus even heterosexual marriage has instances where the companionate role of marriage unions was permitted.
  5. Some report that John’s blessings were restored on his deathbed, but if this occurred, it was kept a secret from even members of John’s family.
  6. D&C 85:8.
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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.

19 thoughts on “Emergency (Gospel) First Aid

  1. The baptism interview questions are the same as the temple rec interview questions, and priesthood advancement interview questions. (The temple rec questions add a question abt temple garments.) The interview for any calling that requires a temple rec essentially repeats the temple rec questions. At least that’s my understanding.

    You can read the baptism interview questions in Preach My Gospel, which is online.

    There is, or was last time I looked, a question along the likes “are there any problems in your family relationships?” which I’ve been told is to open the door for discussion of abuse. However, it may be more likely to elicit a response from the victim rather than the perpetrator.

    And since tithing is part of both baptism and temple rec interviews, it’s part of priesthood ordination and priesthood advancement interviews. For baptism, and for men who are to be ordained to the Aaronic priesthood soon/immediatley after baptism, it would be asked in a prospective/future-tense frame as opposed to a retrospective/present-tense frame.

  2. The question about tithing is about whether the church engages in simony. The problem seems to arise because there are people, maybe most people, who will do or not do certain religiously dictated things *because* they want, or fear to lose, ecclesiastical privileges.

    But I think in the Gospel, it is supposed to be the other way around: you receive ecclesiastical privileges *because* you do or do not certain things. How does anyone expect that to happen without having some kind of verification of worthiness, absent the infallible ability to read men’s hearts. But I guess that gets back to the problem that people really would rather believe leaders are infallible. I know I’m always falling into this trap, because it feels safer.

    I really like Elder Christofferson’s talk on the subject of personal accountability, where he quotes Shakespeare’s King Henry saying “every subject’s soul is his own”. Unfortunately, the modern “soup” emphasizes everything materialistically, downplaying personal responsibility, inner discipline, and sense of accountability. And tithing is indistinguishable from simony in such a climate because all things are judged by “getting what you want out of life”, rather than remembering that you personally will be judged according to your worthiness, both the unseen and the observable.

  3. Meg, I suppose your friend merely repeated questions framed and posed by others, as I want to assume your friend was intending to make honest inquiry. Yet the wording and framing of the questions portrays accusation rather than inquiry. The pre-suppositions in the questions also indicate fraud on the person or persons who originally framed them, or who crafted the falsehoods embedded in the questions in order to mislead others.

    So, the person who originally crafted those questions is not searching for answers; they’ve made up their mind, and are attacking the church with subtle lies framed as questions.

    Perhaps the better answer is to tell your friend to ignore the church’s enemies, and go to faithful sources. Because the bottom line is if someone doesn’t research and view original documents on their own, they have to choose someone or some side to trust to do the reaearch, properly analyze it, and properly present valid conclusions/interpretations.

    On the surface, it looks like your friend has already chosen a side to trust, because the questions posed to you are framed defiantly, not inquisitively. Without a huge amount of work on their part, your friend still has to trust your interpretation of the history. It all still boils to trust and faith.

    Years ago I bought the apologetic set of books “They Lie in Wait to Deceive”. I started reading them, but it got repetitive and boring, so I skimmed most of it. It just required too much anal-retentiveness to pour over the details than even my Asperger’s self could muster. My conclusion was: all anti-mormons lie. And they throw in just enough true stuff (see #3’s rejoinder below) to confuse the uneducated.

    Your friend’s questions remind me of Runnels’ “CES Letter”, a rehashing of things that have already been asked and answered, including a lot of junk that is either made up by, or twisted/mischaracterized by, people who are avowed enemies of the church.

    It reinforces my three-way categorization of all anti-mormon claims:
    1. It’s totally false. Or,
    2. It’s a cleverly twisted mischaracterization, requiring unraveling. Or,
    3. It’s true, and the proper rejoinder is “yes, and that’s a good thing.”

  4. Hi Bookslinger,

    I know this friend well, and they were repeating questions that had come up in discussions with friends and family. They had done just enough research to find themselves unable to rebut the assertions themselves, so they needed context and additional information.

    When we were discussing the family issues, that children do better when raised by both biological parents, etc., I was pleased to learn that my friend completely agreed with everything I was saying. But for your average person torn between myriad concerns and underinformed in history and the nature of human interactions, it’s an easy score to claim that the Church is bigoted by being so mean to sweet same gender spouses and their children.

  5. As a long time TR holding member the only question I looked forward to you answering was the last one. You give the longest answer but do not say there is any revelation to justify opposition to gay marriage, so can we assume there is none?
    I hear people say just saying “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” means that but if we take out the man and a woman and say “marriage is ordained of God” it could be equally true/valid. There is a scripture that says in the last days there will be people who forbid marriage. Is that us.?

    My motivation in supporting marriage equality, is not to keep up with the world, but to live the Gospel. All are alike unto God black and white, bond and free, male and female, gay and straight. Why should we discriminate against anyone, we are to love all as God himself does.

  6. “My motivation in supporting marriage equality, is not to keep up with the world, but to live the Gospel. All are alike unto God black and white, bond and free, male and female, gay and straight. Why should we discriminate against anyone, we are to love all as God himself does.”

    In my opinion, Meg’s answer doesn’t quite get to the heart of the doctrine that supports our position on gay marriage, and it’s as old as time. You need look no farther (or could look for millennia) to see the pattern. Marriage is between a man and woman. It is designed to create families, to engage with God in the power of creation. This is a pattern so clear and consistent in the scriptures and yet in our culture, we often miss it.

    Modern revelation also reinforces this. God created the world to be inhabited. And the end eternal goal is eternal increase, which can only be obtained if a couple (consisting of a man and a woman) — is sealed.

    Leaders have been teaching for a while that God’s love is open to all, but they are clear to note that He does enforce and follow laws. God is no respecter in the sense that all blessings are available to all who are faithful to Him and His commandments and who come to Christ for salvation as Christ has revealed that is to be done (through ordinances and obedience and trust in and being converted to and changed at the heart level by Him).

    I think in the end we have to understand that the Church can take no position that does not uphold the first and final purpose of our existence — to be able to return back to God and live His life in His presence. Even though in many ways we don’t understand what eternity looks like, in many ways, it’s so clear and plain that we miss it: Father, Mother, children = families, forever. I cannot see how the Church could ever change its position given as the pattern is the prophets’ divine role and responsibility. (Elder Holland explained this so beautifully in his 2008 Worldwide Leadership Broadcast talk entitled “General Patterns, Specific Lives.”

    Gender also matters to God. Notwithstanding our fallen mortal bodies that give us challenges (including ones related to gender), prophets still have a duty to point to the plan and its truths. We can’t truly come to understand the nature of God if we don’t allow ourselves to trust the patterns we are taught.

    I often watch people who are for marriage equality also say that they ache and crave more information about Heavenly Mother. If we don’t accept the basic doctrine of Father + Mother (and the importance of Their Son…a child who had to come from both Father and Mother (and a mortal mother as well for His mortal experience) how could we ever expect to gain more understanding about Her?

    Again, in some ways, the doctrine is so beautifully simple. Even if research were to show that gay couples were better than heterosexual couples, that wouldn’t change the doctrine. “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior quicker than”…talking about almost anything.

    In text I sound snarky but that is not my intent. It’s an urgency I feel around these issues and the swirling misunderstandings and misrepresentations of why we believe what we believe. It really is so simple at the core, even if it is hard to walk the path with those affected by the policies that come as a result of this fundamental doctrine. There is nothing short of the Atonement that is more central to our doctrine and the plan as it is taught than marriage between a man and a woman. It’s really that simple.

  7. Michelle,
    You’ve explained passionately that men and women have children and that is Gods plan.
    I’m sure you would acknowledge that there are lots of marriages that don’t produce children, and that doesn’t disrupt the plan.
    Why do you think gay marriage, which would be perhaps 1 or 2% of marriages, less than the already unproductive (not producing children, just love) hetro marriages, would be a problem?
    You’ve had legal gay marriage now for nearly 2 years, how has it affected your marriage, or any other marriage you are aware of?

    The beautiful and simple marriage still remains, just some other people are allowed to have it too.
    You have described your understanding of marriage as doctrine, yet Elder Christopherson has said that a member can be in full fellowship and support marriage equality. I can’t think of any doctrine that is optional, like that, can you? So perhaps the doctrine doesn’t require some be excluded?

    Recent survey shows that active Mormons are increasingly supporting marriage equality. http://religionnews.com/2017/06/27/mormons-are-changing-their-tune-on-same-sex-marriage/
    I believe this opposition to gay marriage is not doctrine, there is no revelation to support it, and it will be changed in a few years. Note that Meg in the original blog cited no revelation that says to oppose marriage equality.
    So yes marriage is good, but there is no evidence God only wants it to be for heterosexuals. Is there? Whether or not you believe that has more to do with your politics than your religion, according to the surveys.

  8. My Beliefs is an example of why the Church, holding firm to conjugal marriage as the standard, can’t just stand by and do nothing.

    When there was strong opposition to the idea of same gender unions, people self-identified as SSA at a rate of roughly 1%. But now that SSA is applauded, youth are liable to identify as SSA just to be cool. Among young women, kissing and other experimentation is seen as a safe way to “gain experience” and sex education in some parts of the country goes well beyond explaining sex to advocating ways in which one can become “satisfied” in non-reproductive ways, with or without tools or assistance from other people. Sex educators in my region of the world have been advocating masturbation to middle school students since at least the early 1990s.

    On tumblr there is even a backlash against those who identify as exclusively SSA, as the new mantra is to be open to having sex in all manners with all individuals.

    You ask if my marriage has been damaged by same sex marriage. My first marriage was destroyed by many different things, including hard core porn, prostitution, and demands that I participate in a ménage a trois, which by its nature means at least two people in the bed would have been of the same gender (husband desired that it be two women).

    In my current marriage, the issues of the LGBTQIA community have been an active topic of discussion, to the point that we anticipated what we would do if a child were born intersex (with genitalia that were not matched to the majority of the rest of the body’s gender).

    As a mother, I’ve watched as my children have dealt with friends and family who are coming out as LGBTQ (I’m unaware of any who are intersex or asexual). My autistic daughter is particularly likely to obsess about sex (she was masturbating when she was only months old, for example), and can often be heard muttering about all manner of sexual variations. For a time she was into hard core lesbian porn, which led to an extended internet ban. Just this week she was talking about BDSM, so we had a conversation about what that is. She decided she doesn’t really want to be beaten or whipped.

    So, yes, my marriages and my parenting have been affected by the surge in acceptability of sexual expression as the primary purpose of unions, now ensconced as valid and legally protected in the form of same sex marriage.

    Beyond my own nuclear family I see individuals coming out as LGBTQ at a rate far higher than the 1% touted in the popular literature.

    As for forbidding marriage, it is more likely that the current marriage conflicts would lead to the US overturning “discrimination” and demanding that all officiate at all marriages, no matter who they involved. In response to that, I can imagine the Church responding as they did with adoption, and getting out of the business of formalizing marriages in US temples, focusing temples on performing sealings (as occurs in non-US nations already, where LDS ordinances aren’t recognized as legally sufficient).

    Those who say changes to marriage definition (from conjugal to companionate) doesn’t matter are ignorant of history. In Italy as recently as my mission marriage was so entirely defined as conjugal that a marriage that had produced children could not be ended. How can one unbirth one’s children? Catholic marriages can be annulled, and in other nations (such as the US), Catholics will ask their former spouse to accept an annulment of the marriage in order to be able to marry again in the Church, whether or not the prior marriage had produced children, thus making their children into bastards in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

    Even the matter of bastardy in Catholic circles is a relatively recent change, brought about by Papal redefinition of marriage circa 1050 and popularized in Britain by Saint Margaret of Scotland, who prevailed on the Scottish witangemot to forbid marriage between a widow and her stepson. Margaret was advocating for the more sweeping ban of affinity (to seven degrees) advocated by Rome, but at least she got the ban that would prevent those scheming to assassinate her husband from putting his firstborn son on the throne, as the new king would have to take Margaret as wife.

    So, yes, this change in the definition of marriage (from conjugal to companionate) has already had vast impact on all of us and our marriages. The 1050s redefinition of marriage to forbid affinity led to the rise of whores and bastards, as before 1050s a woman who birthed a child was considered married to the father of the child, independent of how many other wives he had (in most cultures, certainly in Scotland).

    The recent “kindness” of making it possible to dissolve a marriage with little effort has been the factor most responsible for the rise of companionate marriage, where one’s responsibility to former spouse and children has now eroded to the point that alimony is now considered unusual. Marriage is considered to be primarily about being with someone that is deemed a desirable companion, and there are those who greatly fear that they will be left.

    Those who adore Jane Eyre feel great compassion for Mr. Rochester, bound to his insane wife because the law wouldn’t allow divorce short of death. And there are such cases. But what of someone who suffers a malady that isn’t as extreme or suffers a malady that is temporary? They know that in a companionate marriage, they are liable to be cast aside, with their spouse seeking a new and less inconvenient companion.

    It is not uncommon now in click bait to see “guess which couples have open marriages” as we are then regaled with the rich and famous whose marriages are not even exclusively companionate. With relatively effective birth control, sexuality is completely divorced from procreation, particularly when effective abortion in its various forms is readily available for any “accidents.”

    The lobster that is plunged into hot water will struggle. The lobster already in the pot who is gently warmed will not struggle.

    Same sex marriage is the epitome of companionate marriage, a phenomenon that has been evolving since the papal ban on marriages of affinity circa 1050. Professors decades, centuries, and perhaps millennia from now will be able to clearly see the results of what has occurred in the 20th century with respect to procreation and marriage. It is too fresh for most to be able to clearly see the rapid and vast change that is taking place, that is indeed affecting all our marriages.

  9. With the exception of the period of time from 1050 AD to now, marriage in God’s eyes was seen as the union of a man with the women he had produced children with. The importance of children resulting from a marriage was such that a man who died without issue was to be provided issue by his wife, a duty to be performed by his male relatives (see the story of Tamar). A relative who did not fulfill this duty to a fallen brother was to be publicly shamed by the widow removing his shoe in the public square.

    By the time of Ruth and Boaz, the public shaming had become mere custom, which is how Naomi was able to maneuver Ruth towards the more desirable Boaz over the unnamed next of kin whose shoe Ruth loosed in the public square.

    The New and Everlasting Covenant was to turn the hearts of the children to the parents and the parents to the children. The New and Everlasting Covenant is by its very nature conjugal rather than companionate. Much to Joseph’s alarm, the New and Everlasting Covenant accepts all women who have born children into the triune marriage of man, woman, and God. And thus there are at times men who have more than one wife in the eternal Covenant.

    As levirate marriage for the purpose of caring for a widow and raising up seed to a dead comrade already accounts for the status of a man who takes on a widow, there is no need to expect that marriage in eternity will allow a woman to have multiple husbands. However there are some who hope that a woman’s subsequent marriage will be honored by union in eternity. The Church in its recent statements allows this hope to persist.

    Those who are of the same gender and want their union will be deemed eternal by God can wish for that. But there is nothing in the Bible or LDS teaching to substantiate that wish as a valid hope.

  10. MB, all afflictions, including SSA, will be cured in the resurrection. (Elder Oaks even specifically said this in an official interview.) No one will _want_ to be married to a same sex partner post resurrection. And according to the D&C, only the top tier of the Celestial Kingdom will be married anyway. The lower two tiers in the CK, and all of the two lower kingdoms, will live singly and separately.

    There will be no SSM in the CK.

    As far as “no revelation to oppose SSM” , I disagree with that. The First Presidency asked local leaders in California to ask members there to donate money to organizations opposed to legalization of SSM in CA. The First Presidency does not take big steps like that without the Lord’s direction. It does not have to be a publicized revelation. They pray about it, obtain the Lord’s will, and act. If you and I can receive guidance from the Holy Ghost (ie revelation, ie, knowing the Lord’s will) in our individual and family lives, don’t you think the FP gets to know the Lord’s will in the big things that affect the whole church?

    “Why do you think gay marriage, which would be perhaps 1 or 2% of marriages, less than the already unproductive (not producing children, just love) hetro marriages, would be a problem?”

    Wrong. At the high end, at most 10% of gays get married, and mostly women. Male homosexuals who marry are the RARE minority, who are used for propaganda. Male homosexuality is mostly about hyper-promiscuity, very few want to settle down.

    So at the most it would be .1 to .2 percent. Yet… For that .1 to .2 PERCENT, (.001 to .002 factor) every dang school book K-post-grad is being rewritten to include examples of same sex couples, wherever there had been an example of opposite-sex couples.

    The other myth is monogamy. Most male homosexual marriages are “open” or semi-open (ie, can only have other partners when spouse is out of town.)

    “You’ve had legal gay marriage now for nearly 2 years, how has it affected your marriage, or any other marriage you are aware of?”

    That is misdirection. That is not the issue. The tragedy is in the children, ALL children who are now being raised to think same-sex sex is hunky dory. And the TRAGIC results are starting to come in.

    Same-sex sex is now officially approved by all 50 states and federal govrnment. That means bisexuality is going to skyrocket in the upcoming generation. And pity the poor teenager who experiments with same-sex sex before opposite-sex sex, because one’s first sexual experience has an imprinting effect. That’s why its best to wait for marriage, so you imprint with your eternal-companion.

    If you think that it’s only about being “born that way” you are sorely mistaken. Ancient Greece, modern prison sex, and men “on the down low” prove that’s a lie too. You don’t have to “be gay” to “do gay.”

    THAT is the new paradigm that SSM is creating in the rising generation.

    The first phase of the sexual revolution was HAVE SEX whenever/whereever. The second phase, is now WHOEVER, male or female. And SSM gives “official” license to it. The first phase gave approval to pre-marital sex. The second phase brings about “pre-marital” same-sex sex. Combine the two, and the next generation “straight” kids are going think its okay to have same-sex sex even before _hetero_sexual marriage. And WHY NOT? The GOV’T says same-sex sex is PERFECTLY A-OK!

    If you don’t see those connections, then you don’t really understand horny teenagers, and how things morph generation to generation, by the boundary-pushers and experimenters. (Remember the despicable frat-boy catch phrase “no means yes – yes means an@l”? )

    If you have a strong stomach, check out massresistance. org
    (Take out the space. i don’t want a direct link there.) The stats are now coming in for Massachusetts. They have had SSM since 2005. Read the report and watch the video of what SSM has done to MA. (Warning, some of the literature they reproduce from gay advocacy groups is explicit and very NSFW. But it was handed out to kids at schools.)

    Incidence of self-identified homosexuals and bisexuals has skyrocketed among teenagers in MA.

    It has also skyrocketed in Britain. See:
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/sexual-orientation-uk-half-young-people-say-they-are-not-100-heterosexual-1515690

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3576041/Quarter-straight-young-women-admit-having-sex-fling-HALF-believe-gender-isn-t-fixed-thanks-celebrities-open-experiences.html

    Similarly in the US:
    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20160602_Study__More_Americans_are_having_gay_sex.html

    THAT is what SSM is doing! In other words “younger = gayer” (with bisexuality thrown in in varying degrees.)

    If you think this whole movement, the LGBT phase of the 50-year old overall “sexual revolution” is about the so-called civil rights of a few white-picket-fence gays who want to settle down and get married (who are the exceptions being used for propaganda) then you have bought into one of the biggest lies of modernity.


    tl;dr:
    If you believe pre-marital sex is wrong/bad (bad even from a secular standpoint, like how has all that worked out with absent dads, single moms, HIV, HPV, other STDs, abortion, divorce, violence, crime, drugs? ) then you KNOW that the media has been lying about sex for 50 years. So if the media has been LYING about heterosexual sex for 50 years, why oh why should they be expected to be portraying the truth about homosexual sex now?

  11. I’ll repost the link to the First Presidency discussion about same sex marriage:

    https://www.lds.org/topics/same-sex-marriage?lang=eng

    It’s very good.

    We live in a time where many are concerned about overpopulation. When a group of organisms perceive themselves to be overpopulated, they implode in various ways. The original advocates for legitimate birth control were atheists who feared Malthusian catastrophe. From birth control we got the sexual revolution, where we are now advised to vaccinate our children against STDs that cause cancer, as it is presumed that all children will be sexually active.

    Looking at the outcome for children, poverty and lack of education is highly correlated with children being raised outside of marriages featuring both the biological mother and the biological father. Mental disease and suicidal actions are higher in children raised in same gender households. Sexuality before marriage reduces likelihood of bearing healthy children.

    Ignoring religion, a smart person who wishes to have healthy (and adequately wealthy) children will wait until marriage to conceive/engender children and will marry someone who can perform the complementary function in reproduction (e.g., engender to conceive or conceive to engender). Since only men can engender and only women can conceive, the smart person will seek to be part of a heterosexual marriage.

  12. “I believe this opposition to gay marriage is not doctrine, there is no revelation to support it, and it will be changed in a few years. ”

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  13. Isn’t it clear from our scriptures and our doctrine and our history that active homosexuality is sin? Therefore, doesn’t it go without saying that same-sex marriage is sin? Activities may be legal and still sinful.

  14. Hi ji,

    Alternative sexuality is strongly linked to self image. That is, most people, even children who have been unwilling recipients of sexuality, are deeply affected by that sexuality. Even violence with a sexual element is more impactful to the victim that non-sexual violence.

    For those who have consented to alternative sexuality, there is a strong internal imperative to justify those actions as being acceptable. For example, we see scholars such as Michael Quinn effectively rewriting history to find multiple examples of supposedly acceptable homosexuality (for example, attempting to portray Evan Stephens as someone supposedly known to have been homosexual). In a similar vein, we see people with a vested interest in promoting alternate sexuality explaining away instances in scripture or history where alternate sexuality was condemned or sanctioned.

    Other instances of alternate sexuality being rejected are recast as the actions of unwitting bigots who simply didn’t know any better. This is where the narrative regarding race and priesthood comes in, as it is now clear that there was never a categorical reason for excluding Blacks from priesthood ordinances and ordination. In similar vein, progressives project that any issue they wish would change should and shall change.

    Once one has become committed to the cause of alternate sexuality, whether or not one is personally vested in committing alternate sexual acts, then it naturally follows that one will use time-honored techniques to normalize alternate sexuality. Any negative statistics associated with alternate sexuality are recast as negative outcomes associated with bigoted prejudice against alternate sexuality.

    In the early 1800s most people limited sexuality to intentional procreation. In female circles this was accomplished by vilifying “fallen” women and teaching one another that sexuality was a necessary but disgusting act. Writings of that era are quite amusing to our enlightened age. As for those women willing to cater to men’s sexual desires outside of marriage, they were rarely honored for their service. A married woman known to have conceived another man’s children would have her children taken from her and be publicly shamed. There’s such a case amongst the Pilgrims, children who were sent to America as “orphans” because it was discovered their mother had been sleeping with a man not her husband, and this other man was presumed to be the parent of the children. These Pilgrim ‘bastards’ were among the many who died that first catastrophic winter.

    I don’t just mention same gender sexuality because any sort of previously-rejected sexuality can be inserted in this formula. And I dare say there are variants of alternate sexuality that some same gender couples would find outré.

  15. What is marriage? Marriage in the US has sadly been redefined by the courts (against the will of the people in most states) into an arbitrary set of government benefits available to couples, nothing more. Legally it has no larger purpose and is not tied by law to love, sex, procreation, permanence, sexual exclusivity or anything else. It has about as much spiritual significance by US law as applying for a drivers license or social security benefits.

    In most of the world and for most of the world’s history, it was and is something more. To the prophets and apostles (ancient and modern), the church fathers, the popes, the reformers, to orthodox Jews, to Muslims, and to most of the world’s religions and cultures, it was and is a heterosexual institution designed for the fostering and perpetuation of multi-generational families.

    To faithful Latter-day Saints marriage is infinitely more and does lead to eternal increase even if the blessings of childbearing are not attained in this life.

    Those churches that are redefining their religious definition of marriage are in a state of steep decline (e.g. the Episcopal Church) or are facing schism.

  16. People who have problems with the Church stance on SSM are often congruent with the people who have a problem with Joseph Smith and other early Mormons practicing polygamy, particularly with very young women. Yet polygamy is accepted as normal in Islam, and has been seen as normal in around 70% of human cultures. The marriage of the young teen daughters of elites in every culture was common until the modern era. Open homosexuality in adults has been condemned throughout human history with few exceptions. The same Greek-Roman culture that often openly tolerated if not encouraged homosexuality also frowned on polygamy while at the same time encouraging sexual exploitation of slaves and the enslavement of their progeny. In this era the limits of acceptability in terms of sexuality have been pushed beyond absurdity, with incest of siblings now claiming respectability. Fortunately divinity does not cater to popularity or civil law.

  17. Just wanted to say Meg has made some really great comments.

    Regarding all this bs about ssm clearly not damaging society that’s so terribly naive.

    We can’t experience the full impact for generations and even then we’ll never actually know. Most of us will be dead, who ever is left will be seen as the crochety old grandpa, and the written and video records will be dismissed as whatever the new racist is.

    “You cannot possibly quote Gordon Hinckley, didn’t you know he was against loving families with to nice mommies?”

    Of course it’s also completely true that morality is being obliterated by ssm right now. Sex is completely misunderstood, almost always was, but our social sexual morals helped balance out the negative side effect of the misunderstanding.

    Now we’re rewiring human relationships, families, pushing sexual appetites to extremes, which further shows how little idea we have about sex as a society — for all that we talk and obsess about it.

    Your ssm isn’t affecting my marriatal relationship, but it’s rewriting the way so many children and adults think about sex which will be the undoing of everything in our society as more people continue to be confused that love is love.

    Not hyperbole.

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