Three sisters and Illicit Intercourse

This past few days I’ve been at Sunstone, where I made a presentation about the Illicit Intercourse heresy of 1841 and 1842.

My point to all I talked with, whatever their persuasion, is that this history makes a huge difference in how we interpret our past. It has huge power to help us own our now and plan our future. I’ll be putting the audio together with the slide deck in the next day or so.

In the meantime let me mention a couple of the things I saw at Sunstone.

I learned that Exmormon Reddit is approaching 50,000 members, with about 1 million unique views per month. Apparently I had been a member of that Reddit group before under my own name but my account has now been deleted. I was assured that it probably had to do with the fact that I simply haven’t gone to that site in years now.

I saw Kate Kelly and chatted with her. She’s moved on from the faith and marriage that she was in when she was excommunicated. But the folks seeking female ordination in the LDS church are still active in attempting to make their point. I shared the experience I had of blessing my son before his death, at a time before I had come to realize that such things are not necessarily kosher under current policy. There is a documentary in the works about Kate Kelly’s journey, and the trailer includes footage of the moment when Kate learned she had been excommunicated. While I wished she had handled her disciplinary trial differently, it was a raw and painful moment.

I popped in on one presenter who happens to be from my stake. It was good to hear him talk about how we become one, but I’m afraid I brought a bit of the “no prophet is honored in his own country” to that session.

On Saturday I caught a session about the minutes of the Council of Fifty. It is good to have those records. But I would argue people shouldn’t be held to their most wild and fevered statements immediately after a murder.

The final session I was able to catch focused on female body image. The two main speakers are both involved in professions that focus on the human body. The first lady is not Mormon. She was a Playboy Playmate of the Month in 2011 and currently helps couples learn to more fully receive physical fulfillment from one another. The second, Sasha, is an active member of the church and her profession is dancing in strip clubs. Her tale is one of terrible abuse, homelessness, drug abuse, and rape. In short, a life from which becoming a very good stripper is a step up. And the entire time, as she struggled with the different stages of her life, she continually and faithfully came to church and held on to her faith in Christ.

As I left Sunstone to rejoin family and make sure I could actually catch my flight home, I ran into these two outstanding women, one who knows nothing of Mormonism and another who has held to the pure faith of Mormonism despite a rather atypical journey. I had shared some of my past experience during the Q&A session, so the three of us were pleased to have a picture taken, which for me was the only picture of this conference.

How do we love all the children of God, whom He loves, even when their lives differ so much from our own? Particularly in cases where their work could be seen as being in conflict with our own dearest hopes?

This entry was posted in General by Meg Stout. Bookmark the permalink.

About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) 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 that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

29 thoughts on “Three sisters and Illicit Intercourse

  1. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how one can be an “active Mormon” and dance in strip clubs. I am pretty sure those two statements are incompatible.

  2. According to Sasha, her most recent three bishops have not found her work to be fundamentally incompatible with considering her a member is good standing and she has callings. But it does seem if others were her bishop, they might have used the new Self Reliance program to help her transition to a less fraught profession. For what it’s worth, she is planning to transition to a different profession in the near future.

  3. The missionary zeal of those who leave the Church often far exceeds that of those who stay. I am profoundly sorry for those who turn their backs on all the blessings the Gospel offers, but I am also wary of them. Maybe you did some good in pointing out the ways that focus on negatives makes us ignore or fail to see the reality of all we gain from standing true to the faith.

  4. Here again it is useful to be aware of the extreme patience and forebearance exhibited by Joseph and Emma. We will never know in this life how many were kept in the gospel by their love, but I feel confident it was hundreds, if not thousands.

    Because we only know of the reprobates who were evicted from the company of the Saints, we fail to see the value of extending love, not seeing the many who were saved.

    I was talking with Lach Mackay, a descendant of Joseph Smith and an apostle in the COC Church. We reflected briefly on the antecedents of today’s LDS angst, and it is an understandable (though regrettable) reaction to certain leadership styles. I think of my own upbringing, where I don’t recall being censored into goodness, but was actively guided to good and sufficiently informed of the alternatives if goodness wasn’t selected.

    I had forgotten signing up over at the exmormon Reddit forum, but I believe it was in late 2014, after completing my Faithful Joseph series here. And I went to the exmormon forum to invite their critique of what I have to say. I don’t recall any comments that were evidentiary, they comments were more along the line that I must be wrong. I figured that if any place knew arcane facts that might destroy my thesis, the exmormon folks would have them at the ready. But they didn’t, at least not at that time.

    When I look at any of these folks, from Kate to the exmormon Reddit folks to [insert name], I see children of God who I have loved for an eternity and who I fully expect will return to their God by the end of times. At least, it is my hope that each of these will return to God at that final judgment, and I will act on that hope while similarly acting on that hope for all those faithful with whom I have stewardship.

  5. When I lived in Las Vegas I knew people who worked in casinos serving drinks, performing gaming etc. They had to wear their “uniform” whether it was up to “Church standards” or not. The bishops didn’t treat them any differently than the suits working for the same corporation that never got out of their corporate offices and stepped onto the casino floor.

  6. I think “active” is determined by whether you show up most Sundays, and accept callings that are extended to you.

  7. Once more to Nick, you might want to read the minutes of Relief Society for June 9, 1842. This meeting happened after Joseph knew he had identified the ringleader of the seducers, and it was now a time when the penitent could be embraced. Mahala Overton had apparently been well-known for having participated in sin, yet Joseph and Emma urge the Relief Society to welcome her and embrace her.

  8. One of my mission areas included Jackpot, Nevada. As I recall, one of the casino hotels there was a family-run enterprise, the then-head of which was also the second counselor in the Jackpot Branch presidency. He actually put my companion and I up gratis for a night when we came down to have a baptism (and comped our restaurant tabs, to boot).

    It was a funny moment walking onto the casino floor in suits and nametags, though. It was like parting the red sea.

  9. “Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. . . .Members of the Church should avoid pornography in any form and should oppose its production, distribution, and use.” (_True to the Faith_, p. 117. See also Handbook 1)

    “When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God.” (_For the Strength of Youth_, p. 6)

    “Dancing can be fun and can provide an opportunity to meet new people. However, it too can be misused. Do not use positions or moves that are suggestive of sexual or violent behavior or are otherwise inappropriate.” (_For the Strength of Youth_, p. 23)

    “And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.” (D&C 42:23)

  10. Hi N.W. Clerk,

    I would suggest it might not be the “right thing” to tell a woman she must quit a job which provides her a living wage and doesn’t involve touching when that woman had previously been homeless, raped, beaten, and on drugs.

    My comment was in fact about the effect pornography had on my first marriage (though porn was one of many factors leading to divorce).

    I grew up around homes where art lined the walls, with some of that art depicting nudes.

    Sasha herself is the first to say that modest is hottest and she would not recommend this profession to anyone. But on her journey, this profession was a step in the right direction from where she’d been.

  11. Meg,

    I am stunned. I would argue that it would not be the right thing to justify that a woman should remain in a job which degrades her as a daughter of God and which places her in close proximity to the very types of traumas and threats she has already experienced.

    What Bishop would NOT do everything in his power to get a woman out of working as a stripper? Job training, church assistance, counseling, education… whatever it took. The resources are there.

  12. I remember a time when a Stake leader solemnly affirmed that the Church would make it so that no mother had to work, so that every woman could be at home with her children. And I was stunned and thrilled, since at the time I was a working single mother.

    But after two moments, I realized that there was no way the Church could suddenly take on paying all costs for every single Mormon mother. And in that moment I realized that the Stake leader was speaking their wish that all mothers could be at home with their children, rather than a possible reality.

    I don’t know all of the history with Sasha. But she is getting out of dancing in the near future. As for Kiley, she is proud of the work she does and would not see any reason to get out of it.

    But whatever is going on now for these ladies, they are my sisters from time immemorial. And so I will love them and accept them where they are, with ever hoping that they will progress onward.

    Sunstone is considered by some a hiss and a byword. But when my son had recently died, I was able to go to DC Sunstone and speak of my son’s brief life to people from distant locales who cared. And I am able to meet with those other than myself in a place of neutrality.

    Remember too that I am married to a man who values Sunstone and Dialogue, all while wishing with all his heart that they will all someday come be one with God’s people. So when I mention that one apostle’s daughter we know reports her father considers Sunstone a necessarily destructive force, my husband will tut and defend it, all the while being wary of the lies. Because he loves each of them and has never made an enemy in his life.

    My husband has never met a person he wished to avoid. He loves everyone and is filled with the best hope for their future.

    Since this is an online forum, you will necessarily have to attempt to understand me from a partial expression of my full intent, and might easily misunderstand my meaning.

    Perhaps I am willing to extend love and acceptance because I an my loved ones have been verbally and physically brutalized, and it just seems the kind and loving path of Christ is the right response, as Joseph instructed the Relief Society on 9 Jun 1842.

  13. It should not be difficult for the bishop to ask a few familes to help out so the sister can abandon her job. If there was a dedicated sister in my ward who suffered as you said and I knew her personally, or I was asked by the bishop, I’d have no problem giving a few thousand dollars to the cause of removing her from that work.

    That being said, just because a story is told online doesn’t make it true. I’m skeptical of many stories I hear online or offline about another ward when they don’t comport to church standards.

  14. Last night I reflected on how Joseph Smith may have felt when he got the letter telling him his new, useful convert was not all he had said he was. A quick google in lieu of sending my own George Miller off to investigate brought me to some level of knowledge of Sasha’s past. Turns out she’s several months younger than my oldest daughter.

    It may be that a conversation with Sasha’s bishop would yield a more nuanced view than the one I was presented this past weekend. But I am trusting that Lindsay, who organized the conference, was not knowingly perpetuating gross fraud. And, as I said, perhaps a different bishop would have worked harder to help Sasha get established in a different profession.

  15. Andrew, I wondered if that was you! But people in real life present differently from their online images, so I didn’t follow up on the hunch.

    I was the one Mark said “Hi Meg!” to when I popped in late. I was the one who responded to Mark’s questions with answers one might expect from a saucy teenager. My defense for the answer to “Where do we first encounter Mormon” is that at Sunstone one isn’t certain what paradigm people are coming from. So was there a mention of Mormon that chronologically comes before publication of the Book of Mormon? For someone who does not believe the Book of Mormon to be a true narrative, there might be a different answer than “the waters of Mormon, where Alma baptized the penitent of Limhi’s people.” I was the one Mark joked is a Republican and therefore very different in worldview than himself. Afterward Mark maintained he had been attempting to make a point about labels.

  16. Meg,

    Then that was certainly the one. I was the guy who went up to the front with the young woman for Mark’s experiment, haha.

  17. It is almost universally true that women in the sex industry, from supposedly no-contact stripping (though the common “lap dancing” most certainly is contact) through, uh.. , “full contact”, were sexually or otherwise physically abused/traumatized as youngsters. Drug abuse among female sex workers is also near universal, whether it started prior to or during their sex work.

    I don’t point this out to excuse anything, but to promote compassion/pity towards women caught in that destructive lifestyle. And of course the demand side, the consumers, drive the sex industry too.

    Drug users (and hard core alcoholics) are almost always consummate liars and manipulators. Which calls for extreme wisdom and caution on the part of those showing compassion to them.

    Trauma/abuse, if not peer pressure, is probably the number one “root cause”, or at least the “common denominator” of destructive behavior, from the age of accountability on up.

    Even emotional abuse is a big factor. When kids are constantly told by their parents that they are worthless, they usually live accordingly. As adults, it takes extreme effort to not “live out” the programming we receive as children.

    Baptism alone doesn’t cure everything. And not only do cycles and patterns of abuse have a tendency to repeat across generations, PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), the after-effects of trauma/abuse, is contagious itself from parent to child. I’ve even seen it in the children of veterans. It’s called “secondary PTSD”.

    The scripture says that the sins of the fathers are visited on the children for four generations. That’s not because God is punishing children, but because sin is infectious and heritable, and it takes much effort to break the chain.

    My understanding is that everything is healed and cured in the resurrection. And the gospel gives us the hope that much of our brokenness can also be healed in this life. But much of life, and many lives, don’t get fixed in mortality. I think life is sometimes like a Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek reference) scenario where we have to choose how to deal with tragedy and failure in a no-win situation.

    I am thankful for an Atoner, a Savior, who will not only heal every wound, but also wipe away every tear.

  18. Hi Andrew,

    Alas, I came in after the experiment. Luckily Mark lives locally and my husband and I plan to have dinner with him sometime soon. So I’m sure he’d be willing to share.

  19. I forgot to mention one of the reasons I believe Sasha’s story – her father was in the audience and I met him afterwards. He was the one who took the picture that is included in this post.

    Thank you, Bookslinger, for that comment about how hard it can be to overcome. I have my conjectures about why Sasha remained in her profession, but I don’t recall her specifically addressing that question.

  20. Hi Mark,

    I don’t think you’ve actually read what I’m writing. I’ve already reviewed the argument that Joseph was a strict monogamous, which necessarily means the Brigham Young was an apostate from Joseph’s true teachings. If you’re interested in what I have already written about it, you can search millennial star for my critique of Joseph Smith monogamy.

  21. “Brigham Young was an apostate from Joseph’s true teachings.”
    Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!…

  22. Sasha could not detail the timeline of her recent years in 22 minutes. As always in the Mormon path to perfection, there are periods of progress and episodes of backslide. Such is the case here. Look beyond the discrepancy and feel the message. Church is for sinners first…then saints.

  23. Hi Drew,

    Thank you for stopping by to chime in. Church is for all (and there aren’t any saints who haven’t sinned in some way requiring Jesus’s sacrifice on their behalf, no matter how flawless they might appear at the moment).

  24. Hi, Sasha Earl here.. I urge you to listen to the audio on my presentation. Give you some insight and understanding to my story. Sunstone magazine it’s 3$ Order number 351. I can assure you I have always been honest in my dealings with my bishop my story is true.. I have often wondered how or why I have not been excommunicated or had any serious disciplinary action but that is a question I cannot answer for you that is a question for my bishop and god. Don’t choke on the gnat and swallow the camel, I urge you to listen to the spirit of the message.

Comments are closed.