Words versus Facts

Themis, Greek goddess of proper order, by kiki1196

A few weeks ago an individual e-mailed me, excited to share new survey results regarding what people say they would do if faced with $100K in debts. The survey suggested people were inclined to be self-reliant, with women more likely than men to shoulder the burden responsibly. I looked at the link my correspondent had shared, as well as M* post that had inspired them to seek me out. But there was a problem.

Only 4% admitting they would tap parental help. But census results suggest ~23% of individuals aged 24-36 live with their mother, nearly double the percentage of adult children in this age range who lived with their mother in 2005. While surveys can be useful:

What people say they would do in a hypothetical situation is not the same as what they actually do in real situations When facts do not agree with assertion, facts should be preferred.

In an unrelated correspondence, a Facebook group I used to frequent returned to the matter of plural marriage, this time starting a discussion about William Law. This Facebook group is dominated by individuals who love to discuss Church history, but have largely abandoned any believe in the validity of the Church (if they ever had any such belief). The OP asked why people think William Law was so bad, since William Law said he loved Joseph and admired the Church. Since William Law denied the adultery and counterfeiting with which he was accused, they reasoned, he was innocent. I gave the reasons why I lend credence to Hyrum Smith’s accusations. WIthout going into detail:

People aren’t innocent just because they deny accusations. There needs to be exculpatory evidence, or at least lack of condemnatory evidence.

On the other hand, context and shifts in the meaning of words can make historical persons appear to be liars. In response to my explanation of why I think William Law was not innocent, someone asserted that Joseph Smith and John Taylor and Hyrum Smith were liars. But the response presumed facts that are not in evidence and ignored that meanings for words used for then-new concepts may not be the same meanings used today. It is worth remembering:

People aren’t sinners just because they have been accused. Evidence and context must be considered.

I look forward to that day when we know as we are known, when God will stand as our judge based on things as they actually are, not based on how we have managed to spin things. How restful, to have things judged based on God’s order rather than every tweeted opinion.

[FWIW, my impulse to post this was uninformed by and unrelated to the Federal court decision regarding Roger Stone, though the same principles apply.]

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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.

5 thoughts on “Words versus Facts

  1. ‘When facts do not agree with assertion, facts should be preferred.’

    When we deny facts and reality (for any reason), we are showing God the greatest ingratitude. God has created this world and all that is in it — for our benefit. Pretending it is something other than it is, because we want it to be something else, serves as an insult to the Gift as well as to our Heavenly Gift Giver. We become like the spoiled teenager who gets a car for Christmas and immediately complains because it isn’t new, doesn’t have nice wheels, and it isn’t even German-made.

    “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in ALL things…And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in ALL things, and obey not his commandments.”

    Doctrine and Covenants 59:7, 21 (emphasis added)

    We can only thank God for all things to the extent that we recognize all things as they are. We can only confess His hand in all things to the extent we see all things as they are.

  2. I love “people aren’t sinners just because they have been accused.” I have had family members accused of horrific crimes with no evidence. Yet they have suffered financially, legally, and socially over false accusations.

  3. Hi Geoff,

    The confluence of factors that led me to craft this post were entirely uninformed by the impeachment process. I don’t go out of my way to follow modern news because I enjoy experiencing the world the way many of my forebears experienced it (conscious choice associated with my historical research).

    That said, I have a smart phone, and a news app flashes headlines onto my screen. So as I was about to post this, I saw that the Roger Stone ruling had come in. Even from the headlines, it was apparent that the court found that Roger Stone’s previous statements were wrong. So I felt like I should mention that I wasn’t writing in response to the Roger Stone situation.

  4. I wanted to speak about being objective about one’s self. (That’s what this post made me think of.) I think it’s like a lot of things in the gospel, simple to think about, hard to put into practice.
    It’s easy to fall off the bridge on either side. Either thinking you’re okay not repenting, or thinking after sincere repentance that you need to rehash things that don’t need to be rehashed.
    This relates to the post because we can accuse ourselves and we can have thoughts ‘in defense’ of ourselves.
    We can have a more objective view of how we’re approaching our work than we can of the narratives that we tell ourselves about our value as a person. That is because our work is connected with other people in ways that are objective, and what we think of ourselves is at best a mortal assessment of something harder to understand.

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