Polygamy, Emotionality as Evidence,

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

A couple days ago I mentioned a website called 20 Concerns about Mormonism. Here are more topics on that page that spoke volumes to me, these are direct quotes from the website, and not my own words... I don't want to take credit for the great research and writing done. My own words will be in this lovely shade of light blue. If you are in any way researching Mormonism, this website is a fantastic tool for you. Please check it out!

On the earlier post I mentioned the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook Plates, and plagiarism. Here are more topics discussed...


That Mormons practiced polygamy in the early days of the church is well known. What a lot of people don't know, though, is that Joseph Smith was heavily involved in polygamy himself. This included taking at least 11 women that were already married to other men at the time (i.e., polyandry). I find this particularly troublesome, as these women stayed married to their first husbands while at the same time being married to Joseph.

How could Joseph's marriage to women who were already married to upstanding members of the church possibly be justified? According to Brigham Young, the purpose of polygamy was to propagate life through worthy families:

"There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty. To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth." (Discourses of Brigham Young, 1977 edition, p. 197)

Clearly this could not have been the purpose for many of Joseph's marriages, since Joseph's wives were already married to righteous men. Perhaps the purpose of polygamy was instead, as Jedediah Grant (Second Counselor to Brigham Young) claimed, a trial of faith:

"Did the Prophet Joseph want every man's wife he asked for? He did not…the grand object in view was to try the people of God to see what was in them." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2 (1855), p. 14)

The total number of Joseph's plural wives is unknown. Andrew Jenson, who was the Assistant Church Historian, made a list of 27 women who were sealed to Joseph. In this list he talked of "Fanny Alger, one of the first plural wives sealed to the Prophet." (Historical Record, May 1887, vol. 6, page 233). Fanny was a 17-year-old orphan girl whom Emma had taken into the family, but after her relationship with Joseph was discovered, Emma drove her out of the house. Warren Parrish, the secretary of Joseph for a period of time, told Benjamin Johnson that he and Oliver Cowdery knew the report of an affair between Joseph and the girl to be true, for they "were spied upon and found together." (Letter from Benjamin Johnson to George Gibbs, 1903; Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, pp. 103-104)

I was never taught that Joseph Smith had many wives, it was never mentioned. This is even more a lie when you realize how many church lessons focus around the prophet Joseph Smith and his sacrifice for the Church. They are simply not giving their tithing paying members the whole truth about their past, and, they purposefully do not disclose the full story. Any church member reading non-church approved material or anti-Mormon material, is supposedly being led away by the devil. Convenient, isn't it?

Emotionality as Evidence

Mormons are taught to base their beliefs in the church on a spiritual witness rather than facts.

A testimony is considered the most important possession a member may have:

"I would like to say to you, that is the strength of this cause, the individual testimony that lies in the hearts of the people. The strength of this church is not in its buildings, in its chapels, in its offices, in its schools; it is not in its programs or its publications. They are important, but they are only a means to an end, and that the end is the building of the testimony - a conviction that will weather every storm and stand up to every crisis in the hearts and lives of the membership." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Area Conference Report, August 1971, Manchester, England, pp. 160-161. As quoted in Testimony, pp. 8-9)

So how do Mormons gain a testimony? Brigham Young said that Joseph Smith appeared to him in a dream and discussed how one can recognize the Spirit:

"They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good." (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, February 23, 1847; as quoted by Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, April 1944, pp. 140-141)

Thus, Mormons believe that truth can be known through one's emotions and desires. They are encouraged by church leaders to reject any evidence which conflicts with this spiritual witness of truth. As taught by Apostle Thomas S. Monson:

"Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other…Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: 'I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God's word. I wasn't with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it." (Thomas S. Monson, "The Lighthouse of the Lord," New Era, February 2001, p. 4)

While faith certainly plays a role in the spiritual life, should it be allowed to displace observable facts? Must one surrender objectivity whenever it comes into conflict with spiritual beliefs? How can one know whether spiritual experiences are not simply emotional reactions? What about Mormon priesthood blessings where the individual pronounces what he believes to be the Lord's will, only to have the opposite occur? Or disciplinary councils where men, equal in righteousness and sincerity, receive conflicting spiritual promptings about the appropriate course of action? As discussed by William Gardiner:

"Mormons will at this point inject that a certain kind of feeling experience supercedes any level of external evidence because the feeling experience is actually a member of the godhead telling them a truth. This seems viable if one could know that the feeling state they're having is actually the Holy Ghost telling them something. How would they know this feeling state is the Holy Ghost? And how would they know what the meaning of the feeling state is? Because someone in the organization has told them what it is. So, Catholics have their truths confirmed by this feeling experience, as do Born-again Fundamentalists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons…How reliable could this be as an ultimate source of truth?"

But my feeling state is better than your feeling state.

"Confounding the ability of church members to honestly look at such a question is the indoctrination process that begins in early "programming." Throughout the Mormon experience comes the indoctrination of knowing. "I know the church is true" programming and a discouragement of questioning the truth of Mormon scriptures and leaders strongly inhibits the process of an honest and ongoing search for truth. Mormons are typically unable to see this in themselves. The ability to objectively see this in their experience runs contradictory to the programming of knowing. But if we were to discuss this in the context of another religion--for example The Jehovah's Witnesses, then Mormons can clearly see the error in someone believing they know the truth and then shutting off the process of ongoing critical examination and continued searching. Such individuals are dismissed by Mormons as being closed-minded--all the while missing that very quality in themselves.

And of course the indoctrination process is what confounds the feeling experience method of truth. If I am a Jehovah's Witness, and have been "programmed" to revere the founder Pastor William Russell as inspirational, it is likely that I will have strong feeling experiences about him and the doctrines he introduced. I will have been taught this is the Holy Ghost telling me what is truth. I know it is true because I have had this powerful warm feeling." (William Gardiner, How Obvious Would It Have to Be? )

Church members are effectively told that they should never doubt or question. Had Joseph Smith followed this admonition, he would have never inquired as to the truth of the churches of his day. Growth and the emergence of continued spiritual enlightenment is a product of continual doubting, searching and questioning. As Erich Fromm stated:

"The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers."
When Mormon missionaries teach others about the book of Mormon, the missionaries are asked to tell the people to read the Book of Mormon and pray to find out if its true. If you get a warm fuzzy feeling about the Book of Mormon, it must be true. How stupid is that?

Changing Doctrine Over Time

When Joseph Smith created the Church he mentioned many times that the doctrine he received from God was pure and right... never to be changed. Why then, are so many things changed in the church?

Adam-God Doctrine

Brigham Young clearly and repeatedly taught that Adam is our God. He claimed that Adam is the father of our spirits as well as the father of Jesus Christ.

"How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me - namely that Adam is our Father and God…Our Father Adam helped to make this earth, it was created expressly for him. He brought one of his wives with him. Who is he? He is Michael…He was the first man on the earth, and its framer and maker. He with the help of his brethren brought it into existence. Then he said: 'I want my children that were born to me in the spirit world to come here and take tabernacles of flesh that their spirits may have a house, a tabernacle, or a dwelling place as mine has' and where is the mystery?" (Brigham Young, Deseret News, June 18, 1873)

In a discourse delivered April 9, 1852, Brigham Young stated:

"When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family…I could tell you much more about this; but were I to tell you the whole truth, blasphemy would be nothing to it, in the estimation of the superstitious and over-righteous of mankind. However, I have told you the truth as far as I have gone.... Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pp. 50-51)
Heber C. Kimball, first counselor to Brigham Young, declared that:
"There is but one God that pertains to this people, and he is the God that pertains to this earth--the first man. That first man sent his own Son to redeem the world…" (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p. 1)

In a 10-page letter written to B.Y.U. associate professor Eugene England on Feb. 19, 1981, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes the following admission:

"Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This [i.e., Brigham Young's teaching on Adam], however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel." (p. 6 of McConkie's letter)

This despite earlier claims by church leaders to the contrary. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith, who became the 10th President of the church, claimed concerning the source of the Adam-God theory in the church's own Journal of Discourses, that:

"...in all probability the sermon was erroneously transcribed". (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 96)

Yet Brigham Young pronounced:

"I have never yet preached a sermon and sent It out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95)

In an interview with The New Yorker on January 21, 2002 President Gordon B. Hinckley had this to say about Brigham's doctrine:

"But Hinckley did not seem interested in discussing matters of theology. When I asked him to characterize God's connubial relationship, he replied, "We don't speculate on that a lot. Brigham Young said if you went to Heaven and saw God it would be Adam and Eve. I don't know what he meant by that." Pointing to a grim-faced portrait of the Lion of the Lord, as Young was called, he said, "There he is, right there. I'm not going to worry about what he said about those things." (Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, January 21, 2002)

As Man Is, God Once Was

Early church prophets clearly taught that God was once a man like us.

Joseph Smith:

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret…It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know…that he was once a man like us… Here, then, is eternal life - to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you…" ("King Follett Discourse," Journal of Discourses 6:3-4, also in Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-345)

Brigham Young:

"He [God] is our Father - the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being." (Journal of Discourses 7:333)

Joseph Fielding Smith:

"God is an exalted man. Some people are troubled over the statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith…that our Father in heaven at one time passed through a life and death and is an exalted man…" (Doctrines of Salvation 1:10)

However, modern prophets are now backpedaling on this doctrine. For example, Gordon B. Hinckley has done so, despite Joseph Smith claiming that:

"…it is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know…that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did." (Joseph Smith, Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)

From a San Francisco Chronicle interview with President Hinckley in April, 1997:

"Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs [and other Christian churches]. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?

"Hinckley: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about.

"Q: So you're saying the church is still struggling to understand this?

"Hinckley: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. ...that's one thing that's different. Modern revelation. We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, we believe he has yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." (San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997, p. 3/Z1)

Personally, the next changing doctrine is one of the biggest clues that the Church is false. Joseph Smith claimed that blacks were cursed by Cain, and they had dark skin as a punishment from God. Others claimed that if you baptized and taught a dark skinned person the Mormon gospel that their skin would be lightened. Everyone knows this is stupid, and morally and ethically wrong. The Mormon Church refused to give the priesthood to African-Americans until 1978, and only did so when threatened by the government. I can't understand how anyone knowing this could stay in the Church.

Blacks and the Priesthood

Blacks were not able to received the priesthood or receive exaltation until the policy was changed on 9/30/1978. Does that mean blacks living after that date can receive exaltation while those prior to that date cannot?

More Changing Doctrines include:

Law of Adoption

Not many Mormons know that in the early days of the church, the Law of Adoption was practiced to seal living men to other men. Through this ordinance, a man could have any number of men sealed to himself as his sons for eternity.


Polygamy was practiced sporadically by prophets such as Abraham and Jacob in the old testament. It made a comeback in the early days of the LDS church and has since gone away again. The church has tried to distance itself from polygamy in recent years by, for example, changing all the quotes in the Brigham Young lesson manual from "wives" to "wife" and removing all mention of Joseph F. Smith's many plural wives and divorces from his lesson manual.

Speaking in Tongues

Early Mormon history is replete with examples of church members speaking in tongues. It was a doctrinally accepted gift of the Spirit back then, although Joseph occasionally warned of people being misled by a false spirit.

Temple Endowments

There is no mention of temple endowments in ancient scripture resembling what is done today in the Mormon church. The endowment has even changed repeatedly in modern times. For example, the endowment given in the Kirtland Temple lacked the Masonic elements later added at the Nauvoo temple. Significant changes to the endowment have occurred as recently as 1990. If it came from God, why wasn't it done "right" the first time?

United Order

Originally, Joseph established through revelation the United Order of Enoch:

"Behold, thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast unto me, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken, and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church." (Book of Commandments, chapter xliv, verse 26)

Each member consecrated everything to the church, and was given back certain property "sufficient for himself and family". Joseph began the experiment in Thompson, but it failed after Leman Copley and Ezra Thayer renounced their offering of land there. In October 1831, he tried to establish the Kirtland Order, primed by a $10,000 loan from Charles Holmes which apparently was never repaid. This also failed, and on April 10, 1834 the Kirtland council dissolved the Order. The concept was also tried in Missouri , including a command by Joseph that unless converts there joined the Order they would be denied membership in the church. With the closing of the storehouse, the Missouri Order likewise collapsed. (History of the Church, Vol. I, pp. 365-7n., 298; also Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 1 (January 1833), p. 121)

Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom was given through "revelation" on February 27, 1833. It specifically forbids the use of alcohol, tobacco, and hot drinks, and allows for the use of wine only at communion and meat only in winter (D&C 89). Does this mean God didn't think it was important for His people to receive the benefits from this revelation until modern times? For example, Noah became drunk:

"20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

"21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent." (Genesis 9: 20-21)

Paul counseled Timothy to drink wine:

"23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." (1 Timothy 5:23)

Interestingly, Joseph himself never seemed to pay much heed to the revelation. For example, he recorded:

"We then partook of some refreshments, and our hearts were made glad with the fruit of the vine." (January 1836, History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 369)

"Wednesday 3, - Called at the office and drank a glass of wine with Sister Jenetta Richards…" (May 1843, History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 380)

Joseph's lack of discretion in following the Word of Wisdom was apparently a cause of embarrassment for the church. Consider this account:

"It was reported to me that some of the brethren had been drinking whisky that day in violation of the Word of Wisdom. I called the brethren in and investigated the case, and was satisfied that no evil had been done, and gave them a couple of dollars, with directions to replenish the bottle to stimulate them in the fatigues of their sleepless journey." (Millennial Star, Vol. 21, page 283)

When this was reprinted in the History of the Church, it read:

"It was reported to me that some of the brethren had been drinking whisky that day in violation of the Word of Wisdom. I called the brethren in and investigated the case, and was satisfied that no evil had been done." (History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 450)

According to a journal entry by Oliver Huntington:

"Robert Thompson was a faithful, just clerk for Joseph Smith the Prophet in Nauvoo, and had been in his office steady near or quite two years. Joseph said to brother Thompson one day, 'Robert I want you to go and get on a bust, go and get drunk and have a good spree. If you don't you will die.' Robert did not do it. He was a very pious exemplary man and never guilty of such an impropriety as he thought that to be. In less than two weeks he was dead and buried." (See Vol. III, p. 166 of the typewritten transcript in the Utah State Historical Society Library)

Joseph continued to disregard this revelation up until the night he was murdered at Carthage:

"The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail…Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor…" (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 616)

Some may argue that the wine was intended for the sacrament, but John Taylor clarified that this was not the case:

"Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent to revive us." (History of the Church, vol. 7, p. 101)
That is an awful lot of changing for a church created by the help of God, don't you think? More soon :)