Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage.

I will not claim to be an expert on this subject, so I'll add a link to thoughts of men of far greater intellect than myself, but as this comes up again and again when people speak about Mormons I'm going to add my own thoughts on the matter, and how I feel the evidence stack ups.

Firstly, plural marriage is a fact in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but for the modern day Church is it only that - history. It doesn't really affect anyone who is a member of the Church here in 2013. Though some use it as an excuse to leave the Church when they hear about it is frankly stupidity of the highest order.

Secondly, Joseph Smith was married to other women at the same time he was married to Emma. Though this fact is unpalatable to some, it doesn't take away the fact that Joseph was a Prophet, it doesn't mean the First Vision didn't take place, it doesn't nullify the Book of Mormon, or anything else. It isn't really a hidden fact either. If you look up Joseph Smith's entry in the Church's genealogy website, New Family Search, the information is there for all to see - I know, I checked.

For those who cry, "But it's not in the Church manuals. There's no mention of Joseph’s plural marriages." It isn't the Church's job to teach you this information. The Church's job is to bring people to Christ, members marital arrangement, even Prophets', don't do that.

The truth is we don't really know what life was like back at the beginning of the Restoration, so solutions to life's day-to-day problems are hard to understand for us looking back over 160 years or so. The claim that Joseph introduced plural marriage because he wanted to have sex with lots of different women, including girls as young as 14, really doesn't stand up to what the evidence shows. I mean, since when has being married meant more sex? And where did he find the time for all this sex he is supposedly having? That line of thought just goes to show that some people can't look past their own 'natural man' mentality.

Yesterday, BYU Professor, Dr. Daniel C. Peterson, posted on his blog about an article by Dr. Brian Hales examining what Joseph Smith's plural wives thought of the Prophet after his death. If anyone had a right to complain about this whole issue, they did. But guess what, it turns out they didn't. Dr. Hales says:

“none of Joseph Smith’s plural wives ever accused him of abuse or deception, including the seven who did not gather to Utah with the main body of the Church.  Decades after their feelings had matured and their youthful perspectives were expanded by additional experiences in subsequent marriages, it appears that none of them claimed they were victimized or beguiled by the Prophet.  None came forth to write an exposé indicating he was a seducing impostor or claim that polygamy was a sham or a cover-up for illicit sexual relations.  Even mild criticisms seem to be absent in the historical accounts and reminiscences of the Prophet’s plural wives.  It seems that if any of Smith’s polygamous wives eventually decided that he had debauched them, their later scorn might have motivated them to expose him through the press.  Certainly, numerous publishers would have been eager to print their allegations.”

To find out more about the article go to Dr. Peterson's Blog:

Personally, I feel that God called the Prophet to practice plural marriage for a specific reason, at a specific time, but didn't tell him how to implement the practice into 19th Century America. Did Joseph and others who were asked to participate in plural marriage make mistakes with the principle? Probably. The introduction at the same time of Eternal Marriage sealings (see Doctrine and Covenants section 132) blurred the line then, as it does for some people now who can't tell the difference between the two and either continue to practice it, or say that the Church should practice it but the Lord doesn't think we are ready and able to. The scriptures tell us that plural marriage can only be practiced when the Lord allows, and is the exception rather than the rule. Most Mormons in the 19th Century didn't practice plural marriage, but were still considered worthy members of the Church. To believe that plural marriage was (and still is) essential for exaltation is a serious misreading of both scripture and the words of General Authorities on the subject.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Living the Gospel if you can't go to Church on a Sunday.

There are some members of the Church that find it difficult, for one reason or another, to attend a Sunday service. Either through ill health, travel problems, family difficulties, etc, and it can be easy for those people to fall away from living the Gospel without that companionship of fellow Saints. However, there is a way to continue living as an active member of the Church when attendance is difficult. Once you get out of the routine of receiving the spiritual nourishment that Church attendance gives you it is easy to slip into a spiritual rut, and living a Gospel centred life becomes more difficult.
A good way to start is to set aside some time to do scripture study. You don’t have to just do this on a Sunday, but unless you do this at least once a week you’ll experience a spiritual drought. There are a number of different Church manuals you can use to assist you with this. Go through the Priesthood/Relief Society Teachings of the Prophets of the Church lesson that you would be using if you were able to attend your meetings. You can do the same with the Sunday School lesson as well, or there are many other manuals you could use such as Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood Part A and B, or Latter-day Saint Woman Part A and B, or the Gospel Principles manual – (All these are downloadable in PDF format from lds.org if you are unable to get a copy from your Ward or Branch, or from the online LDS Store). You could even go through any of the Institute manuals as well.
Another thing you could do is watch/listen to General Conference. These are available to you either online or on DVD. By hearing the words of the speakers it will lift your heart and help you feel the Spirit.
You can arrange through your Bishop or Branch President to pay your tithing, and receive the sacrament by a visit from your Home Teachers.
These are just a few ideas you could use to prevent you from falling away from your Heavenly Father, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the Gospel are there for all; if you can help it don’t let anything stand in your way of receiving them.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Book of Mormon.

It is probably an obvious place to start, but The Book of Mormon is so important to the Church and its members that I have no other way to begin this blog.
I’ve read The Book of Mormon numerous times, and in many different ways, either as I would any other book, as a book of scripture to study, as a place to find inspiration, as an aid to teaching righteous principles, and probably many others.
I would recommend anyone read it, but, and it’s a big but, when you first read it do so without any preconceptions. It is a book not take at face value, you will miss 99% of what it has to offer.
It is easy to dismiss The Book of Mormon, what with its strange phraseology, repetitive themes, and its mystical origins, as nothing more than the fertile imagination of Joseph Smith. The problem with that conclusion is it doesn’t stand up when you look deeper into everything else surrounding it. When The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830 there were a number of detractors in the following years pointing out so called anachronisms in the text and in the story of its translation – the idea of books being inscribed on metal plates, for example, was laughable in the 19th Century, though now it has been proven that not only were books of scripture inscribed on metal plates, but the practise comes from the correct time period that The Book of Mormon claims to be from. Pretty much every other anachronistic objection has been seen to be not only not anachronistic, but also not objectionable.
There are many, many other points I could go into that critics have voiced over the years, but to do so would make this single post book length, if not the length of volumes of books. There will possibly be points about The Book of Mormon that I’ll address in subsequent posts as they arise, but for now I’ll leave this one here. What I would add is a plea from me to get your hands on a copy of The Book of Mormon, they are available for free from the Church, (the missionaries are more than welcome to hand them out to people), and read it. See the principles it teaches and apply them to your own life, there is nothing in it that will not improve your way of living.
If you have any questions about the criticisms of The Book of Mormon, the answers to pretty much all of them can be found at the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR): Fairlds.org
And if you want to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go to Mormon.org.