Monday, April 28, 2008

Is Polygamy Still Part of Mormon Doctrine?

Is Polygamy Part of Mormon Doctrine?

Absolutely. Polygamy is even officiated in LDS temples, and it is still part of the core doctrine, if we are to believe what we read in what the church considers scripture.

Now, let me be clear. The LDS church does not currently practice polygamy on this earth, but it is still part of the core doctrine that polygamy must be accepted in the celestial kingdom, or the highest degree of heaven. So if one is to ask the question "Do members of the LDS church practice polygamy on this earth?" then the answer is a definitive "no". However, that is not the question I am answering today.

Polygamy in the earthly practice was a fundamental core doctrine of early Mormonism and was taught by many early church leaders that the only people that will get into the highest degree of heaven were those that entered into polygamy. To say that polygamy was only practiced to protect seed due to a shortage of men is incorrect factually. The census data tells us that there were more men in Utah than women during this time period. This idea is a made up excuse and completely inaccurate. Polygamy was an important doctrinal principal that was practiced and promoted as vital to becoming Gods.


The FLDS church is a splinter group that broke off the mainstream LDS church when the church stopped practicing polygamy. The FLDS are also called "Mormon Fundamentalists" and the reason is because they practice the fundamental teachings of Mormonism, particularly regarding the earthly practice of polygamy. The FLDS has scripture on their side.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 132

D&C section 132, which is part of canonized scripture, outlines the basis for plural marriage.The Doctrine and Covenants section 132 contains a revelation given to Joseph Smith from the Lord.

The introduction to D&C 132 states: "Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831". This is in reference to Joseph Smith's first plural wife Fannie Alger, who was 16 when she married Joseph Smith and she was a housekeeper at the Smith home. Joseph Smith was 27 or 28 years old when he married the 16 year old Fannie Alger and this was without Emma Smith's knowledge or consent.

In the D&C 132, we learn that you must accept polygamy or you will be damned.
verses 1-4

Verily, thus saith the touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines...Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

Then, mid-revelation, the Lord sees fit to inject an admonition directly for Emma Smith, Joseph's principal and first wife. Keep in mind that Joseph Smith has already been practicing polygamy for many years at this point as noted in the introduction to the chapter:

Verses 52-56

And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.

Then, the lord finishes up with these words of warning:
Verses 60-64

Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God. And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.
Even if this was a real revelation from God, Joseph Smith did not follow the instructions given to him.

Joseph Smith and Polygamy

This information can be found by the church's own genealogical record of Joseph Smith. None of his plural wives changed their names, and there are no recorded children from Joseph Smith with any of his wives other than through Emma.

According to various sources, Joseph Smith may have had 34 wives, 7 of which were under 18 and 11 of which were already married to living men at the time. One of the more disturbing marriages is when Joseph Smith calls Orson Hyde to be an apostle and sends him off on a 3 year mission, then a few months after he leaves, Joseph marries his wife Marinda Hyde while Orson is gone.

Polygamy Currently Officiated in LDS Temples

Polygamy is very much a part of Mormon doctrine in principal, but the current policy disallows the practice on this earth. However, Temple practices demonstrate that polygamy is expected to be practiced in heaven.

A widower may re-marry in an LDS temple where he can be sealed to both women, but a widow may not get sealed to multiple men. Current apostle Dallin H. Oaks is sealed to two wives, one of which has died. He has referred to both of them as his "eternal companion".

Polygamy is very much a fundamental teaching of Mormon doctrine. Even if it is not currently practiced on this earth, members of the church are expected to accept the practice of polygamy in the early days of the church and accept the practice in the next life. It is still considered a holy and sacred practice.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My First Doubt- The Book of Mormon and the Bible

Search, Ponder and Pray

Growing up in the church, I was always taught to read the scriptures every day and study them. Ironically, it was studying the scriptures that casted the first doubts about the validity of the Book of Mormon.

I remember reading in the Book of Mormon certain chapters in 3 Nephi that were very similar to verses I had read in the New Testament. My initial reaction was that it was a testament of how both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are inspired works that Jesus would teach the same thing on the American continent that he did in Palestine.

Beginning of the End

However, when I cross referenced the chapters, I realized that the chapters were not just similar, they were exact word-for-word replicas. For example, 3 Nephi chapters 12-14 are word-for-word copies of the King James version of Matthew chapters 5-7.

As I read and compared the 2 books, I found it quite disturbing, as we are led to believe in the church that the Book of Mormon is a direct translation with the divine help from God from the Gold plates. In the LDS church, we are also led to believe that the Bible has all kinds of translation errors and the the Book of Mormon is there to clarify plain and precious things that have been removed from the scriptures as stated in 1 Nephi 13:28.

However, it was evident to me that Joseph Smith used sections of the King James version of the Bible and inserted them into the Book of Mormon. He didn't even try to hide this apparent plagiarism as the verses were pretty much all identical.

Joseph Smith Translation

According to the LDS church regarding the Joseph Smith Translation:

The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore truths to the Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written. These restored truths clarified doctrine and improved scriptural understanding.
Joseph Smith felt it necessary to re-translate parts of the Bible. The term 'translate' is used loosely by the church and can have various meanings, but keep in mind that this transpired years after the the Book of Mormon was published. The Joseph Smith translation is not canonized in the LDS church, but is footnoted in LDS published versions of the King James Bible. The Joseph Smith Translation is also known as the "Inspired Version" of the Bible and is canonized as scripture by the Community of Christ, formerly known as the RLDS.

Matthew 6:13

One example of these "re-translations" is found in Matthew 6:13, where the King James Version reads:

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."

The Joseph Smith translation reads:

"And suffer us not to be led into tempation..."

It is also footnoted in the LDS bible that the Syriac translation reads

"Do not let us enter into temptation."

This is a very important doctrinal change, as explained by the JST contents that the Lord does not lead us into temptation and therefore the King James version had a translation error.

Book of Mormon Equivalent

However, 3 Nephi 13:12 reads the same as the KJ version:
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"

Book of Mormon: The Most Correct Book?

Now how is it that we are to believe that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book and that the Bible is flawed with translation errors, when parts of the Book of Mormon are exact copies, even including the translation errors from the King James version of the Bible. Then, after that, Joseph Smith is able to further clarify biblical passages by re-translating the verses to conform with the teachings, meanwhile, the Book of Mormon, which was supposed to be the most correct book still contains the exact same errors.

Discovering this shocked me and scared me and I stopped cross-referencing the scriptures from that moment on. I made myself believe that if I just kept reading the scriptures, praying and feeling the "confirmation from the spirit" that it was a much better way for me to know the truthfulness to the scriptures. I guess that I was simply following the first 2 of 6 ways that people deal with cognitive dissonance, as I talked about in a previous post.

Looking back, this discovery did not stop me from going on my mission, but it was the first Jenga piece as described in a previous post that ultimately led to my disillusionment.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Main reasons for my disillusionment

I have taken a break from blogging because of time constraints, but I am back from a half-year hiatus. I thought I would break back into this blog by talking about the main reasons that led to my disillusionment.
LDS Perception on why people leave the church

A common mis-conception in the church is that the only reasons people leave the church or stop believing in the church is because:

a. Some kind of grave sin that they committed and feel too guilty
b. A member offended them, maybe told them their orange Jello was over-cooked
c. They are lazy or are weak and have no faith
d. They haven't received enough baked goods from the fellowshipping members

I can't speak for everyone and I believe that some people do leave the church for the above mentioned reasons. However, many people also leave the church or stop believing purely for doctrinal reasons. I fall into that category.

Reasons for my disillusionment

As I talk to people inside and outside of the church, I have learned that what might be a big deal to some people are trivial issues to others.

Here are the weighted reasons that led to my disillusionment:

Book of Abraham

The reason I put the Book of Abraham on the top of the list is because I have studied extensively the topic and have read all the criticisms and all the defenses for the Book of Abraham, and I have not found a satisfactory response. I will go into further detail at a later time, but the book of Abraham is something that I undeniably consider to be a fraud and therefore discredits Joseph Smith as a translator. For a good video on the subject, I have embedded a video on a previous post. The video is a little over-sensationalized at certain parts, but it is 100% factual.

DNA and Native Americans

DNA has demonstrated that Native Americans are not Lamanites. This is most troubling since every prophet from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley has taught that Native Americans are Lamanites. The church has recently started to back-pedal from that position, even changing the wording in the introduction of the Book of Mormon, as mentioned in a previous post.

Hill Cumorah Paradox

The Hill Cumorah paradox is troubling because the only way to defend the Book of Mormon is to dispute what Joseph Smith and every prophet up to Gordon B. Hinckley taught about the location of the Hill Cumorah, at least all the way up to 1990 about the Hill Cumorah in Upstate, NY being the same one as mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

Lack of Archaeology

The Lack of any single artifact or physical evidence for the Book of Mormon is tricky, because a lack of evidence doesn't prove that the Book of Mormon lands never existed. You can't prove a negative, and therefore it isn't as high on my list. How can you prove something didn't exist? Can you prove to me that Santa Claus doesn't exist? However, the LDS church has been looking for a long time and hasn't found anything. Not a single Book of Mormon artifact. None, nada, zip. The most likely solution is that the Book of Mormon lands never existed in the physical world.

Church History

Church history doesn't effect me as much as some people. The reason is because I know that people aren't perfect, and certainly obscure statements made by church leaders 150 years ago have little relevance for the church today. However, it does carry some weight as we are led to believe that these men were called by God.


I find the racism, sexism and homophobia in the church and the history of the church disturbing. Although the institutional racism banning blacks from the priesthood is over, there are many areas that big improvements can be made, especially with sexism in the church.

Other Criticisms

Other criticisms of the church have very little bearing because there are many things that are highly speculative and many times there are plausible explanations. For example, the idea that Joseph Smith copied his father's dream and inserted it into the Book of Mormon as Lehi's dream I find interesting, but not conclusive because the only account is from Joseph Smith's mother and she talked about it years after the publication of the Book of Mormon. We also have no evidence that Joseph Smith's father told Joseph Smith about the dream he had, so there is nothing concrete, but it does add to the overall mix of things.

I do not believe that I am any smarter than any member of the church, I just think that there is a difference in how one should obtain truth. I suppose that if one ignores information that is critical of the church and only reads and exposes themselves to church approved literature and prays that they will come to know in their hearts that the church is true. However, this is not how I believe one should obtain truth. I believe that people should look at all the information and use critical thinking and reason and logic to come to a solution that is the most reasonable and most likely.

How to obtain truth

I do not believe that the way to obtain truth is to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and if you feel good, then that makes it true. That is why God invented a brain. Muslims make the same claim and have the same conviction about the Qur'an You can have the same spiritual awakening with Dianetics, or other reading material for Buddhism, Hinduism or Wika. After doing brief research, I have found that these religious texts have the same criticisms as the Book of Mormon.

Another common thread in my learning about various belief systems is that it is much more effective when you surround yourself with other people with similar belief systems. This leads me to believe that perhaps religion is more about a social experience than the doctrine. Otherwise, we would have more "do-it-yourself" religions. Perhaps that is a discussion for another time.

LDS Apologists

When faced with criticisms of the church, what I have found most troubling is that the defense often times contradicts scripture, contradicts prophets, or contradicts themselves. There is a saying that goes like this: "Nobody disputes Mormon prophets like LDS apologists."

Finally, the last resort when there is no answer is to say that it must be one of those things that we will not understand, but that in due time either in this life or next life we will have a complete understanding. This is not satisfactory for me.

I do not endorse any religious organization at this time and I look forward to your comments.

Disillusioned Mormon
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