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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 12 Nov 2014, 11:14
by Shades of Grey
Yesterday (11/11) was devastating for me regarding this latest essay. My wife, a close family member and a friend of 20-years all independent of each other kindly let me know they are taking huge steps-back regarding participation in the church. Each, has seperately been dealing with doubt for some time, and polyandry not even being any of their long-term main issues going back- as far as I can tell. Too much coincidence however, so I must infer this latest essay and its broader reaction (ie CNN-yesterday) may have legitimize those who struggle to have some peace about their conclusions in taking a difinative longer "time-out" at the very least. A breaking point if you will.
All stated something to the effect they have no intention of removing membership but will wait on the sidelines (the close family member will go to sacrament only) indefinitely until they receive greater light and knowlege on which way to proceed. All I can think is, perhaps God has given this essay to those who suffer on the fence with shame/guilt and questioning as a difinitive gift of respite for a time. Outside proof that your not crazy to your more orthodox family members.
Its one thing to get a culture in which the majority rarely see an African Americans face to get too agervated over priesthood ban issues etc. Its entirely another to a introduce the issues in this latest easy to a culture that is borderline obsessed with morality/ chasedness. Tough Stuff for all of us I must say.

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 12 Nov 2014, 11:27
by DarkJedi
Ray DeGraw wrote:
I've come to terms with it by the way I view JS but I'll never be a TBM with all that entails.


Yup - and finding peace in that is wonderfully liberating.
Agreed. :thumbup:

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 12 Nov 2014, 12:03
by mom3
As the spouse who was second to the faith crisis experience - I can attest to Nibbler's observation.
believe only time will tell. I've seen a few of my more orthodox friends both share and comment on the NY Times article. They were unanimous in stating that none of the things mentioned in the essays were new; most comments were in the spirit of "move along, nothing to see here" or "we knew all this already, so this shouldn't trouble you" - even though they led with this statement, no one had mentioned that they were troubled yet.
Beyond my own personal experience, I can add the experience of a cousin who tried to help and is now totally removed from church, my brothers best friend - same story. Time. Shelves break in their own time. Everyone can deal with a piece or two, but it's the composite that tips the scale and changes the story. Polygamy though is a huge piece. No matter how you slice it.

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 13 Nov 2014, 12:38
by DevilsAdvocate
Cedar wrote:Today seems to have been a bit of a media explosion for the Church, having news stories of the plural marriage essays making front page news in many major news outlets. The Church seems to have responded by this article in the newsroom of LDS.org...I guess I was a little surprised that those outside of Utah or areas with higher LDS membership would care enough to make it a national news story, but I suppose many find polygamy fascinating (usually in a train-wreck kind of a way), so these essays would make for good attention-grabbing headlines...Anyway, I was just wondering what people thought about these news stories, and what it means for the Church. Will it just get people riled up for a few minutes, but not have much impact overall, or will it have a more lasting negative impact on people's perception of the Church? Will these news stories create more conversations...I am also concerned for the missionaries - I hope that they have been informed about these essays, and given some guidance about how to deal with any questions regarding them...I realize that I may just be blowing this out of proportion, because polygamy is an extremely hard issue for me. This essay felt like a punch in the gut...
Shades of Grey wrote:Yesterday (11/11) was devastating for me regarding this latest essay. My wife, a close family member and a friend of 20-years all independent of each other kindly let me know they are taking huge steps-back regarding participation in the church. Each, has seperately been dealing with doubt for some time, and polyandry not even being any of their long-term main issues going back- as far as I can tell. Too much coincidence however, so I must infer this latest essay and its broader reaction (ie CNN-yesterday) may have legitimize those who struggle to have some peace about their conclusions in taking a difinative longer "time-out" at the very least. A breaking point if you will...Its one thing to get a culture in which the majority rarely see an African Americans face to get too agervated over priesthood ban issues etc. Its entirely another to a introduce the issues in this latest easy to a culture that is borderline obsessed with morality/ chasedness. Tough Stuff for all of us I must say.
My guess is that Church leaders weren't planning on the Nauvoo polygamy essay getting as much media attention as it has and they probably thought it would be largely ignored by both Church members and non-members similar to the way most of the other essays were. I can definitely see why they saved these recent two polygamy essays for last though and I thought maybe they wouldn't ever say anything about the Nauvoo plural marriages at all because it seems like some of this information really hits close to home in an emotional way for more members than some of the other issues typically do. For example, as bad as the racial priesthood ban was it has already been discontinued anyway so that's one thing that makes it easier for some members to shrug off and not worry too much about.

Also, for the apparent Book of Abraham mistranslation and DNA evidence that doesn't support some of the specific claims related to the Book of Mormon it seems like many members don't have much interest in even paying attention to these issues closely enough to connect the dots as far as understanding why they are so problematic. However, in the case of polygamy and polyandry the Church is still basically insisting that this was directly commanded by God which just isn't going to pass the smell test for many if not the majority of people as soon as they are willing to face it head on and honestly admit what they really feel about it. I definitely don't think these polygamy essays are going to help the Church in terms of maintaining faith, commitment, and loyalty from their followers much less outside perception and at this point it looks like the Church is mostly relying on members/investigators not noticing or worrying too much about some of these details to do as well as they have so far in terms of numbers in spite of this information.

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 13 Nov 2014, 13:31
by Curt Sunshine
it looks like the Church is mostly relying on ignorance, apathy, denial, rationalizations, etc. regarding some of this information
[Admin Note]: Knock it off, DA. We have had to warn newcomers about sweeping insults, and just because you have been here for a long time doesn't mean you can do it.

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 13 Nov 2014, 13:55
by ConfusedMolly
Growing up in the "bubble" I was SHOCKED a few days ago to learn that JS had more than one wife. I knew that he taught polygamy, but for some reason I thought Emma was his one and only. I'm sure this comes from my own ignorance and my refusal to touch anything that even resembled "anti-mormon" literature. You are always counseled not to go anywhere near anything that is anti-mormon, which basically means you grow up only learning what the church wants you to know about their history. For obvious reasons they don't teach about JS and his wives in primary and young women's, but I still feel like it was a lie of "omission." I don't remember any of my teachers saying that JS wasn't polygamist, but it was assumed he wasn't. The information about his polygamy may have been there all along, but it was buried. And I was completely in the dark.

I had my faith crisis about a year ago, and I would say I'm still very fragile. I've definitely come to terms with a lot of my "issues" and learned to separate what I believe to be the "gospel" and what I believe is just "culture" of the church. I've learned a lot about agency and my own personal relationship with Heavenly Father. I've learned not to care what other people think when my husband and I leave after sacrament each week. I've learned to be true to myself. It's been such an enlightening and amazing experience, and even though sometimes I wish I hadn't ever had my crisis (because my life within the church was definitely MUCH easier before) I have to remember that all this doubt and confusion has really made me stronger.

A few months ago my friend, who is no longer active, mentioned casually that JS was polygamist and I didn't believe her. I told her there was NO way. Even though I was in the middle of my crisis and was actively researching things in the church's past, I just thought that she was wrong. You can imagine my surprise when a few days ago my husband called me and told me about the article on CNN about Joseph Smith's 40 wives.

Now I'm spiraling again, just when I thought I was comfortable in my shoes and comfortable with "agreeing to disagree" with many of the issues I have with the church. What I can't seem to wrap my head around is how I'm supposed to trust this church that has continually shown that they aren't perfect... but then continually asks us to "follow the prophet" because he "won't lead us astray." I don't trust how polygamy "conveniently" came to an end because Utah wanted to become a state. I don't trust how these essays the church published were basically hidden, but when CNN and other major news outlets got wind of them, the mormon newsroom published an article talking about the essays and how they've been there all along. Well yes, they've been there, but hardly anyone knew about them. They go on to say that JS having 40 wives is not news to the church members... well it was for my husband and me, and I'm sure we're not alone in that regard. The timing of the release of the mormon newsroom article just bugs me... I wish SO bad it would've been published BEFORE all the media attention.

Anyway, I agree with almost everything that has been said on this forum and appreciate all the discussion. I'm just not sure how to move forward from here. I feel like my balancing act of church vs. gospel could easily tumble out of control as I learn more and more. I can't keep using the excuse that, "prophets are people and make mistakes too" and "the church isn't perfect, but the gospel is" because we are supposed to be THE church. The only true church on the earth. The church that believes in revelation and God speaking directly to his prophets. I don't know how much more I can bear...

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 13 Nov 2014, 14:20
by DarkJedi
Don't despair, Molly, we're here for you. While I did learn about Joseph's polygamy many years ago in church, I agree that it is not regularly taught. I think I may have gotten it in an Institute class, and I do recall having some discussion about it. Frankly I did not know the extent of it, I didn't know about the polyandry, marrying women who were married to other men, and marrying teens. I did know that Emma did not know about all of it and didn't necessarily approve of it - although the evidence there seems to be contradictory and incomplete.

My advice is continue to try to separate the gospel and the church. I don't believe it is possible to completely separate them because the church does teach the gospel (Pres. Uchtdorf was right). The gospel itself is very simple, and the church has no monopoly on it. I am coming around to the idea that the church is a tool to help us on our journey, it is not the journey (the walking stick analogy that is being kicked around a bit here). I'm going to share something I haven't shared before, something our SP told us recently after training with the AA (after he trained at GC). The brethren believe part of the "problem" with faith crises is that we each need to have our own "sacred grove experience" and many have not. I interpret this to mean that we must each come to an understanding of our own relationship with God - with or without the church (the church did not exist when Joseph had his).

To the idea of God speaking to the prophets - if you read detailed information about OD2 and the events that led up to that you will find that God spoke to the prophets the same way he speaks to us - it was a feeling/impression upon the hearts and minds of those present (two were not present). I'm not trying to burst any bubbles or rain on anybody's parade here - but Pres. Kimball did not have a chat with the Savior in the Holy of Holies. I believe that if God did have something to say to us he'd say it in that same way, and we'd all know it. I am still reconciling the whole "prophet won't lead us astray" thing, but I currently lean toward that meaning he won't do anything to lead us away from returning to God (but I also think there's nothing stopping him from doing so other than his own commitment).

So we're left with my standard advice: take it slow, don't dump all at once (1. just because you don't believe one thing doesn't mean all the rest is wrong too 2. don't dump all your unbeliefs/doubts/questions on your spouse/friend/loved one in one sitting) and focus on what you do believe. I gather you do believe in God and you do believe in the Savior - start there.

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 13 Nov 2014, 14:26
by LookingHard
ConfusedMolly,

You are hitting the nail on head of where I am at. I have come to some peace with some of our history, but it has come at the expense of feeling leaders are even generally inspired. I think I would say "maybe occasionally" they are and often they are dead wrong. So when listen to conference and hear GA's say "we have all the truth, just follow your leaders" I feel they are overspending the level of their inspiration. I have moved from listening and try to start from a position of needing to believe to now starting from "they could be wrong" and seeing if the Lord tells me otherwise.

I have made a hard distinction between the church and the gospel of Jesus. I used to see them one in the same. Now I would say they can be at times not close to the same. I am feeling that God let's his church drive a bit like an irresponsible teenager before he corrects it at all. That puzzles me.

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 13 Nov 2014, 14:48
by DevilsAdvocate
Ray DeGraw wrote:[Admin Note]: Knock it off, DA. We have had to warn newcomers about sweeping insults, and just because you have been here for a long time doesn't mean you can do it.
Sorry Ray; I didn't mean this as an insult or the way it sounds like you interpreted it. I was thinking mostly of my own experience where I believed some of the Church's claims as long as I did mostly because I wasn't ever aware of some of the worst problems with these stories and basically gave the Church the benefit of the doubt based on what limited information I had from the scriptures and what they specifically told me in lessons, conference talks, etc. Even when a few things bothered me I would typically rationalize and make excuses for it. For example, in the case of the priesthood ban I believed that God never directly approved of it but I thought maybe he allowed it to continue mostly because too many Church members were not yet prepared to accept blacks as priesthood leaders (I.E. maybe God understood their weakness and limitations).

In the case of polygamy I rationalized that it wasn't necessarily wrong to begin with it just wasn't a Western European custom but the Bible makes it sound like it wasn't that unusual in different times and places so Church members practiced it when they were largely isolated from the mainstream culture anyway but then it made sense for them to stop practicing it mostly to re-integrate into the US society and have Utah made into a state. In the case of evidence supporting evolution versus what Bruce R. McConkie said about it I rationalized that this was just his opinion and it wasn't that important to know exactly how God created man and there was no reason he couldn't have used evolution to do so.

In the case of the initial un-correlated information I ran into on my mission about the Book of Abraham translation and Joseph Smith marrying other men's wives while he sent them away on missions I rationalized that the people saying this were obviously biased and full of hate so I basically dismissed it as anti-Mormon lies and after that I had no interest in reading anything that sounded marginally "anti-Mormon" again until after I already didn't believe in the Church anymore after reading the scriptures and apologetics in detail for a while. The reason I thought this way was simple; basically I did not want to admit the possibility that the Church could easily be a man-made fabrication and I didn't really know all the convenient answers I got from assuming everything worked the way the Church claims. This is also why I think some of this information could take a lot longer to really impact the Church in a critical way if ever than many disaffected members and ex-Mormons think.

Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Posted: 13 Nov 2014, 15:03
by Curt Sunshine
Thanks for the clarification, DA.

As we say a lot, when all we have are words on a screen, it can be difficult to communicate what we really mean.