My Story

I am deeply interested in religion, politics, current events, history, musical theater and books! I left the LDS church a couple years ago and have spent a lot of time since then thinking and considering various religious influences in my life and in the lives of those around me. For more information on why I left the LDS church, look here. I also love to sing, act, dance (tap preferably) and perform on stage whenever possible.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Are they really so different?

Recently the LDS church has gone out of their way to dissassociate themselves with the Mormon Fundamentalists and the religion they practice. They have created videos and a press releases attempting to convince anyone and everyone that the LDS church is in no way related to the FLDS sect.

This outpouring of information in the media came just as I was finishing up the book "Stolen Innocence" by Elissa Wall. The book tells of Elissa's harrowing experiences in the FLDS church and her forced marriage to her adult husband at the young age of 14. She had been raised to believe that her eternal salvation was dependent on getting married. She was expected to obey the prophet and marry the man that was chosen for her even though she had deep concerns regarding her pending marriage. Warren Jeffs (who spoke for his father, the prophet, at the time) told her that her marriage was a "revelation from God" and that by rejecting it, she was disobeying the prophet and God. Even her own Mother told her "This must be the will of God and the prophet." and to "just be strong. The Lord knows what he's doing".

I couldn't help but connect her story with another story * I have read about recently. Helen Mar Kimball was married to Joseph Smith in 1843 when she also, was only 14 years old. She wrote that her father

"asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph...[and] left me to reflect upon it for the next twenty-four hours...I was sceptical-one minute believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast her off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right. I knew that he loved me too well to teach me anything that was not strictly pure, virtuous and exalting in its tendencies; and no one else could have influenced me at that time or brought me to accept of a doctrine so utterly repugnant and so contrary to all of our former ideas and traditions."

The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home. "[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage...After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred. This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward."

After the marriage she wrote that "like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur.”

Similar to Elissa, Helen was told that the marriage would ensure her salvation and exhaltation in the next life even though she felt too young and unsure whether it was the right thing for her to do. She looked to the one person that was closest to her, her father, and trusting his judgement, married Joseph.

These stories seem so similiar to me that I can't help but wonder if the Mormon church of the 1840's was really so different from the FLDS church today? Perhaps there is more in common between the two than either church would like to admit?

*To see Helen's complete story, click here.


Anonymous said...

I think the answer is "no" the church of 1840 is not much different than that of the FLDS sect. The great thing about the current LDS church is that they believe in continual ongoing revelation from God to a prophet for the current day and age. The practices and principles of the early church were right for that time, when many men had been killed in battle, or in the trek across the plains. The time was right to have polygamy to provide for the women. Later this was abolished through revelation from God, when it was no longer necessary for the protection and providing for of the women. The women now had voices, had formed the Relief Society, and could hold their own. When the LDS religion abolished polygamy as an accepted practice, some members believed this was false and against what they believed. That is when the FLDS faith was formed and has evolved in to what it is today.

Oliver family said...

Okay, while I believe with the Anonymous comment to some extent, I would like to elaborate just a little. I don't think polygamy was established solely to provide husbands for the women. This may have been something that was accomplished, but to say it was implemented to provide for the women is a bit, ummm, chauvanistic. I personally believe that God lives, has always lived, and will continue to live forever. I also believe that He didn't only talk to and give revelations to the prophets in the bible, but that because he still lives, he wants to help us today too so he still reveals new things. The law of Moses was no longer necessary once Jesus Christ came to the earth and became the lamb. They no longer had to offer literal lambs as sacrifice, and other points of the law of Moses were no longer necessary. So for a time polygamy was a practice that was revealed as necessary for whatever reason, and then it was later revealed that the practice should be abolished bcause it was no longer necessary - kind of like the law of Moses.
I don't know for sure, I'm just talking from the "book of Diana", but this is how it makes sense in my mind. Take it as you will.

Just J said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Rather than the LDS church consistantly saying "we are nothing like them!" it would be nice if they would at least recognize the similarities and the shared history. It is not so strange that the FLDS people believe as they do, especially in light of statements made by the early prophets. Brigham Young said the following as recorded in the Journal of Discourses.

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of Gods, are those who enter into polygamy.”

Also, it is my understanding that the practice of polygamy had little to do with providing for women. Certainly D&C 132 says nothing to that effect and Brigham Young noted in the Discourses of Brigham Young that

"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 the 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."

It's not surprising that in the late 1800's a douvout Mormon and practicing polygamist might have found it rather difficult to follow the prophet and embrace the Church's new stance on polygamy. They had been told for years that their very salvation and exaltation depended on it and that it was their duty to live the principle.

Polygamy was major doctrine of the early church and yet today, the LDS church is so concerned about its image that it will continue to shout from the mountain tops "WE ARE NORMAL!! WE ARE NOTHING LIKE THEM!" It's time for the church to step up and accept that the both churches were started by the same man and that both consider themselves the true church on earth. The FLDS church has as much claim to the title of "Mormon" as the LDS church does.