Category Archives: Impact: Polygamy

“A …good understanding… made me less angry”

Impact:  A very good understanding of the overall polygamy dynamics during [Joseph’s] time… actually made me less angry about polygamy surprisingly. It gave me an insight to his actions and why he did what he did, but there were times that I was still angered by his behavior, especially his secrecy with Emma. I was surprised by the secrecy that went on among Emma’s close friends as well. Many of them were married to Joseph and hid it from her. Joseph lied. Emma’s friends lied to her regularly. [I learned] the intricate dynamics and weird triangles of people involved in lying to keep polygamy secret and hidden. There is no way a prophet could pull off today what Joseph did. I …especially [found fascinating] the practice of the dynastic celestial sealings. I still have a lot of unanswered questions, but I ultimately have a better understanding. The reason why I was so fascinated with polygamy was because my ancestors are all Mormon pioneers who came across the plains and settled in Utah. I have a ton of polygamy in my ancestry on both sides of my family. I wanted to understand what my ancestors went through in practicing polygamy. I became obsessed with studying it for a while last year. I was shocked to discover that it was not true that there was a surplus of women which was the reason I was told polygamy was practiced. But I shouldn’t have been that surprised considering all the other stuff I didn’t know:) I think when [one is] studying subjects as complicated as polygamy, it’s important to read as much as you possibly can. I found out really quick when I started on my faith crisis that having little information was dangerous. I was reading a little bit here and a little bit there which sent me over the edge without knowing how to process it. Not saying that I still know how to process it all now, but it’s been much easier to process and understand things by immersing myself in studying the history.

Name: Alyson

Date: 24 July 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy

“I…would…try to pray it out of me”

Impact:  I was raised in the church, went to BYU, then served a mission in South America. After returning from the mission field, I became a RS Pres, then I was in Young Women’s, Primary and most of the other jobs that most wards have. I was very active. I struggled my whole life with knowing I was gay, but would go to the temple and try to pray it out of me. That never worked, but I tried to remain faithful. After so many years of trying, I can be honest and say, I was not happy, I didn’t feel the peace of being faithful so I made the decision to leave the church after talking with my parents and telling them I was gay. They were incredible. They said they always knew and that they just wanted me to be happy and if I could only love a women, then I had their support. While I did meet someone and we both continued to attend church, for a while, it just became too much. We both felt we had to step away. So step away we did.

My partner was the one who starting investigating the church and would share things with me. At first I didn’t believe what she found and I said it was not true what was being said about Joseph and the current leaders. I grew up in Maryland, so I was aware of some of the history, such as Joseph had multiple wives, even that he had told Martin Harris that he was to give his wife to Joseph. I was taught it was only a test and Joseph never took her away from Martin. I knew about Eliza R. Snow and was told it was a spiritual marriage only. So when I started doing research and found that Joseph had been arrested for fraud, that rocked my belief pretty badly. Then to learn he actual took other men’s wives, even one that was 8 months pregnant, that was bad. Then learning that he married a 14 year old and Emma was not aware of any of this. Then learning that their are multiple versions of the First Vision, I felt betrayed and lied to about early history and if I was lied to about that, what else was the church lying about?

My dad was Stake President when Ezra T. Benson came back for a Stake Conference. He stayed the weekend with us and there were lots of talks at night about all the issues. One particular discussion was about blacks and the priesthood. Ezra told us that it was because blacks were cursed because of Cain. That just felt wrong to me on so many levels and I wondered how I could feel such darkness from a man that at the time was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. It just didn’t sit right with me.

When I was young I remember hearing the amount of tithing that was paid, the fast offering, the expenses of the church. It was read in Stake every six months. Then it stopped and when I asked why, I never got an answer. I was told it was not for members to know, which struck me funny because we used to be told, so why change it now. Obviously, the church was becoming more wealthy ever day and that wouldn’t look good. My faith crisis really came when I decided to live my authentic life the way God created me. I struggled because I thought the church represented Christ’s gospel as he taught it.

So it was like being true to myself was betraying my faith, but at the same time, I had such a peaceful feeling that God supported me in being who he created. So I was happier living my life than I ever had been, but felt I lost part of me with the church. When I found out that most of what I was taught growing up was a lie, I felt I could leave and be at peace. I guess now I’m just angry that I spent a lot of years thinking there was something wrong with me and that I was a sinner. Even though I never did anything wrong, wrong that I would have to see a bishop for at any rate. I don’t feel the need to get others to leave, because I feel that is a personal decision each person needs to come to on their terms.

I’ve learned to be the best spiritual being that I can. I’m glad I was raised with the values that I was, so no regrets there. I don’t regret going on a mission because it was such a great life experience for me on so many levels. I don’t wish the church any ill will, I just wish they would be honest. I do believe one day they will see that it is going to crumble if they don’t stop and begin to admit the truth.

Name: Joni

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: LGBT issues, General, Polygamy, Race and the Priesthood

“We are so much happier out of the church”

Impact: I was raised in the LDS church by convert parents who joined the church in Berlin Germany.  David O McKay was the prophet when I was a little girl living in Salt Lake City in the 1950’s and he called me on my mission to Austria in 1969.  I had a strong testimony and questioning and understanding the gospel was encouraged by the church and my father. We believed that a church that could not withstand investigation had a weak foundation.

I first started doubting on my mission as Austria was a difficult mission.  I believed in the plan of salvation that man could become like God and in the law of eternal progression and pursuit of excellence.  I loved feeling like we had a living prophet to guide us and the security of being in Christ’s church.  That we would not be led astray.  After my mission, I met my husband who joined the church on an intellectual testimony.  He believed the spiritual witness would come later.  He took seriously Moroni’s promise of the Book of Mormon and fasted and prayed for that spiritual witness.  After 30 years of praying and fasting and living the gospel, it never came.

I taught Gospel Doctrine for 4 years and started studying church history and Journal of Discourses.  That is when things started bothering me about Joseph Smith and polygamy and polyandry.  Also, his dealing with money.  His character started bothering me.  Paul Dunn’s fabricated spiritual experiences also bothered us as I really loved him.  But, a main change happened when the LDS church no longer seemed like the church I was raised in.  With the coming of the internet, it seemed the lds church began muzzling its members and me as a teacher.  We could no longer use outside sources (as the 13th article of faith advocated) in teaching lessons although General authorities could.

Also, we had a gay son and prop 8 did not help.  The church was becoming more and more of a corporation and the spirit was no longer in most of the meetings there. We had prayed about our temple experiences and the spirit was not there for us.  It seemed so strange with all the death oaths, and weird covenants. After much prayer God led us to other churches where I learned the Holy Spirit dwells as well.

Even though the church emphasizes families, it took my husband out of the home so much with home teaching, and as a stake counsel man, Elders Quorum President, etc that he had no time for me or our kids that I felt so neglected.  It almost destroyed our marriage.  When President Hinckley was on Larry King live and brushed off polygamy, and that we no longer believe that man can become like God, we felt this man was not a prophet.

We watched John Dehlin’s video on Why People leave the church and it hit home.  No body liked that we questioned or would discuss our doubts with us.  This was one of the things that bothered me the most.  And nobody cared when we left the church, especially all those my husband worked with in the high council. We are so much happier out of the church now and attend the United Church of Christ in our area.

Name: Erika

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy

“I was ready to know difficult things”

Impact: I am a BYU graduate, a returned missionary, and a very black-and-white believer (that was probably the problem). The beginning of losing my testimony is probably like a lot of others’ experiences. I never got strong answers to my prayers. I always told myself that I knew the church was true, and I felt good while reading the Book of Mormon.

The clincher came when I worked for the Liahona. I did some research on Abraham for a series on Old Testament prophets (I think it’s in March?), and I read the Wikipedia entry, just like I had for Adam and Noah. Of course I read about the mismatched translations, and my heart sunk. I panicked about it, then eventually figured that there was an explanation, but it didn’t matter. Only my faith mattered.

But I gave myself permission to look at the questions that all of the anti-Mormons were asking. I thought they would be saying stupid things like, “Joseph Smith ate babies!” And of course, it wouldn’t be true. I remembered having a speaker come to BYU-I and talk about this list of 20 things that disproved Mormonism and resolving all 20 of them over the years. So I felt justified. I was ready to know difficult things.

I was so, so wrong. I was a very black-and-white, orthodox Mormon. For example, the whole Proposition 8 thing made me feel uncomfortable, but I supported it anyway. (They had a big campaign at BYU-I to get students involved in a telephone campaign at the time. I didn’t do that but messaged a bunch of friends on Facebook.) My stake president pushed a group of students to start a club at my high school called the CTR Alliance. It was basically FHE for high school kids (despite the fact there was already a Christian club on campus). That felt very wrong too, but I thought the carnal me just needed to be humbled.

Being black-and-white, the church was not allowed to be anything other than black-and-white, and the evidence was so overwhelming. It was just one thing after another–the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook Plates, the real reason for Thomas Marsh’s excommunication, Joseph’s involvement with treasure hunting and masonry, polyandry, and everything else under the sun. Polyandry was a very painful thing to me, and I think it was what sent my beliefs tumbling down. It was plain adultery in my eyes (which, come to think of it, is that not somewhat sexist of me? I mean, why can a man have multiple wives but a woman can’t have multiple husbands? I guess the point, though, was the utter hypocrisy of Joseph).

If it had been one or two things, I could have survived. But it was too much. It was an excruciatingly painful process deconstructing my faith, but it was also very freeing to let go of faith-encrusted beliefs about women and the priesthood, blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, homosexuality, cohabitation, and the inferiority of other faiths. I feel like this is my refiner’s fire because the people burning me are the people I would have expected to agree with the rest of my life.

I think everyone feels anger to some degree, and it can be all encompassing. It’s anger over a life dedicated to half-truths and lies, anger over losing the love of others because the church won’t come clean, anger that you’ve given yourself so blindly to something that has kept you from loving fully. I don’t know that the anger ever goes away, but it becomes embers, more tame than the inferno that could have taken out a forest and probably took some people with it.

The facts are the catalyst for the betrayal. I think they are the thing that burns below the surface when you talk to others filled with testimony or with people who judge you. At the same time you want to burn them up with the facts, you don’t want anyone to ever feel what you’ve felt. You want to be a light, not an ignition source.

I’ve lost my husband over my loss of faith. I just hope he’ll come back to me and realize that I was just trying to be a light.

Name: ES

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy; The Book of Abraham; General

“I did not sign up to be a polygamist.”

Impact: I was divorced after 10 years.  I was married in the Mesa, AZ temple.  Fast forward 6 years later.  I remarried and started the paperwork to be sealed to my current wife in the Mesa, AZ temple.  My stake president at that time noticed I checkmarked the box for sealing CLEARANCE, not CANCELATION.  He reminded me that if my ex repented, the Lord would remember her sins no more and the sealing between us would stay valid.  He asked my current wife if she liked the idea of me being sealed to both of them.  She obviously said no.  I said, no.  He agreed and checked the CANCELLATION box. A few months later, I got a sealing CLEARANCE letter not a CANCELLATION.  I didn’t want to ruin our planned sealing date so I didn’t say anything.

I absolutely hate polygamy.  I hate the idea.  I think it is deplorable.  I want nothing to do with it.  I had no clue how polygamy began or was administered back in the day but this issue forced me to learn the history of polygamy as I am forced to live the “spiritual principle”.  The huge issue I have is that my free will has been thrown aside and I am forced to be a spiritual polygamist.  In the Declaration #1 in the D&C, the Church confirmed it no long performs plural marriages in the temples.  Not true!  The day my current wife and I were sealed IN THE TEMPLE…was the day I became a spiritual polygamist on paper with the Church.  What happened to free-agency?

President Hinckley in an interview with Larry King on CNN outright stated to the world that polygamy “is not doctrinal.”   So, we have a current prophet saying it isn’t doctrinal and an official declaration stating the church isn’t practicing plural marriage in the temple,  all the while…my free agency is not honored.

This is truly one of a few issues I have had with Priesthood authority that has caused a faith crisis in my life.  I did not sign up to be a polygamist.  I am not sure what to do with this other than attempt an appeal to the Brethren.  I am just worried about being blacklisted for questioning their decisions and authority.  We shall see what happens when one questions and pushes too much.

That’s part of my story…  There is more…I’ll leave that for another post.

Name: Randy

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy

“The lengths I saw some go…”

Impact: I am a BYU graduate, temple married, 20- something who has served as Relief Society president and Young Women adviser among other callings. My husband is a very traditional believer and my crisis of faith put our marriage in a tough spot for awhile. I feel extremely fortunate that our marriage is holding strong because I know this is not always the case when a spouse looses belief in the church.  Church historical issues was a lot to take in, but I may have been able to reconcile if I didn’t feel lied to and manipulated by the church. The fact that I couldn’t even have an informed conversation with those who were supposed to be a source of spiritual support (i.e. Bishop, RS pres, etc.) was the tipping point. As well, the lengths I saw some go to rationalize or dismiss just about anything did me in. (i.e. Joseph smith had wives who had living husbands. No he didn’t! Confirm information. It dosnt matter! End of discussion.)

Name: Anonymous

Date: 15 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy