Plural Marriage Essay – Culture of Concealment

To the Office of the First Presidency,

My name is Scott.

I write this communication to you as a lifetime member of the church.

My heart is full and these words are my own.
I ask you to hear my words and open your hearts, that you may know and understand my perspective.

I am a sincere Latter-day Saint; not an uninformed outsider.

My story is personal, but surely resonates with other members worldwide.
As such, this communication is directed to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency.

This relates specifically to the Essay entitled “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo” published on lds.org October 22, 2014.

And the subsequent “Church Provides Context for Recent Media Coverage on Gospel Topics Pages” published on lds.org November 11, 2014.

I have delayed writing this for some time now, but after much study and prayer, I feel impressed to send this to you, with the purpose of requesting a written statement of remorse and regret from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; in the hopes that I may continue to progress spiritually and that we may move forward and not backward.

 

Please accept this communication for what it is:

It is from me; one who has been faithful to my first estate, declaring that I deserve truth in its entirety, that I may keep my second estate.
The prophet Joseph Smith said:
“Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation.”

It is from me; A brother of our Savior Jesus Christ, requesting that His church express sincere culpability for its leadership’s intentional actions of misleading me in regards to the practice of, and reasons for plural marriage. And also for not allowing me the chance to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation.

It is from me; A child of God, reaching out to you. Anticipating that you will demonstrate empathetic compassion for me individually, just as Jesus Christ would do.

 

Please take note:
All quotes included in this post are sourced ONLY from lds.org; Except for one quote from Orson Pratt and one quote from Brigham Young, from an 1852 Conference, that are not found on lds.org for some reason, but are found at byu.edu.

Also, I use the following terms interchangeably:
“The Church”, “Leadership of the Church”, “Church leadership”

 

Plural Marriage:

During my entire life, plural marriage was taught only in the following context and discussed among church members likewise:

  • Plural marriage was practiced in Biblical times
  • “Laws governing plural marriage are set forth” in D&C section 132 v. 58-66
  • Plural marriage was instituted briefly as means to care for women/fatherless families as they crossed the plains from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley
  • Plural marriage was a temporary practice, while at the same time being an eternal principle
  • Brigham Young practiced plural marriage
  • Plural marriage ended with the 1890 Manifesto

After being a member for over 40 years, this was all I knew about plural marriage.

 

Plural Marriage Censorship

I did not read anything to the contrary in the hundreds of “best books” I had studied during my life; and no additional insight was ever provided during priesthood meetings, lessons, interviews, temple ordinances, conference talks, sacrament meetings, firesides, manuals, MTC, etc., etc., etc.

Even the official Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith only includes two sentences regarding plural marriage:
“The doctrines and principles relating to plural marriage were revealed to Joseph Smith as early as 1831. The Prophet taught the doctrine of plural marriage, and a number of such marriages were performed during his lifetime.”

Out of 567 pages of Joseph Smiths teachings, only two sentences regarding plural marriage are written.
And the two sentences aren’t even included in the main text.
The verbiage is buried in the middle of one larger paragraph, in-between six sections of recommendations for teachers and one section about the book’s sources.

But as previously stated, Joseph Smith said that I “have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation.”

And upon reading the significant new information contained in the Essay, I am left with a personal, yet significant dichotomy:
Either Joseph Smith was not telling the truth;
or church leadership has purposefully censored the details regarding the practice of plural marriage for generations.

 

Plural Marriage Conversations

Not only were teachings on plural marriage limited and purposefully avoided by the church throughout my lifetime, but conversations between the church members themselves regarding this topic were few as well.

Lds.org offers a glimpse into, and quasi admission of the church culture regarding the limited discussion of plural marriage:
“Outside the Church, Joseph Smith is also known for his introduction of the ancient practice of polygamy through revelation, though this is no longer practiced in the Church and is not often discussed by Church members except in a historical context.”

Apostle M. Russell Ballard even stated the following:
“Our Church members have often allowed others to set the conversational agenda. An example is plural marriage. This ended in the Church as an official practice in 1890. It’s now 2010. Why are we still talking about it?”
“If people ask you about polygamy, just acknowledge that it was once a practice but not now.”
“Don’t waste time trying to justify the practice of polygamy during Old Testament times or speculating as to why it was practiced for a time in the 19th century.
Those may be legitimate topics for historians and scholars, but I think we simply reinforce the stereotypes when we make it a primary topic of conversations about the Church.”

 

Honesty

The Lord’s church has always emphasized the importance of being honest, as well as the proponents of being truthful:
The 13th article of faith (that I memorized in Primary) begins with “We believe in being honest, true”.
One of the Ten Commandments includes “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (and lds.org adds: “Bearing false witness is another form of dishonesty.”)

Even Temple Recommend interviews include a question regarding honesty. Only with a signed recommend may I enter the temple and complete savings ordinances for others and myself.
-May I hide the truth during my multiple temple recommend interviews? No.
-May I skip some of the questions? No.
-May I mislead my Priesthood leaders during the interviews? No.
I must state the complete truth, with consistency, to all involved.

Shouldn’t the only “true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” have the same standard? Yes.
It should state the complete truth, with consistency, to all involved.

But in regards to plural marriage, the leadership of the church has misled me to understand that all I have been taught, and all that I have learned, was all that there was to know, and that it was the complete truth.

Prophet Gordon B Hinckley said:
Half truths are used to mislead under the representation that they are whole truths.”

Elder Dallin H Oaks said:
A lie is not always told in so many words. It may be a creature of concealment or a misrepresentation by action or a half-truth.

Never in my imagination did I think the restored church of Jesus Christ would purposefully hide things from me.

I trusted and believed that the church would live by its beliefs and teachings; and would be honest; and never mislead me.

Which brings me to an important quote from our Prophet Thomas S. Monson:
Remember that the power to lead is also the power to mislead;
and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.”

 

Essay:

Steven E. Snow, Church Historian said the following regarding the Essay:
“I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records [of the Church] closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation-with the access to information on the internet, we can’t continue that pattern; I think in this day and age it’s become apparent that we really do need to provide a series of answers that will help our members better understand these chapters of our history.”
“Most who study our history well understand the context to these matters as far as time and place, but some members of the church, many really, are surprised by some of the things they learn in our history and we want them to be able go to a place where they can read accurate information and be able to seek to understand those historical chapters in the context of time and place and understand that those answers have been approved by the presiding brethren of the church.”

 

If you would like to read the Essay, it is posted on LDSdotORG (the official website of the church).
As a convenience and in fear that the church may remove this content from their site, I have posted it word for word (copy and paste), at the end of the FAQ section.

If you haven’t read it, please do, so that you may better understand my feelings; my words; my personal story.

 

My Experience

As I reviewed the Essay for the first time, I was in complete shock.
I had never known that Joseph Smith had practiced plural marriage.

“For a testimony of the restored gospel to be complete, it must include a testimony of Joseph Smith’s divine mission.

The truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the truthfulness of the First Vision and the other revelations the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph.”

If the truthfulness of the Church rests on the truthfulness of the First Vision and the other revelations”, why would church conceal details of “the other revelation” of plural marriage?

  • How could I have ever received a testimony of the truthfulness of the revelation of plural marriage, if it was never truthfully taught to me?
  • Why would the church deprive me of this?
  • A rush of questions entered my mind.
  • What was the purpose of hiding this information, while expecting me to walk by faith?
  • Why all the secrecy?
  • Was the church ashamed?
  • What else was the church hiding from me?
  • What else did the church not want me to know?
  • I had been taught that Brigham Young had many wives, but never told about Joseph’s wives. Was the church using Brigham as a fall guy?
  • Was the church somehow worried that the public or even church members would think less of Joseph if they knew this?
  • Did the church place so much thought, time and effort into elevating Joseph’s legacy and status through the years, that anything less than perfection would put his legitimacy into question?
  • Or even be considered blasphemy?

After all, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”

As I continued to read the essay, I learned the answers to many of these questions.

 

Essay Quotes

Below, I have quoted some of the words contained in the Essay.

The Essay itself contains a high level review of plural marriage, with an emphasis on the plural marriage practices of the Prophet Joseph Smith, of who we sing, “Praise to the Man”.

I list the verbatim phrases that I struggle with most (in bold italics), in the order they appear in the Essay, followed by my personal response to them.

As you read, imagine hearing these words for the very first time, from the leadership you trust; from the church around which you have built your entire life; from the entity that has been the foundation of your day-to-day choices, as well as your important life decisions.

 

 

“After receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage, Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates.”

As mentioned earlier, this is the first time I was hearing this.

Almost two centuries after the church was restored; and after having lived in the church for more than 40 years, this was the very first time.

I had been taught to serve the sacrament with my right hand; I had been taught what CTR stands for; I had been taught to whisper in the temple;
But I had never been taught that Joseph Smith practiced the eternal principle of plural marriage during his lifetime.

The quoted phrase also states “after receiving a revelation”.
This deceivingly implies that this revelation was a singular occurrence, when we now know that:

  • -“Some of the principles…were known by the Prophet as early as 1831.”
  • -The revelation was not recorded until 1843
  • -The revelation was not announced publicly until 1852
  • -The revelation was not included in the D&C until 1876
  • -The 1876 edition was not accepted as scripture until 1880

To recap; the introduction of this eternal principle spanned almost 50 years and was not canonized until after the death of Joseph Smith and the death of Brigham Young.

 

 

“Although the Lord commanded the adoption—and later the cessation—of plural marriage in the latter days, He did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment.”

The scriptures contain various examples of the Lord’s command in simple things:

Bible: “Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward”;

Book of Mormon: “Jesus commanded that it should be written”

D&C: “Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee.”

If the Lord was willing to command in the simplest of things, the expectation would be much greater if being commanded to practice a principle of eternal consequence.
Yet the Essay states that “He (the Lord) did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment.”

It appears this phrase is included in the Essay to exonerate and excuse the details that the reader may find offensive, disturbing or incomprehensible;

The Essay does mention that “plural marriage tested faith and provoked controversy and opposition” and “would stir up public ire.”
Thus, this quoted phrase essentially refers to Joseph’s own decisions, actions and teachings as they relate to plural marriage, polygamy, polygyny and polyandry, further detailed in the Essay.

 

 

“Plural marriage was introduced among the early Saints incrementally, and participants were asked to keep their actions confidential. They did not discuss their experiences publicly or in writing until after the Latter-day Saints had moved to Utah and Church leaders had publicly acknowledged the practice.”

This further demonstrates the culture of concealment regarding this principle.

 

 

“In Joseph Smith’s time, monogamy was the only legal form of marriage in the United States.”

In other words, plural marriage was illegal in Joseph Smith’s time.

Joseph has said “We believe in…obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

But what Joseph Smith said and what Joseph Smith did were two different things.
He broke the law by simultaneously marrying multiple women.

Notwithstanding, Joseph also said:
“I am a lover of the cause of Christ and of virtue chastity and an upright steady course of conduct & a holy walk, I despise a hypocrite or a covenant breaker.”
So regarding this principle, Joseph was a man of contradictions.

 

 

“Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.”

 Personally, when I read this I thought, why would the Lord command Joseph to obey this commandment; and even send a messenger to threaten his destruction for not obeying it;
but as mentioned earlier, not teach Joseph how to obey the commandment?

This made no sense to me. Let alone considering this is an eternal principle.
It would be like God, commanding Noah to build the ark, on a time line, while not telling him how to do it, and then threatening his life if he hesitated to comply.

However, we do know, that Noah indeed received detailed instructions:
that he should use Gopher wood; he was instructed regarding the size of the ark; and how many of each animal to bring.

 

 

“The first plural marriage in Nauvoo took place when Louisa Beaman and Joseph Smith were sealed in April 1841. Joseph married many additional wives and authorized other Latter-day Saints to practice plural marriage. The practice spread slowly at first. By June 1844, when Joseph died, approximately 29 men and 50 women had entered into plural marriage, in addition to Joseph and his wives.”

The math of 29 men and 50 women does not add up logically.
If each man had at least two wives, the total number of women would have been 58.
So this phrase implies polyandry, in which a woman has more than one husband.

 

 

Participants in these early plural marriages pledged to keep their involvement confidential, though they anticipated a time when the practice would be publicly acknowledged.

Nevertheless, rumors spread. A few men unscrupulously used these rumors to seduce women to join them in an unauthorized practice sometimes referred to as “spiritual wifery.” When this was discovered, the men were cut off from the Church. The rumors prompted members and leaders to issue carefully worded denials that denounced spiritual wifery and polygamy but were silent about what Joseph Smith and others saw as divinely mandated “celestial” plural marriage. The statements emphasized that the Church practiced no marital law other than monogamy while implicitly leaving open the possibility that individuals, under direction of God’s living prophet, might do so.

To paraphrase:
-Participants kept involvement confidential
-Rumors spread
-The rumors prompted leaders to issue “carefully worded denials”
-Denials denounced polygamy

An additional essay footnote states: “they denounce adultery, fornication, brutal lust and the teaching of plurality of wives by those who were not commanded to do so”
The denials therefore denounced polygamy as it was defined secularly, but did not denounce polygamy as defined religiously

-To reiterate the Essay verbiage:
The statements emphasized that the Church practiced no marital law other than monogamy while implicitly leaving open the possibility that individuals, under direction of God’s living prophet, might do so.

This is misleading and deceitful.
This, from church leadership that teaches

“We believe in being honest”;
Not “We believe in being honest, unless we’re breaking the law.”

Joseph F. Smith said:
“Among the Latter-day Saints, the preaching of false doctrines disguised as truths of the gospel, may be expected from people of two classes, and practically from these only; they are:
First—The hopelessly ignorant
Second—The proud and self-vaunting ones, who read by the lamp of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves, and so pose as the sole judges of their own doings. More dangerously ignorant than the first.”

 

On a personal side note:
Where is the defending of the faith?…the “dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through” spirit?

Apostle Paul said:
Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”

N Eldon Tanner has said:
“What is there in the gospel of Christ to be ashamed of?”
“Are we ashamed to stand up?”

Gordon B Hinckley has said:
“Stand up for truth in a world of sophistry.”
“Stand up for integrity.”
“Stand up for loyalty…to your good name, to the church of which you are part.”

 

“During the era in which plural marriage was practiced, Latter-day Saints distinguished between sealings for time and eternity and sealings for eternity only. Sealings for time and eternity included commitments and relationships during this life, generally including the possibility of sexual relations. Eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone.”

 This was new information to me as well. I had never heard of this concept before.

Not only was I misled regarding the purpose of plural marriage (as a means to care for women/fatherless families as they crossed the plains);
I am being told that plural marriage included the possibility of sexual relations.

Also, in this quoted phrase, the church uses the word “possibility”.
Once again, this is to ease the impact of these shocking truths.

If someone said of me, that there was a “possibility” that I was missing my left foot, their statement would be based on evidence, not just some random comment.

So this phrase leads us to understand that “sealings for time and eternity” did indeed include sexual relations.

 

 

“Evidence indicates that Joseph Smith participated in both types of sealings.”

And now I am being told that the Prophet Joseph himself participated in both types of sealings.

An essay footnote also states:
“it is possible he fathered two or three children with plural wives.”

 

 

“The exact number of women to whom he was sealed in his lifetime is unknown”

Once again, the reader needs to go to the footnotes to see:
“Careful estimates put the number between 30 and 40.”

 

 

“Most of those sealed to Joseph Smith were between 20 and 40 years of age at the time of their sealing to him.

The oldest…was 56 years old.

The youngest…was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday.”

Again, the church tries to lessen the impact of these statements by using the term “several months before her 15th birthday”.

In fact, she was only 14 years old.
…Who am I to judge why a 14-year-old minor would necessitate eternal, plural marriage and be sealed to Joseph Smith.

 

 

“Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.”

It is personally interesting that the church would somehow defend this action by stating it was legal, when earlier in the essay, the church admits the entire practice of plural marriage was illegal.

 

 

“Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married”

In the essay footnotes, this is called Polyandry:

“The marriage of one woman to more than one man”

And “typically involves shared financial, residential, and sexual resources.”

 

 

Emma likely did not know about all of Joseph’s sealings.”

Let this sink in.

 

To recap:

I am learning for the very first time, that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage.

But not only this;
I am reading, on the official website of the church, with words that “have been approved by the presiding brethren of the church” that

  • The Prophet of the restoration, even Joseph Smith
  • Married multiple women,
  • As young as 14 years old,
  • Had sexual relations with some of them,
  • While some were already married to other men,
  • And his wife, Emma, did not know about all of them.

This contradicts two important scriptures that we could all probably recite by heart:

“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” –D&C 42:22

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.
-D&C 132:8

None of us may never fully understand why Joseph married a young girl; had sexual relations with multiple women, while some were already married; and didn’t tell Emma, his wife, about all of it.

But the hypocrisy of all of this essentially comes down to three things for me:

1) Church leadership has withheld these truths and misled me.
According to the earlier words of Dallin H Oaks, this is considered a lie.
Each week, around the world, we hear the words “I know the church is true”
Yet the whole truth of the church was not made known to me.

2) If I were to do the same things that Prophet Joseph did, even if my claim was that they were a revelation from God, I would immediately be a candidate for disciplinary council.

3) From Sharing Time to Sacrament Meeting, a temple marriage is the pinnacle of our worship.
Yet this happy and holy image is mocked when it becomes necessary to confess and defend sexual relations and secrecies, all in an eternal context.

I believe that these Essay admissions are indeed the reason The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided half-truths about plural marriage throughout its history, under the representation that they were whole truths.

 

Jesus Christ said, “I am the light of the world”.
How sad it is to me that the leadership of His church would leave God’s children in the dark.

 

 

 

PUBLICITY

When the Essay was published on lds.org, it ignited a firestorm:

Media outlets around the world published details of the Essay, even making front page news in the The New York Times.

Not only had seasoned members like myself not know these things, the public was also reading these admissions from the church for the very first time and was taking notice.

 

The church had secretly known these things for so long that it had forgotten that most of the world did not know it.

 

The church published a “Context for Recent Media Coverage” less than 3 weeks after the essay on plural marriage was published.

This is also found on LDSdotORG.

 

 

Context Quotes:

The “context” provided by Church Leadership did not help me, but added salt to my wounds.

I list the verbatim phrases that I struggle with most (in bold italics), in the order they appear, followed by my personal thoughts on them.

 

 

 

“Much of what you’ll find in the essays on polygamy has been published in diverse sources and known among long-term and well-read members, historians, and Church leaders for many years.”

The very first words from the church regarding the Essay instantly transfer the responsibility of subject knowledge from the church to everyone else.

The church does not claim responsibility for its own actions of the withholding the truth throughout its history.

No mea culpa for concealing and misleading members and non-members alike regarding the true practice of plural marriage by Joseph Smith.

 

 

Allow me to break down this very first sentence:

 

Much of what you’ll find in the essays on polygamy”

The church does not state “ALL” of what you’ll find…” just “much” of it.

I suppose, in a small gesture sort-of-way, the church does admit that some of the information in the essay was not known to the public, but immediately excuses this by providing misleading words contained in the rest of the same sentence:

 

 

has been published in diverse sources”

The church implies this information has been “published” before.

But hides the rest of the story; that most (if not all) of the “publications” were not approved or sanctioned by the church.

The Essay is the first time that the church acknowledges the credibility of some of these non-approved sources (as mentioned in the Essay footnotes).

Also, the word “diverse” means “great deal of variety”;

This stretches the truth significantly.

As I indicated earlier, I have read a “great deal of variety” of books and have not come across this information before.

 

 

“and known among long-term and well-read members”

These words are indeed referring to members like me and are personally offensive.

Blaming me because I didn’t know these things and implying that it’s my own fault.

-That reading from the “best books” throughout my life was not enough.

-That being ordained a High Priest was not enough.

-That being sealed for eternity was not enough.

And that I am having a less than stellar reaction due to my own lack of action.

 

 

“historians, and Church leaders for many years.”

In this, there is some truth.

That throughout church history, it appears you needed to be a historian or church leader to be entitled to this information.

 

 

 

“The fact that Joseph Smith had plural marriage relationships is not new, of course.”

The purpose of this sentence is to infer that church members, and others, have known these facts for a while.

The condescending words “of course” at the end of the sentence belittles the reader and reaffirms that all blame for the lack of this knowledge should be placed anywhere but on the church.

I believe this sentence is another “carefully worded” example of hiding the truth.

As mentioned earlier, it was the “historians and church leaders” that are privy to these facts.

 

 

 

“Indeed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publicly asserted Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy over a century and a half ago”

The context, in which the word “asserted” is used, indicates that this was a single event.

Since I had never previously heard about Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy, I wondered when and where this public assertion took place.

I searched lds.org extensively, but could not find it.

Upon more research, I believe I found the event they are referring to on byu.edu.

The Conference of the Church, August 29, 1852, is considered the
“Official announcement of the doctrine of polygamy”, namely the discourses of Apostle Orson Pratt and President Brigham Young, and was published on September 14, 1852 by Deseret News.

I have included quotes of the relevant information below:

Apostle Orson Pratt:
“It is quite unexpected to me brethren and sisters, to be called upon to address you this forenoon.
And still mere so, to address you upon the principle which has been named, namely, a plurality of wives.
It is rather new ground for me, that is, I have not been in the habit of publicly speaking upon this subject. And it rather new ground to the inhabitants of the United States”

President Brigham Young:
“You have heard Brother Pratt state, this morning, that a revelation would be read this afternoon, which was given previous to Joseph’s death.”
“Though that doctrine has not been preached by the elders, this people have believed in it for many years.”
“The world has known long ago, even in Joseph’s days, that he had more wives than one.”
“This revelation has been in my possession many years; and who has known it?
None but those that should know it.”

 

It has been over 150 years since Orson Pratt and Brigham Young made these statements.

Notice the similarity of the words they spoke in 1852, compared to the church’s published “context” of 2014:

1852
“This people have believed in it for many years”

2014
“For many years the Church has had a reference section on its main website for various “gospel topics”

1852
“The world has known long ago, even in Joseph’s days, that he had more wives than one.”

2014
“The fact that Joseph Smith had plural marriage relationships is not new, of course.

1852:
“who has known it? None but those that should know it.”

2014:
“ known among long-term and well-read members, historians, and Church leaders”

 

As you can see, it is apparent that the strategy of church leadership regarding Joseph Smith’s plural marriage has been, and remains, as follows:

  • Tell as few people as possible
  • Publish “carefully worded” statements that simultaneously distort and preserve the truth
  • Politely deflect blame to others for lack of knowledge

 

Steven E Snow, Church Historian said:
“Much of what’s written now, these arguments and these issues, have been around for decades, 150 years, and it’s the same material repackaged, and we understandably have not spent a lot of time in the past worrying about these issues.”

 

 

 

PERSONAL IMPACT

How has learning these things impacted me?

Well, I now interpret some scriptures in a different way.

For example, D&C 132 v52
“And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph.”
I no longer interpret this verse in an ambiguous sense, or a future sense.
I now read it as an indicator to experiences that have already happened, that Emma did not know about, but discovered on her own.

I now have a different perspective regarding truth in general.
If the church is willing to conceal facts regarding this eternal principle, what else the church hiding from me?
I find myself second-guessing what I am being taught regarding church history; wondering what else is the church hiding from me?
I am reminded of the hymn “O Say, What Is Truth?”

Looking back on my mission service, I feel I was played the fool.
As I taught investigators, sometimes questions regarding polygamy would arise.
My companions and I would provide whatever information we had been taught and would bear testimony of the truth of those things.
We were unknowingly misleading them, just as the church had misled us.
We were “kept from the truth because (we knew) not where to find it.”
Sadly, in this case, we were kept from the truth, because we knew not that it was concealed.

This new knowledge has caused conflict in my marriage and in my family.

Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“If truth is truth, how can there be a conflict?”

The answer is: When it is concealed and incomplete.

In general, I feel a sense of betrayal.

Carlos E. Asay has said:
“When we fail to stand for the truth, we betray”

 

 

 

ACCOUNTABILITY

“This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am He. Receive ye, therefore, my law.” –D&C 132:24

Notice these words are written in the same section where the principle of plural marriage was set forth (D&C 132)

To paraphrase what it says:
-Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ.
-To know God and Jesus Christ, we must receive their law.

How can we receive their law if it is concealed, delayed and not taught to us in full?
If it is not taught to us, we cannot receive it;
And we cannot know God;
And thus we cannot know eternal life.

 

Which brings me to the quote by Thomas S. Monson mentioned earlier:
Remember that the power to lead is also the power to mislead;
and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.”

 

The choice of church leadership to withhold the complete truth of Joseph’s plural marriages (polygamy, polygyny and polyandry), I believe, was not deliberately made to cause harm to me.
But it did harm me.
And has probably significantly impacted others;

 

Cecil O. Samuelson taught:
“Dishonesty of any sort is a breach of trust and has potentially dire consequences not only for the offended but particularly for the perpetrator.”

And Apostle Marvin J. Ashton said:
“A lie is any communication given to another with the intent to deceive…
A lie can be effectively communicated without words ever being spoken.”
Failure to divulge all pertinent facts (is) a way to communicate (a) lie.”

And Prophet Spencer W Kimball said:
Lying damages others.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth”, must certainly recognize that as a living church, its leaders, however righteous and respected, are imperfect children of God and can make mistakes.

After all, Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated:
“Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us: In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now.”

Notwithstanding, Spencer W Kimball reminds us:
“A good leader will remember he is accountable to God as well as to those he leads.”

The church provides the following on lds.org:
“Heavenly Father wants you to be honest and truthful at all times and in all places. It is not always easy. If you do something wrong, you might be ashamed to admit it or afraid of what will happen to you if you do.”

And Lowell L. Bennion has said:
“We know when we’ve done wrong, but sometimes we’re afraid to go to those whom we’ve wronged. We are too proud to admit our failures. But when we have the courage to do it, we find that a great reconciliation takes place.”

 

 

MUTUAL RECONCILIATION

I, myself, am asking the leadership of the Church to recognize me as a valued child of God; a valued member of the church; and that I matter.

The Lord has declared, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
-He did not say, my church shall be called “The Church of Jesus Christ”
-He did not say, my church shall be called “The Church of Latter-Day Saints”
The Church and the Saints are conjoined.
A latter-day saint cannot fulfill the new and everlasting covenant without the church; and the church cannot fulfill the new and everlasting covenant without a latter-day saint.
The church and the member need each other.

And as such:
The church (as the Lord’s kingdom on earth) and myself (who chose to come to earth and join His kingdom) both need to do our part.

 

 

RESTITUTION

Gospel Principles states:
“Restitution means that as much as possible we must make right any wrong that we have done.”

As mentioned earlier, Prophet Spencer W Kimball said:
Lying damages others.”

Well, I have been damaged.
I have been hurt.
I have been betrayed.
Purposefully betrayed.

 

Jesus Christ stood up for us in the pre-existence;
Jesus stood on the water.
Jesus stood as he carried the cross.
Jesus stood in testimony of His resurrection.
…Would Jesus stand for this?

 

 

 

SUMMARY

After much thought and prayer, I am humbly reaching out to you.

I request, and indeed deserve, a written statement of remorse, of regret, from the leadership of the church.

I am not requesting an apology for, or explanation of doctrine.

I am seeking an acknowledgement of the historical culture of concealment perpetuated by the church;

And of withholding the complete truth regarding Joseph’s plural marriages (polygamy, polygyny and polyandry) from me.

 

 

“When we trust Him, peace will come, and we will be able to forget our anger and hurt. Once again, we will be able to have confidence in those who have pierced us with deep wounds but who have… worked to regain our trust and love.” -Posted as Anonymous on lds.org

“While broken or lost trust can be regained, it is not easily or quickly restored. The blemish can be removed only with serious, long-term effort—and even then a permanent scar may remain.” – Cecil O. Samuelson