The Feminist Mormon Girls Camp logo. What it says to me is that camp is fun! And that Mormonism is a very big tent.

The Feminist Mormon Girls Camp logo. What it says to me is that camp is fun! And that Mormonism is a very big tent.

I’ve spent the last two days attending the world’s first-ever Feminist Mormon Girls Camp. Held in the Utah mountains, it’s been a gathering not just of teenage girls and their leaders, as is traditional for LDS Girls Camp (now called Young Women Camp), but whole families, including spouses and tiny tots.

It’s been a marvelous experience. I believe the effort first came about because of women’s online conversations about their own experiences at LDS camp as kids, which were generally (but not always) positive, and their concerns about how camp may have changed since then. Today, from the stories I hear, LDS camp is as likely to fixate on the dangers of immodest dress as it is to teach girls that they are strong, beloved, and capable. Some women felt that camp’s focus had moved away from self-reliance toward ornamentation.

There were feminist bonnets for sale at camp, but I arrived too late to snag this Buffy one. I am going to special order it.

There were feminist bonnets for sale at camp, but I arrived too late to snag this Buffy one. I am going to special order it.

These moms wanted more than crafts and modest fashion lessons for their daughters. They dreamed it, and then they created it: Feminist Mormon Girls Camp.

This first year was just a small pilot program; the organizers had to be careful not to get too far ahead of themselves. It is not requisite that a woman should run faster than she hath strength. So they only invited a few charter families, with the possibility of expanding it in future if people are willing to take the lead. There are representatives here from Feminist Mormon Housewives, Sistas in Zion, Ordain Women, Let Women Pray, Young Mormon Feminists, and many others.

Me with Zandra Vranes of Sistas in Zion (center), Lindsay Hansen Park of the FMH podcast, and a member of the next Mo Fem generation

Me with Zandra Vranes of Sistas in Zion (center), Lindsay Hansen Park of the FMH podcast, and a member of the next Mo Fem generation

So what have we been up to? Plotting civilization’s downfall, of course. Isn’t that what feminists always do? No, actually, we have mostly been having fun, singing songs and hymns (some with Mother-in-Heaven-inclusive lyrics), eating too many S’mores, and talking.

And talking some more.

My absolute favorite part of the event is that I was assigned to be a certification counselor, which basically means that I helped the kids earn badges by talking about world and church issues, and getting them to use their imaginations about how the world might become a different place.

We started off with some of the “First Wave Feminism” questions and tasks, including:

  • Memorize one quote from Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir or Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the adjacent page.
  • List the names of at least three suffragettes.
  • Demonstrate “unladylike” behavior by voicing an opinion about something that makes you angry.
  • Write and wear a sign around camp describing something you find problematic in society.

It was a treat to hear kids recite to me, “Virtue can only flourish among equals” (Mary Wollstonecraft) or “The best protection any woman can have…is courage” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton), and to teach them a bit about the women who had come before. And it was a treat to hear about the things that make them mad: that girls aren’t valued in China, that puppy mills exist, that kids are starving in the world, and that women can’t bless their babies or pass the sacrament in the LDS Church.

And for the second wave of badges, we read aloud some quotes from Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and rewrote fairy tales so that nobody had to rescue the heroine.

One of the girls who earned all of the available badges let me photograph her sash. Here's to the next generation.

One of the girls who earned all of the available badges let me photograph her sash. Here’s to the next generation.

The kids could also work for badges in Third Wave Feminism, personal empowerment, spirituality, Mormon feminism, and subversive activism, which includes writing a protest letter to a company or leader and sending it out.

Some of the kids worked very hard and earned every single badge, as you can see from the sash pictured above. At last night’s campfire, after the Girl Power skits and before the beautiful testimonies of friendships made and faith renewed, proud girls and boys received their sashes.

And my heart swelled.

These kids are the future, and the future is a brighter Mormon world.

134 Comments

  1. In another hopeful vein, I attended regular girls camp a few weeks ago in New York as a leader, and there was one lovely night devoted to learning about faithful women, in the Bible (Old and New Testaments), Restoration era, and present time. It made my heart so glad.

  2. Jana, I was so bummed I didn’t get a chance to meet you there. But my heart swelled too. So much hope for the next generation of Mormon feminists. I have had serious misgivings about raising my children in the church but as long as there is Feminist Mormon Girl’s Camp, I am up for the challenge.

  3. Your object lesson with the $20 bill thrilled my daughter, and not just because she scored some cold hard cash. She walked away with a little more confidence, and hopefully resilience regarding her value. She has spoken of that experience repeatedly when family asks about camp. Thank you for being there.

    • Young Women’s Camp has as it’s foremost mission to strengthen the testimonies of the YW. Nothing I read in this article indicated that Feminist Mormon Girls Camp even addressed this. From what I can deduce this is a “social justice” focused endeavor with a strong “activist” strain. Generally that would also mean “leftist” and I certainly picked up hints of that too. This is a political indoctrination camp. That would be fine with me as long as they left “Mormon” out of their appellation and didn’t attempt to appear to the world as an LDS Church-sponsored activity.

      • Indeed, it seems as if the entire spiritual development point of YW Camp has been replaced by an underlying theme of sowing the seeds of future apostasy. Having just returned from a week with my daughters at a YW Camp which the General Young Women Presidency could be proud of, my heart sank to read of this counterfeit version.

      • Rachel Whipple

        There was no attempt to appear to the world as an LDS Church-sponsored activity. And as Jana wrote, there was hymn singing. There were also testimonies shared, prayers, spiritual thoughts and scriptures. It was at least as Christ focused as boy scout camp, which I also attended this summer.

        • If there is no attempt to appear LDS, might I suggest NOT calling it “Feminist MORMON Girls Camp”? As for the focus of BSA camps, I’ve never participated in one where subversive behavior is championed. Have things changed?

  4. Where did become Christ like and Christ focused come into play? I’m being serious not facetious. I think we as women should learn to have stronger voices and be unashamed to say what we think needs to be said but in Christlike as opposed to strident way. This goes for what and how men say things too.

  5. Are women who agree that women should be courageous and virtuous with strong testimonies allowed to come if they aren’t asking for the priesthood? I really don’t see the inequality there. At all. The priesthood teaches men what most women have by nature: to give service, love their fellowmen, nurture, even lead. Women have plenty of opportunities to develop these qualities without having the Priesthood themselves (both inside and outside the Church), plus all blessings of the Priesthood are available to all God’s children through their obedience. No divide there. Why divide off into activism, as someone else has said? I realize that you may mean no division, but an addition. That would be more in line with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    What I see as a common misunderstanding by both Mormons and non-Mormons alike is the distinction between gospel, Church, and culture. The gospel encompasses all eternal truth and love, as taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ. The Church teaches the gospel, but using human beings is naturally subject to error. We all learn from each other in this Church – by both good and bad examples. Mormon culture, on the other hand, is the mere byproduct of so many similarly-minded people living in proximity to one another. That is where judgements, exclusivity, divisions, and some other factors come in which are not at all aligned with the gospel taught by Jesus Christ.

  6. A couple of excerpts particular struck me:

    “And it was a treat to hear about the things that make them mad: that girls aren’t valued in China, that puppy mills exist, that kids are starving in the world, and that women can’t bless their babies or pass the sacrament in the LDS Church.”

    I fail to see how it is a treat to hear how adults are indoctrinating young girls to be mad about the critical role of their divine nature which is part of their “individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” On their own, men and women are incomplete.

    As the apostle Paul taught, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:11)

    Men and women are COMPLIMENTARY beings. The only way that we inherit all that the Father hath as joint heirs with Christ is through His divinely ordained covenant of marriage, wherein each gender completes the other through the combination of unique attributes each possesses. These differences aren’t to be cursed, but celebrated. We honor and cherish those things about each other which differentiate men and women and make them special, rather than stirring up discontent over the attributes which the opposite gender contribute to our eternal companionships.

    “And for the second wave of badges, we read aloud some quotes from Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and rewrote fairy tales so that nobody had to rescue the heroine.”

    In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, EVERYONE has to be rescued by the Hero. Also within that same gospel, each of us should be striving to be heroes in our own respective spheres to the lost sheep around the world. The fact of the matter is that each of us are both in need of rescue as well as participants in the rescue of others.

    I am overwhelmingly grateful for the exemplary role models my daughters have in their stake who consistently organize spiritually uplifting and strengthening YW camps from year to year, completely in harmony with the teachings of the Lord’s anointed. Our girls couldn’t be in safer hands to guide and direct them in paths of righteousness and steering clear of the seeds of apostasy which are occasionally scattered in their midst. I’m sure many of these Mormon feminists are well intentioned, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and follow the path outlined by His anointed servants.

    • Well said, well said. Those were my feelings exactly — “seeds of apostasy.” I’ve spent many years at Camp. The purpose is not designed to stir girls up against things in the Church, but to become valiant in the faith. I’m all for equality and fairness, but since when is it a problem that the men bear the Priesthood? It makes as much sense as the mother in a home complaining that she can’t be the father! An old quote says: “The women bear the children, bring Father’s spirits into the world; the men bear the Priesthood, watching over them in an equal, complementary partnership.”

  7. “subversive activism, which includes writing a protest letter to a company or leader and sending it out.”

    What’s subversive about writing a letter? And if your going to write a protest letter, why not to the Prophet? Young Women refusing to date Mormon boys, or refusing to be baptised for dead females, or refusing to go on missions — these are subversive acts against a misogynist institution which could use a little subversion

  8. Barbara Joanne

    I hope they remember to teach those girls that Mormon men are encouraged to think of themselves as potential gods who will practice plural marriage in heaven and that they, the wombs, will spend eternity pregnant.

    Wanna empower girls? Allow and encourage the intellectual freedom to research their church’s history , ALL of it!

    Good luck gals

  9. As one of the women who attended this year, I’d like to say that the Spirit was very strong at Feminist Mormon Girls Camp. Everyone was warm and welcoming. There were a variety of activities beyond what was mentioned here. We had prayer, hymn-singing, and testimony meeting. We had powerful discussions. It was an experience that I will always remember.

    My five daughters had a fabulous time. They all said they want to do it again. My oldest (13) said it was leaps and bounds better than regular YW camp. At regular YW camp and at church, she feels emotionally manipulated to conform to a narrow definition of what a good or Godly woman is. She is so much more than the Sunday School definition of womanhood. We ALL are. This camp celebrated the unique and powerful gifts we have as individuals and as women. I loved it.

    Thank you so much, Jana, for helping to organize this wonderful, spiritually nurturing and uplifting experience.

    • Emotionally manipulated? Can you please specifically define what constitutes the “narrow definition of what a good or Godly woman is” which causes such emotional distress? Those of us who strive to teach our children the doctrines of the kingdom might be interested to know exactly which teachings are so stifling.

    • Dwight Rogers

      When I went to college and I was forced to do homework and show up for class did I feel “emotionally manipulated to conform to a narrow definition?” Not! I realized that I was there voluntarily and it was supposed to be hard and If I wanted an “A” and wanted to graduate I had to do what was expected. No problem there. Do these people believe that the Church is true? Do they believe that God has a prophet on the earth today? If so, why not follow the Lord’s program. It seems to me that alternate girls camp programs and writing letters of protest and so forth shows a lack of faith in the Lord and his Church.

  10. Ilovegirlscamp

    Reading this saddens me a lot. As a young women leader who has planned and gone to girls camp for the last 8 years this, although I am sure well intended, is way off the mark. The entire focus for girls camp should be Christ centered. Sure there are nature, first aid, and survival skills that are a part of certification, but the rest of the focus should be in helping the beautiful young women come closer to Christ. I do not see how this can be accomplished in the way that your camp was put together. When we come closer to Christ we recognize that we need Him, we humbly begin to see the faults in us (not in others) and we then use the enabling power of the atonement to become better people. We need Him, and we need to help the youth of the world recognize that. That is the focus of camp, to help the young women understand their potential and show them the path to our Savior. Because with Him we can be incredible. Without Him we may just be average.

    • Amen! This is the kind of atmosphere I have witnessed over the past six years while on staff of my daughters’ camps. The very concept of “subversive activism” as part of any kind of allegedly uplifting activity for LDS youth strikes me as astonishingly counter to the spirit of the gospel.

      For kicks I looked up “subversive” at LDS.org. Among other things I found this from Elder Delbert L. Stapley:

      “All standards that were so sacred in the past are crumbling under the pressure of the ungodliness of agnostic, atheistic, subversive, and radical groups.” (Conference Report, October 1971; http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1971/10/our-responsibility-to-save-the-world?lang=eng)

      And from Elder Boyd K. Packer:

      “We are grateful for teachers who will challenge students to high scholarship but would not even think of undermining testimony or acting in any way subversive to the progress of the Church and kingdom of God.” (Conference Report, October 1992; http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1992/10/to-be-learned-is-good-if?lang=eng)

      From a gospel context, “subversive” does not appear to be a desirable attribute.

    • I like what “Ilovegirlscamp” says. Personally I consider myself a feminist, and I’m all for women teaching their daughters to be strong and independent. However, it seems like the spirit of this camp is about teaching girls to build themselves based solely on their gender. I want my daughter to be strong and independent by basing her strength in Christ. He should be the center of everything we do. I think this feminist camp was probably well intended, but most of the description of it seems focused on individual agendas, with Christ residing in the peripheral. Building our relationship with him should be central, and if we truly have a good relationship with him, then all the rest or these debates about gender and doctrine become peripheral.

  11. It saddens me that so many members of the LDS church are judgmental when it comes to anyone who has a different view or experience. Jesus loved the outcasts. He censured the legalistic enforcers of rules. His commandment was to love one another. It saddens me that this greatest and most important commandment is not the focus of LDS living and worship practices. When the leaders of the LDS church teach or practice things that are not in harmony with what Jesus taught, I follow my Lord.

    Besides, Jesus would have been completely comfortable and completely welcome at Feminist Mormon Girls Camp. I know this because I know Him and I was there at camp. He would have rocked an Eliza tee shirt. ;-)

    • It is common for people to employ the “judgmental” card to suppress opposing views in all walks of life, particularly with regard to matters of faith. Another oft-employed accusation is “self-righteous.” My experience has been that “self-righteous” is generally the label employed by unrighteousness against righteousness. And while we ALL fall short of righteousness in our daily lives, that doesn’t mean that a bona fide standard of righteousness doesn’t exist.

      Jesus loves everyone, from saint to sinner, from those secure in the fold to those who are outcast. What He censured was hypocrisy, not adherence to the revealed word of God. And by all means, we should all love one another as He loves all of us. This is one of the fundamental themes of Young Women’s camps in the LDS church!

      To the extent that those critical of the authentic YW camps have no qualms publicly stating beliefs such as “the leaders of the LDS church teach or practice things that are not in harmony with what Jesus taught,” I seriously have no misgivings rendering judgment of that. Such an assessment of the Lord’s anointed suggests that one is either teetering on the brink of apostasy, or has already crossed that line.

      Yes, Jesus would be completely comfortable in that environment, because no one is more comfortable than He in the role of rescuer, drawing people back unto Him, and encouraging them to align their will to His will and to His church.

      • Oh, Tom, you make going back to church so attractive! Please, do tell me more about how righteous you and the church are and how wayward I must be. I’m sure it will make all my pain from a lifetime of church teachings just melt away.

        Or you could mind your own business, make sure you aren’t judging others, and (if you are open and loving enough) be happy that any of us that have “endured many things” in our association with the church can still find anything in Mormonism to be “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praisworthy.” Feminist Mormon Girls Camp falls firmly into the category of things we should all be seeking after. :-)

        • Sorry, that was snarky. I am just frustrated that such a positive, wonderful, spiritually nourishing experience is being vilified as being anti-Christ or anti-God or “counterfeit,” etc. Feminist Mormon Girls Camp was beautiful and good even though it wasn’t an official activity of the LDS church and even though it wasn’t orthodox. :-)

        • Moonshadow, you only help drive home my point. This camp doesn’t appear to have the appearance, from everything its SUPPORTERS have written, to strengthen people’s faith in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather to reinforce the attitudes of people who demonstrably have serious issues with the church and its leaders.

          When you mockingly talk about how I “make going back to church so attractive,” you imply that you are not presently participating actively in the church. When you speak of “all [your] pain from a lifetime of church teachings” and all you have endured in your association with the church, you aren’t exactly holding back your position.

          I don’t proclaim that I am exceedingly righteous. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I’m squarely in the same boat with the rest of humanity. I DO believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s true church, and I DO believe that He leads it through His anointed prophets and apostles. To the extent that we are to seek that which is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy,” I don’t believe that this is to be found in activities which are subversive to the mission of the church. Just as President Marion G. Romney once stressed the vast difference between the United Order and Communism, the latter being an ungodly counterfeit of the former even if one could point to some seeming similarities, I don’t see this alternative feminist girls camp to be much different. It takes that which is inspired of God for the benefit of the Young Women of the church, and twists it into something which, according to the expressed statements of those who are fans of it, promotes subversive behavior and fosters grievances over things where faithful Latter-day Saints should have no cause for grievance.

          That it is considered a good thing that girls are taught to express anger at not passing the sacrament in the same vein that they would be angry at puppy mills or the treatment of women in China – I find quite a lot to object to in that.

  12. I honestly don’t think it’s a matter of condemning those with another viewpoint. Rather, from what I was able to glean from the article, there is a fair amount of dissatisfaction with The Church and The Lord’s Anointed by the leaders of this camp. And that is troubling as Joseph once stated “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man’s in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.” (HC 3:384)

    • Great quote Kieth. I see here a group of women who are dissatisfied with the Church and are starting their own group independently. That simply spells apostasy and is how every faction split from the Church starts. I guess we will have a WLDS Church start from this group down the road. Heck, can’t they go join the Community of Christ? They have women holding the priesthood there and are in leadership….

  13. Exponent II April

    I am surprised by all the negativity and false assumptions commenters are making about this camp. I can only guess that these commenters feel defensive because they feel like Jana was criticizing the camps they volunteer at or send their daughters to. If your camp really does focus on Christ instead of fixating on female apparel, than I don’t think you need to worry about that.

    I was thrilled with the values of kindness, faith, creativity and integrity that were emphasized at the feminist mormon girls camp (not to mention all the silly fun). I am glad the curriculum included teaching kids how to openly and constructively talk about and address sexist policies instead of shaming them for not being satisfied with the status quo.

    • False assumptions? Those who have expressed concern over this alternative camp are basing their comments on what its supporters have actually said about it. What’s to assume?

      With regard to the various teachings at camp, there is room for Christ and the atonement as well as reinforcing our Young Women values with regard to modest dress. How exactly is the teaching of modesty objectionable to feminists? I thought feminists preferred that women be looked at for who they are on the inside and not be objectified by men who prefer that they run around as immodest eye candy.

      Young Women’s Camp is supposed to strengthen our girls’ faith in Christ and their membership in His church. Encouraging them to agitate about allegedly “sexist policies” (in the Lord’s kingdom, our respective genders ARE essential characteristics of our pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose; see Family Proclamation) only serves to undermine faith, not deepen it.

      That’s not to say that some questions raised by women aren’t perfectly reasonable to bring up, such as the recent question of why women haven’t been asked to pray at General Conference sessions. A very reasonable question which resulted in a reasonable accommodation. After all, some things aren’t revelation things, but policy things. But when it comes to weightier matters dealing with revelation, I think people should be very careful in proclaiming that they know something better than the Lord’s prophet does, and that the church is somehow mismanaged if it doesn’t adopt all of their views. If something is really the Lord’s will, it will happen in the Lord’s good time. Our duty, if faithful membership in the church is something we strive for, is to sustain and support those He has established to guide us in these latter days.

      • “How exactly is the teaching of modesty objectionable to feminists?”

        You are obviously commenting on a feminist movement you know nothing about. Please read up on the “used chewing gum”, “licked cupcake”, and other common analogies taught in church before making any further comments. See what Elizabeth Smart had to say on the matter after she was kidnapped and raped and felt like that used piece of chewing gum. She and many other innocent victims feel this way because of the way modesty is taught in wards all over the world from examples in the church curriculum. The curriculum (along with many church policies) have changed a lot over the years as new revelations are received, manuals need updating, etc. This is one thing that still needs change. And it’s not apostate to want that change. I suggest actually reading up on feminist viewpoints before calling them all apostate. It’s a much more diverse and believing and faithful group than you might think.

        • Andy, please do not assume that which you cannot know. I am reasonably acquainted with the writings of several LDS feminists in recent years. I’m familiar with the hijacking of Elizabeth Smart’s comments about “used chewing gum,” which she attributed to a school teacher, not a Young Women’s leader. And to the extent that any particular YW teacher might employ such a metaphor, it ISN’T anything derived from the approved teaching materials of the church (good luck citing chapter and verse from actual curriculum, new or old, that can be reasonably labeled offensive), but rather the remarks of an individual in a non-professional ministry. Accepting for the sake of argument that the occasional YW teacher might use a lame metaphor to convey the virtues of modesty and chastity, that doesn’t mean that the church’s teachings on modesty require amendment. If the Lord’s church doesn’t emphasize various standards for our youth, the World certainly isn’t going to keep them above the fray.

          Since you claim that the church’s teachings on modesty “still needs change,” please share specifically what you think should be changed so we can have a frame of reference for discussion. Perhaps your idea of tweaking the standard is minor. Perhaps it is crazy. I can’t know unless you are clear. As for myself, I don’t consider it “apostate” to hope that the facial hair standards at BYU and for temple workers might someday change. But I don’t consider it important enough to agitate one way or the other.

          For the record, I haven’t called all feminist viewpoints apostate. Some of the great early General Relief Society presidents were amazing feminists in their own right. Based on my review of the lengthy series of “I feel unequal when…” statements which were put out by one of the feminist groups quite recently, I found that a few were quite reasonable, some are readily explainable and do not warrant change, some were based on a false understanding of how the church works, and others were outright indicative of flirting with apostasy.

          Yes, there is much diversity out there. But understand, not all views are equally valid nor compatible with the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. If one really believes that the LDS church is the Lord’s true church, many of these diverse views are incompatible.

          • The way modesty is taught still needs to change. I’m not talking about the doctrine itself. You try to explain these metaphors away as something maybe some rogue YW teacher said once. I have heard the licked cupcake metaphor and many more like it myself in church, as have many others. I take it as a cultural issue, but still a serious issue nonetheless. Use of these damaging metaphors is far more widespread than you have described. Official church manuals encourage teachers to make up and use their own metaphors while containing absolutely no warnings about these extremely common metaphors used throughout the church for many years that are so damaging.

            You can make all sorts of apologetic explanations for this, but it really is a cultural thing and it really is a problem in the church. Church leadership should update the manuals, send out letters, or do whatever they need to in order to correct the situation. With all the resources at their disposal and all their influence I’m sure they could do something to address this issue in the church. Yet they do nothing and give the same kind of answers you just gave. If this issue has been brought to their attention and nothing is done about it, I would not hesitate to call it a sin of omission. So many people have been harmed by this prevalent issue.

            I am also very opposed to the idea that men cannot control themselves and that in church culture the blame is so often shifted to the woman who dressed immodestly even though the man is the one who committed a sin. Even when I was 12 I could control my own thoughts and actions. It’s unfair for YW to receive the message over and over that all the YM will have uncontrollable sexual urges and sin and it will be the YW’s fault for not covering their shoulders or for having shorts an inch or two above the knee. Not to mention the unhealthy culture of modesty shaming YW have to live with while YM can have their shirts off and look as sexy as they want without people putting them down. On the other hand, a YW with sleeves that are a tad short gets all sorts of comments. Again a cultural issue, but again nothing is being done to address it. Intead, all sorts of rationalizations are put forth instead of admitting that something is wrong.

            You are right that many early Relief Society Presidents were amazing feminists and that there are many great women in the church today. It’s interesting that they were offered more freedom with regard to blessings of faith and even with oil that women today are widely discouraged from performing today. Over time, blessings have become a man’s job and blessings women performed such as when a sister was ready to deliver a baby were phased out. Many women gave blessings of faith during the pioneer days and afterwards, and those they blessed were healed. Now that is completely taboo. Policy change? Yes. Doctrinal change? I think not. Cultural change? Yes. Why couldn’t some things that came back with the restored church be re-implemented by revelation or policy change? It is not wrong for men and women to ask for changes, and change happens often in the church. To be clear, I’m not arguing that all women should hold the priesthood. I’m arguing that some policies need to change and some blessings that were previously available to women have been withdrawn, and that it is not apostate to ask for them. It is also not up to you to judge their intentions

            One other thing. You asked me to share my feelings on modesty so that you could judge whether my change would be minor or a crazy change. Just know that I have absolutely no need to pass my arguments through you for your judgement or justify myself to you. I try to leave it to God to judge. It’s fine if you don’t feel the need to agitate one way or another on the facial hair issue. But that doesn’t make it wrong for anyone else to. If someone wanted to do that, I would let them and not pass judgement on them or their intentions or try to prove them wrong.

  14. I have a daughter who is preparing to attend Oackrest Camp on Monday and our Stake Young Women’s Camp the following week. I am appalled that there are those wolves in ‘Young Women’s Leaders’ clothing that would subject stalwart, strong, young women to the teachings of men, mingled with scripture. This is nothing more than propaganda by leftist socialist apostates using The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s Young Women’s Program, (one of the strongest youth programs in the world) for their evil gain.

    I agree 100% with the following comments from the comment board following this ridiculous article: “Indeed, it seems as if the entire spiritual development point of YW Camp has been replaced by an underlying theme of sowing the seeds of future apostasy.”

    And, “From what I can deduce this is a “social justice” focused endeavor with a strong “activist” strain. Generally that would also mean “leftist” and I certainly picked up hints of that too. This is a political indoctrination camp. That would be fine with me as long as they left “Mormon” out of their appellation and didn’t attempt to appear to the world as an LDS Church-sponsored activity.”

    With “programs” like this, guess who is smiling? It isn’t Christ…..

      • There’s your sign.

        “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is a document from God that you cannot pick and choose parts to live by or not to live by. Same as the 10 Commandments. It’s either yes or no. It’s pretty cut and dry. You either sustain the Prophets who, by revelation, wrote it, or you pick only the convenient portions of it that meet your cause of activism and apostasy. There is no grey area in it.

        • Do you accept the First Presidency message under President George Albert Smith in its entirety stating that interracial marriage is contrary to church doctrine? Or the official First Presidency statement saying the reason why blacks didn’t have the priesthood at the time was because blacks had all made wrong choices in the pre-existence and thus were subject to limitations and prejudice their entire lives in this world? Stop being so quick to condemn. This is a living church where leaders sometimes make mistakes because they’re human.

          • It is fair to note that the canon of the LDS church is limited to the Standard Works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price). This is what faithful members of the church bind themselves to.

            The Family Proclamation, though issued under the combined action of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the church, has not been presented to the church for formal ratification to be elevated to the status of canon. But it is a difficult document to dismiss for those who raise their right hands at General, Stake, and Ward conferences every year to sustain these brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators. If we truly sustain them, then such a document deserves very serious consideration. Since its issuance in 1995, has any passage of scripture or other official document received more specific attention in the church than this one? And for what it’s worth, most LDS would probably consider the proclamation to have a good shot at eventually being added to the canon, a la The Articles of Faith, Official Declaration – 3, or as a new section in the D&C.

            In 2008 the First Presidency issued a statement, with a corresponding letter which was read to all congregations in California, asking the Saints to give their “best effort” to aid the passage of Proposition 8. While there are divided feelings among church members on the question of same-sex marriage, the question facing California Mormons was whether or not to follow the prophet anyway. Many responded to the prophet’s call, including members of families which are very specifically touched by this issue. Others chose to sit it out. Yet others actively opposed the prophet and his counselors. Was the First Presidency letter canon? No. But I do know where I want to stand when the Lord asks me how I responded to His prophets’ teachings.

            With regard to the First Presidency statement under George Albert Smith, the issue at hand was the fact that intermarriage would result in children ineligible for the priesthood at that time. The subsequent revelation known as Official Declaration-2 renders the previous statement irrelevant. That’s not to say that Latter-day Saints weren’t still counseled to avoid interracial marriage in general, but such counsel was largely out of concern for obstacles to a successful, compatible marriage, taking into account societal conditions at the time which were nowhere near as accepting of such things as they are today. There was never a prohibition.

            With regard to the reasons given for the priesthood ban, the fact of the matter is that nobody really knows. Latter-day Saints, including high ranking LDS leaders, offered all manner of speculation on the subject, largely shooting themselves in the foot in the process. But one should note that not one iota of speculation was ever in the canon either.

            In an interview with the Provo Daily Herald, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave probably the best response to this particular issue:

            “…It’s not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do we’re on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that…. The lesson I’ve drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it.

            “…I’m referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking.

            “…Let’s [not] make the mistake that’s been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that’s where safety lies.”

            So are LDS leaders fallible human beings? Yes. But we still rely upon the revelations that they receive. To the extent that their revelations are canonized, it’s a slam dunk for faithful Latter-day Saints. To the extent that their teachings are issued in the form of a First Presidency letter or a Proclamation from the First Presidency and/or Quorum of the Twelve, faithful Latter-day Saints aren’t exactly off the hook. Sustaining the brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators still carries serious weight.

            In the rush to demand that people not be so quick to condemn, I might offer that this same standard applies to those who are critical of the Lord’s anointed, as well as critical of their fellow Latter-day Saints who seek earnestly to sustain their leaders and to defend church teachings against views which seek to undermine them.

        • Actually, as much as you may like the proclamation, it is not a “revelation” per general conference talk by Pres. Packer, nor official doctrine per the LDS news room. I would advise you to get familiar with actual church doctrine, instead of making assumptions.

    • Please know that I don’t condemn you nor anyone else for having questions. My concerns are based primarily on aspects of the camp which, in my view, give participants the misguided impression that subversive activism in the Lord’s church is somehow desirable, and that modesty standards are anathema.

  15. I read with interest the article “Feminist Mormon Girls Camp” and it is all fine and good. I just might interject this, however. The Plan calls for a man to leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife to become “one flesh.” I have never attended a boys camp in my life where I was taught to embrace my differences over womanhood, or even “equally”. I was taught to respect, love, and honor women. This was done unfailingly. If your camp promotes “self”, then who defends against “men hating”? Do you protect against that? Just know that we men would love to turn it all over to the women. We would love to give the Priesthood to them, we would love to give the children and all of the responsibility to them…and then we are going to go golfing! Brash? Yes, but not far from the truth. So with all the promotion to these young women of “self” just remember that “self” will not get you to the highest reward that God offers ALL of his children…especially when the two overcome their differences to “become one.”

    Regards,

    Joe Tenney

    • You made me laugh Joe! I for one have been glad I’m a woman and I don’t have to hold the priesthood because it would be too much extra work — I have enough to do already! I’d much rather stay home and play with my kids than go to all the Sunday meetings many priesthood holders have to attend! If you ask me, we women got the better end of the bargain :)

  16. Dwight Rogers

    I do think that women are often undervalued by society but if there is any organization in the world which lifts women up and extols their virtues it’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was taught starting in primary and at every stage since then, about respecting and honoring girls and women and treating them right. The priesthood has lessons every year warning about abuse of women and how wrong it is and how women are our equals.

    The feminist movement is one of contradictions. We have seen feminists who want to burn their bras or go topless and yet they also want to fight against pornography and immodest dress as an exploitation of women by men.

    We have seen women who argue that they are better off without men and if you must have a husband then at least have no children. Instead, they say, be self fulfilled and do what you want to do – for you. It’s a me me me philosophy.

    One of the feminist mantras is “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Yet, later in life they wish they had a partner to grow old with and they wish they had grandchildren.

    Seems to me that a large part of the feminist movement is one of hostility – that is – it’s a movement with an us-against-them attitude. The anti-man element of the feminist movement brings to mind its male counterpart which is called male chauvinism. As a man, I don’t want to be a male chauvinist and I can’t understand why a woman would want to be a feminist. I am not saying that there are no good elements within the feminist movement but all branches of the feminist movement are not equal. Let’s not be feminists or male shauvinists. Let’s be men and women working together as partners. That’s what the LDS Church teaches. I can build something with nuts and bolts. I can’t build anything if I have only bolts. I can’t build anything if I have only nuts. Men and women tend to complement each other and each can make up for a deficiency in the other making a better life together than they can separately. Old fashioned traditional rolls usually turn out to work better after all.

    • christer1979

      I can certainly appreciate that feminism appears contradictory. Something the helped me make sense of all the various messages was the realize that this is not a monolithic movement. It’s much more similar to something like Christianity, in that there are some shared basic beliefs but a whole lot varied and contradictory tenets. I can appreciate a specific accusation that a specific feminist is hypocritical, but to decry the entire movement as such simply by picking and choosing different speakers and sayings from the movement doesn’t seem quite fair. Similarly, it wouldn’t be fair to say Mormonism is contradictory by juxtaposing some of the more controversial statements of Brigham Young to the more racial diversity friendly teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley.

  17. Dwight Rogers

    Speaking of men’s treatment of women in the church president Gordon B. Hinkley said taught the following (from July 2002 Ensign Magazine)

    “Section 121 goes on to say: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
    “By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41–42).

    “Our behavior in public must be above reproach. Our behavior in private is even more important. It must clear the standard set by the Lord. We cannot indulge in sin, let alone try to cover our sins. We cannot gratify our pride. We cannot partake of the vanity of unrighteous ambition. We cannot exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion upon our wives or children, or any others in any degree of unrighteousness.

    “The wife you choose will be your equal. Paul declared, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11).

    “In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority. The woman does not walk ahead of the man; neither does the man walk ahead of the woman. They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey.

    “She is not your servant, your chattel, nor anything of the kind.

    “How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse. Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood. Though he may have been ordained, the heavens will withdraw, the Spirit of the Lord will be grieved, and it will be amen to the authority of the priesthood of that man.

    “Any man who engages in this practice is unworthy to hold a temple recommend.

    “I regret to say that I see too much of this ugly phenomenon. There are men who cuff their wives about, both verbally and physically. What a tragedy when a man demeans the mother of his children.

    “My brethren, if there be any within the sound of my voice who are guilty of such behavior, I call upon you to repent. Get on your knees and ask the Lord to forgive you. Pray to Him for the power to control your tongue and your heavy hand. Ask for the forgiveness of your wife and your children.” (Gordon B. Hinkley, Ensign, July 2002)

    The following is from a talk given by the president of the LDS Church and is typical of what I believe and typical of what I have been repeatedly and consistently taught all my life in the Church:

    Gordon B. Hinkley
    Now, we have a very diverse group to whom I am speaking. This includes young women who are still in school or who are working. You are single. You are hoping to catch that perfect man. I have yet to see one who is perfect. Aim high, but do not aim so high that you totally miss the target. What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are that you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy. (To The Women of the Church, Ensign, Nov. 2003)

  18. Dwight Rogers

    As I stated above, the Lords plan for men and women, as stated by ancient prophets and modern prophets, is one of equality and partnership between men and women and centered around Jesus Christ and the Atonement. A program which mimics the Lords program can only be inferior and at best, an imitation. And, most likely it will distract people as a counterfeit and lead people away from the Church. There is no need for man-made programs when we have a program from the Lord.

    President Spencer W. Kimball taught:
    “We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us. Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences-with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood-but the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord {see 1 Corinthians 11:11) . Remember, in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 315-316; quoted in M. Catherine Thomas, “Women, Priesthood, and the At-One-Ment,” Spiritual Lightening (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 48-49.)

    The Lord taught that we must serve each other: He [and she] who would be the greatest must be the servant. (See Luke 22: 26-27; Matthew 20:26-27)

  19. I would like to thank all the commenters here who object to feminist girls camp so strongly. Your arguments and reasoning do more to make feminism look reasonable and necessary than any evidence we could come up with on our own.

      • As if it is something new that men revere our Father’s daughters, and that we tell them so? Perhaps it is a few of the women who have either forgotten how special they already are, and have been from the very beginning, or they are unfortunate that the men in their lives have been neglectful in expressing this truth as much as they should.

        • TomW, You’re missing the entire point. Putting women on a pedestal has the opposite effect of actually listening to their concerns and just makes things worse. It also appears that you’re trying to trivialize feminists saying their concerns stem from men neglecting to tell them how special they are? That’s a load of crap if i ever saw one.

          • Righteous women don’t need men to place them on a pedestal. They’re already there. As for the concerns of some of these feminist women, much of them ARE entirely trivial. I’ve read the exhaustive list of “I feel unequal when…” statements that one of the groups put out. Talk about loads of crap. We should all, male and female, seek to align our will with God rather than supposing that He should align His divine will to ours.

  20. Even This Out

    I have to laugh as most of the objections to this “alternative ” girls camp come from MEN . Do they feel their”priesthood” and “authority” threatened in some way ?
    I only wish something like this existed when I was a YW and a YW camp counsellor.
    Good for you leaders who organized this camp , at last…a camp that shows young girls that they can be who they WANT to be, and not be afraid to pursue a career or any other walk of life that matches the inner feelings of their heart.
    As for quoting “The Lords Annointed” several times in several posts, is a way of trying to guilt the leaders of this camp into thinking they are somehow not following the Lord by not indoctrinating young women to be nothing more than baby making machines at the will of husbands trying to keep them “in their place”
    Hurrah for such a camp that teach these young women to be strong and to be nobody’s doormat, way overdue in my opinion.
    To the men throwing out the suggestion, if you are not following the churches YW program, you are in serious error of your ways is a ploy to keep women in line.
    You know what ? Helen Mar Kimball was a YW, just 14 years old when Joseph Smith and her father Heber C Kimball coerced her into marrying Joseph Smith, under spiritual threat, that her family’s salvation depended on this marriage…..Oh if only a YW program like this had existed back then, poor Helen Mar Kimball might have stood a better chance in life.
    Go forth you brilliant mormon feminist camp,I’ll be sure and let any young woman I can know there is a camp out there that won’t suppress their thoughts and ideas just because they are girls.

    • Even This Out – You get what you get when random people respond to online articles. I can assure you, though I suspect you already know this, that the overwhelming majority of active Latter-day Saint women are squarely aligned with the Lord’s program as presently constituted, and are neither interested in nor impressed with faux alternatives proferred by those with an admittedly subversive activist bent to their church affiliation.

      Speaking for myself, the priesthood isn’t mine that I should feel threatened in any way. It belongs to the Father to delegate as He will.

      I think it is a preposterous suggestion that the LDS church and its programs would thwart a young woman from becoming anything that she wants to become insofar that it is compatible with discipleship and our eternal identity and purpose.

      I am reminded of the following passage from 2 Nephi 9:28-29:

      “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”

      There are some in the LDS church who think they know more about the Lord’s plan for His children than those He has prepared, called, and anointed to lead His kingdom. Thus they set aside those things which are designed for the spiritual development of our sons and daughters aside, supposing they know better for themselves, resulting in foolishness which will not profit those who are intended to be profited (their self-opinion of the matter notwithstanding).

      When it comes to programs and activities for the Young Women of the church, the direction from the prophet and his counselors in the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Young Women General Presidency, and those with stewardship for the Young Women among stake and ward leadership – these are the men and women in whom the Lord has entrusted our daughters’ development within the church.

      I’m sorry that some folks seemingly take issue with the reality that the Lord HAS called and anointed some of His sons and daughters to take leadership roles in preparing our youth for their future responsibilities in His kingdom, though it is not surprising that offense to such a thing would come from certain of the enthusiastic supporters of this alternative camp for girls.

      But it is the height of absurdity to criticize those who seek to align their discipleship with the inspired direction of the Lord’s chosen leaders as “trying to guilt the leaders of this camp into thinking they are somehow not following the Lord by not indoctrinating young women to be nothing more than baby making machines at the will of husbands trying to keep them ‘in their place.’”

      Not only is this comment insulting and insane, completely void of reality, but the hostility expressed by such an comment (wildly inaccurate as it is) illustrates clearly the contempt that someone with such an opinon holds for the church and its leaders. As such, why exactly would the faithful membership of the church wish to expose their children to such an element? And for that matter, to the extent that supporters of the camp wish to retain any illusion that they aren’t flirting or outright engaging with apostasy, where is their denunciation of such a view lest anyone wrongfully draw the conclusion that they are in agreement?

      • I’m an active member, but if I had to listen to your long-winded, condescending, arrogant, dismissive rants each week in Sunday School I’d probably go apostate just to get away from you. Just sayin’…

        • Based on the disdain expressed by some for the leaders of the church from Joseph Smith to the present day, I would suggest that it isn’t exactly a distant trip.

    • Dwight Rogers

      It never ceases to amaze me how people re-write history. The apostle Paul, in the New Testament also said that people’s salvation depended on their being obedient to God. . He gives lists of sinful behavior such as adultery, fornication, lying, and so forth, and says that people who do these will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For instance see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.) Likewise other prophets had to obey specific commandments:

      Noah (but no other prophet) was to build an Ark (Genesis 6:14) Noah’s temporal and spiritual salvation depended on his obedience to this command. We don’t have to build an ark today.

      Hosea was commanded to marry a prostitute as a sign to Israel (Hosea 1:1-3).

      I guess, according to you, God coerced Noah and Hosea, but what God commanded was still correct.

      How about we let Helen Mar Kimball speak for herself:

      In a book entitled “A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History.” Helen Mar Kimball writes concerning her marriage to the Prophet Joseph Smith:

      “I have long since learned to leave all with [God], who knoweth better than ourselves what will make us happy. I am thankful that He has brought me through the furnace of affliction & that He has condesended to show me that the promises made to me the morning that I was sealed to the Prophet of God will not fail & I would not have the chain broken for I have had a view of the principle of eternal salvation & the perfect union which this sealing power will bring to the human family & with the help of our Heavenly Father I am determined to so live that I can claim those promises.” (Holzapfel, 487)

      Helen said:

      “I did not try to conceal the fact of its having been a trial, but confessed that it had been one of the severest of my life; but that it had also proven one of the greatest of blessings. I could truly say it had done the most towards making me a Saint and a free woman, in every sense of the word; and I knew many others who could say the same, and to whom it had proven one of the greatest boons–a ‘blessing in disguise.’” (GDS, p. 201-202; citing Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 500)

      “[A]fter spending one of the happiest days of my life I was moved upon to talk to my mother. I knew her heart was weighed down in sorrow and I was full of the holy Ghost. I talked as I never did before, I was too weak to talk with such a voice (of my own strength), beside, I never before spoke with such eloquence, and she knew that it was not myself. She was so affected that she sobbed till I ceased. I assured her that father loved her, but he had a work to do, she must rise above her feelings and seek for the Holy Comforter, and though it rent her heart she must uphold him, for he in taking other wives had done it only in obedience to a holy principle. Much more I said, and when I ceased, she wiped her eyes and told me to rest. I had not felt tired till she said this, but commenced then to feel myself sinking away. I silently prayed to be renewed, when my strength returned that instant…

      “I have encouraged and sustained my husband in the celestial order of marriage because I knew it was right. At various times I have been healed by the washing and annointing, administered by the mothers in Israel. I am still spared to testify to the truth and Godliness of this work; and though my happiness once consisted in laboring for those I love, the Lord has seen fit to deprive me of bodily strength, and taught me to ‘cast my bread upon the waters’ and after many days my longing spirit was cheered with the knowledge that He had a work for me to do, and with Him, I know that all things are possible… “

      • Make sure you are not rewriting history either. Helen Mar Kimball was not commanded to marry Joseph Smith, so this was not a matter of obedience.

        Also in Helen Mar Kimball’s own words from A Woman’s View:
        “Just previous to my father’s starting upon his last mission but one, to the Eastern States, he taught me the principle [p. 1] of Celestial marriage, & having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet, Joseph, he offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet’s own mouth” (Holzapfel, Appendix 1).

        A little further down the page:
        “I will pass over the temptations which I had during the twenty four hours after my father introduced to me this principle & asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph, who came next morning & with my parents I heard him teach & explain the principle of [p. 1] Celestial marrage-after which he said to me, “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation & that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.

        This promise was so great that I will-ingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart—when Joseph asked her if she was willing, she replied “If Helen is willing I have nothing more to say.” She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come as the sun was to rise and set; but it was all hidden from me.”

        She makes it clear that this marriage was incredibly difficult for her and her mother and that the only reason she endured was because she would be rewarded in the next life. Only later, after the death of JS and while in a happier marriage did she look back and say the good stuff you posted. There are many explanations for this change of heart, a lot of them not unlike Stockholm syndrome…

        It’s also interesting that the quote you gave mentions her being “healed by the washing and annointing, administered by the mothers in Israel”. I’m glad you brought up the practice that existed for many years in the church of Relief Society women anointing and blessing other sisters ready to give birth. Some time in the future, this practice became taboo along with the practice of women administering blessings of faith to heal others and participating in family blessings by laying their hands on family members alongside their husbands (look this up in official church sources if you don’t believe me). In fact, the early church gave women MANY more rights and privilege than it does now. This is part of what feminism hopes to bring to light so that policy might be changed as it has been many times in the past. Some policy changes in the church were because of specific revelation while others were simply artifacts of the time they were enacted and could use some revision. I hope you don’t have the arrogance to deny feminists a voice on these issues or proclaim them apostate before they are heard by the Church.

        • Dwight Rogers

          Hi Andy,

          I was replying to “Even This Out” who stated of Helen that Joseph “coerced her into marrying Joseph Smith, under spiritual threat, that her family’s salvation depended on this marriage.” Your citation further supports my point that Helen and family were not coerced as “Even This Out” alleges. Joseph did not tell the Kimball family that their salvation was in jeopardy if they did not comply (a negative motivation); rather, Joseph said “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation,” which is quite a positive encouragement – hardly coercion. And Helen responded with “This promise was so great that I will-ingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.” Again, hardly coercion but rather a choice between alternatives – kind of similar to Jesus and the Apostles telling people that they had to do certain things to enter into the Kingdom of God (for instance see (Mark 10:21; Luke 18:20-22) and if they did other certain things they could not enter into the Kingdom of god (for instance see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

          Regarding washings and anointing and so forth – yes, I am quite aware of those things in Church history. I see no problem there. God has always varied what he required of his people. Abraham was required to prove his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. God doesn’t tell us we have to do that.

          The history of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, is one of ongoing revelations to prophets and Apostles. God directed His work and some things were changed over time according to God’s will.

          Noah (but no other prophet) was to build an Ark (Genesis 6:14)

          Moses implemented the Passover, which was hitherto unknown (Exodus 3:12-28)

          Jesus revoked the celebration of Passover, and modified the ordinance and its performance at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19)

          Hosea was commanded to marry a prostitute as a sign to Israel (Hosea 1:1-3)

          • While Helen did make the choice willingly, there are the uncomfortable realities that her father wanted this done just to join the two families, and that she was rushed into the decision within 48 hours along with a long discussion about celestial marriage, an entirely new doctrine to her. She was not coerced (directly, that is. There could be arguments made about whether this kind of pressure to marry with so little time for the doctrine to sink in and for the decision to be made could be considered a form of coercion). But it was also not a commandment to marry JS as you asserted. The obedience argument is fine, but you seem a little trigger-happy with it from what I’ve seen of your posts. I believe in studying things out for myself, asking God, etc. to find out the truth rather than just jumping to an obedience end-all argument. That argument has been used way too often for evil in the world. It is also commonly used to shut others down without considering what they have to say or why they’re saying it. Not the best for open discussion or for really trying to learn about our Savior and his commandments. A lot of the time there is a subtler, deeper more beautiful answer that is missed when we jump to the obedience argument.

            I also have no problem with womens’ washings, annointings, healings, etc. although I think they were a blessing more than a chore as the Jacob/Issac story makes it sound. I also do not think there were any new revelations that ended this practice, just slow policy changes over time. I would welcome these practices back into the church. If women agitate for these changes, I will not try to prove them wrong or silence them with obedience arguments just because the idea seems strange today. That’s what I see people doing with mormon feminism today, and it’s not ok.

          • Dwight Rogers

            ” I believe in studying things out for myself, asking God, etc. to find out the truth rather than just jumping to an obedience end-all argument.”

            Good for you. That’s what you should do.

            Whether Helen made the decision too fast or not, or whether or not she asked God and got an answer or not, is not for us to assume. We should let her tell her own story. She wrote two books defending plural marriage and she spoke of both the trial but also said it was one of the “greatest of blessings.” I find no evidence that she was coerced.

            Nobody ends up worse off for being obedient to God. I think it would be pretty hard to over-emphasis the blessing of obedience to God.

  21. Even This Out

    Thank you for your comments Andy…Helen Mar Kimball as a YW was NOT happy about the situation of marrying JS, she speaks of having to miss out on lots of activities with her peers because now she was the wife of JS. It was a terrible situation forced upon a 14 year old, who basically had no choice.

    Tom W ~ Yes you are right. I cannot in good conscience EVER subject any girl to follow such an idea as this……

    “Young women you will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood. … You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights.” ~ Elaine S Dalton, Jan 15, 2013

    Understand my role ???? .”no need to lobby for rights” ???? If that’s the calibre of leadership we have today in the YW program. it’s a sad reflection indeed of what our YW have to put up with.
    Elaine S Dalton should be ashamed of herself for making such a comment

    I am curious though Tom W …..If T.S. Monson announced tomorrow that polygamy was back in, would you support it? …..and if he asked you if you would have a talk with your daughter and coerce her into marrying him…would you do it ? Or would you do what any normal father would do and defend his daughter?

    Poor Helen Mar did not have a good dad, he sold her happiness down the river for the chance of being connected to JS, through his daughters marriage.He’s an embarrassment of a father for doing such a thing.

    I’m glad for this feminist Mormon YW camp~ at last a camp that is actually interesting for the YW ~ If you have any doubt of the churches agenda for the YW ~ re read Elaine S Dalton’s quote above, and ask yourself if you support what she says ….sadly many will.

    • Thank you so much, Even This Out, for your post. Without you, I would not have had the pleasure of reading the inspired words of one of the Lord’s called and anointed leaders for His precious young women, Elaine Dalton. I’ve had the good pleasure of meeting her a few years ago when she visited our stake’s Girl’s Camp. I served a mission with her niece, and we had a great conversation about all manner of things. A truly delightful woman of God. I heartily endorse her remarks at the January 15, 2013, BYU Devotional from which your carefully edited quote of disdain are derived: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=2092

      Here’s the entire paragraph in question:

      “Young women, you will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood. You will continue to be virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, and of good report. You will also be the ones who will provide the example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined, and disintegrating. You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights.”

      What, pray tell, is so ominous and sinister about teaching our young women that they “will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood.” Why wouldn’t we want our young women to be such examples?

      Why omit Dalton’s comment, “You will continue to be virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, and of good report”? It follows the sentence immediately preceding it quite well. Perhaps you were concerned that other readers might not find anything particularly scandalous about it?

      And why omit Dalton’s comment, “You will also be the ones who will provide the example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined, and disintegrating”?

      Does “family life” so offend you? Does it bother you to hear about families being “under attack, being redefined, and disintegrating” because you consider the redefinition and disintegration of families as being in harmony with feminist dogma which is pained at the thought of traditional families and roles?

      It is understandable why the final sentence of that paragraph would offend fans of the feminist girls camp, because Dalton embraces and extols the divinely appointed roles and responsibilities of women in our Heavenly Father’s plan, and straightforwardly dismisses the agitators on the fringe of LDS life who “lobby for rights” which in many cases are incompatible with the teachings of the church. Her comments are in full harmony with the teachings of the prophets and apostles as well as the general leadership of the Relief Society and Young Women’s organizations and the Family Proclamation.

      I am proud that this is “the calibre of leadership we have today in the YW program.” It is a wonderful reflection of the great leadership the Lord has raised up to guide His precious daughters. Elaine Dalton is getting a high five from me if I ever see her again.

      When the YW leadership changed at the last General Conference, I was pleased with the calling of Carol McConkie as one of the new counselors. I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know her and her husband when they served in the California San Jose Mission a few years ago. They are honorable, faithful, inspired people. The young women of the church are indeed fortunate to continue to benefit from such inspired leadership.

      With regard to polygamy, my answer is no different than it would be for any other revelation in the kingdom. I stand with Joshua, who proclaimed: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

      I personally do not hope for a return of polygamy in this life. As challenges go, it would rank with Abraham’s instruction to slay his beloved son Isaac. But it my firm conviction to strive to follow the prophet in all things. And following the prophet in only the simple things is hardly a test of discipleship. The measure of a true man, and of a true woman, is the willingness to follow the prophet when we are asked to do difficult things – especially those things we least enjoy and struggle to understand.

      Since the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about agency, coercion would never enter the picture. If one of my two daughters were to be asked by the Lord’s prophet to enter into a polygamous union, the decision would be entirely theirs. The prophet Joseph Smith taught, “I teach them
      correct principles and they govern themselves.” There is no coercion in this church.

      I have no doubts of the church’s agenda for our young women. It is glorious. It is ennobling. They will raise righteous generations because they know the truth, and they love it.

      I am reminded of a quote from C.S. Lewis, who said, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…”

      So it is with our valiant young women. We live in the society of future goddesses, developing into the divine women which people will indeed desire to worship.

      A few paragraphs later in the same devotional cited above, Dalton says, “We are being invited to take part in the greatest race there has ever been. Make prophetic priorities your priorities. Dedicate yourself to discipleship. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too young. Seek the Holy Ghost. Become more fit for the kingdom and go forward with confidence.”

      Among the faithful still following along with this discussion, the words of Elaine Dalton will resonate quite pleasantly. We must indeed “make prophetic priorities [our] priorities.” We must “dedicate [ourselves] to discipleship.” As we do so, the kingdom of God will continue to roll forth stronger than ever, and future generations will look back on the young women of our day and call them blessed.

    • Dwight Rogers

      Helen herself does not say that it was forced upon her. Those are your words not hers. You are free to speak for yourself. You are not free to speak for Helen and change what she said. And according to your logic poor Isaac, He did not have a good dad. Abraham tried to kill him so he could be connected to God. And Jesus didn’t have a good dad either because his dad let him be killed too – according to your logic.

      The truth is that God has required various different trials of his people. See my post above to Andy. Helen was faithful in her trial and she says that she was thankful for her trials. She said it had “proven one of the greatest of blessings” You put word in her mouth when you claim that she was coerced. Helen replied to Joseph Smith that “This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.” She said “willingly,” – her words. She never used the word “coerced.”

      Helen said:

      “I have long since learned to leave all with [God], who knoweth better than ourselves what will make us happy. I am thankful that He has brought me through the furnace of affliction & that He has condesended to show me that the promises made to me the morning that I was sealed to the Prophet of God will not fail & I would not have the chain broken for I have had a view of the principle of eternal salvation & the perfect union which this sealing power will bring to the human family & with the help of our Heavenly Father I am determined to so live that I can claim those promises.” (Holzapfel, “A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History.” 487)

      Helen said:

      “I did not try to conceal the fact of its having been a trial, but confessed that it had been one of the severest of my life; but that it had also proven one of the greatest of blessings. I could truly say it had done the most towards making me a Saint and a free woman, in every sense of the word; and I knew many others who could say the same, and to whom it had proven one of the greatest boons–a ‘blessing in disguise.’” (GDS, p. 201-202; citing Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 500)

  22. Even This out

    First of all I stand by what I said about Elaine Daltons comments ~ As you will note I neither said anything about her comment on families or of being virtuous or of good report etc etc , as you remember THIS is the quote that I commented on
    You will understand your ROLES and your RESPONSIBILITIES and thus will see NO NEED TO LOBBY FOR RIGHTS.” .

    (Capitals added for the words I am focusing on)

    I stand by what I said ~ that to teach young women they should not lobby for rights ….invites them to not stand up for justice when they see un just behaviour either to themselves or others, to stay silent when they feel strongly about an issue ~ tell me WHY should they NOT lobby for rights if they feel they need to either on behalf of themselves or others ?

    Tell me why also should another person tell the YW what their ROLE or RESPONSIBILITY is based entirely upon their gender ? What if they don’t agree with that role being forced upon them? What if they actually wanted to practice what the church is always preaching “free agency”. they should be allowed to do that, without feeling pressured to marry young if they so desire to get an education and have a career ……I’ll say what you said to me with a different slant, does women having careers offend you ?

    As for following the prophet ~ I would question some things , prophets are NOT perfect and they make mistakes too , we are not expected to follow the prophet blindly, even some of the recent prophets have tried to distance themselves from some of the outrageous things Brigham Young has said in the past.

    If we follow prophets /leaders blindly , that’s when tragedies like Waco, Jim Jones (Peoples Temple ) and 9/11 happen…God gave me a brain, i’m pretty sure HE dosen’t want me to just accept everything leaders say blindly
    If it feels wrong, then people have the right to say it feels wrong without their “faithfulness” being questioned , or are we just paying lip service when we state we believe in “Free Agency” ?

    • If this is the Lord’s true church, then there are no “rights” to be lobbying for whether male or female. The Lord’s kingdom is a divine monarchy directed by Christ, not a secular club subject to the shifting winds of mortal opinion.

      We speak a lot about “duty” and “responsibility” and “stewardship” in the church. The concept of “rights” as often understood in the world of secular politics and government is fairly alien to a church directed by God.

      All of us, whether young women, young men, or old fuddy-duddies of either persuasion, should absolutely “stand up for justice” if an authentic injustice is taking place. But I’ve seen the litany of “I feel unequal when…” statements put out by some of the LDS feminists and have found most of them to be ridiculous and in many cases misrepresentative of reality. Not one of them rationally falls under the category of an injustice.

      You ask, “why also should another person tell the YW what their ROLE or RESPONSIBILITY is based entirely upon their gender?”

      How about because in the LDS church we believe that the Lord has called people into various positions which ask them to do just that? Such a criticism absolutely dismisses the concept that God may actually have designed men and women with different, complementary roles which are intended to be exercised together for the mutual blessing of both. Perhaps it is intended that we be humble, and accept that all of us are incomplete and fall short of God’s intended purpose for His children without each other and our respective strengths and roles. If we believe that this is the Lord’s church and not just a ragtag group of people who believe in Christ but largely make things up as we go along, then perhaps it is significant that the united First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have taught that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

      You ask, what if people “don’t agree with that role being forced upon them?” If indeed the LDS church is true, then part of the doctrine includes that we agreed to the entire package of mortality before we ever came here. It was Satan’s plan which forced things upon us, not the Lord’s plan. Whether or not we have a bright recollection of the pre-existence, gender was an essential characteristic of our individual premortal identity and purpose, and by virtue of being here, we have accepted the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Had we rejected these roles, we wouldn’t be here to begin with.

      You ask, “What if they actually wanted to practice what the church is always preaching ‘free agency’. they should be allowed to do that, without feeling pressured to marry young if they so desire to get an education and have a career”

      Nobody ever said anything about relinquishing one’s agency. We will always have the right to choose between the Lord’s kingdom and the world’s alternatives. Such was the very substance of the war in heaven. That doesn’t mean that choosing alternatives to the Lord’s plan is wise, however. And not only is there no requirement to marry young, but the leaders of the church have been adamant about the importance of obtaining an education. It is good to be prepared for a career, albeit men and women should be mindful about prioritizing career and wealth over faith and family. One of the greatest pieces of counsel I have ever received was from my current Stake President, who once instructed our Elders Quorum that it is better to be a “steady performer” at the office so that one is productive and can earn a decent living to provide for one’s family and to fulfill one’s callings, but to be wary of becoming an all-star, whereby one is so absorbed with high performance at work that everything else is diminished. So long as men and women have their overall priorities in place, and husbands and wives are on the same page with their eternal companions, there are no issues with regard to education and career.

      I guess that positions me to respond to the next comment, “does women having careers offend you?”

      No.

      If someone were to come to me for counsel, however, I would give the same to a man or a woman: Our families should strive to be self-sufficient and we need to keep a roof over our heads and food in the pantry. But be careful not to prioritize the acquisition of things over spending time with the family, both in terms of spiritual development as well as recreation.

      It is true that we are not to follow the prophets blindly. But we ARE to follow them with our eyes wide open. Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke of this in the April 1983 General Conference wherein he stated:

      “… Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.

      “We are the sons and daughters of God, willing followers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ‘under this head are [we] made free.’ (Mosiah 5:8.)

      “Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.” (Boyd K. Packer, Agency and Control, Conference Report April 1983; http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1983/04/agency-and-control?lang=eng)

      The question is not whether or not prophets are human beings. The LDS church does not have an equivalent to the concept of papal infallibility. Joseph Smith himself famously taught that “a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such.” Thus there is a certain measure of importance in understanding the circumstances under which a prophet is indeed “acting as such” (which I would submit includes those rare occasions when he puts forth a document under the signature of the First Presidency and the Twelve, though it is fair to note that actual canon takes things a step further by being voted upon).

      Yet Latter-day Saints should be cautious in picking and choosing what they wish to stomach from a living prophet, because for all intents and purposes they are the ones we most need to watch, as per the following account shared by Wilford Woodruff:

      “I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living prophets and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: ‘You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.’

      “When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham I want you to go to the podium and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation; ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.’” (Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18–19.)

      Was Joseph correct that Brother Brigham taught the word of the Lord and the truth? I say yes.

      President Benson expanded upon this while he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

      “God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore the most important prophet so far as you and I are concerned is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each month in our Church Magazines. Our instructions about what we should do for each six months are found in the General Conference addresses which are printed in the Church magazine.

      “Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” Ensign June 1981; http://www.lds.org/liahona/1981/06/fourteen-fundamentals-in-following-the-prophet?lang=eng)

      Again, nobody is saying to follow anything blind. But we should nonetheless be following with our eyes wide open. If Christ, being perfect, humbled Himself before the Father and stated, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42), can we not attempt to emulate His example and set aside what we think is best in our limited concept of eternal propriety and submit our will to the Father as well?

      A pattern I have adopted for my own life that I recommend to others is this. If ever something comes along in the church which is contrary to how I might prefer something to be, or think it should be, I will take into account a lifetime of spiritual confirmations regarding the truthfulness of the church and implement whatever the new thing happens to be in my life without hesitation. I will THEN go to the Lord in prayer and ask for understanding with regard to the new thing so that I can know for myself that it is right. I have never emerged from the experience conflicted. But I have emerged from the experience with a greater appreciation for the workings of the Spirit and the Lord’s guidance of His leaders in the church.

      • The “I feel unequal when…” statements were written by one woman. She even says it is a partial list and not representative of all feminists. Just because you have justified all the injustices to yourself, this does not make them go away.

        If you deny pressure to marry young, you are obviously very, very out of touch with BYU YSA ward culture in the last few years. I actually laughed out loud at the thought.

        There is a lot of pressure to get married. This is not just any pressure. It’s the kind that gets worse every year, where marriage is brought up every single Sunday, where bishops place pictures of ward members on the blackboard into sections labelled “Engaged, Dating, and Not Dating”, where official dating committees spring up all across the Utah Valley, where personal priesthood interviews end with a commitment to date weekly, where couples are told they must go to the man’s ward if they attend together so he can attend to his duties (regardless of the woman’s calling), where suit coats are collected every third hour to take to the poor women of relief society who are in desperate need of warmth and a man’s musky scent, where bishops announce the brilliant suggestions from their latest meeting with “the brethren” who are concerned students at BYU aren’t dating enough or getting married as soon as they used to, where it doesn’t matter who you marry or if you’re even attracted to them because as long as you’re both worthy you’ll make it to heaven and that’s all that really matters, where your bishop will set you up on dates and his wife will email you lists of compatible matches (These are all personal experiences from several student wards I’ve attended at BYU). It’s that kind of pressure.

        Just because there’s no official church doctrine to marry young doesn’t mean the pressure isn’t there. And just because you can try to justify or explain away feminist concerns doesn’t mean the church wouldn’t be better off if they were listened to.

        • Andy, you comment that those statements of inequality “were written by one woman” and that she “says it is a partial list and not representative of all feminists.”

          The fact of the matter is that those statements have been widely circulated by LDS feminists. By all means, the possibility exists that people might come up with even more items, but volume isn’t necessarily quality.

          You comment, “Just because you have justified all the injustices to yourself, this does not make them go away.”

          Guess what? There isn’t anything to justify. Invalid arguments require no justification.

          With regard to pressure to marry, there’s a difference between encouraging courtship and marriage for Young Single Adults, and pressuring people to marry young. Nobody is running around pressuring teenage girls to marry. (If anything, they’re being pressured by their peers these days to serve missions.) While everyone’s experience may be a little different, you’re probably not seeing any serious pressure to marry until the later 20’s.

          As to how the church would be better off, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that it is less important that the church listen to its feminists than that the church’s feminists listen more to God.

          But I welcome the discussion of allegedly valid concerns. Of particular interest would be concerns which are compatible with a testimony that Christ is indeed the head of the LDS church and that He leads it via living prophets whose teachings are to be received with the gravity warranted by such a divine calling.

          • You must not have read my post correctly. This is pressure to marry, and it’s aimed mostly at 20-24 year-olds. I never said it was pressuring teens to marry, just that there is a very real and intense pressure to marry young. It is not just “encouragement”. I love how you try to tell me what I’m experiencing.

            I can’t even believe you just called all of those “I feel unequal when” arguments invalid. Earlier you said some merit discussion. I believe some are in fact injustices. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the church would be better off if members and leadership didn’t shut down feminist concerns as invalid when they “merit discussion”.

            You do not welcome discussion. You welcome your own voice spouting quotes without really listening. Just because the theoretical church in your head may be perfect, this does not always translate to real life.

            Here are some real issues facing the church: http://www.wheatandtares.org/5386/gen-x-and-church-attrition

            I agree with this excerpt wholeheartedly:
            “6. Doubters not welcome. Young people in the article felt that church is not a safe place to express doubt and that their church’s response to doubts is trivial and inadequate. For some, doubts are linked to depression. Given #5 on this list, if doubters are not accepted, it can mean doubters feel marginalized, like outsiders in an exclusive club.
            LDS Parallels: On the downside, the church has a strong culture of how to express beliefs; expressing doubts in the church is discouraged and can be risky. Doubters often report encountering hostility. We would do a better job in focusing on seeking after truth rather than declaring that we corner the market on it. On the upside, members come to blogs to chat about their cognitive dissonance and cultural disconnect! Grade: D+”

            And an article on the extremely high attrition rate and low retention rate in today’s church:
            http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-mormonchurch-idUSTRE80T1CM20120131

            Your extremely defensive stance and dismissive responses are only making things worse. Members of the church need to be listened to and engaged in actual discussion about their concerns, not to be dismissed. I don’t care where you judge their testimony to be at. No one’s testimony is perfect. Church culture is very stifling in this regard and pushes many members out who might otherwise remain and strengthen their testimonies.

          • The statement I took issue with was, “pressure to marry young,” which is significantly different from the general atmosphere of promoting marriage among those of returned missionary age.

            To the extent that there is any soft pressure aimed at 20-24 year-olds, it pales compared with the pressure applied to those still single beyond those years.

            It is true that the LDS church actively promotes marriage and starting families at ages younger than the general population. According to a Wikipedia story on the matter, “In 2005, the average American man married at age 25 while the average American woman married at age 27. However, at BYU, the average age at first marriage is about 22 years old.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_life_at_Brigham_Young_University#cite_note-clark-17) The BYU marriage age figure may be inaccurate for a couple of reasons. One, it is the result of a guy doing an independent survey on campus as part of a class, and who knows how blind his sampling of fellow students was. And two, the figures are about eight years old and will certainly be impacted upward by the number of LDS women who will now elect to serve missions, taking a fair number of 18-20 year-olds off the market. (See http://universe.byu.edu/2005/10/03/byu-marriage-rates-higher-than-national-average/)

            I don’t know what is so difficult to believe that someone would generally categorize the bulk of the “I feel unequal when…” statements invalid. I certainly don’t consider ANY of them to be “injustices.” I find it interesting that you take issue with the general criticism (even though you can dish it well), but offer no actual example of an injustice you are willing to hold up to the bright light of scrutiny from the perspective of whether it flirts with an attitude of apostasy rather than being understandable within the general framework of how the church operates.

            I’ll start with the first one on the list: “I feel unequal when there are more (a lot more) men’s voices in religious texts, meetings, leadership positions, and decision making bodies.”

            There are more men’s voices in religious texts because such texts generally contain the revelations of God to His prophets, who (by His choice) has called only men to be His mouthpiece to the whole world. (Besides, how does one propose to go back in time to alter the ratio of female contributions to scripture?)

            At the Ward level, I don’t think one can generally claim that one hears more male voices than female voices. It tends to be fairly evenly split.

            At Stake Conferences there may be a slightly higher ratio of male-to-female speakers, largely because it is expected that the entire Stake Presidency address the conference, which tends to accompany their appointed roles as the Lord’s priesthood leaders for the Stake. After eliminating their appearances in the calculations, the remaining speakers tend to be somewhat evenly split as well unless there is a visiting Apostle or Seventy, who again by virtue of their priesthood calling would be expected to speak.

            And twice a year in General Conference there is an absolute difference in the quantity of male and female speakers, again by virtue of the reality that the Lord has chosen to administrate His church through a male priesthood. Even so, hardly such a conference session goes by without the words of a ranking female leader in the church to address the global audience, and men are not excused for nachos and doughnuts during their remarks.

            As for leadership and decision-making bodies (which is generally the same complaint), the administration of the church is by divine design, including the administration of organizations which are headed by women at all levels of the church.

            If one has faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel and of divinely restored priesthood keys to those called of God, then there is no doctrinal justification for hurt feelings when there happens to be an imbalance in male voices versus female voices in the kingdom of God. If one nonetheless has such feelings (and I can hear the choruses of how everyone’s feelings are valid), her issue is with God, not His priesthood leadership, and is a matter for personal reconciliation with Deity rather than a social issue requiring ecclesiastical change to remedy. Nobody is withholding the texts of the teachings of women in the church throughout the ages. If this is of vital personal interest to someone, never have the tools been more widely available for personal study than in the present day.

            With regard to activity rates of members of the church, or those who leave to join other churches, I don’t think that the LDS church is demonstrably worse off than other denominations, especially among those with such strong missionary outreach. While we would never want anyone to go astray, one doesn’t improve retention by altering doctrines to appeal to those who are uncomfortable with what the Lord has given us. Doubt is common regardless whether a person is completely active or on the bare fringe of membership. What all Latter-day Saints can use with regard to doubt is the guidance of the Holy Spirit, both on the part of those trying to help doubters so that the impact of their attempts to help aren’t thwarted by their mortal imperfections, as well as on the part of those who are experiencing doubt that they can strive to avoid negative attitudes toward the people and the institutions of the church as they address their personal issues.

            I don’t have the slightest problem listening to and engaging in actual discussion about people’s concerns about the church. But the core question always remains, did the Father and Son appear to Joseph Smith, and did They call him as a prophet and restore Their true church through him? And as a follow-up, is the living prophet called of God to lead His church today? If a person can answer those questions affirmatively, responding to people’s concerns about other matters is generally achievable. But if a person cannot answer those questions affirmatively, then it is entirely possible that no concern can ever be fully satisfied.

            While I understand that in Utah the church is both a religion and a culture, it is the religion in which we ground our testimonies. It is the Godhead. It is the Atonement. It is the Restoration. It is continuing Revelation. And in one way or another for all of us, it is the humble acceptance that God knows things that we do not, and it is the setting aside of pride and submission to His will which we ought to seek. And yes, it can be hard. There are many who will stumble and get back on their feet and return, while others will go off on other paths. We strive to rescue all, but some will refuse. Even Christ experienced issues with retention because the life of a disciple was not an easy thing. We read in John 6:66-69:

            66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

            67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

            68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

            69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

            The Holy Ghost has borne witness to me that the words of eternal life are to be found in His restored church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our leaders receive His daily inspiration to guide the work in our day. We may not always understand everything the way that we may want to according to our preferred timetables, but we can exercise faith in Him and receive His Spirit. If indeed the church is true (which it is), then the things we often think of as concerns are ultimately of little to no importance if we place our trust in Him, knowing that He has the benefit of the eternal big picture and understands better than any of us can possibly grasp about our true pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

        • Dwight Rogers

          Andy, I do think that we should be tolerant of people in the church who have doubts. It’s Ok to have doubts, questions, etc…It may be that in some cases tolerance has been lacking. However, most of the time there is a great deal of tolerance in the Church.

          I was good friends with a couple in my ward. After a number of years they both went inactive. I remained friends and continued my usual activities with them. She began smoking cigarettes and one time when she exited a building with a cigarette in her mouth the Bishop happened to be coming in and he saw her. In the normal course of my friendship with the couple I was at their house and she brought up this encounter explaining that the Bishop didn’t say anything to her but she knew by the expression on his face that he was judging her and condemning her.

          I am also a personal friend of the Bishop. Less than a week later I was with the Bishop and he also brought up the encounter (I did not bring it up). The Bishop expressed his genuine love and concern for this woman. Yes, he was surprised to see her smoking but he was not judging or condemning her at all. I did not reject this couple and neither did the Bishop. Shortly thereafter the couple moved away. We did not withdraw our friendship from them, rather, they removed themselves from our circle of friendship by their own choice but, in their view, we rejected them.

          This is a phenomenon I have seen repeatedly. When people in the Church are not living as they should they have a bit of a guilt complex. That’s normal and everyone who is still under the influence of the Light of Christ will have that. That’s a good thing. A sense of morality is what helps us repent and change our lives for the better. However, these people often assume that everyone else in the Church is judging them and looking down on them when, in fact they are not. Most of the people in the Church don’t even know about the individuals personal struggle – whatever that struggle is -but the individual incorrectly assumes that everyone knows and is rejecting him/her.

          It’s Ok to have doubts about the Church or to have questions. Sometimes people feel betrayed because they thing that the Church is hiding things from them. However, the Church has always published these kinds of information in the Church magazines or made them available to be published by scholars at BYU Studies or Deseret Book or in other non-Mormon publications. There is not time during our brief Sunday meetings to even begin to have time to cover all of these types of issues.

          As we go along and more scholarship is done, we understand more and more about Church history. However, we will never know all the answers in this life. I have found that issues are often the result of getting your information from sources that are hostile to the Church. I don’t say not to look at these sources. However, understand that they are unreliable and consist of persons who comb historic records and bend over backwards to ignore the best first-hand information which, I have found, always supports the honesty and integrity of Joseph Smith and the Church. Instead they cherry pick and take out of context anything they can find to present in an exaggerated and sensationalized way to make the Church look bad. Most people in the Church are not scholars. Even most Bishops, Stake Presidents, and even General Authorities will not always be conversant on some of these details of Church history.

          As Tom said: “The core question always remains, did the Father and Son appear to Joseph Smith, and did They call him as a prophet and restore Their true church through him? And as a follow-up, is the living prophet called of God to lead His church today? If a person can answer those questions affirmatively, responding to people’s concerns about other matters is generally achievable. But if a person cannot answer those questions affirmatively, then it is entirely possible that no concern can ever be fully satisfied.”

          Tom is right. One can know by the power of the Holy Ghost that Joseph was a prophet if they stay in the Church and exercise enough faith. Then the other questions will be answered in due time. I have spent years looking at criticisms of the Church. I have, so far, that the all have answers. The best historic evidence supports the authenticity of the Church.

    • Just so we have a common frame of reference, this link outlines numerous grievances from LDS women which they claim makes them feel unequal: http://www.ldswave.org/?p=402

      I assume that many (if not most or even all) claims of injustice are included here.

      My take is that none is a true injustice whatsoever. Some items certainly merit discussion. For example, I thought the question of why women didn’t pray in General Conference sessions was reasonable to ask, and apparently the leadership of the church agrees because that has been changed. But some items are outright incorrect, some reveal a lack of understanding of how things work, and several suggest that the agitator has testimony issues which surpass the professed objection.

  23. Even This Out

    Dwight ~ Helen also said this ( after learning that her dad & JS had already discussed her marrying JS…..without her even being present for THAT conversation)

    Unknown to Helen Mar, Heber and Joseph had already discussed the prospect of Helen Mar becoming one of Joseph’s wives. Heber now sought her agreement. Helen recalls, “Having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet Joseph, he offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet’s own mouth. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the alter”
    (Quote taken from “In Sacred Loneliness” )

    Please don’t minimize what Helen Mar went through,even her own father sacrificed her happiness at such a young age , I find him a very selfish man, putting his own desires to be connected to JS above his own daughters happiness…. truth is , he betrayed his daughter.

    • Dwight Rogers

      I respect your right to have your interpretation. I think that it was a sacrifice and very hard for Helen to do this. No disagreement there. I think it was hard for all involved, not only in Helen’s case, but for the other families and persons involved in the practice. I didn’t exclude the fact that it was hard for her and I included that in my prior posts. I cited her statement in my prior post wherein she says: ““I did not try to conceal the fact of its having been a trial.”

      However I don’t focus solely on the trial but also on her statement that it was “one of the greatest blessings.” I think it is proper to point out both of Helen’s views.

      God required Abraham to lay his son Isaac upon the alter as if a “Ewe Lamb.” So, Helen was tried as was Abraham. This type of sacrifice has always been a part of Gods plan for the perfecting of his people. Helen later wrote two books defending plural marriage. Helen “confessed that it had been one of the severest [trials] of my life; but that it had also proven one of the greatest of blessings. I could truly say it had done the most towards making me a Saint and a free woman, in every sense of the word; and I knew many others who could say the same, and to whom it had proven one of the greatest boons–a ‘blessing in disguise.’” (Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 500)

      Helen wrote two books defending Plural marriage. She spent far more time on positive comments about plural marriage and more time defending it than she does on the trial that it was in the beginning. I think it is a bit inaccurate to portray her as a victim. She did not portray herself that way. I think it is a bit inaccurate to focus only on the initial hardship without also telling the rest of her story.

    • Dwight Rogers

      I think you misinterpret Heber C. Kimball. I don’t think he was a selfish man. If he were selfish he would have kept his “ewe lamb.” I think Heber knew Joseph was a prophet and he obeyed God’s will as spoken through the Prophet. You mischaracterize him. I think Helen was also magnificently faithful to God. The only reason I can think of for having such a negative view of Heber and of viewing Helen and such a victim is if one does not really believe that the command came from God. In other words, one does not really believe that Joseph was God’s prophet. Joseph once said “I can’t always get a revelation when I want one; but, I have never given a revelation to the Saints that wasn’t a revelation.”

      Yes, the prophets are human and make mistakes and they don’t always speak as prophets. They have the right to have their own view and to speak them just as does anyone else; but, God is in control of His church and those teachings and practices God wants the Church to have are given to the Church in official pronouncements. People who don’t follow the Lord’s program act as if they think God can not keep control of His own church. They think God is a weak god. Well, He can and does keep control of His church in spite of the imperfections of the people in it including the leaders. If they are leading the Saints in the wrong way He will correct it or remove that leader from his place. I think criticizing the Prophet Joseph Smith and Apostle Heber C. Kimball demonstrates lack of faith and indicates that one is already part way down the road to apostacy.

      • Once again, Helen being a victim does NOT depend on a commandment and this was NOT based on revelation. This is exactly why I think the obedience argument is overused and can be harmful. It is applied in many cases where it should not be just because it’s the easy way out.

        According to your definition, everyone is on the road to apostasy because no one has perfect faith. Not a very useful definition. It is NOT unhealthy or wrong to reason for one’s self or to question authority. That is part of life and one way we learn and grow. It IS unhealthy to judge unrighteously and to stifle opinion.

    • Dwight Rogers

      When Helen said “My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the alter” – what a great compliment Helen gave to her father, comparing him to faithful Abraham! What a great statement about the faithfulness of her father – he was so faithful and obedient to God that, like Abraham, he “willingly” obeyed God’s hard test. What a testament to both Helen and her father.

  24. Even This Out

    With all due respect, we must take into account some things here.

    Helen Mar Kimball was but 14 years old, when this took place, Joseph Smith was in his late 30’s ( he should have known better than to take advantage of a child )

    Josephs wife Emma was kept in the dark about this marriage, being the first wife , she had every right to know, he as her husband also had NO respect for his wife Emma.

    Please explain to me why God would command Joseph Smith to marry 11 women who already had living husbands, that seems like God was commanding them to commit adultery ( contrary to the 10 commandments )

    Please explain to me why the church kept THIS part of JS history secret & why this was never spoken about in any lessons, mentioned in any church manuals, or spoken about from the pulpit ( if the church accepted this as Gods will )

    I have to ask myself after reading all this if God actually likes women, or merely tolerates them, commanding them to live their lives in abject misery as polygamous wives, often in poverty and devoid of complete affection from their husband as he had to share himself around so many other women.
    (This applies to ALL the men that practised polygamy….especially Brigham Young)

    If God truly did command this, then there really is no hope for women in the church as in the next life they will also be subject to polygamy.

    So I’m left with wondering why God goes against his own commandments ( by commanding polygamy in the first place ) Why he dosen’t like women as much as the men ( why is it only women that have to veil their face in the temple & not the men ….as if they are not worthy to look upon God, but the men are)

    Why is it that women can’t have more than one husband sealed to them, but the men have no problem achieving that ?

    The more I look at it, the more I see that JS was dishonest with his wife,hiding most of his marriages from Emma , and her not finding out about most of them till much later (after they had taken place )
    He lied to the members of the church ( telling them that he was accused of having seven wives …but could only find one)

    He caused the RS presidency disarray , after marrying one of Emma’s RS counsellors (Eliza R Snow ) and how Eliza essentially stabbed Emma in the back, how unthinkable to have one of your RS counsellors cavorting with and marrying your husband behind your back.

    I give credit to Emma Smith, she put up with a LOT of heartache, emotionally, spiritually, physically & mentally. She should have had her husbands complete devotion, but instead had to put up with him running around, marrying the help (on many occasions ) who had come to help Emma in the home (akin to marrying the Nanny or the housekeeper ) and him doing it behind her back.

    If Joseph was a prophet, he was a very poor example of one & should have kept himself in check.

    • Dwight Rogers

      First, you proceed from an erroneous assumption or an erroneous pre-conception. Can you show me where God says that polygamy is wrong? God does condemn adultery as wrong but adultery is defined as having sexual relations with someone other than your spouse. However, you can’t commit adultery with someone you are married to.

      Abraham, Jacob, and other Bible prophets and patriarchs practiced plural marriage under God’s direction. For example: David was commanded by God to take plural wives by God’s prophet Nathan(2 Samual 12:8). In the Bible the Lord does not condemn polygamy but rather, gives instructions on how men are to treat their plural wives. (Deuteonomy 21:15-17), and that these should be wives that will not turn his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:3-4).

      In the Bible we see where Abraham had plural wives – Sarai, Hagar, Keturah and others.(See Gen. 16:3, Gen 25:1,6) Abraham was righteous and God appeared to him at least twice during the time he had plural wives (Gen 17:1, Gen 18:1). Abraham is blessed and God makes His covenant with him and blesses him to be the father of many nations (Gen 17:1-6). God didn’t care that Abraham was a polygamist. Instead, God appears to him and blesses him. Here we see that God not only condoned polygamy but he blessed Abraham for it and it is the means by which Abraham fulfills God’s promise to become the father of many nations.

      Abijah had fourteen wives (2 Chronicles 13:21) and yet he is described as a righteous king of Judah who honored the Lord (2 Chronicles 13:8-12) and prospered in battle because the Lord blessed him (2 Chronicles 13:16-18)

      In the New Testament Abraham is called the Father of the Faithful (Galations 3:7,9,29) Even Jesus says that the righteous do the works of Abraham (John 8:39).

      We see Jesus teaching that those polygamists Abraham and Jacob, along with the other prophets, will be in the Kingdom of God while others are thrust out (Luke 13:28). So, clearly, Jesus thought that polygamists can go to heaven. We see Christ affirming this again in the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus wherein Jesus tells us that Abraham, that old polygamist, is in paradise while the Rich man is in Hell (Luke 16: 19-31).

    • Dwight Rogers

      Next let’s address the ages of the women involved.

      The most conservative estimates indicate that Joseph entered into plural marriages with 29–33 women, only 7 of whom were under the age of 18. The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of LDS apostle Heber C. Kimball, who was 14. The rest were 16 (two) or 17 (three). One wife (Maria Winchester) about which virtually nothing is known, was either 14 or 15.

      The 21st century reader is likely to see marriages of young women to much older men as inappropriate, though it is still not uncommon. In the U.S. today, in most states, the “age of consent” – the age in which women can marry and have sex without parental permission – is set by statute to be 18. Joseph Smith’s marriage to Helen Mar Kimball, having been done with her parents’ permission, would be legal in California even today, except for the polygamous aspect of it.

      However, even today, the minimum age at which a person may marry with parental permission or with a judge’s permission, is 16 in most states. In California, there is no minimum marriageable age; a child of ANY AGE may marry with parental consent. (Marriage Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico,” a Cornell Law School web site)

      When judging the past we sometimes commit the error historians call presentism which is judging people of the past by present norms. However, people in past times often operated under a different norm which seemed perfectly acceptable to them even though it does not to us. Modern age limits in most states represent only the modern attitude. In Joseph Smith’s time the age of consent under English common law was TEN. United States law did not raise the age of consent until the late nineteenth century. In Joseph Smith’s day, most states still had the declared age of consent to be TEN! Some had raised it to TWELVE, and Delaware had lowered it to SEVEN! (See Melina McTigue, “Statutory Rape Law Reform in Nineteenth Century Maryland: An Analysis of Theory and Practical Change,” (2002), accessed 5 Feb 2005)

      Studies show that marriage of teen age women, often to men significantly older, was normal among the general population in the early and mid 1800’s. Teens made up 36.0% of married women, and only 2.3% of men; the average age of marriage was 22.5 for women and 27.8 for men. (Data from Steven Ruggles, Matthew Sobek, Trent Alexander, Catherine A. Fitch, Ronald Goeken, Patricia Kelly Hall, Miriam King, and Chad Ronnander, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 3.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Population Center [producer and distributor] (2004), accessed 14 July 2007.)

      Even when the men in Joseph’s age range (34–38 years) in the U.S. Census are extracted, Joseph Smith still has a lower percentage of younger wives and more older wives than do non-Mormon marriages. Marriage of older men to teen-age women was entirely normal for this era.

      One hundred and eighty Nauvoo-era civil marriages have husbands and wives with known ages and marriage dates. The data shows that wives were generally younger than their husbands. Almost all brides younger than twenty married men between five and twenty years older. (The data is from Susan Easton Black, “Marriages in the Nauvoo Region 1839–1845,” op. cit. as originally extracted by David Keller)

      It is significant that none of Joseph’s contemporaries complained about the age differences between polygamous or monogamous marriage partners. This was simply part of their environment and culture; it is unfair to judge nineteenth century members by twenty-first century social standards. As one non-LDS scholar of teenage life in American history noted:

      Until the twentieth century, adult expectations of young people were determined not by age but by size. If a fourteen-year-old looked big and strong enough to do a man’s work on a farm or in a factory or mine, most people viewed him as a man. And if a sixteen-year-old was slower to develop and couldn’t perform as a man, he wasn’t one. For, young women, the issue was much the same. To be marriageable was the same as being ready for motherhood, which was determined by physical development, not age….
      The important thing, though, was that the maturity of each young person was judged individually.{{ref|hine.16}

      In past centuries, women would often die in childbirth, and men often remarried younger women afterwards. Women often married older men, because these were more financially established and able to support them than men their own age.

    • Dwight Rogers

      You say “He lied to the members of the church.”

      The charges against Joseph Smith were essentially charges of adultery which charges Joseph properly denied since you can’t commit adultery with someone you are married with.

    • Dwight Rogers

      Were there really polyandrous marriages?

      Critics have charged that Joseph Smith was married to some women during the same time that these same women were married to another man. That would be polyandry. However, the best first-hand historic evidence suggests otherwise. It would be polyandry only if the marriages were concurrent or active at the same time. Recent research by Dr. Brian Hales using historic first-hand sources indicates that these women were married to their husbands for “time” only or civilly only and that Joseph married them for “eternity” only. Historic sources indicate that no simultaneous marriage or conjugal (sexual) relationships of one woman to two men during the same time period occurred. If this is the case then there was no polyandry going on at all. The “time only” marriages don’t overlap with the “eternity only” marriages. The marriages were consecutive but not concurrent.

      Historic first-hand sources indicate that this is precisely what occurred in the early days of the Church. Additionally, the charge of critics that Joseph Smith was stealing other people’s wives behind their backs is not substantiated by historic documents. We don’t have first-hand historic evidence for each case but in those cases where we do, the wives and husbands involved knew about the wife’s sealing to Joseph and did not complain, and in some cases actually insisted on it and participated in the ceremony.

      For example: “Sister Ruth Sayers was married in her youth to Mr. Edward Sayers, a thoroughly practical horticulturist and florist, and though he was not a member of the Church, yet he willingly joined his fortune with her and they reached Nauvoo together some time in the year 1841;

      “While there the strongest affection sprang up between the Prophet Joseph and Mr. Sayers. . [Note that this is a friendship between Joseph and Mr. Sayers not Mrs. Sayers] The latter [Mr. Sayers] not attaching much importance to the theory of a future life insisted that his wife Ruth should be sealed to the Prophet for eternity, as he himself should only claim her in this life. She was accordingly sealed to the Prophet in Emma Smith’s presence and thus became numbered among the Prophets plural wives. She however though she continued to live with Mr. Sayers remained with her husband until his death.” (Andrew Jenson Papers [ca. 1871-1942], LDS Archives.)

      Another document dating to 1843 probably written by Oliver Olney, asks: What motive has [S]ayers in it—it is the desire of his heart…Joseph did not pick that woman. She went to see whether she should marry her husband for eternity.” (Recorded by D. Michael Quinn Papers, Yale University, Addition—Uncat WA MS 244 (Accession:19990209-c) bx 1. NOTE” Primary source has not been identified)

      Joseph Smith married 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball. Helen’s own words indicate that the marriage with Joseph was for eternity only meaning not active in this life. Helen says in her 1881 poem:

      “I thought through this life my time will be my own The step I now am taking’s for eternity alone, No one need be the wiser, through time I shall be free…” (Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, “Autobiography, 30 March, 1881,” CHL. Typescript and copy of holograph reproduced in Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds., A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1997, 482-87.)

      A “time” marriage is a marriage for this life. An eternal marriage is a marriage that is effective after death or in the eternities. Helen is clear in her poem that her marriage to Joseph was for “eternity alone” and “through this life my time will be my own.”

      The biographer of Helen’s father says thisi:

      “Many years later in Utah she [Helen] wrote a retrospective poem about this marriage [to Joseph Smith] from which we learn that it was “for eternity alone,” that is, unconsummated. Whatever such a marriage promised for the next world, it brought her no immediate earthly happiness. She saw herself as a “fetter’d bird” without youthful friends and a subject of slander. This poem also reveals that Joseph Smith’s several pro forma marriages to the daughters of his friends were anything but sexual romps. (Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 98.)

      These marriages appear to have been performed for the purpose of forming dynastic bonds in the afterlife, as there is no evidence that Joseph ever cohabited or had intimate relations with any of these women. No children from these marriages have ever been identified – not even through DNA testing. These were sealings which would only affect Joseph’s association with these women in the afterlife.

      This, then, makes Joseph Smith’s marriages to women already having husbands non-concurrent marriages. It appears that Joseph was married to them for eternity only and that the only active marriage during mortality was to their “civil” or “time only” husbands. Only one marriage was active at a time and there is no evidence that Joseph was intimate with any of these wives during mortality. Thus it appears that no polyandry took place.

      Some would still find this odd and, perhaps, might be tempted to claim that Mormons were stealing men’s wives in the next life by having them sealed to themselves for eternity. However, historic sources indicate that these were done with the knowledge of all concerned parties. The following is one example:

      Dr. Brian Hales, who has researched extensively on the history of plural marriage said: “In 1898, RLDS Elder John Wight asked to interview Zina [Huntington] and she consented in an interview that was later published. During the interview he asked her point-blank: ‘Then it is a fact… is it not, that you married Mr. Smith at the same time you were married to Mr. Jacobs,’ her legal husband. Zina responded: ‘What right do you have to ask such questions? I was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity.”

      “In 1905, Mary Elizabeth Rollins was confronted with the same question. They had the same questions we have today. And here’s her response: ‘My husband [Adam Lightner] did not belong to the Church. I begged and pled with him to join but he would not. He said he did not believe in it though he thought a great deal of Joseph… After he said this I went forward and was sealed to Joseph for Eternity.’”

      Trying to clarify whether one woman’s marriage to Joseph Smith was for “time and eternity” or just “eternity” P.P. Kelley questioned Malissa Lott in 1892 regarding the type of sealing ceremony she had with Joseph Smith. She answered that “I was married to him for time and all eternity.” (Compton, page 95, question 56.) Apparently in 1892 it was understood that some marriages had been for “eternity” only, else why the question?

      Other documents from Zina Huntington, Patty Bartlett, and Mary Elizabeth Rollins indicate their marriages to Joseph may also have been “eternity” only sealings as well (See Zina Huntington in Wight interview, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington Young,” Saints Herald, January 11, 1905, 29: Patty Bartlett in Donna Toland Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, Logan, Utah: Utah State University, 1997, 276; and Mary Elizabeth Rollins in “Remarks” at B.Y.U April 14, 1905, copy of original signed typescript, Vault Mss 363, fd 6, HBLL, BYU, 7.)

      President Joseph F. Smith testified at the Reed Smoot hearing before the U.S. Senate’s subcommittee in 1904 that “eternity only” sealings were indeed accepted in Church doctrine. (Tayler was the committee’s attorney, and VanCott was the Church’s attorney)

      Mr. TAYLER. Living persons have been united for eternity, have they not?

      Mr. SMITH. I think there have been some few cases of that kind.

      Mr. VANCOTT. To what time, Mr. Tayler, do you limit your question?

      Mr. TAYLER. I was going to ask him. How recently have you known that kind of a marriage?

      Mr. SMITH. Not very recently.

      Mr. TAYLER. Do you mean five years or twenty-five years?

      Mr. SMITH. Oh, twenty years or more.

      Mr. TAYLER. Is there any rule of the church prohibiting that kind of marriage?

      Mr. SMITH. Not that I know of.

      Mr. TAYLER. It has merely fallen into disuse; is that all?

      Mr. SMITH. It has merely fallen into disuse; that is all. I do not know that it could be said to have fallen absolutely into disuse.

      Mr. TAYLER. Or rather, that the principle which still adhere[s] has not been invoked or exercised so often.

      Mr. SMITH. No, sir; it has not been invoked. . . .

      The CHAIRMAN. You have heard of instances where two living persons have been sealed for eternity?

      Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.

      The CHAIRMAN. According to the doctrines of your church, did that carry with it the right of earthly cohabitation?

      Mr. SMITH. It was not so understood.

      The CHAIRMAN. Then, what is your—

      Mr. SMITH. It does not carry that right. (U.S. Senate, Committee on Privileges and Elections, Proceedings . . . in the Matter of the Protests against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, a Senator from the State of Utah, to Hold His Seat,1:185, 479-80. )

      Other historic examples of a wife’s marriage for “time only” and her marriage to somebody else for “eternity” exist and could be given if you’d like. These all demonstrate that in the early days of the Church this was not an uncommon practice and the privileges of sexually could only be employed with the “time” husband. No polyandry went on. All the best evidence indicates that no concurrent marriages and no concurrent sexuality were ever practiced.

    • Dwight Rogers

      People in Joseph Smith’s day lived in a time of Victorian morals. Even the hint of any impropriety was considered scandalous. Yet, none of the husbands or other relatives and friends who knew of the marriages ever complained and, amazingly, many of them knew of the sealing when it occurred and supported it. That’s the pattern we see in historic sources – the husbands knew and accepted it and some of them even stood in as proxy for Joseph Smith after his death as their own wives were re-sealed to Joseph. For example, as already discussed above, Jonathan Holms married Elvira Ann Cowles in a civil ceremony on December 1, 1842. Records indicate that Elvira was sealed to the Prophet five months later on June 1, 1843 yet she continued to live with Jonathan. Jonathan apparently respected his wife’s sealing to Joseph Smith and acted as proxy in the Nauvoo temple as she was resealed to him vicariously for eternity. Other examples have been cited above. (Lisle Brown, Nauvoo Sealings, Adoptions, and Anointings: a Comprehensive Register of Persons Receiving LDS Temple Ordinances, 1841-1846, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2006, 284 n305). Other examples have been cited above.

      It is difficult, almost impossible really, to explain why the people involved would have accepted it given the Victorian morals of the time. Additionally it would have been against the teachings of Joseph Smith himself as revealed from God. For example: a revelation given to Joseph Smith teaches that a married women being with another man is adultery (D&C 132:41-42,63). It is, therefore, inconceivable that Joseph Smith’s friends, family, and associates, who knew about this revelation and also knew of Joseph’s sealings to various women, would have condoned the discrepancy unless they understood them as non-concurrent marriages with no conjugal privileges. It is highly doubtful that these husbands would have accepted such an arrangement if it really meant sharing conjugal privileges. Joseph’s eternal sealings involved witnesses and officiators, and often family members and friends. For example: Dimick Huntington performed the ceremony as two of his already married sisters, Zina and Presendia, were sealed to Joseph, while his wife, Fanny, willingly served as a witness. (Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, LDS Archives, 1:5, 1:7.)

      And Dimick’s brother Oliver remembered that his brother “Dimick had given our sisters Zina and Prescenda to Joseph as wives for eternity.” (Oliver Huntington, Diary [and autobiographical sketch], 1835-1900, February 18, 1883; ) It is unlikely, unbelievable really, that any of these would have gone along with any of this if wife sharing was involved. Since Oliver says the marriages were for “eternity” then it is likely that all involved understood that they were for eternity only and did not affect the civil marriages of these women.

      So, while the practice of marriage for “eternity only” is not much heard of in the church today it is well attested in historic sources in the days of Joseph Smith. This is also in accord with the LDS understanding of how priesthood keys are exercised. Latter-day Saints understand that certain practices can be authorized by God through his prophet and at other times the practice can be curtailed or withdrawn. Plural marriage itself is an example of this, it being authorized by the prophets who held the keys and then being withdrawn after the 1890 manifesto. Another example is the temporary authorization to perform baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi river while the Nauvoo Temple was under construction or for sealings to be performed in the endowment house while the Salt Lake Temple was under construction. Those practices are not authorized today but they were authorized at one time.

      We see similar things in the Bible where God commanded Noah to build an arc but we are not commended to do so, or when the prophet Hosea was commanded to marry a harlot but other prophets were not so commanded. Another example is when Jesus commanded that the gospel be taken only to the Jews but later God revealed to Peter to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

      Despite allegations from critics that Joseph Smith had conjugal relationships with women who were married to someone else at the same time no evidence exists to support that claim. Even DNA testing has so far failed to identify any children of Joseph Smith other than through Emma. These “eternity only” sealings would affect Joseph’s association with these women only in the afterlife.

      Sexual polyandry is a convenient assumption which makes it easy for anti-Mormons to criticize the church but the charges are devoid of good supporting historical data. Even Todd Compton, not a particularly friendly witness, acknowledges that true polyandrous relationships would be difficult for the men involved and says: “One wonders why these ‘first husbands’ apparently acquiesced to their wives’ marriages to Smith.” (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997, 21.)

      LDS scholar Andrew Ehat agreed that Joseph’s sealings to married women were, in fact, “pseudo-polyandrous,” because of the absence of physical relations. (Andrew Ehat, “Pseudo-Polyandry: Explaining Mormon Polygyny’s Paradoxical Companion.,” presented at the 1986 Sunstone Salt Lake Symposium; copy of typescript in possession of the author, pages 4-12 .)

      “Joseph did not marry women to form a warm, human companionship but to create a network of related wives, children, and kinsmen that would endure into the eternities.” ( Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 440.)

      Alma Allred agrees with Todd Compton that “[m]arriage, sealing and adoption, in fact, were nearly interchangeable concepts,” (Todd M. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 637.)

      Among Joseph’s plural marriages and/or sealings eight to eleven of them were to women who were already married. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not members of the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands

      From the time of Joseph Smith forward, LDS doctrine does not allow for polyandry at all. Polygyne ( a man having more than one wife) can be demonstrated to be a practice which God allowed and even commanded in the Bible. But no justification for polyandry is found in the Bible. If Joseph Smith were really practicing polyandry the Latter-day Saints would have seen this hypocrisy and problems would have arisen. Nothing of the kind shows up in the historic records. Joseph’s associates who knew about these marriages, the “time” only husbands, and other relatives and friends complain not at all. It seems clear that they understood the marriages not to be polyandrous marriages and, therefore, no impropriety was going on. They almost certainly understood them to be for eternity only.

      Records written two years after the Prophets martyrdom suggest marriages for eternity continued to be performed after Joseph’s death: Irene M. Bates and E. Gary Smith explain:

      “On January 24 John [Smith, the uncle of Joseph Smith] was sealed to Aseneth Hubert, Rebecca Smith, and Julia Hills for eternity. All of these women were between fifty and sixty years of age, and it seems John might have married them to care for them during the removal from Illinois and on the journey to Salt Lake. It is also possible that the women requested marriage to Uncle John.” (Irene M. Bates and E. Gary Smith, Lost Legacy: The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch, 114.)

      Other early leaders in the Church condemned polyandry. Brigham Young stated in 1852: “What do you think of a woman having more husbands than one? This is not known to the law.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:361, August 1, 1852.)

      On October 8, 1869, Apostle George A. Smith taught that “a plurality of husbands is wrong.” (George Albert Smith, Journal of Discourses, 13:41, October 8, 1869. )

      Six years later Orson Pratt instructed:”God has strictly forbidden, in this Bible, plurality of husbands, and proclaimed against it in his law.” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 18:55-56, July 11, 1875.)

      Pratt further explained:

      “Can a woman have more than one husband at the same time? No: Such a principle was never sanctioned by scripture. The object of marriage is to multiply the species, according to the command of God. A woman with one husband can fulfill this command, with greater facilities, than if she had a plurality; indeed, this would, in all probability, frustrate the great design of marriage, and prevent her from raising up a family. As a plurality of husbands, would not facilitate the increase of posterity, such a principle never was tolerated in scripture. (Orson Pratt, “Celestial Marriage,” The Seer, 1:4 (April 1853) 60.)

      Bathsheba Smith, wife of Apostle George A. Smith, was asked in 1892 if it would “be a violation of the laws of the church for one woman to have two husbands living at the same time…” She replied: “I think it would.” (Bathsheba Smith, Testimony given in the Temple Lot Case, part 3, page 347, question 1142.)

      Importantly, all of these individuals were involved with Nauvoo polygamy and several were undoubtedly aware of Joseph Smith’s sealings to legally married women. Hyrum Smith’s son, Joseph F. Smith, wrote in 1889: “Polyandry is wrong, physiologically, morally, and from a scriptural point of order. It is nowhere sanctioned in the Bible, nor by the law of God or nature and has not affinity with ‘Mormon’ plural marriage.” (Joseph F. Smith to Zenos H. Gurley, June 19, 1889, CA. Richard E. Turley, Jr. Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Provo, Utah: BYU Press, vol. 1, DVD #29.)

      Charles W. Penrose wrote in the Utah Church’s publication, the Millennial Star, in 1867: “Polyandry is contrary to nature, that it strikes at the foundation of the object of marriage – the propagation of the race, that, if it be productive of any increase whatever, the paternal identity is destroyed, or made so doubtful, as to annihilate those natural sympathies which properly should exist between the father and his offspring.” (Charles W. Penrose, “Why We Practice Plural Marriage,” The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, N. 37 (September 14, 1867) XXIX, 578. [577-80])

      All of these people clearly state that polyandry is strictly forbidden in the church and wholly against the commandments of God. Yet these people would have likely known about Joseph Smith’s sealings to women who had living husbands. They clearly did not view these marriages as concurrent or as polyandrous marriages. I think the historic record indicates that they understood these marriages to be for “time” only to one husband and for “eternity only” to Joseph with no concurrent conjugal privileges allowed.

      I will conclude with the words of Dr. Brian Hales who says: “But what I want to show here is that the evidence supporting it [polyandry] is less credible and less voluminous. That the evidence contradicting it is more credible and more voluminous. So you have to ask, why do people keep believing in it? And they will keep believing in it. Richard Bushman hit the nail on the head. He observed: ‘Polygamy is an interesting thing because it serves as a Rorschach test. People project onto Joseph Smith and polygamists their own sense about human nature.’ In other words, they readily assume that sexuality was involved.”

      “And now,” says Hales, “I’m going to quote myself: ‘The only people who can believe God commanded Joseph Smith to practice plural marriages are those that believe God was talking to him in the first place.’ Which aren’t very many people.”

    • Dwight Rogers

      You ask: “Please explain to me why the church kept THIS part of JS history secret & why this was never spoken about in any lessons, mentioned in any church manuals.”

      It is a mischaracterization to say that the Church has kept this secret. The current Gospel Doctrine manual talks about plural marriage in lesson 31 which will be taught in my ward a week from this Sunday. This is the same Gospel doctrine manual that was used four years ago and four years before that. Since there is more material in the lesson than class time it is up to the teacher to cover it or not. I am a Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward and I would definitely cover it if I were teaching that week. However, members have easy access to the material on-line. I am 56 years old and I knew about plural marriage in the church at least when I was teenager if not before that.

      Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable historical facts from its own people. It is remarkable; however, how many of the issues which critics charge the Church with “suppressing” are discussed first in Church publications. You might be surprised to find out that many of these “hidden” facts are actually hidden in plain sight in Church publications and other scholarly research made available by the Church. It’s not the Church’s fault that some members fall away because they don’t read what’s always been available..

      Have you ever asked yourself: Where do the critics get all this “secret” or “previously hidden” information about the LDS Church.?

      They get it from the Church archives which the Church makes available to them for research. In fact, most of this supposed “hidden” information was first published by the LDS church or published by LDS researchers before the critics got a hold of it. The critics take the information and spin it big time to make it look like the Church was always hiding it when, in fact, it was the LDS Church that first published it and/or made it available to researchers.

      The claim that the Church suppresses its history is incorrect. It makes a good spin if you want to put the Church down but it deceives only those who are uniformed.

      The Church’s’ primary mission is to testify that Jesus Christ is the divine Savior of the world and the Son of God and that His Church is restored to the earth. During regular Sunday church meetings there is not time to delve into all the nuances and details of Church history. That’s why, in addition to Sunday Services, the Church has publications which discuss church history in further detail and that’s why the Church makes the information available to researchers and allows them to publish the information.

      Members of the Church who are not aware of the details of the Church’s history are usually those who are new to the faith or they are long standing members of the Church who don’t read the material published by the Church on those details. Then, when they read some twisted and sensationalized version published by a critic they lose their testimony and fall away from the Church when all the while the information has been available, and not only available, but in an in-context and historically accurate version.

    • Dwight Rogers

      However, you do bring up another good question. You say “I have to ask myself after reading all this if God actually likes women, or merely tolerates them” and “if God truly did command this, then there really is no hope for women in the church as in the next life they will also be subject to polygamy.”

      I don’t blame you for expressing such feelings. I do think you raise some good issues. I am absolutely sure that God loves women at least as much as men. We have discussed Helen Kimball so let’s use her as an example of what I want to express to you. If God did not love her he would not have asked her to live a difficult law. In asking her to live that difficult law He also gives her greater blessings for it. Helen herself said that God “noweth better than ourselves what will make us happy” and “I am thankful that He has brought me through the furnace of affliction & that He has condesended to show me that the promises made to me the morning that I was sealed to the Prophet of God will not fail & I would not have the chain broken for I have had a view of the principle of eternal salvation & the perfect union which this sealing power will bring to the human family & with the help of our Heavenly Father I am determined to so live that I can claim those promises.” (Holzapfel, “A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History.” 487)

      And she says “it had also proven one of the greatest of blessings.” Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 500)

      Helen wrote of the struggle her parents had in accepting the practice:

      “My mother had noticed a change in his [Heber’s] looks and appearance [since the command to practice plural marriage]… But it so worked upon his mind that his anxious and haggard looks betrayed him daily and hourly, and finally his misery became so unbearable that it was impossible to control his feelings. He became sick in body…his mental wretchedness…was great…he would walk the floor; and the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep…”

      Helen describes how her mother prayed to understand what was wrong and “her mind was opened, and she saw the principle of Celestial Marriage illustrated in all its beauty and glory, together with the great exaltation and honor it would confer upon her in that immortal and celestial sphere if she would but accept it and stand in her place by her husband’s side. She was also shown the woman he had taken to wife, and contemplated with joy the vast and boundless love and union which this order would bring about, as well as the increase of kingdoms, power, and glory extending throughout the eternities, worlds without end. “

      “Her soul was satisfied and filled with the Spirit of God. With a countenance beaming with joy she returned to my father, saying, “Heber, what you have kept from me the Lord has shown me.”

      She related the scene to me and to many others, and told me she never saw so happy a man as father was, when she described the vision and told him she was satisfied and knew that it was from God. She covenanted to stand by him and honor the principle, which covenant she faithfully kept, and though her trials were often heavy and grievous to bear, her integrity was unflinching to the end.” (Helen Mar] Whitney, “Life Incidents” 11 (15 July 1882):26; cited in Stanley B. Kimball, “Heber C. Kimball and Family, the Nauvoo Years,” Brigham Young University Studies 15 no. 4 (Summer 1975), 461–462.)

      Here are a few other examples.

      Zina Huntington
      Zina recorded:

      “I searched the scripture & buy [by] humble prayer to my Heavenly Father I obtained a testimony for myself that God had required that order to be established in this church, I mad[e] a greater sacrifise than to give my life for I never anticipated a gain [again] to be looked uppon as an honerable woman by those I dearly loved [but] could I compremise conience lay aside the sure testimony of the spiret of God for the Glory of this world.” (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1997), 81)

      Sarah Leavitt

      …”I thought that the Anointed of the Lord would not get more wives unless they were commanded to do so. But still I wanted a knowledge of the truth for myself. I asked my husband if he did not think we could get a revelation for ourselves on that subject. He said he did not know….[That evening] my mind was carried away from the earth and I had a view of the order of the celestial kingdom….I have seen so much wrong connected with this ordinance that had I not had it revealed to me from Him that cannot lie[,] I should have…doubted the truth of it, but there has never a doubt crossed my mind concerning the truth of it since the Lord made it known to me by a heavenly vision. (Autobiography of Sarah S. Leavitt, from her history,” ed. Juanita Leavitt Pulsipher, June 1919, 23, Utah State historical Society Library, Salt Lake City; cited in George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy, 359–360.)

      Emily Partridge

      When Emily Partridge was asked to enter into plural marriage she refused and would not let the Prophet explain. She describes how she was troubled over it for several months and said “I had plenty of time to think and began to wish I had listened to what he would have said and I began to be as miserable as I was before…[In] those few months I received a testimony of the words that Joseph would have said to me and their nature before they were told me and being convinced of them I received them readily…. My mind was now prepared and would receive the principles. (Compton, 406-408.)

      Mary Elizabeth Rollins

      When taught about plural marriage:

      “She replied that she would never be sealed to him until she had a direct witness from God. He told her to pray earnestly, for the angel had told him that she would have a witness.” [And, indeed, this witness comes:] a Personage stood in front of the Bed looking at me. Its clothes were whiter than anything I had ever seen, I could look at its Person, but when I saw its face so bright, and more beautiful than any Earthly being could be, and those eyes pearcing me through, and through, I could not endure it… [She recounted this to Joseph,] who…predicted events that would take place in her family. ‘Every word came true. I went forward and was sealed to him. The angel told him I should have a witness. An angel came to me – it went through me like lightning” (Compton, 213.)

      Lucy Walker

      Resisted Joseph’s proposal to enter into plural marriage and she says that she was horrified by it. She was told by the Prophet “if you will pray sincerely for light and understanding in relation thereto, you Shall receive a testimony of the correctness of this principle.” She prayed but not with faith. She says she was ““tempted and tortured beyond endurance until life was not desirable. Oh that the grave would kindly receive me that I might find rest of the bosom of my dear mother”. (Compton, 464.)\

      Lucy struggled for four months and she told the Prophet she could not marry him unless God revealed it to her, and God had not done so yet. She wrote, “[I] emphatically forbid him speaking again to me on this Subject.” (Compton, 464–465, italics added) He walked across the room, returned, and stood before me. With the most beautiful expression of countenance, he said, “God almighty bless you. You shall have a manifestation of the will of God concerning you; a testimony that you can never deny. I will tell you what it shall be. It shall be that peace and joy that you never knew.” (Compton, 465.)

      Lucy describes the answer she later received while alone:

      “My room became filled with a heavenly influence. To me it was in comparison like the brilliant sun bursting through the darkest cloud…My Soul was filled with a calm, sweet peace that I never knew. Supreme happiness took possession of my whole being. And I received a powerful and irristable testimony of the truth of the marriage covenant called ‘Celestial or plural mariage.’ Which has been like an anchor to the soul through all the trials of life. I felt that I must go out into the morning air and give vent to the Joy and grattitude that filled my Soul. As I descended the stairs, Prest. Smith opened the door below; took me by the hand and said: ‘Thank God, you have the testimony. I too, have prayed.’ He led me to a chair, placed his hands upon my head, and blessed me with Every blessing my heart could possibly desire. (Compton, 465)

      Elizabeth and Newel K. Whitney

      Being troubled over whether to let their daughter enter into a plural marriage Elizabeth recorded:

      “…We pondered upon [the doctrine of polygamy] continually, and our prayers were unceasing that the Lord would grant us some special manifestation concerning this new and strange doctrine. The Lord was very merciful to us; He revealed unto us His power and glory. We were seemingly wrapt in a heavenly vision, a halo of light encircled us, and we were convinced in our own minds that God heard and approved our prayers…Our hearts were comforted and our faith made so perfect that we were willing to give our eldest daughter [Sarah Ann Whitney], then only seventeen years of age, to Joseph, in the holy order of plural marriage…laying aside all our traditions and former notions in regard to marriage, we gave her with our mutual consent. (Compton, 347.)

      All of this hardship resulted in greater blessings for these women than they could have otherwise had. God loves his daughters. He loved Abraham else he would not have tested him by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. Isaiah prophesied that during the latter day it would be the women who ask for the practice of plural marriage (see Isaiah chapter 4)

      However, it was still a difficult trial. These women exercised great faith and, like Abraham, they passed God’s test. If God didn’t love the women he would not have given them such a test with its accompanying blessings. Luckily we don’t have to go through that test today. However, each of us will have our own test. Perhaps these doubts you have are part of your test.

    • Dwight Rogers

      Below is a typical example of what I have consistently been taught all my life (over 50 years) as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

      Speaking of men’s treatment of women in the church president Gordon B. Hinkley said taught the following (from July 2002 Ensign Magazine)

      “Section 121 goes on to say: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
      “By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41–42).

      “Our behavior in public must be above reproach. Our behavior in private is even more important. It must clear the standard set by the Lord. We cannot indulge in sin, let alone try to cover our sins. We cannot gratify our pride. We cannot partake of the vanity of unrighteous ambition. We cannot exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion upon our wives or children, or any others in any degree of unrighteousness.

      “The wife you choose will be your equal. Paul declared, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11).

      “In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority. The woman does not walk ahead of the man; neither does the man walk ahead of the woman. They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey.

      “She is not your servant, your chattel, nor anything of the kind.

      “How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse. Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood. Though he may have been ordained, the heavens will withdraw, the Spirit of the Lord will be grieved, and it will be amen to the authority of the priesthood of that man.

      “Any man who engages in this practice is unworthy to hold a temple recommend.

      “I regret to say that I see too much of this ugly phenomenon. There are men who cuff their wives about, both verbally and physically. What a tragedy when a man demeans the mother of his children.

      “My brethren, if there be any within the sound of my voice who are guilty of such behavior, I call upon you to repent. Get on your knees and ask the Lord to forgive you. Pray to Him for the power to control your tongue and your heavy hand. Ask for the forgiveness of your wife and your children.” (Gordon B. Hinkley, Ensign, July 2002)

      The following is from a talk given by the president of the LDS Church and is typical of what I believe and typical of what I have been repeatedly and consistently taught all my life in the Church:

      Gordon B. Hinkley
      Now, we have a very diverse group to whom I am speaking. This includes young women who are still in school or who are working. You are single. You are hoping to catch that perfect man. I have yet to see one who is perfect. Aim high, but do not aim so high that you totally miss the target. What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are that you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy. (To The Women of the Church, Ensign, Nov. 2003)

          • For one who is so keen on the expression of criticisms of the church, you seem to have thin skin for supportive responses.

          • I’m out of this discussion. It’s pointless to argue with someone like you who is so set in his ways that he can’t listen to criticism. I’m capable of searching lds.org on my own for those quotes, which I have read many times already. You are not here for an honest discussion, you are here to defend your own views and to dismiss and trivialize those who think differently. You have not shown once that you take seriously the concerns of others, just that you are on the battle path to refute them.

          • Dwight Rogers

            is allowed to have doubts and questions. That’s not the problem. The problem is this: When those questions are answered with the best first-hand historic information available, and that historic information does not support the critics version of history; and, instead, it supports the honesty and integrity of Joseph Smith and the truthfulness of the Church, the proper response for the honest truth seeker is to acknowledge that the facts support Joseph Smith and the Church.

            It becomes apparent that, in some cases, the person raising the questions is not really interested in the facts. They want the Church to be false. Their minds are closed to the facts of history and to the Spirit and they will not listen to valid and compelling answers which support the Church. They raise issues to criticize rather than because they really want answers. This is obvious because when they are given well documented and compelling answers supported by historic fact they ignore it and continue with their criticism or move on to new criticisms always looking for “reasons” why the Church is false. They get their information from sources that are not accurate. It’s like the story of the Boy who Cried Wolf. They never figure out that the Boy is not reliable. They never figure out that their sources are unreliable and deceptive, or they don’t care.

            You say “. It’s pointless to argue with someone like you who is so set in his ways that he can’t listen to criticism.” Oh no. That’s not what happened! It’s you who posts criticisms without any supporting historic facts to back them up and when answers supported by historic fact are presented to you, it’s you who ignores them.

          • So criticism only works for you if it is against the church? Criticism of the critics or the validity of their arguments is like waterboarding to you?

        • Dwight Rogers

          It’s easy to put multiple criticisms into a few sentences. All of the nine posts are responses to nine issues raised by Even This Out. It actually takes more time and space to discuss real history, real evidence, real facts, and to document them by giving sources than it does to sling mud. I find that people who are ignorant and who post falsehoods about my church usually can’t stand it when they get a documented response containing real facts and real history. They don’t like that. If people are going to raise issues they should not complain when their false version of history is corrected

  25. Even This Out

    Oh dear ~ Where do I even begin to reply to all those posts , defending JS in the indefensible ?
    Ok ….from your 1st post
    In Genesis 2.24 It says… Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife ( Not WIVES ) and they shall be one flesh.

    Seems to me God wasn’t in favour of polygamy in the beginning, or did the unchangeable God change his mind?

    You said Gods prophet Nathan commanded David to take wives ..note that was NOT GOD , but Nathan , and as we know prophets CAN (and do) make mistakes.

  26. Even This Out

    All those examples of past prophets objecting to a woman having more than one husband, is so transparent that it’s laughable, quite obviously they are protecting their turf and don’t want to share their” wimmin “.
    If God treats all his children equally surely whats good for the goose is good for the gander too, but the patriarchal mind set shudders at such a suggestion, although they think it’s quite plausable for women to have to accept sharing their husband ( does their ego’s know no bound ) Even though the women are horrified at the thought.
    If polygamy returned tomorrow , the church would see it’s numbers depleted in droves, because women today are more educated and would see right through it
    Gordon B Hinkley was doing alright until he said “He WILL GIVE YOU freedom of expression ( as if it’s his to give ) and LET YOU fly in the development of your own talents. LET ME ????? I expect you don’t even realize how incredibly insulting AND demeaning that sounds.

    If God didn’t love women, he would not have given them such a test….
    Excuse me …but most women would say they can do without that kind of testing.
    I’ll tell you what how about we test the men then and put the shoe on the other foot and give women more than one husband, give women the priesthood, women be praised for having careers, give men the “opportunity” to become house husbands, give women the chance to baptize, confirm, preside at meetings,bless babies, bless the sacrament, bless the sick, give matriarchal blessings, speak of their mother in heaven in sacrament meetings, I’m sure the men would love this new way of doing things eh? Taking a back seat in all the ordinances of the church, like women have to ALL THE TIME.

    • Dwight Rogers

      You raised the issues. It’s easy to put multiple criticisms into a few sentences. It actually takes more time and space to discuss real history, real evidence, real facts, and to document them by giving sources than it does to sling mud. I find that people who are ignorant and who post falsehoods about my church usually can’t stand it when they get a documented response containing real facts and real history. They don’t like that. If people are going to raise issues they should not complain when their false version of history is corrected.

      You twist the words of President Hinkley and make his very positive and supportive statement of women into a negative one. I am beginning to believe that you are incapable of, or at least not willing, to accept real facts and real history. I have provided documentation with sources from the Bible, and from early Church history showing the factual and historical incorrectness of your offensive and wildly inaccurate claims about the Church and Joseph Smith. Yet you ignore them. Not a course that gives the impression of reasonableness.

    • Dwight Rogers

      You ask: “I’m sure the men would love this new way of doing things eh?”

      Actually, I think many men in the Church would, in fact, love that. It’s no picnic having to do all that work. I think men who want to preside, be Bishops etc.. are a bit crazy. Who would want all that – the hours spent helping troubled members, hours and hours in meetings and interviews, dealing with marriage problems, problems between parents and children, trying to keep the wars staffed and dealing with people who want help but who won’t serve or help others, being called in the middle of the night and so forth.

    • Dwight Rogers

      It is allowed to have doubts and questions. That’s not the problem. The problem is this: When those questions are answered with the best first-hand historic information available, and that historic information does not support the critics version of history; and, instead, it supports the honesty and integrity of Joseph Smith and the truthfulness of the Church, the proper response for the honest truth seeker is to acknowledge that the facts support Joseph Smith and the Church.

      It becomes apparent that, in some cases, the person raising the questions is not really interested in the facts. They want the Church to be false. Their minds are closed to the facts of history and to the Spirit and they will not listen to valid and compelling answers which support the Church. They raise issues to criticize rather than because they really want answers. This is obvious because when they are given well documented and compelling answers supported by historic fact they ignore it and continue with their criticism or move on to new criticisms always looking for “reasons” why the Church is false. They get their information from sources that are not accurate. It’s like the story of the Boy who Cried Wolf. They never figure out that the boy is not reliable. They never figure out that their sources are unreliable and deceptive, or they don’t care.

  27. Even This Out

    That’s because they have no idea of what JS did. When some of my friends found out about JS Polyandry they resigned their membership after decades in the church. The church has either sanitized or hidden it’s history, and members have every right to feel angry about the deception that has taken place.
    Well be prepared……the strong women in your universe may start resigning their membership too when they find out they’ve been lied to, by the church they served with such dedication.

    • Dwight Rogers

      I am sorry your friends left the Church because they were uninformed. We are all uninformed to some extent in that nobody can be an expert on every topic or about every historic event. However, when people exercise faith and hold to that which they do know, the things they don’t know are sufficient cause to leave the Church. The Church is true in spite of an perceived warts.

      Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable historical facts from its own people. As scholars and historians mine the historic sources such as diaries and so forth, additional details are leaned that were not previously known or well understood even by Church leadership. It’s not that the Church is hiding these things but rather that they are not known or are not central to the mission of the Church.

      The Church’s’ primary mission is to testify that Jesus Christ is the divine Savior of the world and the Son of God and that His Church is restored to the earth. During regular Sunday church meetings there is not time to delve into all the nuances and details of Church history. That’s why, in addition to Sunday Services, the Church has publications which discuss church history in further detail and that’s why the Church makes the information available to researchers and allows them to publish the information. Members often do not avail themselves of this additional information.

      It is remarkable; however, how many of the issues which critics charge the Church with “suppressing” are discussed first in Church publications. You might be surprised to find out that many of these “hidden” facts are actually hidden in plain sight in Church publications and other scholarly research made available by the Church. It’s not the Church’s fault that some members fall away because they don’t read what’s always been available.

  28. Even This Out

    Quite arrogant of you to assume I’m bitter and negative because I speak the truth about JS history.
    The church should have been more forthcoming about it’s history, it wasn’t , never once did I ever hear about JS alternative lifestyle in church, the impression was always given that it was just Joseph and Emma.
    People are leaving the church faster than the church can keep up, and it’s because all these things are now coming to light
    The church needs to be more transparent not only about it’s history, it should also be more forthcoming about it’s finances,where is all that tithing money going? Just to say at conference that “The finances are in order” is not enough anymore.people are questioning these things, they are questioning the huge mall/complex in SLC that the church built., and wonder why the church is building such a place which apparently cost billions when there are kids starving in this world.
    There are so many issues the church has to deal with, that people protesting this alternative feminist camp & saying that the church YW camp should be the one YW should go to is ludicrous, obviously the “official” camp is not meeting the needs of some YW, and i’m glad there is another one they can go to,where they can actually be themselves.

    • “People are leaving the church faster than the church can keep up” is a liberal apostate fantasy. Thanks to the internet, the minority of malcontents find fellow travelers on the world wide web and gin up the numbers in their minds with every passing whim of delusion.

      I’ve spent the better part of the past two decades serving in six Elders Quorum presidencies, 2 stints as Ward Mission Leader, and participated in other callings requiring attendance in Ward Council. There has been no observable dramatic upheaval in people fleeing the Lord’s church in my sphere, and I live in a VERY liberal part of the United States. During that lengthy period of time I can think of a couple of people whose inactivity might be attributable to their liberalized leanings, but for all intents and purposes there is no substantive flight to speak of.

      I might also add that the caliber of new converts I have encountered has been extraordinary. And to the critics’ dismay, these are people whose non-LDS friends and family have flooded them with every manner of anti-LDS propaganda they can come up with, yet they join the church anyway. They ask questions, including of missionaries ill equipped to respond to the more outrageous claims. Fortunately the members regularly participate in teaching situations, and are largely able to assist when needed. And ultimately, they petition the Lord in humble prayer, and Moroni’s promise contained in chapter 10, verses 3-5, frequently continues to withstand opposition.

      That’s not to say that somebody can’t throw them a curve after they have been baptized. But having already laid a firm foundation with a testimony of the Father and Son, the Restoration, and living prophets, they are able to examine and reject outside criticisms from a greater perspective, reinforced by the undeniable witness of the Holy Ghost.

      With regard to tithes, the biblical obligation is clear. Armed with my firm conviction that the Lord’s anointed aren’t enriching themselves and their families with exotic vacations to Martha’s Vineyard, I am quite content with the stewardship of the Presiding Bishopric and others who are responsible for managing the Lord’s storehouse. It is ridiculous to argue that funds cannot be invested in any number of endeavors so long as there is a starving child in the world. Christ acknowledged, “For ye have the poor with you always.” I welcome the study comparing the contributions of Latter-day Saints, as an institution and as individuals, to the needs of the global poor, contrasted with other religious denominations and secular organizations. I am confident that the results would distinguish the church just fine. But in addition to saving people from hunger (a worthy endeavor to be sure), we also seek to save people from spiritual death, something which requires people and infrastructure as well.

      With regard to the feminist camp, are there actual protesters anywhere? Or do you simply mean rank and file members of the church who take advantage of a public forum to express criticisms of their own as freely as those who champion the camp? In any case, it certainly isn’t the least bit ludicrous to suggest that faithful LDS families should send their children to the respective camps for girls and boys which are designed for their spiritual nourishment. The feminist camp doesn’t give the slightest impression that it has as its goal to inspire new generations of faithful, active Latter-day Saint women. What they seemingly want are future activists who foster doubt in the divine callings of prophets and apostles, foment jealousy of priesthood, and reject the pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose of our Father’s daughters.

  29. Even This Out

    I’ve no idea if there are any protesters to the feminist camp out there in the world, but judging by yourself and a few other posts by other people at the beginning of this thread, it sure does seem YOU have a problem with it, though why I cannot fathom.
    If it is meeting some of the YW needs ~ why is it such a problem to you? They’ve stated they sing hymns and share testimonies of Christ, dosen’t seem so bad to me.
    Why do you think they want future activists ? ( tho that is not a bad thing if they are, young women should be an activist for good if they so wish)
    Maybe you are misconstruing what they are REALLY doing, because it seems to me that they are encouraging YW to be more rounded people, and not so closeted in their own little sphere. After all the world is a big place, and we are encouraged to encompass people from all walks of life, if they stay in their own little comfort zone, how are they ever going to learn to reach out to others in the world ?
    I still say AMEN to this kind of camp for YW ~ and by the sounds of it, it seems like they had a whole load of FUN….nothing wrong with that :-)

  30. I absolutely have a problem with it.

    The desired outcome of the church-sponsored girls camps is that our young women come closer to Christ and stand as witnesses of Him, prepare for missions and marriage, and inculcate the Young Women Values in their lives (Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue).

    Based on what supporters of the feminist camp have written, its point is to drive home feminist ideals and subversive activism, not inspire young women toward the temple and making sacred covenants.

    In the column which prompted this discussion, we read: “it was a treat to hear about the things that make them mad: that girls aren’t valued in China, that puppy mills exist, that kids are starving in the world, and that women can’t bless their babies or pass the sacrament in the LDS Church.”

    Nice to know that feminist agitation about the priesthood, which is a fairly apostate agenda item, is considered a “treat” for the author, and placed on par with the oppression of women in China, starvation, and puppy mills.

    Serious?

    One camp strives to develop life-long faith in the Lord’s true church. The other seemingly seeks to stir anger, doubt, and resentment. And if a young woman were to subsequently fall away, it seems many of the supporters of this camp would cheer her.

    If that meets a young woman’s concept of needs, then her needs aren’t exactly aligned with the Lord’s church. Kind of like the bulk of things this camp’s supporters favor.

  31. Even This Out

    But by your own admission you are saying YW camp is all about indoctrination….not choice.Indoctrinating them towards a temple marriage.

    And why are you saying her needs are not aligned with the lords church ( unless she readily agrees to be barefoot & pregnant as her goal in life )

    It dosen’t matter what YOU perceive a YW needs as, she knows her own needs, and not having a place in the church apparently to express her goals, doubts, fears, & questions,for fear of being accused of not aligning herself with the Lords church,then no wonder camps like this are being attended, so at least the YW have a place to express themselves , rather than live in fear of not measuring up to what the church tells her she should be doing.

    Personally I’m glad they know that girls aren’t valued in China ( because they are not) The YW need to know things that go on in the world like this so they can fight for issues like this.

    Puppy mills DO exist

    Kids ARE starving in the world

    Women CAN’T Bless their babies or pass the sacrament in the LDS church, that’s hardly a secret now is it? YW see this every week, maybe that makes them feel sad to be treated differently @ their own church, maybe it makes them feel mad to be treated unequal to the YM , they have the right to express their feelings on the matter.

    I’m curious why you would not want the YW to have a voice in the world and in the church.

  32. You may find this difficult to believe, but the YW camps of the LDS church amazingly operate from the premise that the church is true, and therefore the doctrines which teach us about our pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identities and purpose are valued by faithful members.

    It is evident by the comments of supporters of the feminist camp that they enjoy a certain cultural connection to the church, but there is no solid conviction that the church is divinely led (or ever has been), and it openly disputes the church’s teachings regarding our true identities and purpose.

    I like how you employ the term “indoctrination” to refer to the church having the audacity to actually teach and model what it actually believes. It is, of course, the job of religion and parents to teach children correct principles so that they retain them throughout their lives.

    In the Old Testament, we read: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

    In modern revelation we also learn the importance of parents teaching their children true gospel principles: “inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (Doctrine & Covenants 68:25)

    I think people’s choice of words (“teaching” vs. “indoctrination”) speaks volumes about whether one approaches this question from the position of a faithful, believing, practicing Latter-day Saint … or something else. And this ends up being evident in the distinct differences between the two camps. For all intents and purposes, you might have well called it “brainwashing” considering your clear contempt for what the church actually is.

    Let’s be clear about something. I not only WANT for the young women of the church to have a voice in the world and within the kingdom, but the church and the world NEEDS for them to lift up their voices and be heard from every climb. Where we differ is on the question of whether the Lord would have them raise their voices in support of His kingdom and His eternal plan for His children, preparing the daughters of God for exaltation, or if He would have His daughters raise their voices in opposition to His kingdom and those He has called and anointed to show us the way back to Him, leading them astray from their celestial potential.

  33. Even This Out

    Can you please tell me why we are even (in a YW camp) preparing 12-18 year olds for marriage? That is too young to be thinking of such things, let them enjoy the world and all that it has to offer before pushing them into a marital situation.
    I can’t fathom why the church is even doing this, there’s plenty of time for that later.
    I would rather girls in my family learn about the world, different cultures, countries, landscapes, science, nature, the arts, photography,space,ecology, music,education,looking out for their neighbour, participate in worthy causes, fundraising for charities for people less fortunate than themselves….by doing ALL of these things and more they will become closer to Christ, and become more well rounded individuals, lets not stifle them at such a young age with talk of marriage,they have their whole life ahead of them to decide that, but they are only young once, lets not put these marriage expectations on them, it’s not fair to them to expect such a thing. For goodness sakes let them have FUN while they are still young, for soon the workforce will be calling them, university will be calling them,missions will be calling them etc, lets not rob these YW of their YOUTH.

    • From a Latter-day Saint perspective, parents and church leaders prepare our youth for LIFE from the cradle. Among the songs children learn in Primary are several which instill a desire to be baptized when eight years old. I can’t remember a time as a child when I WASN’T singing, “I hope they call me on a mission.” And I couldn’t wait to go! And a favorite song since the inception of the current Primary music book is, “I love to see the temple, I’m going there someday.” Preparing our youth for the future is part and parcel of the church.

      The ages of 12-18 are absolutely NOT “too young to be thinking of such things” as marriage. It is EXACTLY the time to develop one’s personal character into the type of person he or she wants to be as a husband or wife, and to be thinking about the attributes that one desires in a future spouse. Yes, one continues to refine these things into young adulthood. Just because the development process begins young, doesn’t mean everything is completely determined in youth. I probably matured and refined my priorities for what I would eventually seek in a spouse more during my mission when I couldn’t even date than I did at any other time in my life. I would argue that waiting until after 18 to begin thinking about these things is not only too late, but probably would lead to making more mistakes in dating and spouse selection than if one has already been contemplating and preparing for marriage much younger.

      There is no law which prohibits our young women from multi-tasking. They are fully capable of preparing for eternal marriage concurrently with learning “about the world, different cultures, countries, landscapes, science, nature, the arts, photography, space, ecology, music, education, looking out for their neighbour, participat[ing] in worthy causes, [and] fundraising for charities for people less fortunate than themselves.” All of these things fall under the Personal Progress program: https://www.lds.org/young-women/personal-progress?lang=eng

      Youthful contemplation and preparation for eternal marriage is hardly stifling. Nobody is rushing our young women to the altar at 18. Fun is a given. Our sons and daughters do not require an engraved invitation to seek it out. The youth program of the church is loaded with it. And most of them would be stunned to learn that there are grown-ups out there who think they are being robbed of their youth with the inclusion of preparation for mission and marriage as part of their religious instruction.

      Other than failing to teach our youth about Jesus Christ and helping them to develop personal relationships with Him, I struggle to come up with anything that would be a greater Epic Fail than neglecting to prepare them properly for one of the most important decisions they will EVER make in eternity.

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