The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage

01 December

lds1In early November 2014 the LDS Church released another essay and this time around the subject matter focuses on the Church’s 1890 Manifesto.

I guess the season to be thankful for God’s blessings includes being thankful for the numerous ways someone can spin a story and garner sympathy from the unsuspecting.

When I read this essay I couldn’t get memories of my great-grandfather out of my head. who shared stories of his childhood with me every time I’d visit. He grew up in a polygamist home and always told me ‘life back then was hard and it ain’t because we didn’t have no money’. Every time I saw him he said the same thing.  Today I wonder if his comments were in reference to raids the US government performed while trying to eradicate polygamy.

Hardships were a result of sharing your mother with 30 or more siblings. Sister-wives were the fabric of his ‘nuclear family’ and in his case there were five moms altogether. Because his mother was not only the youngest, but also the last wife to be added to the harem, his family fell at the bottom of the pecking order when it came to doling out food supplies, money, etc.

I’ve often wondered what he must’ve gone through as a child when the feds performed raids on active polygamist families. Imagine having to hide your father underground if the cops came knocking… This conjures up images of scared little kids who grow up disrespecting government authorities as well as being taught how to lie by those who are supposedly following God. It just boggles my brain…

Scenarios like this are part of what the Church touched upon in their essay this time. The missing element in their essay is the part on being taught how to lie, thus our response today.

While not going into every comment they made we’ll be focusing on major points and comparing  them with what they’ve said in the past and with what our Lord says in His word. Here we go so hang on!

“For much of the 19th century, a significant number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practiced plural marriage—”

The operative word in that statement is significant. We’re always wondering why they have to lie about the lies they’ve told. Think about that for a moment…they’re lying about the lies they’ve told.  Really?  Not only is it a sin, it’s just unbecoming and not something you’d expect coming from a large corporation, let alone a ‘Christian church’. The comment above is the exact opposite of what they said in a previous essay from December 2013 –

“…for more than half a century, plural marriage was practiced bysome Latter-day Saints.”

They compounded their dishonesty problem by going on to say that polygamy wasn’t a mandate.

“Though not all Church members were expected to enter into plural marriage, those who did so believed they would be blessed for their participation.”

Now if you’ve spent any time at all on this blog or any other website focusing on the Mormon polygamy problem you’ll know straightaway this is a lie. The Church went out of its way to advise members that without polygamy there is no salvation. Consider some of their teachings we’ve listed here –

Denial of Polygamy Brings Damnation – Brigham Young

Polygamy Fulfills God’s Promises – D&C 132:34

Kingdom of God Stops with no Polygamy – John Taylor

Polygamy Most Important Doctrine – Joseph F. Smith

The teachings listed above are just a few of the times LDS leaders have pounded the pulpit with the message that damnation follows if polygamy isn’t practiced. I’m just heartbroken they’d lie in such bold ways and with no sign of remorse.

Without skipping a beat the next part of the essay begins with their long-winded, woe-is-me saga pointing out that polygamy was practiced worldwide; as if offering a decoy of other people’s sin makes their behavior more palatable…

“In many parts of the world, polygamy was socially acceptable and legally permissible.”

We have to ask; what does this have to do with being a Christian and obeying Jesus?

The word of God says not to lie and Jesus told the Pharisees that a man should cleave to his wife, not wives.

Matthew 19:5; “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” 

Psalm 101:7; “He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.”

Furthermore, just because it was legal in other parts of the world doesn’t mean it was legal here in the US and doesn’t exempt members of the LDS Church from obeying the law. It also shows the contradictions they keep shoveling out to the public. Here’s what it says in their Articles of Faith 1:12;

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

How do the illegal activities of the Church measure up to their own self-proclaimed standard?

“Beginning in 1862, the U.S. government passed a series of laws designed to force Latter-day Saints to relinquish plural marriage.”

Polygamy laws in Illinois 1833While the statement above is ‘technically’ true, they know for a fact that many states had individually outlawed polygamy by 1862.  Illinois, for example, had passed an anti-bigamy law way back in 1833 and yet the Church broke that law every single day they resided there.

What’s so shameful about this statement is how the Church has already published documentation contradicting what they’ve said – 

“Through the Nauvoo period polygamy was a criminal act under the Illinois 1833 antibigamy law, which remained unchanged during statute revision in 1845. Polygamy, thus defined, was punishable by fines of $1000 and two years imprisonment (previously married persons) or $500 and one year imprisonment (previously single persons) (Revised Laws of Illinois 1833 and revised Statutes of the State of Illinois 1845, secs. 121, 122, University of Chicago Law Library).” –  Nauvoo Demographic Report – George Smith

The essay reported the Church admitted to breaking US laws for the sake of obeying what God had told them to do. They even went so far as to admit that Church leaders had either gone into hiding, or came up with aliases to trick the Feds. If those things didn’t work they’d turn themselves in and served time in the state pen. What they didn’t do is show any remorse for lying.

What I found deplorable is the cavalier attitude they adopted when they briefly acknowledged the difficulties the wives and kids went through when husbands chose to abandon them. Those memories of my grandfather came to mind…

“Church leaders encouraged members to obey God rather than man. Many Latter-day Saints embarked on a course of civil disobedience during the 1880s by continuing to live in plural marriage and to enter into new plural marriages.6 The federal government responded by enacting ever more punishing legislation.”

Why have they made it sound as if the fault was caused by outsiders? And why are they incorporating their ‘endure to the end’, feel sorry for me drama? This isn’t what God mandated, it’s what Church leaders did to themselves.

“Despite countless difficulties, many Latter-day Saints were convinced that the antipolygamy campaign was useful in accomplishing God’s purposes. They testified that God was humbling and purifying His covenant people as He had done in ages past.”

You’ll notice the similarities of why God was punishing the Israelites and why the Mormons were in trouble with the US government; they were both living in disobedience and breaking laws. For whatever reasons the disconnect in figuring this out, both then and now, continued on.

“After two decades of seeking either to negotiate a change in the law or avoid its disastrous consequences, Church leaders began to investigate alternative responses.”

Why? Why are they seeking alternatives when clearly there aren’t any? The word ‘no’ is pretty simple and should’ve been self-explanatory, yet the continued their nefarious deeds –

“In 1885 and 1886 they established settlements in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law, where polygamous families could live peaceably. Hoping that a moderation in their position would lead to a reduction in hostilities, Church leaders advised plural husbands to live openly with only one of their wives, and advocated that plural marriage not be taught publicly. In 1889, Church authorities prohibited the performance of new plural marriages in Utah.13

Church leaders prayerfully sought guidance from the Lord and struggled to understand what they should do. Both President John Taylor and President Wilford Woodruff felt the Lord directing them to stay the course and not renounce plural marriage.14 This inspiration came when paths for legal redress were still open.”

Their inspiration obviously didn’t come from the Lord or His word and if this was truly inspired of God why are they directing members to hide their activities?

Furthermore, they were fully aware that laws prohibiting polygamy in Mexico had been passed in 1884 and Canada had adopted the anti-polygamy laws of the US.

As they laboriously continued to fess up on their illegal activities, at one point I began thinking ‘oh good they’re telling the truth!’, but I was disappointed again when they lied and said the number of marriages performed after 1890 were very few and details of who authorized the marriages was unknown.

Now the reason I’m hounding on this is because of my relatives. My family wasn’t ever one of the elite hierarchy in the Church and by no means were they ever mentioned in any remarkable events of Mormondom. They’ve always been just another name on the roster and filled the endless list of average temple worthy members. How could an average church member end up being so honored by the Mormon hierarchy and allowed to engage in polygamous activities?

“Under exceptional circumstances, a smaller number of new plural marriages were performed in the United States between 1890 and 1904, though whether the marriages were authorized to have been performed within the states is unclear.35

“The precise number of new plural marriages performed during these years, inside and outside the United States, is unknown…”

“The exact process by which these marriages were approved remains unclear…”

“After Joseph F. Smith became Church President in 1901, a small number of new plural marriages were also performed during the early years of his administration.42…”

As I said, the red flag in this claim is my family; they just so happened to be one of those supposed few. For years I wondered how they would’ve been part of such an elite group in Mormonism. My suspicions that polygamous marriages were the norm in the Post-Manifesto era proved to be true when I came across a lengthy, but must-read essay, by D. Michael Quinn, ‘LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904’.

‘…The Manifesto is a Deception’, Smoot Case 4:481

In addition to the quote above pulled from the Reed Smoot hearings, Mr. Quinn also pointed out that the Church was fully aware of its unlawful behavior not only in Utah, but Canada, Mexico and throughout the entire U.S. as well. ‘LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904’, p 17.

Quinn summed up the inner workings of the LDS leadership then and now by stating;

‘The illegality, secrecy, and self-protection of the individual and the institution all contributed toward the final complication in the history of polygamy among the Mormons: the meaning and application of “truth.”’

Quoting Joseph Smith and Mormon apostle Abraham H. Cannon [pp 18-19], Quinn also provided statements from both men to back his claim –

“That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill;’ at another time He said ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven…” – Joseph Smith

“It is good to always tell the truth, but not always to tell the whole of what we know.” – Abraham H. Cannon

One of the most elusive things in Mormonism has always been truth and it’s a puzzlement to me that they’re always in desperate need of it. In a series of questions Quinn posed in his essay [pp 12-13], two stood out to me –

“Were new plural marriages actually performed after the 1890 Manifesto?…” 

Answer: yes.

“How many new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904?”

Answer: over 2,000.

Did you notice how the Church’s info contradicts what Mr. Quinn said? I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

To borrow from Shakespeare, this essay is ‘much ado about nothing’. All they’ve done is rearrange some of their previous lies in the hopes that by throwing everything they have against a wall something will stick. Unfortunately their insanity of lying, false prophecies and wholesale adultery will garner the sympathies of unsuspecting seekers of truth.

Pray for those who read their essay won’t you? Pray that eyes will be opened and His Holy Spirit will guide the Mormon people to the door of a true Christian church and away from the lies of Mormonism.

With Love in Christ;

Michelle

1 Cor 1:18

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