Anda di halaman 1dari 85

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Why$I$Question$Church&Leaders!
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All!too!often,!people!of!faith!like!to!enumerate!the!sins!of!other!
!traditions!while!ignoring!the!stains!on!their!own.!
Karen!Armstrong!
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Latter;day! Saints! have! one! relatively! unique! form! of! protec;
tion!against!the!doctrines!of!men!recorded!in!scripture:!a!belief!in!
the! guidance! of! modern! prophets.! Thankfully,! members! of! the!
church! say,! we! can! count! on! modern! prophets! to! lead! us.! It! is!
clear! why! we! should! question! the! scriptures! and! virtually! every!
member! of! the! church! already! does! so.! What! about! questioning!
modern!prophets!and!other!church!leaders?!
Lets!imagine!for!a!moment!that!the!church!were!to!release!a!
new!revelation.!After!years!of!declaring!that!its!position!was!plain,!
as! outlined! in! numerous! official! statementsincluding! the! 1995!
Proclamation! to! the! World! on! the! familyand! that! it! would! not!
change,!the!Church!of!Jesus!Christ!of!Latter;Day!Saints!at!last!an;
nounced! full! acceptance! of! homosexuals.! The! declaration,! signed!
by!the!First!Presidency,!might!read!as!follows:!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

To!all!members!of!The!Church!of!Jesus!Christ!of!LatterT
day!Saints!throughout!the!world:!
Dear!Brothers!and!Sisters:!
As!we!have!witnessed!the!expansion!of!the!work!of!the!
Lord! over! the! earth,! we! have! been! grateful! that! people! of!
many! nations! have! responded! to! the! message! of! the! reT
stored! gospel,! and! have! joined! the! Church! in! everT
increasing! numbers.! This,! in! turn,! has! inspired! us! with! a!
desire!to!extend!to!every!worthy!member!of!the!Church!the!
privileges!and!blessings!which!the!gospel!affords.!
Aware!of!the!promises!made!by!the!prophets!and!presT
idents!of!the!Church!who!have!preceded!us!that!God!loves!
all! His! children! unconditionally,! and! witnessing! the! faithT
fulness! of! those! who! have! struggled! with! sameTgender! atT
traction,! we! have! pleaded! long! and! earnestly! in! behalf! of!
these,! our! faithful! brothers! and! sisters,! spending! many!
hours! in! the! Upper! Room! of! the! Temple! supplicating! the!
Lord!for!divine!guidance.!
He! has! heard! our! prayers,! and! by! revelation! has! conT
firmed!that!the!day!has!come!when!every!faithful!member!
of!the!Church!may!enter!the!covenant!of!marriage,!and!enT
joy! with! their! loved! ones! every! blessing! that! flows! thereT
from,!including!all!the!blessings!of!the!temple.!Accordingly,!
all! worthy! members! of! the! Church! may! be! sealed! in! the!
temple!for!time!and!all!eternity,!without!regard!for!sexual!
orientation.!Priesthood!leaders!are!instructed!to!follow!the!
policy! of! carefully! interviewing! all! candidates! for! temple!
marriage! to! ensure! that! they! meet! the! established! standT
ards!for!worthiness.!
We! declare! with! soberness! that! the! Lord! has! now!
made! known! his! will! for! the! blessing! of! all! his! children!
throughout! the! earth! who! will! hearken! to! the! voice! of! his!
authorized! servants,! and! prepare! themselves! to! receive!
every!blessing!of!the!gospel.!
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Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

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That!revelation!may!sound!a!bit!farfetched.!After!all,!marriage!
between!a!man!and!a!woman!is!a!critical!part!of!the!plan!of!salva;
tion!and!central!to!the!purpose!of!the!eternal!family!unit.1!Such!a!
crucial!doctrine!could!never!change.!
Then!again!
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Evolution!
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I!will!begin!with!a!simple!topic,!a!doctrine!that!has!remained!
largely!unchanged!over!the!course!of!church!history.!I!remember!
well!my!first!semester!of!college!at!BYU.!My!day!began!with!Biol;
ogy!130,!held!in!a!building!named!after!Joseph!Smith!in!an!audito;
rium! that! seated! almost! one! thousand! students.! The! room! was!
packed.!The!professor,!who!was!LDS,!stood!on!a!stage!overlooking!
his! captive! young! audience.! One! of! the! first! things! the! professor!
taught!was!that!the!church!had!never!made!an!official!statement!
regarding!evolution,!thus!we!were!free!to!study!it.!For!the!rest!of!
the!semester!we!learned,!among!other!things,!the!remarkable!ins!
and! outs! of! evolution,! the! decades! of! research! upon! which! the!
theory!is!built,!and!its!incredible!usefulness!in!the!progress!of!bi;
ology!and!medicine.!
I!loved!the!class,!but!I!could!not!shake!what!the!professor!had!
said! about! the! churchs! stance! on! evolution.! Since! Darwin! pub;
lished!On!the!Origin!of!Species!in!1859,!it!seemed!as!if!every!reli;
gion! had! something! to! say! about! the! matter.! Surely! the! church!
had!made!a!statement.!
Lets!begin!with!President!John!Taylor:!
"The!animal!and!vegetable!creations!are!governed!by!certain!
laws,! and! are! composed! of! certain! elements! peculiar! to! them;
selves.!This!applies!to!man,!to!the!beasts,!fowls,!fish!and!creeping!
things,!to!the!insects!and!to!all!animated!nature!These!principles!
do! not! change,! as! represented! by! evolutionists! of! the! Darwinian!
school,!but!the!primitive!organisms!of!all!living!beings!exist!in!

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!The! plan! of! salvation! is! the! name! Latter;day! Saints! give! to! Gods! plan! for! us.! It!
includes!the!doctrine!that!families!can!be!together!forever,!in!this!life!and!the!next.!

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36!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

the!same!form!as!when!they!first!received!their!impress!from!
the!Maker.2!!
In!a!2002!edition!of!the!Ensign!the!following!was!printed:!
In! the! early! 1900s,! questions! concerning! the! Creation!
of!the!earth!and!the!theories!of!evolution!became!the!subT
ject!of!much!public!discussion.!In!the!midst!of!these!controT
versies,! the! First! Presidency! issued! the! following! in! 1909,!
which!expresses!the!Churchs!doctrinal!position!on!theT
se!matters.!A!reprinting!of!this!important!First!Presidency!
statement! will! be! helpful! as! members! of! the! Church! study!
the!Old!Testament!this!year.3!
The!1909!document!states:!
It!is!held!by!some!that!Adam!was!not!the!first!man!upon!this!
earth!and!that!the!original!human!being!was!a!development!from!
lower!orders!of!the!animal!creation.!These,!however,!are!the!theo;
ries!of!men.!
The! church! reaffirmed! its! positionusing! almost! identical!
wording! to! the! 1909! declarationin! 1925,4!the! same! year! that!
the!famous!Scopes!monkey!trial!captured!the!nations!attention.!
In!1988!Apostle!Boyd!K.!Packer!reaffirmed!the!doctrine:!
"Twice! the! First! Presidency! has! declared! the! position! of! the!
Church! on! organic! evolution.! The! first,! a! statement! published! in!
1909!entitled!The!Origin!of!Man!was!signed!by!Presidents!Joseph!
F.!Smith,!John!R.!Winder,!and!Anthon!H.!Lund.!The!other,!entitled!
Mormon! View! of! Evolution,! signed! by! Presidents! Heber! J.! Grant,!
Anthony!W.!Ivins,!and!Charles!W.!Nibley,!was!published!in!1925.!It!
follows! very! closely! the! first! statement,! indeed! quotes! directly!
from!it.!The!doctrines!in!both!of!them!are!consistent!and!have!not!
changed.5!

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2!John! Taylor,! An!Examination!Into!and!an!Elucidation!of!the!Great!Principle!of!the!
Mediation!and!Atonement!of!Our!Lord!and!Savior!Jesus!Christ,!1882.!
3!The! Origin! of! Man,! Ensign,! February! 2002,! p.! 26.! The! Ensign! is! the! official!
monthly!church!magazine.!
4!Mormon!View!of!Evolution,!Statement!of!the!First!Presidency,!Deseret!News,!!
July!18,!1925.!
5!The!Law!and!the!Light,!Book!of!Mormon!Symposium,!BYU,!October!30,!1988.!

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Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

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The! current! edition! of! the! Old! Testament! Student! Manual:!


GenesisT2!Samuel!(2003),!published!by!the!church!under!the!direc;
tion!of!the!First!Presidency,!also!addresses!evolution:!
In! relation! to! this! theory,! the! following! statements! should!
help!you!understand!what!the!Church!teaches!about!the!Creation!
and!the!origin!of!man.!!
The! manual! quotes! the! churchs! 1909! declaration! and! in;
cludes!the!following!statements!from!church!leaders:!
We!came!not!from!some!menial!order!of!life.6!
That!doctrine![of!evolution]!is!so!incompatible,!so!utterly!out!
of!harmony!with!the!revelations!of!the!Lord!that!a!man!just!can;
not!believe!in!both!I!say!most!emphatically,!you!cannot!believe!
in! this! theory! of! the! origin! of! man,! and! at! the! same! time! ac[
cept!the!plan!of!salvation!you!must!choose!the!one!and!re[
ject! the! other,! for! they! are! in! direct! conflict! and! there! is! a! gulf!
separating!them!which!is!so!great!that!it!cannot!be!bridged.7!
The! Old! Testament! Student! Manual! goes! on! to! explainfor!
several! pageswhy! evolution! is! not! true.8!For! Latter;day! Saints,!
the! teachings! about! evolution! are! not! unimportant! fringe! doc;
trines.!As!Apostle!Joseph!Fielding!Smith!stated,!the!theory!of!evo;
lution!directly!contradicts!the!plan!of!salvation.!!
Despite!official!church!statements,!evolution!is!taught!openly!
and!in!its!entirety!at!all!LDS!schools!and!not!all!general!authorities!
agreed! with! the! church.! These! church! leaders! questioned! LDS!
answers!to!scientific!questions!and!found!them!indefensible.!Sev;
eral! leaders! publically! refused! to! accept! the! churchs! doctrine!
against!evolution.!Apostles!James!E.!Talmage!and!John!A.!Widtsoe!
and!First!Council!of!the!Seventy!B.!H.!Roberts!argued!tirelessly!in!
favor!of!evolution!and!of!all!scientific!progress.9!Widtsoe!wrote:!

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!Apostle!George!Albert!Smith,!General!Conference,!October!1925.!
!Apostle!Joseph!Fielding!Smith,!Doctrines!of!Salvation,!Bookcraft,!1999,!Vol.!1,!!
p.!141;42.!
8!Old!Testament!Student!Manual:!Genesis!T!2!Samuel,!2003,!(section!2;18),!p.!33;36.!
9!The!Search!for!Harmony:!Essays!on!Science!and!Mormonism,!edited!by!Gene!A.!
Sessions!and!Craig!J.!Oberg,!Signature!Books,!1993,!
http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/harmony/chapter6.htm.!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

"The!Church!supports!and!welcomes!the!growth!of!science!
The!religion!of!the!Latter;day!Saints!is!not!hostile!to!any!truth,!nor!
to!scientific!search!for!truth."10!
Apostle! B.! H.! Roberts,! following! Widtsoe,! also! asserted! the!
truth! of! evolution,! and! of! the! existence! of! humans! and! death! on!
earth!prior!to!Adams!arrival!in!the!garden!of!Eden.!His!teachings!
were! publically! criticized! by! Apostle! Joseph! Fielding! Smith,! but!
Roberts! held! firm.! Roberts! appealed! to! President! Heber! J.! Grant!
several!times;!Grant!made!no!public!declaration!either!way.!
Apostle!Talmage!was!a!geologist!and!affirmed!Roberts!views!
on!the!existence!of!humans!and!death!before!Adam.!Talmage!was!
disturbed!at!Joseph!Fielding!Smiths!rejection!of!science!and!was!
especially! upset! at! Smiths! uneducated! statements! regarding! ge;
ology;! the! two! argued! for! years.! Like! Roberts,! Talmage! appealed!
to!President!Grant.!This!time!the!church!spoke!in!favor!of!science.!!
After!Talmages!death,!Widtsoe!continued!to!promote!the!late!
Apostles! views.! Other! apostles! such! as! Reed! Smoot,! Joseph! F.!
Merrill,!Richard!R.!Lyman!and!George!F.!Richards!also!spoke!and!
wrote!in!favor!of!science.!
As! we! can! see,! many! apostles! questioned! the! churchs! anti;
evolution! stance! and! we! can! question! it,! too.! Which! prophets! do!
you! believe?! Do! you! believe! the! prophets! who! accept! evolution,!
which!is!supported!by!an!abundance!of!research!and!accepted!by!
virtually!all!biologistsincluding!LDS!biologistsworldwide?!Or!
do!you!deny!evolution!and!believe!the!churchs!official!position?!
I!believe!the!biologists!and!the!geologists!and!the!paleontolo;
gists!and!all!the!other!scientists,!including!general!authorities!like!
Talmage,! Widstoe! and! Roberts.! I! will! not! ignore! the! painstaking!
work! of! good! and! intelligent! people! who! have! spent! their! lives!
expanding! the! understanding! of! the! human! race! simply! because!
some!church!leaders!tell!me!to.!
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10 !Evidences! and! Reconciliations:! Aids! to! Faith! in! a! Modern! Day,! Vol.! 1,! Bookcraft,!
1943,!p.!129.!Sadly,!while!many!general!authorities!welcome!science,!the!doctrines!
of!the!church!do!not!live!up!to!Widtsoes!words.!

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Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

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The!Nature!of!God!
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The!evolution!of!man!is!one!thing.!What!about!the!evolution!
of!God?!The!nature!of!God!has!undergone!significant!revision!be;
tween!Joseph!Smiths!day!and!our!own.!Let!us!begin!with!what!the!
church!originally!taught.!Joseph!Smith!said:!
"God!himself!was!once!as!we!are!now,!and!is!an!exalted!man,!
and!sits!enthroned!in!yonder!heavens!!It!is!the!first!principle!of!
the!gospel!to!know!for!a!certainty!the!character!of!God!yea,!that!
God! himself,! the! father! of! us! all,! dwelt! on! an! earth,! the! same! as!
Jesus!Christ!himself!did.11!
Im!sure!most!of!my!LDS!readers!are!familiar!with!the!couplet!
by!President!Lorenzo!Snow!that!teaches!the!same!principle:!
As!man!now!is,!God!once!was;!
As!God!now!is,!man!may!be.12!!
Brigham!Young!said:!
It!is!one!of!the!first!principles!of!the!doctrine!of!salvation!to!
become! acquainted! with! our! Father! and! our! God! no! man! can!
enjoy!or!be!prepared!for!eternal!life!without!that!knowledge.13!
The! doctrine! that! we! will! one! day! become! gods! is! a! funda;
mental! tenet! of! LDS! theology,! taught! by! almost! every! prophet!
since! Joseph! Smith.! President! Brigham! Young! revealed! further!
detail.!In!General!Conference!he!announced:!
Now!hear!it,!O!inhabitants!of!the!earth,!Jew!and!Gentile,!Saint!
and!sinner!!When!our!father!Adam!came!into!the!garden!of!Eden,!
he!came!into!it!with!a!celestial!body,!and!brought!Eve,!one!of!his!
wives,!with!him.!He!helped!to!make!and!organize!this!world.!He!is!
MICHAEL,! the! Archangel,! the! ANCIENT! OF! DAYS!! about! whom!
holy! men! have! written! and! spoken! ! HE! is! our! FATHER! and! our!
GOD,!and!the!only!God!with!whom!WE!have!to!do.!Every!man!up;
on! the! earth,! professing! Christians! or! nonprofessing,! must! hear!
it,!and!will!know!it!sooner!or!later.14!

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!HC!Vol.!6,!p.!305.!
!The!Teachings!of!Lorenzo!Snow,!edited!by!Clyde!J.!Williams,!Bookcraft,!1984,!p.!1.!
13 !February!8,!1857,!JD!Vol.!4.!
14 !April!9,!1852,!JD!Vol.!1,!emphasis!in!original.!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

Lest!he!was!unclear!or!his!listeners!took!his!words!lightly,!in!
the!same!talk!Brigham!Young!said:!
Jesus,! our! elder! brother,! was! begotten! in! the! flesh! by! the!
same! character! that! was! in! the! garden! of! Eden,! and! who! is! our!
Father! in! Heaven.! Now,! let! all! who! may! hear! these! doctrines,!
pause!before!they!make!light!of!them,!or!treat!them!with!in[
difference,!for!they!will!prove!their!salvation!or!damnation.15!
Adam!is!God!the!Father.!This!was!taught!by!the!president!of!
the! church! in! General! Conference.! The! talk! was! closed! with! a!
warning!that!people!had!better!pay!attention,!for!it!would!prove!
their! salvation! or! damnation.! The! text! of! the! talk! was! read! and!
approved!by!Brigham!Young!and!his!counselors!in!the!First!Presi;
dency!before!it!was!published.!Brigham!Young!taught!the!Adam;
God!doctrine!throughout!his!presidency.!He!repeated!the!doctrine!
on!February!19,!185416!and!again!in!General!Conference!on!Octo;
ber!6,!1854.17!In!a!later!General!Conference!he!said:!
"Some!years!ago,!I!advanced!a!doctrine!with!regard!to!Adam!
being! our! father! and! God,! that! will! be! a! curse! to! many! of! the! El;
ders! of! Israel! because! of! their! folly.! With! regard! to! it! they! yet!
grovel!in!darkness!and!will.!It!is!one!of!the!most!glorious!reveal;
ments!of!the!economy!of!heaven,!yet!the!world!holds!derision.18!
In!1873!he!said:!
How! much! unbelief! exists! in! the! minds! of! the! Latter;day!
Saints! in! regard! to! one! particular! doctrine! which! is! revealed! to!
them,! and! which! God! revealed! to! menamely! that! Adam! is! our!
father!and!God.19!
Shortly! before! his! death,! Brigham! Young! taught! the! doctrine!
during!an!endowment!session!at!the!St.!George!temple:!
"Adam!was!an!immortal!being!when!he!came!on!this!earth!he!
had! lived! on! an! earth! similar! to! ours! and! had! begotten! all! the!
spirit!that!was!to!come!to!this!earth!and!Eve!our!common!Mother!

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!April!9,!1852,!JD!Vol.!1.!
!Wilford!Woodruff!Journal,!February!19,!1854.!
17 !JD!Vol.!2.!
18 !October!8,!1861,!manuscript!addresses!of!Brigham!Young,!G.D.!Watt!transcribing.!
19 !Deseret!Weekly!News,!June!18,!1873.!
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who! is! the! mother! of! all! living! bore! those! spirits! in! the! celestial!
world.! Father! Adams! oldest! son! (Jesus! the! Saviour)! who! is! the!
heir!of!the!family!is!Father!Adams!first!begotten!in!the!spirit!World!
who!according!to!the!flesh!is!the!only!begotten!as!it!is!written.!In!
his!divinity!he!having!gone!back!into!the!spirit!World!and!come!in!
the! spirit! [glory]! to! Mary! and! she! conceived! for! when! Adam! and!
Eve! got! through! with! their! Work! in! this! earth.! They! did! not! lay!
their! bodies! down! in! the! dust,! but! returned! to! the! spirit! World!
from!whence!they!came."20!
The! doctrine! was! disseminated! throughout! the! church.! The!
December!10,!1853!edition!of!the!Millennial!Star!included!an!arti;
cle!titled,!Adam,!The!Father!and!God!of!the!Human!Family.21!In!a!
talk!on!June!29,!1856,!Apostle!Heber!C.!Kimball!said:!
"I! have! learned! by! experience! that! there! is! but! one! God! that!
pertains! to! this! people,! and! He! is! the! God! that! pertains! to! this!
earththe!first!man.22!
The!doctrine!was!incorporated!into!hymns.!Sacred!Hymns!and!
Spiritual!Songs!for!The!Church!of!Jesus!Christ!of!LatterTday!Saints,!
the!LDS!hymnbook!printed!in!England!in!1856,!included!a!song!on!
page!375!titled!We!Believe!in!Our!God!that!proclaimed:!
We!believe!in!our!God!the!great!Prince!of!His!race,!
The!Archangel!Michael,!the!Ancient!of!Days,!
Our!own!Father!Adam,!earth's!Lord,!as!is!plain,!
Who'll!counsel!and!fight!for!his!children!again.23!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!L.! John! Nuttall! Journal,! February! 7,! 1877,! BYU! Special! Collections.! Mr.! Nuttall!
was! personal! secretary! to! Brigham! Young.! The! endowment! is! a! ceremony! per;
formed! in! temples.! Temple! ordinances! are! sacred! to! Latter;day! Saints! and! I! will!
only!share!information!about!the!temple!that!the!church!has!stated!can!be!taught!
publically.!In!General!Conference!Brigham!Young!said,!Let!me!give!you!the!defini;
tion! in! brief.! Your! endowment! is,! to! receive! all! those! ordinances! in! the! House! of!
the!Lord,!which!are!necessary!for!you,!after!you!have!departed!this!life,!to!enable!
you! to! walk! back! to! the! presence! of! the! Father,! passing! the! angels! who! stand! as!
sentinels,!being!enabled!to!give!them!the!key!words,!the!signs!and!tokens,!pertain;
ing! to! the! Holy! Priesthood,! and! gain! your! eternal! exaltation!in! spite! of! earth! and!
hell.!(April!6,!1853,!JD!Vol.!2.)!
21 !The!Millennial!Star!was!the!churchs!longest!continuously!published!periodical.!!
It!was!replaced!by!the!Ensign!in!1970.!
22 !JD!Vol.!4.!
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President! Wilford! Woodruff! taught! the! doctrine! after!


Brigham! Youngs! death.! In! a! private! council! meeting! on! April! 4,!
1897!he!said:!
Adam! is! our! father! and! God! and! no! use! to! discuss! it! with!
[the]!Josephites!or!anyone!else.24!
Why!did!President!Woodruff!no!longer!wish!to!share!the!doc;
trine! publically?! It! might! be! because! other! general! authorities!
doubted! the! teaching,! despite! promises! of! damnation.! Apostle!
Orson!Pratt!disagreed!with!the!doctrine!both!in!public!and!in!pri;
vate.! He! did! so! even! while! President! Young! was! alive,! for! which!
Pratt!was!publically!rebuked.25!Because!Pratt!and!otherssuch!as!
Apostle! Amasa! Lyman26thought! the! doctrine! ridiculous,! per;
haps!Woodruff!no!longer!taught!it!in!order!to!preserve!the!peace.!
Regardless,!there!appear!to!be!no!overt!doctrinal!problems!in!
what! I! have! shared! so! far.! The! prophets! have! spoken! on! the! na;
ture!of!GodHe!was!once!a!man!like!us!and!He!is!Adamand!an!
understanding! of! that! nature! is! the! first! principle! of! the! gospel!
and!essential!to!our!salvation.!
Do!you!believe!that!God!was!once!a!man?!How!about!that!Ad;
am! is! God! the! Father?! Faithful! Latter;day! Saints! will! usually! say!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
23 !Another! hymn,! first! printed! in! the! Millennial! Star! on! April! 13,! 1861,! is! titled!
Sons!of!Michael!and!begins:!
Sons!of!Michael,!he!approaches!!
Rise;!the!Eternal!Father!greet!
This!hymn!can!still!be!found!in!the!LDS!hymnbook!(hymn!#51)!but!the!references!
to!the!archangel!Michael!(who!is!Adam!in!LDS!theology)!have!been!changed.!
24 !Brigham!Young!Jr.!Journal!Vol.!30,!p.!107.!Josephites!refers!to!a!group!of!saints!
who!disagreed!with!the!direction!the!church!was!going!under!Brigham!Young!and!
were! especially! opposed! to! the! doctrine! of! polygamy.! They! eventually! split! from!
the! followers! of! Brigham! Youngthen! known! as! Brighamitesto! become! the!
Reorganized!Church!of!Jesus!Christ!of!Latter;Day!Saints.!
25 !Thomas!Evans!Jeremy!Sr.!Journal,!September!30,!1852;!see!also!William!Clayton!
Journal,!October!3,!1852;!see!also!Orson!Pratt,!The!Preexistence!of!Man,!The!Seer,!
October! 1853;! see! also! Gary! James! Bergera,! The! Orson! Pratt;Brigham! Young!
Controversies:!Conflict!within!the!Quorums,!1853!to!1868,!Dialogue:!A!Journal!of!
Mormon!Thought!Vol.!13,!1980.!
26 !"Minutes!of!the!School!of!the!Prophets,"!Provo,!Utah,!1868;71,!p.!38;!typed!copy!
at!Utah!State!Historical!Society.!

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

43!

yes! to! the! first! and! no! to! the! second,! though! both! were!
taughtoften! by! the! same! prophetsas! doctrine! from! God.!
There! would! be! little! room! for! confusion! today! if! later! church!
leaders!had!not!contradicted!what!early!leaders!taught.!In!an!in;
terview!for!the!San!Francisco!Chronicle!on!April!13,!1997,!a!ques;
tion!was!asked!of!President!Gordon!B.!Hinckley:!
There! are! some! significant! differences! in! your! beliefs! [and!
other! Christian! churches].! For! instance,! don't! Mormons! believe!
that!God!was!once!a!man?!
President!Hinckley!responded:!
I! wouldn't! say! that.! There! was! a! little! couplet! coined,! As!
man! is,! God! once! was.! As! God! is,! man! may! become.! Now! that's!
more!of!a!couplet!than!anything!else.27!
In!an!interview!for!Time!Magazine!on!August!4,!1997,!Presi;
dent!Hinckley!was!asked:!
God! the! Father! was! once! a! man! as! we! were.! This! is! some;
thing! that! Christian! writers! are! always! addressing.! Is! this! the!
teaching!of!the!church!today,!that!God!the!Father!was!once!a!man!
like!we!are?!
He!responded:!
I!don't!know!that!we!teach!it.!I!don't!know!that!we!empha;
size! it.! I! haven't! heard! it! discussed! for! a! long! time! in! public! dis;
course.! I! don't! know.! I! don't! know! all! the! circumstances! under!
which! that! statement! was! made.! I! understand! the! philosophical!
background!behind!it.!But!I!don't!know!a!lot!about!it!and!I!don't!
know!that!others!know!a!lot!about!it.28!
Yet!Joseph!Smith!himself!said:!
It!is!the!first!principle!of!the!Gospel!to!know!for! a! certainty!
the!character!of!God!and!to!know!that!we!may!converse!with!him!
as!one!man!converses!with!another,!and!that!he!was!once!a!man!
like!us.29!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!http://tinyurl.com/2fcp27x.!(http://www.sfgate.com/cgi;
bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1997/04/13/SC36289.DTL&hw=hinckley&sn=001&sc=1000.)!
28 !Time!Magazine!interview,!http://tinyurl.com/2dxwouq.!
(http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,986794,00.html.)!
29 !April!6,!1844,!JD!Vol.!6.!
27

!
44!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

On! one! hand! we! have! the! prophet! Joseph! asserting! that! it! is!
the!first!principle!of!the!gospel!to!know!that!God!was!once!a!man!
like!us,!and!on!the!other!we!have!the!prophet!Gordon!B.!Hinckley!
saying,!I!wouldnt!say!that,!and!I!dont!know!that!we!teach!it.!!
Joseph!Smith!and!virtually!every!prophet!since!have!taught!it.!
Even!if!President!Hinckley!understood!the!doctrine!that!God!was!
once! a! man,! his! public! statements! are! very! misleading.! Dont! get!
me! wrong;! I! think! President! Hinckley! was! a! spectacular! human!
being.!Unfortunately,!in!these!interviews!he!sounded!more!like!a!
savvy! public! relations! man! deliberately! downplaying! an! uncom;
fortable!doctrine!than!a!prophet!of!God!boldly!speaking!truth.!
The! teaching! that! Adam! is! God! the! Father! has! also! been!
brought!into!question!by!a!more!recent!prophet.!In!General!Con;
ference!President!Spencer!W.!Kimball!said:!
!We! warn! you! against! the! dissemination! of! doctrines! which!
are!not!according!to!the!scriptures!Such,!for!instance,!is!the!Ad;
am;God!theory.!We!denounce!that!theory!and!hope!that!everyone!
will!be!cautioned!against!this!and!other!kinds!of!false!doctrine.30!
Thus! was! the! sudden! demise! of! the! Adam;God! doctrine.! It!
went! from! being! a! core! tenet! of! the! LDS! religionpraised! in!
hymns! and! taught! by! the! prophet! and! other! church! leaders! in!
General! Conference,! the! temple! and! elsewhereto! being! de;
nounced! as! false! doctrine! by! another! prophet! in! a! later! General!
Conference.!!
We!are!told!the!prophet!will!never!lead!the!church!astray.!In!
General!Conference!President!Wilford!Woodruff!said:!
The!Lord!will!never!permit!me!or!any!other!man!who!stands!
as!president!of!this!Church!to!lead!you!astray.!It!is!not!in!the!pro;
gramme.!It!is!not!in!the!mind!of!God.!If!I!were!to!attempt!that!the!
Lord!would!remove!me!out!of!my!place,!and!so!He!will!any!other!
man!who!attempts!to!lead!the!children!of!men!astray.31!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Conference!Report,!October!2,!1976.!
!General!Conference,!October!6,!1890.!Reported!in!Deseret!Evening!News,!October!
11,!1890.!!
30
31

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

45!

With!that!in!mind,!who!is!right!regarding!the!nature!of!God?!
Surely!it!is!Brigham!Young,!who!stated:!
I! have! never! yet! preached! a! sermon! and! sent! it! out! to! the!
children!of!men,!that!they!may!not!call!Scripture.32!!
If!the!prophet!can!never!lead!the!church!astray,!we!must!fol;
low! President! Young.! But! then! what! do! we! make! of! President!
Spencer!W.!Kimballs!statement?!Was!Young!teaching!the!truth!or!
was! Kimball?! As! mentioned! earlier,! Joseph! Smith! said,! It! is! the!
first!principle!of!the!gospel!to!know!for!a!certainty!the!character!
of! God.! Key! doctrines! regarding! Gods! nature! have! changed! sig;
nificantly.!If!our!very!salvation!lies!in!knowing!for!a!certainty!the!
character! of! God,! we! will! literally! be! saved! or! damned! based! on!
our!ability!to!guess!which!prophet!received!the!correct!revelation.!
Which!prophets!do!you!believe?!Do!you!believe!that!Adam!is!
God!the!Father?!Do!you!believe!that!Adam!is!not!God!the!Father?!
Do!you!believe!that!we!can!become!gods!one!day!or!that!we!can;
not?! Which! prophets! were! teaching! the! word! of! God! and! which!
were!teaching!the!doctrines!of!men?!!
Since!the!prophets!so!readily!contradict!each!other,!I!believe!
in!questioning!all!doctrine!regarding!the!nature!of!God.!If!I!really!
want!to!know!about!God,!I!will!reflect!on!my!experiences!and!the!
experiences!of!others!and!ponder!the!question!for!myself.!
!
Polygamy!
!
For!many!early!Latter;day!Saints,!the!doctrine!of!polygamy33!
was! a! source! of! severe! discrimination.! Even! today,! just! the!
thought! of! polygamy! makes! most! LDS! women! (and! men)! very!
uncomfortable!and!understandably!so.!But!why!should!members!
feel!uneasy!about!a!discontinued!doctrine?!The!practice!of!polyg;
amy!in!the!LDS!church!officially!ended!in!1890;!it!doesnt!affect!us!
today,!so!why!beat!the!dead!horse?!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!January!2,!1870,!JD!Vol.!13.!
!The!church!defined!polygamy!as!marriage!between!one!man!and!multiple!wom;
en.!It!was!also!referred!to!as!plural!marriage.!I!will!use!both!terms.!

32
33

!
46!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

Because!the!horse!is!not!dead!but!is!waiting!in!heaven,!watch;
ing! us! with! frenzied! dinner;plate! eyes! and! an! ominous! whinny.!
Even! though! polygamy! has! not! been! officially! practiced! on! earth!
by!the!church!for!more!than!one!hundred!years,!plural!marriage!is!
an! eternal! principle! and! will! be! practiced! in! the! celestial! king;
dom.34!Brigham!Young!said:!
Monogamy,!or!restrictions!by!law!to!one!wife,!is!no!part!
of!the!economy!of!Heaven!among!men!Why!do!we!believe!in!
and! practise! polygamy?! Because! the! Lord! introduced! it! to! his!
servants! in! a! revelation! given! to! Joseph! Smith,! and! the! Lord's!
servants!have!always!practiced!it.!And!is!that!religion!popular!
in!heaven?!It!is!the!only!popular!religion!there.35!
It!was!taught!that!unless!one!practiced!polygamy,!one!would!
be! barred! from! entering! the! highest! degree! of! the! celestial! king;
dom.!Brigham!Young!said:!
Now! if! any! of! you! will! deny! the! plurality! of! wives,! and! con;
tinue!to!do!so,!I!promise!that!you!will!be!damned.36!
Brigham!Young!also!said:!
The! only! men! who! become! Gods,! even! the! Sons! of! God,! are!
those!who!enter!into!polygamy.!Others!attain!unto!a!glory!and!may!
even!be!permitted!to!come!into!the!presence!of!the!Father!and!the!
Son;! but! they! cannot! reign! as! kings! in! glory,! because! they! had!
blessings!offered!unto!them,!and!they!refused!to!accept!them.37!
In! other! words,! men,! if! you! do! not! practice! polygamy! then!
you!mightjust!might,!if!you!are!luckyget!to!see!God!again,!but!
that!is!it.!You!will!never!be!a!god!yourself.!
We!will!return!to!the!eternal!nature!of!the!doctrine!of!plural!
marriage,!but!first!some!historical!background.!The!initial!revela;
tion! on! polygamy! appears! to! have! been! given! in! 1831.! The! evi;
dence! suggests! that! it! was! first! introduced! in! order! to! make! the!
descendants!of!the!Book!of!Mormon!white:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!The!celestial!kingdom!is!the!highest!level!of!heaven!in!LDS!theology.!
!July!6,!1862,!JD!Vol.!9.!
36 !July!14,!1855,!JD!Vol.!3.!
37 !August!29,!1866,!JD!Vol.!11.!
34
35

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

47!

[I]t! is! [Jesus! Christs]! will,! that! in! time,! ye! should! take! unto!
you!wives!of!the!Lamanites!and!Nephites,!that!their!posterity!may!
become! white,! delightsome,! and! just,! for! even! now! their! females!
are!more!virtuous!than!the!gentiles.38!!
In!the!same!document!W.W.!Phelps!wrote:!
About! three! years! after! this! was! given! [i.e.,! about! 1834],! I!
asked!brother!Joseph,!privately,!how!we,!that!were!mentioned!in!
the! revelation! could! take! wives! of! the! natives! as! we! were! all!
married! men?! He! replied! instantly! In! the! same! manner! that!
Abraham!took!Hagar!and!Keturah;!and!Jacob!took!Rachel,!Bilhah!
and! Zilpah;! by! revelationthe! saints! of! the! Lord! are! always! di;
rected!by!revelation.39!
Joseph!Smith!soon!began!sharing!the!doctrine,!but!only!with!a!
select! few.! Mary! Elizabeth! Rollins! Lightner,! Joseph! Smiths! ninth!
wife,!wrote!the!following:!
[At!age!12!in!1831],![Joseph]!told!me!about!his!great!vision!
concerning! me.! He! said! I! was! the! first! woman! God! commanded!
him!to!take!as!a!plural!wife!In!1834!he!was!commanded!to!take!
me!for!a!Wife![In!1842!at!age!23]!I!went!forward!and!was!sealed!
to! him.! Brigham! Young! performed! the! sealing! for! time,! and! all!
Eternity.!I!did!just!as!Joseph!told!me!to!do.40!
The! official! revelation! regarding! polygamy! was! only! given!
on!July!12,!1843,!more!than!a!decade!after!Mary!Elizabeth!Rollins!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Joseph!Smith,!July!17,!1831,!recorded!by!W.W.!Phelps,!quoted!in!Lawrence!Fos;
ter,! Religion!and!Sexuality:!The!Shakers,!the!Mormons,!and!the!Oneida!Community,!
Oxford! University! Press,! 1981;! see! also! The! Joseph! Smith! Revelations:! Text! and!
Commentary,!H.!Michael!Marquardt,!Signature!Books,!1999;!see!also!The!Mormon!
Experience:!A!History!of!the!LatterTDay!Saints,! Leonard! J.! Arrington,! University! of!
Illinois! Press,! 1992;! the! original! document! is! in! the! LDS! archives.! The! Lamanites!
and!Nephites!were!the!two!principal!races!in!the!Book!of!Mormon.!The!Nephites!
were!generally!the!good!guys!and!their!skin!was!white.!The!Lamanites!were!usual;
ly!the!bad!guys!and!because!of!their!sins!their!white!skin!was!make!dark.!Latter;
day!Saints!believe!the!Lamanites!are!the!ancestors!of!Native!Americans.!
39 !See!previous!footnote.!
40 !Letter!from!Mary!Elizabeth!Rollins!Lightner!to!Emmeline!B.!Wells,!November!21,!
1880,!LDS!archives.!
38

!
48!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

learned!of!her!future!role!as!polygamist!wife!to!Joseph!Smith.!Wil;
liam!Clayton,!Josephs!scribe,!recorded!the!following:!
Wednesday!12th!This!A.M,!I!wrote!a!Revelation!consisting!of!
10! pages! on! the! order! of! the! priesthood,! showing! the! designs! in!
Moses,! Abraham,! David! and! Solomon! having! many! wives! &! con;
cubines!&c.!After!it!was!wrote!Prests.!Joseph!&!Hyrum!presented!
it!and!read!it!to![Emma,!Josephs!first!wife]!who!said!she!did!not!
believe! a! word! of! it! and! appeared! very! rebellious.! [Joseph]! ap;
pears!much!troubled!about![Emma].41!
The! revelation! on! plural! marriage! that! Clayton! recorded! is!
now! called! Doctrine! and! Covenants! 132.! Some! LDS! apologists!
have!attempted!to!excuse!this!section,!claiming!it!is!only!about!the!
covenant!of!eternal!marriage!and!not!specifically!about!polygamy,!
but!both!William!Clayton!and!the!text!are!clear.!If!D&C!132!is!not!
about!polygamy!then!Clayton,!all!early!general!authorities!and!the!
revelation!itself!are!quite!deceptive.!The!section!begins:!
Verily,!thus!saith!the!Lord!unto!you!my!servant!Joseph,!that!
inasmuch! as! you! have! inquired! of! my! hand! to! know! and! under;
stand! wherein! I,! the! Lord,! justified! my! servants! Abraham,! Isaac,!
and! Jacob,! as! also! Moses,! David! and! Solomon,! my! servants,! as!
touching! the! principle! and! doctrine! of! their! having! many! wives!
and!concubines!
Behold,!and!lo,!I!am!the!Lord!thy!God,!and!will!answer!thee!
as!touching!this!matter.!
Therefore,!prepare!thy!heart!to!receive!and!obey!the!instruc;
tions! which! I! am! about! to! give! unto! you;! for! all! those! who! have!
this!law!revealed!unto!them!must!obey!the!same.!
For!behold,!I!reveal!unto!you!a!new!and!an!everlasting!cove;
nant;!and!if! ye! abide! not! that! covenant,! then! are! ye! damned;!
for!no!one!can!reject!this!covenant!and!be!permitted!to!enter!
into!my!glory.42!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
41 !William!Clayton!Journal,!July!12,!1843.!To!say!that!Emma!appeared!very!rebel;
lious!was!probably!an!understatement.!
42 !D&C!132:1;4.!

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

49!

The! rest! of! the! section! is! equally! direct.! Speaking! of! a! mans!
first!wife,!the!Lord!states!in!verse!65:!
Therefore,!it!shall!be!lawful!in!me,!if!she!receive!not!this!law,!
for! him! to! receive! all! things! whatsoever! I,! the! Lord! his! God,! will!
give! unto! him,! because! she! did! not! believe! and! administer! unto!
him!according!to!my!word;!and!she!then!becomes!the!transgres;
sor;! and! he! is! exempt! from! the! law! of! Sarah,! who! administered!
unto!Abraham!according!to!the!law!when!I!commanded!Abraham!
to!take!Hagar!to!wife.!
The! revelation! was! not! publically! introduced! to! the! church!
until!1852,!the!same!year!that!polygamy!was!formally!established,!
and! not! included! in! the! D&C! until! 1876.! If! the! revelation! is! only!
about!the!sealing43!of!one!man!to!only!one!woman,!there!would!be!
no!reason!to!have!kept!it!hidden!for!so!long.!
The!new!and!everlasting!covenant!in!D&C!132!was!taught!by!
Joseph!Smith!and!all!early!church!leaders!to!be!a!revelation!con;
cerning!polygamy.!At!a!special!church!conference!held!on!August!
29,!1852!Apostle!Orson!Pratt!taught:!
It! is! well! known,! however,! to! the! congregation! before! me,!
that!the!Latterday!Saints!have!embraced!the!doctrine!of!a!plural;
ity!of!wives,!as!a!part!of!their!religious!faith!we! will! show! you!
that!it!is!incorporated!as!a!part!of!our!religion,!and!necessary!
for! our! exaltation! to! the! fulness! of! the! Lord's! glory! in! the!
eternal! world! there! will! be! the! foolish! among! the! wise,! who!
will! not! receive! the! new! and! everlasting! covenant! in! its! fulness;!
and!they!never!will!attain!to!their!exaltation.44!
During!the!same!conference!President!Brigham!Young!said:!
The!doctrine!which!Orson!Pratt!discoursed!upon!this!morn;
ing!was!the!subject!of!a!revelation!anterior!to!the!death!of!Joseph!
Smith.!It!is!in!opposition!to!what!is!received!by!a!small!minority!of!
the! world;! but! our! people! have! for! many! years! believed! it! I!
prophesy!to!you!that!the!principle!of!polygamy!will!make!its!way,!
and!will!triumph!over!the!prejudices!and!all!the!priestcraft!of!the!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
43
44

!LDS!marriages!in!the!temple!for!time!and!eternity!are!called!sealings.!
!JD!Vol.!1.!
!

!
50!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

day;!it!will!be!embraced!by!the!most!intelligent!parts!of!the!world!
as! one! of! the! best! doctrines! ever! proclaimed! to! any! people!
Without!the!doctrine!which!this!revelation!makes!known!to!us,!no!
one!could!raise!himself!high!enough!to!become!a!god.45!
Apostle!Joseph!F.!Smith!said:!
Some!people!have!supposed!that!the!doctrine!of!plural!mar;
riage! was! a! sort! of! superfluity,! or! nonessential,! to! the! salvation!
or!exaltation!of!mankind.!In!other!words,!some!of!the!Saints!have!
said,!and!believe,!that!a!man!with!one!wife,!sealed!to!him!by!the!
authority! of! the! Priesthood! for! time! and! eternity,! will! receive! an!
exaltation! as! great! and! glorious,! if! he! is! faithful,! as! he! possibly!
could!with!more!than!one.!I!want!here!to!enter!my!solemn!protest!
against! this! idea,! for! I! know! it! is! false! The! marriage! of! one!
woman!to!a!man!for!time!and!eternity!by!the!sealing!power,!
according! to! the! will! of! God,! is! a! fulfillment! of! the! celestial!
law!of!marriage!in!part!this!is!only!the!beginning!of!the!law,!
not!the!whole!of!it.!Therefore,!whoever!has!imagined!that!he!
could! obtain! the! fullness! of! the! blessings! pertaining! to! this!
celestial! law,! by! complying! with! only! a! portion! of! its! condi[
tions,!has!deceived!himself.46!
Apostle!Orson!Pratt!said:!
If!a!man!has!no!divine!right!to!marry!two!wives!or!more!in!
this!world,!then!marriage!for!eternity!is!not!true,!and!your!faith!is!
all!vain,!and!all!the!sealing!ordinances!and!powers,!pertaining!to!
marriages!for!eternity!are!vain,!worthless,!good!for!nothing;!for!as!
sure!as!one!is!true!the!other!also!must!be!true.47!
The! preceding! quotes! came! from! a! time! when! the! church!
openly! practiced! polygamy,! but! church! leaders! were! initially! not!
so! forthcoming.! While! acknowledging! the! doctrine! privately,! the!
church! in! Joseph! Smiths! time! publically! denounced! plural! mar;
riage.!The!1835!edition!of!the!Doctrine!and!Covenants!states:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Printed!in!Millennial!Star!Supplement,!1853,!Vol.!15.!
!July!7,!1878,!JD!Vol.!20.!
47 !July!18,!1880,!JD!Vol.!21.!
45
46

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

51!

Inasmuch!as!this!church!of!Christ!has!been!reproached!with!
the! crime! of! fornication,! and! polygamy:! we! declare! that! we! be;
lieve,!that!one!man!should!have!one!wife;!and!one!woman,!but!one!
husband,! except! in! the! case! of! death,! when! either! is! at! liberty! to!
marry!again."48!
Joseph! Smith! denied! polygamy! during! all! the! years! he! prac;
ticed!it.!His!strongest!and!most!public!denials!took!place!less!than!
a!year!after!the!1843!revelation!was!received:!
!What! a! thing! it! is! for! a! man! to! be! accused! of! committing!
adultery,!and!having!seven!wives,!when!I!can!find!only!one.!I!am!
the!same!man,!and!as!innocent!as!I!was!fourteen!years!ago.49!
Joseph!Smith!denied!that!he!was!practicing!polygamy!again50!
and!again51!and!again.52!The!Times!and!Seasons!published!an!arti;
cled!that!stated:!
We! are! charged! with! advocating! a! plurality! of! wives,! and!
common!property.!Now!this!is!as!false!as!the!many!other!ridiculous!
charges!which!are!brought!against!us.!No!sect!has!a!greater!rever;
ence! for! the! laws! of! matrimony,! or! the! rights! of! private! property,!
and!we!do!what!others!do!not,![we]!practice!what!we!preach.53!
Every! one! of! these! statements! was! categorically! false;! each!
denial! occurred! when! Joseph! Smith! and! select! members! of! the!
churchespecially!members!of!the!Quorum!of!the!Twelvewere!
practicing!polygamy!in!secret.54!Despite!his!public!denials,!Joseph!
Smith!continued!to!record!revelation!concerning!polygamy:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!D&C! 101:4,! 1835! edition.! This! verse! was! included! in! section! 109! in! the! 1854!
edition!and!was!removed!in!1876!when!the!revelation!on!polygamy!was!added.!
49 !May!26,!1844,!HC!Vol.!6,!p.!411.!
50 !May!8,!1838,!HC!Vol.!3,!p.!28.!
51 !December!16,!1838,!HC!Vol.!3,!p.!230;231.!
52 !February!1,!1844,!Times!and!Seasons!Vol.!5!No.!3,!p.!423.!
53 !Times!and!Seasons!Vol.!4,!March!15,!1843.!The!Times!and!Seasons!was!a!monthly!
or!bi;monthly!periodical!published!by!the!church!in!Nauvoo!from!1839!to!1846.!It!
was!initially!edited!by!Joseph!Smiths!brother,!Don!Carlos.!After!the!death!of!Don!
Carlos! in! 1841,! Joseph! Smith! became! the! chief! editor.! In! 1842! John! Taylor! was!
appointed!the!principle!editor!under!Smith.!
54 !W.!Smith,!A!Proclamation,!Warsaw!Signal,!Warsaw,!Illinois,!October!1845;!see!also!
Richard!Van!Wagoner,!Mormon!Polygamy:!A!History,!Signature!Books,!1986,!p.!83.!
48

!
52!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

The!same!God!that!has!thus!far!dictated!me!and!directed!me!
and! strengthened! me! in! this! work,! gave! me! this! revelation! and!
commandment!on!celestial!and!plural!marriage,!and!the!same!God!
commanded!me!to!obey!it.!He!said!to!me!that!unless!I!accepted!
it,! and! introduced! it,! and! practiced! it,! I,! together! with! my!
people! would! be! damned! and! cut! off! from! this! time! hence[
forth.!We!have!got!to!observe!it.!It!is!an!eternal!principle!and!
was! given! by! way! of! commandment! and! not! by! way! of! in[
struction.55!
Joseph!Smith!also!performed!dozens!of!plural!marriages!dur;
ing! this! time56!and! continued! to! take! wives! for! himself.! Josephs!
youngest!wife,!Helen!Mar!Kimball,!was!14!years!old!when!she!was!
sealed!to!Joseph.!She!wrote!about!the!experience:!
[My!father]!asked!me!if!I!would!be!sealed!to!Joseph![Smith!
explained]! the! principle! of! Celestial! marriage! After! which! he!
said! to! me,! If! you! will! take! this! step,! it! will! ensure! your! eternal!
salvation!&!exaltation!and!that!of!your!father's!household!&!all!of!
your!kindred.!This!promise!was!so!great!that!I!willingly!gave!my;
self!to!purchase!so!glorious!a!reward![After!the!marriage]!I!felt!
quite!sore!over!it!and!thought!myself!an!abused!child,!and!that!it!
was!pardonable!if!I!did!murmur.57!
I! feel! bad! for! young! Helen.! I! feel! worse! for! Emma! Smith,! Jo;
sephs! first! wife.! Emma! was! told! about! the! revelation! regarding!
polygamy! on! July! 12,! 1843,! long! after! Joseph! had! already! taken!
Helen!Mar!Kimball!and!several!other!women!as!wives.! However,!
evidence!suggests!that!Emma!knew!about!polygamy!years!before!
her! husband! showed! her! the! revelation.! Joseph! Smith! took! addi;
tional! wives! beginning! in! 1833;! his! first! plural! wife! was! Fanny!
Alger,! Emmas! maid! in! the! Smith! home.! According! to! both! LDS!
and! non;LDS! sources,! Emma! first! learned! about! the! practice! of!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Joseph!Smith,!The!Contributor!Vol.!5,!p.!259.!
!Todd!Compton,!In!Sacred!Loneliness:!The!Plural!Wives!of!Joseph!Smith,!Signature!
Books,!1997,!p.!497503.!
57 !Helen!Mar!Whitneys!Reminiscences!of!Early!Church!History,!BYU!Religious!Stud;
ies!Center,!1999.!
55
56

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

53!

polygamy! when! Joseph! and! Fanny! were! caught! having! physical!


relations.58!Emma!fired!Fanny!soon!after.!
Fanny!was!16!years!old!when!she!and!Joseph!Smith!had!their!
relationship.59!Joseph! consummated! his! marriage! with! Fanny! Al;
ger!and!there!is!significant!evidenceevidence!on!which!LDS!his;
torians! agreethat! suggests! he! did! so! with! many! of! his! wives.60!
Such! actions! would! make! sense;! leaders! taught! that! the! primary!
purpose!of!plural!marriage!was!to!raise!lots!and!lots!of!righteous!
children:!
This!is!the!reason!why!the!doctrine!of!plurality!of!wives!was!
revealed,!so!that!the!noble!spirits!which!are!waiting!for!tabernac;
les!might!be!brought!forth."61!
It!would!be!rather!difficult!to!bring!those!noble!spirits!forth!if!
one! did! not! consummate! ones! marriages.! (Though! when! I! was!
little!I!thought!I!could!make!babies!just!by!eating!a!big!dinner!and!
concentrating! really! hard.! I! remain! unsuccessful! in! my! attempts,!
but!I!do!not!try!as!hard!as!I!used!to.)!
Interestingly,! Joseph! Smiths! first! plural! marriages! were! not!
for!eternity.!The!church!teaches!that!the!sealing!power!was!only!
revealed!to!Joseph!in!April!1836!when!the!Old!Testament!prophet!
Elijah!appeared!and!restored!the!sealing!keys!as!recorded!in!D&C!
110.!What!are!we!to!make!of!Josephs!consummations!with!Fanny!
that!occurred!three!years!before!the!sealing!power!was!restored?!
Another!noteworthy!detail!concerning!polygamy!is!that!many!
of!Joseph!Smiths!wives!were!already!married!to!living!husbands!
when! they! were! joined! to! Joseph.! Ann! Eliza! Young,! one! of!
Brigham!Youngs!wives,!wrote:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Richard! Lyman! Bushman,! Rough!Stone!Rolling,! Alfred! A.! Knopf,! 2005,! available!
at! Deseret! Book;! see! also! Fawn! M.! Brodie,! No!Man!Knows!My!History:!The!Life!of!
Joseph!Smith,!Alfred!A.!Knopf,!1961.!
59 !Stanley! P.! Hirshon,! The! Lion! of! the! Lord,! Alfred! A.! Knopf,! 1969.! Josephs! two!
youngest! wives! were! 14.! The! average! age! at! which! women! married! in! the! mid;
19th!century!was!over!20!years!old.!!
60 !In!Sacred!Loneliness:!The!Plural!Wives!of!Joseph!Smith;!see!also!Rough!Stone!Rolling.!
61 !Brigham!Young,!September!21,!1856,!JD!Vol.!4.!
58

!
54!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

"One! woman! said! to! me! not! very! long! since,! while! giving! me!
some!of!her!experiences!in!polygamy:!The!greatest!trial!I!ever!en;
dured!in!my!life!was!living!with!my!husband!and!deceiving!him,!by!
receiving!Joseph's!attentions!whenever!he!chose!to!come!to!me.62!
Allow!me!to!introduce!three!of!the!women!who!were!already!
married! when! they! became! plural! wives! to! Joseph! Smith.! Joseph!
taught! the! principle! of! polygamy! to! Zina! Huntington! Jacobs! in!
1839.!At!the!time!Zina!was!being!courted!by!Henry!B.!Jacobs.!Jo;
seph!asked!Zina!to!be!one!of!his!wives.!Zina!declined!and!instead!
married!Henry!on!March!7,!1841.!Less!than!a!year!after!her!mar;
riage!Joseph!sent!her!a!message!through!her!brother:!
Tell!Zina,!I!put!it!off!and!put!it!off!till!an!angel!with!a!drawn!
sword!stood!by!me!and!told!me!if!I!did!not!establish!that!principle!
upon!the!earth!I!would!lose!my!position!and!my!life.63!
Zina!finally!acquiesced!and!they!were!married!on!October!27,!
1841.!Zina!continued!to!live!with!her!husband!Henry!and!he!knew!
about! the! marriage.! After! Josephs! death,! Zina! married! Brigham!
Young.!When!Henry!was!sent!on!a!mission!to!England,!Zina!lived!
openly!as!Brigham!Youngs!wife.!Henry!later!wrote!to!his!spouse:!
The!same!affection!is!there!But!I!feel!alone!I!do!not!Blame!
Eny!person!may!the!Lord!our!Father!bless!Brother!Brigham!all!
is!right!according!to!the!Law!of!the!Celestial!Kingdom.64!
Sylvia! Sessions! Lyon! was! a! member! of! the! church! who! mar;
ried!Windsor!Lyon!in!the!late!1830s.!She!married!Joseph!Smith!on!
February! 8,! 1842.! She! continued! to! live! with! her! first! husband!
and! it! is! unknown! if! Windsor! was! even! aware! of! his! wifes! mar;
riage! to! Joseph.! Josephine! Rosetta! Lyon,! Sylvias! youngest! and!
only!surviving!child,!later!wrote:!
!Just!prior!to!my!mothers!death!in!1882!she!called!me!to!her!
bedside!and!told!me!that!her!days!were!numbered!and!before!she!
passed! away! from! mortality! she! desired! to! tell! me! something!
which!she!had!kept!as!an!entire!secret!from!me!and!from!all!oth;

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Ann!Eliza!Young,!Wife!#19,!1876.!
!In!Sacred!Loneliness:!The!Plural!Wives!of!Joseph!Smith,!p.!77;91;!see!also!Mormon!
Polygamy:!A!History,!p.!44;45.!
64 !Mormon!Polygamy:!A!History,!p.!44;45.!
62
63

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

55!

ers! but! which! she! now! desired! to! communicate! to! me.! ! She! then!
told!me!that!I!was!the!daughter!of!the!Prophet!Joseph!Smith.65!
Marinda!Johnson!and!her!family!joined!the!church!in!1830.!In!
1833!she!met!Orson!Hyde.!They!were!married!a!year!later.!Short;
ly! after! the! marriage! Orson! Hyde! was! called! to! be! an! apostle.!
While! Apostle! Hyde! was! serving! a! mission! in! Palestine,! Joseph!
Smith!married!Marinda.!It!is!unknown!if!Orson!Hyde!knew!about!
the!marriage.!The!event!was!recorded!in!Joseph!Smiths!journal:!
Apr!42!Marinda!Johnson!to!Joseph!Smith.66!
To! summarize,! Joseph! Smith! married! several! women! who!
were! wedded! to! still;living! men.67!He! married! women! before! he!
had!any!sealing!power!and!consummated!those!marriages!behind!
Emmas! back.! Emma! often! had! to! learn! about! Josephs! wives!
through!the!grapevine;!at!one!point!she!wrote!in!her!journal:!!
Today!Lucie!Rigdon!told!me!she!had!heard!of!another!of!Jo;
sephs!wives.!I!just!cant!cope!with!sharing!my!husband.68!!
What!does!this!sound!like!to!you?!Does!it!sound!like!a!proph;
et!of!God!boldly!teaching!and!living!a!sacred!celestial!principle!or!
does!it!sound!like!a!man!acting!in!ways!decidedly!more!amorous!
than!celestial?!What!if!Joseph!Smith!had!handled!things!different;
ly?!Imagine!if,!after!his!first!mistake!with!Fanny!Alger,!he!had!con;
fessed! to! his! wife,! publically! acknowledged! his! error! and! moved!
on.!There!would!have!been!no!cover;ups,!no!secret!marriages,!no!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!In!Sacred!Loneliness:!The!Plural!Wives!of!Joseph!Smith,!p.!177;183;!see!also!MorT
mon!Polygamy:!A!History,!p.!44.!
66 !Joseph!Smith!Journal,!April!1842;!see!also!In!Sacred!Loneliness:!The!Plural!Wives!
of!Joseph!Smith,!p.!230;251;!see!also!Mormon!Polygamy:!A!History,!p.!44.!
67 !It!appears!Brigham!Young!later!confirmed!the!practice!of!marrying!one!woman!
to!multiple!men.!In!General!Conference!he!said:!There!was!another!way!in!which!
a! woman! could! leave! a! manif! the! woman! preferred! a! man! higher! in! authority!
and!he!is!willing!to!take!her!and!her!husband!gives!her!up.!There!is!no!bill!of!di;
vorce!required,!in![this]!case!it!is!right!in!the!sight!of!God.!(Manuscript!Addresses!
of! Brigham! Young,! George! D.! Watt! transcribing,! October! 8,! 1861;! see! also! James!
Beck!Journal,!October!8,!1861.)!
68 !Quoted!in!Linda!King!Newell!and!Valeen!Tippets!Avery,!Mormon!Enigma:!Emma!
Hale!Smith,!University!of!Illinois!Press,!1994,!p.!272.!
65

!
56!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

broken!families!and!no!polygamy.!Instead!we!are!saddled!with!a!
doctrine!of!men!that!is!most!unpleasant.69!
LDS! readers,! what! if! you! learned! all! that! I! just! shared! with!
you,! but! I! told! you! it! was! about! a! former! pope! rather! than! a! for;
mer!prophet?!Would!you!seek!to!excuse!that!popes!actions,!sym;
pathizing! with! the! man! over! how! difficult! it! must! have! been! for!
him!to!introduce!this!righteous!principle!to!the!world?!No?!Why,!
then,!do!we!make!these!same!tasteless!excuses!for!Joseph!Smith?!
Oliver! Cowdery! called! Josephs! relationship! with! Fanny! Alger! a!
dirty,!nasty,!filthy!affair.70!What!would!you!call!it?!
Because!of!all!this!sneaking!around!we!are!now!stuck!with!the!
doctrine! of! polygamy,! which! unfortunately! is! not! temporary.! It!
was!taught!that!plural!marriage!would!always!be!practiced:!
The! principle! of! plurality! of! wives! never! will! be! done!
away.71!
In!General!Conference!Apostle!Orson!Pratt!said:!
Now,!after!having!said!so!much!in!relation!to!the!reason!why!
we!practice!polygamy,!I!want!to!say!a!few!words!in!regard!to!the!
revelation!on!polygamy.!God!has!told!us!Latterday!Saints!that!we!
shall!be!condemned!if!we!do!not!enter!into!that!principle;!and!yet!
I!have!heard!now!and!then!(I!am!very!glad!to!say!that!only!a!
few!such!instances!have!come!under!my!notice,)!a!brother!or!
a! sister! say,! I! am! a! Latterday! Saint,! but! I! do! not! believe! in!
polygamy.! Oh,! what! an! absurd! expression!! what! an! absurd!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
69 !After!Josephs!death!(and!possibly!before)!church!leaders!expanded!on!the!doc;
trines! unpleasantness! by! including! incestuous! marriage.! Apostle! Abraham! H.!
Cannon! records! a! conversation! with! Apostle! Lorenzo! Snow! in! 1886:! Bro! Snow!
said!I!would!live!to!see!the!time!when!brothers!and!sisters!would!marry!each!
other!in!this!church.!All!our!horror!at!such!an!union!was!due!entirely!to!prejudice!
and!the!offspring!of!such!union!would!be!healthy!and!pure!as!any!other.!These!
were!the!decided!views!of!Pres.!Young!when!alive,!for!Bro.!S.!talked!to!him!freely!
on!this!matter.!(Abraham!H.!Cannon!Journal,!July!15,!1886,!Manuscript!Division,!
Harold!B.!Lee!Library,!BYU.!This!and!additional!examples!can!be!found!in!Ultimate!
Taboos:! Incest! and! Mormon! Polygamy,! by! Jessie! L.! Embry,! Journal! of! Mormon!
History!Vol.!18,!Issue!1.)!
70 !Letter!by!Oliver!Cowdery!to!his!brother!Warren,!January!21,!1838,!LDS!archives.!
71 !Apostle!Heber!C.!Kimball,!Deseret!News,!November!7,!1855.!

!
Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

57!

idea!!A!person!might!as!well!say,!I!am!a!follower!of!the!Lord!
Jesus! Christ,! but! I! do! not! believe! in! him.! If! the! doctrine! of!
polygamy,!as!revealed!to!the!Latterday!Saints!is!not!true,!I!would!
not!give!a!fig!for!all!your!other!revelations!that!came!through!Jo;
seph!Smith! the! Prophet;! I! would! renounce! the! whole! of! them! I!
did! hope! there! was! more! intelligence! among! the! Latterday!
Saints,! and! a! greater! understanding! of! principle! than! to! suppose!
that!any!one!can!be!a!member!of!this!Church!in!good!standing!and!
yet!reject!polygamy.!The! Lord! has! said,! that! those! who! reject!
this! principle! reject! their! salvation,! they! shall! be! damned,!
saith!the!Lord!Now!here!comes!in!our!consciences.!We!have!
either! to! renounce! Mormonism,! Joseph! Smith,! Book! of! Mor[
mon,! Book! of! Covenants,! and! the! whole! system! of! things! as!
taught! by! the! Latterday! Saints,! and! say! that! God! has! not!
raised!up!a!Church,!has!not!raised!up!a!prophet,!has!not!be[
gun!to!restore!all!things!as!he!promised,!we!are!obliged!to!do!
this,! or! else! to! say,! with! all! our! hearts,! Yes,! we! are! polyga[
mists,!and!believe!in!the!principle,!and!we!are!willing!to!prac[
tice!it,!because!God!has!spoken!from!the!heavens.72!
Speaking!of!D&C!132!Brigham!Young!stated:!
The! Church! has! never,! and! certainly! will! never,! re[
nounce!this.!The!revelation!on!plural!marriage!is!still!an!integral!
part!of!LDS!scripture,!and!always!will!be.73!
Apostle!Wilford!Woodruff!said:!
If!we!were!to!do!away!with!polygamy!then!we!must!do!
away! with! prophets! and! Apostles,! with! revelation! and! the!
gifts!and!graces!of!the!Gospel,!and!finally!give!up!our!religion!
altogether!and!turn!sectarians!and!do!as!the!world!does,!then!all!
would!be!right.!We!just!can't!do!that,!for!God!has!commanded!us!
to!build!up!His!kingdom!and!to!bear!our!testimony!to!the!nations!
of!the!earth,!and!we!are!going!to!do!it,!come!life!or!come!death.74!
!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!October!7,!1874,!JD!Vol.!17.!
!Quoted! in! John! J.! Stewart,! Brigham! Young! and! His! Wives,! Mercury! Publishing!
Company,!1961.!
74 !December!12,!1869,!JD!Vol.!13.!
72
73

!
58!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

And:!
"We! will! not! end! the! practice! of! plural! marriage! until! the!
coming!of!the!Son!of!Man.75!
Just! two! years! after! Wilford! Woodruff! gave! the! above! state;
ment,!the!practice!of!plural!marriage!in!the!LDS!church!was!offi;
cially! abolished! by! none! other! than! President! Wilford! Woodruff;!
Official! Declaration! 1! was! released! in! 1890! (the! declaration! is!
printed!at!the!end!of!the!D&C).!Since!then,!the!church!has!worked!
hard!to!distance!itself!from!this!patently!manmade!practice.!Pres;
ident!Gordon!B.!Hinckley!even!stated!in!an!interview!on!national!
television!that!the!practice!of!polygamy!was!not!doctrinal:!
Larry!King:!You!condemn!it!(polygamy)?!
Pres.! Hinckley:! I! condemn! it,! yes,! as! a! practice,! because! I!
think!it!is!not!doctrinal.76!
I!understand!the!desire!to!claim!that!polygamy!is!not!doctri;
nal;! I! think! most! members! would! like! to! do! so.! But! previous!
prophets!knew!it!was!doctrinal.!Which!prophets,!then,!are!speak;
ing! the! word! of! God! and! which! are! not?! Some! might! argue! that!
even! though! polygamy! is! currently! banned,! it! is! still! a! righteous!
principle,! yet! I! find! few! Latter;day! Saints! today! jumping! at! the!
chance! to! be! a! part! of! it,! no! matter! how! righteous! the! principle!
may!be.!!
Even!though!the!earthly!practice!of!plural!marriage!has!been!
suspended!(for!now),!we!cannot!simply!brush!aside!the!struggles!
of!the!women!who!had!to!live!the!doctrine!and!endured!enormous!
suffering!because!of!it.!Brigham!Young!said:!
A!few!years!ago!one!of!my!wives,!when!talking!about!wives!
leaving! their! husbands! said,! I! wish! my! husband's! wives! would!
leave!him,!every!soul!of!them!except!myself.!That!is!the!way!they!
all!feel,!more!or!less,!at!times,!both!old!and!young.77!
Apostle!Heber!C.!Kimball!said!this!about!polygamy:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
75 !Apostle!Wilford!Woodruff,!recorded!in!John!Henry!Smith!Journal,!May!21,!1888,!!
LDS! archives.! The! coming! of! the! Son! of! Man! is! a! reference! to! Christs! Second!
Coming.!
76 !Larry!King!Live,!September!8,!1998.!
77 !February!9,!1862,!JD!Vol.!9.!

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59!

I!think!no!more!of!taking!another!wife!than!I!do!of!buying!a!
cow.78!
Kimball! also! gave! the! following! counsel! to! LDS! missionaries!
who!were!sent!around!the!world:!
Brethren,! I! want! you! to! understand! that! it! is! not! to! be! as! it!
has! been! heretofore.! The! brother! missionaries! have! been! in! the!
habit! of! picking! out! the! prettiest! women! for! themselves! before!
they!get!here,!and!bringing!on!the!ugly!ones!for!us;!hereafter!you!
have!to!bring!them!all!here!before!taking!any!of!them,!and!let!us!
all!have!a!fair!shake.79!
Women! were! not! allowed! to! complain! about! this! kind! of!
treatment,! nor! did! women! have! any! say! in! who! their! husbands!
took!as!additional!wives:!
It!is!not!the!privilege!of!a!woman!to!dictate!the!husband,!and!
tell!who!or!how!many!he!shall!take,!or!what!he!shall!do!with!them!
when!he!gets!them,!but!it! is! the! duty! of! the! woman! to! submit!
cheerfully.! Says! she! ! My! husband! does! not! know! how! to! con;
duct! himself,! he! lacks! wisdom! ! he! does! not! know! how! to! treat!
two!wives!and!be!just.!That!all!may!be!true,!but!it!is!not!her!pre;
rogative!to!correct!the!evil,!she!must!bear!that.80!
In!the!next!world,!men!may!take!as!many!wives!as!they!wish:!
In!the!spirit!world!there!is!an!increase!of!males!and!females,!
there! are! millions! of! them,! and! if! I! am! faithful! all! the! time,! and!
continue!right!along!with!brother!Brigham,!we!will!go!to!brother!
Joseph! and! say,! Here! we! are! brother! Joseph;! we! are! here! our;
selves!are!we!not,!with!none!of!the!property!we!possessed!in!our!
probationary!state,!not!even!the!rings!on!our!fingers?!He!will!say!
to! us,! Come! along,! my! boys,! we! will! give! you! a! good! suit! of!
clothes.!Where! are! your! wives?! They! are! back! yonder;! they!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Quoted!in!Wife!#19;!see!also!Irving!Wallace,!The!Twenty!Seventh!Wife,!Simon!&!
Schuster,!1961,!p.!101.!
79 !Quoted!in!Stanley!P.!Hirshon,!The!Lion!of!the!Lord,!New!York,!1969,!p.!129;130.!
80 !Brigham! Young,! August! 9,! 1874,! JD! Vol.! 17.! This! appears! to! contradict! D&C!
132:61,! which! seems! to! suggest! the! first! wife! must! give! permission.! Then! again,!
D&C!132:65!says!that!if!she!does!not!consent,!the!husband!may!still!take!whoever!
he!wants.!
78

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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

would! not! follow! us.! Never! mind,! says! Joseph,! here! are!
thousands,!have!all!you!want.81!
A!popular!hymn!taught:!
Now,!sisters,!list!to!what!I!say;!!
with!trials!this!world!is!rife.!!
You!can't!expect!to!miss!them!all;!!
help!husband!get!a!wife!!!
Now!this!advice!I!freely!give,!!
if!exalted!you!will!be,!!
Remember!that!your!husband!must,!!
be!blessed!with!more!than!thee.!!
Chorus:!Then,!oh,!let!us!say,!!
God!bless!the!wife!that!strives,!!
And!aids!her!husband!all!she!can!!
to!obtain!a!dozen!wives.82!
Women,! you! may! escape! polygamy! in! this! life,! but! your!
chances! are! not! so! good! in! the! next! one.! Some! women! have! to!
deal! with! the! ghost! of! polygamy! even! before! they! leave! this! life;!
men!who!lose!a!spouse!to!death!or!earthly!divorce!and!are!mar;
ried!to!another!can!still!be!sealed!to!both.!!
Women!are!told!that!if!they!do!not!enter!the!practice!of!plural!
marriage,!they!will!be!alone!forever,!losing!even!the!husband!they!
have.!Brigham!Young!taught:!
But!if!the!woman!is!determined!not!to!enter!into!a!plural!
marriage,! that! woman! when! she! comes! forth! will! have! the!
privilege!of!living!in!single!blessedness!through!all!eternity!
If!in!the!resurrection!you!really!want!to!be!single!and!alone,!and!
live! so! forever! and! ever,! and! be! made! servants,! while! others! re;
ceive! the! highest! order! of! intelligence! and! are! bringing! worlds!
into!existence,!you!can!have!the!privilege.!They!who!will!be!exalt;
ed! cannot! perform! all! the! labor,! they! must! have! servants! and!
you!can!be!servants!to!them.83!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Apostle!Heber!C.!Kimball,!February!1,!1857,!JD!Vol.!4.!
!Songs!of!Zion!Hymnbook,!1856;!also!printed!in!Utah!Historical!Quarterly,!1928.!
83 !August!31,!1873,!JD!Vol.!16,!emphasis!in!original.!
81
82

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61!

In!the!same!talk!Brigham!Young!said!that!a!man!who!does!not!
practice!plural!marriage!will!also!lose!his!wife:!
Now,! when! a! man! in! this! Church! says,! I! don't! want! but! one!
wife;!I!will!live!my!religion!with!one,!he!will!perhaps!be!saved!in!
the!celestial!kingdom,!but!when!he!gets!there,!he!will!not!find!him;
self!in!possession!of!any!wife!at!all!!He!has!had!a!talent!that!he!has!
hid!up.!He!will!come!forth!and!say,!Here!is!that!which!thou!gavest!
me;!I!have!not!wasted!it!and!here!is!the!one!talent,!and!he!will!not!
enjoy!it,!but!it!will!be!taken!from!him!and!given!to!those!who!have!
improved!the!talent!they!received,!and!he!will!find!himself!without!
ANY!wife,!and!he!will!remain!single!forever!and!ever.84!
The! church! has! rescinded! the! earthly! practice! of! plural! mar;
riage!but!not!any!of!these!doctrines!on!polygamy.!
Do! you! believe! the! prophets?! Do! you! believe! that! one! must!
practice!polygamy!or!be!damned?!That!Joseph!Smith!was!right!to!
have!sex!with!Fanny!even!before!he!had!the!sealing!power?!That!
Joseph! was! right! to! hide! his! marriages! from! Emma?! That! those!
who! do! not! practice! polygamy,! male! and! female,! will! lose! their!
spouses!and!be!alone!for!eternity?!
My!beliefs!about!polygamy!are!quite!succinct:!I!believe!it!is!a!
doctrine!of!men,!not!God,!and!it!is!nonsense.!
!
Intimacy!in!Marriage!
!
There! have! been! some! peculiar! teachings! regarding! married!
couples!intimate!relations!over!the!course!of!church!history.!For!
more! than! one! hundred! years! birth! control! was! condemned! by!
church!leaders:!
The! first! great! commandment! given! both! to! man! and! beast!
by! the! Creator! was! to! be! fruitful! and! multiply! and! replenish! the!
earth;! and! I! have! not! learned! that! this! commandment! was! ever!
repealed.!Those!who!attempt!to!pervert!the!ways!of!the!Lord,!
and!to!prevent!their!offspring!from!coming!into!the!world!in!
obedience! to! this! great! command,! are! guilty! of! one! of! the!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
84

!See!previous!footnote,!emphasis!in!original.!
!

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62!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

most!heinous!crimes!in!the!category.!There!is!no!promise!of!
eternal!salvation!and!exaltation!for!such!as!they.85!
Since!birth!control!roots!in!a!species!of!selfishness,!the!spir;
itual! life! of! the! user! of! contraceptives! is! also! weakened.! Women!
seem! to! become! more! masculine! in! thought! and! action;!men!
more!callous!and!reserved;!both!husband!and!wife!become!more!
careless! of! each! other,! and! increasingly! indifferent! to! the! higher!
duties!and!joys!of!living.86!
In!General!Conference!it!was!taught:!
As!to!sex!in!marriage,!the!necessary!treatise!on!that!for!Lat;
ter;day! Saints! can! be! written! in! two! sentences:! Remember! the!
prime!purpose!of!sex!desire!is!to!beget!children.!Sex!gratification!
must!be!had!at!that!hazard.87!!
President!David!O.!McKay!stated!in!General!Conference:!
When!the!husband!and!wife!are!healthy,!and!free!from!inher;
ited! weaknesses! and! diseases! that! might! be! transmitted! with! in;
jury! to! their! offspring! the! use! of! contraceptives! is! to! be!
condemned.88!
Years!later!he!said:!
True! motherhood! is! the! noblest! call! of! the! world,! and! we!
look!with!sorrow!upon!the!practice!here!in!our!own!United!States!
of!limiting!families,!a!tendency!creeping!into!our!own!Church.89!
In! 1969! the! First! Presidency! released! an! official! statement!
concerning! birth! control! To! Presidents! of! Stakes,! Bishops! of!
Wards,!and!Presidents!of!Missions:!
Dear!Brethren:!
The! First! Presidency! is! being! asked! from! time! to! time!
as! to! what! the! attitude! of! the! Church! is! regarding! birth!
control.!In!order!that!you!may!be!informed!on!this!subject!
and!that!you!may!be!prepared!to!convey!the!proper!inforT

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Apostle!Joseph!Fielding!Smith,!July!1916,!Relief!Society!Magazine!3:367;368.!
!Apostle!John!A.!Widtsoe,!Evidences!and!Reconciliations:!Aids!to!Faith!in!a!Modern!
Day,!Bookcraft,!1943.!
87 !Apostle!J.!Reuben!Clark,!Jr.,!Conference!Report,!October!1949.!
88 !Conference!Report,!October!1943,!p.!30.!
89 !Church!News,!June!11,!1952.!
85
86

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Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

63!

mation!to!the!members!of!the!Church!under!your!jurisdicT
tion,!we!have!decided!to!give!you!the!following!statement:!
We!seriously!regret!that!there!should!exist!a!sentiment!
or!feeling!among!any!members!of!the!Church!to!curtail!the!
birth!of!their!children.!We!have!been!commanded!to!multiT
ply! and! replenish! the! earth! that! we! may! have! joy! and! reT
joicing!in!our!posterity.!
Where! husband! and! wife! enjoy! health! and! vigor!
and! are! free! from! impurities! that! would! be! entailed!
upon! their! posterity,! it! is! contrary! to! the! teachings! of!
the!Church!artificially!to!curtail!or!prevent!the!birth!of!
children.!We!believe!that!those!who!practice!birth!control!
will!reap!disappointment!by!and!by.90!
A! few! years! later! President! Harold! B.! Lee! confirmed! this!
teaching!in!General!Conference:!
We!declare!it!is!a!grievous!sin!before!God!to!adopt!restrictive!
measures!in!disobedience!to!God's!divine!command!from!the!be;
ginning!of!time!to!multiply!and!replenish!the!earth.!Surely!those!
who!project!such!measures!to! prevent! life!or!to!destroy!life!be;
fore!or!after!birth!will!reap!the!whirlwind!of!God's!retribution,!for!
God!will!not!be!mocked.91!
Apostle!Hugh!B.!Brown!said:!
The!Church!has!always!advised!against!birth!control!and!
that!is!the!only!position!the!Church!can!take!in!view!of!our!be;
liefs!with!respect!to!the!eternity!of!the!marriage!covenant!and!the!
purpose!of!this!divine!relationship.92!
President!Spencer!W.!Kimball!said!in!General!Conference:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!David!O.!McKay,!Hugh!B.!Brown,!N.!Eldon!Tanner,!Office!of!the!First!Presidency,!
April!14,!1969.!
91 !Conference!Report,! October! 1972,! p.! 63.! Strange! that! we! happily! reject! most! of!
the!Old!Testament!as!doctrines!of!men,!but!still!cling!so!tenaciously!to!the!multi;
ply!and!replenish!the!earth!thing.!!
92 !Hugh!B.!Brown,!The!Way!of!the!Master,!Bookcraft,!1974,!p.!114;115.!
90

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64!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

It!is!an!act!of!extreme!selfishness!for!a!married!couple!to!re;
fuse!to!have!children!when!they!are!able!to!do!so.93!
Such! doctrines! were! taught! in! General! Conference! as! late! as!
1995.!J.!Ballard!Washburn!said:!
It!is!contradictory!to!this!covenant![of!marriage]!to!prevent!
the!birth!of!children!if!the!parents!are!in!good!health.94!
Despite! strong! statements! from! general! authorities! and!
promises! that! the! doctrines! will! never! change,! the! church! has!
since!changed!some!of!the!doctrines:!
It! is! the! privilege! of! married! couples! who! are! able! to! bear!
children! to! provide! mortal! bodies! for! the! spirit! children! of! God,!
whom!they!are!then!responsible!to!nurture!and!rear.!The!decision!
as! to! how! many! children! to! have! and! when! to! have! them! is! ex;
tremely!intimate!and!private!and!should!be!left!between!the!cou;
ple!and!the!Lord.!Church!members!should!not!judge!one!another!
in!this!matter.95!
In! addition,! the! church! no! longer! teaches! that! sex! is! only! for!
making!babies:!
Married!couples!also!should!understand!that!sexual!relations!
within!marriage!are!divinely!approved!not!only!for!the!purpose!of!
procreation,!but!also!as!a!means!of!expressing!love!and!strength;
ening! emotional! and! spiritual! bonds! between! husband! and!
wife.96!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
93 !Conference!Report,!April!1979,!p.!6.!I!feel!that!choosing!to!not!have!children!can!
be!one!of!the!most!selfless!things!a!person!can!do.!For!example,!it!would!be!selfless!
to!avoid!children!if!an!individual!is!in!an!unstable!or!abusive!marriage!or!if!a!per;
son! lacks! the! financial! resources! to! provide! children! with! the! necessities! of! life.!
Such!cases!are!not!uncommon;!it!is!estimated!that!in!the!United!States,!the!richest!
country! on! earth,! 3.5! million! children! under! the! age! of! five! are! underfed.!
(http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/05/07/health/main4998190.shtml.)!
94 !General!Conference,!April!1,!1995,!printed!in!Ensign,!May!1995.!
95 !Church!Handbook!of!Instructions!Vol.!2,!2010,!21.4.4,!
https://new.lds.org/handbook/handbook;2;administering;the;church/selected;
church;policies/21.4.12?lang=eng#21.4.4.!
96 !See!previous!footnote.!!

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Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

65!

This!doesnt!mean!every!form!of!birth!control!is!now!accepta;
ble.!The!2010!edition!of!the!Church!Handbook!of!Instructions!con;
demns!all!surgical!birth!control!except!under!rare!circumstances:!
Surgical!Sterilization!(Including!Vasectomy)!
The! First! Presidency! has! declared,! We! seriously! deT
plore!the!fact!that!members!of!the!Church!would!voluntariT
ly!take!measures!to!render!themselves!incapable!of!further!
procreation.!
Surgical! sterilization! should! only! be! considered! (1)!
where! medical! conditions! seriously! jeopardize! life! or!
health,! or! (2)! where! birth! defects! or! serious! trauma! have!
rendered!a!person!mentally!incompetent!and!not!responsiT
ble! for! his! or! her! actions.! Such! conditions! must! be! deterT
mined! by! competent! medical! judgment! and! in! accordance!
with!law.!Even!then,!the!person!or!persons!responsible!for!
this!decision!should!consult!with!each!other!and!with!their!
bishop! (or! branch! president)! and! receive! divine! confirmaT
tion!through!prayer.97!
Since! most! LDS! males! I! know! got! vasectomies! when! they!
reached! a! certain! age, 98 !those! tube;tying! sinners! must! know!
something!the!general!authorities!do!not.!(My!assumption!is!that!
vasectomies! can! by! justified! by! claiming! that! having! more! chil;
dren!would!seriously!jeopardize!the!parents!mental!health.)!
Birth!control!is!not!the!only!part!of!a!married!couples!sexual!
relationship! that! the! church! restricted.! In! 1982! The! First! Presi;
dency! released! an! official! statement! to! All! Stake,! Mission,! and!
District!Presidents;!Bishops;!and!Branch!Presidents!that!banned!
oral!sex:!
"Married! persons! should! understand! that! if! in! their! marital!
relations!they!are!guilty!of!unnatural,!impure,!or!unholy!practices,!
they!should!not!enter!the!temple!unless!and!until!they!repent!and!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Church!Handbook!of!Instructions!Vol.!2,!2010,!21.4.15,!
http://lds.org/handbook/handbook;2;administering;the;church/selected;
church;policies/21.4.12?lang=eng#21.4.15.!
98 !You! can! imagine! what! fun! it! was! to! call! my! friends! and! family! and! poll! them!
about!their!reproductive!status.!The!things!I!do!for!this!book.!
97

!
66!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

discontinue! any! such! practices! The! First! Presidency! has! inter;


preted! oral! sex! as! constituting! an! unnatural,! impure,! or! unholy!
practice.99!
A! question! asking! members! if! they! engaged! in! oral! sex! with!
their! spouses! was! promptly! added! to! the! list! of! temple! recom;
mend!interview!questions.100!The!backlash!from!members!was!so!
great!that!the!question!was!removed!shortly!thereafter!and!never!
spoken!of!by!church!leaders!again.!Thank!goodness!for!rebellious!
members;!if!my!local!church!leaders!had!asked!me!or!my!spouse!
such! intimate! questions,! I! would! have! choked! them! with! their!
own!neckties.!
Do! you! believe! the! prophets?! Have! you! ever! used! birth! con;
trol?! Women,! do! you! believe! it! makes! you! more! masculine! in!
thought! and! action?! Do! you! believe! the! use! of! birth! control! is!
rooted!in!selfishness!and!there!is!no!salvation!for!those!who!use!
it?!Men,!do!you!believe!vasectomies!are!evil?!Do!you!believe!oral!
sex!with!your!own!spouse!is!so!unholy!and!impure!that!it!makes!
you!unworthy!to!hold!a!temple!recommend?!!
These! doctrines! condemn! virtually! everyone.! I! believe! the!
churchs!teachings!on!marital!intimacy!are!disturbing!and!do!not!
come! from! God.! I! believe! birth! control! is! among! the! great! bless;
ings! of! modern! medicine! and! that! its! use! has! always! been! ac;
ceptable,!despite!what!the!church!once!taught.!I!also!believe!that!
what! a! married! couple! does! in! their! bedroom! is! their! own! darn!
business.!(The!church!now!agrees!with!that!notion!but!it!took!the!
outright!mutiny!of!church!members!to!get!leaders!to!acquiesce.)!
!
!
!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!First!Presidency!statement,!January!5,!1982,!BYU!special!collections.!
!The! temple! recommend! interview! process! consists! of! two! separate! meetings!
that! members! have! with! two! different! church! leaders! (who! are! always! male! re;
gardless!of!the!gender!of!the!interviewee)!to!ensure!their!worthiness!to!enter!the!
temple.! The! first! interview! is! with! ones! bishop! and! the! second! is! with! a! priest;
hood!leader!from!the!stake!who!the!member!may!or!may!not!know.!(A!stake!is!an!
LDS!church!unit!comprising!several!wards.)!
99

100

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67!

Blacks!and!the!Priesthood!Ban!
!
Any!discussion!of!LDS!doctrinal!changes!would!be!incomplete!
without! addressing! blacks! and! the! priesthood.! The! relationship!
between!blacks!and!the!church!began!comparatively!well.!Joseph!
Smith! was! more! welcoming! of! blacks! than! most! contemporary!
Christian! leaders! and! gave! them! the! priesthood.101!Elijah! Abel,! a!
black!man,!was!ordained!an!Elder!in!the!LDS!priesthood!by!Joseph!
Smith!on!March!3,!1836.!Abel!was!ordained!to!the!office!of!Seven;
ty!in!December!1836!and!served!missions!in!Ohio,!New!York!and!
Canada.!Walker!Lewis,!another!black!man,!was!ordained!an!elder!
in!1844,!and!William!McCary!was!ordained!in!1846.102!
This! commendable! system! of! racial! equality! was! eliminated!
not!long!after!Josephs!death.!Brigham!Young!refused!to!let!Elijah!
Abel! get! his! endowments! with! the! other! saints! in! the! Nauvoo!
temple.103!After! Brigham! Young! died,! Elijah! petitioned! prophet!
John! Taylor! and! was! again! denied.! Elijah!passed! away! just! a! few!
years!later!having!never!received!his!endowments.!
In!General!Conference!Brigham!Young!stated:!
You!see!some!classes!of!the!human!family!that!are!black,!
uncouth,! uncomely,! disagreeable! and! low! in! their! habits,!
wild,!and!seemingly!deprived!of!nearly!all!the!blessings!of!the!
intelligence! that! is! generally! bestowed! upon! mankind.! The!
first! man! that! committed! the! odious! crime! of! killing! one! of! his!
brethren! will! be! cursed! the! longest! of! any! one! of! the! children! of!
Adam.!Cain!slew!his!brother.!Cain!might!have!been!killed,!and!that!
would! have! put! a! termination! to! that! line! of! human! beings.! This!
was!not!to!be,!and!the!Lord!put!a!mark!upon!him,!which!is!the!flat!
nose! and! black! skin.! Trace! mankind! down! to! after! the! flood,! and!
then!another!curse!is!pronounced!upon!the!same!racethat!they!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!The!priesthood!in!the!LDS!faith!is!the!authority!to!act!in!Gods!name,!and!to!give!
blessings!and!ordinations.!
102 !Documentation!of!these!ordinations!are!kept!in!the!church!membership!records.!
103 !Neither!White!nor!Black:!Mormon!Scholars!Confront!the!Race!Issue!in!a!Universal!
Church,!edited!by!Lester!E.!Bush!Jr.!and!Armand!L.!Mauss,!Signature!Books,!1984,!
http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/neither/cover.htm.!
101

!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

should! be! the! servant! of! servants;! and! they! will! be,! until! that!
curse! is! removed;! and! the! Abolitionists! cannot! help! it,! nor! in! the!
least!alter!that!decree.!How!long!is!that!race!to!endure!the!dread;
ful!curse!that!is!upon!them?!That!curse!will!remain!upon!them,!
and!they!never!can!hold!the!Priesthood!or!share!in!it!until!all!
the! other! descendants! of! Adam! have! received! the! promises!
and! enjoyed! the! blessings! of! the! Priesthood! and! the! keys!
thereof.!Until!the!last!ones!of!the!residue!of!Adam's!children!are!
brought!up!to!that!favourable!position,!the!children!of!Cain!cannot!
receive!the!first!ordinances!of!the!Priesthood.104!
Brigham!Young!also!condemned!interracial!marriage:!
Shall!I!tell!you!the!law!of!God!in!regard!to!the!African!race?!If!
the! white! man! who! belongs! to! the! chosen! seed! mixes! his! blood!
with!the!seed!of!Cain,!the!penalty,!under!the!law!of!God,!is!death!
on!the!spot.!This!will!always!be!so.105!
!The!Lord!told!Cain!that!he!should!not!receive!the!blessings!
of! the! priesthood! nor! his! seed,! until! the! last! of! the! posterity! of!
Able! had! received! the! priesthood,! until! the! redemption! of! the!
earth.!If!there!never!was!a!prophet,!or!apostle!of!Jesus!Christ!
spoke! it! before,! I! tell! you,! this! people! that! are! commonly!
called!negroes!are!the!children!of!old!Cain.!I!know!they!are,!I!
know! that! they! cannot! bear! rule! in! the! priesthood,! for! the!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!October!9,!1859,!JD!Vol.!7.!
!March!8,!1863,!JD!Vol.!10.!Brigham!Young!was!in!favor!of!using!death!to!punish!
a!multitude!of!sins!and!taught!that!some!sins!could!only!be!forgiven!by!sacrificing!
ones! own! blood.! This! is! sometimes! referred! to! as! the! doctrine! of! Blood! Atone;
ment.!President!Young!said,!Suppose![a!Latter;day!Saint]!is!overtaken!in!a!gross!
fault,!that!he!has!committed!a!sin!that!he!knows!will!deprive!him!of!that!exaltation!
which!he!desires,!and!that!he!cannot!attain!to!it!without!the!shedding!of!his!blood,!
and! also! knows! that! by! having! his! blood! shed! he! will! atone! for! that! sin,! and! be!
saved!and!exalted!with!the!Gods,!is!there!a!man!or!woman!in!this!house!but!what!
would! say,! shed! my! blood! that! I! may! be! saved! and! exalted! with! the! Gods?! (JD!
Vol.!4,!February!8,!1857.)!Gross!fault!included!sins!that!few!today!would!consid;
er!worthy!of!death,!such!as!stealing:!If!you!want!to!know!what!to!do!with!a!thief!
that!you!may!find!stealing,!I!say!kill!him!on!the!spot,!and!never!suffer!him!to!com;
mit!another!iniquity.!That!is!what!I!expect!I!shall!do!and!that!is!what!I!wish!every!
man!to!do,!to!put!a!stop!to!that!abominable!practice!in!the!midst!of!this!people.!
(JD!Vol.!1,!May!8,!1853.)!
104
105

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69!

curse!on!them!was!to!remain!upon!them,!until!the!residue!of!
the!posterity!of!Michal!and!his!wife!receive!the!blessings!Let!
this! Church! which! is! called! the! kingdom! of! God! on! the! earth;! we!
will! sommons! the! first! presidency,! the! twelve,! the! high! counsel,!
the!Bishoprick,!and!all!the!elders!of!Israel,!suppose!we!summons!
them!to!appear!here,!and!here!declare!that!it!is!right!to!mingle!our!
seed,!with!the!black!race!of!Cain,!that!they!shall!come!in!with!us!
and!be!partakers!with!us!of!all!the!blessings!God!has!given!to!us.!
On!that!very!day,!and!hour!we!should!do!so,!the!priesthood!is!tak;
en! from! this! Church! and! kingdom! and! God! leaves! us! to! our! fate.!
The! moment! we! consent! to! mingle! with! the! seed! of! Cain! the!
Church!must!go!to!destruction.106!
Blacks!were!told!they!could!eventually!get!the!priesthood,!but!
not!until!the!resurrection!and!not!until!everyone!else!got!it!first:!
Why!are!so!many!of!the!inhabitants!of!the!earth!cursed!with!
a!sin!of!blackness?!It!comes!in!consequence!of!their!fathers!reject;
ing! the! power! of! the! Holy! Priesthood,! and! the! law! of! God.! They!
will! go! down! to! death.! And! when! all! the! rest! of! the! children!
have! received! their! blessings! in! the! Holy! Priesthood,! then!
that!curse!will!be!removed!from!the!seed!of!Cain,!and!they!will!
then! come! up! and! possess! the! priesthood,! and! receive! all! the!
blessings!which!we!now!are!entitled!to.107!
Contrary!to!current!LDS!belief,!it!was!also!taught!as!doctrine!
that!blacks!were!less!obedient!in!the!pre;mortal!existence:!
There!is!a!reason!why!one!man!is!born!black!and!with!other!
disadvantages,!while!another!is!born!white!with!great!advantages.!
The! reason! is! that! we! once! had! an! estate! before! we! came! here,!
and! were! obedient,! more! or! less,! to! the! laws! that! were! given! us!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Brigham! Young! Addresses,! Feb.! 5,! 1852,! LDS! Historical! Department,! Salt! Lake!
City,!Utah.!
107 !Brigham! Young,! August! 19,! 1866,! JD! Vol.! 11.! Years! earlier! Young! had! stated:!
When! all! the! other! children! of! Adam! have! had! the! privilege! of! receiving! the!
Priesthood,!and!of!coming!into!the!kingdom!of!God,!and!of!being!redeemed!from!
the!four!quarters!of!the!earth,!and!have!received!their!resurrection!from!the!dead,!
then!it!will!be!time!enough!to!remove!the!curse!from!Cain!and!his!posterity.!!
(December!3,!1854,!JD!Vol.!2.)!
106

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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

there.!Those!who!were!faithful!in!all!things!there!received!greater!
blessings!here,!and!those!who!were!not!faithful!received!less.108!
In!General!Conference!Apostle!George!F!Richards!said:!
The!negro!is!an!unfortunate!man.!He!has!been!given!a!black!
skin!But!that!is!as!nothing!compared!with!that!greater!handicap!
that! he! is! not! permitted! to! receive! the! Priesthood! and! the! ordi;
nances! of! the! temple,! necessary! to! prepare! men! and! women! to!
enter! into! and! enjoy! a! fulness! of! glory! in! the! celestial! kingdom!
What! is! the! reason! for! this! condition,! we! ask,! and! I! find! it! to! my!
satisfaction! to! think! that! as! spirit! children! of! our! Eternal! Father!
they!were!not!valiant!in!the!fight.109!
The!First!Presidency!even!released!an!official!statement!con;
firming!the!doctrine:!
Man! will! be! punished! for! his! own! sins! and! not! for! Adam's!
transgression.! ! If! this! is! carried! further,! it! would! imply! that! the!
Negro! is! punished! or! allotted! to! a! certain! position! on! this! earth,!
not!because!of!Cain's!transgression,!but!came!to!earth!through!the!
loins!of!Cain!because!of!his! failure! to! achieve! other! stature! in!
the!spirit!world.110!
The! church! also! discussed! slavery,! though! its! early! position!
on! the! subject! is! a! bit! muddy.! Joseph! Smith! spoke! in! favor! of!
emancipation111!but!also!in!favor!of!slavery!because!it!is!support;
ed! in! the! Bible.112!The! quote! that! seems! to! best! reflect! his! views!
was!given!on!January!2,!1843:!
Had! I! anything! to! do! with! the! negro,! I! would! confine! them!
by! strict! law! to! their! own! species,! and! put! them! on! a! national!
equalization.113!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
108 !Apostle! Joseph! Fielding! Smith,! Doctrines!of!Salvation! Vol.! 1,! p.! 61.! Pre;mortal!
existence!refers!to!the!life!we!had!as!spirits!before!we!were!born!on!earth.!
109 !Conference!Report,!April!1939.!
110 !Official!Statement!of!the!First!Presidency,!August!17,!1951.!
111 !D&C!101:79.!HC!Vol.!4,!p.!544.!When!running!for!President!of!the!United!States,!
Joseph!preached!against!slavery.!(HC!Vol.!6,!p.!197;198.)!
112 !HC!Vol.!2,!p.!436;440.!D&C!134:12.!At!one!point!Joseph!Smith!specifically!stated,!
We!do!not!believe!in!setting!the!Negroes!free.!(HC!Vol.!3,!p.!29.)!
113 !HC! Vol.! 5,! p.! 217;218.! This! suggests! to! me! that! Joseph! thought! blacks! should!
keep!to!themselves!but!deserved!the!same!rights!as!white!people.!

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71!

The! evolution! in! Joseph! Smiths! thinking! is! unclear;! his! pro;
slavery! statements! are! mixed! right! in! with! his! pro;emancipation!
statements.!Joseph!was!almost!certainly!in!favor!of!emancipation!
near!the!end!of!his!life,!but!it!appears!that!after!his!death!the!pro;
slavery!church!leaders!won!the!day.!In!an!interview!for!the!New!
York! Tribune,! Brigham! Young! was! asked! by! interviewer! Horace!
Greeley:!
What!is!the!position!of!your!church!with!respect!to!slavery?!
Brigham!Young!responded:!
We!consider!it!of!divine!institution,!and!not!to!be!abolished!
until!the!curse!pronounced!on!Ham!shall!have!been!removed!from!
his!descendants.114!
Church!Leaders!often!discussed!slavery!during!the!Civil!War.!
Brigham!Young!said!in!General!Conference:!
Ham!will!continue!to!be!the!servant!of!servants,!as!the!Lord!
has!decreed,!until!the!curse!is!removed.!Will! the! present! strug[
gle! [the! Civil! War]! free! the! slave?! No!Treat!the!slaves!kindly!
and! let! them! live,! for! Ham! must! be! the! servant! of! servants! until!
the! curse! is! removed.! Can! you! destroy! the! decrees! of! the! Al;
mighty?!You!cannot.!Yet!our!Christian!brethren!think!that!they!
are!going!to!overthrow!the!sentence!of!the!Almighty!upon!the!
seed!of!Ham.!They!cannot!do!that.115!
Less!than!two!years!later!they!did!do!that;!the!Civil!War!end;
ed!in!1865.!
Finally,! on! June! 8,! 1978,! the! church! released! its! second! Offi;
cial!Declaration!and!granted!blacks!the!priesthood.116!How!things!
have! changed! since! then.! In! the! priesthood! session! of! General!
Conference!on!April!1,!2006,!President!Gordon!B.!Hinckley!said:!
How!can!any!man!holding!the!Melchizedek!Priesthood!arro;
gantly! assume! that! he! is! eligible! for! the! priesthood! whereas! an;
other! who! lives! a! righteous! life! but! whose! skin! is! of! a! different!
color!is!ineligible?117!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!New!York!Tribune,!August!20,!1859.!
!October!6,!1863,!JD!Vol.!10.!
116 !This!Declaration!can!be!found!at!the!end!of!the!D&C.!
117 !Ensign,!May!2006.!
114
115

!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

President! Hinckleys! statement! is! commendable,! so! what!


about!President!Brigham!Young!and!other!church!leaders!who!not!
only!arrogantly!assumed!it!but!taught!it!as!doctrine?!Some!of!my!
family! and! friends! have! suggested! that! the! priesthood! ban! was!
not! doctrinal! but! that! it! was! a! church! policy;!after! all,! blacks! got!
the! priesthood! in! Joseph! Smiths! day.! Even! though! one! later!
prophet!did!suggest!in!private!conversation!that!it!was!policy!ra;
ther! than! doctrine! (see! p.! 75),! this! cannot! be! true.! On! two! sepa;
rate! occasions! the! First! Presidency! released! statements!
confirming!that!the!priesthood!ban!was!doctrinal:!
From!the!days!of!the!Prophet!Joseph!Smith!even!until!now,!it!
has! been! the! doctrine! of! the! Church,! never! questioned! by!
Church!leaders,!that!the!Negroes!are!not!entitled!to!the!full!bless;
ings!of!the!Gospel.118!
In!1949!the!First!Presidency!was!even!clearer:!
The! attitude! of! the! Church! with! reference! to! Negroes! re;
mains!as!it!has!always!stood.!It! is! not! a! matter! of! the! declara[
tion!of!a!policy!but!of!direct!commandment!from!the!Lord,!on!
which!is!founded!the!doctrine!of!the!Church!from!the!days!of!
its! organization,! to! the! effect! that! Negroes! may! become! mem;
bers!of!the!Church!but!that!they!are!not!entitled!to!the!priesthood!
at!the!present!time.119!
I!am!not!suggesting!that!the!prophets!and!apostles!who!were!
against!racial!equality!were!evil,!stupid,!or!purposely!deceitful.!As!
with!scripture,!there!are!also!wonderful!things!to!be!found!in!the!
teachings! of! church! leaders.! One! of! my! favorite! quotes! comes!
from!President!Gordon!B.!Hinckley:!
Ive! been! blessed,! and! as! long! as! I! live,! Id! like! to! bless! the!
lives!of!others.120!
I! cannot! think! of! a! better! way! to! live! ones! life.! I! memorized!
that!statement!when!I!first!read!it!and!still!use!it!to!remind!myself!
of!what!is!truly!important.!I!believe!most!general!authorities!are!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Statement!of!The!First!Presidency!on!the!Negro!Question,!July!17,!1947.!
!Statement!of!the!First!Presidency!on!the!Negro!Question,!August!17,!1949.!
120 !Potomac! Virginia! Regional! Conference,! priesthood! leadership! session,! April! 6,!
1997,!Teachings!of!Gordon!B.!Hinckley,!Deseret!Book,!1997,!p.!311.!
118
119

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73!

good! people.! They! are! also! products! of! their! time! and! I! would!
question! the! teachings! of! any! person! or! group! that! espouses! or!
once!espoused!racist!beliefs.!
Church! leaders! today! would! like! us! to! forget! when! prophets!
gave! distasteful! instruction! and! have! explicitly! encouraged! us! to!
do! so.! After! the! priesthood! ban! was! lifted,! Apostle! Bruce! R.!
McConkie!addressed!past!prophets!statements!on!blacks:!
Forget! everything! that! I! have! said,! or! what! President!
Brigham! Young! or! President! George! Q.! Cannon! or! whomsoever!
has!said!in!days!past!that!is!contrary!to!the!present!revelation.121!
It!would!be!nice!to!forget.!It!would!also!be!dishonest.!The!fact!
is,!the!prophets!taught!doctrines!of!men!yet!the!church!still!claims!
that! such! a! thing! is! impossible.! It! is! as! if! members! believe! that!
prophets!cannot!possibly!be!wrong.!I!sometimes!hear!Latter;day!
Saints!say,!In!the!Catholic!church!everyone!says!the!pope!is!infal;
lible!but!nobody!believes!it;!and!in!the!Mormon!church!everybody!
says!the!prophet!is!fallible!but!nobody!believes!it.122!!
I!wish!to!emphasize!what!Latter;day!Saints!already!know!but!
tend! to! ignore:! prophets! are! not! infallible.! Joseph! Smith! and!
Brigham! Young! and! all! church! leaders,! including! current! general!
authorities,! are! products! of! their! time! and! heavily! influenced! by!
their! biases,! just! like! the! rest! of! us.! Consider! Brigham! Young.! He!
was! not! necessarily! a! wicked! guy! but! he! lived! during! a! time! of!
rampant! racism,! so! he! accepted! the! position! of! blacks! as! taught!
according!to!the!racist!notions!of!the!time!and!gave!revelation!to!
the!church!that!provided!sacred!justification!for!those!racist!bias;
es.! Revelation! is! only! as! good! as! the! biases! of! the! prophet! who!
receives!it.!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!August!18,!1978,!Church!Education!System!Religious!Educators!Symposium.!
!The! doctrine! of! infallibility! in! the! Catholic! church! was! formally! defined! in! the!
First!Vatican!Council!of!1870.!Upon!hearing!of!the!doctrine!Catholic!Cardinal!John!
Henry!Newman!wrote,!I!shall!drink!to!the!Pope!if!you!pleasestill,!to!conscience!
first! and! to! the! Pope! afterwards.! (Letter! to! the! Duke! of! Norfolk,! printed! in! The!
Genius! of! John! Henry! Newman:! Selections! from! His! Writings,! Oxford! University!
Press,!1990.)!I!wish!more!church!members!felt!the!same!way.!To!conscience!first!!

121
122

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God!could!have!put!an!end!to!this!institutionalized!racism!at!
any!time.!The!Lord!needed!only!whisper!in!Brigham!Youngs!ear,!
Hey,! Brigham,! racism! is! bad,! but! He! didnt.! God! could! have!
talked! to! prophets! John! Taylor! or! Wilford! Woodruff! or! Lorenzo!
Snow!or!Joseph!F.!Smith!or!Heber!J.!Grant!or!George!Albert!Smith!
or!David!O.!McKay!or!Joseph!Fielding!Smith!or!Harold!B.!Lee,!but!
the!Lord!apparently!said!nothing.!President!Kimball!was!prophet!
for!a!full!five!years!before!the!problem!was!fixed.!We!are!told!the!
prophets!will!never!lead!us!astray,!yet!it!appears!God!saw!no!rea;
son! to! correct! these! racist! doctrines! of! men! and! for! decades! let!
the! prophets! say! whatever! they! wanted.! If! the! prophets! are! not!
infallible!then!by!definition!they!can!lead!us!astray.!Unless!we!are!
to! believe! that! the! civil! rights! movement! was! wrong! and! blacks!
should! not! be! equal! to! whites,! then! without! question! church!
members!were!led!astray!by!some!of!their!leaders.!!
Thankfully! many! members! of! the! church,! even! those! at! the!
highest!levels,!did!not!wait!for!Gods!official!representatives!to!tell!
them!racism!was!bad!and!they!fought!long!and!hard!to!repeal!the!
priesthood! ban.123!In! June! 1968! LDS! member! Sterling! McMurrin!
fearlessly! spoke! for! equality! in! a! public! address! before! the! Salt!
Lake! City! branch! of! the! NAACP! (National! Association! for! the! Ad;
vancement!of!Colored!People):!
For! any! church! to! deny! full! religious! fellowship! to! an! indi;
vidual!on!grounds!related!essentially!to!his!race!or!color!is!an!al;
most! unbelievable! moral! deficiency! that! deserves! the! most!
rigorous!condemnation.!!
When! word! of! Sterlings! speech! reached! the! ears! of! the!
church,!several!apostles!clamored!for!the!mans!excommunication!
but!calmer!heads!prevailed!and!Sterling!retained!his!membership.!
Other! general! authorities! also! got! into! the! scuffle.! Apostle! David!
O.! McKay! called! those! who! were! against! equal! rights! for! blacks!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
123 !Gregory! A.! Prince! and! William! Robert! Write,! David! O.! McKay! and! the! rise! of!
modern!Mormonism,!University!of!Utah!Press,!2005.!The!book!includes!the!stories!
and!quotes!on!this!and!the!following!page.!

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Why!I!Question!Church!Leaders!

75!

pseudo;Christians! and,! despite! prophets! insistence! it! was! doc;


trine,!said!in!a!conversation!with!Sterling!McMurrin:!!
We! believe! that! we! have! scriptural! precedent! for! withhold;
ing!the!priesthood!from!the!Negro.!It!is!a!practice,!not!a!doctrine,!
and!the!practice!will!some!day!be!changed.!And!thats!all!there!is!
to!it.124!
After! George! Albert! Smith! died,! the! new! President! McKay!
took! a! first! step! by! granting! the! priesthood! to! Fijians,! who! had!
previously!been!banned.!(Fijians!can!be!very!dark!skinned.)!
Hugh!B.!Brown,!first!counselor!in!the!First!Presidency,!did!not!
have!good!things!to!say!about!birth!control!(as!we!learned!in!the!
last! section)! but! he! was! a! lion! of! racial! equality.! Apostle! Brown!
was! a! member! of! the! NAACP! and! fought! his! entire! life! to! give!
blacks! equal! rights.! For! example,! on! multiple! occasions! Apostle!
Ezra! Taft! Benson! publically! claimed! that! the! civil! rights! move;
ment! was! subversive! and! even! communist;inspired,! and! in! April!
1965!Brown!openly!refuted!Bensons!remarks.!This!got!Brown!in!
a! bit! of! trouble,! but! he! continued! to! speak! against! the! churchs!
doctrines!regarding!blacks.!In!meetings!with!both!the!First!Presi;
dency! and! the! Quorum! of! the! Twelve,! Apostle! Brown! repeatedly!
moved!to!eliminate!the!priesthood!ban.!He!even!jumped!the!gun!
in! 1969! and! hinted! to! the! press! that! the! church! would! soon!
change! its! position.! Unfortunately,! the! church! did! not! act! until!
several! years! after! Browns! death;! the! priesthood! ban! was! only!
lifted!in!1978.!
Do!you!believe!blacks!are!an!inferior!race!that!should!stick!to!
their! own! kind?! That! interracial! marriage! is! an! atrocity! so! great!
that!according!to!the!law!of!God!it!should!be!punished!immediate;
ly!by!death?!That!blacks!were!less!diligent!in!the!pre;mortal!exist;
ence! and! so! deserved! any! poor! treatment! they! suffered?! That!
church!leaders!were!right!to!deny!blacks!equality?!Do!you!believe!
these!doctrines!could!ever!come!from!a!loving!Heavenly!Father?!
I! believe! the! churchs! doctrines! regarding! blacks! are! abomi;
nable!and!not!inspired!in!the!slightest.!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
124

!Quoted!in!David!O.!McKay!and!the!Rise!of!Modern!Mormonism,!p.!79;80.!
!

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From!Past!to!Present!
!
Lets!recap.!Church!leaders,!including!modern!prophets,!have!
taught! that! evolution! is! not! true,! that! evolution! is! true,! that! God!
was!once!a!man,!that!God!was!not!once!a!man,!that!Adam!both!is!
and!is!not!God!the!Father,!that!polygamy!is!doctrine,!that!polyga;
my! is! not! doctrine,! that! there! is! no! salvation! for! those! who! use!
birth!control,!that!you!must!engage!in!just!the!right!kind!of!hanky;
panky! with! your! spouse! or! you! are! unworthy,! that! blacks! will!
never! have! the! priesthood,! that! blacks! have! the! priesthood,! that!
interracial! marriage! should! be! punished! by! death,! that! the! U.S.!
Civil!War!will!not!free!the!blacks!from!slavery,!that!slavery!is!ac;
ceptable!and!that!slavery!is!not!acceptable.!These!represent!only!a!
few! of! the! numerous! doctrinal!inconsistencies! in! church! leaders!
teachings.! So! many! of! the! core! doctrines! and! practices! of! church!
have! been! altered! that! Joseph! Smith! or! Brigham! Young! would!
hardly! recognize! the! church! today.! The! LDS! church! changes! its!
beliefs! at! least! as! often! as! any! other! religion.! As! such,! I! question!
modern!prophets!as!much!as!I!question!leaders!of!any!other!faith.!
But!this!is!all!in!the!past!!some!might!say,!and!they!would!be!
largely!correct.!Except!for!the!churchs!stance!on!evolution!(which!
everyone! ignores! anyway),! all! of! these! doctrines! have! already!
changedin!practice!if!not!in!principleso!why!worry?!!
I! worry! because! of! the! impact! those! doctrines! had! on! the!
people!who!were!told!they!must!either!live!them!or!lose!their!sal;
vation.! Thousands! were! harmed! because! members! were! led!
astray!by!prophets!who!said!they!could!never!be!led!astray.!Scien;
tific! progress! was! condemned.! Blacks! were! condemned.! Those!
who! used! birth! control! were! condemned.! Good! LDS! men! and!
women!who!did!not!practice!polygamy!were!condemned.!Because!
of!this,!families!were!torn!apart,!members!left!the!church!or!were!
forcibly! excommunicated! and! untold! others! remained! in! the!
church!to!struggle!in!silence.!
But!let!us!imagine,!for!the!sake!of!argument,!that!the!suffering!
of! those! thousands! upon! thousands! of! saints! is! not! important.!
What! about! us?! As! long! as! we! follow! the! current! prophet,! wont!
!

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we! be! okay?! Im! done! with! the! past;! lets! talk! about! the! present.!
Lets! talk! about! the! churchs! doctrines! concerning! women! and!
concerning!homosexuality.!Lets!talk!about!the!impact!these!doc;
trines!have!on!people!living!now.!
!
Gender!Inequality!
!
Joseph!Smith!was!a!remarkable!man.!He!would!be!considered!
liberal!even!in!our!own!day!and!was!downright!left;wing!in!his.125!
One!especially!progressive!doctrine!Joseph!Smith!taught!was!that!
women!held!the!priesthood.126!We!still!find!remnants!of!that!doc;
trine!today;!in!the!temple!woman!perform!priesthood!ordinances!
when!carrying!out!initiatory!work.127!Joseph!Smith!taught:!
All! priesthood! is! Melchizedek;! but! there! are! different! por;
tions!or!degrees!of!it.!The!priesthood!bestowed!in!the!temple!is!
the!same!priesthood!given!by!the!laying!on!of!hands,!but!it!is!
a! fullness! of! that! authority! and! embraces! all! other! authori[
ties,!appendages,!and!offices.128!
The! priesthood! bestowed! in! the! endowment! ceremony! is! a!
fullness! of! that! authority! and! is! given! to! all! participants,! male!
and!female.!When!the!Relief!Society!was!organized,!Joseph!Smith!
told!the!assembled!women:!
The! [Relief]! Society! should! move! according! to! the! ancient!
Priesthood! [the! Lord! will]! make! of! this! society! a! kingdom! of!
Priests,!a!holy!people,!a!chosen!generation,!as!in!Enochs!day.129!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Curious!that!now!the!notion!of!an!LDS!democrat!is!almost!as!big!an!oxymoron!
as!airplane!food!or!adult!male.!
126 !In! the! church! todayand! in! many! other! Christian! religionsmembers! are!
taught!that!only!men!can!hold!the!priesthood.!
127 !Also,!in!the!endowment!women!are!clothed!in!the!robes!of!the!priesthood!and!
are! referred! to! as! priestesses.! (Initiatory! work,! like! the! endowment,! is! a! sacred!
ceremony!performed!in!temples!for!the!living!and!the!dead.)!
128 !The!Words!of!Joseph!Smith,!Brigham!Young!University!Religious!Studies!Center,!
1980,!p.!59.!
129 !Minutes! of! the! Female! Relief! Society! of! Nauvoo,! March! 30,! 1842;! the! original!
document! is! in! the! LDS! archives.! The! text! has! since! been! altered! to! remove! any!
125

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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

Later!that!same!year!Joseph!Smith!wrote:!
Gave! a! lecture! on! the! priesthood! shewing! how! the! Sisters!
would!come!in!possession!of!the!privileges!&!blessings!&!gifts!of!
the! priesthood! &! that! these! signs! should! follow! them,! such! as!
healing! the! sick,! casting! out! devils! &c.! &! that! they! might! attain!
unto!these!blessings.130!
For! many! decades,! church! leaders! taught! that! women! held!
the!priesthood.!!Sidney!Rigdon!stated:!
Emma! Smith! was! the! one! to! whom! the! female! priesthood!
was!first!given.131!
There! is! no! evidence! that! women! in! the! early! church! were!
ordained!to!a!particular!priesthood!office,!such!as!high!priest132!or!
bishop,! but! they! certainly! held! the! power! of! the! priesthood! and!
exercised! that! power! openly! and! often.! Journals! of! early! church!
members!are!brimming!with!stories!of!women!using!their!priest;
hood!authority,!of!which!I!will!share!a!few.!When!Wilford!Wood;
ruffs! son! (also! named! Wilford)! was! ordained! a! priest,! Apostle!
Woodruff!summoned!his!family!and!wrote:!
His!father!and!mother![Phoebe!Carter!Woodruff]!laid!hands!
upon!him!and!blessed!him!and!dedicated!him!unto!the!Lord.133!
Women! did! not! need! the! participation! or! presence! of! any!
male!priesthood!holder!to!give!blessings.!Jane!Merrick,!an!English!
convert,!recorded!the!following!experience!of!healing!her!sister:!
I! anointed! her! chest! with! the! oil! you! consecrated,! and! also!
gave! her! some! inwardly! She! continued! very! ill! all! the! evening:!
her! breath! very! short,! and! the! fever! very! high.! I! again! anointed!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
reference!to!female!priesthood;!the!edited!version!can!be!read!in!HC!Vol.!4,!March!
30,!1842.!The!Relief!Society!is!the!official!womens!organization!of!the!LDS!church.!
130 !Joseph!Smith!Journal,!April!28,!1842.!
131 !Letter!from!Sidney!Rigdon!to!Stephen!Post,!June!1868,!LDS!archives.!The!Emma!
Smith!referred!to!was!Joseph!Smiths!first!wife.!Sidney!Rigdon!was!first!counselor!
in!the!First!Presidency!under!Joseph!Smith.!Near!the!end!of!his!life!Joseph!came!to!
distrust!Sidney,!who!was!strongly!opposed!to!Smiths!doctrine!on!polygamy.!After!
Brigham!Young!became!president,!Rigdon!left!the!church.!!
132 !LDS!priesthood!is!split!into!two!orders,!the!lower!Aaronic!and!higher!Melchize;
dek.!The!office!of!high!priest!is!the!highest!in!the!Melchizedek!priesthood.!!
133 !Wilford!Woodruff!Journal,!February!3,!1854.!
!

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her!chest!in!the!name!of!the!Lord,!and!asked!his!blessing;!he!was!
graciously! pleased! to! hear! me,! and! in! the! course! of! twenty;four!
hours,!she!was!as!well!as!if!nothing!had!been!the!matter.134!
Apostle!Orson!Hyde!shared!the!doctrine!of!female!priesthood!
with!the!saints!in!the!Nauvoo!temple:!
The!Priesthood!holds!the!power!and!all!have!been!ordained!
or!ought!to!be.!It!is!necessary!that!it!should!rest!upon!all,!not!upon!
men!only!but!upon!women!also!that!ye!may!be!all!one.135!
John! Smith,! who! was! ordained! Patriarch! of! the! church136!in!
1849,! gave! two! Patriarchal! blessings! that! referred! to! female!
priesthood.! In! a! blessing! to! Caroline! Cottam! in! March! 1853! he!
mentioned!the:!
Priesthood!which!Abraham!sealed!upon!his!daughters.137!
In!a!blessing!to!Elizabeth!Bean!in!the!same!year!he!said:!
I!seal!upon!you!all!the!blessings!of!Abraham,!Isaac!and!Jacob,!
and! all! the! Priesthood! that! was! sealed! upon! the! daughters! of! Ja;
cob!in!the!land!of!Egypt.138!
Brigham!Young!also!taught!that!women!held!the!priesthood:!
Now,! brethren,! the! man! that! honors! his! Priesthood,! the!
woman! that! honors! her! Priesthood,! will! receive! an! everlasting!
inheritance!in!the!kingdom!of!God.139!
I!love!this!teaching.!Few!Christian!religions!at!the!time!grant;
ed!their!female!members!so!much!gender!equality!and!I!think!it!is!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Jane!Merrick!Journal!and!Letters,!1849,!p.!205.!In!the!church!today,!priesthood!
holders!bless!the!sick!by!anointing!the!head!with!consecrated!oil!and!laying!hands!
on! the! head! while! pronouncing! the! blessing.! In! the! early! church! the! sick! were!
anointed! with! oil! on! the! sick! parts! of! their! body! rather! than! on! the! head.! It! was!
also!common!for!the!recipient!of!the!blessing!to!drink!a!small!amount!of!the!con;
secrated!oil.!!
135 !Bullock!Minutes,!March!15,!1846,!BYU!Studies!Vol.!31,!No.!1,!p.!61.!
136 !Patriarchs! are! LDS! priesthood! holders! who! are! ordained! to! give! Patriarchal!
blessings.!Patriarchal!blessings!are!a!special!blessing!given!to!a!member!only!once!
(usually! as! a! teenager)! to! guide! a! person! through! his! or! her! life.! These! blessings!
are!transcribed!and!a!copy!given!to!the!individual.!The!church!also!keeps!copies!of!
all!Patriarchal!blessings.!
137 !Patriarchal!blessing!of!Caroline!Cottam,!March!26,!1853,!LDS!archives.!
138 !Patriarchal!blessing!of!Elizabeth!Bean,!May!1,!1853,!LDS!archives.!
139 !June!28,!1874,!JD!Vol.!17.!
134

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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

one!of!the!best!doctrines!ever!given!to!the!saints.!But!before!long,!
like!me!without!my!gummy!bears,!the!female!priesthood!began!to!
shrivel! away! until! it! disappeared! almost! entirely.! First,! church!
leaders! altered! the! doctrine! to! assert! that! women! only! held! the!
priesthoodand!could!only!use!itwith!their!husbands:!
For!the!information!of!all!interested!in!this!subject!I!will!say,!
it!is!not!the!calling!of!these!sisters!to!hold!the!Priesthood,!only!in!
connection! with! their! husbands,! they! being! one! with! their! hus;
bands.140!
Though!women!were!told!they!could!only!use!the!priesthood!
with! their! husbands,! the! church! continued! to! emphasize! that!
women!held!the!priesthood.!Apostle!James!E.!Talmage!said:!
It!is!a!precept!of!the!Church!that!women!of!the!Church!share!
the! authority! of! the! priesthood! with! their! husbands,! actual! or!
prospective;! and! therefore! women,! whether! taking! the! endow;
ment!for!themselves!or!for!the!dead,!are!not!ordained!to!specific!
rank!in!the!priesthood.141!
Unfortunately,! the! doctrine! was! changed! even! further.! Apos;
tle!Joseph!Fielding!Smith!declared:!
Women! do! not! hold! the! priesthood,! but! if! they! are! faithful!
and!true!they!will!become!priestesses!and!queens!in!the!kingdom!
of! God,! and! that! implies! that! they! will! be! given! authority.! The!
women! do! not! hold! the! priesthood! with! their! husbands,!but!
they!do!reap!the!benefits!coming!from!that!priesthood.142!
In!General!Conference!Apostle!Rudger!Clawson!stated:!
The! Priesthood! is! not! received,! or! held,! or! exercised! in!
any!degree,!by!the!women!of!the!Church;!but!nevertheless,!the!
women! of! the! Church! enjoy! the! blessings! of! the! Priesthood!
through!their!husbands.143!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
140 !Acting! President! John! Taylor,! August! 8,! 1880,! JD! Vol.! 21.! Brigham! Young! had!
died!in!1877,!but!Taylor!was!only!ordained!President!on!October!10,!1880.!
141 !James!E.!Talmage,!The!House!of!the!Lord:!A!Study!of!Holy!Sanctuaries!Ancient!and!
Modern,!Deseret!Book,!1912,!p.!94.!
142 !Doctrines!of!Salvation!Vol.!3,!p.!178.!
143 !Conference!Report,!April!3,!1921.!

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All! female! priesthood! authority! outside! temple! work! was!


formally! revoked! in! 1946! when! Apostle! Joseph! Fielding! Smith!
gave!instructions!on!behalf!of!the!First!Presidency!to!the!new!Re;
lief!Society!Presidency:!
While!the!authorities!of!the!Church!have!ruled!that!it!is!per;
missible,! under! certain! conditions! and! with! the! approval! of! the!
priesthood,! for! sisters! to! wash! and! anoint! other! sisters,! yet! they!
feel!that!it!is!far!better!for!us!to!follow!the!plan!the!Lord!has!given!
us!and!send!for!the!Elders!of!the!Church!to!come!and!administer!
to!the!sick!and!afflicted.144!
Women!are!no!longer!allowed!to!play!any!part!in!a!priesthood!
ordinance!or!blessing.!The!Church!Handbook!of!Instructions!states:!
Only! brethren! who! hold! the! necessary! priesthood! and! are!
worthy! may! perform! an! ordinance! or! blessing! or! stand! in! the!
circle.145!
Today!women!cannot!even!act!as!a!witness!for!priesthood!or;
dinances.146!Why!were!women!taught!publically!that!they!had!the!
priesthood!and!could!use!it!only!to!be!told!later!that!they!do!not!
have! the! priesthood! and! cannot! use! it! even! though! women! still!
use! their! supposed! non;existent! priesthood! to! perform! priest;
hood!ordinances!(initiatory!work)!in!the!temple?!!
What!do!you!believe?!Do!you!believe!women!hold!and!can!ex;
ercise!the!priesthood,!as!taught!by!Joseph!Smith,!Brigham!Young!
and!other!early!church!leaders,!or!do!you!believe!that!women!do!
not! have! the! priesthood! and! cannot! pretend! to! exercise! it,! as!
taught! by! all! church! leaders! since! its! use! was! revoked! in! 1946?!
How!do!you!choose!which!prophet!to!follow?!If!the!prophets!nev;
er!lead!us!astray,!why!do!these!inconsistencies!exist!at!all?!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Joseph!Fielding!Smith!to!Belle!S.!Spafford,! Marianne! C.! Sharp,! and! Gertrude! R.!
Garff,! July! 29,! 1946,! quoted! in! Messages! of! the! First! Presidency! Vol.! 4,! edited! by!
James!R.!Clark,!Bookcraft,!1965,!p.!314.!
145 !Church!Handbook!of!Instructions!Vol.!2,!2010,!20.1.1,!
http://lds.org/handbook/handbook;2;administering;the;church/priesthood;
ordinances;and;blessings?lang=eng.!
146 !Some!priesthood!ordinances!(such!as!baptism)!require!witnesses.!Witnesses!do!
not!participate!in!the!ordinance!but!watch!to!confirm!it!is!performed!correctly.!
144

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Male! members! of! the! church! sometimes! inconsiderately! set!


female! concerns! aside! by! saying,! Well,! woman! do! not! have! the!
priesthood!because!they!dont!need!it.!We!men!require!the!extra!
help.! Such! statements! strike! me! as! patronizing! to! both! women!
and!men,!suggesting!in!one!breath!that!women!are!the!better!half!
and! in! the! next! breath! that! they! have! no! priesthood! and! cannot!
hold! any! leadership! position! except! in! Primary! (the! childrens!
organization)! and! Relief! Society! (the! womans! organization),147!
while!at!the!same!time!suggesting!that!men!are!spiritually!incom;
petent! and! cannot! possibly! be! as! capable! as! women! unless! they!
are! given! something! more.148!Women! who! wish! for! the! priest;
hood! want! to! use! it! not! because! they! need! extra! help! but! be;
cause! they! yearn! to! bless! the! lives! of! others.! One! LDS! women!
wrote!about!a!missionary!experience:!
When!I!went!on!my!mission!(to!the!southern!U.S.),!I!came!to!
see!that!no!matter!how!good!a!missionary!I!was,!I!would!always!
have! to! answer! to! 19! year! old! boys! simply! because! I! lack! a! Y;
chromosome.!The!real!turning!point!was!one!day!when!my!com;
panion!and!I!had!an!investigator!with!a!serious!illness.!We!taught!
her!about!the!priesthood!and!about!priesthood!blessings.!She!said!
she!wanted!one!and!asked!my!companion!if!she!would!do!it.!We!
had!to!explain!to!her!that!we!didnt!hold!the!priesthood,!but!that!
we! could! call! some! missionaries! who! did.! We! called! the! elders!
over,! and! they! gave! her! a! blessing.! It! was! an! amazing! spiritual!
experience,!but!all!I!could!do!was!cry!because!there!I!stood,!want;
ing! to! be! able! to! give! this! service,! being! morally! worthy! to,! but!
being!unable!to!because!of!my!gender.149!
When!I!was!ill!and!wanted!a!blessing,!I!would!have!been!far!
happierand! it! would! have! meant! much! more! to! meif! I! could!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
147 !Also,! female! leadership! positions! are! never! autonomous;! all! women! must! re;
port!to!male!priesthood!holders.!
148 !As! a! male,! I! submit! that! maybe! men! really! are! that! worthless.! Test! your! male!
regularly! for! worthlessness.! If! evidence! of! chronic! worthlessness! is! found,! have!
him!neutered.!
149 !Keri!B.,!December!12,!2009,!
http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=2830#comments.!

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have!received!that!blessing!from!my!wife,!the!one!person!on!earth!
who! knows! me! best! and! is! most! acquainted! with! my! particular!
needs.! Alas,! women! are! banned! from! such! actions.! We! do! not!
trust! sister! missionaries150!(or! any! women)! with! the! use! of! the!
priesthood,! yet! I! personally! would! have! trusted! most! of! the! Sis;
ters!I!knew!on!my!mission!with!my!life.!Conversely,!we!trust!male!
missionaries!with!the!use!of!the!priesthood,!but!I!would!not!have!
trusted!most!of!the!Elders!I!knew!(myself!included)!with!anything!
more!powerful!than!a!marshmallow!peep.151!
I!know!many!LDS!women!do!not!feel!like!lesser!members!of!
the!church!just!because!they!have!been!told!they!do!not!have!the!
priesthood.!My!spouse!always!felt!well!treated!within!the!church!
and! many! women! I! have! talked! to! say! they! would! not! want! the!
priesthood! even! if! they! could! have! it! (in! reality,! if! a! woman! has!
been! to! the! temple,! she! already! does! have! it).! Many! LDS! women!
are!not!interested!in!using!their!priesthood!or!being!a!part!of!in;
dependent!church!leadership!and!that!is!fine.!!
Others! feel! differently.! I! believe! those! who! wish! it! should!
have!every!opportunity!to!use!their!priesthood.!The!women!of!the!
church! have! enormous! talents! and! passions,! and! they! would! be!
spectacular!leaders!and!priesthood!holders.!
Regardless! of! the! specific! role! women! currently! play! in! the!
priesthood,! gender! inequality! in! the! church! has! been! a! problem!
since!its!early!days!and!much!of!it!continues!today.!While!a!great!
number!of!LDS!women!are!very!happy!in!the!church,!many!of!my!
female! LDS! contributors! have! sometimes! felt! swept! aside! by! the!
male!leadership.!One!woman!who!wanted!to!play!just!a!small!part!
in!her!babys!blessing!was!told!she!could!not!even!hold!the!micro;
phone.152!Another! woman! had! a! daughter! who! was! actively! dis;

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Missionaries!are!called!Sister!or!Elder,!followed!by!their!last!name.!
!And! Im! not! even! sure! about! the! peeps.! On! my! mission! we! would! place! two!
peeps!facing!each!other!in!the!microwave!and!nuke!them!until!they!grew!so!huge!
that! their! giant! peep! bellies! crashed! together! and! one! fell! over.! Whichever! peep!
remained!standing!was!the!victor.!Try!it!at!your!next!family!gathering!!
152 !Heather,!December!12,!2009,!
http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=2830#comments.!Latter;day!
150
151

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couraged!from!serving!a!mission!because!she!was!too!attractive!
and! would! be! a! distraction.153!Several! women! who! I! know! per;
sonally! have! been! told! they! should! not! wear! pants! to! church.! I!
have! no! idea! where! the! pants! directive! comes! from.! I! could! not!
find!it!in!any!official!church!document,!but!based!on!my!conversa;
tions! with! LDS! women! living! on! several! continents,! it! appears!
universal.!If!I!were!still!a!Latter;day!Saint,!I!think!I!would!wear!a!
kilt!to!church!and!proudly!display!my!ghostly,!hairy,!plaid;gilded!
toothpick! calves! for! all! the!congregation! to!see.! If! I! did,! I! bet! not!
one! church! leader! would! tell! me! to! change! out! of! my! kilt.! But! a!
woman!in!pants?!Madness!!
It! is! sometimes! argued! that! gender! discrimination! in! the!
church!is!a!cultural!problem!only.!I!would!suggest!that!the!many!
modern!cases!of!LDS!gender!discrimination!would!be!far!fewer!in!
number! if! such! discrimination! were! not! firmly! established! in!
church! teachings.! For! example,! Heavenly! Mother! is! largely! ig;
nored.154!She!is!our!Mother,!yet!we!are!not!supposed!to!speak!to!
Her!or!treat!Her!in!any!way!like!we!would!treat!an!earthly!moth;
er.! In! Womens! General! Conference! Apostle! Gordon! B.! Hinckley!
spoke!specifically!against!praying!to!Heavenly!Mother:!!
I!regard!it!as!inappropriate!for!anyone!in!the!church!to!pray!
to!our!Mother!in!Heaven.155!
Gail! Houston,! an! English! professor! at! BYU,! was! fired! for! tan;
gentially!mentioning!Heavenly!Mother!when!she!wrote!in!an!essay:!!
My! own! testimony! is! based! on! continual! communication!
with!my!Heavenly!Parents.156!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saints!bless!their!newborn!babies!in!front!of!the!congregation!at!church!on!Sun;
day,!similar!to!a!Christening.!To!give!the!blessing,!priesthood!holders!put!their!
hands!under!the!baby!and!another!priesthood!holder!carries!a!microphone!for!the!
person!(usually!the!babys!father)!who!is!giving!the!blessing.!
153 !StillConfused,!December!14,!2009,!
http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=2830#comments.!
154 !In!addition!to!God!our!Heavenly!Father,!Latter;day!Saints!believe!there!exists!a!
Heavenly!Mother!but!they!hardly!ever!talk!about!Her.!
155 !Quoted!in!the!Ensign,!November!1991,!p.!97;100.!
156 !Academic! Freedom! and! Tenure:! Brigham! Young! University,! American! Associa;
tion!of!University!Professors,!September;October!1997.!
!

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85!

BYU! was! roundly! chastised! by! the! American! Association! of!


University! Professors! for! its! violation! of! academic! freedom,! but!
Gail!did!not!get!her!job!back.!
Some! members! suggest! that! we! do! not! speak! of! Heavenly!
Mother!because!Heavenly!Father!doesnt!want!Her!profaned.!That!
excuse!is!perhaps!even!more!chauvinistic!than!the!act!that!claims!
to! protect! her! and! it! does! not! hold! up! to! even! cursory! scrutiny.!
Righteous! men! get! to! become! Heavenly! Fathers,! gods! who! make!
universes!and!are!praised!in!daily!prayer!by!their!children.!Wom;
en! get! to! become! Heavenly! Mothers! whose! children! are! taught!
not!to!speak!to!them.!I!see!no!love!or!reverence!in!that.!
Mortal!women!are!also!spoken!of!in!unflattering!ways.!Heber!
C.! Kimball,! contemporary! of! Joseph! Smith! and! Brigham! Young,!
and!first!counselor!in!the!First!Presidency,!said:!
Women! were! never! placed! to! lead! Women! are! made! to!
be!led,!and!counseled,!and!directed.157!
Apostle!Kimball!also!said:!
It!is!the!duty!of!a!woman!to!be!obedient!to!her!husband,!and!
unless!she!is,!I!would!not!give!a!damn!for!all!her!queenly!right!and!
authority.158!
In!General!Conference!Apostle!Erastus!Snow!said:!
Are! all! the! families! of! Israel! and! every! woman! striving! her;
self! to! play! well! her! part! and! reverence! her! husband! as! her!
lord;! for! he! is! her! lord! No! woman! will! get! into! the! celestial!
kingdom,! except! her! husband! receives! her,! if! she! is! worthy! to!
have! a! husband;! and! if! not,! somebody! will! receive! her! as! a!
servant.159!
!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!July!12,!1857,!JD!Vol.!5.!
!November! 9,! 1856,! JD! Vol.! 4.! Brigham! Young! told! women! in! General! Confer;
ence:!Are!you!tormenting!yourselves!by!thinking!that!your!husbands!do!not!love!
you?!I!would!not!care!whether!they!loved!a!particle!or!not;!but!I!would!cry!out,!like!
one!of!old,!in!the!joy!of!my!heart,!I!have!got!a!man!from!the!Lord!!(April!7,!1861,!
JD!Vol.!9.)!
159 !October!4,!1857,!JD!Vol.!5.!
157
158

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In! a! speech! titled! Eternal! Marriage! Apostle! Boyd! K.! Packer!


gave!this!counsel!to!women!regarding!their!husbands:!
He!needs!to!feel!dominant.!He!needs!to!be!the!protector!If!
you! take! that! role! from! him,! the! one! he! needs,! you! reduce! his!
manhood! Stay! beautifully! feminine,! female,! stay! a! woman,! for!
the! sake! and! for! the! inspiration! of! his! manhood! do! that.! You! be!
yourself!and!dont!best!him!in!all!his!fields!of!activity.160!!
It!is!also!striking!that!prior!to!the!1990!changes!in!the!temple!
ceremony,! women! were! put! under! covenant! to! obey! the! law! of!
her!husband.!This!eternal,!unchanging!temple!covenant!was!then!
changed!to!obey!the!law!of!the!Lord!and!hearken!to!the!counsel!
of!her!husband.!In!the!temple!sealing!ceremony!men!are!told!to!
receive! her! unto! yourself! to! be! your! lawful! and! wedded! wife,!
while!women!are!told!to!give!yourself!to!him!to!be!his!lawful!and!
wedded!wife.!A!wife!gives!herself!to!her!husband!and!he!receives!
her,! but! a! husband! does! not! give! himself! to! his! wife.! As! of! this!
writing!(2011),!the!wording!remains!the!same.161!
For! decades! women! could! not! pray! in! sacrament! meeting;!
they! are! still! not! allowed! to! offer! prayer! in! General! Conference.!
Also,! many! members! are! unaware! that! women! are! not! sealed! to!
their!children;!children!are!only!sealed!to!fathers.162!If!a!husband!
and! wife! annul! their! sealing,! the! children! remain! sealed! to! the!
father! regardless! of! his! worthiness! to! have! those! children! in! the!
eternities!and!regardless!of!the!needs!of!the!children!themselves.!!
I! have! a! friend! whose! father! cheated! on! her! mother! and! left!
the!family!to!fend!for!themselves.!She!and!her!mother!later!joined!
the! church.! My! friend! begged! every! priesthood! authority! she!
could!find!to!be!sealed!to!her!mother!and!was!refused.!LDS!wom;

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Boyd!K.!Packer,!Eternal!Marriage,!Speeches!of!the!Year,!BYU!1970.!
!I!have!personally!confirmed!these!changes!with!several!temple!presidents!and!
two!general!authorities.!I!also!confirmed!that!I!could!share!the!above!details!out;
side!of!the!temple.!Full!texts!of!the!temple!ceremonies!that!include!their!changes!
over! time! are! readily! available! online.! However,! because! the! temple! is! sacred! to!
Latter;day!Saints,!I!do!not!provide!direct!links!to!those!sources.!
162 !In!the!temple!not!only!are!spouses!sealed!for!eternity!to!each!other!but!children!
are!also!sealed!to!their!father.!
160
161

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87!

en,!no!matter!how!worthy,!can!never!be!sealed!to!their!children.!
Single! mothers! and! divorced! women! are! out! of! luck! unless! they!
find! a! man.! These! are! not! cultural! problems,! folks.! These! things!
are!taught!as!doctrine!and!I!find!such!doctrines!of!men!appalling.!
Heres!the!good!news;!these!teachings!can!change.!When!po;
lygamy!became!a!real!problemwhen!church!leaders!were!jailed!
and! Utah! denied! statehoodit! changed.! When! the! ban! on! birth!
control! became! a! real! problemwhen! church! members! thought!
it! was! ridiculous! and! simply! refused! to! follow! itit! changed.!
When!the!doctrine!concerning!blacks!and!the!priesthood!became!
a!real!problemwhen!church!growth!in!Africa!was!being!choked!
in!the!cradle!and!the!world!began!to!perceive!the!church!as!inex;
cusably! racistit! changed.! The! role! of! women! in! the! church! can!
also! change! but! it! will! require! that! both! men! and! women! speak!
out.!Speaking!our!minds!in!an!environment!that!discourages!disa;
greement!requires!a!fair!amount!of!courage,!but!it!can!be!done.!
In!almost!three!decades!of!church!activity,!I!never!once!heard!
a! woman! hint! at! feelings! of! discrimination! (it! may! be! that! I! was!
just! an! especially! dense! representative! of! my! gender,! but! I! dont!
think!so).!Yet!after!I!left!the!church!I!began!to!read!LDS!blogs!like!
Feminist! Mormon! Housewives163!and! it! is! as! if! a! dam! has! burst.! I!
wish!I!had!known!before.!Being!male,!I!can!never!fully!understand!
the!struggles!faced!by!many!women!in!the!church,!but!I!darn!well!
would! have! tried! and! if! as! a! Latter;day! Saint! I! had! heard! even! a!
fraction!of!the!discontent!that!now!comes!through!loud!and!clear,!
I!would!have!fought!tooth!and!nail!for!more!equality.!I!think!many!
men!in!the!church!would!feel!the!same!way!I!do!if!only!they!knew.!
If! both! women! and! men! speak! out,! the! church! will! listen.! It! will!
take!more!time!than!it!should,!but!change!can!happen.!
Women!of!the!church,!which!prophets!do!you!believe?!Do!you!
believe!that!women!should!be!allowed!to!bless!others!through!the!
priesthood! or! do! you! believe! they! should! be! denied?! Do! you! be;
lieve!that!you!will!be!a!Heavenly!Mother!who!is!hidden!from!the!
world,! your! own! children! commanded! not! to! speak! to! you?! Do!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
163

!http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/.!
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you! believe! that! you! are! made! to! be! led?! Are! you! comfortable!
with!never!being!sealed!to!your!own!children?!
I!believe!it!is!wrong!to!insist!that!women!be!locked!in!a!pre;
determined!role!according!to!their!gender.!I!believe!women!have!
every! last! sliver! of! authority! men! doboth! in! this! life! and! the!
next.!Equality!does!not!mean!that!men!and!women!are!the!same!
in! every! way;! of! course! they! are! not.! It! does! mean! that! men! and!
women!should!be!treated!equally;!sadly,!often!they!are!not.!I!be;
lieve!both!women!and!men!should!select!their!rolesin!religion,!
family! and! workaccording! to! their! own! unique! talents! and! in;
terests,!not!according!to!some!celestial!stereotype.164!
!
Homosexuality!
!
Gender!inequality!highlights!well!the!importance!of!question;
ing!ungodly!doctrines.!If!we!do!not!question,!we!remain!locked!in!
the!stereotypes!of!the!past!and!those!stereotypes!can!hurt!people.!!
Throughout! my! writing! I! have! tried! to! keep! an! emotionally!
steady! tone,! a! Mr.! Spock! to! others! fiery! Captain! Kirk,! but! when!
people! suffer! due! to! thoughtless! doctrines! I! do! not! believe! it! is!
appropriate! to! remain! neutral.! Gender! issues! are! not! the! only!
problem!in!the!church!today.!LDS!doctrines!about!homosexuality!
are!deeply!hurtful!and!should!not!be!tolerated.!
Homosexuality! is! currently! a! big! issue! in! the! church,! but! the!
scriptures!hardly!say!a!thing!about!it.!The!Bible!spends!far!more!
time! teaching! us! how! to! hold! slaves! than! how! to! condemn! gay!
people.!Jesus!doesnt!say!a!word!about!homosexuality.165!Neither!
does!the!Book!of!Mormon,166!the!D&C!or!the!Pearl!of!Great!Price.!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
164 !My!wife!loves!our!little!girl!to!the!ends!of!the!earth,!but!I!know!she!would!lose!
her!mind!if!she!did!not!have!a!career!outside!the!home!and!away!from!our!crazy;
but;adorable!hyperactive!rascal!child.!My!mother,!on!the!other!hand,!had!no!inter;
est!in!working!outside!the!house.!I!say!good!for!them!both!!
165 !If! homosexuality! were! such! a! big! deal,! you! would! think! the! Savior! of! the! uni;
verse!might!have!said!something!about!it!during!his!mortal!ministry.!
166 !Sometimes!people!cite!2!Nephi!13:9,!which!states!their!sin!to!be!even!as!Sod;
om,! as! a! reference! to! homosexuality.! It! is! a! common! misconception! within! the!
church!and!some!other!Christian!faiths!that!the!sin!of!Sodom!and!Gomorrah!was!

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Early!church!leaders!were!completely!silent!on!the!topic.!I!looked,!
and!I!looked!hard,!but!I!could!not!find!a!single!quote!about!homo;
sexuality!from!Joseph!Smith,!Brigham!Young!or!any!early!prophet!
or!apostle.!!
The! first! mention! of! homosexuality! by! a! general! authority!
was!Apostle!J.!Reuben!Clark.!In!1952!he!wrote!of!the!tragedy!that!
homosexuals! could! be! found! among! women! as! well! as! men.167!
Then!in!1964!Apostle!Spencer!W.!Kimball!spoke!to!church!educa;
tors!and!LDS!psychiatrists!and!taught!this!about!homosexuality:!
We!know!such!a!disease!is!curable.168!
Ernest!Wilkinson,!President!of!BYU!and!Commissioner!of!the!
LDS! Church! Education! System,! said! the! following! in! a! talk! to! the!
entire!BYU!student!body!titled!Make!Honor!Your!Standard:!
We!do!not!intend!to!admit!to!our!campus!any!homosexuals.!
If! any! of! you! have! this! tendency! and! have! not! completely! aban;
doned!it,!may!I!suggest!that!you!leave!the!university!immediately!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
homosexuality,!but!this!is!unsupported!by!both!scripture!and!prophets.!The!sins!of!
Sodom! are! listed! in! the! Old! Testament! itself! and! include! pride! and! ignoring! the!
poor!(Ezekiel!16:49;50!and!Zephaniah!2:9;10),!idolatry!(Deuteronomy!32:32;38),!
adultery!and!lying!(Jeremiah!23:14),!but!not!once!is!homosexuality!listed.!In!Gen;
eral! Conference! Apostle! Parley! P.! Pratt! said! the! sin! of! Sodom! was! fornication!
(April!10,!1853,!JD!Vol.!1).!President!John!Taylor!said!the!same!(October!19,!1884,!
JD!Vol.!25).!Apostle!Orson!Pratt!said!the!sin!of!Sodom!was!rejecting!the!prophets!
(January!2,!1859,!JD!Vol.!7).!Apostle!Heber!C.!Kimball!said!the!same!(July!12,!1857,!
JD!Vol.!5).!Apostle!Wilford!Woodruff!said!the!same!(January!1,!1871,!JD!Vol.!14!and!
June!12,!1881,!JD!Vol.!22).!Joseph!Smith!himself!said,!The!judgments!of!God!have!
rested!upon!people,!cities,!and!nations,!in!various!ages!of!the!world,!which!was!the!
case! with! the! cities! of! Sodom! and! Gomorrah,! that! were! destroyed! for! rejecting!
the!Prophets.!(January!22,!1843,!HC!Vol.!5,!p.!257.)!Much!of!the!confusion!among!
Latter;day! Saints! might! be! due! to! footnote! b! in! 2! Nephi! 13:9,! which! points! the!
reader! to! Homosexuality! in! the! Topical! Guide.! We! would! do! well! to! remember!
that!the!footnotes!and!chapter!headings!in!the!LDS!editions!of!the!scriptures!are!
not!considered!church!doctrine;!they!were!composed!largely!by!Apostle!Bruce!R.!
McConkie! as! a! useful! study! guide! and! nothing! more.! McConkie! and! a! few! others!
did! believe! the! sin! of! Sodom! was! homosexuality,! but! as! suggested! by! an! abun;
dance! of! Bible! verses! (which! are! doctrinal)! and! quotes! from! modern! prophets!
including!Joseph!Smith!(which!are!also!doctrinal),!McConkie!was!wrong.!
167 !Home!and!the!Building!of!Home!Life,!Relief!Society!Magazine,!!
December!1952,!p.!39.!
168 !July!10,!1964,!A!Counselling!Problem!in!the!Church.!
!

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after!this!assembly!We!do!not!want!others!on!this!campus!to!
be!contaminated!by!your!presence.169!
You!would!think!President!Wilkinson!was!talking!about!rap;
ists!and!pedophiles!but!nope,!he!was!talking!about! gay!people,!a!
group!of!folks!who!could!not!contaminate!us!with!anything!more!
than! the! gentle! spirit! that! seems! to! come! from! being! a! battered!
minority! and! a! taste! for! musical! theater.170!Note! also! that! homo;
sexuals! did! not! even! have! to! participate! in! homosexual! acts.! Just!
having!the!tendency!was!enough!to!poison!their!fellow!students.!
In!1971!Apostle!Spencer!W.!Kimball!condemned!homosexuals!
in!a!pamphlet!published!and!distributed!by!the!church:!
"Satan!tells!his!victims!that!it!is!a!natural!way!of!life;!that!it!is!
normal;! that! perverts! are! a! different! kind! of! people! born! that!
way!and!that!they!cannot!change.!This!is!a!base!lie.171!
In! the! same! pamphlet! Kimball! also! condemns! anyone! who!
supports!homosexuals:!
!So! long! as! you! tolerate! this! gay! world! and! its! degenerate!
people,!you!are!in!a!very!desperate!situation.172!
And!finally:!
What!can!be!compared!to!your!losing!your!Church!member;
ship,!your!priesthood,!your!blessings,!your!soul?!They!might!nev;
er!be!restored!to!you.!Men!who!die!may!live!again,!but!when!the!
spiritual! death! is! total,! it! were! better! that! such! a! man! were!
never!born.173!
In! the! late! 1960s,! a! practice! called! aversion! therapy! briefly!
gained! popularity! among! psychologists.! Aversion! therapy! aimed!
to! help! participants! by! linking! a! negative! stimulus! to! an! action!
they!wished!to!discourage.!For!example,!if!I!wanted!to!stop!eating!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Make!Honor!Your!Standard,!Speeches!of!the!Year,!1965;1966,!p.!9.!
!I!am!straight!and!I!too!love!musical!theater,!but!I!am!going!to!make!fun!of!these!
gay!stereotypes!anyway.!
171 !New!Horizons!for!Homosexuals,!1971,!p.!11,!
http://connellodonovan.com/horizons.html.!In!1978!the!pamphlet!was!repub;
lished!under!the!title!A!Letter!to!a!Friend.!
172 !New!Horizons!for!Homosexuals,!p.!29.!
173 !New!Horizons!for!Homosexuals,!p.!31.!
169
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91!

handful! after! handful! of! succulent! gummy! bears! as! I! write! this!
book,! my! wife! might! kick! me! in! the! shin! each! time! I! reached! for!
that! bag! of! chewy! ursine! goodness.! The! negative! stimulus! of! a!
kick!to!the!shin!would,!in!theory,!condition!me!to!avoid!the!candy.!
In! the! 1970s,! researchers! at! BYU! used! aversion! therapy! to!
cure!homosexuals.!The!participants!(all!male)!were!shown!por;
nographic! photos! of! men! while! being! shocked! with! increasing!
amounts! of! electricity! through! electrodes! attached! to! their! skin.!
(In!some!studies!the!electrodes!were!attached!directly!to!the!geni;
tals.)!After!the!shock!treatment,!the!men!would!be!shown!photos!
of!heterosexual!pornography!while!soft!music!played!in!the!back;
ground.174!One! participant! later! wrote! a! play! about! the! experi;
ence.175!(Homosexuals!have!the!remarkable!talent!of!being!able!to!
turn!even!the!most!disturbing!events!into!successful!plays.)!
The!LDS!church!has!since!publically!acknowledged!that!such!
experiments!occurred.!Even!though!these!aversion!therapy!exper;
iments! took! place! at! BYU,! Apostle! Dallin! H.! Oaks! stated! in! the!
churchs!acknowledgment:!
We!dont!accept!responsibility!for!those!abuses.176!
It! is! no! surprise! that! during! those! years! Latter;day! Saint! re;
searchers! went! to! such! extremes! in! their! attempt! to! eliminate!
homosexual!tendencies;!at!the!time,!many!Christian!religions!be;
lieved!homosexuality!was!wicked!and!the!LDS!church!was!no!ex;
ception.!In!General!Conference!President!Spencer!W.!Kimball!said:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Max!Ford!McBride,!Effect!of!Visual!Stimuli!in!Electric!Aversion!Therapy,!Disserta;
tion! delivered! to! BYU! Department! of! Psychology,! August! 1976;! see! also! What! is!
'Deviant?'! An! Examination! of! Three! Distinct! Groups'! Penile! Plethysmograph! ReT
sponses.! by! Peter! M.! Byrne,! M.S.!&! Robert! D.! Card! [Dr.! Card! was! a! BYU! professor!
and! performed! his! experiments! on! BYU! campus],! presented! at! the! 18th! Annual!
Research!&!Treatment!Conference!of!the!Association!for!the!Treatment!of!Sexual!
Abusers!(ATSA),!Orlando,!Florida,!October!1999;!see!also!one!participants!experi;
ence:!Don!D.!Harryman,!With!All!They!Getting,!Get!Understanding,!!
http://web.archive.org/web/20071022120026/http://www.affirmation.org/lear
ning/with_all_thy_getting.shtml.! The! experiments! were! a! resounding! failure;! the!
men!remained!gay.!
175 !http://www.affirmation.org/news/2007_112.shtml.!
176 !http://beta;newsroom.lds.org/official;statement/same;gender;attraction.!
174

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Every!form!of!homosexuality!is!a!sin.!Pornography!is!one!
of! the! approaches! to! that! transgression.! There! is! no! halfway!
With! relatively! few! accidents! of! nature,! we! are! born! male! or! fe;
male.!The!Lord!knew!best.177!
I!cannot!help!but!wonder,!what!is!to!be!done!with!those!ac;
cidents! of! nature! President! Kimball! mentioned?! Because! there!
are!relatively!few!of!them,!shall!we!simply!disregard!those!peo;
ple?! How! would! you! feel! if! you! were! an! accident! of! nature,! re;
ferred!to!once!with!an!unkind!phrase!and!otherwise!ignored?!
Not! only! is! being! homosexual! a! sinunless,! maybe,! you! are!
an!accident!of!nature,!in!which!case!the!prophets!have!nothing!to!
say!to!youbut!porn!will!make!you!gay!!Today,!on!a!planet!flood;
ed! with! more! internet! pornography! than! humanity! could! con;
sume!in!a!lifetime,!I!wonder!why!most!of!the!human!species!is!not!
yet!gay!and!blessed!with!impeccable!fashion!sense.!
Masturbation!can!also!lead!to!homosexuality:!
"Sometimes!masturbation!is!the!introduction!to!the!more!se;
rious!sins!of!exhibitionism!and!the!gross!sin!of!homosexuality.178!
Again,!one!wonders!why!the!vast!majority!of!humanity!is!not!
already! gay! and! causing! a! worldwide! shortage! of! tight! jeans! and!
fruity!cocktails.179!
In!1973!the!First!Presidency!published!the!following:!
Homosexuality! in! men! and! women! runs! counter! to! divine!
objectives!and,!therefore,!is!to!be!avoided!and!forsaken!Failure!
to! work! closely! with! one's! bishop! or! stake! president! in! cases! in;
volving! homosexual! behavior! will! require! prompt! Church! court!
action.180!
The! churchs! position! on! homosexual! actions! versus! homo;
sexual! feelings! has! wobbled! back! and! forth.! The! 1968! edition! of!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Conference!Report,!October!1974.!
!President!Spencer!W.!Kimball!Speaks!out!on!Morality,!New!Era,!!
November!1980,!p.!39.!
179 !I!dont!know!any!female!homosexual!stereotypes,!so!here!are!some!more!male!
ones!! My! gay! brother! thought! they! were! the! funniest! parts! of! this! book.! I! like! to!
think!there!is!room!for!humor!when!discussing!even!the!most!serious!topics.!
180 !Priesthood!Bulletin,!February!1973.!
177
178

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93!

the!General!Handbook!of!Instructions!listed!homosexual!acts!as!a!
sin!that!is!punished!with!excommunication.!In!the!1976!edition!of!
the! Handbook,! homosexual! acts! was! changed! to! homosexuali;
ty,! meaning! one! didnt! have! to! participate! in! a! homosexual! act;!
the!tendency!alone!was!grounds!for!excommunication.!The!policy!
was!changed!back!to!homosexual!acts!in!the!1999!edition!of!the!
Church!Handbook!of!Instructions.!
But!if!homosexuality!is!wrong,!why!not!ban!everythingacts!
and! thoughtsand! save! the! gays! from! themselves?! Ultimately,!
the! church! taught,! homosexuals! are! unhappy! people! whose! per;
sonal!relationships!are!a!loveless!perversion:!
Homosexuals!and!lesbians!seldom!are!happy!people.! Theirs!
is!a!relationship!that!is!unnatural,!one!not!bound!by!fidelity,!
trust,!or!loyalty,!and!one!totally!lacking!in!the!meaningful!family!
relationships!that!marriage!offers.181!
President!Spencer!W.!Kimball!taught!that!homosexuality!is!an!
addiction!that!can!simply!be!overcome:!
The!unholy!transgression!of!homosexuality!is!either!rapidly!
growing! or! tolerance! is! giving! it! wider! publicity.! If! one! has! such!
desires!and!tendencies,!he!overcomes!them!the!same!as!if!he!had!
the!urge!toward!petting!or!fornication!or!adultery.!The!Lord!con;
demns!and!forbids!this!practice!with!a!vigor!equal!to!his!condem;
nation! of! adultery! and! other! such! sex! acts.! And! the! Church! will!
excommunicate!as!readily!any!unrepentant!addict.182!
The! 1990! edition! of! For! the! Strength! of! Youth:! Fulfilling! Our!
Duty! to! God,! a! pamphlet! for! LDS! teenagers! published! under! the!
direction!of!the!First!Presidency,!stated:!
Homosexual! and! lesbian! activities! are! sinful! and! an! abomi;
nation!to!the!Lord.!
In! 1991! the! First! Presidency! released! an! official! statement!
regarding!chastity:!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Ensign,!July!1974,!p.!14.!Actually,!this!is!a!great!argument!in!favor!of!gay!marriage.!
Lets!grant!homosexuals!the!meaningful!family!relationships!that!marriage!offers.!
182 !New!Era,!November!1980.!
181

!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

"Sexual!relations!are!proper!only!between!husband!and!wife!
appropriately!expressed!within!the!bonds!of!marriage.!Any!other!
sexual!contact,!including!fornication,!adultery,!and!homosexuali;
ty!and!lesbian!behavior,!is!sinful.!Those!who!persist!in!such!prac;
tices! or! who! influence! others! to! do! so! are! subject! to! Church!
discipline."183!
What!could!have!caused!these!gay!Latter;day!Saints!to!fall!in;
to! such! vile! sin?! According! to! the! church,! the! biggest! source! of!
homosexuality!is!a!lack!of!gospel!understanding:!
In! most! cases,! these! members! need! a! better! understanding!
of!faith!in!Jesus!Christ,!the!process!of!repentance,!and!the!purpose!
of!life!on!this!earth.184!
Another!source!of!homosexuality!is!bad!parenting:!
It! is! in! the! three;way! relationship! between! the! parents! and!
the! child! that! the! homosexual's! family! background! is! commonly!
dysfunctional.!Homosexuality!is,!in!part,!a!symptom!of!some!type!
of!relational!deficit.185!
In!addition!to!gay!people!being!told!they!have!defective!par;
ents,! the! churchin! one! of! its! most! hurtful! displays! of! igno;
rancetells!homosexuals!that!their!own!feelings!are!some!kind!of!
delusion.!In!General!Conference!Apostle!Boyd!K.!Packer!said:!
There!is!a!falsehood!that!some!are!born!with!an!attraction!to!
their! own! kind,! with! nothing! they! can! do! about! it.! They! are! just!
that!way!and!can!only!yield!to!those!desires.!It!is!a!malicious!and!
destructive! lie...! Boys! are! to! become! menmasculine,! manly!
menultimately!to!become!husbands!and!fathers.186!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!First!Presidency!Letter,!November!14,!1991.!
!Understanding!and!Helping!Those!Who!Have!Homosexual!ProblemsSuggestions!
for!Ecclesiastical!Leaders,!published!and!distributed!by!The!Church!of!Jesus!Christ!
of!Latter;Day!Saints,!1992.!
185 !Understanding! and! Helping! Individuals! with! Homosexual! Problems,! LDS! Social!
Services,!1995,!p.!11,!distributed!to!church!leaders!worldwide.!
186 !Apostle! Boyd! K.! Packer,! General! Conference! priesthood! session,! October! 2,!
1976.! I! am! heterosexual! and! a! father,! but! I! also! like! to! cook! and! hate! playing!
sports.!Does!that!mean!I!am!not!one!of!the!manly!men?!
183
184

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95!

Apostle!Packer!repeated!that!doctrine!in!a!talk!titled!Cleans;
ing! the! Inner! Vessel! at! the! Sunday! morning! session! of! General!
Conference!on!October!3,!2010:!
Some! suppose! that! they! were! preset! and! cannot! overcome!
what!they!feel!are!inborn!tendencies!toward!the!impure!and!un;
natural.! Not! so!! Why! would! our! Heavenly! Father! do! that! to! any;
one?187!
You!can!watch!a!video!of!the!talk!on!the!churchs!website!(the!
text! of! the! speech! has! since! been! changed).! After! Elder! Packers!
talk,!LDS!spokesman!Scott!Trotter!made!the!following!announce;
ment!on!behalf!of!the!church:!
As! we! have! said! repeatedly,! the! churchs! position! on! mar;
riage!and!family!is!clear!and!consistent.!It!is!based!on!respect!and!
love!for!all!of!Gods!children.188!
Notwithstanding! the! claims! of! respect! and! love! for! all! of!
Gods!children,!I!find!little!evidence!of!respect!or!love!in!any!talk!
about! homosexuality! from! an! apostle! or! prophet.! I! believe! that!
any!profession!of!love!and!concern!is!disingenuous!if!there!are!no!
actual! acts! of! love! and! concern! that! follow! the! profession.! The!
American!writer!Maya!Angelou!said,!People!will!forget!what!you!
said,!people!will!forget!what!you!did,!but!people!will!never!forget!
how! you! made! them! feel.! Love! is! an! action;! we! show! it! by! the!
way! we! treat! others! and! how! we! make! them! feel.! If! we! say! we!
love!people!but!do!not!treat!them!as!we!ourselves!would!want!to!
be!treated,!we!are!in!flagrant!violation!of!the!Golden!Rule.!
The!churchs!statements!of!love!and!support!for!homosexu;
als! dangerously! parallel! the! statements! of! love! and! support!
made!by!the!church!regarding!blacks!during!the!priesthood!ban.!I!
would!like!to!jump!back!in!time!for!a!moment!to!a!church!quote!
about! blacks! so! we! may! compare! it! to! current! LDS! teachings! on!
homosexuality:!
God!has!commanded!Israel!not!to!intermarry.!To!go!against!
this! commandment! of! God! would! be! in! sin.! Those! who! willfully!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
187
188

!http://new.lds.org/general;conference/sessions/2010/10?lang=eng.!
!Deseret!News,!October!8,!2010.!
!

!
96!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

sin!with!their!eyes!open!to!this!wrong!will!not!be!surprised!to!find!
that!they!will!be!separated!from!the!presence!of!God!in!the!world!
to!come.!This!is!spiritual!death.!
The!reason!that!one!would!lose!his!blessings!by!marrying!a!
Negro!is!due!to!the!restriction!placed!upon!them.!No!person!hav;
ing! the! least! particle! of! Negro! blood! can! hold! the! Priesthood!
(Brigham!Young).!It!does!not!matter!if!they!are!one;sixth!Negro!or!
one;hundred!and!sixth,!the!curse!of!no!Priesthood!is!the!same.!If!
an! individual! who! is! entitled! to! the! Priesthood! marries! a! Negro,!
the!Lord!has!decreed!that!only!spirits!who!are!not!eligible!for!the!
Priesthood!will!come!to!that!marriage!as!children.!To!intermarry!
with!a!Negro!is!to!forfeit!a!Nation!of!Priesthood!holders.!
The!discussion!on!civil!rights,!especially!over!the!last!20!
years,! has! drawn! some! very! sharp! lines.! It! has! blinded! the!
thinking! of! some! of! our! own! people,! I! believe.! They! have! al[
lowed! their! political! affiliations! to! color! their! thinking! to!
some! extent,! and! then,! of! course,! they! have! been! persuaded!
by!some!of!the!arguments!that!have!been!put!forth.!We!who!
teach! in! the! Church! certainly! must! have! our! feet! on! the!
ground! and! not! to! be! led! astray! by! the! philosophies! of! men!
on!this!subject.!
I! think! I! have! read! enough! to! give! you! an! idea! of! what! the!
Negro! is! after.! He! is! not! just! seeking! the! opportunity! of! sitting!
down!in!a!cafe!where!white!people!eat.!He!isn't!just!trying!to!ride!
on!the!same!streetcar!or!the!same!Pullman!car!with!white!people.!
It!isn't!that!he!just!desires!to!go!to!the!same!theater!as!the!white!
people.! From! this,! and! other! interviews! I! have! read,! it! appears!
that! the! Negro! seeks! absorption! with! the! white! race.! He! will! not!
be!satisfied!until!he!achieves!it!by!intermarriage.!That!is!his!objec;
tive!and!we!must!face!it.!We!must!not!allow!our!feelings!to!car[
ry!us!away,!nor!must!we!feel!so!sorry!for!Negroes!that!we!will!
open! our! arms! and! embrace! them! with! everything! we! have.!
Remember!the!little!statement!that!we!used!to!say!about!sin,!
First!we!pity,!then!endure,!then!embrace!
Now!we!are!generous!with!the!Negro.!We!are!willing!that!the!
Negro!have!the!highest!education.!I!would!be!willing!to!let!every!
!

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Negro! drive! a! Cadillac! if! they! could! afford! it.! I! would! be! willing!
that! they! have! all! the! advantages! they! can! get! out! of! life! in! the!
world.!But!let!them!enjoy!these!things!among!themselves!
Think!of!the!Negro,!cursed!as!to!the!priesthood.!This!Negro,!
who,!in!the!pre;existence!lived!the!type!of!life!which!justified!the!
Lord! in! sending! him! to! the! earth! in! their! lineage! of! Cain! with! a!
black!skin,!and!possibly!being!born!in!darkest!Africaif!that!Ne;
gro!is!willing!when!he!hears!the!gospel!to!accept!it,!he!may!have!
many! of! the! blessings! of! the! gospel.! In! spite! of! all! he! did! in! the!
pre;existent!life,!the!Lord!is!willing,!if!the!Negro!accepts!the!gos;
pel!with!real,!sincere!faith,!and!is!really!converted,!to!give!him!the!
blessings!of!baptism!and!the!gift!of!the!Holy!Ghost.!If!that!Negro!is!
faithful! all! his! days,! he! can! and! will! enter! the! celestial! kingdom.!
He!will!go!there!as!a!servant,!but!he!will!get!celestial!glory.189!
Pay! special! attention! to! the! portion! of! the! above! quote! that!
refers!to!black!people!and!the!civil!rights!movement.!What!church!
leaders! say! today! regarding! gay! people! is! eerily! similar! to! what!
they! once! said! about! blacks.! Church! members! seem! to! have! lis;
tened!well!to!their!leaders.!In!1997!a!student!poll!was!conducted!
at! BYU! regarding! homosexuality;! a! whopping! 42%! said! that! gay!
people!should!not!be!allowed!at!BYU!even!if!they!are!celibate.190!
Church!leaders!recently!have!taken!some!positive!steps.!They!
have! supported! legislation! in! favor! of! many! legal! rights! for! gay!
couples,! such! as! hospital! visitation! and! inheritance! rights.191!At!
the! same! time,! the! church! refuses! to! support! full! legal! equality!
and!continues!to!fight!gay!marriage!itself.!Instead!we!call!legal!gay!
relationships!civil!unions,!an!antiseptic!expression!safely!distant!
from! the! word! marriage.! Gay! people! in! some! states! can! enjoy!
these! unions,! which! give! them! many! of! the! same! rights! straight!
people! have! (sadly,! most! states! do! not! even! grant! this),! but! the!
LDS!church!and!some!other!Christian!religions!want!to!make!sure!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Apostle! Mark! E.! Peterson,! Race!Problems!T!As!They!Affect!The!Church,! Conven;
tion!of!Teachers!of!Religion!on!the!College!Level,!BYU,!August!27,!1954.!
190 !Salt!Lake!Tribune,!March!22,!1997.!
191 !KSL!News,!November!10,!2009.!
189

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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

that!straight!people!get!to!keep!the!sacred!phrase!marriage!for!
themselves.!
I! do! not! understand! why! church! members! are! so! adamant!
about!protecting!the!word!marriage.!Even!when!I!was!LDS!my;
self!I!could!not!figure!it!out.!Why!is!it!that!the!church!favors!grant;
ing! civil! unions! to! gay! couples! that! give! them! many! of! the! legal!
rights!straight!people!get!in!marriage,!yet!refuse!to!let!it!be!called!
marriage?!If!the!only!difference!between!a!civil!union!and!a!mar;
riage!is!the!word!marriage,!how!is!that!any!different!at!all?!Any!
all;knowing!God!would!see!in!a!flash!just!how!absurd!this!is.!
Lets!put!the!gay!marriage!thing!into!perspective!and!make!a!
list! of! some! of! the! people! who! are! legally! permitted! to! marry.!
People! who! do! not! even! know! each! other! can! drive! through! a!
chapel! in! Vegas! and! get! married;! they! can! be! drunk! out! of! their!
gourds,!just!as!long!as!they!dont!have!the!same!sex!organs.!Neo;
Nazis! who! teach! their! children! to! hate! blacks,! Jews,! puppies! and!
rainbows! can! marry.! Rapists! and! pedophiles! can! marry.! People!
who! sell! their! own! children! into! prostitution! can! marry.! Serial!
killerspeople!who!torture!others,!who!chop!up!their!bodies!and!
keep! parts! as! trophies,! who! even! eat! themcan! marry.! But! not!
those!dirty!gays;!that!would!destroy!the!sanctity!of!marriage!!
I!believe!there!is!nothing!magical!about!the!word!marriage.!I!
find!it!especially!strange!that!the!LDS!church,!of!all!Christian!reli;
gions,!would!choose!to!defend!that!particular!word!so!vigorously.!
After!all,!absolutely!nowhere!in!the!temple!is!the!word!marriage!
used.! When! a! couple! is! joined! for! time! and! all! eternity,! they! are!
sealed.! Why! be! so! determined! to! protect! the! word! marriage!
when!the!sacred!sealing!covenant!doesnt!even!use!that!word?!It!
would!be!like!insisting!that!cookies!are!sacred!and!should!only!be!
eaten! by! members! of! a! special! group,! so! the! special! group! at;
tempts!to!make!the!word!manatee!illegal!in!the!belief!that!limit;
ing!the!use!of!a!word!that!is!not!even!the!name!of!what!it!wants!to!
protect!will!somehow!preserve!the!sacredness!of!the!cookies.!LDS!
members!are!sealed.!I!do!believe!in!preserving!the!sanctity!of!any!
religions! sacred! ceremonies! so! if! the! church! wants! to! protect! a!
word,!why!not!protect!the!word!it!actually!uses?!
!

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99!

In!the!case!of!gay!equality!the!church!has!literally!nothing!to!
lose.!The!rights!of!the!church!are!safe.!LDS!temples!belong!to!the!
LDS!church,!just!as!abbeys!belong!to!Catholics!and!kingdom!halls!
belong!to!Jehovahs!Witnesses.!No!one!is!suggesting!that!we!force!
the!church!to!seal!gay!couples!in!the!temple.!Temple!sealing,!like!
baptism,!is!a!religious!rite!and!falls!entirely!under!the!jurisdiction!
of!the!ecclesiastical!organization!of!which!the!rite!is!a!part,!as!pro;
tected!by!the!First!Amendment!to!the!U.S.!Constitution.!Gay!peo;
ple! are! simply! requesting! equal! treatment! under! the! law,! a! right!
guaranteed!by!the!Fourteenth!Amendment.!None!of!the!proposed!
legal!changes!in!support!of!gay!rights!would!limit!church!rights!in!
any!way!whatsoever.!
As! it! stands,! we! have! a! problem.! Because! marriage! in! the!
United! States! is! not! only! a! religious! rite! but! also! a! civil! right,! we!
are! now! passing! legislation! similar! to! the! separate! but! equal!
laws! that! existed! for! black! people! prior! to! the! civil! rights! move;
ment.! As! the! U.S.! Supreme! Court! has! ruled! on! numerous! occa;
sions,! separate! but! equal! is! by! definition! not! equal. 192 !By!
purposely!fighting!to!force!gay!people!to!accept!a!different!set!of!
lawslaws! we! would! never! accept! for! ourselvesdoes! that! not!
explicitly! place! homosexuals! on! some! lower! level! of! humanity!
than! us! normal! straight! people?! After! all,! under! the! law! gay!
people!are!literally!treated!like!lesser!humans,!their!rights!under!
the!Fourteenth!Amendment!annulled.!!
I!would!question!any!organization!that!uses!the!law!to!force!a!
portion!of!the!human!race!into!an!inferior!position.!Making!others!
assume! a! legal! status! below! the! rest! of! humanity! is! despicable.! I!
know!the!church!does!not!condone!violence!toward!homosexuals,!
but! its! actions! only! invite! hateful! conduct;! after! all,! gays! are! be;
neath! us.! A! loving! God! would! never! treat! His! children! in! such! a!
revolting!manner.!
The! churchs! overall! position,! homosexuality! is! wrong,! has!
been! clearly! taught! since! it! was! first! discussed! regularly! by!
church!leaders!in!the!1960s.!However,!the!details!of!the!doctrine!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
192

!See,!for!example,!Brown!v.!Board!of!Education,!1954.!
!

!
100!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

are!becoming!more!tolerant.!While!still!holding!to!the!broad!prin;
ciple! that! homosexuality! is! wrong,! there! does! appear! to! be! a!
growing!trend!of!acceptance!for!homosexuals!in!the!church,!such!
as! a! decrease! in! emphasis! of! what! a! perversion! gays! are! and! an!
overall! increase! in! words! of! understanding.! For! example,! the!
2001!edition!of!the!For!the!Strength!of!Youth!pamphlet!has!refined!
its!statements!regarding!homosexuals:!
"Homosexual! activity! is! a! serious! sin.! If! you! find! yourself!
struggling! with! same;gender! attraction,! seek! counsel! from! your!
parents!and!bishop.!They!will!help!you."!
Its! not! much,! but! it! is! certainly! better! than! the! previous!
abomination! language! used! by! the! church.! Many! other! state;
ments!have!since!been!softened.!Prior!to!2007,!the!Church!EducaT
tion! System! Honor! Code,! which! all! students! at! LDS! schools! are!
required!to!live!by,!listed!"any!behaviors!that!indicate!homosexu;
al! conduct,!including! those! not! sexual! in! nature,! as! violations! of!
the!honor!code.!In!2007!it!was!changed!to!read:!
One's!stated!sexual!orientation!is!not!an!Honor!Code!is[
sue.! However,! the! Honor! Code! requires! all! members! of! the! uni;
versity!community!to!manifest!a!strict!commitment!to!the!law!of!
chastity! homosexual! behavior! or! advocacy! of! homosexual! be;
havior!are!inappropriate!and!violate!the!Honor!Code.!Homosexu[
al! behavior! includes! not! only! sexual! relations! between!
members! of! the! same! sex,! but! all! forms! of! physical! intimacy!
that!give!expression!to!homosexual!feelings.193!
This! means! that! even! though! sexual! orientation! is! not! an!
Honor! Code! issue,! while! both! straight! people! and! gay! people!
must!live!the!law!of!chastity,!only!straight!people!can!kiss!or!hold!
hands! or! show! any! kind! of! physical! affection.! In! other! words,! a!
straight!person!can!enjoy!regular!NCMO194!and!BYU!wont!bat!an!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
193 !The!2010!version!of!the!Honor!Code!has!removed!the!mention!of!advocacy!of!
homosexual!behavior.!
(http://saas.byu.edu/catalog/2010;2011ucat/GeneralInfo/HonorCode.php.)!
194 !Non;committal! make;out,! as! in! commitment;free! heavy! kissing! without! cross;
ing!the!line!into!full;on!sex.!Yes,!the!idea!is!so!popular!among!LDS!youth!that!it!has!
its!own!acronym.!

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eye.!But!if!two!men!who!are!committed!to!each!other!hold!hands,!
we!have!a!problem.!
Yet! the! church! is,! very! slowly,! getting! better.! I! wonder,! how!
far! will! the! churchs! acceptance! of! homosexuals! go?! General! au;
thorities! said! the! church! would! never! change! its! position! on! po;
lygamy,! that! it! would! never! alter! its! doctrine! on! blacks! and! the!
priesthood,!that!the!use!of!birth!control!would!always!be!a!sin.!But!
as!soon!as!those!doctrines!threatened!the!existence!of!the!church!
(like!the!doctrine!of!polygamy)!or!seriously!damaged!its!potential!
for!growth!(like!the!black!priesthood!ban),!the!doctrine!changed,!
no!matter!how!central!it!was!to!the!plan!of!salvation.!Keep!that!in!
mind.! At! every! moment! in! LDS! history! when! a! doctrine! threat;
ened! the! church,! it! was! changed.! It! took! far! more! time! than! it!
should!havethe!general!population!often!figured!out!what!was!
ethical! long! before! the! prophets! didbut! it! always! happened,!
without! exception,! and! it! happened! despite! prior! promises! from!
presidents!of!the!church!that!it!would!never!happen.!What!makes!
the!doctrine!against!homosexuality!any!different?!
Some!might!say,!But!homosexuality!is!a!violation!of!the!very!
plan!of!salvation!!I!seriously!doubt!that.!Polygamy!was!also!con;
sidered! absolutely! indispensable! to! the! plan! of! salvation! and! a!
critical!component!of!our!lives!here!on!earth,!yet!we!dont!practice!
that!one!anymoreat!least,!not!until!we!get!to!the!celestial!king;
dom.! It! may! be! that! the! doctrines! of! God! are! unchanging,! but! as!
we!have!already!seen,!the!doctrines!of!men!change!all!this!time.!
But! homosexuality! is! unnatural!! There! is! no! evidence! to!
support!that,!but!even!if!it!is,!so!what?!Birth!control!is!also!unnat;
ural,! as! is! modern! medicine,! clothing,! cars,! and! the! internet.! Do!
you! use! any! of! those! things?! What! does! the! unnaturalness! of!
something!have!to!do!with!it!being!right!or!wrong?!
But!homosexuality!is!a!choice!!Nonsense.!If!that!were!true,!
then!our!heterosexuality!would!also!be!a!choice.!Does!your!sexual!
orientation! feel! like! a! choice?! Would! you! purposely! choose! an!
orientation! that! people! hated,! run! the! risk! of! being! disowned! by!
family! members,! of! hurting! those! you! love! most,! of! struggling!
with!severe!self;loathing!and!the!loathing!of!much!of!society!and!
!

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of! your! own! religion?! How! would! you! feel! if! you! were! told! that!
you! must! either! change! your! orientation! or! never,! ever! have! a!
physical! relationship! with! someone! you! loved?! Would! you! still!
stick!with!your!choice?!
Dont!gloss!over!those!last!questions.!Sit!with!them!for!a!mo;
ment.!How!would!you!really!feel?!
I! am! a! BYU! graduate! in! neuroscience! and! have! been! blessed!
to! work! with! some! of! the! worlds! leading! researchers! in! sexual!
orientation.!Not!one!of!the!LDS!psychologists!or!neuroscientists!I!
know!from!BYU!or!elsewherenot!onethinks!homosexuality!is!
a! choice.! Choosing! to! be! gay! in! a! conservative! religion! would! be!
like! choosing! to! dowse! oneself! in! BBQ! sauce! and! lie! in! a! tanning!
booth!at!a!cannibal!convention.195!!
But! gay! people! cant! make! children! so! they! shouldnt! be! al;
lowed!to!get!married!!Sterile!people!cannot!have!children,!either.!
Should! we! deny! marriage! and! all! physical! intimacyincluding!
kissing!and!even!holding!handsto!straight,!sterile!people?!
In!a!stunning!display!of!cognitive!dissonance,!the!same!people!
who! put! forward! the! above! objection! will! then! say,! But! what!
about!gays!adopting!children?!We!dont!want!gay!people!to!marry!
because! they! cant! have! children,! but! we! dont! want! them! to! be!
allowed! to! have! children! through! any! other! method! because! it!
will!hurt!the!children!in!some!vague,!unspecified!way!!Of!course,!
even! if! no! laws! are! changed,! gay! couples! can! already! adopt! chil;
dren,!so!why!people!continue!to!raise!this!argument!is!beyond!me.!!
In! addition,! thanks! to! the! fact! that! gay! couples! are! able! to!
adopt,!there!is!a!large!body!of!evidence!that!strongly!suggests!gay!
couples! are! just! as! successful! raising! well;adjusted! and! socially;
conscious! children! as! are! traditional! heterosexual! couples.! Re;
cently! the! American! Psychological! Association! compiled! the! re;
sults! of! all! current! studies! on! the! children! of! gay! parents.! Each!
study! was! peer;reviewed! and! published! in! a! leading! scientific!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
195 !Homosexuality! is! not! a! choice,! but! even! if! it! were,! why! should! we! care?! This!
morning! I! chose! to! take! a! shower! so! that! I! would! not! smell! like! a! rotting! walrus!
when! I! went! shoppinga! decision! some! of! my! fellow! Walmart! patrons! neglect;
edand!I!think!my!choice!was!an!excellent!one.!

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journal.! Of! the! nearly! 70! studies,! every! single! one! reached! the!
same! conclusion:! gay! parents! do! just! as! well! raising! children! as!
straight! parents! do! (and! in! some! cases! the! gay! parents! do! even!
better)!and!children!of!gay!parents!are!not!any!more!likely!to!be!
homosexual!than!children!of!straight!parents.!The!American!Psy;
chological!Association!states:!
Beliefs!that!lesbian!and!gay!adults!are!not!fit!parents!have!
no! empirical! foundation! The! results! of! some! studies! suggest!
that!lesbian!mothers'!and!gay!fathers'!parenting!skills!may!be!su;
perior!to!those!of!matched!heterosexual!couples!lesbian!and!gay!
parents!are!as!likely!as!heterosexual!parents!to!provide!support;
ive!home!environments!for!children!In!all!studies,!the!great!ma;
jority! of! offspring! of! both! lesbian! mothers! and! gay! fathers!
described! themselves! as! heterosexual.! Taken! together,! the! data!
do! not! suggest! elevated! rates! of! homosexuality! among! the! off;
spring!of!lesbian!or!gay!parents.196!!
Of! course,! the! data! says! nothing! about! homosexuality! being!
right! or! wrong.! It! only! points! to! the! outcomes! of! such! relation;
ships!and!by!all!standards!of!measurement!those!outcomes!are!at!
least!as!good!as!they!are!for!heterosexual!couples.!
If!the!church!required!only!its!own!members!to!comply!with!
doctrines!against!gays,!at!least!the!scope!of!the!unfairness!would!
be! limited! to! those! who! choose! to! be! a! part! of! it.! But! the! church!
wants! everyone! to! follow! LDS! beliefs! on! homosexuality,! member!
of! the! church! or! not.! In! 1994! the! First! Presidency! issued! a! state;
ment!condemning!the!legalization!of!same;sex!marriage:!
The! Church! opposes! same;gender! marriage! and! any! efforts!
to! legalize! such! marriages.! Church! members! are! encouraged! to!
appeal! to! legislators,! judges,! and! other! government! officials! to!
preserve! the! purposes! and! sanctity! of! marriage! between! a! man!
and!a!woman,!and!to!reject!all!efforts!to!give!legal!authorization!or!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting.aspx.! I! recommend! reading!
the!entire!paper.!

196

!
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other!official!approval!or!support!to!marriage!between!persons!of!
the!same!gender.197!
On!May!25,!2006!a!letter!signed!by!the!First!Presidency!was!
sent!to!all!church!leaders!in!the!United!States:!
We!are!informed!that!the!United!States!Senate!will!on!
June!6,!2006,!vote!on!an!amendment!to!the!Federal!constiT
tution! designed! to! protect! the! traditional! institution! of!
marriage.!
We,! as! the! First! Presidency! and! the! Quorum! of! the!
Twelve!Apostles,!have!repeatedly!set!forth!our!position!that!
the!marriage!of!a!man!and!a!woman!is!the!only!acceptable!
marriage!relationship.!
In!1995!we!issued!a!Proclamation!to!the!World!on!this!
matter,!and!have!repeatedly!reaffirmed!that!position.!
In!that!proclamation!we!said:!We!call!upon!responsiT
ble!citizens!and!officers!of!government!everywhere!to!proT
mote!those!measures!designed!to!maintain!and!strengthen!
the!family!as!the!fundamental!unit!of!society.!
We!urge!our!members!to!express!themselves!on!this!urT
gent!matter!to!their!elected!representatives!in!the!Senate.198!
The!church!also!made!a!statement!in!2008!regarding!Califor;
nias!Proposition!8.!In!a!satellite!broadcast!on!October!8,!2008!to!
all! LDS! members! in! California,! Apostle! M.! Russel! Ballard! read!
from!the!1995!Proclamation!on!the!Family!and!said:!
These! are! truths.! These! are! eternal! principles! upon! which!
the!core!doctrines!of!the!restored!gospel!of!Jesus!Christ!are!based.!
Although!many!in!the!world!may!question!them,!we!cannot!walk!
away!from!them!or!alter!them.!These!doctrines!of!family!and!mar;
riage! were! established! from! the! beginning! and! are! part! of! our!
Heavenly! Fathers! great! eternal! plan! Today! we! face! the! ramifi;
cations! of! a! movement! to! legalize! same! sex! marriage! We! are!
again! participating! with! a! coalition! of! churches,! organizations,!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
197 !First!Presidency!Letter,!February!1,!1994;!also!quoted!in!the!1998!edition!of!the!
Church!Handbook!of!Instructions.!
198 !http://www.deseretnews.com/article/635210757/LDS;leaders;letter.html.!

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105!

and! individuals! sponsoring! the! November! ballot! issue! known! as!


Proposition!8!let!me!be!clear!that!at!the!heart!of!this!issue!is!the!
essential!doctrine!of!eternal!marriage!and!the!role!it!plays!in!our!
Father!in!Heavens!plan.199!
I!do!not!think!homosexuality!is!any!more!wrong!than!hetero;
sexuality! or! wearing! socks! that! dont! match! or! eating! an! entire!
pizza! by! oneself! or! organizing! gummy! bears! by! color! before! de;
vouring! them,! but! you! may! disagree.! When! we! die,! we! may! dis;
cover! that,! despite! gay! relationships! having! no! measurable!
negative!outcomes!and!many!positive!ones,!homosexuals!are!an!
abomination! to! the! Lord! as! the! church! has! taught.! Even! if! that!
were!truewhich!I!consider!about!as!likely!as!me!spontaneously!
developing!the!ability!to!sneeze!Cadbury!eggsinstitutionalizing!
bigotry!and!denying!people!equal!rights!is!shameful.!
Do! you! let! others! take! away! your! rights?! Would! you! allow!
radical!Muslims!to!codify!their!female!dress!laws!into!U.S.!law!and!
force! non;Muslims! to! obey! them?! Would! you! let! the! Catholic!
church! make! all! birth! control! illegal! or! permit! fundamentalist!
Christians!to!make!laws!for!us!according!to!their!interpretation!of!
the!Bible?!If!we!refuse!to!allow!people!of!other!faiths!to!force!us!to!
follow! their! religious! principles,! why! on! earth! is! it! okay! to! force!
those!not!of!our!faith!to!follow!our!religious!principles?!The!11th!
Article!of!Faith!states:!
We! claim! the! privilege! of! worshiping! Almighty! God! accord;
ing! to! the! dictates! of! our! own! conscience,! and! allow! all! men! the!
same!privilege,!let!them!worship!how,!where,!or!what!they!may.!
It! does! not! go! on! to! say,! unless! they! are! gay.! We! cannot!
claim!to!believe!in!freedom!of!religion!if!we!deny!that!freedom!to!
others.! It! is! the! height! of! hypocrisy! to! force! others! to! follow! our!
religious! principles! while! at! the! same! time! insisting! that! others!
cannot!do!the!same!to!us.!!
Thousands! of! gay! church! members! are! currently! struggling!
because! of! these! doctrines.! Millions! more! are! suffering! because!
church!leaders!have!decided!that!their!doctrines!must!be!followed!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
199

!The!Divine!Institution!of!Marriage!Broadcast,!October!8,!2008.!
!

!
106!

T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

even!by!those!who!are!not!LDS.!The!tragedies!experienced!by!our!
gay! brothers! and! sisters! because! of! these! teachings! could! fill!
books.!I!would!like!to!highlight!just!a!few.!
On!May!8,!2000,!Newsweek!published!an!article!on!homosex;
uals!in!the!LDS!church.!It!included!the!following!story:!
It! had! become! an! all! too! familiar! sound.! Late! on! the!
night!of!Feb.!24![2000],!Stuart!Matis's!mother!lay!awake!in!
bed,!listening!to!her!32TyearTold!son!pacing!his!room,!unaT
ble! to! sleep.! She! worried! that! his! depression! was! worsenT
ing.! A! year! earlier! Matis! had! told! his! parents! he! was! gay,!
and!all!three,!as!devout!Mormons,!had!struggled!to!reconT
cile! Matis's! homosexuality! with! the! teachings! of! their!
church.! Matis! found! little! comfort! in! Mormon! doctrine,!
which! regards! homosexuality! as! an! "abominable"! sin.! A!
church!therapist!instructed!him!to!suppress!his!sexuality!or!
to!undergo!"reparative!therapy"!to!become!a!heterosexual.!
Matis! was! especially! frustrated! by! the! church's! energetic!
efforts!to!pass!Proposition!22,!California's![March!7,!2000]!
ballot! measure! banning! sameTsex! marriage.! The! yes! on!
prop! 22! signs! that! dotted! his! Santa! Clara! neighborhood,!
many!placed!there!by!church!members,!were!a!reminder!of!
his!failure!to!find!acceptance!as!a!Mormon!and!gay!man.!
Matis! concluded! he! could! not! be! both.! That! night,! his!
mother!got!out!of!bed!and!wrote!a!letter!asking!the!church!
to! reconsider! its! position! on! gay! Mormons.! Only! later!
would!she!learn!that!her!son!had!been!up!writing!his!own!
letter,!to!his!family!and!friends,!explaining!why!he!couldn't!
continue! to! live.! Early! the! next! morning,! 11! days! before!
voters!would!overwhelmingly!approve!Prop!22,!Matis!drove!
to!the!local!Mormon!church!headquarters,!pinned!a!do!not!
resuscitate!note!to!his!shirt!and!shot!himself!in!the!head.200!
!
!
!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
200

!Newsweek,!May!8,!2000.!

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107!

Prior!to!his!death,!Stuart!wrote:!
The! scary! truth! of! matters! is! that! I! would! really! rather! be!
dead!than!living!outside!of!the!church.201!
Some!might!say,!Good,!he!got!his!wish!!As!President!Kimball!
said,! it! were! better! that! such! a! man! were! never! born.! I! am! not!
okay!with!that.!I!cannot!believe!that!in!the!name!of!religion!we!are!
driving!people!to!suicide.202!I!can!only!imagine!the!look!of!horror!
God! must! have! on! His! face! as! He! watches! us! willingly! throw! His!
childrenour!own!brothers!and!sistersinto!that!kind!despair.!
Stuart!also!wrote!to!a!cousin:!
Straight! members! have! absolutely! no! idea! what! it! is! like! to!
grow! up! gay! in! this! Church.! It! is! a! life! of! constant! torment,! self;
hatred! and! internalized! homophobia! The! Church! has! no! idea!
that! as! I! type! this! letter,! there! are! surely! boys! and! girls! on! their!
calloused! knees! imploring! God! to! free! them! from! this! pain.! They!
hate! themselves.! They! retire! to! bed! with! their! finger! pointed! to!
their! head! in! the! form! of! a! gun.! Every! waking! moment! of! every!
day! they! must! be! on! constant! alert! to! not! divulge! any! clues! that!
will!identify!themselves!to!their!peers.!Was!my!glance!at!that!boy!
too!long?!Does!he!think!I'm!gay?!Will!he!now!publicize!my!secret!
and! beat! me! up?! They! are! afraid! of! their! parents.! They! are!
afraid! of! their! bishop.! They! are! afraid! of! their! friends.! They!
have!nowhere!to!go!but!to!lay!on!their!floors!curled!in!a!ball!
and!weep!themselves!to!sleep.203!!
Read! that! quote! one! more! time.! I! find! it! unbearably! tragic.!
Why! would! we! wish! to! inflict! such! pain! upon! anyone?! I! have! a!
younger! brother! who! is! currently! trying! to! walk! the! line! Stuart!
Matis! walked.! He! is! gay! and! is! an! active! member! of! the! church.!
After!publically!announcing!his!homosexuality,!a!few!of!his!long;
time!LDS!friends!refused!to!see!him!again.!One!Mormon!girl!told!
my!brother!she!could!no!longer!be!his!friend;!she!now!felt!dark!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Quoted! in! Carol! Lynn! Pearson,!No!More!Goodbyes:!Circling!the!Wagons!around!
Our!Gay!Loved!Ones,!Pivot!Point!Books,!2007,!p.!50.!
202 !You!can!read!more!stories!about!some!of!those!dearly!departed!gay!Latter;day!
Saints!at!http://www.affirmation.org/suicides/.!
203 !http://www.affirmation.org/suicide_info/letter_to_a_cousin.shtml.!
201

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when!she!was!around!him!and!her!bishop!had!counseled!her!not!
to!spend!time!with!him!because!he!would!be!a!bad!influence.!(Of!
course,!my!brother!was!gay!before!coming!out!and!this!girl!didnt!
previously!have!any!dark!feelings;!it!was!only!knowing!he!was!gay!
that!made!him!bad!in!her!eyes.)!My!brother!cried!for!a!long!time!
over!that!girl!and!continues!to!pine!for!his!lost!friends.!Thankfully,!
many! of! his! LDS! friends! (most! of! whom! are! returned! missionar;
ies)!knew!how!to!follow!the!Golden!Rule!and!did!not!reject!him.!
Recently!I!was!feeling!a!bit!feisty!and!decided!to!stir!up!a!hor;
nets!nest,!so!I!posted!on!Facebook!my!support!of!gay!rights.!The!
resulting! thread,! written! mostly! by! LDS! members,! was! 85! com;
ments!long.!At!one!point!my!brother!wrote:!
I!feel!like!I!have!to!take!a!stand!here.!
I!am!gay.!I!have!tried!for!the!past!twenty!years!to!live!
the! straight! lifestyle.! I! dated! more! than! my! straight!
friends! did.! Once! I! was! close! to! being! engaged.! I! did! not!
choose! this.! Why! would! I! choose! to! have! people! whisper!
fag!to!me!as!I!walk!down!the!street?!Why!would!I!choose!
to! be! gay! when! my! own! religion! declares! it! a! sin?! I!
wouldnt.!That!would!just!be!stupid.!
I!beg!of!you!to!please!keep!an!open!mind.!These!are!my!
rights!you!are!talking!about.!I!am!a!living,!breathing!memT
ber!of!your!society!AND!your!religion!
Living!a!life!where!I!am!ashamed!of!who!I!am!and!who!
I! love! is! not! the! life! for! me.! You! can! choose! to! attack! my!
freedomsfreedoms! guaranteed! to! everyone! under! the!
Constitutionbut!I!will!not!be!silenced!
After! Apostle! Packers! General! Conference! speech! on! homo;
sexuality! (October! 2010),! my! wonderful! brother! said! the! talk!
made!him!feel!like!a!second;class!citizen.!He!was!hospitalized!the!
very!next!day!for!severe!depression!and!put!on!suicide!watch.204!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
204 !Another! remarkable! talent! of! homosexuals! is! they! can! see! the! silver! lining! on!
even!the!darkest!cloud.!After!my!brother!was!released!he!posted!on!his!blog!a!very!
funny!retelling!of!his!incarceration.!

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109!

Some!might!say,!But!at!least!he!is!regularly!reminded!what!a!
big!sinner!he!is!!I!am!not!okay!with!that.!
I! had! a! friend! named! Todd.! We! were! best! friends! since! we!
were!both!seven!years!old.!He!told!me!he!was!gay!just!before!I!left!
on! my! mission.! To! my! shame! I! thought! homosexuality! wasas!
the! church! taughtan! abomination.! I! encouraged! Todd! to! stick!
close! to! the! prophets! and! fight! his! feelings.! He! tried,! but! left! the!
church! a! few! months! later.! No! doctrine! would! convince! me! to!
abandon!my!best!friend,!however.!I!wrote!to!Todd!from!my!mis;
sion! and! told! him! I! loved! him! no! matter! what! and! that! I! would!
treat!him!no!differently.!We!remained!best!friends.!!
By! the! time! I! returned! from! my! mission! Todd! was! living! in!
Salt!Lake!City,!Utah.!He!would!tell!me!stories!of!the!dirty!looks!he!
got! when! walking! downtown,! quietly! holding! his! boyfriends!
hand;!how!people!would!cross!the!street!to!avoid!him;!how!those!
at! adjacent! tables! in! restaurants! would! make! cruel! comments!
loud!enough!for!him!to!hear;!how!people!would!yell!obscenities!or!
even!spit!at!him.!
Todd! eventually! met! a! man! for! whom! he! fell! deeply! in! love.!
He! was,! of! course,! never! allowed! to! legally! marry! this! man,! the!
person!of!his!dreams.205!Instead,!he!and!his!boyfriend!were!joined!
in! a! ceremony! performed! by! a! kind! female! clergy! member! of! an!
open! Christian! faith.! It! was! beautiful.! Shortly! thereafter! I! told!
Todd!I!had!been!mistaken;!the!church!was!wrong!and!I!loved!eve;
ry!part!of!who!he!was.!I!never!felt!better.!
Excluding! my! time! in! the! mission! field,206!I! interacted! with!
Todd! almost! every! day! of! my! life! for! 21! years.! Todd! was! one! of!
the! kindest,! most! thoughtful,! humane,! gentle! and! utterly! Christ;
like! people! I! ever! met.! Late! one! night,! two! months! prior! to! the!
composition! of! this! book,! Todd! drove! up! a! canyon! near! Pleasant!
Grove,!Utah!and!threw!himself!off!a!waterfall.!He!died!instantly.!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Remember,!pedophiles!and!serial!killers!can!get!married!(and!they!dont!even!
have!to!fill!out!additional!paperwork)!but!not!Todd.!
206 !With!rare!exception,!missionaries!may!only!communicate!with!their!friends!and!
family!via!letters!and!email.!
205

!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

Some!might!say,!But!at!least!we!protected!the!sanctity!of!the!
word!marriage!that!we!dont!even!use!in!our!sealing!ceremonies!!
Thank! goodness! we! prevented! Todd! from! marrying! the! man! he!
loved!while!he!was!alive.!I!am!not!okay!with!that.!!
A! video! is! linked! below.207!The! speaker! is! Joel! Burns,! a! city!
councilman! in! Fort! Worth,! Texas.! During! a! council! meeting! on!
October!12,!2010,!the!floor!was!opened!for!discussion.!Joel,!a!gay!
man,! made! an! impassioned! plea! for! genuine! love,! support! and!
equality!for!members!of!the!gay!community.!A!video!of!his!speech!
was!uploaded!to!YouTube.!In!less!than!one!month!it!had!over!two!
million!views.!I!personally!felt!the!Holy!Ghost!more!while!listen;
ing! to! Joel! Burns! speech! than! while! reading! any! of! the! churchs!
statements! regarding! homosexuality.! I! invite! you! to! watch.! Go!
ahead,!Ill!wait.!
Despite!my!best!efforts,!Joel!Burns!plea!brought!me!to!tears.!I!
cannot! understand! why! we! would! allow! this.! I! question! it! inces;
santly.! Why! arent! we! doing! everything! in! our! power! to! prevent!
these!tragedies?!I!believe!there!is!not!a!snowballs!chance!in!hell!
that!this!is!what!Heavenly!Father!would!want.!I!believe!the!church!
is! wrong! in! its! stance! on! homosexuality! and! gay! rights.! Church!
leaders!were!wrong!about!evolution,!the!nature!of!God,!polygamy,!
birth! control,! women! and! the! priesthood,! blacks! and! the! priest;
hood,!and!the!church!is!wrong!about!this.!These!teachings!against!
homosexuals! are! doctrines! of! men! and! should! be! eliminated! as!
quickly!as!possible.!
I!know!this!section!of!the!book!is!more!melancholy!than!oth;
ers!and!my!feelings!may!have!come!through!quite!strong,!but!the!
churchs!stance!on!homosexuality!is!hurting!our!gay!brothers!and!
sisters,!hurting!them!so!deeply!they!are!sometimes!driven!to!sui;
cide.!I!have!close!connections!to!the!topic;!I!know!many!of!these!
people!personally.!I!see!their!hurt!every!dayas!much!as!is!pos;
sible,!I!feel!it!myselfand!I!do!not!want!any!more!of!them!to!die.!
Lets! end! the! discrimination.! Thousands! of! Latter;day! Saints!
already! support! homosexual! equality.! In! 2006! Jeffrey! Nielsen,! a!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
207

!http://tinyurl.com/2anosyh!(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax96cghOnY4).!

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philosophy!professor!at!BYU!and!a!member!of!the!church,!submit;
ted!an!editorial!piece!to!the!Salt!Lake!Tribune.!He!wrote:!
As! a! member,! I! sustain! the! First! Presidency! and! Quorum! of!
the!Twelve!Apostles!as!LDS!general!authorities;!however,!I!reject!
the!premise!that!they!are!thereby!immune!from!thoughtful!ques;
tioning! or! benevolent! criticism.! A! perfect! God! does! not! require!
blind!obedience,!nor!does!He!need!unthinking!loyalty.!Freedom!of!
conscience!is!a!divine!blessing,!and!our!privilege!to!express!it!is!a!
moral!imperative!!I!believe!opposing!gay!marriage!and!seeking!a!
constitutional! amendment! against! it! is! immoral! Further,! to! say!
that!gay!marriage!will!destroy!traditional!marriage!and!the!family!
without!giving!any!reasons!why!is!the!fallacy!of!appealing!to!fear.!
Indeed,! once! you! get! past! the! emotion,! it! is! quite! an! unfounded!
claim.! How! could! the! union! of! two! committed! and! loving! people!
negatively!affect!my!marriage?!I!believe!that!quite!the!contrary!is!
true;!namely,!legalizing!gay!marriage!reinforces!the!importance!of!
committed! relationships! and! would! strengthen! the! institution! of!
marriage.208!
For!his!troubles,!BYU!had!the!audacity!to!fire!Nielson.209!The!
university! was! rebuked! for! its! decision! by! academic! groups!
around!the!country.!That!a!professor!at!an!institution!of!learning!
was! let! go! because! he! respectfully! voiced! disagreement! on! gay!
rights!is!astonishing!and!an!embarrassment!to!BYU.!(Jeffrey!Niel;
son!remained!a!member!of!the!church!and!handled!the!loss!of!his!
job!with!forgiveness!and!commendable!generosity!of!spirit.!210)!
Carol!Lynn!Pearson!is!a!successful!American!poet,!author!and!
playwright.! She! is! also! LDS.! Her! book,! Goodbye,! I! Love! You,! re;
counts!the!struggles!of!her!husband!and!other!LDS!members!with!
homosexuality.!It!is!one!of!the!bestselling!works!in!Deseret!Book!
history.!One!of!her!more!recent!books,!No!More!Goodbyes:!Circling!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!June!4,!2006,!http://www.affirmation.org/news/2006_46.shtml.!I!recommend!
reading!the!entire!essay!(it!is!not!long).!
209 !http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/06/15/byu.!
210 !You!can!read!Brother!Nielsons!response!to!being!fired!here:!
http://www.sissel.cc/blog/2006/06/jeffrey;nielsens;response;to;byu.html.!
208

!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

the!Wagons!around!Our!Gay!Loved!Ones,!boldly!speaks!in!favor!of!
gay!equality!and!loving!kindness!toward!homosexuals.!
Rank!and!file!members!are!also!standing!up!for!what!is!right.!
After! Apostle! Packers! October! 2010! talk,! a! gay! man! posted! his!
feelings!on!Feminist!Mormon!Housewives:!
I! speak! out! because! I! know! that! somewhere! in! some! LDS!
family!room!or!chapel!pew,!there!sits!a!little!boy!or!little!girl!who!
was!just!like!me.!A!little!one!who!desires!nothing!more!than!to!be!
worthy!and!to!have!the!approval!of!their!church!and!of!their!fam;
ily.!I!know!that!somewhere!there!is!a!child!who,!just!like!a!young;
er! me,! quivers! in! fear! of! eternal! damnation! and! fear! of!
disappointing! the! family! and! the! church! culture! they! have! been!
raised! in! because! they! are! gay.! It! is! for! these! little! ones! that! I!
refuse!to!stay!silent.211!
How!dare!we!presume!to!hurt!little!children!just!because!they!
are!homosexual.!God!must!be!livid.!As!Christ!said:!
It! were! better! for! him! that! a! millstone! were! hanged!
about!his!neck,!and!he!cast!into!the!sea,!than!that!he!should!
offend!one!of!these!little!ones.212!
I! am! so! grateful! to! those! who! refuse! to! stay! silent.!One! blog,!
Mormons!for!Marriage213!offers!unapologetic!support!for!marriage!
equality.!Another!blog,!Seeking!Forgiveness214!is!filled!with!Apol;
ogies! from! Latter;Day! Saints! who! wish! for! peace! and! reconcilia;
tion! following! the! LDS! churchs! involvement! in! passing!
Proposition!8!and!for!recent!hurtful!comments!from!some!church!
leaders.! I! encourage! you! to! read! a! few! of! those! heartfelt! apolo;
gies!and,!if!you!feel!so!prompted,!add!to!it.!As!these!good!Latter;
day!Saints!prove,!we!are!never!alone!when!we!disagree!with!hurt;
ful!doctrines!of!men.!!
I!would!like!all!church!members!to!remember!that!there!are!
countless! Latter;day! Saints! who! have! spoken! publically! against!
the!church's!stance!on!homosexuality.!Prominent!members!of!the!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!Isaac!Higham,!http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=3317.!
!Luke!17:2.!I!bold!the!entire!verse!because!it!is!awesome.!
213 !http://mormonsformarriage.com/.!
214 !http://forgivenessfor8.blogspot.com/.!
211
212

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113!

church!such!as!Carol!Lynn!Pearson!and!U.S.!Senate!Majority!Lead;
er! Harry! Reid! are! doing! it.215!Temple! recommend;holding! mem;
bers!around!the!world!are!doing!it.!You!can!do!it,!too.!
Even! general! authorities! have! said! it! is! okay! to! hold! beliefs!
that! disagree! with! the! church.216!My! own! motherone! of! the!
strongest! church! members! I! knowtold! her! bishop! in! her! most!
recent! temple! recommend! interview! that! she! could! not! support!
the! church's! position! against! gay! rights.! She! still! got! her! recom;
mend.! What! impresses! me! about! my! mom! is! that! her! interview!
could!very!easily!have!gone!in!another!direction!and!she!knew!it,!
yet! she! had! the! courage! to! stand! up! for! what! is! right! even! if! it!
meant! risking! the! loss! of! a! piece! of! paper! that! I! know! is! worth!
almost!as!much!to!her!as!life!itself.!My!father,!faced!with!the!same!
choice,! chose! not! to! renew! his! temple! recommend! at! all.! I! am! so!
proud!of!my!brave!parents.!
People!worldwide!are!concluding!that!bigotry!cloaked!in!the!
doctrines! of! men! is! still! bigotry,! that! inequality! based! on! sexual!
orientation!is!immoral!and!that!compassion!is!the!least!we!could!
offer! our! fellow! gay! brothers! and! sisters.! It! is! embarrassing! to!
know!that!many!of!our!ancestors!so!readily!accepted!slavery.!How!
ashamed!our!grandchildren!will!be!when!they!learn!that!we!once!
supported!the!repression!of!yet!another!group!of!human!beings.!
I! hope! that! one! day! the! church! will! shower! our! gay! friends!
and!family!with!love!instead!of!shame.!If!history!is!any!indication,!
the!church!will!continue!to!change!as!the!pressure!grows.!Take!a!
second!look!at!the!letter!at!the!beginning!of!this!chapter.!I!invited!
you!to!imagine!a!time!in!which!the!church!altered!its!position!on!
gay!marriage.!The!letter!should!be!familiar!to!my!LDS!readers.!It!
is!the!Declaration!that!gave!blacks!the!priesthood,!Official!Decla;
ration! 2,! adjusted! slightly! to! reference! gay! people! instead! of!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/10/13/reid;criticizes;mormon;
church;proposition;support/.!
216 !Elder! L.! Whitney! Clayton! of! the! Seventy! said:! Latter;day! Saints! are! free! to!
disagree! with! their! church! on! the! issue! [Proposition! 8]! without! facing! any! sanc;
tion!We!love!them!and!bear!them!no!ill!will.!(Prop!8:!California!gay!marriage!
fight!divides!LDS!faithful,!Salt!Lake!Tribune,!Oct.!26,!2008.)!
215

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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

blacks! but! copied! almost! verbatim.! This! semi;imaginary! letter! is!


not! that! unrealistic.! LDS! doctrines! on! homosexuality,! doctrines!
that! leaders! said! would! never! change,! are! already! changing.! For!
example,! church! leaders! no! longer! insist! that! gays! are! not! born!
that! way.! The! following! was! said! in! Larry! Kings! second! inter;
view!with!President!Gordon!B.!Hinckley:!
Larry! King:! I! know! that! the! Church! is! opposed! to! gay! mar;
riage.!
Pres.!Hinckley:!Yes.!
Larry!King:!Do!you!have!an!alternative?!Do!you!like!the!idea!
of!civil!unions?!
Pres.! Hinckley:! Well,! were! not! anti;gay.! We! are! pro;family.!
Let!me!put!it!that!way.!And!we!love!these!people!and!try!to!work!
with! them! and! help! them.! We! know! they! have! a! problem.! We!
want!to!help!them!solve!that!problem.!
Larry!King:!A!problem!they!caused,!or!they!were!born!with?!
Pres.! Hinckley:! I! don't! know.! I'm! not! an! expert! on! these!
things.!I!don't!pretend!to!be!an!expert!on!these!things.217!
History!would!suggest!that!the!church!will!continue!down!the!
trail!of!equality!as!it!has!previously!done.!Before!there!was!even!a!
hint! that! the! doctrine! on! blacks! and! the! priesthood! would! be!
changed,!many!church!leaders,!like!Hugh!B.!Brown,!were!fighting!
fiercely! behind! the! scenes! in! favor! of! equality.! I! wonder! how!
many!church!leaders!are!working!behind!the!scenes!today.!
Quiet! changes! are! already! appearing! in! some! unexpected!
ways.! Many! of! my! gay! friends! and! family! members! have! been!
counseled! by!their!bishops!and!stake!presidents! to! date! members!
of!the!gender!to!which!they!are!attracted,!to!show!affection!(such!
as!kissing!and!holding!hands)!and!to!have!meaningful!homosexual!
relationships,! as! long! as! they! do! not! break! the! laws! of! chastity!
that!straight!members!must!also!follow!when!dating.!What!these!
bishops! and! stake! presidents! are! counseling! is! certainly! not! ap;
proved! by! the! church! and! many! of! our! gay! LDS! friends! have! not!
been! told! such! things.! But! it! is! interesting! to! see! a! significant!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
217

!Larry!King!Live,!December!26,!2004.!

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115!

number! of! lower! level! church! leaders! willing! to! follow! their!
conscience!even!though!it!is!in!opposition!to!the!doctrines!of!men!
currently! propagated! by! the! church.! Huzzah! for! those! who! place!
charity!above!dogma!!
If!you!still!believe!gay!people!should!not!have!the!same!rights!
as! straight! people! and! you! do! not! already! have! a! close! friend! or!
family! member! who! is! openly! gay,! I! invite! you! to! expand! your!
circle!of!friends.!Spend!some!time!with!a!homosexual!person,!in;
vite! him! or! her! to! share! with! you! some! of! their! stories.! Ask! this!
gay!person!what!has!happened!to!their!unalienable!rights!of!life,!
liberty! and! the! pursuit! of! happiness! because! they! must! live! un;
der!laws!different!than!those!granted!to!us!lucky!straight!people.!
Ask! them! to! tell! you! about! the! times! they! were! mistreated! and!
about!what!it!is!like!to!be!homosexual!in!the!world!today.!!
Its!easy!to!deny!rights!to!people!we!do!not!know,!so!after!you!
get!to!know!this!gay!person,!I!invite!you!to!share!with!them!your!
beliefs!on!homosexuality!and!their!legal!rights.!Tell!it!to!their!face!
and!see!if!you!feel!good!doing!so.218!!
Because! of! its! history,! the! church! and! its! membersmore!
than!most!groupsshould!remember!what!persecution!feels!like,!
yet!we!are!so!quick!to!dish!it!out!to!others.!No!amount!of!rhetoric!
or!excuse!or!smug!doctrinal!security!will!ever!make!it!okay!to!de;
ny! a! group! of! people! the! same! rights! we! enjoy.! Some! might! say!
homosexuality! is! wrong,! and! that! is! each! persons! prerogative;!
discrimination!is!also!wrong!and!to!support!it!is!inexcusable.!!
Again,! I! am! not! suggesting! the! apostles! and! prophets! are!
wicked! people.! They! have! taught! many! beautiful! things.! What!
they!say!about!homosexuals,!however,!is!deeply!hurtful!and!a!bad!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!I!used!to!think!most!Latter;day!Saints!wouldnt!dare!say!such!things,!but!I!have!
since!been!stripped!of!that!illusion.!One!LDS!woman!told!her!lesbian!daughter,!I!
have!to!get!a!blessing!every!day!so!I!dont!hate!you.!Another!LDS!mother!said!of!
her!gay!son,!Rod,!I!suppose!I!should!be!better!to!Rod,!but!hes!not!going!to!be!with!
us!in!the!next!life!anyway.!Yet!another!LDS!mother!said!to!her!gay!son!who!had!
just!survived!a!car!accident,!It!would!have!been!better!for!God!to!have!taken!you!
from!the!earth!than!leave!you!here!to!be!gay.!(Quoted!in!No!More!Goodbyes:!CirT
cling!the!Wagons!around!Our!Gay!Loved!Ones,!p.!40,!238.)!

218

!
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T HOU! S HALT! Q UESTION !

doctrine! taught! by! good! people! is! still! a! bad! doctrine.! I! question!
church!leaders!because!I!see!no!other!way.!Even!when!holding!the!
office! of! president! and! speaking! as! a! prophet! in! General! Confer;
ence,! they! have! been! unmistakably! wrong.! There! is! no! evidence!
they! wont! be! wrong! again! so! we! should! ask! ourselves,! What! is!
the! purpose! of! indiscriminately! following! every! prophets! words!
when!each!prophet!willdespite!his!best!efforts!and!good!inten;
tionsteach!incorrect!things!and!call!it!doctrine,!especially!since!
there!is!a!good!chance!that!in!the!future!the!church!will!change!its!
doctrine!anyway?!Truth!may!be!eternal,!but!the!doctrines!of!men!
taught!by!church!leaders!change!regularly.!
What!do!you!believe?!Do!you!believe!that!homosexuality!is!a!
disease!to!be!cured?!That!just!feeling!gay!is!so!repulsive!that!such!
people!are!not!worthy!of!attending!BYU?!That!it!would!be!better!
for! homosexuals! if! they! were! never! born?! That! gay! people! are!
unrepentant! addicts?! That! homosexual! relationships! are! com;
pletely!devoid!of!fidelity,!trust!and!loyalty?!That!homosexuality!is!
caused!by!dysfunctional!parenting?!That!homosexuals!are!inferior!
to!straight!people!and!should!not!have!equal!rights?!
!
In!General!Conference!Apostle!Marion!G.!Romney!quoted!
President!Heber!J.!Grant!as!saying:!
Always!keep!your!eye!on!the!President!of!the!church,!and!if!
he!ever!tells!you!to!do!anything,!even!if!it!is!wrong,!and!you!do!it,!
the!Lord!will!bless!you!for!it.219!
I!dont!buy!that.!I!believe!God!will!hold!accountable!any!per;
son! who! ignores! their! conscience! just! because! they! were! told! to!
do! so! by! a! general! authority.! I! invite! all! church! members! to! use!
their! agency! and! good! moral! judgment! to! support! what! is! right.!
Lets!be!a!force!for!good!right!now!and!not!wait!for!the!church!to!
figure!it!out.!In!order!for!gay!people!to!finally!find!peace,!dissen;
sion! must! come! not! only! from! former! Latter;day! Saints! like! my;
self! but! from! active! church! members.! Silently! disagreeing! with!
incorrect!doctrine!is!not!enough.!We!will!only!see!positive!change!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
219

!Conference!Report,!Oct.!1960,!p.!78.!

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117!

when! those! silent! disagreements! become! an! out;loud! shout! for!


equality.!I!know!this!takes!courage.!It!is!worth!it.!
I!would!like!to!issue!a!personal!appeal!to!my!readers.!Please,!
for!the!sake!of!those!we!have!already!lost!and!for!my!brother,!let!
us!stand!for!what!is!right.!I!believe!in!following!Christs!example.!
The! challenge! is! not! to! ask,! Who! would! Jesus! shun?! or! Who!
would!Jesus!love!as!long!as!they!do!what!I!think!they!should?!but!
to!Love!one!another!as!I!have!loved!you.!Period.!!
Let!us!side!with!compassion!and!equality.!Lets!drop!this!love!
the!sinner!but!hate!the!sin!rubbish;!love!with!conditions!attached!
is!no!love!at!all.!In!2010!my!father!wrote!a!letter!of!support!to!my!
gay!brother.!In!part!it!reads:!
Why! you! should! have! been! given! the! challenges! associated!
with!being!gay!in!a!straight!world,!I!do!not!understand.!Perhaps!it!
is!not!a!test!being!placed!on!gay!people.!Perhaps!it!is!a!test!to!see!
if!those!of!us!who!are!straight!can!live!up!to!the!challenge!to!love!
one!another!as!I!have!loved!you.!
I! love! my! gay! friends! and! family! members;! they! are! some! of!
the!best!human!beings!I!know.!I!want!them!to!have!all!the!benefits!
of!marriage!and!every!opportunity!for!life,!liberty!and!the!pursuit!
of!happiness!that!I!enjoy.!Lets!follow!the!path!being!laid!by!brave,!
outspoken!Latter;day!Saints!around!the!world!and!show!genuine!
love! and! real! support! without! reservation! for! our! gay! brothers!
and!sisters.!Let!us!lift!the!millions!of!those!who!suffer!needlessly!
and!are!burdened!so!heavily,!and!speak!out!on!their!behalf.!!
Lets!give!them!equality.!