Part 25: CES Letter Polygamy & Polyandry Questions [Section F]
by Sarah Allen
For this week’s entry, Jeremy Runnells offered us another lengthy-but-useful recap of all of his objections toward polygamy and the way that Joseph personally practiced it. It’s a lot to cover, but I think we can get through the entire thing today.
Jeremy begins like this:
D&C 132:63 very clearly states that the only purpose of polygamy is to “multiply and replenish the earth” and “bear the souls of men.” Why did Joseph marry women who were already married? These women were obviously not virgins, which violated D&C 132:61. Zina Huntington had been married seven and a half months and was about six months pregnant with her first husband’s baby at the time she married Joseph; clearly she didn’t any more help to “bear the souls of men.”
No, D&C 132:63 very clearly does not state that. That verse alone gives four different reasons for polygamy: to multiply and replenish the earth, according to the Lord’s command; to fulfil the promise which was given by God the Father before the foundation of the world; for the exaltation of the Saints in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; and to continue the work of the Father, that He may be glorified. Verse 51 gives us a fifth reason: to prove us all as He did Abraham, by covenant and sacrifice. Actually, verse 51 splits that into separate reasons, even, so it’s technically six reasons. It says, “…for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.” It was both a test and a sacrifice. Brian Hales added an additional two reasons: to restore all things, the way the Lord has declared, and to allow all worthy women to be sealed to a worthy husband for eternity.
Also, Joseph didn’t actually marry those women who were already married. He was sealed to them for eternity, and there is a difference. These “polyandrous” unions did not include sexual relationships and were for not sealings for time. Obnoxious comments about Zina Huntington aside, her marriage to Henry Jacobs was still valid and in force during this lifetime, until her sealing to Brigham Young for time superseded that…which was Zina’s choice. She declared her marriage an unhappy one and she opted to try marriage to Brigham instead, with whom she was apparently satisfied. As for why he Joseph did it, it was for the same reasons given above. Some of those women were married to people who were not members of the Church. Those women shouldn’t be denied exaltation because their spouses weren’t sealed to them, and in those early days—given that revelation comes line upon line and precept upon precept—that was their understanding of the doctrine. More had yet to be revealed. In other cases, it’s possible he was sealed to them as a way to practice plural marriage without hurting Emma or to avoid actually having to live the practice in this lifetime. Remember, this was a doctrine Joseph struggled with too, not just Emma.
Additionally, in the scriptural context “virgin” means someone who is morally pure, rather than someone who has never had sex.
How about the consent of the first wife, which receives so much attention in D&C 132? Emma was unaware of most of Joseph’s plural marriages, at least until after the fact, which violated D&C 132.
We don’t know what Emma knew or when she knew it. There’s little direct evidence either way, and unfortunately, Emma herself is not a credible source when it comes to this particular matter. In all others, she appears to have been honest and credible, but when regarding plural marriage, there is direct proof that she lied consistently about it for decades. This was something that had been known to Joseph for 12 years by 1843 when that revelation was written down. It strains credulity that he never said a single word about it to Emma in that entire time, particularly after the Fanny Alger situation.
D&C 132:65 is quite clear that when the first wife does not consent to the covenant and will not receive the law, the husband is no longer required to ask for her permission to live the law he’s been given. Emma deeply struggled to receive that law. She was in a constant cycle of agreeing to it and changing her mind. She even destroyed the original manuscript of the revelation. It was something she never truly accepted in this lifetime. I don’t blame her; it’d have been horrendously difficult to live that law, and her actions are between her and God. However, her strong negative reaction to it all does give Joseph an exemption from obtaining her permission to live the law, especially if that same negative reaction is the cause of Fanny Alger’s abrupt exit from Kirtland. Remember, she later tried to drive the Partridge sisters from Nauvoo the same way.
The secrecy of the marriages and the private and public denials by Joseph Smith are not congruent with honest behavior.
I would disagree, as that was done to keep the Saints safe from enemies who were looking for excuses to destroy them. Sometimes, you have to live the higher law of loving your neighbor as yourself rather than strictly obeying every commandment exactly as written. That’s why sometimes the Lord guides His prophets to lie, or why Nephi was guided to slay Laban. Sometimes, circumstances require behavior that is out of the norm.
Emma was not informed of most of these marriages until after the fact. The Saints did not know what was going on behind the scenes as polygamy did not become common knowledge until 1852 when Brigham Young revealed it in Utah. Joseph Smith did everything he could to keep the practice secret from the Church and the public.
Again, we have no idea how many she was informed of or when that happened. Claiming otherwise is a guess, not a fact. And many of the Saints did know exactly what was going on in Nauvoo, during the trek West, and certainly once in Utah. It would have been nearly impossible to miss, given that within ten years of arriving in Utah, approximately 25-30% of the adults in the Utah territories were living this law and an estimated 50% of Utah’s population was living in a polygamous family, whether as a husband, wife, or child. We also know that Joseph did attempt to discuss it publicly at least once in Nauvoo, and it was taught more openly in Winter Quarters.
In fact, Joseph’s desire to keep this part of his life a secret is what ultimately contributed to his death when he ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, which dared publicly expose his private behavior in June 1844. This event initiated a chain of events that ultimately led to his death at the Carthage jail.
No one is disputing that the Expositor situation led directly to Joseph and Hyrum’s death—that’s obvious. Of course it did. However, based on the information we covered a few weeks ago about the Expositor’s contents and the aftermath of its publication, I don’t think its destruction was about keeping polygamy secret. The cat was pretty much out of the bag at that point. I think it was about attempting to quell the mobs before they turned deadly. It was a spectacular failure in that regard, for sure, but it wasn’t retaliation for announcing polygamy to the world. It was an attempt to keep the people of Nauvoo safe.
Consider the following denial made by Joseph Smith to Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo in May 1844 – a mere few weeks before his death:
“…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” – History of the Church, Vol. 6, Chapter 19, p. 411.
Context is important to framing a discussion, and it’s that context that Jeremy is missing here. Joseph is specifically calling out William and Wilson Law (who made accusations of adultery against Joseph for his marriage to Maria Lawrence) and some other accusers, including a man named J.H. Jackson. Jackson was, according to Joseph, also paid $500 by William Law to kill him. The bulk of Jeremy’s own source demonstrates quite clearly that Joseph was responding to those allegations and refuting them. They also charged him with perjury and “spiritual wifeism,” which was John C. Bennett’s corruption of the doctrine, not Joseph’s. It was true that Joseph did only have one legal wife at the time, and it was also true that Joseph was not committing adultery, the way he’d been accused of doing. Technically, under Illinois law at the time, if Joseph wasn’t publicly announcing his polygamy or living the practice openly, he wasn’t breaking the law. The Law brothers were trying to entrap him. Because of that, he was being very careful with his words, the same way Oliver was when he said that his claims were “strictly true.”
Was Joseph being technically honest while still being misleading? Yes, definitely. But we all know why. The second the truth came out, people were calling for every Latter-day Saint in Nauvoo to be exterminated. He was trying to prevent that.
It is a matter of historical fact that Joseph had secretly taken over 30 plural wives by May 1844 when he made the above denial that he was ever a polygamist.
Yes, it is. But again, Joseph was addressing specific accusations in this speech. It wasn’t a blanket polygamy denial. When he said he could prove them all perjurers, it was because earlier in the same address, he stated this:
For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ: they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said; therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me.
He had clerks going everywhere with him and recording his movements. That’s why he could prove that the accusations of perjury and adultery were false. The bulk of this address was Joseph laying out the circumstances of the accusations and what witnesses he had to clear his name. He continued:
… Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bare down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.
I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors.
I then sent Mr. Backenstos, when they declared that they were my enemies. I told Mr. Backenstos that he might tell the Laws, if they had any cause against me I would go before the Church, and confess it to the world. He [Wm. Law] was summoned time and again, but refused to come. Dr. Bernhisel and Elder Rigdon know that I speak the truth. I cite you to Captain Dunham, Esquires Johnson and Wells, Brother Hatfield and others, for the truth of what I have said. I have said this to let my friends know that I am right.
As I said above, context matters. Yes, he denied having multiple wives, and yes, he was being a little deceptive and hiding behind the literal, legal definition of the word “wife.” No arguments here. It’s exactly what Abraham did when he told the Pharaoh his relationship with Sarah, using the word that could mean “wife,” “sister,” or several other things, and let the Pharaoh think she was his sister. Under Illinois state law, Joseph did only have one wife. Under God’s law, he had more than that. But, as this speech was in response to legal proceedings, legal definitions are important.
The entry from the day before this speech, found on Jeremy’s same source, stated:
Saturday, 25.—At home, keeping out of the way of the expected writs from Carthage. Towards evening, Edward Hunter and William Marks, of the grand jury returned from Carthage; also Marshal John P. Greene and Almon W. Babbitt, who informed me there were two indictments found against me, one charging me with false swearing on the testimony of Joseph H. Jackson and Robert D. Foster, and one charging me with polygamy, or something else, on the testimony of William Law, that I had told him so! The particulars of which I shall learn hereafter. There was much false swearing before the grand jury. Francis M. Higbee swore so hard that I had received stolen property, &c., that his testimony was rejected. I heard that Joseph H. Jackson had come into the city. I therefore instructed the officers to arrest him for threatening to take life, &c.
That one charging him with “polygamy, or something else” was actually charging him with adultery, not polygamy. In fact, William and Wilson Law specifically charged him of admitting to adultery and living in an openly adulterous state with Maria Lawrence. That’s the charge he was denying in that speech. It was perhaps an overly broad denial, but it was in direct reference to the claims he’d admitted to being an adulterer and flouted the relationship, which would have made that relationship illegal under the law. If he didn’t admit to it and he kept it hidden, it wasn’t technically illegal.
If you go to FamilySearch.org – an LDS-owned genealogy website – you can clearly see that Joseph Smith had many wives (click to expand on Joseph’s wives). The Church’s October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay acknowledges that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. The facts speak for themselves – from 100% LDS sources – that Joseph Smith was dishonest.
Yeah, nobody’s disputing that Joseph was a polygamist, least of all the Church. This isn’t something they’re only now acknowledging. They’ve acknowledged it all along, and it’s right there in the scriptures. Beyond that, as stated, there were affidavits collected by Joseph F. Smith, some by Andrew Jenson, and some by the lawyers in the Temple Lot Case, all openly declaring that Joseph was a polygamist. Church magazines published it at least as early as 1946 for those who weren’t part of the plural marriage generations, too. While it was deemphasized for while in the 20th Century, it was never denied after it was publicly announced in 1852.
So, was Joseph misleading in that speech? Yes, he was. Did he have good reasons for it? Yes, he did. Was he the first prophet to bend the truth? No, not at all. I’m not denying that he wasn’t being fully honest about it all, but you have to judge the situation by the context. The Saints had been driven at gunpoint from their homes in Missouri in the dead of winter with few of their belongings, and were finally in a place a few years later where they were prospering. However, forces were trying to gather to enact the same persecutions on them again, and Joseph was trying to spare their lives.
What’s worse, a few lies/careful parsing of words, or handing over an entire people for extermination? Look at it this way: when your friend gets a really unflattering haircut, do you tell them they look awful because honesty is important, or you spare their feelings because treating them kindly is more important? I think most of us would stretch the truth in that case, and that’s considerably less life-or-death than potentially triggering a genocide.
The following 1835 edition of Doctrine & Covenants revelations bans polygamy:
1835 DOCTRINE & COVENANTS 101:4
“Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”
1835 DOCTRINE & COVENANTS 13:7
“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else.”
1835 DOCTRINE & COVENANTS 65:3
“Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake. No, these sections do not “ban polygamy,” and one of them, Section 101, wasn’t even a revelation.
What was then D&C 13:7 in the 1835 edition is now D&C 42:22. (This link is super helpful for figuring out this kind of thing, btw.) The context of the section—again, important, and again, missing from Jeremy’s commentary—shows that it’s talking about adultery and fornication, not plural marriage. The entire section is talking about the laws and commandments of the newly reestablished Church, and this is referring to the law of chastity. Practicing plural marriage when commanded to is not violating the law of chastity. The commandment to cleave unto your wife and none else does not preclude another commandment telling you to have more than one wife to cleave to. If you have more than one wife, you can cleave to all of them and not be in violation of this commandment.
The 1835 D&C 65:3 is now D&C 49:15-21. This revelation was given in 1831 and was in direct response to the Shakers and their belief in abstinence and celibacy, including that all marriage was wrong. Some of the new converts to the Church were former Shakers and still held onto those old beliefs. The Lord was saying that marriage is ordained of God and that they should engage in it. In 1831, the practice of the Church was that of monogamy. That’s always been the norm, even when plural marriage was in force. That is the standard by which we all live unless commanded otherwise. That command to live otherwise hadn’t yet gone into effect. Joseph may have known about it at this point, but he wasn’t living it yet and neither was anyone else. Again, these verses were not banning polygamy, they were giving instructions on how to marry and conduct yourselves in marriage to Saints who didn’t believe in marriage, as well as pointing out other things the Shakers got wrong.
I saved the 1835 Section 101 for last because it’s unique and it requires some explanation. There were two statements or articles put before the Saints in August, 1835, just a few days before the publication of the brand new Doctrine and Covenants: the Article on Marriage, which is this section, and the Article of Governments and Laws, which is our D&C 134 today.
Neither of these are revelations from the Lord. They’re statements written by Oliver Cowdery. Remember Oliver, the man who despised polygamy and called it an abomination and an iniquity? The conference where these documents were read and voted on by the Saints was announced on a Sunday and then held the next day, all while Joseph was out of town. Some historians believe that all of this was done behind Joseph’s back, but Brian Hales disagrees. There’s some evidence that this was not the case: they were listed in the index for the new book prior to the conference; the book was about to be printed so the manuscripts were already at the printer’s office; and most importantly, Joseph never tried to walk it back or have it removed. They simply needed an official vote on it before it went to press.
There are some important things to bring up regarding the Article on Marriage. It seems to have been written for two reasons. First, there was an idea floating around in Ohio after the Law of Consecration was announced that “having all things in common” also included communal wives. These types of “free love” societies/communes had sprung up out of the Second Great Awakening, and people apparently viewed the close-knit Latter-day Saints as being one of them. This Article was designed in part to refute that charge.
Second, under Ohio law at the time, any ordained minister could obtain a license to perform legal marriages. All he would have to do is show up at the court and provide his credentials. However, Sidney Rigdon was denied his application by a judge who did not like the Church—and his is the only such denial on record during that time period. This was in March of 1835. In June of that same year, he was indicted for illegally presiding over the marriage between Orson Hyde and Marinda Johnson. He was able to avoid jail on that charge because his old license as a Campbellite minister had never been rescinded.
Ohio law at the time also stated that “a religious society…could perform marriages without a license so long as the ceremony was done ‘agreeable to the rules and regulations of their respective churches.’” By formally stating the Church’s rules on marriage, the elders of the Church were legally able to perform marriages without obtaining a license from a judge who might simply dislike their religious beliefs. After that Article was published in August of 1835, there were no other legal troubles for the Saints regarding the right to marry their people under the law. This was likely the primary reason for this article to be voted on.
Additionally, the wording is pretty curious. Brian Hales quotes an RLDS/Community of Christ Elder David B. Hayes as saying the following:
You may have observed the ingenious phraseology of that part of the document which is designed to convey the impression that the assembly, as well as the entire church, was opposed to polygamy, but which, as a matter of fact, leaves the way open for its introduction and practice. The language I refer to is this: ‘We believe that one man shall have one wife, and one woman but one husband.’ Why use the restrictive adverb in the case of the woman, and ingeniously omit it with reference to the man? Why not employ the same form of words in the one case as in the other? Of the woman it is said she shall have but one husband. Why not say of the man, he shall have ‘but one wife except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.’
So, this guy believes that the language was intentionally vague enough to allow for plural marriage doctrine to be announced later, and to still fall under the umbrella of this Article. It’s a curious take and there may well be some truth to that. However, again, this was composed by Oliver, who was repulsed by the very idea of plural marriage, so take that point under advisement while you consider this particular theory.
Joseph Smith was already a polygamist when these revelations were introduced into the 1835 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants and Joseph publicly taught that the doctrine of the Church was monogamy. Nevertheless, Joseph continued secretly marrying multiple women and girls as these revelations/scriptures remained in force.
Again, one wasn’t a revelation, and in 1835, the doctrine of the Church was monogamy. It wasn’t created to counter accusations of polygamy, anyway. Joseph also didn’t “continue” marrying women all throughout that time, the way Jeremy implies. All of Joseph’s wives but Emma and Fanny were sealed/married to him for the first time within about two and a half years of his death.
In an attempt to influence and abate public rumors of his secret polygamy, Joseph asked 31 witnesses to sign an affidavit published in the LDS October 1, 1842 Times and Seasons stating that Joseph did not practice polygamy. Pointing to the above-mentioned D&C 101:4 scripture, these witnesses claimed the following:
“…we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.”
Joseph didn’t ask them to write that affidavit, at least not that anyone can prove. It was something they put together in response to John C. Bennett’s book tour declaring “spiritual wifery” to be the norm in Nauvoo.
The problem with this affidavit is that it was signed by several people who were secret polygamists or who knew that Joseph was a polygamist at the time they signed the affidavit. In fact, Eliza R. Snow, one of the signers of this affidavit, was Joseph Smith’s plural wife. Joseph and Eliza had been married 3 months earlier, on June 29, 1842. Two Apostles and future prophets, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, were also aware of Joseph’s polygamy behind the scenes when they signed the affidavit. Another signer, Bishop Whitney, had personally married his daughter Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph as a plural wife a few months earlier on July 27, 1842. Whitney’s wife and Sarah’s mother Elizabeth (also a signer) witnessed the ceremony.
At the time the sisters of the Relief Society signed our article, I was married to the prophet— we made no allusion to any other system of marriage than Bennett’s— his was prostitution, and it was truly his, and he succeeded in pandering his course on the credulity of the unsuspecting by making them believe that he was thus authorized by the Prophet. In those articles there is no reference to divine plural marriage. We aimed to put down its opposite.
In their minds, they saw a clear distinction between plural marriage as practiced by the Saints and in John C. Bennett’s twisted mockery of it. They were disputing one and not the other when they made that statement, contrary to what Runnells claims.
What does it say about Joseph Smith and his character to include his plural wife and associates – who knew about his secret polygamy/polyandry – to lie and perjure in a sworn public affidavit that Joseph was not a polygamist?
It doesn’t say anything, because that’s not a correct summation of the facts. Not only was Joseph not involved in those affidavits, he wasn’t even mentioned in them anywhere. Not once. You can read both pages in full here and here if you want to verify that for yourself. The affidavits weren’t about Joseph at all. They were about John C. Bennett.
Now, does the fact that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry while denying and lying to Emma, the Saints, and the world over the course of 10+ years of his life prove that he was a false prophet? That the Church is false? No, it doesn’t.
10+ years? Joseph is estimated to have married Fanny Alger in late 1835 or early 1836. He died in the Spring of 1844. That’s 8.5 years at most. But yes, he lied, or at least shaded the truth and hid behind “strictly true” but misleading statements. That wasn’t the worst thing a prophet’s ever done, and he was in an impossible situation. Does that fully excuse his behavior? I don’t know. I’m not his Judge, and the Lord seems to have been pleased with Joseph’s sacrifices. Would have I have done things differently in his place? Again, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Probably in some cases. But with the pressure he was under from all sides, it’s hard to know what I’d do instead.
What it does prove, however, is that Joseph Smith’s pattern of behavior or modus operandi for a period of at least 10 years of his adult life was to keep secrets, to be deceptive, and to be dishonest — both privately and publicly.
Joseph’s “modus operandi” is another of those phrases Jeremy loves to repeat ad nauseam, like “modern Egyptologists say,” or “unofficial apologists.” I don’t see Joseph as having a longstanding pattern of deception. I see him as trying very carefully to thread a needle without snapping the string. It was a delicate thing he was trying to manage, and if he made mistakes, all it shows is that he was human.
Joseph was trapped inside the four walls of God commanding the practice of plural marriage; Emma’s deep distress over and fluctuating commitment to it; the main body of the Church refusing to listen to his attempts to teach it to them; and an angry public looking for any excuse to destroy the Church, Joseph, and all of the Saints. The longer he practiced plural marriage, the more the walls closed in. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in his place, and I have no desire to judge him for the actions he made while caught in that trap.
Additionally, Brian Hales points out that Joseph had already been warned in D&C 19:22 not to give the Saints more than they could handle, but that he fully expected them all to one day live the practice openly.
It’s when you take this snapshot of Joseph’s character and start looking into the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook Plates, the Book of Mormon, the multiple First Vision accounts, Priesthood Restoration, and so on that you begin to see a very disturbing pattern and picture.
Not even remotely. I think it’s pretty clear by now to anyone reading these posts that I like Church history. I’m a geek, I fully admit it. While I’m certainly not an expert, I’ve studied this stuff more than the average member of the Church. Not one thing on that list bothers me. Not one of them shows a pattern of dishonesty or deception, and not one of them is “disturbing” in any way, shape, or form.
Again, Joseph was a human being. As such, he made his fair share of mistakes, no doubt. But just like all of us do, he had to learn how to receive revelation and hear the Spirit. He had to do the best he could with the limited knowledge he had and hope the Lord would correct those mistakes of his sooner, rather than later. Because I don’t expect Joseph to be perfect, I don’t see a problem with him doing the best he could in an impossible situation, even if his choices weren’t necessarily the choices I would have made.
Today, Warren Jeffs is more closely aligned to Joseph Smith’s Mormonism than the modern LDS Church is.
No, he’s really, really not. This is the little graph Jeremy made comparing the two men, and even on that image, they aren’t very close at all. The similarities listed are not actually very similar once you look deeper into the details. I went over Warren Jeffs and my thoughts on that a few weeks ago, and I’m not interested in covering it all again. Suffice to say, I don’t think they were very much alike at all, and I don’t think Joseph would have any trouble recognizing the modern Church. Of anyone, he was intimately familiar with the idea of ongoing revelation. He knew that future revelations could supersede old ones or clarify them in previously unforeseen ways. He never claimed the church he helped restore was done growing, changing, or evolving. In fact, the 9th Article of Faith demonstrates that he believed there was much more yet to be revealed.
Anyway, that wraps up the polygamy and polyandry section of Jeremy’s “concerns and questions.” As I said, next week I’d like to highlight some of those amazing women he implied were mindless and vulnerable children groomed by a predator and show their own stories in their own words, rather than Jeremy’s twisted, infantilizing take on them. After that, the letter moves on to controversies like Adam-God, blood atonement, Mark Hoffmann, etc., so that’ll be an interesting change of pace.
For now, I want to close this post out by reiterating again how messy and complicated history can be. Jeremy spent a lot of time looking at the surface level of things and reshaping his impressions into a caricature of what plural marriage actually looked like in practice. He twisted historical fact, the intentions of those he was discussing, their words, their behaviors, and even his own sources. He removed events and statements from all context to imply one thing, when the fuller picture shows something else. Like I said above, stripping something from all context often distorts the image. It’s important to know the context to understand the behavior. If you ever want to truly understand a historical event, you have to put it in context. You have to understand the history and the motivations of the people you’re reading about. There are reasons behind all of this stuff.
If you don’t find the context a satisfying explanation for the behavior, that’s fine. At least you know the background so you can make an informed decision. Jeremy’s banking on you not investigating this stuff for yourself. Don’t let him pigeonhole you the way he pigeonholed these women as helpless objects being passed around without a say in the matter. Investigate all of it. Check his sources and mine. Find your own sources. It can take a lot of work, but if you truly want answers, you have to put in the time. If you don’t, any critic can twist the truth into something unrecognizable and try to manipulate you away from what you know is right.
That’s the game Satan’s playing, to make you doubt your testimony. Don’t let him. Your testimony is far too important to let someone you don’t know, with only a surface-level understanding of the situation, shake you from your foundation. Study this stuff, and build up that foundation so you can’t be shaken from it. Don’t let anyone else dictate your testimony to you. Fight this battle on your terms, not theirs. Empower yourselves and make up your own minds, the same way these amazing women did.
Sources in this entry:
Sarah Allen is brand new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. A voracious reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.