Open thread for faithful Mormons!

I knew we had faithful Mormons reading this blog, but ProfXM’s thread on “feeling the Spirit” really brought them out of lurking!! So, today, I’d like to open a new thread where the faithful can introduce themselves and the rest of us can welcome them!

I want to reiterate that Main Street Plaza is a place where we can all have a reasonable, civil discussion — despite differences in belief. We are absolutely open to constructive criticism. Organizations (like the CoJCoL-dS or the Mormon Alumni Association) can only improve by recognizing and addressing problems. I would just like to ask you first to be sure you’ve read our welcome page and our FAQ (on why we write about Mormonism) so that we don’t waste our time, yours, and precious electrons on repeating ourselves (eg. “you guys are all a bunch of ant-Mormons and I’m sure that you hate me,” etc.). Your feedback on specific posts or policies, however, is welcome! πŸ˜€

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chanson

C. L. Hanson is the friendly American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! See "letters from a broad" and the novel ExMormon for further adventures!!

171 thoughts on “Open thread for faithful Mormons!

  1. As for joseph smith having more than one wife, I have gone out and looked for answers myself! So now i know myself, and i did handle it very well thanks! as i understand the history of the church! he only had more than one wife because women back then needed protection, and they were pioneers, traveling all the time, as they were being pushed out, so of course many men died, so women were left with out husbands, and so not only did joseph smith marry more than once but many other men did also! and as for marrying under aged girls, we would class them as under aged in our time period, but back then, it was allowed, and it was commanded, girls had to marry young in order for protection.

  2. Jessica — When JS married my great-great-great-great aunt Nancy Mariah Winchseter, she was fourteen or fifteen years old (and he was in his late thirties). She was living with her parents, like other teenagers of the time. She didn’t need protection, and they weren’t pioneers at the time. I’m not saying this to insult you or call you naive, etc. Sincerely, we’re all glad you’re taking our remarks seriously and doing some research, but maybe it’s time to mull over this a bit calmly before jumping back into the fray.

  3. Please don’t pounce on Jessica over the rationale for polygamy she laid out.

    Jessica, I can tell you that what you are saying does not stand up to scrutiny. The motivation for polygamy was not to care for widows and orphans. Joseph claimed it was a divine commandment and the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. Critics claimed he concocted it to indulge his passions. You’ll have to decide for yourself which way (or another way) you view it, but it wasn’t to care for widows.

  4. Jessica,

    Actually the average age to marry back then was 21. But it’s ok that you went to an apologist website for information…that is a good start. This is actually the answer we gave to investigators on our mission. The truth is..it was white-washed. Polygamy was a commandment. And many of the women Joseph married were already married to living men, who were taking care of them.

    Many women (especially the young girls) were told that celestial glory for their family rested on their shoulders…if they didn’t marry Joseph, not only would he be killed by an angel..but her family would not make it to heaven.

    Now..if it was so important for these women to marry Joseph..if the church hinged on them….why don’t we hear about them? Shouldn’t we at least know the names of these important women? Why did Joseph hide his marrying other women from Emma?

    I feel bad that you’ve stumbled on all this information in such a short time. I at least could find out a piece..look at it with one eye closed, then think it over before I went back in for more.

    This may not be the best place to post apologetic “evidence”. I’d suggest researching slowly. Maybe even not returning to this thread…it’s too much in one day.

  5. oh whatever, you all seem like you’ve all left the church, and now just want to rant on about what you dislike about the church, i’m not going to be a part of it, it’s ridiculous!

  6. amy, i never went to a site, i went to my mum, and asked her exactly what i wanted to know, and then asked another few people, and i got the same answer off all of them, which is what i’ve just said to you… along with a few other things, which i didn’t actually put down, but what does it matter? whatever i will say to you, you’ll try argue it off, and i cant be bothered with you… i cant win no matter what i say, i cant have my opinion or say what i want to say with out a debate, 106 responses… from what? from sharing my testimony! it really just goes to show, it seems like you want me to accept things you say and agree, but then you seem not open hearted or minded to what im saying, actually im not even asking you all to be, i just wanted to share my testimony, but forget it, i cant be bothered now. I dont know why i bothered, it’s pretty pathetic that it’s actually got this far!

  7. Jessica,

    Those are basically comforting myths that Mormons tell each other. Whether one believes in the church or not, the truth is much more complicated. But I don’t really have any more to say on the subject. Best of luck to you.

  8. yeah, im glad you dont, im not interested in what you all have to say now, im not coming on here ever again, i’ve figured out that you’re all people that used to be mormons, left, and have nothing better to do than argue, debate and rant on about the church, fine, you disagree with it, let it go!

  9. i cant win no matter what i say, i cant have my opinion or say what i want to say with out a debate, 106 responses from what? from sharing my testimony!

    Look, I’ve said this a number of times — we’re out to have a discussion, and it doesn’t have to turn into a “debate”. It doesn’t have to be about “winning.” You have your testimony, so that should be sufficient, right? You complain about the 106 comments, but you have to admit that a lot of them are by you, long after people here were happy to compliment you and wish you well on your journey.

  10. @Jessica: There were actually far more men than women at the time polygamy was practiced and this statistic was true long after polygamy ended. We are not ranting about the church. You are being presented with facts and whatever you are reading about these women needing protection is, quite frankly, a lie. Why would a woman who is already married need protection? Why would teenage girls who were living at home with their parents need protection? They were not pioneers, and even if they were, what would they need protection from? The average age of marriage was 21. The average age of puberty was 15 then. Would you really believe people of the 1800’s would view prepubescent girls, or girls just beginning puberty as women ready to be married off and have children?

  11. Well if it doesn’t have to be a debate, then why are people turning it into a debate? it feels like i have to defend myself, so yeah i think it is slightly about winning, and about being right, cause you all seem like YOU are right and I’M wrong. I do have my testimony, and I’m so glad i do! Yes, some of those people were very nice, and im grateful that they were, but there’s some on here that are really getting on my ass, so I’m done

  12. Jessica,

    I didn’t think I came across as trying to argue or prove you wrong. I have just been trying to state facts. Researching the church has consumed a couple years of my life.

    I feel bad that you are having a difficult time because of all of this. Try to step back and not take it personally. I know it’s easier said than done.

  13. RobertW (re 92):

    I agree that if someone is introducing someone else, then it’s in bad form just to start revealing all of the bad things about them. However, in your John example, never do you advocate teaching false things about John. You may emphasize the good over the bad, but you never rewrite the bad so that it appears good, when it never wasn’t. You don’t ever say that anyone who would say anything negative about John is an irrational anti-Johnist who should be dismissed.

    You may not foist JS Polygamy on your daughter unannounced, but if asked, you don’t shy away from it either. I think most of us would agree that you are not the problem and your approach isn’t the one that most of us here dislike. But the question is this: would everyone you know respond in the way you would? Would even most people?

    Of course, that implies that everyone knows about Joseph Smith’s polygamy…which they may not, because not only is the church not teaching, but there seems to be this attitude that unflattering histories that come from people other than the church are “anti-Mormon” or are “attacks on Mormons.” I wonder where that comes from?

    What others and I are saying is this just won’t do. Not only does this *not* help members, but it makes learning the real history all that much more painful, when it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. Certainly, growing an informed faith is a far more protracted process, but a coddled and uninformed faith will not withstand the windtossed waves.

  14. me? I’m not having a difficult time here, don’t worry about me… I think all of you are having a difficult time, I actually feel sorry for you all, I really do, you cant see what I can see in the gospel, you don’t have what I have, and I don’t about the history, I’m not living in the past, I’m living in the present and working for the future! My dad’s side of the family aren’t mormons, and I get crap off them all time for coming to church, they have always lived in the past, and bring up history all the time, and cause debates and arguments, and it really does get on my nerves, it feels like some of you are the same, you live in the past and dont wanna let go…I’m just so grateful I have the life I have.
    I dont mean to be rude, if I have been, but this is what I think. I’m leaving this here now, I would appreciate it if everyone would just leave it at that now, because I feel everything has totally been blown out of proportion. Bye

  15. Jessica — I’m really sorry if you see this as an attack, or that upsets you that we respond to points you’ve presented us. Maybe it’s time to step away from the computer. Go out with your friends and tell them what jerks we are — it will be funny. πŸ˜‰ Whatever happens, everything will be OK tomorrow morning.

  16. Whenever I find a piece of information that I have not heard before (but don’t know enough about the issue to challenge it…or don’t want to get into a debate), then I say, “That’s interesting. Maybe I’ll look into it later.”

    And then I leave it at that.

    But usually, I want to debate. I admit; I play to win. It’s not that winning is everything; it’s the only thing.

  17. I’m taking breaths just fine thanks, and no i dont think opinions are like butt holes, i think that these opinions from some of these people are acting like butt holes, considering I’m pretty younger than them. It does stink! lol really bad! :) thanks for being nice though william I appreciate it! :)

  18. Good luck, Jessica! I apologize if we have caused you any angst. I’m a bit surprised at your mention of family who give you a hard time and try to debate you. I would think they would have mentioned polygamy, in the very least, since that is a source of contention with many people who view it as immoral and can’t reconcile JS’s actions with their personal beliefs. I don’t find you are being rude at all. I see you are being presented with a lot of things you weren’t aware of and contradict what you believe and what you are being told by others who were also given poor information. It is wonderful that you enjoy life, and you should continue to do so! If you ever need a place to just talk about nothing in particular I’m sure the community will be here to lend you a sympathetic ear.

  19. @Jessica: Good luck, Jessica! I apologize if we have caused you any angst. I’m a bit surprised at your mention of family who give you a hard time and try to debate you. I would think they would have mentioned polygamy, in the very least, since that is a source of contention with many people who view it as immoral and can’t reconcile JS’s actions with their personal beliefs. I don’t find you are being rude at all. I see you are being presented with a lot of things you weren’t aware of and contradict what you believe and what you are being told by others who were also given poor information. It is wonderful that you enjoy life, and you should continue to do so! If you ever need a place to just talk about nothing in particular I’m sure the community will be here to lend you a sympathetic ear.

  20. I suppose it would seem we are focusing on the past…but when it all boils down to it..the church hinges on Joseph Smith. If he was a prophet it’s true..if he wasn’t, it’s not. That’s why the history is important.

    good luck Jessica..and remember what William said…it’s TRUE! πŸ˜‰

  21. It’s fine thanks, kathryn, I think I’ve learnt for myself who I would like to talk to and I’m sure that this isn’t really the place, as you can tell it only frustrates me, i don’t really need need to be informed on what I’m presenting myself as, again I started this off with my testimony, and I’m leaving proud and so ever grateful that I am a mormon and remaining as a mormon for life!

  22. I guess that I’ve really got nothing new to add to this whole discussion, but I feel like chiming in anyhow. I’m not a Mormon, I’m not an ex-Mormon, I’m not a potential Mormon. I’m a neutral third-party in this whole situation.

    Jessica, I admire you for coming on here and giving your testimony and being willing to stick around and defend your position. I also admire your willingness to take what you heard here and to investigate it more for yourself. I’d say that there’s always more than one perspective to things, and if I might give you a piece of friendly advice, I would suggest that you look further. Make your own decisions for yourself on this particular issue.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr once said that “there is nothing more dangerous in all the world than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” No matter what conclusion you may come to in your research, no matter what your belief at the end of the day, please do research. Arrive at your beliefs and conclusions through a combination of faith and education. Don’t accept anything anyone says blindly, whether it’s the people in the Church or the people on this board.

    Another quote comes to mind: Goethe said “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free.” Again, look for yourself. See what you can find. And if you feel as though this discussion thread is getting to be too much for you, take a break. “Discretion is the better part of valor”, or so they say. Finally, I’ll say that I think the people on here are genuinely interested in helping you resolve the issues that come up. When people are passionate about something it tends to arouse emotions on both sides, but I’m fairly certain that they intend no offense to you.

    To the rest: thanks for the consideration you’ve shown in citing your sources and the links. I’ve got an obsessive interest in religion in general and you’ve been more than helpful in clarifying some points that I’ve come across.

  23. @Andrew

    I don’t disagree with anything you are saying. I actually understand it very well from my own experience.

  24. I’ll take a stab at the Joseph Smith thing.

    As a Faithful LDS member I read the teachings of Joseph Smith all the time. Most of them are fantastic. But then you get to the man himself. He was NOT in any way perfect. I have no issue with that. Apparently in his younger years he was a bit of a gold digger. His run for President just before his death was quite strange. But I still truly believe he was a Prophet. Not based on the man but what came FROM this man.

    And I think that could be said for any Prophet. Ancient or modern. None of them would ever claim to know or comprehend all things. . . they are prophetic, are God’s spokesperson. . . but they aren’t all knowing and all powerful. They are Men. All men sin, all men make mistakes etc.

    IF your testimony is based on Joseph Smith the Prophet. . . then that has to come by reading and studying his writings and the church’s origins etc. But if your testimony is based on Joseph Smith the MAN then. . . yikes. I’m sure he had an ego. I’m sure he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I’m sure he had some really DUMB ideas that he couldn’t even himself distinguish from inspiration or just . . . ignorance. Its just so evident from all the writings of people around him. . . about him that there was both something special about him. . . but a lot that wasn’t ideal for a “Prophet”.

    Polygamy. . . was never hidden from me growing up in the church either. We were always taught that it was necessary at the time and that it isn’t now. Just like it was necessary in times of the old Testament but not others. None of us can go back in time and be a fly on the wall to the actual TRUE reason why Polygamy was “brought back” to the gospel. I don’t think we are supposed to know to be honest. No faith required in knowing everything.

    I always hear people discuss that “Women will NEVER hold the priesthood”. . . “These are signs of the times.”. . . “Did you hear that none of the people in were LDS!?!” You know what? YOU DON’T KNOW! Your just guessing. The LDS religion is not a democracy. . . it is not a free pass from all bad things. . . it is not justification for anything other than your PERSONAL choices. Anything else. . . if your name isn’t Thomas S. Monson. . . is fantasy.

  25. Hi,

    I don’t know if I would classify for this thread, but I recently realised and discovered that ‘anti’ mormons doesn’t really classify all the people that have left the church. I’m seventeen and have been a little angry or annoyed at some of the things that go on at church for the last year or so, and the other day my friends dad yelled at me when we got into a discussion about Mormons. He said Mormon is the most whitest and racist church on the earth, and that Joseph Smith was a gold digger/criminal.
    This got me really angry and we got into an argument and my friend was really mad.
    Anyway, this is when I realised that I don’t know anything because I went home and asked my dad what the guy meant, and he told me about Joseph Smith’s history and controversal things.
    I decided to go and research for myself and felt overwhelmed by what I found! I wasn’t expecting that much information about everything. The church history interests me so much. At first I was angry, but now all that I have found makes me not hate the church, but want to become a church historian because the people defending Mormons aren’t doing a good job at all!
    So, I don’t know if this classes me as entirely faithful because I see huge problems and ‘cover-ups’ but it just makes me more curious to go deeper and find out more!
    I love the church for what it’s done for me. And to think only a year ago I wanted out because I felt guilty for having a sip of beer at a friends party. I thought, they can’t tell me what to do

    All this changes everything now. I realise that it’s not all just trivial do this and do that obey me because I’m I said, stuff. I want to help the church into a better light.
    Ok, this might all sound really naiive that I think I can find answers and prove people wrong or whatever, but it excites me!
    Joseph Smith may have done bad stuff, but I’m sure heaps of things have been exaggerated, twisted, etc. Mormons need better researchers or I don’t know lol something.

    So, there it is. I love the church, flaws and all. I’m curious to find answers to the millions of question I have.
    Sorry to give my whole life story. lol

    Liz

  26. William,

    how do you distinguish between Joseph Smith the prophet and Joseph Smith the man. (in fact, this question is generalizable to any prophet. When are they speaking as a prophet? When as a man?)

    Is it when they do stuff that sits well with you? πŸ˜‰

    Liz,

    Your story moved me. I don’t think it’s fair to say that everyone who defends Mormonism is doing a poor job…after all, there are many church historians who write pretty good books and have a perspective somewhat similar to yours…you should look into reading Richard Bushman’s stuff…like Rough Stone Rolling

  27. @Andrew, I don’t know. I have actually met President Monson on a number of occasions. He even performed the temple sealing for my wife and I before he was a Prophet. You will never meet a nicer, kinder more genuine man but when you just sit with him for a while and he casually talks you realize his hobbies and interests are quite different to one’s expectations. He likes professional wrestling of all things! So yea. . . I don’t know.

  28. William,

    But that’s the thing…no one knows. I think people can be nice, kind, and genuine without being divinely inspired. I’m not a doctor, but those things don’t seem to be solid criteria for prophet-dom.

  29. Liz,

    I applaud your intellectual curiosity, your realistic worldview with respect to the church and its people, and your desire to get to the bottom of things, so to speak. My (unsolicited) advice to you would be to read anything and everything that piques your interest without fear, apology or guilt, but make sure you never let anyone else tell you what it all has to mean. That is something you have to grapple with and then come to your own conclusions, but you have to do it in that order. If you simply research in order to support conclusions you have decided on in advance, your grappling will be in vain and you will miss a lot of exciting new discoveries and perspectives. It’s a long tough road with an overwhelming amount of information to consume. I’ve been on that road for many years and there’s no end in sight. Good luck to you.

  30. You’re probably right, Andrew. I think I got carried away there! I just feel so bad every time I see Mormon ‘defenders’ getting ripped apart so badly. It makes me think. if only… I’ll go look him up. Thanks.

  31. Thanks, Robert. I kind of feel bad that only a little while a go I would just listen and accept all the things I heard from my church friends about how anti Mormons are bad etc..your comment was nice because my mom doesn’t exactly think what I’m doing is right and my church friends don’t especially want to hear about any of my ‘findings’ even if I’m not saying things in a bad way. It was good to get this out! :)
    What you said was true about reading things without making apologies but that is so hard. I try to keep a openmind but it’s hard to let go of somethings that I think are facts. It’s hard to know anything!
    Lucky my dad is so cool. I don’t know how some people that leave the church can deal with their families not speaking to them anymore. That’s one thing that would scare me.

    I just want to say that I know where Jessica is coming from because those answers about polygamy are the same I am told and that I told my friends dad too. Half the things I find out come from the churches own website anyway lol .
    I should probably apologize to my friends dad even though he wasn’t very nice about the way he told me things. I suppose I can’t argue for something if I don’t even know what I’m talking about.
    Thanks again :)

  32. William,
    My view of Joseph Smith was pretty similar when I was a believer, although I didn’t really divide him into “the man” and “the prophet” so much. I just assumed he was a flawed man and a prophet. That’s certainly no different from the Biblical prophets, who were a pretty weird bunch if you take the stories at all literally.

    Liz,
    I second the recommendation of Rough Stone Rolling. It was written by a historian who’s a believer but doesn’t shy away (much) from examining Joseph Smith’s flaws as well as his good points. It’s a very good place to start if you’re interested in learning more than about him than you have in church.

  33. Liz,

    Whatever you decide to do, remember to do what’s best for you. That sounds probably trite but as Mormons we are often so concerned to serve that we forget to take care of ourselves.

    Some ex-Mormons make a similar mistake when they are trying to relive their teenage years and get themselves into trouble.

    There is a lot of power in self-interest. As long as you keep that in mind, you can deal with any confusion about religion or life in general.

  34. OK don’t take this the wrong way Liz, but if you’re reading all that ANTI mormon stuff and drinking beer at your friends parties then that is not exactly what mormons do! I’m a mormon and I’m nineteen and I want to say that the church is true. I think that heaps of the facts have been twisted around and if you go looking for bad stuff then of course you will find it! People at college tell me false stuff about mormons all the time. You can’t believe everything you hear.
    Don’t let these people here ‘taint’ your beliefs any further. what’s left of them. You should go and read the church website they have lots of good stuff. You can’t believe that Joseph smith was a bad man but still a prophet. That doesn’t even make sense.
    Ask your seminary teachers questions or something. Or your parents because their opinions aren’t trying to sway you to their side.

  35. I have way more than one example. I have to hear them all the time but people don’t even know the facts, they just say what they hear and believe anything people tell them! Like that Joseph Smith had heaps of wives that he slept with. And that Mormons do weird as physco crap in the temple. I don’t hate gays and I’m not racist, neither is the church there are reasons that they do everything they do. Joseph Smith didn’t just do stuff and say things for no reason?

  36. Dayna,

    How do you know what is a lie and what isn’t? Aren’t you just defending the one side that you’ve been taught your entire life? How can you be sure that your information is correct if you don’t know both sides?

    You are defending a man you didn’t know, because of information you received from those you trust. We tend to believe everything we are taught as children…it’s unfortunate really.

  37. If I was to listen more to ‘the other side’ then that’s how you start to be poisoned. that may sound extreme and I don’t need anyone yelling at me, but what I learnt is that that is the beginning of apostasy and where it all begins. I think that’s why so many people fall away is because they listen to that first bit of info and look at anti Mormon things and then wonder WHY their faith has gone? I haven’t had a huge revelation or anything, but I’m striving to! I still believe the church is true and that God will reveal this to me somehow in his own time not just whenever I want.
    If I started studying things that go against the church then how can I be ready to find out anything!

  38. Dayna,

    I understand where you are coming from…believe me. I didn’t study anything that wasn’t church sanctioned until last year. I decided to leave the church based on church material…this was before I read all of the history. The point is…we should never be afraid to question…EVER. When people are told not to question authority, that is when people with power take control over you.

    I know you are taught not to look at any of this “anti-information”..I know it is scary. The truth is, it’s not anti..it’s just history the church doesn’t print any more.
    God would not want us to turn off our brains.

    I remember I watched the PBS special on mormons…I was still active then. And a lot of the information was completely new to me. I’d never heard it before. But I decided to embrace it…you shouldn’t hide from history..it’s the truth..so what!?!?! It’s what makes life interesting.

    But the more I read…the more I saw contradictions. I question everything. We should not make decisions blindly…that’s all.

  39. How did this end up being a polygamy debate?

    I assume this is a rhetorical question, as you can read the thread of discussion for yourself. πŸ˜‰

  40. Dayna, I do have one question, if you ever come back.

    How could reading something change your views so drastically? Usually if I have a bias…I take everything with a grain of salt if it doesn’t coincide with what I already believe…this is human nature.

    You don’t agree with what your fellow students tell you..so why would reading anything change your mind, if you KNOW and could prove it wrong?

    Why would this information affect people like it does? It’s because it’s the truth..that’s why. That’s the only reason it effects people. And…if it’s the truth..shouldn’t we be seeking for it??

    If the church wasn’t true…would you WANT to know..that’s really the only question you have to ask yourself. If you wouldn’t want to know..then don’t look into it. If you want to know if the church is true…seek truth out..in all it’s forms.

  41. I think the truth should withstand scrutiny too but everyones idea of scrutiny is different. Forgive me for using exclamation marks to make my points earlier, but I just start feeling fired-up that people think just because you haven’t studied stuff outside of the church means you don’t know anything about the church.
    If you don’t have a problem with your beliefs then why should you look into problems that other people present about ‘your’ beliefs is all that I’m studying. Why do people at school care what I believe, I mean. They don’t have to.
    And Isnt that what faith is all about? Believing blinding or something like that. To be honest, Amy, you’re right. It is quite scary to think that there’s all these ‘facts’ and information floating around out there. One can hardly know what to believe.

  42. I posted that before I saw what you said.
    I do care if it’s the truth, I want to know, that’s why I pray and read the scriptures. I want to get answers from enlightening sources. I don’t think it can help a testimony that I’m trying to make if I already go looking for evidence that the church isn’t true? How will that help me. Once I know for sure, then I can look at anything and know that the church is true so nothing I read then will matter, I guess. :) I do think truth is important, though it may not sound like it. It just depends who is telling me the ‘truths.’

  43. Dayna,

    I know..I really shouldn’t come to these boards. You know, my sister said the same thing about her beliefs..she is happy with them, so she doesn’t want to know the information.

    As for me, I would have wanted to know…just so I could say..my decisions were my own, and not made because someone I didn’t know thought they knew what was best for me. That’s really all I want for other people. To have the chance to make their own decisions. And it’s your decision to decide if you are happy in your belief or not…and really, everyone should support that.

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