Polygyny and Democracy

In my reading for the latest Sunday in Outer Blogness, I came across an interesting article about the differences between gay marriage and polygamy. It’s interesting because of the stuff the author gets right:

Here’s the problem with it: when a high-status man takes two wives (and one man taking many wives, or polygyny, is almost invariably the real-world pattern), a lower-status man gets no wife. If the high-status man takes three wives, two lower-status men get no wives. And so on. Continue reading “Polygyny and Democracy”

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Love Wins edition!

Probably a lot of you had this experience the other day:

social media rainbow

I know I did. Yes, the SCOTUS has ruled that the United States of America has joined the list of countries where marriage equality is the law of the land. And there was much rejoicing!!

Also on social media, some believers went apocalyptic (satire), and the PR wing of the CoJCoL-dS encouraged members to get their persecution complex on. (Alex posted an amusing example of how he has evolved on this.) It’s hard to be on the wrong side of history:

Nothing says “tyranny” like being forced to whisper about how much we hate gay people in private so we won’t be labeled as bigots. It’s totally unfair.

Sincerely, the polarization is unfortunate, but honestly, I think the outcry on the losing side is just the last defeated howl before they move on to pretending none of this fight against gay marriage ever happened, just as they seem to have forgotten that they used to be opposed to one-man-one-woman marriage:

It appears that you can take whatever you want to demonize and say that it was the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire. I thought it was the gays – but the Mormons prophets taught me better. It was marriage between one man and one woman. I am waiting for prostitution, whoredoms, sexually transmitted disease and ruin to befall my family and when it does I will cry out with great lamentation that it all comes from being shackled to but one wife.

Other believers have long held that divine commandments and the laws of the land are two different things, and that’s a feature, not a bug. And still others wish this celebration could extend to their own families within the church:

For me, this poses a profoundly spiritual problem, a problem that cannot by fixed by court rulings. As a believing Mormon, my highest yearnings include fellowship with God that includes bonds of family that endure in eternity. You indeed can’t legislate that.

This is going to be a problem for the CoJCoL-dS, moving forward:

I don’t expect giant conflicts over Bishops being forced to perform same sex weddings. Instead the most interesting questions will arise in the decades to come as a natural extension of our regular practice. In a few decades, we will have converts who are the children of same sex married parents. If those parents do not join the church before death, their child will inevitably be drawn to the temple to participate in our proxy liturgies for our beloved dead. It is our mandate.

The question will be, to whom shall our convert be sealed to as a child? Child-to-parent sealings are only performed to parents who are sealed in marriage. While it will be interesting to see if FamilySearch eventually allows users to input same-sex parents, more interesting, and more vital to the soul of our convert will be how he or she connects to the broader network of eternal kin.

The progress on this issue has been impressive. See this discussion of an incident in Louisiana.

Personally, I’m still on last week’s topic, so on my blog I wrote about some recent insights on how to address racism:

It’s great that our culture has gotten to the point of essentially agreeing that racism is wrong. Yet this positive development has ironically spawned a new problem: the “black hat villain” problem. To wit, it’s the reasoning that “Racists are evil villains; my friends and I are not evil villains; therefore we are not racists.”

Racism is far from over.

And now for all the other dispatches from Mormondom! The silent deletion of the BoA facsimiles has begun — and some other info has gone missing! A member had an interesting exchange with an apostle over what their special witness actually entails. This year’s ‘Saturday’s Voyeur’ production will feature Heavenly Mother and Kate Kelly (dramatization). You’ll be surprised by this tale of being solicited by an LDS swinger. Take a trip down memory lane with this history of the CTR Ring. Oh, and the CoJCoLd-S is at it again:

If I cannot bring my authentic self to church without being censured and told my questions are dangerous and shouldn’t be expressed publicly, this situation additionally negates the example I wish to set for my children of integrity and courage. On June 21st my leaders also put me under formal sanction to not speak because of my questions regarding inequality, a sanction my former leadership in Texas had similarly imposed on me before we relocated to Georgia. “Not even in the hallways,” my Texas leader decreed. But I could not remain silent, especially after I heard Church spokeswoman Ally Isom publicly state that conversations about difficult topics including women’s ordination and the priesthood/temple ban for Black members were welcome in a congregation, in Sunday School, in women’s meetings. Sadly, my experiences have not mirrored Isom’s inclusive invitation.

It’s sometimes hard to believe it has gotten this way.

In our New Testament lesson, we learned how useful spiritual experiences are for gathering real information. In Book of Mormon studies, we’re treated to some rather impressive military strategy:

Since he can’t lure the Lamanites out of Nephihah, Moroni instead personally scouts the city in the middle of the night. He discovers that the entire Lamanite army is asleep (because honestly, who posts round-the-clock guards when your city is under the threat of attack anymore?). Moroni then makes use of a whole bunch of ladders and ropes that his army seems to have and has everyone climb over the wall without waking up a single Lamanite soldier (because it’s not like the movement of an entire army would make any noise or any of the Lamanites would get up to pee during the night). In the morning, the Lamanites wake up to discover all of Moroni’s men inside the walls of the city, and they flee for their lives. Bloodthirsty Moroni commands his men to kill as many as possible before they escape, and everyone lives happily ever after

Now before getting back to depressing topics like climate change, let’s bask in the love a little longer! Treat yourself to this sweet love story! Have a great week!

Knowing Emma and Joseph’s History: A Response to the Speculative Essay on Early Polygamy– Alison Udall

It was really enjoyable to work my way through this. This is the first response I’ve done with these new church essays since I had read enough to be able to notice things that I recognized were missing, or implications that were being made that felt incomplete or inaccurate. As a result of this knowledge, I was surprised at how carefully this was written and what they choose to include and not. It bothered me more than I thought it would….as it was a recent example of what I feel is an attempt to portray transparency and accurate historical information….when in fact it’s missing a lot. This essay was written for a purpose, and I understand that, It was just discouraging to see how the historical narrative was massaged to fill that purpose.

After receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage, Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates.

This gives the impression that the revelation on polygamy happened all at once….”a” revelation. No mention of the 1835 edition of the D&C Section 101 which stated “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.” This was later removed and replaced, under the direction of Brigham Young, in 1876 with D&C Section 132.

In biblical times, the Lord commanded some of His people to practice plural marriage—the marriage of one man and more than one woman.

The revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132, states that Joseph prayed to know why God justified Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon in having many wives. The Lord responded that He had commanded them to enter into the practice.

The footnotes used here are interesting references, since there is no indication in the bible that Abraham or others were commanded to practice plural marriage or take additional wives. The Genesis 16 reference is about Abram’s wife Sarai, who is unable to conceive. Sarai asks Hagar, her handmaid, to act as surrogate. God did not command Abram to take Hagar as a plural wife. Sarai asked him to sleep with her so she could bear a child.

Although the Lord commanded the adoption—and later the cessation—of plural marriage in the latter days, He did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment.

It’s difficult to imagine God requiring this and leaving it vague, without exact instructions. This is the God that requires specific wording for blessing the sacrament, baptism, and other ordinances. This is a god who revealed what part of a cow to burn, and how to sprinkle blood in the Old Testament. D&C 132 is quite specific and has a lot of detail in it. It specifically says in D&C 132: 8 “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.”

There are certainly lots of very specific instructions given in D&C 132. There are also parts that are ignored? Verses 61-63 say: “And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.”

We know that some of the women Joseph marries are not virgins and some were married to other men.

Many details about the early practice of plural marriage are unknown. Plural marriage was introduced among the early Saints incrementally, and participants were asked to keep their actions confidential. They did not discuss their experiences publicly or in writing until after the Latter-day Saints had moved to Utah and Church leaders had publicly acknowledged the practice.

While there are many details that remain unknown about early plural marriage, there is a wealth of credible, scholarly work that supports a more complete and complex story than the essay implies[1]. The essay suggests that we can only speculate, yet it repeatedly dismisses or ignores well-documented details while cherry-picking ones that support protecting Joseph Smith’s reputation. It casts doubt on how much we can know and understand about what happened, and yet heavily engages in selective speculation that downplays or discounts the experiences of those most negatively impacted by early polygamy, including Joseph’s only legal wife, Emma Hale Smith.

The historical record of early plural marriage is therefore thin: few records of the time provide details, and later reminiscences are not always reliable.

The implication being, once again, that we just don’t have enough information to understand. This time with a warning that later reminiscences may be unreliable. This is interesting since throughout the essay later reminiscences are included, but only when they suit the intended purpose. Interestingly, the church didn’t hesitate to use later reminiscences legally in court cases in 1870.

The revelation on plural marriage was not written down until 1843, but its early verses suggest that part of it emerged from Joseph Smith’s study of the Old Testament in 1831. People who knew Joseph well later stated he received the revelation about that time.

The essay suggests Joseph received the revelation in 1831 but it was not written down until 1843. It references neglects to mention one of the reasons why people later stated he received it about that time. In 1861, W.W. Phelps wrote Brigham Young about a revelation received on July 17, 1831 west of Independence for Elders who were about to commence a mission to Native Americans West of Missouri.

“For it is my 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.” 

In 1834, Phelps asked Joseph Smith “how ‘we,’ that were mentioned in the revelation could take wives from the “natives”—as we were all married men? He replied instantly ‘In th[e] same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Katurah [Keturah]; and Jacob took Rachel Bilhah and Zilpah: by revelation—the saints of the Lord are always directed by revelation.'”

Why wasn’t this included this in the essay or the footnotes? Perhaps it’s because it’s completely racist and uncomfortable[2].

Consistent with this pattern, Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.

The essay suggests God sent an angel to force Joseph to do something he didn’t want to do. Do we have other indications where this type of situation occurred in the scriptures? What about Joseph’s free agency? According to Todd Compton by April of 1842 Joseph had married 10 women. Two of those were single, 7 were married and one was widowed. Between June – August of 1842 he married 6 additional women. Two of those were married, two were widowed and two were single[3]. Why was the angel threatening him in 1842? Was he just not marrying women fast enough? What did the angel mean when he told Joseph he needed to obey the commandment fully? Later in the essay, it implies one possible explanation for polyandry. Joseph “may have believed that sealings to married women would comply with the Lord’s command without requiring him to have normal marriage relationships.” This seems to imply that normal marriage relationships meant that they would have included sexual relations. Then it goes on to say “this could explain why, according to Lorenzo Snow, the angel reprimanded Joseph for having “demurred” on plural marriage even after he had entered into the practice. After this rebuke, according to this interpretation, Joseph returned primarily to sealings with single women.” Is it implying the angel was threatening Joseph on that third visit because he was not having “normal marriage relationships (sex)? Perhaps the angel reminded him of the purpose for polygamy….raise up seed unto God”[4]. Interestingly, during 1843 he married 17 additional women. Fourteen of those were single, one was widowed and two were married[5].

Fragmentary evidence suggests that Joseph Smith acted on the angel’s first command by marrying a plural wife, Fanny Alger, in Kirtland, Ohio, in the mid-1830s. Several Latter-day Saints who had lived in Kirtland reported decades later that Joseph Smith had married Alger, who lived and worked in the Smith household, after he had obtained her consent and that of her parents. Little is known about this marriage, and nothing is known about the conversations between Joseph and Emma regarding Alger.

There is no mention that Fanny was 17 years old. There is real disagreement about whether a marriage occurred between Joseph and Fanny. “The fullest description of the Joseph Smith-Fanny Alger marriage is in the Mosiah Hancock autobiography. Mosiah, born on April 9, 1834, did not have first-hand knowledge of the marriage. But while writing his autobiography, apparently in 1896, he reported the story as told to him by his father, Levi Hancock.[6] One scholar notes “However, his narrative is not without its problems. Mosiah was born in 1834 and consequently could not have been an eye witness or participant. Furthermore, he recounted the story decades later in 1896[7]. So this is one of those later reminiscences that’s included. What’s left out is that Oliver Cowdery described it as a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair”[8]. “The sources written before 1839 indicate that most Church leaders knew nothing of a possible marriage. What they did know is suggested by the minutes of Oliver Cowdery’s excommunication trial before the Far West High Council in April 1838….whee he was charged with “seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith jr by falsely insinuating that he was guilty of adultery & c.” Fanny Alger’s name was never mentioned, but doubtless she was the woman in question.[9]”

Brian Hales notes that “both Emma and Fanny were traumatized and Oliver Cowdery alienated.” “In addition, rumors of “adultery” quietly spread among the Saints. While they were never loud enough to reach the local media, they required specific damage control efforts by the Prophet. Chauncy Webb suggested that Emma learned about Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger when the girl became pregnant. According to Wilhelm Wyl, who interviewed “Mr. W.”: “In Kirtland, [Joseph] was sealed there secretly to Fanny Alger. Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house[10].”

Todd Compton writes that Fanny married Culver (the man she married after Joseph) in 1836[11], as recorded by the clerk for Justice Levi Eastridge. He says this marriage to Joseph happened in 1833, which is interesting since they just said the angel’s first visit occurred sometime in 1834. It’s also important to note that the sealing power was not given to Joseph until April 3, 1836[12]. Under what authority was this marriage performed?

Eliza Snow said she “was well acquainted with her [Fanny Alger] as she [Eliza] lived with the Prophet at the time” that “Emma made such a fuss about” her.”[13] “Thus, it appears Eliza was an eye witness to the “fuss” associated with the discovery of the relationship[14].” The essay also fails to mention Levi Hancock was “rewarded” by Joseph for setting this up this marriage with a marriage to Clarissa Reed. One scholar has noted that “Nauvoo plural marriages would show a similar pattern of “rewards” for those who helped solemnize Smith’s marriages”[15].

The rumors prompted members and leaders to issue carefully worded denials that denounced spiritual wifery and polygamy but were silent about what Joseph Smith and others saw as divinely mandated “celestial” plural marriage. The statements emphasized that the Church practiced no marital law other than monogamy while implicitly leaving open the possibility that individuals, under direction of God’s living prophet, might do so.

What about this quote from Joseph “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.[16]”

The essay actually tries to justify the bizarre way that Joseph, and other leaders, stretched and changed definitions for words. They practiced no marital law other than monogamy? Here is what footnote 22 says: “In the denials, “polygamy” was understood to mean the marriage of one man to more than one woman but without Church sanction.” So we have this made up definition for the word polygamy. The argument that they were being completely forthright, because they were using their own specially made up phrase “celestial” plural marriage, is troublesome. It justifies dishonest, illegal behavior under the prophet’s direction and yet nowhere in this essay do they say anything about this being unacceptable or dishonest.

The exact number of women to whom he was sealed in his lifetime is unknown because the evidence is fragmentary.

There is a fascinating omission here about the number of wives in the body of the essay. It gives exact numbers for other people, but not for Joseph. They do note the range in footnote 24: “Careful estimates put the number between 30 and 40.” The essay doesn’t mention these women by name. It doesn’t mention that he married a mother and daughter[17]. It doesn’t mention that he married two sets of sisters[18].

The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday.

Why does the essay describe Helen’s age this way rather than saying she was 14 years old? It doesn’t mention that he was 38 and leaves out the surrounding details. Joseph told Heber he needed to surrender his wife, Vilate, to him in marriage. After 3 days of agonizing over this, Heber leads his wife to Joseph only then to be told it was some sort of Abrahamic test. Then he tells Heber to marry a certain woman and to keep this marriage a secret from his wife Vilate. Heber pleads with Joseph to reconsider and finally relents and marries her. After which he becomes depressed, unable to tell his first wife why. Meanwhile, Vilate prays to understand what’s happening and receives a vision about plural marriage and she accepts it[19].

Shortly after this Helen was given to Joseph as a plural wife. Helen records “My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the alter: how cruel this seamed to the mother whose heartstrings were already stretched untill they were ready to snap asunder, for he had taken Sarah Noon to wife & she thought she had made sufficient sacrafise, but the Lord required more. I will pass over the temptations which I had during the twenty four hours after my father introduced to me this principle & asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph, who came next morning & with my parents I heard him teach & explain the principle of [p. 1] Celestial marrage-after which he said to me, “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation & that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.

This promise was so great that I will-ingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart—when Joseph asked her if she was willing, she replied “If Helen is willing I have nothing more to say.” She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come as the sun was to rise and set; but it was all hidden from me.[20]”

Helen Mar Kimball spoke of her sealing to Joseph as being “for eternity alone,” suggesting that the relationship did not involve sexual relations.

I’m assuming the essay brings this up because the thought of a 38 year old man having sex with a 14 year old girl is uncomfortable. There is real disagreement about whether this marriage included sexual relations. If that is true and Joseph felt she was too young to sleep with, why alter her life so drastically by committing her to a polygamous marriage?

Neither these women nor Joseph explained much about these sealings, though several women said they were for eternity alone. Other women left no records, making it unknown whether their sealings were for time and eternity or were for eternity alone.

Again the implication is that we have no records even though there are several. One heartbreaking example is the story of Zina Huntingon. When Joseph first asked her she refused, as she was courting Henry and loved him. Joseph “Smith was always persistent in his marriage proposals, and rejections usually moved him to further effort, so he continued to press his suit with Zina at the same time that she was courting Henry. And Smith usually expressed his polygamous proposals in terms of prophetic commandments[21]? Zina makes the decision to marry Henry and probably felt this would solve the situation with Joseph. “However, Zina learned soon afterwards, undoubtedly to her complete astonishment, that Smith had not given up” and “remained conflicted until a day in October, apparently, when Joseph sent Dimick to her with a message: an angel with a drawn sword had stood over Smith and told him that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose ‘his position and his life.” Zina, faced with the responsibility for his position as prophet, and even perhaps his life, finally acquiesced[22].  She was seven months pregnant when she married him. Henry “was a faithful church member in good standing, an active seventy, the veteran of numerous missions[23].

How was this supposed to work in the next life for these husbands and wives who were already married? Were they basically being set up to lose their wife to Joseph after death? How could that not affect their current marriages and their feelings toward each other?

These sealings may also be explained by Joseph’s reluctance to enter plural marriage because of the sorrow it would bring to his wife Emma. He may have believed that sealings to married women would comply with the Lord’s command without requiring him to have normal marriage relationships. This could explain why, according to Lorenzo Snow, the angel reprimanded Joseph for having “demurred” on plural marriage even after he had entered into the practice. After this rebuke, according to this interpretation, Joseph returned primarily to sealings with single women.”

The essay implies that Joseph did this to somehow protect Emma since they may not have included “normal marriage relationships”. I’m guessing this is a roundabout way of saying marriages that included sex. Why would the angel rebuke him for these marriages? Why return primarily to marrying single women? The implication is that the angel wanted Joseph to have marriages that involved sex. If Joseph was following the purpose for plural marriage this would have been part of the relationships.

Another possibility is that, in an era when life spans were shorter than they are today, faithful women felt an urgency to be sealed by priesthood authority. Several of these women were married either to non-Mormons or former Mormons, and more than one of the women later expressed unhappiness in their present marriages.

The essay implies that at least some of the 11 polyandrous marriages were for eternity only (the next life)? Why would married women need to be married to Joseph when they already had husbands? What does this have to do with short life spans for married women? The implication here is that if a woman was married to an apostate/inactive man it was OK for her to marry Joseph or if they were unhappy in their marriages. How many of these husbands were asked or did they not deserve to be involved in the decision? What about the active worthy husbands like Orson Pratt, whose wife Sarah, Joseph had tried to marry while he was out on a mission? He became so distraught he left a suicide note for his wife[24]? Or Orson Hyde, whose wife Nancy, Joseph did marry after Joseph sent him on a mission[25]?

Emma approved, at least for a time, of four of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages in Nauvoo, and she accepted all four of those wives into her household. She may have approved of other marriages as well. But Emma likely did not know about all of Joseph’s sealings. She vacillated in her view of plural marriage, at some points supporting it and at other times denouncing it.

This paragraph alone is astonishing. Emma approved of four of the 30-40 marriages. What about the rest of them? The essay fails to include the history leading up to Emma approving two of these marriages. “Emma had heard Joseph and Heber C. Kimball address the Relief Society and allude to a time when women would participate in the endowment” “Joseph taught that a man must obey God to be worthy of the endowment and that a wife must obey a righteous husband to merit the same reward. Until Emma could be obedient to Joseph and give him plural wives, she could not participate in the endowment ceremonies, yet he taught her that the endowment was essential for exaltation –as opposed to salvation, which Joseph taught was available to all through the atonement of Christ. Joseph wanted Emma to serve as the example, the Elect Lady, the “disseminator of the endowment blessing,” to other women. Thus her rejection of plural marriage would have blocked her admittance into the Endowment Council, because she had not obeyed her husband, and therefore prevented other women from entering as well.

“Simultaneously with the endowment and plural marriage, Joseph formalized a third concept. He explained to Emma that husbands and wives could be married, “sealed,” forever by proper priesthood authority. Couples who had been married in traditional ceremonies were considered to be married for “time,” or until death separated them, but unions made in the new Mormon ceremonies were to last beyond the grave.” “Within the same few weeks, in the spring of 1842, both Hyrum Smith and Emma would accept plural marriage[26].”

The essay fails to include the fact that two of these women, Eliza and Emily Patridge, were young sisters, living/working in their house. “The sisters were an awkward selection because Joseph had already married them two months earlier in March without Emma’s knowledge[27].”  When Emma finally approved, he didn’t want her to know he had already married them, so he remarried them on May 23, 1843, in a pretend ceremony[28]. “Emily said that “to save family trouble Brother Joseph thought it best to have another ceremony performed….[Emma] had her feelings, and so we thought there was no use in saying anything about it so long as she had chosen us herself[29]”

“Emma had made the sacrifice; and within five days she had her reward. On a cold rainy day, May 28, 1843, Emma was sealed to Joseph for “time and all eternity” On this same day she was the first woman admitted to the Prayer Circle. Joseph would initiate her into the endowment sometime before the early autumn of that year[30]. Shortly thereafter she changed her mind about Eliza and Emily, and tried to monitor their whereabouts in the house when Joseph was home. “Emma was not successful in keeping Joseph from meeting with his wives. Emily Patridge would one day testify under oath that she “roomed” with Joseph on the night of their second marriage to him while Emma, she believed, was in the house at the time. She also testified that she had “slept with him” between her first marriage and the second ceremony[31].

It wasn’t “likely” that Emma didn’t know of the remaining marriages ….we know she didn’t know. There are numerous examples of this. One of those involved her best friend, Eliza Snow, who married Joseph on June 29, 1842 for time and eternity. Unaware of this marriage, Emma invited Eliza to live with them and she taught the Smith Family School. Records indicate that in February of 1843, Emma was stunned to discover this relationship, and a possible physical altercation took place. There are repeated incidents where Joseph hid what he was doing and Emma was suspicious and upset. It leaves out the details about how these hidden marriages were performed, the circumstances surrounding Joseph’s proposals and the experiences of these girls/women. The essay doesn’t include all of wives names[32] or mention them in the footnotes. The focus is on Joseph. The essay shares quotes from three of them.

The revelation on marriage required that a wife give her consent before her husband could enter into plural marriage. Nevertheless, toward the end of the revelation, the Lord said that if the first wife “receive not this law”—the command to practice plural marriage—the husband would be “exempt from the law of Sarah,” presumably the requirement that the husband gain the consent of the first wife before marrying additional women. After Emma opposed plural marriage, Joseph was placed in an agonizing dilemma, forced to choose between the will of God and the will of his beloved Emma. He may have thought Emma’s rejection of plural marriage exempted him from the law of Sarah. Her decision to “receive not this law” permitted him to marry additional wives without her consent. Because of Joseph’s early death and Emma’s decision to remain in Nauvoo and not discuss plural marriage after the Church moved west, many aspects of their story remain known only to the two of them.

This comes from D&C 132, which was added in 1876, years after Joseph engaged in polygamy. Footnote 43 says: see also Genesis 16: 1-3 which doesn’t seem to match at all. Emma was able to conceive and bear children. So were many of these other first wives. Why is this story being used to come up with a law that tells men they can take additional wives even if they don’t approve? It has a backdoor written right into the law so why even ask? Are we really supposed to accept this law comes from a God who loves his daughters? How are we supposed to feel that it’s still included in our scriptures? What precedent and message does this send to the women in the church?

There may be many aspects, of Joseph and Emma’s story, that remain known only to them. However, there are also numerous examples of how Emma felt about polygamy.

Difficult as it was, the introduction of plural marriage in Nauvoo did indeed “raise up seed” unto God. A substantial number of today’s members descend through faithful Latter-day Saints who practiced plural marriage.

In Jacob 2:30 it says “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” The essay points out that a substantial number of today’s members have descended through polygamy. How exactly does this fit with the earlier attempts at clarifying when Joseph had sex and with what wives? Was Joseph following the purpose as God revealed it? If not, why the marriages? Why the secrecy, the denials and the pain for Emma and other wives? Why the endless ongoing discussions about whether Joseph had sexual relations with his wives?

Church members no longer practice plural marriage. Consistent with Joseph Smith’s teachings, the Church permits a man whose wife has died to be sealed to another woman when he remarries. Moreover, members are permitted to perform ordinances on behalf of deceased men and women who married more than once on earth, sealing them to all of the spouses to whom they were legally married. The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to trust in our wise Heavenly Father, who loves His children and does all things for their growth and salvation

The essay clearly doesn’t back away from the doctrine of polygamy. In fact, it reiterates that in the temple plural sealings have been and continue to happen. The current sealing policy is that men and women can be sealed to all spouses to whom they were legally married in life, after all parties are dead. The conclusion is that the church continues to practice both polygamy and polyandry for the next life. The essay tries to soften that by saying the precise nature of these relationships is not known and remind members to trust in Heavenly Father to sort it all out.

 

 


[1] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, Brian Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy History, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, FairMormon, George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy, The Joseph Smith Papers, Orson F. Whitney, William Clayton’s Journal, The Life of Heber C. Kimball, BYU Studies, Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling

[2] Phelps to Brigham Young, LDS archives, 12 Aug. 1861

[3] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 4-6

[4] Jacob 2:30

[5] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 6

[6] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 29

[8] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 28, see also Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 323

[9] Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 324

[11] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 25

[12] D&C Section 110: 13-16

[13] Brian Hales website: http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/faq/fanny-alger-2/ – he cites the source as Document #10, Andrew Jenson Papers, Box 49, fd. 16.

[15] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 25

[16] Willard Richards, Joseph Smith Diary, May 26, 1844

[17] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 171

[18] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 288-305, 473-485

[19] Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 333-339

[20] Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds., A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997), 481–487

[21] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 79-80

[22] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 80-81

[23] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 84

[24] Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 466-67

[25] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 228-253

[26] Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma, p. 140

[27] Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 494, see also Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma, p. 143-144

[28] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 313-314, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma p. 132-134

[29] Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma, p. 143

[30] Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma, p. 143

[31] Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma, p. 144

[32] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma

Congratulations to 2013 X-Mormons of the Year: J. Seth Anderson and Michael Ferguson!!!

It’s an inspiring and exciting story! Couples in California right around Proposition 8 learned that if you don’t get married in the window of time when it’s legal, you might have a long wait before your next opportunity. Failure to block same-sex-marriages legally was apparently an error on the part of the Utah DA’s office, so Seth and Michael didn’t know whether they’d get the formalities done in time to be married in their state.

But they did!! And so Seth and Michael became the first gay couple married in Utah — and consequently became the first joint winners of the William Law X-Mormon of the Year award! (Well, we couldn’t very well just give it to one of them, could we? It was a joint project. 😀 )

Here are some more fun facts about Seth and Michael (credit to Seth):

They are both graduate students at the U. Seth is a social historian working on my masters in US History (specifically the American West, history of sexuality, lgbt history, Mormon history and that all comes together) and Michael will finish his PhD this semester. He’s a social neuroscientist and studies neuro pathways of the brain. They own a tea company called The Queens’ Tea (soon to be called The Queens’ Leaf—long story.)

Seth served a mission in Samara, Russia and Michael served his mission in Seth’s hometown of Phoenix, Arizona — so they both easily qualify as X-Mormon.

Also, Seth wrote a book about downtown Phoenix (published by Arcadia Publishing in 2012) — see the sidebar of his blog for details. He also won a Brodie Award in 2011 — and you can too, if you get yourself nominated in the next week!

Congratulations Seth and Michael!!! May you have many happy years together! 😀

Risky Rescue

I don’t read The Ensign, but I do read Zelophehad’s Daughters.  It was “To the Rescue,” an entry on ZD from last week, that clued me in to an essay by Thomas Monson from the October Ensign called “Our Responsibility to Rescue.” You can pretty much figure out the whole essay from the first paragraph:

For Latter-day Saints, the need to rescue our brothers and sisters who have, for one reason or another, strayed from the path of Church activity is of eternal significance. Do we know of such people who once embraced the gospel? If so, what is our responsibility to rescue them?

About the same time I read that, a good chunk of my Facebook friends posted links to this piece from Robert Kirby about his wife’s decision to leave the LDS church and join another and what that meant for their marriage:

I make it sound easy. It wasn’t. When a shared faith is one of the original pillars of a relationship, it doesn’t get removed without consequences. There were a lot of those, not the least among them was which of us was going to hell now?…

What’s your religion worth to you? Is it something you’d die for? Lots of people say they would lay down their lives for their faith. Would you kill for it? How about your marriage? Would you divorce your spouse over your faith?…

Keep in mind that if you stay, you can’t just agree to disagree about religion. At some point you’ll have to disagree AND shut up about it. No wound — whether emotional or physical — ever heals if you keep picking at it….

In the end it came down to this for me: I believe the most important thing for which I’ll be judged is how I treat my wife rather than my church.

When I saw an interesting conversation developing after a friend linked to Kirby’s piece, I couldn’t help asking what he thought of Monson’s, given that they are in such sharp contrast.  My friend said that he thought that they weren’t as contradictory as I might think, since Monson’s article is about a particular type of person: someone who still believes in the church and misses its influence in their life, not about people who have truly stopped believing and are happier outside the church than in it.

The problem, of course, which we went on to discuss, is that no one and nothing official in the church ever acknowledges that anyone can be happy–much less happier–outside the church than it.  The rhetoric in Monson’s talk might not be quite as condemning, but its basic attitude is not really different from this discussion of apostasy and its effects on marriage from Spencer Kimball:

To be really happy in marriage, one must have a continued faithful observance of the commandments of the Lord. No one, single or married, was ever sublimely happy unless he was righteous. There are temporary satisfactions and camouflaged situations for the moment, but permanent, total happiness can come only through cleanliness and worthiness. One who has a pattern of religious life with deep religious convictions can never be happy in an inactive life.  The conscience will continue to afflict, unless it has been seared, in which case the marriage is already in jeopardy. A stinging conscience can make life most unbearable. Inactivity is destructive to marriage, especially where the parties are inactive in varying degrees.

Religious differences are the most trying and among the most unsolvable of all differences.

The harshness of Kimball’s stance–that if a spouse leaves the church, s/he has basically destroyed the marriage–is one reason that “When He Stopped Believing,” an article by Name Withheld from the July 2012 Ensign about a woman who decided to stay with and love her apostate husband, was such a big deal.

But things like this article from Monson make it difficult if not impossible for Name Withheld to truly accept and love her husband for who he is. Instead she is encouraged to try to change him–told him that it’s her religious duty, in fact, to change him, to rescue him, and that if she doesn’t try valiantly to do so, she’s failing him, herself, her church and her god.

This is why I never believe any official statement from the church about how it respects people of other faiths.  It doesn’t.  It sees them as people who not only need rescuing, but are often too fallen and blind and deluded to realize just how badly in need of rescue they are.

You know what’s really corrosive to a relationship?  A palpable sense that the other person is somehow broken and has to be fixed–and that you and your church are the ones who can do the fixing.

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(It also bugged me that Monson’s article refers to artist JMW Turner as Joseph Mallord William Turner. Yeah, that’s his full name, but it’s not his professional name.  One more way the church can’t let people determine who they are or how they express themselves in the world.)

 

 

 

 

 

Because They Couldn’t Very Well Say “Sorry We Insisted You Waste All that Time and Money”

As pretty much everyone already knows, today the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ruled that the private sponsors of Proposition 8 in California didn’t have the legal right to step in and appeal the ruling by a federal court that Prop 8 was unconstitutional when the state of California declined to do so.

From what I understand, this means that gay marriage will probably soon be legal again in California, and that gay couples in the states that recognize gay marriage can soon get federal benefits, including (I assume? I hope?) green card status in marriages where one spouse is not a citizen. (The immigration thing really upsets me.  I know the tax thing is a drag, but at least you can still live with your chosen partner if you’re both US citizens.)

It only took the church an hour or two to issue a statement lamenting the court’s actions:

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

I saw people on Facebook reacting with surprise at the snark in the statement.  Personally, I think snark is a step up for an institution that has regularly condemned people as evil and tools of the devil and destined for everlasting punishment.  Way to go, LDS church!  You’re ever so slightly less nasty now!

So that’s the official response.  I can’t help wondering, though, about the response from people like Pam and Rick Patterson, the Folsom, CA couple of modest means who in 2008 for emptied their savings account so they could donate $50,000 to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign.  What are they thinking now?

I posed that question on Facebook.  Several people suggested that the most financially generous Prop 8 supporters are hardened in their resolve that they did the right thing, that they feel persecuted for righteousness’ sake and closer to celestial glory.

And maybe they do, because they need to justify their enormous sacrifice.  It’s hard to admit something so costly and destructive was an easily avoidable mistake.

But I’m willing to give it time.  I know people who donated to earlier fights (the one in Hawaii, for instance) who now feel shame and rage at the church. It was one thing after the defeat of the ERA–the church won that fight–but they have lost this one, and spectacularly. I think a lot of people who donated will quietly concede the matter, and having seen their money and time so wasted, will be much more reluctant to fund the next battle.

As for “supporters of traditional marriage” who didn’t write checks, just made plenty of homophobic statements in public forums, I bet a lot of them will just shrug and say as little as possible now.

And I will add that it delights me to see people who claim to have the gift of prophecy so screwed over by their own bad choices.

 

 

Earthly father, invisible mother, sort of like our Heavenly Parents?

There’s a new video on the YouTube Mormon Channel comparing earthly fatherhood to Heavenly Fatherhood, and I generally agree with the sentiments about the importance of fathers, but a few things really bother me. First, there’s the implication that fatherhood is primarily about providing materially. Second, the wife of the father featured in this video is barely portrayed at all. Yes, I know this video is about glorifying fatherhood, but as my brother commented, “I wonder when we can expect the sequel about Heavenly Mother.” The mother, who is doing the bulk of actually being with and raising the kids (as is expected) is reduced to an unstated assumption. (“Of course she’s important! Why do we have to say she’s important?”) But this actually closely parallels the way Heavenly Parents are represented in Mormonism. Yes, we have a Heavenly Mother, but let’s not talk about her or to her. (Though other faiths eschew feminine representations of deity, too. I’m not sure which is a more harmful message: that there’s a female deity, but she has to stay sequestered in some back room, or that there’s none at all.)

The Mormon model of Heavenly Parenthood is actually the opposite of what Mormon parents are expected to do. Heavenly Father is the one we talk to and build relationship with; Heavenly Mother(s) is there, but we are not to get involved with Her, and if She’s involved with us, it’s solely by stealth. Whereas the earthly parent paragon is the father who goes off and provides, while the mother is the one in the trenches, kissing scraped knees, helping with school projects, comforting, encouraging, building relationship. Ironic and interesting to me.

Leah blogs at Via Media.

A GAY PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD FAMILY

The Proclamation of Robin Lee Johnson and his own life experience.  I believe that all gay people are valid human beings who have the God given right to marry the person who they love and as long as they are monogamous and keep the law of chastity which they are doing by being married, they should have all of the 1,049 rights and privileges that comes with being married.  This is the first and foremost belief I have.  I have someone that I wish to marry right now and I do not think that I am sinning because I am not able to get married right now due to the fact that it is not legal in Oklahoma right now.  I am hopeful that a federal law is enacted to force all states & commonwealths, territories and so forth in the union of the United States of America, to allow marriage of all of its citizens.  And now for my formal long overdue Proclamation to the world and to myself and my boyfriend and his and my family that is an adaptation of the one on “The Family” from The LDS Faith or Church.

A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD

 Robin Lee Johnson formerly of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

WE, Robin Lee Johnson and George Allen Circle and all gays of the CITY OF MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA, DO solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

ALL HUMAN BEINGS gay, LESBIAN or straight—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit sons or daughters of heavenly parents, and as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender orientation or the sexual identity, and transgender identity is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose and all are acceptable before God and the host of heavenkkk and Jesus Christ and even the devil agrees.

IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and also ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships and gay couples to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families and gay couples as well as transgender couples to be united eternally in bonds of holy matrimony and other unions and bonds as well also.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to “Adam and Steve” as well as “Mary and Martha” pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and husband or wife and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth and to adopt those children who are orphaned remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation and surrogate motherhood as well as Invetro-fertilization are to be employed only between men and men and women and women, lawfully wedded as co-husbands and co-wives.

WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed and scientifically supported and so classified. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan of joy and happiness for all of his children.

HUSBAND and husband or wife AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, be accepting of all gay relationships and sexual identities and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Gay Husbands and Lesbian Wives—pairs of mothers and pairs of fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations and for loving all gays everywhere in the world and transgender people as well.  No matter what someone’s sexual identity, orientation or attraction are, love and respect should rule the day.

THE FAMILY is ordained of God no matter what the make up of that family might be. Marriage between two men or two women is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by their fathers or their mothers who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in gay family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages in all the gay families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities including gay parades and gay pride day and celebrating the lives of gays and lesbians everywhere. By divine design, gay fathers are to preside over their families and lesbian mothers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and mutual respect and caring and kindness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life, joy and happiness and protection for their families. Gay Fathers and Gay Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, gay fathers and gay mothers are obligated to help one another as equal gay partners in their respective homosexual relationships. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support, love and kindness when needed, even from straight neighbors and friends of gays.

WE WARN that you individuals who  do violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities in these gay unions will one day, stand accountable before God and Christ. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family and gay relationships will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets as well as psychologists and scientists.

WE CALL UPON gays and lesbians and transgender people  who are responsible gay citizens and gay officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the gay and transgender family as the fundamental unit of society and gay and lesbian and bisexual & transgender communities around the world & universe.

From Gays and Homosexuals in the United States, Robin Lee Johnson and George Allen Circle and all transgender people and bisexuals and Questioning and Gay Supporters and especially Mormon Gays!

Get it straight, don’t hate, and just be full of love if you want to go to heaven above!!!!!!!

SOME THINGS I HAVE LEARNED BY BEING GAY AND MORMON

SOME THINGS THAT I HAVE LEARNED

One thing that I have learned is: although Gay people are born gay; when gays have gone through the process of: first denial, then self-loathing and other steps, and finally acceptances; then Gay people are ready to move on to healthy relationships.  Another thing that I have learned is: that for relationships to work; each person in that relationship, must learn to deal with all the rejection from family, friends, the clergy, members of their church, and other so called Christians or any religious people and all other haters of gay people.  Along with this, there are the normal problems of a relationship, which for a Gay person, are similar to a heterosexual relationship, yet are different also, and for most gays, even more difficult than it is for straight people to handle, especially without expert help.

The difficulty for us gays to have relationships in the first place, is what I am getting at.  Because it is so hard to have a gay relationship, this is why so many gay people give up and just go to bars to try and “Hook-Up” (have anonymous sex).  But even these gay people still dream of having a wonderful relationship some day.  Now those who diligently strive for a long lasting relationship; if they find one, they are much more appreciative and thankful, than those whose relationship was not so hard or difficult to find or achieve.  This is why I have known gay couples who have been together for 27 years, 30 years, 36 years, 55 years, 63 years or even longer.  The point being, that Gay relationships can last a really long time or even for a lifetime if the two partners work at it and they love one another and are dedicated to one another.

Some gay people used to go from one relationship to another; but since the AIDS epidemic and Hepatitis C, many couples are staying together longer, and many singles are now seeking out a Gay relationship much more diligently than before.  These new Gay relationships stay together longer as well.  However, a relationship lasting longer than 6 months is still considered a long term relationship; one lasting a year, marriage is expected, and 4 years, a full term relationship.  If you pass 7 years, then your relationship is considered to be extremely long term, and finally if you reach and pass ten years then your relationships considered a life long relationship.  Many relationships between Gay couples unfortunately only last for a few short months and then they break up or one partner begins to sleep around.

ANOTHER THING THAT I LEARNED FROM EXCOMMUNICATION

On January 19th 2012, homophobic bishop Bobby W., excommunicated me from the Mormon Church.  Just as I was making plans to go back to church this happens and now I have not gone back.  I attend church at the Church of Christ in Porum, Oklahoma, with Cody and his family.  George’s grandpa is the minister in that particular congregation, which consists of George Allen Circle, his mom Sharon, his step-dad Jaun, his sister Juliana, his brother Roy, his grandpa the minister, me of course and 22 other people.  We sing several songs, we have Holy Communion; except for me of course because I am not allowed, do to the fact that I am not a member; they take collection, and then Grandpa gives the sermon, we then have closing prayer.

Cody and I are very happy together over these past 9 months and I have officially moved in with his family who completely accept me, at least a lot more than the Mormon Church does.  Cody and I share the same bedroom and bed and we have our desk in the back room.  Cody and I are good companions for each other and he is completely devoted to me.  We bring comfort and joy to each other and we share our lives together.  He gives me a sense of purpose and helps me to not be lonely.  I need him in my life and he needs me and we are there for each other.  Cody is my partner and significant other, and I do love him and I do love his whole family.

I miss the Mormon Church, so I went to the LDS church on Sunday just 2 days ago on September 23rd 2012.  I do not believe that I should have been excommunicated.  I still have a testimony of the church, the prophets and apostles and seventy; as well as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.  The Church is true.  I do wonder though, why President Benson did not get more revelation about gays than he did (they fear change or did not like what they have heard already).

I HAVE LEARNED THIS ABOUT MY FIRST BLOG

I challenge anyone to prove to me that I “misrepresented” any general authority in my first BLOG.  I had before me several talks by Gordon B. Hinckley, Jeffery R. Holland, James E. Faust, 2 by Dallin H. Oaks, and 3 by Boyd K. Packer.  I read them over and over again, and I marked them with underlines and then I included all the underlined statements in this BLOG and none of them were taken out of context.  I also quoted all the scriptures from some of the talks that were listed and which were supposed to back up the points the brethren were trying to make.  I did not think that all those scriptures related to homosexuality, but apparently the brethren did.  Since the bishop supports all that the brethren say, I wrote that he was saying these things also that the brethren were saying and quoting, by way of agreement.

But I was mistaken about that; the bishop does not agree with all these talks by the brethren or the supporting scripture they used, or else he would not have excommunicated me himself.  I am excommunicated right now, primarily due to a homophobic bishop.  Because I was excommunicated before when I wanted to be, and it was justified; now I may not ever be baptized again in the Mormon Church.  It is very difficult to be rebaptized, let alone be rebaptized a second time.  Brother Bailey my dear sweet Home teaching Companion and church Choir coach was rebaptized twice, but I was told that it was very rare.  Also if I would have received my blessings back, the bishop would not have been able to excommunicate me himself; he would have to get his superior, the Stake President, to do it (and I do not believe he would have excommunicated me the way the bishop did).

The biggest problem the bishop has with this BLOG is that he thinks that I am going against Boyd K. Packer; but it is other general authorities that are disagreeing with him too.  In my understanding of things, if several different people are saying different things, or complete opposite positions about the same subject, then some one is wrong, or they are all wrong together.  There is only one truth out there and I for one do not believe we have all the truth about same-sex-attraction yet.  The Articles of Faith tell us that we believe that many plain and precious truths will yet be revealed to us.  I simply sided with the majority of those general authorities, who spoke on the subject of homosexuality and it is not my fault the bishop disagrees with those talks.

A WORD ABOUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S BELIEFS

The Catholics have the same problem with the Bible; they believe in the “divinity of the Bible,” which means that they think it is perfect and infallible.

I have heard, that when the Bible says that a Priest must be 30 years old to make sacrifice in the Temple; and in another spot says that he must be 3 years old to make sacrifice in the Temple; the Catholics say, both are right, and if you do not understand, they say “just have faith my son”.  I know that one of these Old Testament verses is wrong.  I choose to believe that the correct age is 30, because that is the age that Jesus Christ chose in the New Testament to start His mortal ministry.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT THE MORMON CHURCH

Bishop W., like many other Mormons, believe that our general authorities are also perfect and infallible.  This is not true, because Joseph Smith said of himself, that he was only a man, and that he was not perfect.  One of my favorite general authorities who was a seventy, even Paul H. Dunn who was nicknamed the “great orator,” was later released and all his books and tapes were no longer sold at LDS Bookstores and his works were censored by the Church, because he embellished his stories.  In other words, he lied to the youth of the Church, which was his main group that he spoke to.

If a Seventy can lie to us, then why can’t an Apostle simply be mistaken about a certain subject, or even possibly be prejudice.  Well, I have already been punished for saying these things and I do not know how I am supposed to see it any other way.

This is why the Articles of Faith say that “we believe in the Bible as far as it is translated correctly”.  Mormons say that 2% of the Bible has mistakes in it; and it is not a perfect book, or set of books, like the Book of Mormon is.

Mormons are so against Gay marriage that they spent 22 million dollars to stop gay marriage in just California, and it was all for nothing, because it was declared unconstitutional; I guess then that Mormons are also just unconstitutional in their thinking when it comes to gays.  Mormons wanted equality for women, Indians, black slaves and anyone else, but they draw the line with gays.  They hate homosexuals so much they did everything in their power to get Catholics to also vote against gay marriage.

Mormons believe that you cannot enter the gates of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom of God the Father, if you are not baptized.  But my understanding of this doctrine is, that this is for people who refuse to be baptized in the Mormon Church especially after being exposed to the Church and rejecting it.  I have not rejected Christ and his Church, it is just one man, a bishop in the church named Bobby W., that has excommunicated me and he probably believes that I will never go to heaven now.  I know that he does not want me in the Celestial Kingdom because of his hatred of Gays.  I do not hate brother W., I am just disappointed in how he treated me, when I let him know that I still had same-sex attraction, even though I was still keeping all of the commandments and I was certainly not acting on my gay feelings or participating in any way, in the gay lifestyle for over 14 years yet.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF

The time has come for me to stop obsessing about the Church and just be happy with the life that I have right now.  Besides, it would take someone like Joseph Smith to get all the correct information that we need from God.  I just know that I am not evil minded and that I love God and our Christ, and that I did not deserve to be just excommunicated the way that it was done.  But since I am not a member of the Church any longer, I think that I will continue to have an ear ring in each ear, and nail polish on my fingers and toes.  I also wear pants and t-shirts that are really women’s clothes, because they don’t have men’s clothes in pink.  I will continue to be in love withGeorge Allen Circleor Cody as he likes to be called.

I really believe that I would have been much happier in my lifetime if I were born to a family that accepted homosexuality a lot more.  If I could have had boyfriends when I was young, like my present husband has had, and if I had been able to accept my own sexuality then I do not believe that I would have developed so many mental illnesses.  My childhood sucked anyway, for many other reasons as well.

I am now glad that I am gay, and do not want to change myself anymore, like I used to.  I want to get married legally to my husband and spend many years with him.  Cody Pooh is my baby and I love him very much.  I cannot be happy any other way than being gay.  I am definitely not your average Joe; no, the gay life is the only life for me, from now on and for the rest of my life. Gay life is pretty cool when you are accepting of yourself and you are not being persecuted by your peers, family, clergy, neighbors, or just strangers.  Then it is really fun to be gay.

I really like myself now, and because I have got to know so many other gays; intimately and otherwise; I have grown to see that there is not really anything wrong with me, I just love young men and not young women.  I do not need to be fixed; I am not broken or maladjusted in any way.  I feel much better about myself, and I have a much better support system than I did when I was growing up inCalifornia; which is really weird when you stop and consider that this isOklahoma, home of the red man and redneck.  I am not recommending the gay lifestyle to anyone; I am just saying that it is right for me and for anyone else who knows that they were born to be only this way.  For if you are born this way there is really no problem as long as you can accept yourself the way that you are and do not give a damn what all other people think of you.

When I was growing up I thought that God would change me and that I must have done something wrong in the Preexistence to deserve being gay.  I now know that I am not sick nor am I a pervert, or deviant like Boyd K. Packer says that I am.

Because I have publicly stated that I am for gay marriage, I have been excommunicated from the Mormon Church and I will probably not ever be allowed to be rebaptized again, especially since I already was once before rebaptized & now excommunicated again.

Now that I am in a gay relationship I am still affected by my upbringing in the Mormon Church, because I almost never have any kind of sexual relations with my boyfriend.  Like I was saying earlier, we are like a couple who just love to be with each other and share our lives together.  I support him and he supports me and we are there for each other.  Love is what we have for each other, not lust.  Some other Latter-day Saints stay in the Church and deny themselves sex and just join clubs and participate with other members of the same sex in a somewhat intimate way, such as hugs and long embraces and maybe an occasional kiss on the cheek.  It really sounds too hypocritical for me though.  Besides bishop W. took that choice away from me and did not give me a chance.  His contempt for me will be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ and I know that the lord will be sympathetic towards me because he knows how I was living and what was in my heart.  After all, I think that I had proven myself, by the fourteen years that I was either faithful to my wife or celibate and single.  The misery that I was going through, the sadness, the intense loneliness and heartache and the incredible desire for a loving relationship that I was missing are all a testament to my devotion to the Church and it’s principles, doctrines and rules and regulations.

WHAT I NOW KNOW NEEDS TO HAPPEN

I need to put an end to this debate over gay and straight.  Gay marriage should be legal everywhere so that gay people can love each other and be happy; after all, what is wrong with more love in this world anyway.  I believe that straight people need to stop interfering with honest, happy gay couples that are not hurting anyone.  I believe that the reason that straight people do not want gays to marry, is not just because they think that it is wrong, but it is because they do not want us gays to have the one thousand and forty-nine rights and privileges under the law that they have and enjoy, who are already married legally and that is just the federal laws that would benefit all gays in the United States.  Most straight people are not even aware that they have this many (1,049) federal laws for married couples, let alone what they are or what they are entitled to under State laws; they just no way in hell want gay people to have them what ever they are, that is for damn sure.

Like I have said in my first Manifesto; the civil rights of a minority cannot be decided by a plebiscite; for if you allow this to happen, we will all be going backwards and not forward in the arena of civil rights for all minorities.  This is why we have a Constitution of These United States and elected officials to govern us and protect minorities and individuals from the more “immoral” majority.  Especially when a minority has many fellow citizens that hate them and/or are prejudiced against them like our recent past has shown against Indians, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Women, Children, certain religions, Gays, Lesbians and Transgender people.

THIS IS WHAT IS BEST FOR ME

Have I mentioned lately that I am completely happy with my life here with my Fiancé and his whole family. My boyfriend’s dad defends me all of the time and his mother is always kind and supportive of me and his little sister and brother just love me to death, so to speak.  I do like living in a house.  My boyfriend and I have our own dog, Ariel, and my boyfriend’s mother has a dog, Scooby and a cat named Whiskers.  No other pets though, except for a few mice running around.

I feel like I am really married to George Allen Circle, not just because we would have already been married by now if it were legal in this State, but it is not.  But also because we are so settled together and happy at the same time, and we both want the same things out of life.  We both voted for incumbent President Obama because we know that he will continue to fight for gay marriage.  George’s grandfather voted for the Mormon, Mitt Romney, just for the opposite reason; he is against Gay Marriage.

SOMETHING I LEARNED FROM MY FATHER

My father believed that you must suffer the pains of hell here on earth, in order to go to heaven.  The church identifies this belief as one of the seven deadly heresies.  Believing in this doctrine and practicing it only creates bitterness and unhappiness and of course leads to apostasy.  For years, my father was practically apostate, because he did not follow the Prophets and he lived his own way, and he several times said to me, “the hell with the prophet” when I would quote something that the prophet said, he did not like.  My dad was miserable and lonely for years and he thought this would get him into heaven.  I no longer subscribe to this doctrine which is a false doctrine at best.

Robin Lee Johnson

GAY COUPLE FIND GREAT HAPPINESS AT LAST, DESPITE MORMON BISHOP’S HOMOPHOBIA

I am now, and have been for over 11 months to date, very happy and my depression has become almost non-existent.  I have found out for myself, that being gay or homosexual, is not only right for me, but also can be enjoyed, and bring much joy to the lives of gay people.  Life is beautiful, and God has blessed me abundantly since I came out of the closet for the second time in my life.  Since “wickedness never was happiness,” I must not be all that wicked after all, because I am very happy!  I am happier than I have ever been at this time, in this life of mine, so far now.

I Prayed, back in October 2011, to Heavenly Father for help and understanding, and more specifically, for a boyfriend.  I reasoned with the Lord on the fact that in the Bible, God granted to the children of Israel, what they wanted, even though it was not his will for them to have what they longed for.  The children of Israel wanted meat, and God wanted them to have “Manna” that he had so graciously provided for them.  It was not the Lord’s will that they have meat.  But the Lord did bend his will to the will of the people.  They got their meat in the form of Quail.  In a similar fashion, his children wanted a King, but the Lord was their King, and therefore, it was not his will that they have an earthly King.   However, once again the Lord gave in to the will of the people, because of his love for them.  Granted, certain consequences befell them for this desire, but the point is; the Lord is willing to compromise, if his children desire something bad enough or if their hearts desire for it, is great enough.

In my case, I desired a boyfriend who would be able to love me.  I even asked for a nineteen year old male, so that I would recognize his hand in the matter, if my wishes were realized.  I also thought to myself; if the boy is real cute and likes older men that will be a sign unto me that the Lord approved.  I, in turn, covenanted that I would be a help to the young man in question and help a fellow Gay man, deal with his being Gay.  I did not know that this could happen or not, but I remained VERY hopeful.  You could say I had faith that Heavenly Father would bless me, or at least answer me.

Well, I have had a new boyfriend for 9 months now, and I love him very much and he loves me very much.  He was 19 years old, and is very cute to me.  He is everything that I hoped for and much more.  He is just my perfect type also.  His name is George Cody Allen Circle, and he is gay, but he was suicidal over being gay.  I have kept my part of the bargain, and I have been a tremendous help to Cody.  His mother and step-father really think I am helping him as well, and they really appreciate all that I do for their son.  I have brought Cody from the brink of suicide, to being very happy with his life.  I still have a challenging work to do ahead of me, but I am up to the task.  I will not be doing this alone however; I will use the aid of professional help for Cody.  I am helping Cody with Doctors, Psychiatrists and Medications and getting his insurance squared away.  I also help him with spiritual and emotional matters.  Cody also has mental illnesses, like I do, primarily due to his issues with homosexuality and dealing with the rejection he gets from the world at large, but especially his family and former Church—The Church of Christ, in Muskogee; but his Mother supports him also on the issue of being Gay.  Cody needs more support than this though, he really needs me, especially now that his grandfather rejects him and said that he wants nothing to do with him anymore, even though he helped raise Cody from 3 years old.  His Step-grandmother totally rejects him now that he has come out to them about his homosexuality.  She thinks she will get AIDS from him.  How ignorant is that and so uneducated are his grandparents.

Cody and I met at a critical time for both of us.  We need each other more than we want each other, and we want each other very much.  Our relationship is not based strictly on sexual attractions alone, as I very much knew that it would not be.  Our relationship is based on Love and companionship and all the other attributes that I mentioned in my previous documents.  Our relationship is based also on mutual respect for each other and it sparks much growth for both of us.  Cody was looking for an older, more mature person to have a relationship with, he told me so himself.  I believe with all my heart that God has brought us together for a purpose, and that purpose is good.  Now Cody smiles, which he didn’t do before.  I am like a surrogate father to Cody, and he likes that, especially since his earthly father past away when Cody was 8 years old, and he has no adopted father.  His grandfather does not even try to understand his same-sex attraction, because he’s a minister of the “Church 0f Christ” in Muskogee; and his step-father is very abusive.

I have not been going to Church, because of my homophobic bishop, but now that my depression is gone, and I have become stronger, I plan to go back to Church, but in a different ward.  Other members, like my friend Eddie Yadon, have left the ward also, primarily because of the Bishop, and because of the atmosphere that this bishop has created in the ward.  Most of the ward is happy with the bishop, mostly because they do not like to think negatively about anyone, especially their bishop.  The bishop has, however, created a lot of negative feelings and negative vibes in the ward that continues to go on behind the scenes.  It really is a shame that this is going on.  My bishop and Cody’s grandfather are a lot alike; they both totally reject us because of religious prejudices.  The more devout people are to their religion, the more hate they have for gay people.

Cody and I have more things in common than you could possibly ever realize.   We are extremely affectionate and loving to each other.  I find it hard to really understand why he loves me so much, but of course I love him with all my heart and soul, and he says the same to me all the time.  He means everything to me, and I would not give him up for anything that this world has to offer.  We truly share our lives together, do literally everything together, he even goes to all my doctor appointments with me.  Already, he cannot stand to be without me, and I cannot stand to be without him for any length of time.  For instance, he will walk all the way to Wal-Mart or Big Kmart with me and back, just not to be with me for a couple of hours.  I believe we have a strong interdependency for each other now.  Nothing or no one is going to come between us, or lesson our powerful love for each other.  Cody tells me he loves me, more than 40 times a day or more.   We are extremely close!

We watch movies, play games, play video games together and everything else everyday.  Cody Circleis the boyfriend of my dreams, come true!  My wife told me, that whenever she died, she wanted me to get a boyfriend and be happy.  I know, that she knew, that I could only be truly happy in a gay relationship and not in a heterosexual relationship.  She loved me so much, that her hopes for me were that I find a boyfriend or lover, and get married to him.  Cody and I consider ourselves a married couple, even though that is not legal in this state yet.  However, we had ourselves our own ceremony, and he wears my ring.  Cody likes to think of me as the “girl” in this relationship, and I only see him as a “boy.”

Cody tells me that he thinks that gay relationships are better than straight relationships, because we get along so well together.  The only thing that bothers either one of us is mood swings that we both have, because we are both bipolar.  We both have schizophrenia and depression, anxiety, issues with rage and anger, yet we are always kind and gentle with each other.  The thing that I worry about the most is that Cody tells me that if I leave him, or I die, that he will kill himself for sure.  Also, he wants to go to The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints with me.  This is fine with me, however, he wants the Church to accept his same-sex attraction as normal and love him just the way he is, as a gay man, and us as a gay couple.  In the recent past, when the “Christ for the World” church rejected us as gay, he tried to kill himself, and I had to stop him.  It took weeks for him to recover from depression over this situation.  I just don’t want another situation like this with the Mormon Church.  I have warned him about my bishop, and told him that we will go to another ward, but he wants to show my present bishop that we are a couple.  I do not want to make the bishop hate me any more than he already does right now, so I do not think that is such a good idea, but I understand why he does.

Cody, bless his sweet heart, wants to find a church that will rejoice over our new found happiness as a couple, and not reject us at all.  I know that he will not find this in the Mormon Church, and this worries me.  I do not want to forsake Jesus Christ’s true Church, but I will not forsake Cody and our relationship either.  I have never, ever, been this happy in all of my hard and miserable life, until now.  Now, doesn’t my happiness matter to anyone, or not?  Why should I become miserable again, just to please others, and so they can think that I am doing the right thing, when it is not right for me to do so?  I plan to stay in this relationship and keep it just the way it is.  Cody and I are both very happy right now, for the first time in a long time.  Cody is right for me and I am right for him.  Cody tells me that he has not been this happy with his life in years and years; and I am not going to mess that up at all!

On November of last year, 2010, on the 14th day of the month, Cody asked if he could come over to my apartment and visit.  After he did so, in the evening of the same day, he asked if he could spend the night with me.  I said yes, and he did so.  After that, he has never left my side and did not even want to go home and get his things and he asked to move in with me, and I agreed readily and happily.  He is now on my Lease with the housing authority, and he is my lover, and husband, and as you can easily see, he is very, very happy.       I will not do anything that threatens his emotional health and cause him to become depressed and unhappy again!  We are happy now and that is all that matters to me at this time.  Cody was not happy before he met me; this is what he told me.

We are openly gay, and we are not hiding anything from anyone.  The whole building of 200 apartments knows that we are gay and that we are a couple as well.  Cody wants everyone to know that he is gay, and is ready and willing to “kick anyone’s ass” that has a problem with it.  He is much bolder about his sexuality, and he is helping me accept myself, more than I have in the past.  My self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence have all gone to heights previously unknown to me before.  The Church was never able to do all of that for me before.  That is because the Church members do not accept me as I am and still do not.  I know that it is their rejection of my sexuality and same-sex attraction that make me unhappy and miserable, because I cannot do what they want me to do, or change my life for them.  They do not know how to make me happy.  Their way has never worked for me, not in 44 years now, and I really tried very hard to make it work their Gospel way also.

Brother Marcellus and Patrick L. and Brother Parks came over to my place with the new Elders Quorum President, Brother Ferguson, the other day.  They read in Alma of the Book of Mormon, the story of Korihor, an Anti-Christ individual, who went around bad mouthing the Church, and leading people away from Christ.  I already knew the story (almost by heart), and could have told them from memory, the story.  I do not know if they were suggesting that I was like unto Korihor or not; but it seemed that way.  After we read the scripture, we had a short discussion. This visit, supposedly by persons, who care about me, left me deeply depressed and I was suicidal for about a week following the visit.  It took me a couple of weeks to get over the depression, and mood swings.  All they did was hurt me deeply.  I can’t help how sensitive I am, but they can stop being so insensitive to me like they are.  Patrick was the only one who I knew that loved me.  The others just want to save my soul, by destroying me socially (i.e. break me up with Cody).  They have proven to me, that I cannot trust them with my feelings.  They hurt me, more than they will ever know or admit to.  This is not what I need from the Church right now.  I need love and support and empathy, but I know that I am not going to get this from these homophobic members of the Church.  They never befriend me or visit me socially, just try and change me to what they think will fit with their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or I should say, their interpretation of the Gospel as they see fit.  Gordon Bintner Hinckley, former President of the Church taught that we did not choose to be gay and that it was not our fault that we are Gay either.

Brother Ferguson I like, but Brother Marcellus only made me upset and hate myself and want to die.  He says that I choose to be gay. This is opposite of what President Hinckley taught.  Yet he does agree with Hinckley, in that, I should remain celibate my entire life, or at least what is left of it.  This is the man that my friends in the Church, thought would be understanding and help me with my feelings.  How, by destroying me?  Because that is what would happen if I committed suicide, and that is all he caused me to have, is thoughts of suicide and hurt feelings.  He seems to think, like this is all new to me, and discounts the fact that I have been dealing with this issue all my life.  Cody has been dealing with this issue since he was a kid also; like when he was just eight years old, the same age I knew I was gay also.

It does not get better unless you can accept yourself for who you are.  Because this same-sex attraction was not going away, and it never did either; nor do I believe that it ever will.  Like some of the Church President’s have said: it will be settled in the next life.  I am sure the Lord will be much fairer about it, than the Church members are now.  Christ ways are not our ways, and our ways are not his ways.

I hope that I will not become depressed again, from going back to Church, and having to deal with the homophobes.  I believe that I can go back to Church and be happy, as long as my husband goes with me and we are not harassed by members of the Church, or the leaders either.  I do not expect anyone in the Church to understand my relationship with Cody.  I will not be telling anyone about my lifestyle, at least not in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This way I will not be giving the members cause to further persecute or harass me and my husband.  Neither one of us needs anymore of that in our life.

One thing that I have always wanted to know from the Lord is: why do I have same-sex attraction in the first place, and no attraction to the opposite sex?  I have a good understanding of why, scientifically speaking, but not any real spiritual answers so far.  I have covered that information in my first and second Manifesto, and I will not elaborate here.  I know that many heterosexual people have the opinion that we queers chose to be this way.  They are dead wrong of course, and are not qualified to speak to this matter, because they can not empathize with the gay communities.  The old saying: “it takes one, to know one” really applies here.  My very good psychiatrist’s opinions are very relevant here also, which they said: “only you can know your own feelings and not someone else.”  They were so right, and most people with common sense, also have come to an understanding, that being gay or lesbian, is something that the individual homosexual, did not just decide to become a faggot or lesbo, and that they cannot change themselves from being that either.  It is just the straight Mormons and other churches also who have a lack of understanding about gays, and these straight Mormons are stuck in the dark ages still, on this issue of human sexuality and the gay world.  They do not want to leave their “comfort zone” either.  They cannot empathize or even sympathize with gay’s either.  Some so called Christians are now preaching hate and murder of gays here in the USA and in other countries.  One church holds up signs that say “God Hates the Gay’s” and another says “Death to All Fags.”  I have even heard it in Mormon Church’s also.  Hatred of homosexuals is much higher in the Mormon Church than you might think it is.  Most will not admit this to your face though; just behind your back.

Mormon leaders have the correct understanding about gays, because of revelations to them; see “the First Presidency Letter of November, 14th 1991” for details.  It’s not like these average straight Mormon members, are going to actually study out the issue themselves, like I have already done.  Instead, they would rather hang onto the same beliefs that were believed in, all through the “Dark Ages” regarding homosexual people.  Thus, they ignore, and are in non-compliance with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the enlightenment that our deities have already provided.  Most members of the Mormon Church are not even cognizant of the revelation given to President Ezra Taft Benson in 1991.  These Mormon members here in Oklahoma, are 20 years behind in their understanding of homosexuality.  This is because, the subject is taboo in their eyes, and not something they care to learn about at all.  They have their own opinions and they do not want to change it.   They should educate themselves.

Straight Mormon members ought to read: “Born That Way” by Erin Elderidge and “Fred’s Story” which are usually available through Deseret Bookstore.  Both of these books helped me very much.  My Stake President Mark Ralph Sylvester, in California, gave me a copy of “Fred’s Story” because it was recommended by Salt Lake Leaders, not only for the bishops to read, but to let known gay members, that they were counseling, read also.  This book was written by a Mormon Psychologist, who studied homosexuality at none other than Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.  The book has extra wide margins on each and every page of the book, for the gay individual to take notes, or write personal experiences down, and other comments and thoughts that the information in the book relates to the reader.  I read the entire book and filled every margin in the book with comments and my understanding of the subject back then.  This book helped me and my Bishop, or “Bish” (as we priests affectionately called him), come to a much better understanding of homosexuality, and all the problems I was having with it.  My Bishop valued what I wrote in the Margins so much that he kept the book to this very day.  He would not give it back even though I asked for it many times.  Mark told me that what I had written in the margins had helped him much and that it was helping a lot of others as well that were struggling with same-sex attraction or homosexuality.

This California bishop, counseled me monthly from the age of 15 {picture below} thru the 1½ years while he was my bishop, and the 3 years while he was a counselor in the Stake Presidency, and then for 14 years while he was my Stake President.  He has been my Priest Advisor, My Young Men’s President, My Bishop and Stake Counselor, Stake President, and most of all, my mentor and best friend.  Mark was later called to the High Council, then Scout Master, then Bishop again, and now Stake President again.  The Lord keeps calling him to leadership positions in the Church because of his gentle nature, and his tender hearted feelings toward the members of the Church, especially those he counsels with.  Mark is especially helpful to gay members in the Church.  I told a friend of mine, who was gay, to talk to President Sylvester; and that Mark would be able to help him, and he did.  My friend, Gayland Cook, who was considered the “Black Sheep” of his family, could not thank me enough for recommending he talk to Mark.  Gayland told me that talking to Mark, changed his life for the better.  Mark has now helped a lot of Gay’s in the Mormon Church.

Mark loved me into the Church, got me active again at 16 years old and he then laid his hands on me, and bestowed the holy priesthood on me making me a Priest.  He set me apart as an Elder, and took me to the Temple for the first time; he gave me many blessings by the laying on of hands.  Mark put in my Mission papers and helped me prepare for my Mission, because I did not have a Father to do so.  He was like a Father to me and he said this as well, on my mission farewell, which he spoke at, before I left on my mission.  Mark has done more for my emotional well being, than any other person I have yet encountered in my life so far.

Mark is the one I went to six years after my mission, when I decided I must “come out” of the closet and explore the possibility that I was gay, and that it was not going to change.  At that time, in 1988, Mark said to me: “Robin, I would want for you to be gay, if I thought that you could be happy that way, I am just not sure if you can be happy doing that.”  I told him that I must find out for myself.  I left his house and went to find some gay clubs that I could go to and meet other gay people.  When I found them, I spent 157 hours in the clubs, in just the first month, just talking to and observing other gay people.  This means that I spent as much time, in a gay bar, than a year of church meetings, spent investigating the gay lifestyle.

I found out that I was just like the other gay people, or they were just like me.  Also many of them told me how they had always been gay or thought they might be and how no doctor or psychiatrist, priest or parent could help them change their attraction to the same sex.  Many of them told me that they had been rejected by their clergy, and parents and siblings and friends, and that this was a great source of psychological pain for them.  Like me, their churches had screwed up their lives and caused them to be suicidal, also.  Other churches can be even more brutal than the Mormon sect, to spiritual people who are homosexual or transgender.  My poor Cody cannot handle any church’s rejection of him.

My friend Mark, later Excommunicated me from the Mormon Church, even though he really did not want to, and tried to influence the high councils vote, not to excommunicate me.  Although those 15 men chose to excommunicate me, I never felt more loved at that time, as each and every one of them embraced me with their arms and their hearts.  I felt very loved at that time, and I felt happy and relieved after I left that high council room, still, I drove away from church and parked my car somewhere on the street in town (I was homeless at that time) and now excommunicated, and I cried for 4 hours straight.  And what do you think happened at this time when I was most vulnerable? Some cute guy came by, and saw me crying, and tried to comfort me.  It ended up as a gay “hook-up” in the park no less and I did not feel guilty about it.   However, I was determined to get back “straight” with God and the church and be straight again.  3½ years later, I was re-baptized, one month after I was married to a Sister in the church.  Mark was my best man at my wedding, and although I spent the next 14 years as straight as an arrow, and was completely faithful to my wife for the 9 years that we were married, (until she past away on March 22nd 2006) I was never given back my Priesthood.  Even after 5 very long years (2006—2010) in which I was completely celibate, I am still denied the priesthood and all participation at church.  Even though I felt that if, my wife had not past away 5 years ago, I would still be married and faithful right now; I am denied blessings, treated like a social outcast, and persecuted by my present church leaders, all because I told my bishop that I still had gay feelings.  Now I really feel cast out into the street, for being gay.  I was not sinning by telling my bishop I still had same-sex attraction, after all, I was obeying all the commandments.  I just reached out for help, and in doing so, I was misunderstood and treated with contempt by Bishop Robert (Bobby) W.  Bobby W. most certainly, must be a “Redneck.”

Now it seems that coming out of the closet for the second time, I feel better than I ever have before.  I am not so needy, for the church now; I feel more and more independent from the church.  With a committed and loving gay relationship now and several new gay friends, I am much better off.  Since the church members only make me depressed and unhappy, and have such a huge lack of understanding of gay relationships and such, I will pursue a course that is correct for me and one that will benefit me both spiritually and make me happy at the same time.  Like I said before, I am really happy right now.

Just keep in mind that I will never forsake the Lord and his Church entirely.  But, I also cannot let narrow minded people make me suffer needlessly, especially when that suffering is not creating any positive growth for me in this life.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have a “plan of happiness” for its gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and that is not my fault, it is their fault entirely.  Until the Church endorses a real plan of happiness for us gays, that is truly fair and that does not take away someone’s faith; then I will be forced to find my own way along the path that leads to the tree of life.  So far it is going very well for me and Cody.  I am growing spiritually, despite those homophobic members.  I have become a lot stronger than I used to be when I rejected myself.

There is a lot of hate for gays out there and it overlaps into the Mormon Church also.  Where are all the hate groups for the adulterer’s, fornicators, and other home wreckers, and the like out there?  Apparently, the real problem is not just who sins or not, but it is about who is different from us, and who we are willing to accept among us as equals.  The real hate is about, who is black or white, fat or slender, beautiful or homely, short or tall, big or small, gay or straight, republican or democrat.  Heavenly father rejoices over our differences, and we, his children, who are all equal in his eyes, fight and bicker and point fingers at each other, hate each other and even kill one another over them.  We blame all our problems in life, on the ones who are different than we are.  That way we don’t have to blame ourselves or hate ourselves for our own imperfections and mistakes.   If we were all the exact same, then none of us would grow, and we would waste our mortal probation here on earth.  I have always been different from my peers in school and other members of the Church, and people I have worked with and certainly different from non-gays.

Well I am different, and I am not going to be miserable, just so others can justify themselves, and feel better about themselves, at my expense.  The Lord taught us not to be intolerant and to Love everyone, including our enemies.  That means that members should Love the homosexual, not shun them and find endless fault with them.  If you all think that life long celibacy is the answer for all gays, then why don’t you try it yourself.  As for me, I want to laugh and be happy.  I no longer want to be changed from who I am and neither does Cody; we are happy just the way we are.

I can only be happy now, by being left alone, and allowing me to be myself, which is gay.  I won’t tell you how to live your life and you don’t have to tell me how to live mine.  I am no Korihor, I am no Anti-Christ, I do not bother anyone, I do not tell anyone how to live, I live and let live.  I certainly do not try and stop people from believing in Christ, or try and get them to not believe in Heavenly Father. In fact I teach the Gospel all the time to my friends, neighbors and to Cody all of the time, and everyone I know, knows it.  I helped bring more people into the Church while off my mission than I did on my mission back east.  I love all people, and harm no one that I am aware of.  I want a better life for all people, I have never hated anyone, including my enemies of which I have very few.  I am very loving, kind, generous, sweet, and have charity for all people.  I don’t lie, steal, cheat, murder, or commit adultery.  I do not even have sex with my partner, and I do not push my lifestyle on anyone else.  I am not trying to persuade anyone to do anything wrong either.  I just want to be happy the only way that I presently know how to be happy; so leave me alone.

Happiness has been fleeting for me, because of my life long depression and mental illness that I still have.  I have been my own worst enemy all my life, because I listened to all the hatemonger rhetoric, and I have hated myself because of it.  I will hate myself no more, nor will I persecute myself any longer and I will tolerate persecution from the Christian world, not for one more second, either.  I would rather be a Gay Rights Activist and Gay Counselor than anything else.  This is where I have come to at this time in my life.  I recently heard on a Gay Documentary that we gays often expect our straight friends, families and neighbors to accept us the minute we come out to them, when in fact; it took us years to accept ourselves.  She was right, and this is not fair.  Therefore, I will give all people as much time as they need to adjust to the idea, as they need to.  But, I will avoid those who would hurt me, try and change me, and bring me back to my depression.  I believe that I have suffered long enough for this one area of my life.  Enough is really enough!  I am now very content with my life, and I plan to keep it going this direction.  I do not see the point in trying to fix something that is not broke.  I am not busted, do not fix me.

My doctors and nurses have noted a huge growth in me, since I came out this last time, as well as a big lift in my depression.  I do not know how long my relationship with Cody will last, but for now, it is working out very well for me and for him.  No matter what happens in the future, Cody and I will forever love each other, and that love is a gay romantic love that we share.  Call us evil, if you must, and if we are evil, then love is evil.  If love is evil then God is evil, because God is love.  This is how the world makes sense to me, and this is the only way that I can make peace with it.  All those who love us, will wish us the best, and hope for our happiness, just as we hope that the rest of this world has love and peace as well. God bless the peacemakers and all of us who continue to love one another and themselves.

Love to all, love to all, love to all!   I love God with all my heart, might, mind and strength, and I love my neighbor as I love myself.  I wish to tell all my friends, who have stuck by me, through my difficult times, that I love you with all my heart and soul.  May the Lord bless and keep you all.  To all good people everywhere, I hold no ill will or bad feelings, toward anyone who has been unkind to me, because I know that we are all of God’s children, and we are still growing and learning.  The day will come, when all of us will know, all of the answers, to the world’s most perplexing questions.  But in the end, what will matter is, who loved and who did not love his fellow man.  What will matter is, who was kind and who was not, who spread the word of God and who was afraid to open their mouth for their Heavenly Father, who gave of themselves and who did not, who helped others and who did not help, who worked for peace and understanding and who did not.  It will matter who loved God and who did not, who was tolerant and who was intolerant, who had charity and who did not have charity to all people, and who would die for his neighbor and who would not.  In other words, who was like unto Christ and who was not, this is all that will matter in the world to come; not the traditions of each generation and every morel of the day or each leader’s interpretation of what’s right and what’s wrong; many things change with time.

To other gays I would say: what makes you happy and truly brings you joy in this difficult world, is what you should pursue.  Do not listen to the haters and non caring people of this world.  Those people are only selfish and have an ulterior motive for trying to change you to something of their own liking.  God loves you the way that he created you and no one can change you from being gay anyway.  People will always hate and find fault with others, instead of looking after their own life and taking care of their own business.  What matters are your feelings about yourself and what you can live with.  If you know that you are a good person inside, then you do not have to have approval from others, just God.  Pray about it and you will get the same answers that I have gotten in life.  God loves you, and you can know for certain that I love you, even if I do not know you, I know of you and I have been there where you are now.  Also, be sure that you love yourself as you love others.

To all the non-gay people out there, know this one thing, and get it into your stubborn souls, that gay people did not just decide to be gay one day, just to bother you or anyone else.  We gays have an inborn attraction to the same sex, just like you have an inborn desire for the opposite sex.   Our parents did not make us this way and neither did anyone else, nor did we do it ourselves.  It is just part of our natural make up and we cannot change even when we want to, and most of us have wanted to, sometime in our lifetime.    We would change for you if we could, but we cannot do this, so get over it already, we had too.  Just be thankful you are straight.  This message goes double for Elder Boyd K. Packer, who is so hell bent against homosexuality that it is not funny.

The book, “Born That Way” that I bought In Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Deseret bookstore, will tell you the hell that we gays go through with our own selves, let alone the hell you straight people put us gays through. Many gays become alcoholics or drug addicts because we do not except ourselves and then the straight world has the nerve to judge us when they have not spent one day in our shoes.  Many straight people would not last a month if they were in our situation.  How dare they say that we chose this life for ourselves!  The only choice we have before us is to accept ourselves and be happy, or reject ourselves and be miserable.  Mormons say that we have the choice to act on our being gay.  True, but to not act is to be alone without love in your life, something that they themselves would not put up with or endure either.  “…and God said, is it right that man be alone, and Jehovah answered, no, it is not right that man should be alone.  And so they made an helpmeet for man…” I have a helpmeet now, it just happens to be another gay male not a female.

Now I can move on with my life in a positive way and stop hating myself.  I no longer have to figure out what am I going to do with the unhappy feelings that I have had all my life and that other people have perpetuated throughout the years of my life.  I will be 50 soon and probably lived more than half of my life already.  I hope others do not take as long as I did and have as many hardships as I have had in this life.  Now life is great and I love it for the 2nd time “coming out.”  I was very happy the first time I “came out” also; so I do not know why I let others talk me into going back into the closet for 14 more years.  Especially when those people did not forgive and forget like they were supposed to either.  They remained against me even when I was doing so well.  If they will not forgive me in 14 years I believe that they never will forgive me and let me have full fellowship in the Mormon Church.  I cannot get the priesthood back or be sealed to my wife  in the Temple because I am Gay.

When the Good Sheppard comes again in his glory, I believe he will call my name, because I have done the best that I can do to live in harmony with other people as well as the Gospel, and Jesus Christ, my savior and redeemer.  I keep the Ten Commandments and nearly all of 637 other commandments that I have gleaned from scriptures.  I do not believe that Jesus Christ, who is my judge, will hold against me the fact that I am gay or that I have same-sex attraction or that I have mental illness either.  The prophets have spoken on this and they agree with me.

The Mormon Church has completely cut me off, and now no one comes to see me monthly for the last 9 months.  I am supposed to receive Home-teachers each month in my home, but instead my Home-teacher has been released and I do not know who is going to be my new Home-teacher’s either.  Also, I asked for a blessing when I was in the hospital and in ICU, and nobody gave me a blessing at all.  When I moved a few months ago I asked for help to move from the Elders Quorum, because that is what they do; but they all refused to come and help me move.  I was told someone was coming for 3 days straight and nobody came to help us move.  Then I called and told my old Home-teacher that I and Cody had no food for 3 days and we needed help.  My friend Eddie came over the 3rd day and gave us some MacDonald’s food and that was good; but the Bishop would not give us a food order.  This Bishop used to give me food orders from the Bishop’s Storehouse.  After I told the Bishop that I still had same-sex attraction, he stopped giving me food orders, even when I was still active in Church.  It is the Bishop’s stewardship to take care of the poor; however, Bishop Woods refuses to help me at all.  This is proof that the Bishop is homophobic.

I have straight friends, like Kayla Johnson, Ace Pardue, Carol Didway, Carol Turner and many others like Evelyn, Tom, Clarence Richardson and more that accept me and I can talk to about my homosexual feelings and they do not judge me or put me down.  Instead they support me and encourage me and help me. There are also many friendly people here where I live that continue to be friendly even though they know that Cody and I are a couple and that we are Gay.  Some LDS people are supportive but most are not.  My Psych Nurse, Marie Leaf is very supportive, and so is a friend who is a Psychologist, Shirley VanHalen; they both help me a lot with understanding hearts and helping me deal with the judgmental people.

With all the judgmental Latter-day Saints in the Church and their unwillingness to accept people as they are, it’s no wonder that the retention rate is less than half.  Some bishops make you feel guilty for being poor, and therefore many of the poor stop going to church.  I find myself getting help from the Baptist, Catholics and Presbyterians because my bishop will not help me at all.  LGBT have it much worse in the Mormon Church because of these same judgmental members and leaders.  I have been rejected by most members of the Mormon Church just because of the way I would dress, which was more colorful and perhaps feminine also.  I do know that Heavenly Father Loves me and so does Jesus Christ; and that they are more accepting than the members of my Church.  Therefore I can be happy and endure the rejection of the members, no matter what they do to me.

Peace, Love and understanding to all; I forgive you all of any wrongs done unto me, whether perceived or real, it does not matter.  Most of all, please forgive me of my personal weaknesses that I have, and seek only to help me grow in a positive way.  I especially want to thank, Mark R. Sylvester, my bishops past and present that actually helped me, Eddie Yadon, Patrick Lewis and Brother Marcellus for trying to help.  I thank all my friends like Marie Leaf, my friend Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.  I also thank, David Goodwin, my first boyfriend, for teaching me how to be loved, and Cody Circle, my present boyfriend, for making me feel loved and for allowing me to love them back.  Cody has shown me more love than anyone I have ever known in this life.  Now how can that be wrong anyway?  I did not choose to live here in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but I was sent here by circumstances beyond my control.  Now I know why I came here, God led me here so that I would meet Bishop W. and subsequently meet George Cody A. Circle and become the very happy person that I am right now, so that I can start helping others, because I will no longer be bogged down by my depression, Thanks God for All You Did For Me. —Robin Lee Johnson. LOL (Lots of Love).