The Josh Duggar incest/molestation scandal has been the big topic of discussion and analysis this past week. These guys aren’t Mormons, but the story has strong resonance for us because of their tradition’s familiar attitudes about sexuality, gender roles, and family:
In the LDS church, there was a massive focus in the late 1960â€™s and early 1970â€™s on having large numbers of children. Many people were given these manipulative sorts of promises when they were married, or chastised by their bishops for putting off having children. Did anyone, ever, teach my parents to be prudent before having another child. Were they taught to consider whether they had adequate resources to provide clothing food, shelter, and beds for their children? Did anyone teach them how much time children require? No. My mother was afraid to die, so they just kept having babies, even if they couldnâ€™t even give us a decent home with running water and electricity, or adequate supervision and love.
Duggar’s Christian defenders are basically digging him deeper. For example Ray Comfort claimed that Duggar committed the acts during his “before Christ” days — even though Josh Duggar accepted Christ when he was 7. Worse, they’re highlighting one of the big problems with believing that any-and-all sex-outside-of-marriage is one of the most heinous sins one can commit — it makes it very hard to tell the difference between consensual acts and abuse:
Crowderâ€™s article doesnâ€™t draw a distinction between non-consensual contact and pre-marital sex, though, because presumably both of those are â€œwrongâ€ and â€œsinsâ€ so it doesnâ€™t matter what the context was, right? (Oh and nice dig on young women who choose to have abortions too.) Can you guys believe that young women who arenâ€™t married are having more than one child?? That is totally the same thing as Josh Duggar molesting a 4-year-old! Teenagers having pre-marital sex (because if theyâ€™re married teenagers then itâ€™s OK, presumably) is logically equivalent to â€œteenagers molesting little girls,â€ which is exactly what the above paragraph implies.
If this boy had been experimenting with girls in a non-Christian family, then he would have been encouraged. I know a family that were proudly showing photos of the their teenage son on a trip to Disneyland unchaperoned with his girlfriend. Itâ€™s â€œnormal.â€
Plus further analysis from the same source:
There are all sorts of problems with putting any sexual contact outside of marriage in the same category. For one thing, victims of sexual assault, including children, may end of feeling that they are in some way guilty of what happenedâ€”after all, sexual contact outside of marriage is considered sin. For another thing, a teenager sexually molesting children may be treated as a similar offense to a teenager having consensual sex with his girlfriend.
The biggest item of LDS-interest news (aside from a shooting at an LDS Stake Center, the lady who ran over her husband for voting for Obama, and the lady who tried to jump off the COB) was that L. Tom Perry died. (Ziff has continued to provide actuarial analysis of the top leaders of the CoJCoL-dS.) A particularly sad side note for this man’s legacy is that the last memorable thing he did before his death was call LGBT families “counterfeit”.
Then, of course, we have more excommunications! It’s getting to the point where they’re not so much a news item as a regular feature — which inspires memes like Stay in the boat… until it’s your turn to get kicked out. This time it looks like Alan Rock Waterman is finally in the hotseat (this coming wednesday), possibly for this post that threatens the church’s revenue stream.
In church watch, Nearing Kolob reported on some interesting stuff the missionaries are learning, Thinker of Thoughts wrote some analysis of racism in the Book of Mormon. And Mormon Hurt noticed something interesting bout the task of keeping your garments white:
They were never white to begin with. The blinding purity was a mirage, a deception. With each wash, they revealed more of their true nature. I had fallen victim to their illusion.
In philosophy, Profet analyzed the human tendency to count the hits and ignore the misses. And Stephen Carter explained a popular modern strategy for dealing with the Book of Mormon’s lack of historical basis:
So, if youâ€™re wondering about the truth of a particular scripture story: whether or not it happened is irrelevant. You only need to ask, â€œWhen I experiment upon this word, does it make me grow? Does it reveal a larger universe? Does it taste good?â€
See here for some similar discussion.
My biggest problem with the “BoM as inspired fiction” theory isn’t the obvious one (namely that it means the Joseph Smith was intentionally, explicitly, and frequently lying to people). It’s that — sure, the BoM doesn’t need to be non-fiction to be considered inspired or worthwhile — but it has to have something to recommend it. If it’s really “another witness of Christ”, then that’s something. If you take that away (by admitting that all of the witnesses in it are, in fact, fictional characters), then what are you left with? If your intention is to find a great work of fiction that edifies ant enlightens you — that teaches you profound truths — then the Book of Mormon isn’t even going to make the top 10, nowhere near it.
In fun, we have the proper Christian-Mormon response to a Mormon woman showing her shoulders in public, the Angry Jesus meme, Adult Onset Atheist’s decisions on how to vote in the Hugos, and — finally — we learn what the GA’s did in the “War in Heaven” to land their sweet gig!!