Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whither the Disavowing and Unequivocal Condemning of Pedophilia?

So LDS Church, how do you really feel about pedophilia*?  Apparently, it's excusable.

Last year the LDS Church Newsroom and History Dept released press statements and an essay, both declaring that it doesn't matter what times were like in the 1800s, racism is wrong!  They offered meek excuses about the culture and times, but courageously, the LDS church used the words  "disavow" and "unequivocally condemn".
 “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”  (LDS Topic on Race and Priesthood)
In the past couple of days, we saw the release of another topic essay on Joseph Smith's polygamy.  In it, the church admits "Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates" including with: 
“[T]he youngest was Helen Mar Kimball…who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday.”  
That is, when she was 14 years old, and Joseph Smith was 37 years old! (23 years her senior!) 

Joseph Smith used coercive tactics to get young (and little) Helen's hand in marriage, saying to the teen girl, “it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.” 

Helen felt that “this promise was so great that I willingly 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…”  

After her marriage to Joseph, Helen, still a young teen, lamented that, “like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself  an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur.” 

Regardless of whether Joseph had sex with Helen (the essay writers suggest it was for "eternity-only"), she felt "abused" and she felt a loss of freedom.  She "willingly gave" herself so that she could "purchase" a reward.  Perhaps Helen initially thought she had married Smith "for eternity alone" but soon found out differently. She said Joseph protected her from the attention of young men, and that her marriage was "more than ceremony," suggesting that she did have or would have a sexual relationship with Smith. (See this reference, pp. 499-501.)  It sure sounds like she traded a lot for her "spiritual" virtue.

Again, we have 37 year old Joseph Smith cornering 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball, and she's quoted as saying:

 "I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it." (Helen Mar Whitney journal: Helen Mar autobiography: “Woman's Exponent,” 1880; reprinted in “A Woman's View;” FamilySearch .com record for Joseph Smith, Jr.; and Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polygamy: A History,” p. 53; cited in ibid)

Which makes some sense given Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:63 - "But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified."

If Joseph Smith didn't have sex with his plural wives (to raise up seed) then he was directly breaking the commandment of the God he worshipped.

Even if we were to agree that Joseph Smith didn't have sex with his polygamous wives--What difference does it make? Does sexless polygamy make acceptable his cornering 14 year old girls, married women and other women so that they can't have normal relationships with other men?

This form of child abuse and "spiritual" (if not literal) pedophilia* is very disgusting. 

Yet, the essay writers attempt to excuse it with this claim: 
“Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.”

As if pedophilia was in style in Smith's time, therefore, it's just fine to dismiss. Further, young marriage practices or not, polygamy to teen brides was not normal in that era!

Apostle Neil Andersen tried this same excuse at the October 2014 general conference:
We might remind the inquirer that some information about Joseph, while true, may be presented completely out of context to his own day and situation.”

But then later in his talk, Andersen said:
“The negative commentary about the prophet Joseph Smith will increase as we move toward the second coming of the savior. The half-truths and subtle deceptions will not diminish. There will be family members and friends who need your help.”
On the one hand Andersen wants to excuse Joseph Smith by using the context of his day and situation, so that we don’t scrutinize him by our higher standards on a 37 year old Joseph Smith, the prophet, marrying a 14 year old teen girl. On the other hand Andersen, knowing the Internet is revealing the true character of Joseph Smith that they could formerly hide, calls on the idea that immorality increases and is more rampant in the latter days as we move toward the end-times.  

Andersen wants Joseph to eat his teen cake and have his slice of latter-day wickedness too.  

Sorry, Mr. Andersen, you can’t have it both ways. Either we excuse the unacceptable dalliances by our more modern strict views on pedophilia, or dismiss your view that modern culture is more sexually perverse than Smith was.  To cherry-pick your moral codes by era and give Joseph a pass while condemning those who view pedophilia as evil is just plain irrational and backwards.  Give credit to critics who decry pedophilia no matter where they see it--whether in Warren Jeffs or in Joseph Smith. Be honest and willing to admit your leader had some sick behaviors.

I challenge the LDS church to finally disavow and unequivocally condemn underage marriages and pedophilia, whether past, present or future.  The emotional, psychological and even spiritual abuse perpetuated on young girls by its leaders sickens the world.

Furthermore, as Grant Palmer recently pointed out "it is generally unknown that he was accused of illicit sexual conduct with a number of women from 1827 on, until his death in 1844."  Many of these women were not his so-called wives, but others that spurned his advances of spiritual wifery and swinging playfulness.  That list included Miriam and Rhoda Stowell, Eliza Winters, Marinda Nancy Johnson, Vienna Jacques and several more.

This kind of abuse extended from Joseph to Brigham (married a 16 year old at 45!) to Woodruff (15 year old girl), Snow (15 year old girl) and Joseph F. Smith (17 year old girl).  They all need to be condemned and disavowed like the pedophiles they are.

Stand up LDS essay writers and condemn this behavior!  It's sure the LDS apostles won't.  

In hindsight, Andersen's pre-emptive promotion of Joseph Smith just weeks ahead of the polygamy essay and confessions of Smith's teen girl dalliances--well, it appears Andersen craftily and calculatingly gave that speech to head off calls to the church for condemning Smith's untoward behavior.

They're going to have to craft speeches on the other prophets with teen brides soon enough, if they choose to defend the polygamous teen-marriage practice of their leaders.

While  you're at it, essay writers, remember that you also admitted, "Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married."  You may feel free to condemn that as well.

If I were still a member on the LDS records, I would be embarrassed to know the church has not gone on record to disavow and condemn pedophilia yet.  Members of the LDS Church, you should petition your leaders to publicly and unequivocally condemn underage sexual relationships and spiritual marriages.  

Why haven't you?  Because you covenant not to speak ill of the Lord's anointed?  Do you still believe these men, these pedophiles were anointed?  

*Note: Technically, it isn't pedophilia as sexual relations with younger teens is called hebephilia. However at 23 years older than a 14 year old, Joseph Smith was one sick man whatever technical term you use.


  1. Elder Andersen is speaking of the "half truths" that will emerge prior to The Second Coming, but there's supreme irony in this statement from the essays:

    Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.

    Multiple marriages at any age were not legal, period.

    Elder Andersen's "millenial thinking" is sheer crackpot stuff, reminiscent of the "Great Disappointment" Seventh-Day Adventists experienced in the mid-19th Century. Unfortunately it is still epidemic and being exploited by hucksters such as Glenn Beck (who knows if he believes it or not; it's still delusional nonsense). A number of years ago I was astonished to visit a local grocery store on a late Monday night and find it mobbed. The chain catered to the food storage folks, and they were stocking up en masse.

    I checked out my sources with LDS sorts, and it turns out Elder Packer lived nearby, and he'd made a pronouncement in a sacrament meeting or such that "something terrible" was going to happen. Hence the panic.

    I'm still wondering what it was that happened, although I have a good guess looking at things from the LDS point-of-view. A few weeks later Barack Obama was elected as president.

    1. Haha. That's a great story, buddy. They give new meaning to the word "terrible" and "disaster".

  2. As I've been listening to the "year of polygamy" on FMH I have been appalled at how JS and his fellow polygamists would groom the girls and women they would then coerce into marriage. The manipulations and lies as well as threats were so vile. I can't value the other good things these men did in light of how heartless they were in using the girls and women who were so badly duped and mistreated.

    These podcasts are taken from journals, letters, newspaper accounts, documents, and other records of the women and people of the early church history. Some are so heartbreaking and painful to hear and reflect how manipulative and heartless the men who instigated this tradition were. Some are salacious and exaggerated and possibly unreliable but there are enough accounts of the neglect and abuse that it would be dishonest to suggest that polygamy was anything but an abusive institution used by selfish men to dominate and control the women they used.

    1. Exactly. For a church that values virtue to the point of having taught women it is better to die defending your virtue, how do they find virtue in what so many of their earliest prophets did to young teen girls?

  3. No kidding. The mormons have backed themselves into a corner. They disavowed prophets already on racism. what's keeping them doing the same on girl-marrying? fools!

  4. Thanks, David, for your continued analysis of the issues. At first this essay gave me hope that a few of my Mormon friends and family would begin to abandon their faith, but most are hunkering down even more, saying "we just don't know all that God knows." Scary how we humans can justify almost anything through God!

  5. The fact remains that older men married younger women during that time. It was considered normal, or within the normal range for marrying. Not so normal in America was marrying more than one person. History shows however, that Mormons came to accept polygamy as normal, and they were hunt, angry and upset when the church ended polygamy. The Lord has imperfect humans to work with, which means nothing on this earth is done perfectly. I have found some family records that indicate a possibility that one or more of my ancestors may have owned at least one slave. It would be easy for me to stand back and judge my ancestors as wrong, that they should have NEVER owned a slaves. I could say they should have had a moral compass. But, what would it prove? This was not considered sinful or wrong at that time, indeed in the south it was considered normal to have slaves. The founding fathers of America got rich off the backs of slaves.

    My point is this, what right do any of us have to look backwards and stand in judgement when we did not live during that period of time?! The saying, "hindsight is 20/20," isn't just a saying, it is a truth. It is oh so easy to look backward and judge others, much harder to look at the present and judge what is currently wrong. As an example, legalizing pot smoking and gay marriages, getting tattoo's, having children without the benefit of marriage, multiple divorces and marriage. The consequences are only beginning to be felt, however, society is accepting these behaviors as, "normal." Indeed David T. appears to support gay marriage. Even if you take the religious spin out of human coupling, the fact that women have a hymen indicates that this was put there to be broke by a penis, not a finger. Nature shows that couples should be male-female, not male-male, female-female. Yet, society is accepting these couplings.

    David T., takes small pieces of a puzzle and dissects them, instead of trying to create a whole picture. And the picture is skewed. I have a sister that doesn't like me, if people look at me through the lens she provides, they will think one a horrible person. However, if they look the lens of my brothers or my mom, their view of me would be very different in a good way. It depends on the lens you are looking through, when viewing this church.

  6. You know David T., I personally have thought about this whole issue with Joseph Smith having multiple wives, and have drawn my own conclusions that do no agree with the church, or your conclusions. What I do know beyond a shadow of doubt is no one can expect to guess what happened OVER a 150 years ago and be accurate or right. You can read all of the so called historical documents you want, but you will not be able to get an accurate picture unless you can personally interview each person.

    Plus, even then you can't be 100 percent someone is being totally honest.

    1. Perhaps you haven't been paying attention.

      For decades the LDS have been officially denying that JS had multiple wives at all, despite plentiful evidence to the contrary. Now they not only admit it, but having had to acknowledge the existence and validity of such evidence we have, they must now admit to all of it or once again be shown to have a strong interest in concealing the truth.

      No one is guessing here. Even if the evidence were not perfectly clear, LDS leadership has admitted it. We may take it as factual.

      If it were just another church leader, there would be no real issue, but this was not just another church leader. This was the original prophet, seer, and revelator, who the LDS must now admit claimed not merely a revelation on polygamy, but a positive threat if he did not practice it himself.

      "By their fruits ye shall know them," no? The fruits of this "revelation" were polygamy, polyandry, marriages done in secret without the consent of the wives he already had, and coerced marriages to underage girls. By any other standard you'd use to judge such things, this revelation cannot have been from God. But if Joseph Smith could not distinguish a true from a false revelation, where does that leave Mormonism?

      And your argument about "150 years ago" cuts both ways, and has the same effect. The Mormon church is *founded* on something that happened 150 years ago and more. If that's not certain -- where, again, does that leave Mormonism?

    2. First, it's well within the rights of anyone who cares to, to examine a set of facts or claims about any subject at all, and to draw a conclusion. When that subject is an organization as large and as influential over public policy as the LDS church, then such an examination by non-members should not be unexpected.

      If the LDS wants to avoid this kind of examination, then they should cease and desist all its political activity as an organization, and stop knocking on people's doors. If you are going to campaign for ballot initiatives in MY state, then I'm damned well going to take a good hard look at you. And if you're going to send missionaries to my neighborhood, then I'm going to have a broader, more unbiased picture of the organization they want me to join than the pretty one they want me to buy into.

      Second, I have seen no disparities at all between what has been said of this church and what it actually is about and does. You want to call facts into question about which there is really no longer any real question at all. The LDS church has admitted them. The dubious origins, the questionable character of its founder, the bizarre doctrines, the fraudulent "translations" -- it's all there for the honest examiner to see. On the one hand you have the natural way to react to the undisputed facts; on the other you have the way the LDS church wants people to react. As a true LDS believer, you naturally do the latter, but it's unrealistic to the point of silliness for you to expect me to.

      And once more, if you're calling facts into question just because they happened a long time ago -- even though your church has either explicitly or tacitly admitted to them -- then you must also call into question the founding events of your church. Because they also happened that long ago and more. You can't have it both ways if you're intellectually honest.

      What exactly might I have heard that's a lie? Please let me know so I can adjust my ideas. I really do want to have the most unbiased picture I can.

      Note: I may have some repeats here, as I don't see the moderation message again.

    3. Anonymous has got to be a troll. No one, no one can be that ignorant, that hypocritical, that cog diss messed up. And to put their spiritual life in the hands of this Joseph Smith? AFTER even the church accepts it can't run from the evidence any more. 150 years who cares.... Just read his_own_ journals and letters. I mean the restoration of the priesthood on earth... "sometime in May 1829...." I mean "sometime" ???
      What the..
      It's just bizarre. Utterly, utterly bizarre.
      Boyd from Oz

  7. They're just going to continue this tale that 14 was a normal age to get married in 19th century America, aren't they?

    It was not normal. 15 was the edge of normality, and most women married later. The average age women married was their early 20s. But even that is, as you point out, not terribly usual when the husband is pushing 80!

  8. David T I'm trying to figure out what your point is in all this ranting over something that happened 150 years ago? So much time has passed that who knows what is true and what isnt and even then this has nothing to do with today. Your whining about the Mormon church looks ridiculous. I get it, you don't believe it and obviously something tragic happened that made you leave, but time to move on with life. Don't ya think?

    1. apparently david has hit a nerve with you. You would like him to stop. You want to question the whole point of what he doing. This is because you're worried.

      If what happened 150 years doesn't matter, then the LDS church foundation doesn't matter. as long as they keep putting up a claim of being a restored church with restored priesthood all based upon claims that Joseph Smith made then any one has a right to evaluate that man, that founder, as credible or not.

      It matters to Mormons. are you saying it doesn't matter to you? if not why are you even replying on this blog? What is the point of you being

    2. Ronald,

      People may happen upon this site who have never known anything about the LDS faith or may have only read or heard negative things. People have the right to see and read both sides regarding this church. That is why I make comments and perhaps why others do as well.

    3. In that case, why do we have scriptures at all, Anonymous? After all, they are over 150 years old... and who knows what is true and what isn't... or history books? Maybe it's time we all stopped 'ranting' about that pesky Revolutionary War...

      David is doing an admirable job of getting out reliable, factual information to help others who are concerned with the truth, or who are attempting to recover from what this harmful cult has done to us and our families. If he can encourage even one person to stop and THINK, to use their brain and examine the evidence, well... that's one less sheep in the grip of the Mormon cult.

  9. David, I just love how you try to be fair and balanced in presenting the facts. I think all Mormons, especially the children in the church, would be better off to see all sides of the issues so they can read, ponder, and pray about it all for themselves to come to a knowledge for themselves on whether or not they think the Mormon church is the honest true church or not.