Tuesday, December 22, 2009
But for all their talking, arguing and prophesying, no one thought of walking out the back door and looking for God in the stable. What would God be doing sleeping in a manager? Society was in big trouble! Organized religion was failing miserably. Family ties weren’t as stable as they had once been. Rome ruled the world, and those Greek perverts had for centuries been spreading around all sort of immoral ideas! And don’t forget urban crime, and wars breaking out all over the world. At such a time surely God wouldn’t play a dirty trick on us by sneaking into our world and falling asleep like a newborn in something out of which animals eat!
But according to the Christmas story that is exactly what God did, and the world didn’t even notice. How unfair! Or was it?
There were clues enough, but people overlooked them. There was that teenage girl Mary who had been pregnant nearly six months before she finally got married. Anyone with any moral sense whatsoever knows what kind of a girl she is. Are we supposed to believe that God had something to do with that bit of immorality?
There were those shepherds running around at all hours of the night, singing and shouting about having seen angels and heavenly lights out in their fields, but can anyone take such fanatics seriously? And there were those “wise men” from the East--that cult of superstitious astrologers who marched into town talking about “a newborn king.” One can never make heads-nor-tails of what those Orientals are talking about, and are we really suppose to believe their primitive hocus-pocus?
That’s how people were in Biblical times, and any resemblance between them and us is purely historical and not a coincidence.
I wonder about the main characters in the Christmas story: did they really understand what was going on at the time, or were they as confused and unsure as I might have been were I in their place? Did Mary understand how fully she was accepting God when she accepted an unplanned pregnancy that was sure to cause talk among the neighbors and rifts in her family? Was Joseph aware that he was accepting God when he decided to take Mary as his wife and raise as his own son a child he knew was not biologically his own? Did Herod--builder of his people’s greatest temple--realize that he was attempting to murder God when he ordered the slaying of the innocents?
These are questions I ask myself whenever I read or hear the Christmas story, and these questions are what make the holiday meaningful. I wonder if I see “something of God” in the unwed pregnant teen-age girls in our society, and I wonder what my response to them should be. I wonder about fanatics--our latter-day shepherds who come running to us during the night, singing and shouting about angels appearing in their fields. I think about those people of different cultures, nationalities and religions whose strange beliefs and traditions seem outdated, ridiculous, even uncivilized and barbaric--and yet they, like so many of us, seem to be searching for a new star in the heavens. I think about our modern Herods--those political and religious leaders who would, at all costs, protect the status quo from any “newborn kings” who might pop up. And I think of all the humans who will be born into our world this Christmas and put to sleep in mangers or trash cans because we who have so much can’t seem to find room in our inns; and I wonder if we, for all of our singing of carols and reading of scriptures, are overlooking the Divine being born again and again into our world.
When all is said and done, I find myself contemplating that very first Christmas Eve. I imagine that I am sitting in the dark stable, trying to keep warm between the animals as together we gaze upon what appears to be just another baby sleeping in the manger. Part of me is filled with wonder at the way God sneaks into our world in completely unexpected, sometime even ridiculous ways; it’s as if God had changed the labels around so that no one can really tell who is human and who is divine. Part of me is grateful that I was born nearly 2,000 years after Jesus; grateful that the events of his birth have been handed down to me in the form of a miraculous story with clear-cut heroes and villains; grateful that the story has been enshrined in music, art and tradition. It’s much easier to see God in a manger when the manger has been bought at Wal-mart and is illuminated by the electric lights of an artificial Christmas tree.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night;
Hill and vale and tree and flow'r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind's delight;
For the mystic harmony,
Linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on Earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.
"Verily, I say unto you my friends: Fear not; let your hearts be comforted; yea rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks." (Joseph Smith, August 6, 1833)
Sunday, June 14, 2009
"...[LDS Mormons] believe we existed prenatally as God's "spirit children," that our earthly life is an interlude for learning and testing and that we continue developing after death. The best Mormons may become in the afterlife parents to their own batch of spirit children...The return to God is accomplished by heterosexually founded families, not individuals, and only as a partner in a procreative relationship can a soul eventually create spirit children." (TIME magazine, June 22, 2009)
While the above is the theology of both the LDS and FLDS churches, in our three previous lessons we have shown that none of these ideas were ever taught by Joseph Smith--the founder of Mormonism. They are not found in Mormon scripture, nor can they be found in any of the writings or sermons of Joseph Smith.
In fact, as we have shown, in his final and greatest sermon "The King Follett" discourse, Joseph Smith actually laid out a theology regarding the eternal nature of the human mind and spirit that contradicts the above LDS theology in every single aspect.
It was in his "King Follett Discourse” that Joseph publicly revealed his vision of humanity’s divine potential and the means by which humans might become Gods.
Nowhere did he mention marriage (monogamous or polygamous) as the means to becoming a God.
Nowhere did he ever mention the sexual production of spiritual offspring (having “spirit children”) as either the means of becoming a God, or the function of being a God.
But toward the end of the discourse, he laid out a vision of the nature of Gods that so contradicts mainstream LDS theology regarding marriage and sex, that the LDS Church, LDS General Authorities s and mainstream LDS publishing companies have deleted the paragraph from the discourse whenever they have published it.
In this lesson we will reveal this long censored paragraph and show how it completely undermines LDS theology—and consequently, LDS theology and attitudes towards marriage, gender roles, human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular.
KNOWLEDGE—NOT MARRIAGE AND HETEROSEXUALITY--LEADS TO GODHOOD
Joseph Smith taught that one thing—and one thing alone—could exalt humanity to Godhood: knowledge:
“”Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge….if man has a knowledge, he can be saved; although, if he has been guilty of great sins he will be punished for them…a man is his own tormentor and his own condemner…the torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man.”
Joseph Smith went on to explain that all sins would be forgiven; that opening one’s mind to further knowledge was key in overcoming the effects of sin. He further explained that only one sin—which he referred to as “the sin against the Holy Ghost”—could not be forgiven. The reason why it couldn’t be forgiven? Because this particular sin was a rejection of knowledge itself; it consisted of knowing something with complete certainty and still refusing to admit it. Joseph explained that someone “has so say that the sun does not shine while he sees it.”
When these ideas are put in context of the discourse’s main subject (which Joseph explained was the nature of “the mind of man”), there can be no reasonable debate regarding the following: the individual’s ability and willingness to continually embrace new knowledge—and this alone—is what leads to Godhood.
“The glory of God is intelligence,” Joseph had taught in a scripture he dictated years before the discourse. Godhood and the glory of Godhood reside in human intelligence—in the mind’s capacity to comprehend increasingly complex ideas, and to embrace and act upon advanced levels of knowledge. The potential for Godhood does not reside in the human genitals and reproductive system, but in human intelligence.
As Joseph taught:
“…you have got to learn to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burning, and to sit in glory, enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me.” (Joseph Smith, “The King Follett Discourse.”)
In the final portion of his “King Follett Discourse,” Joseph laid out a vision of the resurrection of the dead and the final state of human beings exalted, by virtue of knowledge, as Gods.
Joseph Smith taught:
“A question may be asked—"Will mothers have their children in eternity?" Yes! Yes! Mothers, you shall have your children; for they shall have eternal life, for their debt is paid. There is no damnation awaiting them for they are in the spirit. But as the child dies, so shall it rise from the dead, and be forever living in the burnings of God. It will never grow; it will still be the child, in the same precise form as it appeared before it died out of its mother's arms, but possessing all the intelligence of a God. Children dwell in the mansions of glory and exercise power, but appear in the same form as when on earth. Eternity is full of thrones, upon which dwell thousands of children, reigning on thrones of glory, with not one cubit added to their stature.”
The vision of eternity described above completely undermines the LDS and FLDS doctrine that “Celestial Marriage” and the ability to sexually produce “spirit offspring” in eternity are required for Godhood.
Joseph Smith clearly taught that small children—who had not reached an age of sexual maturity, and who were not married—would exist as Gods because they possessed “all the intelligence of a God.” While remaining children in physical stature and sexual development, their minds would continue to develop, grow and progress eternally. (This brings an entire new depth of meaning to Jesus saying regarding children: “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.”)
The above paragraph is completely out of harmony with the entire LDS and FLDS “plan of salvation”—which requires physical and sexual maturation to adulthood, as well as marriage for Time and Eternity in order to become a God. Thus, this offending paragraph has been censored from LDS Church published editions of the King Follett Discourse for over one hundred years—even though it is an essential aspect of the discourse’s visionary climax.
Famed Mormon theologian and LDS Church General Authority B.H. Roberts (who more than any other LDS Church leader of his time, was dedicated to preserving the Discourse and promoting it among Mormons and non-Mormons) was compelled to find some justification for why he and the LDS Church deleted the above paragraph. While never reproducing the paragraph in his footnotes to the discourse, Roberts simply wrote:
“ The omitted paragraph indicated by the dots refers to the exaltation and power that will be wielded by children in the resurrection before attaining the stature of men and women; but which development will surely come to those who are raised from the dead as infants. It was quite clear that there was some imperfection in the report of the Prophet’s remarks at this point and hence the passage is omitted.”
Despite his valuable service in the development of Utah Mormon theology, Roberts clearly and deliberately misleads his readers on two important issues.
First, nowhere in the Discourse or the censored paragraph did Joseph speak about “the power that will be wielded by children in the resurrection before attaining the stature of men and women; but which development will surely come to those who are raised from the dead as infants.”
In fact, Joseph Smith’s entire point in the censored paragraph was that a child who dies will be resurrected as a child, that he/she will become a God while still a child, and that the child “will never grow; it will still be the child, in the same precise form as it appeared before it died out of its mother's arms, but possessing all the intelligence of a God.”
Because Joseph’s doctrine contradicts the LDS/FLDS doctrine on marriage created by Orson Pratt (after Joseph Smith’s death) and adopted by Brigham Young as official LDS doctrine in 1852, later Utah Mormons developed the doctrine that those who died as infants and children would be resurrected as infants and children; they would then physically grow until they reached sexually maturity, at which time they were then be sealed as a husband or wife in a Celestial Marriage; then, as sexually mature, exalted human beings, they would sexually produce spiritual offspring, over which they would then rule as Gods.
But this is completely at odds with Joseph Smith’s vision of Godhood, for he quite plainly taught: “Eternity is full of thrones, upon which dwell thousands of children, reigning on thrones of glory, with not one cubit added to their stature.”
By contrast, LDS and FLDS theology teaches that one cannot be enthroned as God until after one is married and has sexually produced (or is in the process of sexually producing) “spirit children” over which one may then “reign” as a Heavenly Father or Mother.
B.H. Roberts also deliberately misleads his readers by saying that “it was quite clear that there was some imperfection in the report of the Prophet’s remarks at this point.”
(Above) B.H. Roberts
The only thing “imperfect” in any of these accounts is that they undermine the theology developed after the death of Joseph Smith by the LDS Church in order to justify first polygamous marriage and later monogamous marriage (and thus heterosexuality) as pre-requisites for Godhood.
REFORM MORMONISM, HUMAN SEXUALITY, INDIVDIUALITY AND THE HUMAN MIND
Reform Mormonism rejects the theology of the LDS and FLDS Churches—as well as any of the denomination that have splintered from them—that regards marriage and sexual reproduction as essential to Godhood.
Reform Mormonism is founded upon the ideas that Joseph Smith introduced during his Nauvoo-era reformation of Mormonism—a reformation that was cut short by his untimely murder.
Reform Mormons hold that knowledge and increased intelligence constitute the path to Godhood; that the human mind—being eternal, uncreated and “co-equal with God”—holds within itself the keys to communion with God, a restoration to the presence of God and progression toward Godhood itself.
Human sexuality is good—and for mature, adult human beings may be essential to achieving joy in this life and in eternity. But that is quite different from the LDS and FLDS position—which is that sexuality within the confines of a Church/LDS Priesthood sanctioned “Eternal Marriage” is required for exaltation for ALL human beings. Nowhere did Joseph Smith ever teach such a thing.
In the LDS and FLDS churches, single adults and homosexuals are quite literally locked out of the Celestial Kingdom. Under the LDS and FLDS systems, children, too, are barred from Godhood until they grow up and become sexually mature, married adults. When all is said and done, in the LDS and FLDS systems, the potential for and means of attaining Godhood are in the genitals and reproductive system.
In Reform Mormonism no such obstacles exist. All individuals—regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or marital status—exist in the image and likeness of God. If the single adult, the small child, the woman, the man, the homosexual were to see God, they would see a being such as themselves.
The one attribute that all humans—regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation—share with one another and with God is that of the human mind and human intelligence.
The mind is eternal, uncreated, without beginning or end—“co-equal with God” as Joseph Smith taught.
It is through the life of the mind and the exercise of human intelligence, the human beings can cast aside the superstitions, prejudices and bigotries that have, since time immemorial, been a burden on and a cursing to the human family.
It is through the life of the mind and the exercise of human intelligence, that unions between human beings—and with the Gods—are established.
It is through the life of the mind and the exercise of human intelligence, that each individual may better understand human sexuality, and integrate it into his or her own life so that it might bring to pass greater joy and happiness.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
As pointed out in our last lesson Joseph Smith’s teaching that the spirit of man is uncreated comes into conflict with what is probably the most widely believed doctrine among LDS and FLDS Mormons: that our spirits were literally begotten by a heavenly father and a heavenly mother. Mormon scholar Dan Hale has pointed out that the origin of this particular doctrine…
“…has remained somewhat obscure…there are no clear statements of the doctrine in any of the [LDS] church’s four standard work…In tracing the doctrine of spirit birth backward we find hundreds of references to it throughout Mormon literature, and the teaching that spirits originated through pre-mortal procreation seems to have been the prevailing explanation ever since the Nauvoo period. What is surprising, however, is that none of Joseph Smith‘s recorded sermons--including those delivered in Nauvoo—teach the doctrine. In fact, several seem to teach a doctrine logically at odds with the belief that spirits are the literal offspring of God through pre-mortal birth…Smith’s own doctrinal teaching was that the human spirit as a conscious entity is eternal—as eternal as God. It has no beginning and no end. It was not created; it is self-existing.”
The idea that spirits were sexually begotten was introduced not by Joseph Smith but by early Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt. In a letter dated February 14, 1842, Pratt—while serving as a missionary in England—wrote to an Elder Walker:
“When I write to you I feel to let my imagination rove…let us indulge our follies at this time and wander into the field of imagination. Some thirteen thousand years ago in Heaven or in Paradise (say) we came into existences or in other words received a spiritual organization according to the laws that govern spiritual births in eternity. We were there and then (say) born in the express images and likeness of him by whom we received our spiritual birth.”
Orson Pratt made it quite clear in this letter that the above idea was mere speculation on his part; that it came from indulging his “follies.” Indeed, his notion that thirteen thousand years ago our spirits “came into existence or in other words received a spiritual organization” seems to contradict Joseph Smith’s teaching that “Intelligence exists upon a self-existent principle.”
Why did the Mormon Apostles so eagerly embrace Pratt’s doctrine?
It should be remembered that it was among other things Joseph Smith’s secret practice of polygamy that set in to motion the events that led to his arrest and murder by a lynch mob. His death sent the Mormon community at Nauvoo, Illinois into chaos.
(Above) The murder of Joseph Smith a Carthage jail in Illinois.
Most—but not all—of the Mormon Apostles thought it was their duty to maintain order in the community by denying accusations of polygamy while at the same time secretly maintaining the practice. Eager to move Mormons out of the United States to Mexican territory where, free from U.S. law, they could practice polygamy openly, Brigham Young and the Apostles who followed him began constructing a theology justifying the practice.
Once Brigham Young and a newly formed quorum of Twelve Apostles had situated the majority of their followers in Utah territory—completely separated from mainstream American society— they decided that not only would they end their public denials of polygamy, they would announce to the world that polygamy was now official LDS Church doctrine and that all LDS Church members were expected to practice it. (Only thirty percent of LDS Church members ever did.)
Brigham Young called Orson Pratt to announce the Church’s new doctrine to the world, and to explain the theology justifying it. Pratt declared:
“…That spirit that now dwells within each man, and each woman, of this vast assembly of people, is more than a thousand years old, and I would venture to say, that it is more than five thousand years old.
“But how was it made? When was it made? And by whom was it made? If our spirits existed thousands of years ago–if they began to exist–if there were a beginning to their organization, by what process was this organization carried on? Through what medium, and by what system of laws? Was it by a direct creation of the Almighty? Or were we framed according to a certain system of laws, in the same manner as our tabernacles [physical bodies]? If we were to reason from analogy—if we admit analogical reasoning in the question, what would we say? We should say that our spirits were formed by generation, the same as the body or tabernacle of flesh and bones.”
Pratt begins his argument for his new doctrine on the premise that our spirits had a beginning, that they "began to exist." This premise is the exact opposite of the main idea that Joseph Smith laid out in the King Follett Discourse: the spirit of each individual had no beginning; it is eternal, without beginning or end; it has always existed and "there was no creation about it."
Despite completely contradicting Joseph Smith's teachings, Pratt’s new doctrine became the theological justification for LDS polygamy. Plural marriage gave one man the opportunity to have more biological children than he might have with one wife. Having as many children as possible in this life, by as many wives as would marry him, allowed a polygamous man the opportunity to experience on earth what Orson Pratt, Brigham Young and their associates now taught was the type of existence led by God the Father. In 1852 the LDS Church’s official position was only by practicing polygamy in this life could one become a God or Goddess in eternity; Godhood itself consisted of the ability to sexually produce spirit children eternally.
It should be noted that the two other Mormon communities at this time—those in Michigan under the leadership of James Strange, and those whom Joseph Smith himself (shortly before his death) sent to settle in Texas under the leadership of Apostle Lyman Wright—both practiced polygamy. Yet neither community taught that polygamy—or even marriage itself—was required to become a God or Goddess. The Texas Mormons taught that while marriage—either monogamous or polygamous—might add to one’s glory in the Celestial, they never taught that marriage was a requirement for Celestial Glory of Godhood.
Pratt’s doctrine (of the spirit being sexually generated by heavenly parents) was used by the LDS Church not only to justify polygamy, but to refute an almost universally held assumption at the time: that Joseph Smith’s plural marriages sprang from his own romanticism and sexual desire.
THE ROOTS OF MORMON POLYGAMY: ‘SPIRITUAL WIFERY’ & FREE LOVE
From the early 1830’s (before the concepts of Priesthood authority and Priesthood ordinances were introduced in Mormonism) there had been rumors that Joseph Smith secretly advocated polygamy and “spiritual wifery.”
During Joseph’s childhood and teenage years, in the same region of New York in which he and other founding Mormons lived, the controversial religious leader Jacob Cochran openly taught a form of polygamous free-love called “spiritual wifery.” Cochran established communities—The Society of Free Brerhren and Sisters—in Allegany County, New York and in Saco, Maine. In 1832 Mormon missionaries went to Saco to preach to Cochran’s followers, and according to Maine historians, many “Cochranites” converted to Mormonism—enough so that on August 21, 1835, the Mormons held a church conference in Saco.
An 1830's drawing of the Cochranites--a religious community near the boyhood home of Joseph Smith who practiced "spiritual wifery" and free-love. In 1832 Mormon missionaries preached to a Cochranite community in Maine, converting a significant number to Mormonism.
“Spiritual wifery” and “the spirit wife-system” were ideas that made their way into Mormonism early on, and stayed until shortly after the death of Joseph Smith. For proof one need look no further than statements from one of Joseph Smith’s own wives: Helen Mar Kimball Whitney—the daughter of LDS Apostle Heber C. Kimball. According to Helen: "At the time [in Nauvoo] ‘spiritual wife’ was the title by which every woman who entered into this order was called, for it was taught and practiced as a spiritual order."
HAPPINESS: JOSEPH SMITH’S JUSTIFICATION FOR POLYGAMY
An objective study of Mormon history indicates that Joseph Smith believed that in God’s eyes romantic love and the pursuit of human pleasure and happiness justified plural marriage. He did not promote sexual hedonism, but believed that the institutions of law, marriage and family should be made to accommodate humanity’s polygamous sexual nature. As in the practices of Cochran’s Free Brethren and Sisters, Joseph’s views allowed for female polygamy as well: many of his plural wives had husbands other than Joseph. He also believed that ignorance and prejudices found in the mainstream religious traditions regarding human sexuality blinded most people to the common sense and virtue of his liberal views, and that the world would be in an up-roar was it to learn of his beliefs and his polygamous relationships.
(Above) An 1840's portrait of Joseph Smith--The First MormonIn a letter written to Nancy Rigdon (the niece of Sidney Rigdon) and dated April 11, 1842, Joseph Smith explained the justification for polygamy. Considering that he had recently proposed marriage to Nancy (and she had refused), one would expect Joseph to have made some reference to the begetting of “spirit children” in eternity, or to polygamy being essential to Godhood. But as in every letter and journal entry he wrote, and every sermon and revelation he ever gave, Joseph Smith was completely silent regarding both of these two ideas.
In his justification for polygamy, Joseph Smith wrote:
“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it…That which is wrong under one circumstance may be, and often is, right under another.
“God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill;’ at another time He said ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed…
“A parent may whip a child, and justly, too, because he stole an apple; whereas if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite; there would have been no stripes; all the pleasure of the apple would have been secured, all the misery of stealing lost.”
“This principle will justly apply to all of God’s dealings with His children. Everything that God gives us is lawful and right; and it is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow…
“…in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all His creatures, he never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances….
“Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive…He says: ‘Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find;’…no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things—who will listen to my voice and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent; for I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the law of my kingdom; for all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy.”
THE REJECTION OF ROMANTICISM
So why did the LDS Church ignore Joseph Smith linking of human sexuality with happiness? Why did Orson Pratt and Brigham Young feel the need to introduce into Utah Mormonism a theology that made eternal procreation not only the justification for polygamy, but also the means by which Godhood is obtained and human spirits come into being?
When Joseph Smith began sharing his unconventional views on sex and marriage with the leaders of the Mormon community at Nauvoo, few at first were receptive. Most of these men came from New England (the heart of Puritanism in America) and had, before converting to Mormonism, been members of Protestant congregations and movements that tended to be legalistic, strict and dour.
Brigham Young initially found Joseph’s views of sex and marriage at odds with his entire system of morals. Later in life when he referred to his weeks of struggling to understand and embrace polygamy, he said that when he saw a passing funeral, he envied the man in the coffin.
Orson Pratt was so horrified that he left Mormonism for a time, and turned against Joseph. Some Mormons recalled that for weeks following his break with Joseph, Orson lived alone out-of-doors along the banks of the Mississippi, so conflicted and distraught that many thought he had lost his mind.
Both Young and Pratt eventually accepted polygamy as a religious principle—both of them marrying many women and fathering dozens of children. But given their backgrounds and their initial reactions to polygamy, there is no reason to believe that they were completely comfortable with Joseph’s justification for polygamy.
While Joseph enjoyed the company of women and tended to be liberal in his views regarding their rights, Brigham Young declared that no man cared less for the private company of women than he did. When Brigham Young rose to power following Joseph’s death one of the first things he did was abolish Nauvoo’s Female Relief Society (the society which Joseph had taken great pride in helping establish). Later in Utah, he often lashed out from the pulpit at women who found polygamy emotionally painful, or who refused to submit to the rule of their husbands. While Joseph was very much the romantic when courting women—often quoting poetry to them, peppering his conversation with Latin phrases or speaking rapturously of having loved them before the world began—neither Brigham Young or Orson Pratt had any such inclinations—or talents.
For these two men—and for many of the Mormon men who migrated to Utah—sex was reserved for marriage and for the purpose of procreation. The culture from which most of them came—that of the backwoods Yankee and the Western pioneer—was suspicious of, and uncomfortable with the romanticizing of sexual love and passion. Sexual passion was part of nature, and to the frontier mindset nature was something that one had to subdue, harness and use for the good of society. Pleasure and personal happiness had to be put on hold, or even sacrificed altogether, in order to survive present ordeals. For many people the idea of marrying for love alone was still new and fraught with potential dangers. And so in the earliest days of Mormon Utah, marriage—be it monogamous or polygamous—had to serve some purpose higher than mere personal happiness and pleasure. Marriage existed for the survival of the human race and civilization itself. Marriage was an obligation, a sacrifice and ultimately a commandment that one was to obey without question or complaint.
This approach was mirrored in the theology of Orson Pratt: marriage was the relationship through which humans, in eternity, would sexually produce spirits, who would then be sent to inhabit future worlds. Heterosexual intercourse and procreation within the bounds of an eternal marriage, authorized by the LDS Church, became the sole means by which one became a God.
INTELLIGENCE & SPIRIT: WORD GAMES & THEOLOGY
Later Mormon theologians—realizing that this doctrine not only seemed to contradict Joseph Smith’s teaching on the uncreated nature of the spirit, but also that the doctrine was not explicitly laid out anywhere in Mormon scripture—tried to effect a reconciliation of sorts.
The brilliant Mormon scholar and theologian B.H. Roberts wrote at great length trying to reconcile the LDS Church theology with that of Joseph Smith. He tried to establish “intelligence” as something very different from a person’s individual “spirit.” Roberts proposed that “intelligence” was the uncreated, refined matter from which heavenly parents, through sexual union, organize the “spirit” of each of their children.
Modern LDS General Authorities and apologists have continued this line of reasoning—though the images that this theology brings to mind are rather odd to say the least: a God and a Goddess have sexual intercourse, and somehow through this intercourse a substance (“intelligence”) that exists uncreated in the universe enters their bodies and the womb of the Goddess, where it develops and from which it is eventually born as a new individual “spirit child.”
The attempt to different between the words “intelligence” and “spirit”—the attempt to present these as either two different things, or as one thing that somehow evolves from a lower state (“intelligence”) into a higher state (“a spirit”) is completely overthrown by the words of Joseph Smith himself.
Joseph Smith made not differentiation between the concepts of “spirit,” “intelligence” and “mind.” He declared in no uncertain terms:
“INTELLIGENCE is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. IT IS A SPIRIT FROM AGE TO AGE and there is no creation about it.” (King Follett Discourse)
Mormon historian Dan Hale sums it up, writing:
“Smith used the terms ’spirit,’ ’soul,’ intelligence,’ and ’mind’ synonymously to describe the inchoate, indestructible essence of life. This summary is drawn from eight documentary sources--dating from 6 may 1833 to 7 April 1844. None of them suggest that God presides over the spirits because they are his begotten off spring, but because he was more intelligent, more advanced, than they and because he organized them into a pre-mortal council…In conclusion, one of the most cherished doctrines of [LDS] Mormonism, that spirits are the literal offspring of God, has been taught by virtually all [LDS] Mormon leaders. The notable exception is probably Joseph Smith, whose direct statements teach a doctrine contrary to that of his closest associates, men and women who maintain that they were simply perpetuating what he had begun.”
THE CENSURED CLIMAX OF JOSEPH SMITH’S GREATEST SERMON
Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse not only contradicts the LDS and FLDS doctrine of the spirit being produced by sexually produced by a Heavenly Father and Mother, it also rejects the entire doctrine that heterosexual Celestial Marriage (monogamous or polygamous) is necessary in order for a human being to progress to Godhood.
While many LDS historians, Church authorities and apologists have written about King Follett Discourse, nearly all have ignored the visionary conclusion of this sermon.
Why have they ignored it?
Because the LDS Church has deleted it from every authorized publication of “The King Follett Discourse.”
In our next lesson we will print this deleted portion of the discourse, and explore the extraordinary vision of Godhood that it contains.
This censored portion of the King Follett Discourse undermines the LDS and FLDS doctrine that eternal heterosexual marriage is necessary for Celestial Glory and Godhood.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
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Sunday, March 29, 2009
According to the theology embraced by the LDS and FLDS Churches, the spirit of every human being was begotten by a Heavenly Father and born to a Heavenly Mother in eternity before the earth was organized. Each individual human spirit is the product of procreation—not creation; the product of a sexual union between a God and a Goddess.
Above is he famous LDS Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah; below is the FLDS Temple in Texas. Though both of these Mormon denominations differ on the issue of polygamy, both churches teach that a person's spirit is the sexually produced "spiritual offspring" of a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.
“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents…”
Not only is this doctrine an essential part of the LDS and FLDS Church’s theology, it is also embraced by the majority of Mormon denominations and religious communities that have branched off of these two churches.
According to the theology of LDS, FLDS and most other Utah Mormons, the ability to procreate in eternity—that is the ability of a male and female to sexually reproduce by conceiving and giving birth to “spirit children”—is THE defining aspect of Godhood itself. Eternal beings unable to sexually produce “spirit children”—even in the highest level of glory, called “The Celestial Kingdom”—are not called Gods, but merely Angels who are unable to progress eternally.
For LDS, FLDS and other Utah Mormons, heterosexual intercourse and reproduction are the process by which an individual achieves his or her eternal salvation and exaltation. The single woman, the bachelor and the homosexual are without hope unless they are married in a Temple ceremony (according to the LDS Church), practice polygamy (according to the FLDS Church) or enter some form of heterosexual matrimony (according to most other forms of Utah Mormonism.)
JOSEPH SMITH: THE FIRST MORMON
All Mormons trace their religion and theology back to Joseph Smith—the First Mormon. LDS, FLDS and other Utah Mormons believe that Joseph was the greatest prophet who ever lived. The have canonized as scripture the following tribute to Joseph, written by John Taylor, shortly after his murder on June 27, 1844 :
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fullness the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood…” (Doctrine & Covenants 135:3)
Given the fact that LDS, FLDS and Utah Mormons give such praise to Joseph Smith, one would assume that one would find abundant references in Joseph’s sermons and writings to the doctrine of the human spirit being sexually begotten and born to Heavenly Parents.
Above is the only known photo of Joseph Smith--the First Mormon.
LDS, FLDS and Utah Mormons claim that the doctrine of spirits being the sexually produced off-spring of a Heavenly Father and Mother constitutes an essential part of "the fullness of the everlasting gospel”—cited in the above tribute to Joseph.
But in preaching “the fullness of the everlasting gospel,” did Joseph Smith actually teach this doctrine—ever?
THE SILENCE OF JOSEPH SMITH
It may come as a shock to most LDS, FLDS and Utah Mormons to discover that Joseph Smith never taught the doctrine that the human spirit is the sexually begotten offspring of a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.
There is not a single reference in the Bible, “The Book of Mormon,” “The Doctrine & Covenants” or “The Pearl of Great Prince” to this central LDS, FLDS, Utah Mormon doctrine. In his last and greatest sermon, “The King Follet Discourse”—the entire subject of which was the nature of God, the origin of one's spirit and the means by which humans can progress toward Godhood—the idea is never mentioned. In fact, as we will show, the ideas that Joseph Smith introduced in this sermon actually undermine the LDS and FLDS theology regarding this subject.
Above is a 19th century painting of Joseph Smith preaching to Native Americans in Ohio in the early 1830s.
Joseph Smith made numerous references to God the Father having an eternal companion—a wife, who was referred to as our Heavenly Mother, or Eternal Mother. But nowhere has there been found a single instance in which he wrote or declared that She gave birth to our spirits.
Mormon scholar Dan Hale has pointed out that the origin of this particular doctrine…
“…has remained somewhat obscure…there are no clear statements of the doctrine in any of the [LDS] church’s four standard work.”
In his study, “The Origin of the Human Spirit in Early Mormon Thought,” Van Hale concludes:
“In tracing the doctrine of spirit birth backward we find hundreds of references to it throughout Mormon literature, and the teaching that spirits originated through premortal procreation seems to have been the prevailing explanation ever since the Nauvoo period. What is surprising, however, is that none of Joseph Smith‘s recorded sermons--including those delivered in Nauvoo--teach the doctrine. In fact, several seem to teach a doctrine logically at odds with the belief that spirits are the literal offspring of God through premortal birth…Smith’s own doctrinal teaching was that the human spirit as a conscious entity is eternal--as eternal as God. It has no beginning and no end. It was not created; it is self-existing. God, being more advanced than the other spirits, organized them and instituted laws to give them the privilege to advance like himself…Smith used the terms ’spirit,’ ’soul,’ intelligence,’ and ’mind’ synonymously to describe the inchoate, indestructible essence of life. This summary is drawn from eight documentary sources--dating from 6 may 1833 to 7 April 1844. None of them suggest that God presides over the spirits because they are his begotten off spring, but because he was more intelligent, more advanced, than they and because he organized them into a premortal council…In conclusion, one of the most cherished doctrines of [LDS] Mormonism, that spirits are the literal offspring of God, has been taught by virtually all [LDS] Mormon leaders. The notable exception is probably Joseph Smith, whose direct statements teach a doctrine contrary to that of his closest associates, men and women who maintain that they were simply perpetuating what he had begun.”
WHAT JOSEPH DID TEACH ON THE ORIGIN OF ONE’S SPIRIT:
THE UNCREATED SPIIRT/ THE ETERNAL INDIVIDUAL
In “The King Follet Discourse,” delivered on April 7, 1845, Joseph Smith declared:
“I have another subject to dwell upon…that is, the soul, the mind of man, the immortal spirit. All men say God created it in the beginning. The very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better. Hear it all ye ends of the world, for God has told me so. Before I get through, I will make a man appear a fool if he doesn't believe it. I am going to tell of things more noble.”
Traditional western religion has taught that all existence is the production of a divine creation; that existence had a beginning, with God as the First Cause. Towards the end of his life, Joseph Smith rejected this doctrine outright, declaring that existence was eternal and uncreated; that the world in which we lived was “organized” by the Gods from existing matter. (See “The Book of Abraham.”)
In other words, existence itself is omnipotent. God, who is also eternal, exists and can only be understood within the greater context of existence as a whole.This laid the groundwork for Joseph’s most radical and far-reaching teaching on the nature of man:
“We say that God himself is a self-existing God. Who told you so? It is correct enough, but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles?….
“The mind of man is as immortal as God himself…. Is it logic to say that a spirit is immortal and yet has a beginning? Because if a spirit has a beginning, it will have an end. That is good logic. I want to reason further on the spirit of man…"
Above is a mid-19th century drawing of Joseph Smith preaching the King Follet Discourse at the April 1844 church conference in Nauvoo, Illinois.
“The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God found himself in the midst of spirits and glory, and because he was greater, he saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have the privilege of advancing like himself--that they might have one glory upon another and all the knowledge, power, and glory necessary to save the world of spirits. I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life that are given to me, you taste them, and I know you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life; I know it is good. And when I tell you of these things that were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and I rejoice more and more.”
Joseph Smith taught that not only was our spirit/mind eternal and uncreated, it was also by nature free. In May 1833, Joseph declared:
“Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence or the light of truth was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.” (Doctrine & Covenants 93:29—30)
Clearly Joseph Smith did not teach that one’s spirit was the product of creation or pro-creation.
Instead, he taught that one’s spirit was “co-equal with God”—that it was self-existent, without beginning or end.
“Intelligence exists upon a self-existent principle; it is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it,” Joseph Smith boldly declared.
THE INDIVIDUAL AND INDEPENDENCE
Reform Mormons see the virtue of Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding the eternal, uncreated nature of the human spirit, and its autonomy. They understand that this doctrine is in harmony with a philosophy that that embraces individual human rights, a philosophy that refuses to subjugate individuals to roles and stereotypes based on gender and ancient concepts regarding sex and reproductive functions.
Religious denominations such as the LDS and FLDS Churches might claim to be protecting the sanctity of marriage and family through their political activism, their embracing of polygamy and arranged marriages, and by teaching that one’s spirit is sexually produced spiritual offspring of a Heavenly Father and Mother.
But the end result is that the complex nature of individual human beings is denied, and the rights of the individual are sacrificed for the sake of preserving a particular ideas about sex and marriage--ideas that Joseph Smith neither taught. In claiming to defend the sanctity of marriage and sex, LDS and FLDS theology actually reduces human sexuality to a barn-yard mentality: the most important function of marriage and sex is achieving pregnancy and giving birth. The body, mind and spirit of the individual—male and female—is subordinated to one particular biological function of the body. Human sexuality with all of its emotional and psychological complexities, challenges and joys—along with its ability to intensify the spiritual connection between individuals—is, in the end, approached in the same way a breeder of dogs cattle or chickens would approach the sexuality of those particular animals.
Reform Mormons find that approach insulting to human nature—a nature which we believe we hold in common with Deity Itself.
Reform Mormonism embraces reality and the natural world as it is. Following the example of Joseph Smith, and building upon the new theology he introduced during his Nauvoo-era Reformation of Mormonism, we look to nature, employing reason and logic in our ongoing effort to understand human nature and human potential, to institute ordinances, and to articulate doctrines and ideas that will uplift and exalt the individual.
Joseph Smith’s radically new teaching that the individual spirit is an uncreated, eternal entitywithout beginning or end; without a creation in its past, or a complete annihilation in its future—an entity that is “co-equal with God” is one of the foundational doctrines of Reform Mormonism.
Self-described “Cultural Mormon,” William Call has noted:
“…Mormonism’s original ideas concerning the eternal, uncreated nature of the human soul are as pertinent today as they were when first given…At the heart of Joseph Smith’s teachings is the principle that that which is most sacred is the eternal, uncreated intelligence or soul of man and that no God or entity whatsoever has the power to either create, destroy or assume jurisdiction over the individual. This doctrine stands apart from Christian theology. It is the underlying and most essential doctrine of democracy. It is not only thoroughly in accord with the sentiments and attitudes of democratic societies, it provides the fundamental spiritual foundation upon which democracy is built. So long as Mormonism advocates and stands by this doctrine it will prosper…Mormonism, in its new, enlightened state, may lift itself up as the one viable religion remaining in today’s modern democratic world…A world religion…is one that provides the underlying spiritual foundation for the world’s people…A religion that provides the spiritual foundation for the forces of democracy that are spreading themselves over the whole world, which religion Mormonism alone can claim to be, could well become, in the centuries if not the decades to come, the religion of the whole world!”
A statue of Joseph Smith--the First Mormon
FROM WHENCE CAME THE LDS/FLDS DOCTRINE OF “SPIRIT CHILDREN”
From where did the LDS and FLDS Churches get their doctrine that our spirits are the literal spiritual offspring of a Heavenly Father and Mother? If Joseph Smith never taught this doctrine, who did? And why did the LDS Church embrace this doctrine? This will be the subject of our next lesson.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
If you think that anti-gay ideology, political activism against Same Sex Marriage, and forced polygamous marriages of underage teenage girls are somehow founded upon the teachings of Joseph Smith, then read on. You are in for a surprise.
During the last year the LDS and FLDS denominations of Mormonism have made national headlines because of several issues involving sex: polygamy, same-sex marriage and civil rights for homosexual Americans.
In the Spring of 2008, state authorities raided the FLDS compound in Texas, taking over a hundred teens and children into protective custody because of allegations of sexual abuse of underage teenage girls.
In November of 2008 the passage of Proposition 8 in California took away the rights of homosexual Californians to marry—a civil right that the state Supreme Court had granted earlier that year. The success in passing Proposition 8 was due primarily to the political activity of the LDS Church. In the weeks that followed, political rallies by those in favor of same-sex unions were held in front of LDS Temples across the country—in much the same way that the LDS, in September and October, had organized political rallies across the state of California to demonstrate against same-sex unions.
This week it was revealed that the work of the LDS Church in stripping homosexual Americans of their civil rights continues. Using certain pages its official website (accessible only to currently active Church members, who are given a special code) the LDS Church is organizing its members in Illinois to campaign against efforts to established same-sex civil unions.
The LDS Church erroneously presents itself as the one and only “Mormon Church”—as the only institution divinely authorized to interpret the teachings of Joseph Smith—the First Mormon. As such the LDS renounces the FLDS Church as well as all other Mormon denomination—ranging from polygamous groups to the mainstream Protestant-like RLDS Church (now known as “The Community of Christ.”) In recent years LDS Church president, Gordon B. Hinckley, went so far as to say that “there is not such thing as a Fundamentalist Mormon”—despite the fact that in Utah (headquarters of the LDS and the FLDS Churches) there are over 40,000 Mormon polygamists.
Since the 1960’s, the LDS Church had presented itself as an ardent defender of “traditional marriage” and “traditional family values.” The Church has based its entire missionary program on promoting post-World War II, 1950’s mainstream American ideals regarding marriage, gender roles and family.
Because of this, the LDS Church not only denounces polygamy and same-sex marriage, but it continues to demonize homosexuals, and to insist that homosexuality is merely a “lifestyle choice”—this despite increasing scientific evidence proving that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, and that it can not be changed.
Cartoon of LDS President Spencer W. Kimball, flanked by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, attempting to "cure" two homosexual men
In the 1970 LDS Church president Spencer W. Kimball (revered by the LDS as the prophet of God at the time) in his book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” lamented the fact that in many places homosexual was not longer a crime punishable by arrest and imprisonment; he wrote that for those who engaged in homosexual acts, it would have been better that if they had never been born.
committed suicide in Arizona in 2000.
Since that time the suicide of numerous homosexual Latter-day Saints—distraught over their inability to change their sexual orientation—have been reported in the news.
suicide on the lawn of an LDS Chapel
In 2000, faithful LDS Church member and returned missionary Stuart Matis shot himself through the head on the front lawn of the local LDS chapel in Santa Clara, California. Matis left a suicide note blaming the suicide on the conflict between his religion and his sexual orientation, a conflict that was accentuated by the battle over California's Proposition 22.
Russell Henderson (above) was an LDS Aaronic Priesthood
holder when he murdered Matthew Shepherd in 1998
Most famously, Russell Hendersen—one of the two young men who, in the 1998, murdered gay college student Matthew Shepherd—was LDS and ordained to the Church’s Aaronic Priesthood.
More recently, speeches and public rants given by church members who headed the Church’s campaign for Proposition 8 equated homosexuality with bestiality, incest and the sexual abuse of children. The Church declares that homosexuality is something that can be overcome through conversion, prayer, fasting and “obeying God’s commandments”—by which they mean the dictates of the current LDS Church authorities. The Church continues to demonize homosexuals—presenting them as sinister agents under the influence of the devil who are out to destroy the institution of the family.
Over the last two years, LDS Church members have been told by Church General Authorities (who are revered as being the sole representatives of God on earth) that they should forbid adult homosexual children and relatives to bring their partners into their homes. Their fear is that if LDS children or youth are allowed socialize with homosexual relatives and their partners, they will begin to see homosexuals as normal, ethical, happy individuals. More than any other religious denomination in the United States, the LDS Church continues to take increasingly drastic steps in stigmatizing homosexuals.
Utah Senator Chris Buttar
Just two weeks ago LDS Church members serving in the Utah state legislature showed every thing from indifference to vicious contempt when law-abiding homosexual Utahan presented a plea to state representatives to find some common ground for addressing the issue of same-sex civil unions. At the same time, Utah State Senator Chris Buttar (a devout LDS Church member--pictured above) said that gay and lesbian rights activists are "probably the greatest threat to America going down." He also asked "what is the morals of a gay person? You can't answer that, because anything goes. So now you are moving toward a society that has no morals." Buttar also compared gay rights activists to Islamic radicals: "Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it's been taken over by the radical side. And the gays are totally taken over by the radical side."
TE LDS CHURCH AND SO-CALLED “TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE”
Since the 1940’s, the LDS Church has gone out of its way to distance itself from its polygamous past. LDS General Authorities, historians and apologists never miss an opportunity to declare that the LDS ended polygamy in 1890 (actually it was 1904), and that it has excommunicated any member even preaching the doctrine since that time. (Actually such excommunications didn’t begin until 1907. They were aimed only at Church members who entered polygamous marriages after 1904.)
Heber J. Grant, who died in 1945, was the last
polygamist to serve as President of the LDS Church
The LDS Church does not advertise the fact that until 1945 every LDS Church president (each regarded as an infallible prophet) was a practicing polygamist. President Heber J, Grant, who died in 1945, was actually the Church’s last polygamist prophet with three wives. Into the 1950’s there were elderly LDS Church members who were polygamists. This means that the LDS Church has only been polygamist-free for about 50 years. This is quite a different picture than the one painted by the LDS Church in it’s official announcements, literature and press releases—all of which insist that the Church had been polygamist-free for nearly 120 years.
Even today LDS Church members, in LDS Temples, can be sealed (married) to more than one spouse “for time and all eternity.” This means that even though a Latter-day Saint can only have one wife at a time in this life, the Church continues to teach that in eternity (in “heaven”) he will be married to all the women to whom the Church has sealed him in their wedding ceremonies. Many modern LDS men—including quite a few modern General Authorities of the Church—believe that they will be polygamists in heaven.
Despite its current theology, the LDS Church continues its work to deny homosexual Americans of their civil rights—all in the name of defending “traditional marriage.”
THE LDS CHURCH & THE FLDS CHURCH HAVE THE EXACT SAME THEOLOGY REGARDING SEX
On the surface, the politically right-wing LDS Church and the radical FLDS Church seem worlds apart; like two completely different religions.
This is not the case.
Regarding the purpose of marriage and sex, the LDS and FLDS Churches embrace the exact same theology. The LDS Church opposes civil rights for homosexuals on the same theological ground that the FLDS Church has sanctioned polygamous marriage to underage teenage girls.
THE LDS/FLDS THEOLOGY OF SEX
Both the LDS and FLDS Church share a common theology regarding sex.
According the LDS and FLDS doctrine, God commands that all human beings must “be married for time and all eternity” in order to reach the highest degree of glory in heaven—Celestial Glory. A human being who reaches this degree of glory will become a God or Goddess.
As Gods and Goddesses, they will sexually produce spirits for future human beings who will be born on futures worlds that will be created. In LDS and FLDS theology, not only marriage, but heterosexual sexual intercourse itself and reproduction are pre-requisites for Godhood. According to LDS theology Godhood itself is the ability to engage in heterosexual sexual intercourse and reproduction for all eternity.
Since 1852 the LDS Church has taught that God (Our Heavenly Father) is married, and that our spirits (the part of us that will live on after death) were begotten through God’s sexual union with a Heavenly Mother. Until recent decades LDS Church authorities taught that God was a polygamist with many Goddess wives. Though the LDS Church no longer preaches this doctrine publicly—as does the FLDS Church--neither has it officially denied the doctrine.
In its recent statement concerning “the divine institution of marriage” the LDS explicitly has said that love is not the basis of marriage. Instead the Church insists that the purpose of marriage is reproduction and caring for children. Likewise the FLDS Church insists that the basis of marriage is not love. These views are a continuation of the LDS Church’s teaching in the late 1800s, which was usually articulated in this way: “We consider [romantic] love to be a false emotion.”
Both the LDS and FLDS Churches teach that marriage is commanded by God; that to fulfill God’s purpose for humanity (that is, to become Gods ourselves) every human being must get married and reproduce—in this life if possible, but most certainly in heaven. One’s future power and glory as a God will be based on the number of “spirit children” one has in eternity.
In the theology of the LDS and FLDS, heterosexual sex is the means by which one becomes like God and enters into heaven’s highest degree of glory.
No wonder the LDS Church is so vicious in its attacks on homosexuality.
BUT DID JOSEPH SMITH—MORMONISM’S FOUNDER—ACTUALLY TEACH THESE IDEAS?
The LDS and FLDS Churches each claim to be “the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth.” Each claims to perfectly teach the doctrines of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith.
But did Joseph Smith actually teach the doctrines described above?
Did Joseph Smith teach that our spirits were begotten by Our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother?
Did Joseph Smith teach that one became like God through getting married?
Did Joseph teach that human beings, once they became Gods, would sexually begat spirit children for future worlds?
The answers to all three of these questions is NO.
These ideas are found nowhere in Mormon scripture—not in the Bible, “The Book of Mormon,” The Doctrine and Covenants, or “The Pearl of Great Price.”
These ideas can not be found in any of Joseph Smith’s letters, journals or sermons.
How is it that the LDS and FLDS Churches—the two institutions that claim to teach the doctrines of Joseph Smith—base their entire theology on ideas that Joseph never taught?
Joseph Smith--the founder of Mormonism--in 1843
And if Joseph Smith never taught these doctrines, how should devout Mormons who happen to be homosexual react to the LDS and FLDS Churches?
Can one be a Mormon without being a member the LDS or FLDS Church?
WHERE DID THESE IDEAS COME FROM?
Where did these ideas—the central concepts of LDS/FLDS theology—come from? Who came up with these ideas? If Joseph Smith didn’t teach these ideas, then who did?
THAT will be the focus of our next installment.
We will reveal exactly who invented this theology of married Gods and Goddesses sexually begetting the spirits of human beings.
We will reveal why, in 1852, Brigham Young and the LDS Church embraced these ideas.
We will then reveal exactly what Joseph Smith DID teach regarding the origin of the human spirit and the process by which human beings might progress to Godhood.
We will then reveal Joseph Smith’s vision of humanity once it achieved Godhood—a vision that he declared publicly in plain language—and a vision which the LDS Church ignored in the 1850s and then began to suppress and deny in the 20th century.
We will show that the actual teachings of Joseph Smith in his famous last sermon—the King Follett Discourse—actually undermine the LDS and FLDS theology regarding human sexuality. In light of this we will ask you to consider the following: When one considers what Joseph Smith actually did teach at the end of his life, is it possible that, strictly speaking, the modern day LDS Church isn’t even “Mormon?”
Finally we will present the Reform Mormon theology of human progress, marriage and sexuality.
This theology—founded firmly upon the principles of Joseph Smith’s unfinished Nauvoo-era reformation of Mormonism—is one that embraces all people— regardless of their sexual orientation. It reveres the worth of the individual, human freedom, intellectual curiosity, human progress and achievement. It exalts in human joy, and it embraces humanity and life on earth in a spirit of generosity and hope.