20 October 2008

A Little Historical Context

Scott over at Dichotomy has posted in gut-wrenching detail the struggles of a Latter-day Saint who wants to be faithful but sees his leaders overtly propagating what he believes to be misinformation, and the consequences of that for the foundations of his belief. My heart goes out to you Scott and I completely understand the quandary.

He's also posted some excellent quotes from Church leaders about our individual responsibility to investigate and act on advice from those same leaders. Best of show, in my opinion, and slightly revised & updated for our time:

“President Thomas Monson is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when ‘Thus saith the Lord’, comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” - Apostle Charles W. Penrose (Millennial Star 54:191). The question, of course is whether the First Presidency's request to support Proposition 8 in California rises to the level of “Thus saith the Lord” or whether it reflects “personal views or utterances.” Their letter is almost maddeningly void of any reference that would help make this determination. And even if it is the former, we then have the obligation to “investigate it” rather than “shutting our eyes and taking it down like a pill” as so many LDS seem intent on doing, if blogs and Web traffic are any indication. I won't presume here to say which conclusion I think is correct. I leave that to individual members and the inspiration they seek for themselves.

However, in an admittedly shameless effort to tweak those Iron Rodders who still believe the thinking stops whenever the prophet speaks on any matter, I offer the following quotes from prophets and apostles. I would love to know how LDS supporters of Proposition 8 and the “traditional” marriage of one man & one woman would respond to these:

“The one wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.” - John Taylor (Millenial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227)

“We breathe the free air, we have the best looking men and handsomest women, and if [non-Mormons] envy us our position, well they may, for they are a poor, narrow-minded, pinch-backed race of men, who chain themselves down to the law of monogamy, and live all their days under the dominion of one wife. They ought to be ashamed of such conduct and the still fouler channel which flows from their practices, and it is not to be wondered at that they should envy those who so much better understand the social relations.” - George A. Smith (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 291)

“Some quietly listen to those who speak against the plurality of wives, and against almost every principle that God has revealed. Such persons have half-a-dozen devils with them all the time.” - Heber C. Kimball (Journal of Discourses Vol. 5, p. 203)

“I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality of wives looks fresh, young, and sprightly.” - Heber C. Kimball (Journal of Discourses Vol. 5, p. 22)

Does the Church support Proposition 8 because if it loses, legal arguments against polygamy could be weakened, and today's Relief Society might not like their men looking for ways to be more “fresh, young, and sprightly”? Just a thought!


Scott said...

You left out one of the best (and the most topical):

"I consider our false tradition upon this subject [of monogamy] one of the greatest evils at the present time that exists upon the earth. It has come down to us from the Greeks and Romans, than whom a more abominable lot of people never lived upon the earth. To read their books is enough to make a man with the least feeling of modesty blush and be ashamed of his race... Not only crimes, but crimes against nature [read: homosexuality] were justified by some of the best and most noted of Greek philosophers, and were practiced by Sophocles, Socrates, and others; and yet this is the philosophy that has come down to us." (George Q. Cannon, Apostle, April 6, 1879, Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 200)

After over a hundred years of the "one wife system" it's no wonder there are so many gay Mormons!

October Rising said...

well said!

Beck said...

These quotes are fantastic, most of which I've never read or heard before. Thanks for the historical context.

Beliefs and views of how one sees the world do change with time. So is it really just a matter of time? A passing of a generation? A change in a law? in order to bring another change?