When you stopped by the other day, in addition to asking for your take on the incongruities between Mormon teaching and traditional Christianity, I also asked how you deal with apparent inconsistencies within Mormonism itself.
Again, I ask in all sincerity and hope I do not give offense.
From my outsider's perspective, it seems that LDS prophets/presidents have given differing teachings on certain issues. Two such especially troubling issues are those of ethnic groups and of polygamy, respectively.
Here's what I see from my perspective . . .
From my reading of 2 Nephi 5:20-25, the Book of Mormon teaches that, in contrast to those who are "white [. . .] and delightsome," "dark skinned" people are "cursed," "loathsome," and inferior ("And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed" v.23).
I've also seen some quotations attributed to previous LDS leaders, directing such a sentiment toward African Americans and other specific ethic groups applying the "seed of Cain" doctrine to say that dark skinned people are spiritually inferior and that (white) Mormons should not intermarry with them. (I know that not everything one finds on the Internet is reliable, but it looks like at least some of the citations given in the link above check out. Please let me know if my information is bad.)
I understand that current LDS teaching does not endorse the belief that one race is superior/inferior to another, but I am troubled by the fact that blacks have only been able to hold the LDS priesthood since 1978. I am also confused by the apparent incongruity between the statements of previous LDS leaders and the current position. The previous teachings are deeply disturbing to me.
Can you help me understand how you reconcile yourself with the past teachings and policies of the LDS church on the issue of race and ethnicity?
Also, while polygamy is not endorsed for present practice, it was previously an endorsed practiced. It also seems that the current ban is temporary, that it will one day return, and that it will ultimately be practiced in the highest level of heaven. At least such is the view I see when reading through Doctrine and Covenants 132 as well as other LDS publications.
In one LDS publication, The Desert Weekly (v.43, p. 540), quotations from the 1890 General Conference regarding polygamy are given along with the following summary of that assembly's decision to suspend the practice of plural marriage:
"Such is the authoritative position of the Mormon Church. Briefly summarized it may be read in this way:
The revelations of God given to Joseph Smith, including that on plural marriage, are binding upon the people, unless 'their enemies came upon them and hinder them from performing that work.'
They performed their 'work' in establishing polygamy until 'their enemies came upon them and hindered them,' and disobeyed the law of the land until through persecutions and punishments they were compelled to conclude that 'it is not wisdom to make war upon sixty-five millions of people,' nor 'to carry out this principle against the laws of the nation and receive the consequences.' But it is yet to be re-established, for 'all that He has promised in this code of revelation has been fulfilled as fast as time would admit. That which has not yet been fulfilled will be."If polygamy is a holy state and one that is central to LDS eschatology, can you help me understand the change in emphasis today which seems to downplay the importance of plural marriage in LDS history and doctrine?
Can you help me understand the LDS position on polygamy? I find it quite confusing.
Why do only men receive the priesthood in the LDS church? Is the "patriarchal grip" in the marriage ceremony symbolizing that women have to enter heaven and achieve divinization through their husbands? From some of my readings of LDS texts, I am uncertain whether women can actually become gods in the celestial kingdom or just men. What is the official LDS teaching on this matter?
It's possible I'm reading it the wrong way, but when I read Doctrine and Covenants 132, I can't help but feel concerned by the apparent tone and attitude toward women. It appears that Joseph Smith is informing his wife, Emma Smith, that God "commands" her to "receive all those" her husband "has been given" or else she "will be destroyed." From the context, it looks as though Joseph is being called "a ruler over" all the "virgins" given to him as "his property'; that a man's wives "belong(eth) (un)to him." Am I reading this right?
There also seems to be some contradiction within the passage. First it states that a man's first wife must "give her consent" before her husband "espouse the second." However, shortly thereafter it says that if any man have a wife [. . .] and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood," and she doesn't
"believe and administer unto him, [. . . ] she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.
Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor" (Doctrine and Covenants 132, especially 51-66).From my outsider's perspective, it's difficult to see how this attitude toward marriage and toward women is of God. Am I missing something? How does LDS teaching handle this passage and the church's past practices of polygamy?
I have great respect for you and where you're coming from and do not intend to bash the LDS faith. I ask these questions sincerely. Understanding that you come to my door to tell me about your faith, I present you with my honest questions. I would like to understand your position on these important issues.
Yours in Christ,