THE HOUSE OF THE LORD
With President Joseph F. Smith's words, "When couples marry outside the temple, they cut themselves off. They have no claim upon each other, or their children" ringing in our ears and having completed Project Temple, we went to the Manti Temple on April 1, 1966. (Isn't it ironic that April 1st is April Fools Day?) We were extremely excited to enter the House of the Lord. We attended the temple that day with the belief that we would be instructed in sacred matters of the Lord, and most importantly, be sealed for eternity as a family. In our hearts we were praying that God would part the veil between this life and the next and allow us to see our little girl again. But it was not to be.
As we entered the front door of the temple, we were in awe at what we saw and felt. It was so peaceful. The men and women were dressed in white and speaking in hushed tones. We were asked to show our temple recommends and were then escorted to the Temple President's office. He asked us a few questions, and we were then escorted to dressing rooms where we were each assigned a private locker. Lori, in the meantime, was taken to the nursery. We were instructed to disrobe and cover ourselves with a 'shield,' a white poncho-like linen covering with a hole in the top for the head and open sides, which were held shut while walking. We carried a pair of 'Temple Garments,' a one-piece long-sleeved, long-legged undergarment to the 'Washing and Anointing' area where we waited until directed by a temple worker to enter one of the 'Washing and Anointing' booths through a veiled partition. The booths were simply small cubicles made up of suspended linen veils. When called for, we individually entered the booth and handed our garments to a worker who placed them on a towel rod.
Next were the 'Initiatory Ordinances' or 'Washings and Anointings', which are preliminary to the 'Endowment Ceremony.' We were washed with 'Holy Water' and anointed with 'Consecrated Oil' by a temple worker, and given many promises concerning this life and the hereafter, among them the promise that we could become a 'King/Queen, Priest/Priestess.' We were then dressed in the 'Garments of the Holy Priesthood' which had strange symbolic markings sewn in them. We were told if we did not defile the garments but were true and faithful to our covenants, they would be a shield and a protection to us against the power of the destroyer (Satan) until we had finished our work here on earth.
After we were separately washed and anointed, we each received a 'New Name' and were instructed never to forget or divulge it except at a certain place that would be shown to us in the temple that day.
It was explained later in the Endowment that the New Name is a name given to us that is required to be given at the time we enter the Kingdom of God following death. We were instructed that without this new name one cannot enter the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom where families are together forever. The husband is never to divulge his New Name to his wife; however, the wife is required to give her New Name to her husband upon entering the Celestial Kingdom. That is her 'ticket' to the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom, where her faithful husband will accept her into their eternal family.
After receiving our New Names we were taken to the Creation Room where the brethren were seated on one side of the room and the sisters were seated on the other side. We wondered why we were not permitted to sit together. We wanted to hold hands, feel each other's spirit, and be close for this special occasion, but we weren't allowed to. We took a quick glance at each other across the room, and smiled in anticipation of what was to follow.
We witnessed a long, live dramatic presentation depicting the creation of the earth and the fall of Adam and Eve. We were introduced to the character they called Lucifer, who is Satan. The man playing this part spoke in a strong tone of voice when he issued this warning; "If they do not live up to every covenant they make at these altars in this temple this day, they will be in my power." There was silence for a few long seconds. We both gave a deep sigh. Anxiety and fear took over. The Church's control over our lives became even stronger as we continually reflected upon the words, "they will be in my power" spoken by Satan in the temple that day. We would hear those frightening words over and over again as we attended the temple regularly for years to come.
The presentation showed a Christian minister working hand-in-hand with Lucifer to deceive mankind for profit by teaching orthodox Christian doctrine. The sisters were put under covenant to obey their husbands, and during the course of the dramatization both the brethren and the sisters were required to stand and covenant to obey five all-inclusive laws. These are the Laws of Obedience, Sacrifice, The Gospel, Chastity and Consecration, (which meant consecrating all that we owned, including our own lives if necessary), to the building up of the Kingdom of God here on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.
We raised our right arms to the square, and promised to obey all that was presented to us that day. We didn't really understand any of the endowment, in fact, the rituals seemed very controlling and frightening to us. Who was this God that required us to dress in clothing that seemed so bizarre, make secret/sacred covenants, whisper secret names, and take blood oaths, obediently promising to slit our throats and rip open our bowels rather than reveal what was taught in the temple? We felt like something was terribly wrong with the whole thing, but we did as we were told.
As we proceeded through the endowment ceremony, I looked around to see if anyone else was as uncomfortable as I was, only to observe that everyone else seemed fine with it. Larry and I looked at each other in bewilderment. We hadn't gone to the temple that day to feel fear and anxiety. We were there to be sealed to each other and our sweet daughters for eternity. After going through the full dramatic presentation, making covenants and participating in 'The Holy Order of Prayer,' we were taken to the 'Veil' representing the entry into the Celestial Kingdom. We proceeded using previously taught wording and gestures through the Veil and were welcomed into the Celestial Room.
We had been told that once we were in the Celestial Room if we had any questions they would be answered. We both had many questions, but our questions went unanswered and we were simply told to live by faith, that there are many things the Lord has not yet revealed to mortal man, evidently because in mortality man is unable to comprehend them. We were instructed not to bother about the mysteries, which have never been revealed, and told that the Lord expects us to spend our time preparing for eternity and our entrance into the Celestial Kingdom. It seemed as if to question anything about the Temple Ceremony or the theology of the Church was to doubt God. We were taught that the Prophet, President David O. McKay, indicated that he was still learning important principles of the Gospel every time he attended the temple, so who were we to question what we had just experienced in the temple that day?
After leaving the Celestial Room, we were escorted to one of several 'Sealing Rooms.' We knelt across the altar from each other, held each other's right hand in the patriarchal grip (taught to us during the endowment) and were sealed as husband and wife for 'Time and all Eternity.' Tears of happiness filled our eyes, for we truly loved one another, and the idea of being together forever filled our hearts with unimaginable joy. Then they brought Lori into the room. She was dressed completely in white and looked like an angel. Larry's Aunt Evelyn knelt as proxy for our deceased daughter, Cindy. This was the moment we had been waiting for. We all knelt at the altar, held hands and were sealed together as a family forever. We looked into each other's eyes as the tears of joy rolled down our faces. We had finally been found worthy to participate in this great blessing.
We were expecting our third child at this time and were so grateful that our unborn child, and any which were to follow, would be born under the covenant, sealed to our family forever. Friends attended the temple with us that day, but those of our family whom we loved most were not allowed to be with us because, according to the Church, they were not worthy to enter the Temple of the Lord.
We left the Manti Temple that day not only in a state of wonder, but of fear as well. We were told that the Temple Ceremony was to be kept completely secret (they called it sacred). We never talked to each other or anyone else about our feelings concerning the temple ceremony. To do so would be breaking our covenants and questioning our new convictions.
We learned that the temple ceremony is reserved only for the faithful who believe it to be the summation of all spiritual blessings. This event is off-limits to all except Mormons in good standing who pass the 'Worthiness Interview' and therefore who have a current temple recommend signed by their Bishop and a member of the Stake Presidency. I didn't know until thirty-one years later that the Temple Ceremony we had just participated in was much the same as the Masonic Rituals.
As counseled, or rather commanded (persuasion by feelings of guilt) by the priesthood, we regularly attended the temple as patrons, doing work as proxies for the dead. Each time we went through a session we listened, observed, and hoped we would better understand the Endowment, but it never happened. We left each session as confused and bewildered as we had been the first time we attended. But somewhere in all of that confusion we began to feel special, even elite. We were worthy to enter the House of the Lord. Eventually we became numb to those parts of the endowment that we found offensive, such as becoming a King or Queen, sisters being put under covenant to unquestionably obey their husbands, declaring that all other churches were under the influence of Satan, and taking blood oaths.
Why we allowed ourselves to follow and believe in such a bizarre ritual is as
much a mystery to us as it is to anyone else who has come to face the facts. We
did what everyone else was doing, and relied on blind faith that what we were
being taught came from God. Even when it felt absurd, we tried to believe. We
tried to make sense of it all, but had we ultimately lost our common sense?
FEAR, FAITH, OR LOVE?
The Pattern is a method of fear and control that the Mormon Church uses on its members, i.e. "do as we say or you will not be with your family in the hereafter." The Double-Bind is the Church's way of twisting reality into fabrication, i.e. "it's not the Priesthood blessing that failed to make you well, it's because your faith wasn't strong enough" or "God just wants to test your faith." The Pattern, fueled by the Double-Bind, turns the real world of logic and reason into an upside-down-world of subjugation and fear.
In the real world, nature provides us with an open system of trial and error, awareness and learning. Exercising our own bodies, senses, minds and self-direction allows us to reach for the stars, to see a greater range of possibilities, and fulfill ourselves by being true to ourselves. In contrast The Pattern, or upside-down world of Mormonism, took away our individuality. We became part of the mass known as The Latter-day Saints. We were instructed several times a week what to think, what to believe, how to behave, what to read, how to dress and how to spend our money. The list was never-ending and all-inclusive.
The Church leadership has been called The Binder, since they bound us heart and soul to the perpetual requirements of being a good Mormon. And we, of course, became The Bound as we gradually gave up questioning the doctrine and history of the Church that seemed vague and troublesome, and tried to concentrate on doing all we could to be worthy of the larger, eternal blessings.
The Double-Bind is then reinforced by alternate contradictions that confuse and deny the Bound their ability to think or feel rationally. Following is a list of some examples of these contradictions
Example 1) "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance." (D&C 131: 6) "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth." (D&C 93: 36) "Now this does not mean that individuals should not do research and make discoveries and write articles. What it does mean is that what they write should be faith promoting and where doctrines are concerned, should be in harmony with that which comes from the head of the church. You will remain silent on those [doctrines] where differences exist between you and the Brethren. This is the course of safety." (Bruce McConkie's letter of rebuke to Professor Eugene England, Feb. 19, 1981. For the full text of this letter, go to http://www.mrm.org/articles/mcconkies-letter.html.)
Example 2) "But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth" (D&C 93:40). "Learn to do as you are told...if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it, none of your business whether it is right or wrong." (J of D, vol. 6, p. 31) The crucial point is reached when the opposites of logical and illogical merge as one. This is followed by the complete fusing of the Bound to the Binder in a pseudo voluntary union of mind. The end result is the complete loss of the individual identity of the Bound.
What The Pattern does, in effect, is turn the independent rational mind around so that the Bound reflects only the mind of the Binder, as in a mirror. It creates a whole new orientation of the world, a conversion from the logical to the illogical -- the real to the unreal -- the truth to lies.
We were so taken in by the love and fellowship of the members in our ward (our local church congregation) that they became our family. We had an insatiable thirst to learn all that we could about the history and theology of the LDS Church. We asked questions about things that we didn't understand and which didn't make any sense to us. Some questions were answered, but too many were not. The unanswered questions were usually explained in one of two ways: 1) some things haven't been revealed yet, and 2) some things won't be revealed until after this life.
We were told to live by faith and that someday the knowledge would be given to us. The main problem with these responses was that we had been told, along with every other LDS member since 1830, that this is the fullness of times and that the true and everlasting gospel had been restored in its fullness. Joseph Smith said all things would be revealed in this dispensation. Why then, don't we have all the answers now?
Now I look back and recognize The Pattern, the control through fear and intimidation, which we allowed ourselves to be drawn into. The Church authorities dominated us because their Priesthood authority represented God, and what they required of us, we did. Our common sense died. We were expected to obey without question or face the wrath of God. Instead of experiencing new ideas by questioning and considering the ramifications, we learned to do as we were told. Good people surrounded us who were doing the very same thing. And just like them, Mormonism became our way of life. We fit in. We exemplified a good Mormon family. Our analytical minds shut down and we put our trust in the hands of our leaders.
We were taught, "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan, it is God's plan. Lucifer wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and do their own thinking." (Ward teaching message, Improvement Era, June 1945)
I found myself continuously suppressing my emotions, logic and power of reason. Questioning the Church's general authorities (The Binders) is forbidden. Even complaints against local leaders are discouraged. Psychological pressure is used to obtain submission. The punishment for questioning is disfellowshipment (church probation) or worse, excommunicated (cut off from God's presence), both of which intimidate you and create a sense of failure. The accompanying ridicule and shame of not measuring up is horrible. Those who are so punished are told, "This hurts us more than it hurts you. We have to punish you because the Lord loves you." They are left feeling disobedient and unworthy, while the Church leaders are there to help them understand the error of their ways and get them through their 'atonement.' Then, having learned their lesson, they will be reinstated in the fold and become The Bound all over again. This submission is literally a state of bondage through guilt and fear. Love by punishment suppresses free will and discourages individual thought. It dulls your senses so you are reliant on The Binder who needs you to follow instruction without question.
The Pattern (our bondage) eroded our awareness and our own identities, the most essential part of our humanity. It was destroying our integrity and our ability to love unconditionally. The constant barrage of religious propaganda weakened our spirits, squashed our natural curiosity, discouraged healthy skepticism and filled us with nonsense and prejudice.
Our world became predicated on living what we thought was 'God's Plan of Salvation.' We planned on creating a family worthy of being together in the highest realm of the Celestial Kingdom. We believed that if our extended family chose to turn their backs on God's plan, we'd have to turn our backs on them. Love became conditional. Looking back now I can see that I was robbed of individuality and the ability to reason. We lost that which meant the most to us, our families. We assumed we were right and our inactive family members were wrong.
We enjoyed the attention and outstretched arms of those who were teaching us. I believe that most of our new friends, teachers and leaders were sincere believers and that they were teaching us what they thought to be true. With shame and regret I acknowledge that we were soon to follow their example. In time we would also became the leaders and teachers of others and become Ambassadors of the Binder.
Our ability to accept and obey everything we heard increased as we were asked to live by faith, to not reason or question, to study only Church-approved materials daily, attend several meetings each week, accept and excel at our callings, hold family home evening and family prayer, pay tithes and offerings and on and on. Our time was laid out in day-planners so nothing would be overlooked. We became effective, efficient Mormons. However, this question hung continually over our heads: "Would all of this be enough to get us back into presence of God and worthy to be with Cindy?" We were beginning to think God was holding Cindy hostage, and unless we did every single thing we were asked to do, we would never see her again.
On the outside we were the all-American happy Mormon family, but on the inside we lived in fear and anxiety, held hostage by what we now recognize as emotional blackmail!
I developed a love-fear relationship with the Church: fear of God and much of the Church doctrine, and in contrast a love for the people in the Church and their family and community values. These were the same emotions I had experienced as a child: fear of my father when he was drunk, and a deep love for him when he was sober. Now I can see the parallel between the father of my childhood and the father of my religion.
When people or organizations use fear and phobic indoctrination such as has been described to control their followers, they are demonstrating a lack of spiritual maturity. Fear is a powerful emotion, which literally penetrates and controls the psyche, allowing the controller to think for, manipulate, deceive and mislead the controlled. Through the process of becoming True Believing Mormons (TBM) we had surrendered our ability to reason and think for ourselves to the Church leaders. Because we assumed the Church was true and then failed to test those assumptions for honesty and accuracy, we became blind followers without recognizing it for the flawed system it is.
Now we had to ask ourselves: had we become active members of a mind-manipulating cult? We found the following guidelines helpful in realizing that we had indeed been manipulated by a cult. This list was compiled by Dr. Michael Langone, editor of Cultic Studies Journal, a publication that seeks to advance the understanding of cultic processes of mind-manipulating groups. Keep in mind that this checklist is meant to stimulate thought, not "diagnose" groups. For more in-depth information on this subject, visit http://www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/c160.html. Comments relating these conditions to the LDS Church are in brackets .
Common Characteristics of Cults:
1) The group is focused on a living charismatic leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment. [The Prophet]
2) The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members. [Missionary Work and every member a missionary]
3) The group is preoccupied with bringing in money. [Tithing, Fast Offerings, Ward Budget]
4) Questioning, doubt and dissent are discouraged or even punished. ["Learn to do as you are told...if you are told by your Church leader to do a thing, do it, none of your business whether it is right or wrong." (J of D, vol. 6, p. 32.) If you do not, there are threats of disfellowshipment or excommunication.]
5) Use of mind-numbing techniques; for example, meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, and debilitating work routines. [Revelations from a higher power are used to suppress doubts about the group or its leaders. Church callings are from the Lord and essential to your salvation. The young and old alike regurgitate the same rote answers.]
6) The group's leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel. ["When the Leaders speak the thinking has been done." (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354.) "There is no evidence in support of the Book of Mormon, it must be believed on Faith and Faith alone." (Dallen Oaks Address, BYU Oct. 29, 1993)]
7) The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leaders, and members; for example: the leader is considered the Messiah, Prophet or an avatar. [Living Prophet; Only True Church; Saturday's Warriors]
8) The group and/or the leader have a special mission to save humanity. [LDS Priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated on earth for the salvation of man. Every Member a Missionary.]
9) The group has a polarized, 'we-they' mentality that causes conflict with the wider society. [All other churches are an abomination in the eyes of God. (J.S. History 1: 19) Mormons versus non-Mormons; Saints verses Gentiles.]
10) The group's leader is not accountable to any authorities, as are, for example, clergy with mainstream denominations. [Joseph Smith and Brigham Young tried to establish Kingdoms and crown themselves Kings.]
11) The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means. [Example: collecting money (tithing) to be worthy to enter the Celestial Kingdom.]
12) The group's leadership induces guilt and fear feelings in members in order to control them. [Can't ever do enough, be enough or give enough. Example: Satan speaking in the Temple Ceremony: "If they do not walk up to every covenant they make at these altars in this temple this day, they will be in my power."]
13) Members' subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family, friends and personal pre-group goals and interests. ["Sometimes you have to give up your family and friends to follow the Lord."]
14) Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group. [All callings are from the Lord and you cannot tell Him no. "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandments [callings] unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." BOM, 1Nephi 3:7]
15) Members are encouraged or required not to live and/or socialize with other non-believer group members. [Temple interview question: "Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Mormon Church?"]
I discovered that the manipulation of human behavior is an extremely complex procedure. Its psychological process alone requires years of study. There seems to be inherent in some people an ability to gain the upper hand on their fellowmen by preying on their emotions. The victims possess a trust and naiveté that leaves them vulnerable, and we were very vulnerable after the death of our daughter.
Occasionally I became uneasy with the teachings of the Church because they bore a resemblance to ancient mysticism. Venturing into the spiritual unknown was uncomfortable, yet appealing. The Mormon Church is woven with many things I could not understand. I should have responded more strongly when my emotions whispered that something was wrong. If only I had analyzed my deep-seated feelings, maybe, just maybe, I could have stopped all the pain and hurt our family is going through now.
I believe everyone is endowed with an extra-sensory perception that could be used in much greater depth were it not for fear. But most people shy away from signs of ESP for fear of being wrong or out of control. That is exactly what I did for thirty- one years.
In spite of all our concerns and unanswered questions concerning the temple
endowment and other theology of the Mormon Church, we ran with open arms into
the upside-down world of Mormonism.
THE MORMON VIEW OF
GOD THE FATHER
AND JESUS CHRIST
I was terribly confused about the nature of God. The scriptures as well as teachings of the Church leaders past and present seemed to contradict each other on a very important doctrinal teaching: is God a spirit, is he Adam, the father of all mankind, or is he a man who has attained Godhood?
1) In 1835 The Lectures on Faith were given before the Elders in Kirtland, Ohio at the School of the Prophets, and subsequently printed in the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. In these lectures given by Joseph Smith it was definitely stated that God the Father was a personage of spirit (see D&C, 1835 edition, p. 53). The Lectures also taught that God is omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time) (D&C, 1835 edition, p. 12).
President Joseph Fielding Smith admits that Joseph Smith helped prepare these lectures: "Now the Prophet did know something about these Lectures on Faith, because he helped to prepare them, and he helped also to revise these lectures before they were published" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 195).
The Lectures on Faith have been removed from more recent editions of the D&C because they would now contradict what the Mormon Church teaches concerning the Godhead. In addition, the Book of Mormon never refers to Heavenly Father and Jesus as separate entities, but only as one Eternal God (BOM Alma 11:44).
2) On April 9, 1852, Brigham Young publicly preached the Adam-God Doctrine. The Adam-God Doctrine teaches that Elohim is our spiritual grandfather, while Adam [the arch-angel Michael] and Eve are the parents of our spirits, thus making Adam our Heavenly Father and God. In the 17th and 18th centuries there were beliefs among various non-mainstream sects in Europe and America about Adam being a god, a pre-existent perfect being who participated in the creation of the world, as opposed to not existing until God made him out of the dust of the earth. These beliefs were very similar to what eventually became LDS doctrine, and then later removed from the doctrine of the Mormon Church. Ancestors of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were associated with the sects that taught this doctrine.
During the last two decades of his life, Brigham Young consistently taught
that Adam was indeed God, the Father. Many defenders of the faith claim that the
critics take his words out of context, yet honest scholars who carefully study
his entire discourses attest that Brigham Young believed that Adam was God the
Father. The Church teaches that God is unchanging. How could a true prophet in
1852 know that God was Adam, yet a century later another true prophet of the
same church know and teach that God is not Adam?
3) The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "First, God himself, who sits in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret... You have got to learn how to become Gods yourselves..." (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp. 613-614).
Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th president of the Church, maintained, "In each of us [brethren] is the potentiality to become a God..." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 7, 1974). Speaking to priesthood holders, President Kimball made these comments: "Brethren 225,000 of you are here tonight. I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he could make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000." (Ensign, Nov. 1975, p. 80)
The chance to become a God, progressing until all power and knowledge is achieved, is not a light promise. Larry was not at all comfortable with this doctrine and temple promise. He had no desire to be a God, have multiple wives (a Mormon doctrine) and rule over people. He just wanted to be with his family in the next life. Nor did I have any desire to be one of his many wives, be eternally pregnant, and populate worlds without end.
LDS leaders have consistently counseled male members that if they will do everything God expects of them in this life then they will become gods in the hereafter. Yet the current Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, has seriously confused the members about whether such a goal can become a reality.
I was amazed with the reply that President Hinckley gave when interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle on April 13, 1997, concerning the nature of God. The Chronicle portrayed the 86-year-old leader as either a very ignorant prophet or a willful deceiver. When Chronicle religion writer Don Lattin asked, "Don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?" Pres. Hinckley responded. "I wouldn't say that... There was a little couplet coined, As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become. Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about."
So the question we must ask is: was Pres. Hinckley not totally honest in the interview, or does the Prophet of the Mormon Church not know for a certainty the character of God?
Joseph Smith described this theology as an eternal truth, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. I am going to tell you how God came to be God ... We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he [God] was once a man like us." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345, Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide: 1985, p.151; Times and Seasons, vol. 5 pp. 613-614).
And now this question concerned us: were Joseph Smith and the subsequent Church leaders as confused as we were about the nature of God? Do the prophets suggest that God himself is ambiguous about who he is?
After going through the temple and learning more about the Church teachings and studying the scriptures, I found myself forming an idea of who my Father in Heaven is and what he is like. I honestly felt like he was angry, vindictive, vengeful and cruel; that he would punish us forever if we didn't perform 100 percent in keeping the commandments. And yet I was told he was loving and kind. He became a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I found myself wondering, "Is God a man who hasn't learned how to control His temper or truly love His children?" He bore no resemblance to the kindly Father in Heaven I believed in as a child.
As I studied the life of the Savior I formed two opinions about him. On one hand I felt love for the man they called Jesus, who healed the sick, comforted and fed the poor and needy, forgave the sinner and taught that we were to forgive our enemies. He asked God to forgive those who had so viciously condemned him and hung him on the cross. While hanging on the cross he said these powerful words: "Forgive them for they know not what they do." I felt like Jesus understood the dynamics of a higher level of love, compassion and charity than most of mankind.
On the other hand, I was confused at what seemed to be a dual-personality. In one scripture the Lord seemed to be kind, forgiving, and compassionate. And yet in another his mercy and love was conditional. He demanded that we serve and fear him to the end. He stated, "I the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end." (D&C 76:5).
In The Book of Mormon the resurrected Jesus said He destroyed entire cities
at His own discretion.
While instructing the inhabitants of the American continent after his death, He stated, "Behold, that great city Zarahemla have I burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof. And behold, that great city Moroni have I caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned. And behold, that great city Moronihah have I covered with earth, and the inhabitants thereof... And behold, the city of Gilgal have I caused to be sunk, and the inhabitants thereof to be buried up in the depths of the earth; Yea, and the city of Onihah and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Mocum and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants thereof; and waters have I caused to come up in the stead thereof... And behold, the city of Gadiandi, and the city of Gadiomnah, and the city of Jacob, and the city of Gimgimno, all these have I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof; and the inhabitants thereof have I buried up in the depths of the earth... And behold, that great city Jacobugath, which was inhabited by the people of King Jacob, have I caused to be burned with fire" (BOM, 3 Nephi 9:3-8).
And what does the Mormon Jesus say regarding non-believers i.e. non-Mormons?
"Nevertheless, let the bishop go unto the city of New York, also to the city of Albany, and also to the city of Boston, and warn the people of those cities with the sound of the gospel, with a loud voice, of the desolation and utter abolishment which await them if they do reject these things" (D&C 84:114).
How does Jesus feel about the rest of His children in the world?
"For a desolating scourge shall go forth among the inhabitants of the earth, and shall continue to be poured out from time to time, if they repent not, until the earth is empty, and the inhabitants thereof are consumed away and utterly destroyed by the brightness of my coming" (D&C 5: 19).
"And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts" (BOM 2 Nephi 26: 6).
Does Jesus want us to respect other people?
"And thus, even as I have said, if ye are faithful ye shall assemble yourselves together to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies" (D&C 52: 42).
What will Jesus do to make sure Zion comes?
"Behold, the destroyer I have sent forth to destroy and lay waste mine enemies; and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage, and to blaspheme my name upon the lands which I have consecrated for the gathering together of my saints" (D&C 105: 15).
"And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion" (D&C 45: 67).
"And all nations shall be afraid because of the terror of the Lord, and the power of his might. Even so. Amen" (D&C 45: 75).
What powers of love/hate does Jesus give his prophets? Are they occasionally exempt from keeping certain commandments?
"And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban...And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in disbelief" (BOM 1 Nephi 4:10-13).
"Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people" (BOM Helaman. 10:6).
Does Jesus want us to kill and die for the Church?
"And whomsoever ye accurse, I will curse, and ye shall avenge me of mine
enemies. And my presence shall be with you even in avenging me of mine enemies,
unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. Let no man be afraid
to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake
shall find it again. And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake
is not my disciple" (D&C 103: 25-28).
What will Jesus do to those who don't accept Mormonism?
"Verily, I say unto you, that woe shall come unto the inhabitants of the earth if they will not hearken unto my words; For hereafter you shall be ordained and go forth and deliver my words unto the children of men. Behold, if they will not believe my words, they would not believe you, my servant Joseph, if it were possible that you should show them all these things that I have committed unto you. Oh, this unbelieving and stiffnecked generation, mine anger is kindled against them!" (D&C 5:5-8)
What does Jesus say he will do to women who won't agree with or practice polygamy?
"And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment [polygamy] she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law" (D&C 132:54-55). "And again verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, [polygamy] as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her" (D&C 132-64).
In the years that followed our conversion I read and reread The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price. I didn't spend much time studying the Bible. We had been told that some of what was written in it was incorrect. Article of Faith #8 says in part: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…" Why didn't the Prophets ever tell us which scriptures in the Bible were translated correctly after Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible was expressly done to correct those mistakes?
I soon discovered that Jesus and Heavenly Father not only condoned murder, racism, sexism, harsh judgments and many other (imperfect) human qualities, but they also commanded and/or participated in them. In the Old Testament God commanded Abraham to slay his son and sacrifice him on an altar, only to stop him at the last moment saying, "for now I know thou fearest God" (Genesis 22:12). What kind of a sick game is God playing?
What about the great flood? What kind of a God would destroy "from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air;" (Genesis 6:7-6) and all other life that breathes, and then makes a covenant with man never to flood the earth again? Are we to presume that the animals and infant children were wicked and needed to be destroyed?
There are at least five references to God repenting of things He'd done! Old Testament: Gen. 6:6, Exodus 32:14, Judges 2:18, I Sam 15:11, Amos 7:3. I couldn't understand why God didn't get it right the first time.
In Genesis chapter 19, God told Lot and his family not to look back as they were leaving the city of Sodom. "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of the heaven" (Genesis 19:24). In spite of God's warning, Lot's wife looked back at the city. She was immediately changed to a pillar of salt. All the inhabitants of the cities died, including small children. Why would God do something like that? Surely Lot's wife was concerned for those who were in the city. Surely she still had family and friends there. After their departure Lot's two daughters schemed to get their father drunk with wine and seduce him so that they would both be with child by their father "that we may preserve seed of our father" (Genesis 19:32-36). And God did nothing about this? Seeing God behind all of these events is unfathomable!
The New Testament account of God the Father allowing his own son, Jesus Christ, to be tortured to death in the most unspeakable way to save all of mankind, and done for acts Jesus didn't even commit, defy the imagination and seems the most inhumane of all. This God parallels the God of the Mayan and Aztec cultures, who required blood sacrifices to appease Him.
When it comes to theology, there seems to be an evil duality in Mormon/Christian scripture. The best way Mormonism can explain it is that God hates sin, but not the sinner. But this is not reflected in the scriptures. According to Mormons, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are perfect, loving beings. And yet in the scriptures they both are full of anger, hate and vengeance. Do they suffer from a psychological disorder that cripples their judgment?
These various scriptures make it clear that God can be wrong, unethical, overlook immorality and be no more worthy of our affection than a petty tyrant. Has God created man in His own image, or has man created God in his own image?
I had a concept of perfect compassion, perfect forgiveness and perfect love, but it cannot be found in Mormon doctrine or scriptures. Common sense and logic now tells me that these scriptures, (stories, if I may), were made up by man to control men, women, and children through fear and subjugation. I'm convinced that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created their sacred scriptures and Holy mystiques to control the minds of their followers, and have built an impressive empire doing so.
There is an uncanny parallel between the plantation owners in the 17th and 18th centuries who used slavery to build the South, and the unpaid clergy and missionary system of the Mormon faith. The biggest difference seems to be that the slaves recognized what was being done to them!
Next : Section C
Copyright 2003 Tammy and Larry Braithwaite.