Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Questions for Devout LDS Members: That 14 Year Old Girl

I was once a devout LDS member. I'm still an LDS member, but not so devout. I have heard it through the grapevine (channeling Gladys Knight who is as far as I know  a devout LDS member) that I am thought of as an apostate, or possibly a bad person who is probably going to Outer Darkness.

My crime? I have held on to my integrity and tried to follow God.

Yes, folks. I still believe in God. I still believe in right and wrong. I still have a moral core which in spite of what many LDS members believe has nothing to do with bare shoulders which I don't show anyway because I have flabby upper arms. If I dared to bring them out in public I'm afraid a gust of wind would come along and sail me into the air. I could coast along with those things. Not that I'm afraid of flying. I've gone parasailing (with a sail, not the arms), but I'm not sure about the landing.

So I am sincerely asking questions from those of you who still believe. Questions, which now that I'm brave enough to bring them out, study them and outright ask them, don't make any sense to me.

Help me out here and be patient while I ask.

I discovered this a little while ago and then the church brought out an essay confirming it. I'm going to bring out a quote from that essay, and give you a link in case you want to check it out for yourself. Note: This is not an "anti-Mormon" essay. It is put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is totally safe and you will not go to hell by reading it. It can be found on the church website.

Here's the excerpt I'd like to focus on.

"Most of those sealed to Joseph Smith were between 20 and 40 years of age at the time of their sealing to him. The oldest, Fanny Young, was 56 years old. The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday. Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.26 Helen Mar Kimball spoke of her sealing to Joseph as being “for eternity alone,” suggesting that the relationship did not involve sexual relations.27 After Joseph’s death, Helen remarried and became an articulate defender of him and of plural marriage.28

And here's the link. Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo

Okay, so obviously I want to focus in on a fourteen year old girl marrying a thirty eight year old man - who is already married.

I'm hoping and believing, that there are devout Mormons out there who are squirming and going "ick".

So let's put the ick factor aside and look at this logically and also with faith.

Do you really believe that God would tell a thirty eight year old man to marry a fourteen year old girl?

If so:
  • Why would God tell a thirty eight year old man to marry a fourteen year old girl?
  • What is the purpose?
    • She's still under the care of her parents, therefore she doesn't need the care of another adult. And even if she did, why can't you help someone without demanding marriage?
    • Fourteen is really too young to have a baby safely. It would be better to wait until she's older.
    • Polygamy does not lead to greater amounts of children. It leads to lesser. Ten monogamous couples will produce more children than one man and ten wives simply because of opportunity. A woman's ability to get pregnant goes up the more sex she has. Obviously she has less sex when she has to share him with more women.
    • It prevents her from marrying a young man who is more age appropriate. It also prevents her from being loved by a man.  Helen Mar Kimball remarried only because Joseph was killed. If he hadn't been she would have stayed married to him.
    • Is there a fear that at the ripe old age of fourteen she might never marry and have children so she should marry the first guy who comes along?
    • A fourteen year old does not have the knowledge or ability to make such a life long decision. Therefore she is either forced or manipulated into it. If forced or manipulated, then when the marriage is consummated, she is raped.
Okay, so for those of you who are devout and love your beautiful teenage daughters, and believe that those daughters are special and deserve to be honored, cherished and protected, how do you reconcile that with a much older man who claims to speak for God, asking to marry your young daughter?

Here is what Helen said about her experience:

“Without any preliminaries [my Father] asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives...The first impulse was sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure; for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, ‘No I wouldn’t!’...This was the first time that I ever openly manifested anger towards him...Then he commenced talking seriously and reasoned and explained the principle, and why it was again to be established upon the earth. [This] had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake.” 
Then father “asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph...[and] left me to reflect upon it for the next twenty-four hours...I was sceptical-one minute believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast her off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right. I knew that he loved me too well to teach me anything that was not strictly pure, virtuous and exalting in its tendencies; and no one else could have influenced me at that time or brought me to accept of a doctrine so utterly repugnant and so contrary to all of our former ideas and traditions.” 

 Unknown to Helen Mar, Heber and Joseph had already discussed the prospect of Helen Mar becoming one of Joseph’s wives.  Heber now sought her agreement.  Helen recalls, “Having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet Joseph, he offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet’s own mouth. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the alter”

Now, does that sound like a  young woman who wants to marry a middle aged man who already has several wives? In fact, doesn't that sound like a young woman who is being manipulated and guilted into something by the person she loves? She was the sacrifice. The previous year, Joseph had tested Heber's devotion by asking for Heber's wife, which Heber gave. Joseph then told him it was only a test.

More from Helen:


The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home.  "[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage...After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.[‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God& his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing...She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come...; but it was all hidden from me.”  Helen’s mother reluctantly agreed and in May of 1843, Helen married Joseph Smith.


Do you see what's happening here? Joseph manipulated this girls feelings and beliefs by promising her family eternal salvation and exaltation. This was not Joseph's to give. Only God can give that. So Joseph came representing himself as God and promised things he couldn't give. If she went against him, she would always be haunted by the possibility that her family would not be saved and exalted because of her actions. Furthermore, her own mother was against it but agreed because of the manipulations and their devotedness to God. Later, her father Heber was rewarded with a ton of wives (I'm sure if you added up all their weights it would equal a ton or more). And her mother was rewarded with a ton of sister wives which she had to share with her husband - and the knowledge that her husband had no problems giving her and her daughter away. Helen was rewarded with Joseph and all his wives.

But would God want this?

Helen didn't even realize what she was agreeing to.

During the winter of 1843-44, there were weekly parties at Joseph Smith’s Mansion House.  Many of Helen’s friends attended, as well as her sixteen-year-old brother William.  Disappointed, Helen wrote, “my father had been warned by the Prophet to keep his daughter away...I felt quite sore over it, and thought it a very unkind act in father to allow [William] to go and enjoy the dance unrestrained with others of my companions, and fettered me down, for no girl loved dancing better than I did...and like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself  an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur.”


Of course she murmured. She had every right to murmur. She was FOURTEEN YEARS OLD and she should have been enjoying dances and giggling with the other girls and getting awkward attention from boys her own age. Instead she had to sit at home like an old woman, punished for doing exactly what she was told.

To read more of what she said you can go to Helen Mar Kimball But beware. This is not a church site and if you go claws may reach out through your computer screen and drag you down to hell. I would rather send you to a church site showing what Helen said but I don't know of one. The church hasn't put one out that focuses on the voices of women. At least not that I know of.

So I would love it if you devout Mormons out there can explain to me why this is all okay. You see, I love my daughters. I know you love and cherish yours. I cannot make the leap of loving and cherishing my daughters to "sure middle aged guy who speaks for God and has other wives - you can have my daughter even though she really doesn't want to marry you because your a middle aged guy with other wives. It's important that I prove to you how devoted I am and here's my sacrifice."

And how do you link this to keeping your daughters "virtuous and chaste"?

What about the phrase "men are that they might have joy." Does this not include women? Are only men supposed to have joy? Because frankly I doubt that there is much joy in forced and coerced marriages.

And how is this different from what Warren Jeffs did? Wasn't he just following Joseph's example? Whether we all like it or not the FLDS do stem from the same root. They too are the branches of the same tree.

Sure, I know Joseph wasn't perfect. I can accept imperfection. But there's a difference between imperfection and "guy who forces himself on women by using his authority status". Nowadays that's illegal and immoral. Even from those who say they speak for God.

So if the church decided to again practice polygamy in this life (they already practice heavenly polygamy) and the prophet came to you and asked you for your teenage daughter so that he could marry her, would you be okay with this? Would you willingly sacrifice your daughter to him? Would you quote "follow the prophet, he will never lead you astray" to your daughter who won't want to marry an old guy? Is it worth offering your daughter up as a sacrifice so that you can have salvation? Is that what you believe God wants?

And no fair saying "that was then this is now" because members still sing "Praise to the Man" still teach that Joseph talked with God and Jesus and was commanded to set up the church, still believe the Book of Mormon which was translated by Joseph, still believe that Joseph was a prophet of God and still follow the leaders who have been handed down that authority by Joseph and still say "follow the prophet, he will never lead you astray."

Someone please explain to me how you consolidate all this.

And also, please explain to me, how not getting on board with this makes me an apostate who is going to outer darkness - or maybe the telestial kingdom where the thieves and atheists dwell.
And how come I'm the one who's lost God because I don't believe that God would do this?

I just don't understand. Enlighten me please.


  1. Hi, you don't have to ask me or anyone else. You can read from Helen. She was a strong defender of plural marriage throughout her life.

    1. Hmm, not sure how that argument supports forced marriages to young teenage girls. Can you explain?

    2. She wasn't a supporter at first. Stockholm syndrome. Why didn't Elizabeth smart just walk away sooner? The longer someone lives in that kind of life they begin to believe it, and identify with it. Even women and children that have been kidnapped or abused. I believe God loves me and
      I believe section 132 is of Joseph Smith and not God. Other wise God hates women and believes their only purpose is to please men and have babies. Why would God give us brains. There is no purpose for plural marriage other than as a reward to man. Sort of like the terrorist that get their 12 virgins in the here after.

  2. Ben, just because a person believes what they were involved in was right, does not mean it actually is right. There are jihadists all around the world who defend and support what happened on 9/11 and I am sure they will go to their graves defending those beliefs. Because they defend and support this position, using your logic, that would make what they did okay?

    Back to Joseph and the Lord who "told him to do it," I have to ask myself, even if this was all true, and really happened the way Joseph said he did, do I really want to serve and worship a God as sadistic as this? One who says families are forever, and then commands Joseph to marry women while their husbands are away serving missions? A God who felt free agency was so important that he let 1/3 of his children be damned for eternity, but who then tells Joseph and young girls that they will be killed by an angel with a flaming sword if they are not married. I am sorry, but even if Joseph was just following Gods orders and all of this is true, I think I would rather live in one of the lower kingdoms our even out darkness then have to dwell in the presence of such a manipulative and fickle God.

    1. Amen Lindsay. The Mormon God is a perv. See ya in Outer Darkness.

  3. I think it's very risky that the church won't disavow this or say that JS should not have married Helen. I think it's a great cause for worry if there are any members who think there's some justifiable reason for men marrying 14 year olds, or there ever has been. I don't think anyone defending this should be allowed to have primary or youth callings in the church.

  4. I have all the same questions as you do. I'm a lifelong member of the church and am going through a journey similar to yours. I recently asked to be released from my calling in the stake RS presidency, partly because of these questions that I have and that I am no longer "all in" with the doctrine. Surprisingly, my stake president said that my questions wouldn't cause him to release me from the calling. And he actually is encouraging me to find truth and answers instead of lecturing me and making me feel like an apostate. I found his response refreshing...and rare. He also admitted that he doesn't understand polygamy, and that JS will, in fact, be known for good and for evil.

    Now that I know more about Joseph Smith instead of only what we have been taught in the church curriculum, I don't believe for one minute that God commanded Joseph to practice polygamy. JS was either deceived, or he was a narcissist and womanizer and master manipulator. However, even with all the evidence and written histories, and even after the church published essays acknowledging much of this horrendous behavior, the church is still unwilling to throw JS under the bus. Instead, the church is more willing to throw God under the bus. The reason for this, I think, is because the church has always taught that everything depends on whether JS was a prophet or not. If the church admits that JS was WRONG, then a lot of people will completely lose their testimony and leave the church.

    It has taken me many, many months, but I'm getting to a place where I can believe that JS was called of God to do some things but completely screwed up other things. The whole "his name will be known for good and evil" thing. And you're absolutely right...the FLDS and Warren Jeffs are based off of JS. If JS hadn't started polygamy, then the FLDS and other groups would not be abusing young women as they are now. They use JS as their example.

    The disturbing church history is one thing, but the church continues to spin the stories and is still not being honest.

    This is such a long and painful journey. It's really, really difficult. On one hand, I've seen the power of the priesthood in action. I've had many, many good experiences in the church. But my soul is ready to know more so that my testimony of God, or of the gospel (the gospel is NOT the church) is based on truth instead of lies and coverups.

    I appreciate your blog very much and would love to meet you someday. You are able to put into words what I feel and think. Thank you so much.