I was talking on the phone last night with my little sister and she asked what was going on with me and the church. Not really wanting to go into it I replied that I didn't have any issues with the church. She insisted so I told her that I didn't have issues with the church, but rather that the church had issues and that I didn't believe in it. So she wanted to know what kinds of problems I thought that the church had.
So, I told her that I'd always wondered why the church was so quiet about polygamy. On my mission people would ask about it and I'd reply with the typical uninformed answers that I'd heard at church such as that there weren't enough men in the church because so many had been killed in the persecutions and that the Lord restored polygamy so that there would be more children. I explained that those explanations had been disproven since the census records clearly show that there were more marriage aged men in Utah than women and that brides were in short supply. Also, census data has shown that polygamous wives had fewer children than non-polygamous ones. I told her about looking at the church web site for information and discovering that the first paragraph where it says that the church only practiced polygyny (one man, many wives) and not polyandry (one wife, many husbands). In fact 9 of the first 12 Joseph Smith's polygamous marriages were to women who were already married. She commented that that didn't continue, but I replied that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball both had polyandrous marriages. I also mentioned Joseph marrying a 14 year old.
Well, she replied, the church no longer practices polygamy. Really? I asked. So, what happens if a man is married in the temple and his wife dies and he marries again in the temple? Isn't that polygamous. Well.... After a little back and forth she agreed that polygamy was still doctrinal and that the church had only modified its practice in order to comply with the laws of the land.
Then she mentioned the "revelation" ending the practice of polygamy. Revelation? Are you sure? If you read it carefully, it never rescinds polygamy but merely states that the church will comply with the laws in order to prevent its destruction by the government. If it was a revelation then why did the first presidency and quorum of the twelve continue to authorize and perform polygamous marriages for the next 14+ years? Huh? She'd obviously not been taught that in sunday school. I also mentioned the fact that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor had publicly stated that polygamy would never be taken off the earth, that it was an eternal principle required for exaltation, and that if the church ever abandoned it then it would be in apostasy.
Then I mentioned the Book of Abraham and the papyrus that was found that shows that Joseph Smith didn't translate the BoA. She didn't have any response or comment to that. I then asked how the Book of Mormon was translated. She replied, "With the Urim and Thummim." What's that? "It's a breastplate with spectacle like things attached." Really? So why didn't Joseph use it? Huh? She said that he sat on one side of a blanket so no one saw the actual translation process. I explained that that wasn't the case and that he used his brown seer stone. He put it in the crown of his hat, put his face in the hat, and then dictated the book. This is what the eye witnesses related. Where did I hear that? From the church itself. Bushman, FARMS, even current GAs confirm that this is how it was done. I explained that this was the same tool and process that Joseph Smith used for his treasure hunting. No comment.
So, of course, she replied that if you try to intellectualize it that it is easy to be deceived and that what really matters is the feelings of the spirit. Sure, I said, feelings should trump reason and evidence. We shouldn't think about it too much. No, she replied, the church encourages people to think about it. So I replied that that was why the church excommunicated historians who published facts that were embarrassing to the church. That is why they closed the church archives and fired the official church historians. Because they are encouraging open thought and discourse. Right.
But, surely I felt the Spirit while I was a missionary. How could I deny that? Easy, because "the Spirit" is your feelings. It's not an external source. The church has led you to believe that the feelings that they manipulate are the Spirit and come from God. Unfortunately, common con men know how to do the same thing. I replied that if I was buying a car I'd check out the title and do vehicle history report and I'd be very suspicious if the seller discouraged me from doing so and just asked me to trust them and my feelings.
Anyway, maybe I gave her something to think about, but I think she's still convinced that I've been deceived my anti-Mormon sources that have twisted and spun the facts in order to meet their agenda of destroying the true church. I used to think that too. The church has been very successful in cultivating that belief. But, once I dug into reputable sources I discovered that it was the church that was spinning and twisting the facts for its agenda and not the other way around.
So, it all comes down to whether you trust your brains or your heart more, I guess.