My husband of 24 years is a non-member. I have been inactive for 18 years and am now the Relief Society President in the branch I attend. I feel I have a strong testimony of many principles our faith and I trust whatever church /religion related matters that I might not understand yet, I will come to understand, given time, all the while living the gospel standards, studying the scriptures, serving my neighbors, praying, Temple attendance etc. etc.
Of course I offer/challenge my husband every now and then to really investigate the Book of Mormon and the Mormon beliefs. However, he stumbles over Joseph Smith and particularly over the polygamists’ many stories, that you can google on the Internet. The problem is of course, that although one could simply state many of the stories are purely lies to bring Joseph Smith discredit, it is in fact more likely to believe that parts of the information are true and parts are not. A combination which is more poisonous than if the lies were plain and clear. So my question is:
Why is it that our current Church leaders seem to keep their silence when it concerns this particular part of Mormon history?
Grace, from Bad Bentheim, Niedersachsen, Germany
The officials of the Mormon Church are in no way avoiding the issue of polygamy. Many articles are written on the topic. As just one case in point, here is an excerpt from an article by President Gordon B. Hinckley on the very subject—
“Question 4: What is the Church’s position on polygamy?
I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, What Are People Asking about Us?, Ensign, November 1998, p.70).
But I will hasten to add that the Church makes no concerted attempt to counter all the criticism that is raised against it. We believe in strictly following the counsel given in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon—
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another (3 Ne 11:29).
People are never converted to God’s truth by following the principles of logic. There is a much better way. The use of logic is popular because it is a scientific principle and it may lead to reasonable scientific conclusions. Yet logic may be fallacious. Further, it is based on a system of doubt rather than on a system of belief. The procedure of science is to not accept anything as true unless it can be proven to be so. The proofs of science tend to postulate reasons for a proposition being false. If those reasons cannot be proven to be so, the postulate may be accepted as true.
In the methodology of true religion, a principle in question must be accepted as though it were true and then put into practice. Applying a true principle of religion will demonstrate its truthfulness, which will be confirmed by the Holy Spirit. Thus, the investigator will be given knowledge from on high that the postulate that he has practiced is indeed true. In scientific methodology proof precedes practice–doubt; in religious methodology practice precedes proof–faith.
So it is generally counter production to argue or to contend with someone over a principle of the gospel. But effort should be expended to induce the person to try it out to see if it may work. The scriptural recommendation associated with this practice is given in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:4—
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.