Mormon Founder Had 40 Wives

My friend forwarded to me an email she received from a friend. She wanted my take on this article by Channel Five news:

“It’s hard to overestimate Smith’s importance to Mormons, who is viewed as a larger-than-life prophet who received special revelations from God. The news that he had taken so many wives, including teens and other men’s spouses, rocked some members of the faith, according to Mormon blogger Jana Riess.” – From here.

Joseph Smith is well-known to have dabbled in the occult so it doesn’t surprise me to read further down:

“According to the church’s essay, Smith had not wanted to take multiple wives, but relented after an angel appeared to him three times between 1834-1842. On the angel’s last visit, the church said, “the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.”

S.M. read the article and snort-laughed. “Oh, so an angel forced him to take multiple wives.” He about fell off his chair laughing.

I won’t repeat the sarcastic remarks he made, but I am ashamed to say, I laughed, too. In fact, our culture is welcoming all kinds of marriage acts nowadays, and this kind of thing wouldn’t scare places like San Francisco or Las Vegas. S.M. stopped laughing long enough to tell me that Answers in Genesis published an article that read, “What About Polygamy?”

“Let’s look closely at this passage and note several key phrases that indicate God’s intent for marriage to be monogamous—one man for one woman. First, God intended to make “a helper” for Adam, not several helpers. Second, from one rib God made one woman for Adam. Genesis 2:24 reveals the pattern of a man leaving his family to “be joined to his wife,” not wives. This union is then described as becoming “one flesh.

Mormons make claims about Abraham. I thought S.M.’s suggestion was a good one, and for those thinking that multiple wives are okay, think again. The Bible supports one man and one woman. Period.

S.M. is still making jokes as I write this. He keeps rocking back and forth, laughing, and saying, “An angel forced him?”

I think we’ve spent too much time in this world.

 

 

4 Mormon Traditions to Keep

Some of the cultural traditions of Mormonism can be implemented into the Christian faith without violating Biblical principle, like Monday being family time or bringing treats or gifts to a congregation member that you haven’t seen in church for a while. If you are a Mormon on the verge of leaving, I encourage you to take what is good and Biblical and implement that in your new church family. Here are four Mormon traditions:

  1. Monday Family Time: Your family time doesn’t have to be on Mondays, but it can be on a day you designate where everyone makes plans to stay home. No group meetings. No work. No dates. Make a fancy dinner and eat at the table together. Get out the WII or board games. Serve junk food before and after dinner.
  2. Visiting: In the Christian faith, it is common for members of the congregation to visit the home-bound on Sundays. Some ministries give quilts to those who just had babies or are sick. Others start a meal train. In Mormon culture, a list of people who haven’t attended church in a while get a visit or two in the form of someone bearing edible treats or a gift to say, “We miss you.” As a new Christian in a new church, talk to your pastor about getting a list like that so you can help that church create warm connections within your community.
  3. Teaching Sunday School or Church: Mormons take turns teaching lessons in their Sunday Schools or during service. Christians have the ability to teach Sunday School or small groups. Start a small group or get involved in the Sunday School for either adults or children.
  4. Missionary Visits or Teacher Visits: Teachers and Missionaries usually just stop over without calling in the Mormon tradition. Christian churches have visiting missionaries in and around the area. Contact your new church for information on the missionaries they support so you can invite a missionary to visit with your family to learn more about what they do in their area or country. Also, you can invite a Sunday School teacher or pastor of your new church to dinner at your home to learn more about them.

 

Mormons are known for their good food, strong families, and united church. Christians have much of those, too, in their congregations. My Bible study on Acts 15 taught me about this.

Church in the Garden of Eden

Church in the Garden of Eden starts at ten in the morning, and Sunday School is at 8:30 a.m. Our church is a community church that has fellowship time between Sunday School and Church. Like any good church, we have our characters. No church will ever be perfect.

In fact, sometimes I am thankful for imperfect even when imperfect steps on my last nerve and makes my hair want to fall out. Imperfect tries to tell me what to do, where to serve, and how I can improve as a person. I’m sure you know lots of imperfects in your town. On the bright side, my Sunday School is wonderful.

S.M. likes to make copious notes. I like how he listens. His reading glasses make him look like a professor. He’s kind of good looking with glasses on. Our Sunday School is multigenerational. The sea of white and gray is broken by browns, reds, and blondes. Because our church is small, we only have one Sunday School. Some churches have small groups, but not ours. It’s not that big, but I like small.

When you are small, you get to know the people more intimately. You know who is having surgery, who is sick, who is having babies, and who is getting divorced, married, or remarried. When someone needs food, the pastor makes a collection. Our local food bank owner is friends with our pastor, but our pastor likes to make a good impression by having our own congregation provide for the person in need. S.M. likes to talk to him after church.

It’s the people that make a church. The teaching has always been good and we’ve been blessed with people who take us deeper into God’s Word. It’s expository. Without the people, it’s just teaching; and teaching is what can be found on the internet. The church in the Garden of Eden is loving; a mixed salad of greens and peppers. Some challenge and some accept. My friend and I talk about church all the time.

“Church can be hurtful.” She said.

“It can also help you grow.” I said. “You can’t focus on the hurt. You have to open your eyes and see the rest of the church, not just the hard edges. So many good people live and breathe here in the Garden of Eden. They grew up with scars and issues. You and I know this.”

“I know it,” My friend touched her head,”here. But not here.” My friend touched her chest.

S.M. is a guy so he isn’t as sensitive as us women. When I read the internet stories of church in the Christian world, I often wish we would stop harping on the negative and open our eyes to what God is doing in the church. We’re harming ourselves. Our Sunday School talks about the stories of how church is changing in America. My friend is worried about churches, too. She said to me last week, “We have to continue going to church even if church has left marks, because you are right that there are good people in church.”

That’s forgiveness. And forgiveness is what Jesus talks about often in the Bible. Humility happens when we realize we might have also hurt others, too.

So this morning…go to church. I know it’s been a long time, and you’re still feeling those wounds, or maybe they are scars now? Find a church that stands strong and boldly on the Word. Large or small, house church or traditional, it’s up to you to go back into fellowship with believers.

You are missed.

 

 

Why Do You Volunteer?

REST
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
Romans 3:10, NIV

My family is a family of volunteers. Everyone has volunteered for something. It’s like a compulsion or something. Volunteerism was passed down to me as a teenager, and I wanted to emulate my grandmother’s gift of giving of her time, but I had to wonder about that “gift.”

While the Book of Mormon has changed 3,913 times and the Mormon religion continues to successfully evolve, one thing that hasn’t changed is that it’s a cult/religion of works. Even though I have been out of the Mormon religion/cult since my mid-teens, my neighbors continue to amaze me.

They are so busy! If they don’t go to visit their mom and dad, their mom and dad are visiting them. Or they are going to church religiously in a suit and tie with the wife in a dress and heels. Church is above their family and marriage needs. Family is above their personal needs. I have often asked myself why did my grandmother and mother volunteer so much? What drove that need?

I inherited that same compulsion. No boundaries. My first years in a Christian church saw me helping everywhere to the point where I experienced a crisis. Sometimes, I still struggle with a works versus grace kind of faith.

In my head, I know I can’t earn my way to Heaven. No amount of good works will make me a “good” person. None of us are really a “good” person. But sometimes I still strive for that elusive perfection. You know, that perfect Christian you see in Sunday School that appears to have it all together? I wanted to be her, but failed numerous times. I beat myself up black and blue, took criticism hard, and criticized harder when the person helping me couldn’t meet my standards. I’ve learned to say no.

Alot.

Recently, someone at church asked me to help with something at an event. I said no. I said no to heading another thing at church. I stopped myself from volunteering for a vacant position. I am focused on one ministry. Unlike my friend, I can’t multi-task. I am a single tasker.

My lesson to you is to say no to things God doesn’t mean for you to take on, take care of your marriage, and live selflessly. The one thing that sets Mormons apart from the Christians is their love. We can love, too. We just have to focus more on glorifying God than in worrying about the color of the carpet or what kind of music is playing on the stage. Get involved in things that help you grow, but you don’t have to be the one person everyone goes to, because, in my opinion, there are enough people in one church to fill every vacant ministry position according to their gifts. All they have to do is say yes to one ministry.

 

What Makes You Different?

Loving someone first is good. Action though without words will never make you distinct from the world. You’re as nice as the Mormons in your neighborhood. You’re as hospitable as the New Agers at that shop down the street. You’re as wonderful as the Buddhists. You’re quiet, loving, and peaceable.

My friend reminded me of this when I mentioned how intimidating it is to speak what you believe to those that don’t share the same beliefs and who aren’t following your God. She said you must learn about their beliefs so you can speak bridges to them. Love means having friendships with people you don’t agree with, and that’s hard.

I mean, what do you talk about when Jesus is so immersed in your soul like the roots of an elm tree that, while you can’t help but talk about Him, you see that they are either offended, do not understand, or think they are on the same page?

Speaking Truth?

ss1

S.M. doesn’t like it when I take walks in the woods by myself. Our town is situated near a forest. It’s our very own Garden of Eden with miles of dirt pathways leading into quiet forests of pine and scrub oak. Wild flowers poke their heads up in the spring and adorn the Garden of Eden with color and cheer, and the forest is filled with browns and reds in the Fall. I take walks by myself here so I can hear God better, and we’ve had quite a conversation!

Lately, I’ve been bothered by my own fear of digging deeper into the Mormon religion. My friend met me at the local coffee shop in town yesterday where I was honest with her:

“S.M. asked me what makes Mormonism different than Christianity, and I had all the facts, but not enough of them.” I said.

“Maybe you ought to compare the words on the actual Mormon website to the Bible? What are you afraid of?” My friend ordered a large latte with a lot of whipped cream, and she does that because, she loves the whipped cream more than the latte.

I can only dream of eating whipped cream. But I stay focused on our conversation. “What if I can’t defend my faith? I know Mormonism is wrong, but I’m afraid that I won’t have all the answers.”

My friend shrugs and says, “You don’t need all the answers. But you do need to be able to explain why you aren’t Mormon anymore and that you aren’t one of those bitter ex-mormons. That you left because it wasn’t truth. Otherwise, you’re just another angry ex-mormon.”

“I’m not angry.” I said. I’m not upset at them, but I yearn for them to be set free, like I was, and to know the truth about God. Even self-proclaiming Christians get it wrong about God. Not like I get it right all the time, I hastily retract in my head.

“Then, research the truth yourself. Don’t depend on others to tell you the truth. Go right to the source. If you are right, you have nothing to fear, but you know as well as I that everyone has a bias, even if they have good intent.” My friend sips her latte again. The whipped cream is gone.

We’re sitting outside and the sun is warm on our shoulders. This Fall has been unusually warm. S.M. said to me the other day how everything is still green. What’s up with that? I focus again on my friend who just stuck her finger in the froth of her latte to lick the flavoring off of it.

“Do you do that in front of your husband?” I said and laughed.

My friend smiled and took a napkin out of the dispenser. She wiped her hands. “Yes. He’s used to me, and so are you!”

“So maybe I should use my blog to compare the Book of Mormon and the Mormon beliefs with the Bible?” I took a sip of my Earl Grey, but I realized I had drunk it all. When did I do that? That’s what friends do though–you have so much fun with them that you forget you drank your tea a half an hour ago!

“I think you should. Knowledge gives confidence.”

“But I’m not a scholar.” I barely got through school, I thought.

“You don’t need to be. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.” My friend pushed her cup away. “That was good.”

“But I don’t want to go all anti-Mormon on the site.” I said.

“No, the online world is real. You must treat them like friends. Love on them like Jesus.”

And that’s where we parted ways.

I walked to my car, got in, and drove home. S.M. was pulling weeds from the front yard. He looked up from the walkway. “Have a good time?”

“Yes,” I said. I sat down next to him. “This blog is going to be a lot of work.”

“Then why do it?” S.M. yanked another weed out from between the brick pavers.

“Because it needs to be done.” My friend is right. I watched him pull weeds and stared without seeing at the path.

You are all important to me. We can disagree, but we can still remain friends, right?

Potato Chips, Cottage Cheese, and Kindred Spirits

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables called people with that instant connection, kindred spirits. My friend tells me the internet is a large community filled with people that God cares about. So I must care about you because Jesus loves you, but it’s hard to imagine people when I can’t see them. My friend says to be patient. So I must imagine who you are, and I must seek out if you are one of those kindred spirits.

Before we can have a friendship, you must know some things about me.

  1. I love dipping potato chips into cottage cheese.
  2. Stash Tea is my favorite brand of tea.
  3. I hate coffee. But I don’t mind going to the coffee shops with my friend (who should have an I.V. attached to her arm with a direct line to a coffee pot to pump the stuff directly into her veins). I drink tea.
  4. The doctor says I must lose weight.
  5. I love chocolate.

 

My husband, S.M., thinks my potato chip and cottage cheese thing is a bit strange. My friend shares my love, and sometimes even, double dips by accident into the cottage cheese. She’s still pestering me to get on twitter.

I still don’t know about this social media thing, but I’d like to be your friend.

Share in the comments your likes.