Thursday, August 9, 2012

Does Mormonism encourage LDS people to lie?

I think the short answer is: "Yes."  However, Joanna Brooks makes some good points in a recent article entitled "Does Mormonism Encourage People to Lie?"

She refers to Mitt Romney's response to a recent question about polygamy:  "I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy."  The fact of the matter, however, is that the belief in polygamy is alive and well in the LDS church.  For example, a Mormon woman cannot currently be "sealed" (married for "time and all eternity") to more than one man, even if the prior husband is deceased, whereas a man can be sealed to more than one woman. Romney knows this and probably agrees with the doctrine in principle.  You almost have to in order to be an orthodox Mormon (which Romney probably is).  To argue otherwise is to strike at the foundation of Mormon beliefs, including the prophetic gift of Joseph Smith and the idea of "eternal marriage" in Mormon scripture, which is intimately linked with polygamy.

From the article:
Polygamy remains a fact of mainstream Mormon thought and belief—whether as a doctrinal remnant or as a live article of faith, no one knows for sure. And the tensions created by the dissonance between the Church’s public denial of polygamy and the private continuance of the doctrine creates tensions that lead more than a few Mormons to leave the faith.
When the question [to me] about polygamy came, I imagined listeners in Wales and Bangladesh and Kenya, listeners who had no concept of Mormonism, perhaps, beyond the most rudimentary and familiar stereotypes; including nineteenth-century Mormon polygamy. I squeezed my eyes shut. “No,” I said, “we no longer practice polygamy,” agreeing this time around with the LDS Church public-relations official. As I did, I registered an old, familiar, sinking feeling. I tried to tell myself it was the best I could do.
Was I lying for the Lord? Or was I a regular Mormon struggling to tell a complicated story to a world that often reduces us to stereotypes? What should I have said? Mitt Romney has said, “I can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy”—even though polygamy remains a live element in Mormon doctrine and practice. Is that what he really believes? Is that what he felt he had to say? Is this the best we can do?
One of the reasons I left the LDS church was because I was tired of lying.  Like Joanna Brooks, I had endeavored for years to "put the church in the best light" (lie), but found that I could no longer do it.  I feel for Joanna's struggle, given that she wants to remain socially linked to a religion that does not tolerate dissent.

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