I find it interesting that some members who were not aware of the complete history of the LDS Church in relation to polygamy would so easily question the integrity of the Church when finding out that like Abraham and other ancient prophets, God would require it of Joseph as well. Surprisingly, some have even left the Church upon finding out this information unable to reconcile the history in relation to the truthfulness of the gospel -- deeply sad. And it is from these sources the media is currently having a heyday with their eager willingness to make Joseph out to be something he never was – unrighteous.
I'm not suggesting I fully understand polygamy, like it or even know everything there is to know about it -- I don't. What I am saying is that the Lord provided a way for every sincere seeker of truth to know if Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and it has nothing to do with how many wives he was sealed to and what the ages of those he married were; as if that matters. It doesn't.
What matters is that Joseph was obedient to what the Lord commanded him and that, to me, knowing what I do know about the history is incredible. Who among us has similar faith in keeping covenants we've made regardless of the price? Not so many, I think. Which is why those who do are considered, by God, "elect."
I can't help but think about how difficult it is for increasingly more members to sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on a number of important doctrines specifically related to current social issues.
I’m grateful that Joseph Smith, evidence of a true prophet of God, regardless of the consequences was obedient to God and especially when what was asked of him was difficult to not only understand but to actually do, which he did. And God knowing all things knew how his actions would be twisted and sold to try and undermine the work of salvation and cause some to lose faith.
There is a part of me that feels it a privilege to stand with the prophet, Joseph Smith, and bear my personal testimony that he is indeed a prophet of God. Perhaps this is in some way a test of faith for many of us – I hope we pass.
Not too long ago I wrote about how I gained my testimony of the prophet through the Book of Mormon, thus my knowledge that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true – I know it. Surely, God knew that man would challenge man, because every man is fallible and subject to unrighteous judgments based in ignorance or even hate. Therefore, He prepared a way that His children, regardless of man, could know for themselves that this work is true and that His prophet, no matter the accusations, was called of Him to do this marvelous work and wonder!
The Family: A Proclamation to the World is an inspired document that lays out the doctrinal foundation for the plan of salvation. And yet, as the world rejects that marriage is ordained of God only between and a man and woman progressive Mormons judge God's prophets' on the wrong side of history when they council members to do everything we can to defend natural marriage. Why should we care what the world advocates when we have prophets upon the earth? Unless we care more about what people think of us than what God commands?
Because most covenant members consider the counsel and teachings of prophets and apostles inspired, we believe that what they teach and direct is God’s will. Unfortunately, some who consider themselves faithful set themselves up as judge and jury of every word that proceeded forth from their mouths. By their own intellect, they determine if various counsels, often according to the world’s standards of what is politically correct, are inspired and worthy of their sustaining actions. If it is not, they feel comfortable taking on a contrary opinion justifying such a position on the potential fallibility of their guidance and instruction believing themselves more inspired.
From that post I wrote:
It is not a light thing to profess that a testimony of the authenticity of The Book of Mormon come from God and produces, as its byproduct, a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. Period. God in His masterful way intended this to be so. And it is precisely this faith based and Spirit-testified testimony that has the power to save us, literally!
I know this is true. I know this power in my own life. I know this truth is my own personal lifesaver — because it saves me every single day.
All around us we see our brothers and sisters in the gospel fall by the wayside. Each casualty has a personal story as to what has caused him or her to choose to leave the path. Unfortunately, and far too often, it is due to a lack of conviction. And here is where the importance of a testimony based on the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, in my experience, applies its incredible power.
Because I know by the Power of the Holy Ghost that The Book of Mormon is a true record brought forth by the Gift and Power of God, I also know (Think of how many people today, even some within the Church, detest and even mock that phrase) that Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet of God.
Said Gordon B. Hinckley in one of my all-time favorite General Conference addresses about The Book of Mormon:
“The Book of Mormon is the only book ever published, of which I know, that carries in it a promise that one who reads it prayerfully and asks concerning it in prayer will have revealed to him by the power of the Holy Ghost a knowledge that it is true (see Moroni 10:4).”
Because of my own experience in acquiring this specific knowledge, President Hinckley’s testimony has remained with me — in understanding how profound this promise, from God, is intended to be for each of His children. It is real and available to all willing to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and His words. And, it is that which develops unfaltering conviction.
In the midst of the current storm, may each of us who have made sacred covenants to defend the kingdom of God continue to stand with Jesus Christ and feel it a privilege to also stand with the prophet of the restoration and those who continue to hold the very same keys to direct the great work of salvation.
I do have compassion for any whose faith is challenged by those who would turn God’s work into drama and twist much of what we don’t know or fully understand about polygamy as a way to shed negativity on the Church. I would say that instead of allowing doubt to overtake you turn toward what God has given us so that we are not tossed to and fro with every prevailing wind or fiery dart of the adversary.
From what I hear, the forecast is rough and unless we are firmly rooted through His intended promises we will likely end up off course. So hold on and whatever you do stay in the boat!
Mormon Newsroom: Church Provides Context for Recent Media Coverage on Gospel Topics Pages. A complete list of the in-depth essays is listed below:
Mormon Women Stand: 5 Common Concerns: Polygamy, Joseph Smith, and the Church
Sixteen Small Stones: Some Thoughts for LDS Members Who are Surprised and Upset about Joseph Smith’s Polygamy
The Millennial Star: Why didn't the Church teach me this stuff?
Mormon Women: For those who struggle with Mormon history of polygamy
We Talk of Christ We Rejoice in Christ: Joseph Smith and Polygamy