A Closer Look
When I first discovered that gold plates were not used to translate the Book of Mormon, that Joseph Smith started polygamy and disturbingly practiced it in ways I never could have imagined, and that Joseph’s Book of Abraham translations and claims are gibberish...I went into a panic. I desperately needed answers and I needed them immediately. Among the first sources I looked to for answers were official Church sources such as Mormon.org and LDS.org. I couldn’t find them.
I then went to FairMormon and Neal A. Maxwell Institute (formerly FARMS).
FairMormon and these unofficial apologists have done more to destroy my testimony than any “anti-Mormon” source ever could. I find their version of Mormonism to be alien and foreign to the Chapel Mormonism that I grew up in attending Church, seminary, reading scriptures, General Conferences, EFY, Church history tour, mission, and BYU. It frustrates me that apologists use so many words in their attempts to redefine words and their meanings. Their pet theories, claims, and philosophies of men mingled with scripture are not only contradictory to the scriptures and Church teachings I learned through correlated Mormonism...they're truly bizarre.
I am amazed to learn that, according to these unofficial apologists, translate doesn't really mean translate, horses aren't really horses (they're tapirs), chariots aren’t really chariots (since tapirs can’t pull chariots without wheels), steel isn't really steel, the Hill Cumorah isn't really in New York (it's possibly in Mesoamerica), Lamanites aren't really the principal ancestors of the Native American Indians, marriage isn't really marriage (if they're Joseph's plural marriages? They're mostly non-sexual spiritual sealings), and yesterday’s prophets weren’t really prophets when they taught today’s false doctrine.
Why is it that I had to first discover all of this – from the internet – at 31-years-old after over 20 years of high activity in the Church? I wasn't just a seat warmer at Church. I’ve read the scriptures several times. I've read hundreds of "approved" Church books. I was an extremely dedicated missionary who voluntarily asked to stay longer in the mission field. I was very interested in and dedicated to the Gospel.
How am I supposed to feel about learning about these disturbing facts at 31-years-old? After making critical life decisions based on trust and faith that the Church was telling me the complete truth about its origins and history? After many books, seminary, EFY, Church history tour, mission, BYU, General Conferences, scriptures, Ensigns, and regular Church attendance?
So, putting aside the absolute shock and feeling of betrayal in learning about all of this information that has been kept concealed and hidden from me by the Church my entire life, I am now expected to go back to the drawing board. Somehow, I am supposed to rebuild my testimony on newly discovered information that is not only bizarre and alien to the Chapel Mormonism I had a testimony of; it’s almost comical.
I'm now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating ancient records when the Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates destroy this claim? That Joseph has the character and integrity to take him at his word after seeing his deliberate deception in hiding and denying polygamy and polyandry for at least 10 years of his adult life? How he backdated and retrofitted the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood restoration events as if they were in the Book of Commandments all along? And I’m supposed to believe with a straight face that Joseph using a rock in a hat is legit? Despite this being the exact same method he used to con people out of their money during his treasure hunting days? Despite this ruining the official story of ancient prophets and Moroni investing all of that time and effort into gold plates, which were not used because Joseph’s face was stuffed in a hat?
I’m supposed to sweep under the rug the inconsistent and contradictory first vision accounts and just believe anyway? I’m supposed to believe that these men who have been wrong about so many important things and who have not prophesied, “seered,” or revealed much in the last 170 or so years are to be sustained as “prophets, seers, and revelators”?
I’m supposed to believe the scriptures have credibility after endorsing so much rampant immorality, violence, and despicable behavior? When it says that the earth is only 7,000 years old and that there was no death before then? Or that Heavenly Father is sitting on a throne with an erect penis when all evidence points to it being the pagan Egyptian god of sex, Min? The “most correct book on earth” Book of Mormon going through over 100,000 changes over the years? After going through so many revisions and still being incorrect? Noah’s ark and the global flood are literal events? Tower of Babel is a literal event? The Book of Mormon containing 1769 King James Version edition translation errors and 1611 King James Version translators’ italics while claiming to be an ancient record?
That there’s actually a polygamous god who revealed a Warren Jeffs style revelation on polygamy that Joseph pointed to as a license to secretly marry other living men’s wives and young girls and teenagers? That this god actually threatened Joseph’s life with one of his angels with a sword if a newly married pregnant woman didn’t agree to Joseph’s marriage proposal? I’m supposed to believe in a god who was against polygamy before He was for polygamy but decided in 1890 that He was again against it?
I’m told to put these foundational problems on the shelf and wait until I die to get answers? To stop looking at the Church intellectually even though the “glory of God is intelligence”? Ignore and have faith anyway?
I’m sorry, but faith is believing and hoping when there is little evidence for or against something. Delusion is believing when there is an abundance of evidence against something. To me, it is absolute insanity to bet my life, my precious time, my money, my heart, and my mind on an organization that has so many serious problematic challenges to its foundational truth claims.
There are just way too many problems. We’re not just talking about one issue here. We’re talking about dozens of serious issues that undermine the very foundation of the LDS Church and its truth claims.
The past year was the worst year of my life. I experienced a betrayal, loss, and sadness unlike anything I’ve ever known. “Do what is right; let the consequence follow” now holds a completely different meaning for me. I desperately searched for answers to all of the problems. To me, the answer eventually came but it was not what I expected...or hoped for.
As a child, it seemed so simple;
Every step was clearly marked.
Priesthood, mission, sweetheart, temple;
Bright with hope I soon embarked.
But now I have become a man,
And doubt the promise of the plan.
For the path is growing steeper,
And a slip could mean my death.
Plunging upward, ever deeper,
I can barely catch my breath.
Oh, where within this untamed wild
Is the star that led me as a child?
As I crest the shadowed mountain,
I embrace the endless sky;
The expanse of heaven’s fountain
Now unfolds before my eye.
A thousand stars shine on the land,
The chart drafted by my own hand.