Part 30: CES Letter Prophet Questions [Section D]

by Sarah Allen


This week we’re revisiting polygamy, since Jeremy does love to repeat himself. And in a few weeks, it looks like we’ll be going back to the Book of Abraham briefly, too. Honestly, if you were to cut out all of the repetition in this Letter, I bet it’d be only half as long at most.

Anyway, the CES Letter continues:

Brigham Young taught the doctrine that polygamy is required for exaltation:

“The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” – Journal of Discourses 11:269

Once again, the full quote shows that Jeremy’s interpretation of this line is incorrect:

Now, we as Christians desire to be saved in the kingdom of God. We desire to attain to the possession of all the blessings there are for the most faithful man or people that ever lived upon the face of the earth, even him who is said to be the father of the faithful, Abraham of old. We wish to obtain all that father Abraham obtained. I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us. It may be hard for many, and especially for the ladies, yet it is no harder for them than it is for the gentlemen. It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: “We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character and office, etc,”— the man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.

Brigham Young was very clearly teaching that, rather than practicing plural marriage, you have to accept the doctrine that (at the time) plural marriage was commanded by God. There were a lot of people then as now who believed that they didn’t have to accept plural marriage as being a commandment, and they could just put their heads down and ignore it and skate by without making that commitment to God in their hearts. Earlier in the sermon, he specifically said he was giving it to those who did not believe in the practice. He wasn’t directing his words at everybody, but only those who refused to believe that plural marriage was a commandment from God.

Brigham was saying that, as hard as plural marriage could be to accept, this is something they (and we) had to support and believe was truly a commandment, whether they/we lived it or not. Accepting that is part of accepting the celestial marriage covenant, and if we only agree with part of the covenant, we may not reach the highest degree of exaltation in the next life that is possible if we do accept the entire covenant in full.

Again, though, this is the JoD, so while this is the general idea of his original talk, the exact wording of the spoken sermon was different than in the printed one. In the original he said:

… If it is wrong for men to have more than one wife at a time, the Lord will reveal it by and by, and He will put it away and it won’t be known in the Church. I didn’t call for the revelation upon this principle. I didn’t ask for it and didn’t want it. And as I have said many times, it is the fact until that revelation was read to me and Joseph revealed these principles to me, the ruin that I saw would come upon many elders of Israel and the trouble and persecution that would fall wrought visibly upon my feelings, and so terrific it was, I desired to go into the grave if my work was done. I didn’t want it, but I had to stand up to it.

… If you desire, wish with all your hearts, to obtain the blessings that Abraham obtained, you will be a polygamist in practice if you have the privilege or you will come short of it, as God lives, you that wish there is no such thing in existence. … If any of you have it in your heart to say … I will not be a polygamist lest I should fail to obtain some earthly honor, character and office, etc., with the children of men, that that has that in his heart and proceed in doing so, he will come short of celestial glory. The only man and woman that becomes God and Sons of God is those who enter into polygamy, and they may enter into the presence of Father and Son and they will have their servants around them, but they will never reign and be kings, as those that have the privilege of the blessings and refuse to accept them.

So, the wording is a bit more clumsy and more off-the-cuff, but the intent is the same. When he talks about those who “have the privilege,” he was talking about those who were specifically commanded to enter into the practice, or those who felt strongly impressed that they should. So, if they were commanded or felt prompted to take a plural wife but refused because they didn’t want to, they weren’t going to reach as full an exaltation as those who submitted to the practice.

His explanation of his own feelings are very interesting, as well. He didn’t want it, and he didn’t seek it out, and when he was told about it, he knew exactly what level of persecution it would bring on their heads. But he also knew that Joseph was a prophet and that he’d better get in line with the principle, even if he didn’t like it. He was putting himself in their shoes and admitting he’d felt the same, but that he knew it was true so he had to face it and put aside his feelings and do what he’d been commanded to do. He even says twice in that talk that plural marriage may be rescinded someday, but that until it was, they were required to accept it as a commandment.

Jeremy continues:

Several other prophets after Young, including Taylor, Woodruff, Snow, and Joseph F. Smith gave similar teachings that the New and Everlasting Covenant of plural marriage was doctrinal and essential for exaltation.

It’s even in the scriptures:

Doctrine & Covenants 132:4: “For behold, I reveal unto you a new and everlasting covenant; and if ye abide note that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.”

Again, this is a misleading comment, and coming from someone who was raised in the Church, it’s an especially egregious one. The new and everlasting covenant is the fulness of the gospel. It’s celestial marriage/ the sealing covenant. It’s the Priesthood. It’s baptism. It’s all of the saving ordinances rolled into one, ordinances “that provide for man’s salvation, immortality, and eternal life.” Part of that includes plural marriage when it’s commanded, but the covenant itself has much more to it than just that one single aspect.

D&C 66:2 explains this clearly:

Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old.

Anyone who has been a member of the Church for longer than a few years is taught this. Jeremy knows full well that the position of the Church is not that plural marriage is the new and everlasting covenant, but he persists in claiming that anyway. The verse in D&C 132 is speaking specifically of the marriage/sealing covenant, of which plural marriage is a part. It is not talking only of plural marriage.

During the years in which plural marriage was commanded, that facet of the covenant was emphasized more heavily than it is today, because of the same reasons Brigham outlined in his sermon above: namely, that some people wanted to be sealed without accepting plural marriage as being part of the sealing covenant.

Making covenants with God is a serious matter, however, and there are serious consequences for making those covenants and then failing to abide by them. We can’t just reject the parts of those covenants we don’t like. We have to live them fully. As Elder Marcus B. Nash lays out, the terms and conditions for the covenants we enter into are established by God. He sets the rules, not us. We don’t get to pick and choose which parts we want to follow. When we make a covenant, we’re making a solemn promise to God that we will follow all of the covenant.

The people living under that commandment, whether they engaged in plural marriage or not, had to accept that it was in fact a commandment when they made their covenants, or they were putting their exaltation at risk. It was a very serious matter, so it was heavily emphasized.

Now that plural marriage is no longer a commandment, it’s deemphasized in favor of the rest of the sealing covenant, because it does not apply to us in quite the same way. We still need to accept that it’s part of the covenant and we still need to agree to live by that law if we’re ever commanded to again in the future, but we aren’t being commanded to live it right now. We’re not currently under the same consequences for failing to live the law when asked to do so, because we’re not being asked in the first place.

The next portion of the Letter reads:

In a September 1998 Larry King Live interview, President Hinckley was asked about polygamy:

Larry King: “You condemn it [polygamy]?”

Hinckley: “I condemn it. Yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal.”

Again, that’s not the full quote, nor is it the full context of what happened in that interview. You can watch the entire thing here, or skip to about the 11:15 mark to get into the polygamy discussion. It goes on for about 4-5 minutes before this exchange, with King repeatedly asking Hinckley why the Church hasn’t done more to condemn the practice publicly and why we weren’t getting involved in Utah’s polygamy prosecutions. President Hinckley explained over and over again that the prosecutions had nothing to do with us and were a state civil matter conducted by state civil authorities, as it’s not a practice we engage in and anyone who does engage in it is excommunicated. Finally, he started to get a little annoyed by answering the same questions over and over again, and it showed. You could tell he was wondering how many times he’d have to repeat the same thing over again before King would move on to the next subject.

The full response to that final question was, “I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal, it is not legal, and this church takes the position that we will abide by the law.” And then he repeated the 12th Article of Faith, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

He was not saying that there are not times when God commands the practice, nor was he saying that those who practiced plural marriage in the past were wrong to do so. He was saying that this is not something that our church currently engages in, that we believe in obeying the law, and that the then-current spate of arrests in Utah had nothing whatsoever to do with us and we weren’t getting involved in state prosecutions because they were a civil matter that didn’t concern us. Rather than condemning all plural marriage as undoctrinal, he was saying it wasn’t doctrinal right now and that he condemned the practice today. Yet again, context matters.

Of course, cherry-picking prophetic quotes away from all context and implying they’re saying something they didn’t actually say is a specialty of our critics, as we all know. You don’t have to look any farther than Elder Holland’s recent address to the BYU faculty and staff for a prime example of that.

Contrary to President Hinckley’s statement, we still have Doctrine & Covenants 132 in our canonized scriptures. We’re also still practicing plural marriage in the Temples by permitting men to be sealed to more than one woman (so long as only one is living). Apostles Elder Oaks, Elder Perry, and Elder Nelson are modern examples of LDS polygamists in that they’re sealed to multiple women.

Yes, we still have D&C 132 in our scriptures because it’s still a commandment. The part about plural marriage is just not a commandment currently in effect. We still have the Law of Moses in our canonized scriptures too, even though those commandments aren’t currently in effect either.

Regarding plural marriage in the temples, though…this is something that is very personal to me. Sister Kristen McMain Oaks was a single, 52-year-old woman when she married her first husband, President Oaks. Sister Barbara Dayton Perry was a single, 43-year-old woman when she married her first husband, Elder Perry. Sister Wendy Watson Nelson was a single woman in her mid-50s when she married her first husband, President Nelson. They were strong, faithful women who did everything right, but weren’t able to receive that particular blessing until later in life.

When we were talking about Joseph’s wives, Jeremy asked why a mother and daughter pair would need to be sealed to a man and why wasn’t a parent-child sealing good enough. The answer to that was found in D&C 131:1-4, which states that if we want to obtain the highest level of exaltation and to have eternal increase, we need to be sealed in marriage.

As a single, never-married, 40-year-old sister, Sister Perry, Sister Oaks and Sister Nelson give me great hope that there is still someone out there waiting for me who I will meet at the right time. And you know what? That man might well be a widower, just like their husbands are, or he may be divorced. But why should I be punished and denied my exaltation because the man I marry had a previous marriage that ended before we ever met? Why should I be stripped of my husband, my family, and my chance for eternal happiness when I die because I met him after his first wife died? Why should any of these women have to go through that? What is just and merciful about that? Why shouldn’t God honor His covenants with us? Covenants are two-way promises, after all. We both have to hold up our end of the bargain.

God is God because He is perfect: perfectly loving, perfectly merciful, perfectly just. He is not going to punish us for something we never did. He is not going to withhold exaltation from His righteous daughters just because the man they made their covenants with had a wife who died. Marriage is a commandment, not a sin, and as long as we keep our covenants with Him, He’ll keep them with us.

So, what does Jeremy Runnells have against women who marry later in life? Why is he implying that these women should be denied their exaltation when they never did anything wrong? Is he suggesting that Heavenly Father got it wrong and shouldn’t extend His love and mercy to His daughters if they marry a widower? What it is about older, single women that means we aren’t worthy of having our covenants honored? What does he think we did to deserve that? The implications of that paragraph of his are gross.

But I’ll stop ranting before I get any angrier. And, of course, Jeremy wraps up with his favorite closing remark again:

Polygamy is doctrinal. Polygamy is not doctrinal. Yesterday’s doctrine today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophets are today’s heretics.

Plural marriage is doctrinally binding when commanded, and not doctrinally binding when not commanded. As has always been the case. Regardless, whether it’s currently commanded or not, the fact that there are times when God does command it of His followers is something we all need to accept if we’re going to make covenants with Him.

That plural marriage is sometimes commanded is not false doctrine, and that prophets spoke in its favor as a commandment during the years in which it was a commandment should not be surprising to anyone. They are not false prophets for having done so. They were prophets preaching the current commandments to their people. That’s the entire purpose of modern prophets and ongoing revelation: sometimes, one group of people will be under different commandments than another group of people living in a different time and place.

So, that was a short one. The next topic in the CES Letter is the Priesthood ban, however. Since that deserves and requires a much more thorough treatment than a partial post, we’ll move on to that one next week. Instead, I wanted to wrap up this post by talking about the necessity of learning how to receive personal revelation and how to get these answers to your questions.

When FAIR began sharing these posts on their blog, it brought a lot of attention and visibility both to our LDS subreddit and to me directly that neither of us had experienced before. I wanted to thank those who reached out to let me know that Jeremy and John Dehlin were trying to intimidate me when the posts came out. I truly do appreciate the concern.

In an ironic twist of fate, another person reached out to me after FAIR began sharing the posts: a family member whom I love very much, but who, apparently, had been reading the CES Letter and is currently in the process of leaving the Church because of it. They didn’t know I was writing these posts and aren’t interested in reading them or discussing the various issues with me; their mind was already made up before they messaged me. This has obviously been a difficult situation to navigate, one that many of us have experienced before. This time, though, it hit even closer to home than it normally does in these situations simply because I’ve spent half a year with this Letter and its dishonesties and manipulations.

Between that and the furor over Elder Holland’s recent speech to BYU faculty, as well as people fighting against prophetic guidance regarding the pandemic, I thought it was important to take the time to go over these concepts. We need to be able to recognize the Spirit as opposed to our own personal wants and desires, and we need to be able to recognize the guiding hand of the Lord. We need to be able to recognize prophetic counsel for what it is, and we need to be able to receive personal revelation. With all of the different competing influences out there, we have got to be able to discern gospel truth from untruth.

President Nelson recently taught us:

We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.

Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

One of the great signs of the times is contention and confusion on a wide scale, that will deceive the very elect. We’re seeing some of that right now, and it’s only going to get worse. Mentions of the Second Coming and how to prepare for it have practically tripled since President Nelson was called to lead the Church. Those numbers are from October 2020, so they may have already passed that triple mark. If not, they surely will soon. That tells me that President Nelson is right that we’re starting to build up to the Second Coming. It probably won’t be for some time yet, but it’s beginning to escalate. We need to prepare ourselves for what’s coming, or we’re going to falter. We’re already seeing our loved ones being led away by the wrong messages and voices. We need to take care lest we join them. We have to build up our own foundations so that we can withstand the buffeting winds heading our way.

We’re all familiar with J. Golden Kimball’s recitation of his father Heber C. Kimball’s famous prophecy about a great test coming:

… [W]e think we are secure here in the chambers of these everlasting hills, where we can close the doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy against the people of God.

Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall. For I say unto you, there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming.

This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with glory. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess a personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got this testimony, you must live right and call upon the Lord, and cease not until you obtain it.

Remember these sayings: The time will come when no man or woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within themselves. If you do not have the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, how can you stand?

To me, that fits perfectly alongside what President Nelson said above. Especially online in anonymous settings like these ones, it’s getting more and more difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy of the people of God. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are real. We run into them daily on these forums and they’re growing ever more sophisticated. It’s getting harder and harder to tell who’s a genuine believer with questions from someone who is deliberating seeking to cast doubt and confusion.

So, how do we get answers and tell fact from fiction? How do we get that personal revelation?

I’d like to highlight a talk titled “Stand Forever” by Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge of the Seventy. I’ve mentioned this talk before, but I’d like to through it in greater detail today. Elder Corbridge was assigned to read a lot of material critical to the Church, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the events of the Restoration.

He begins by quoting Daniel 2:44, which says that in the last days, God will set up in a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and it will consume all other kingdoms and stand forever. The great question, he says, is whether we’ll also stand forever, or whether we’ll be led away.

He states:

There are many who deceive, and the spectrum of deception is broad. At one end we meet those who attack the Restoration, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. Next we see those who believe in the Restoration but claim the Church is deficient and has gone astray. There are others who also claim to believe in the Restoration but are disillusioned with doctrine that conflicts with the shifting attitudes of our day. There are some who, without authority, lay claim to visions, dreams, and visitations to right the ship, guide us to a higher path, or prepare the Church for the end of the world. Others are deceived by false spirits.

At the far end of the spectrum we come to an entire universe of distractions. Never has there been more information, misinformation, and disinformation; more goods, gadgets, and games; and more options, places to go, and things to see and do to occupy time and attention away from what is most important. And all of that and much more is disseminated instantaneously throughout the world by electronic media. This is a day of deception.

Truth enables us to see clearly because it is the “knowledge of things as they [really] are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” Knowledge is crucial to avoid deception, to discern between truth and error, and to see clearly and chart a course through the hazards of our day.

And how do we gain that knowledge? First, we start with the primary questions, because “not all questions are equal and not all truths are equal.” Primary questions are the pillars that support our testimony’s foundation. These are things like, “Does God exist? Is He our Father? Is Jesus Christ the Son of God and Savior of the world? Was Joseph Smith a prophet? Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the true church of Christ?”

Once we receive answers to those questions, we can start with the secondary questions, which can include questions about Church history, plural marriage, the Priesthood ban, DNA, the Book of Abraham, women and the Priesthood, etc. — basically everything that makes up the CES Letter.

He continues:

If you answer the primary questions, the secondary questions get answered too, or they pale in significance and you can deal with things you understand and things you don’t and things you agree with and things you don’t without jumping ship altogether.

I personally know this is true. This is exactly how it was for me: once I had a testimony of the big things, everything else just fell into place. Those smaller questions are encompassed by the bigger questions. Now, I still have hundreds of questions, don’t get me wrong. They don’t go away. But they aren’t things that matter for our salvation. They’re things that can wait until more is revealed. For now, because I can answer the big question faithfully, most of the smaller questions are either already answered, or they can be studied and researched without my testimony wavering. I’ve been wallowing in the filth of this Letter for months now, and it hasn’t bothered me or damaged my testimony because I already know this church is the true church of Christ. I already know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that He saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ in that grove of trees, and that the Priesthood was then restored to the Earth. I already know the Book of Mormon is scripture. I already know that President Nelson is a prophet today. Because of that, nothing Jeremy has to say can rattle me.

Elder Corbridge then goes through different methods of learning: the Scientific Method (i.e., experimenting upon the word, like Alma teaches us to do); the Analytical Method (i.e., gathering, organizing, and weighing evidence, or studying it out in our minds, the way the Lord counseled Oliver Cowdery to do); the Academic Method (i.e., studying and seeking out words of wisdom from the best books); and the Divine Method (i.e., incorporating all other methods, but doing it prayerfully, with the Holy Spirit to guide us).

Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 that men only know the things of men, but that the things of God have to be discerned spiritually. We can’t know the full truth of any situation unless we’re being led by the Spirit.

One of the things I noticed while speaking to my family member recently is that they were having trouble evaluating sources. They were so far down that path, they believed their highly critical sources were neutral and the truly neutral sources were biased in favor of the Church. This kind of skewed lens happens when we focus all our attention on one type of source. If all you’re reading is critical sources, you step into an echo chamber and their words become your new normal. Anything that deviates from that must be biased in favor of the Church’s truth claims, and therefore, must also be discarded. This leads to a warped sense of the truth.

I post a lot of sources in favor in the Church, that’s true. But I’ve also posted neutral and even critical sources over the course of this series. I posted a very critical article in conjunction with Blood Atonement just last week. If your testimony is strong enough and you know how to lean on the Spirit for understanding, there’s nothing wrong with reading those kinds of critical sources in moderation. They’re useful in showing us how to spot bias. And when you’re going through critical documents like the CES Letter, knowing how to spot bias and reading the cited sources is incredibly important.

One of the promises in the scriptures that I’ve long been intrigued by is the promise that God will go before our faces and His angels will buoy us up and support us. The idea of “going before” actually comes up over and over and over again in the scriptures under different contexts, but at least twice in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 39:12 and D&C 84:88) the specific promise is made that He will go before our faces to guide us and protect us.

That is a promise that we can lean on when we’re searching for answers. We can ask Him to go before us. We can ask Him to lead us to the best sources, whether they’re books or people or online articles or what have you. We can pray for understanding and enlightenment over confusing topics. We can ask Him directly for answers. He did not cut us loose and set us adrift to be lost at sea. He’s thrown us a lifeline and He’s taught us all how to use it. All we need to do is take it. Remember, if any of us lack wisdom and ask God in faith, it will be given to us.

Elder Corbridge continues:

Of all the problems you encounter in this life, there is one that towers above them all and is the least understood. The worst of all human conditions in this life is not poverty, sickness, loneliness, abuse, or war—as awful as those conditions are. The worst of all human conditions is the most common: it is to die. It is to die spiritually. It is to be separated from the presence of God, and in this life, His presence is His Spirit or power. That is the worst.

Conversely, the best of all human conditions in this life is not wealth, fame, prestige, good health, the honors of men, security, or even—dare I say it—good grades. As wonderful as some of those things are, the best of all human conditions is to be endowed with heavenly power; it is to be born again, to have the gift and companionship of the Holy Ghost, which is the source of knowledge, revelation, strength, clarity, love, joy, peace, hope, confidence, faith, and almost every other good thing. Jesus said, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, … shall teach you all things.” It is the power by which we “may know the truth of all things.” “It will show … [us] all things … [we] should do.” It is the fountain of “living water” that springs up unto eternal life.

Pay whatever price you must pay, bear whatever burden you must bear, and make whatever sacrifice you must make to get and keep in your life the spirit and power of the Holy Ghost. Every good thing depends on getting and keeping the power of the Holy Ghost in your life. Everything depends on that.

When we listen to the wrong voices and we find ourselves surrounded by those mists of darkness Nephi describes in the great vision of the tree of life, when we’re left to wander those paths without any light to guide us back home, there is pure hopelessness. I can’t imagine anything scarier than that.

But the Savior is that light in the darkness, calling us home. He did not leave us comfortless and He did not abandon us. The Holy Ghost is there to prompt us back down the right paths, but only if we learn how to recognize His voice. And when we’re trying to navigate all of this misinformation and find the truth, we need His help more than ever.

Elder Corbridge elaborates:

So what was the gloom I felt several years ago while reading antagonistic material? Some would say that gloom is the product of belief bias, which is the propensity to pick and choose only those things that accord with our assumptions and beliefs. The thought that everything one has believed and been taught may be wrong, particularly with nothing better to take its place, is a gloomy and disturbing thought indeed. But the gloom I experienced as I listened to the dark choir of voices raised against the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ—the gloom that came as I waded, chest deep, through the swamp of the secondary ­questions—is different. That gloom is not belief bias and it is not the fear of being in error. It is the absence of the Spirit of God. That is what it is. It is the condition of man when “left unto himself.” It is the gloom of darkness and the “stupor of thought.”

… Revelation from the Spirit of God supersedes belief bias because it is not premised only on evidence. I have spent a lifetime seeking to hear the word of the Lord and learning to recognize and follow the Spirit of God, and the spirit associated with the dark voices that assail the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration is not the spirit of light, intelligence, and truth. The Spirit of God is not in those voices. I don’t know much, but I do know the voice of the Lord, and His voice is not in that dark choir, not at all in that choir.

In stark contrast to the gloom and sickening stupor of thought that pervades the swamp of doubt is the spirit of light, intelligence, peace, and truth that attends the events and the glorious doctrine of the Restoration, especially the scriptures revealed to the world through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Just read them and ask yourself and ask God if they are the words of lies, deceit, delusion, or truth.

We often hear critics claiming that darkness and confusion is the result of “cognitive dissonance.” It’s one of their favorite claims to make against members of the Church, right up there with “gaslighting.” However, as Elder Corbridge attests, it isn’t actually that at all. It’s the absence of the Spirit and the darkness that comes from having the light of Christ snuffed out the way a flame dies when all of the oxygen leaves the room.

Christ stands ready to freely give us His light. He stands ready to go before our faces and guide us through the mists of darkness to the tree of life. He stands ready to lead us to the answers to our questions. He stands ready with open arms. All we have to do is ask.

In closing, I wanted to leave you with one last scripture, D&C 50:23-24:

And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.


Sources in this entry:



Sarah Allen is brand new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. A voracious reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.

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