Friday, January 26, 2018

More Comments from Readers Part II

Following are more comments and questions from our readers:    Comment #1 “I find it hard to believe you can defend Joseph Smith for marrying 14 year olds and brothers and sisters. How repulsive” Erma J.
In LDS doctrine, “families are forever,” and eternal sealings take place for an entire family. Our children are sealed to my wife and I, and I am sealed to my parents, while my wife is sealed to her parents, and both sets of parents are, in turn, sealed to their parents, etc.

Response: Indeed it would be if that was the case, but what you claim are marriages were sealings, which are conducted today in every LDS temple, i.e., sealing of a family together for time and eternity. As an example, when I was 15, my parents were not “married” or sealed in the Temple, but had been originally in a civil marriage ceremony. Not having been sealed when my sister and I were born, we were not born “in” or “under” the covenant, therefore, when my parents were sealed together when I was 15, my sister and I were “sealed” to them as a family unit.
    In the early days of the Church, before the sealing endowment was fully understood, occasionally two or more families would be sealed together and many people were sealed to Joseph Smith, the Prophet—many were women and most sealings were after he was dead. These were not marriages, but family units sealed together. So often, critics of the Church or people who simply do not know better, accept the worst, thinking something terrible, immoral and dishonorable was being done, which was not at all the case. You impinge the honor and high moral standing of good people when you pass on such tidbits you have not yourself researched and learned all the background information available.
    Comment #2: “In Alma 11:1-20, we read of a Nephite proto-monetary system with exchanges for differing weights of pieces of metal. According to more than a few modern readers, the “plain” reading suggests that the Nephites had coins. Several decades ago, the Church began to add notes, cross-references, and chapter headings to the Book of Mormon text. To modern readers it seemed obvious that Alma 11 was describing coins, so the chapter heading including a note that this chapter detailed a system of “Nephite coinage.” The Book of Mormon text, however, never mentions coins and, upon closer examination, the text doesn’t suggest that the Nephites had coins. The “plain” reading was wrong and recent Book of Mormon editions have corrected the chapter heading to read “Nephite monetary system” Brad J.
    Response: The word coin comes from Middle English and from Old French before that, which meant ‘wedge, corner, die,’ coigner ‘to mint,’ from Latin cuneus ‘wedge.’ The original sense was ‘cornerstone,’ later ‘angle or wedge’ (senses now spelled quoin, meaning “cornerstone”). Later in Middle English, the word evolved to mean a “die” for stamping money, or a piece of money produced by such a die.
    John L. Sorenson claims, since no ancient coins were ever found in Mesoamerica, that the usage in the Book of Mormon did not mean money but a measuring system. However, the simple fact is that in Alma we learn that “And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money“ (Alma 1:5, emphasis added).
    Now “money” has a specific meaning, and is not the same as a “measure.” In addition, “Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price” (Alma 1:20, emphasis added). And also, “Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek” (Alma 11:20).
    Joseph Smith used the word “money,” and an 1828 dictionary meaning of “money” in New England meant “Coin; stamped metal; any piece of metal, usually gold, silver or copper, stamped by public authority, and used as the medium of commerce.”
Zeezrom holds out a large amount of money in his hand to tempt Amulek

However, the coup de grâce of this is found in Alma 11 when Zeezrom, evidently holding out his hand, said, “Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (v22). We are not talking about weights and measures here, but solid money that could be seen, felt and held—extended in Zeezrom’s hand, evidently carried on his person in a pouch or pocket, and extended at this dramatic money to confound Amulek.
    Thus, playing to the crowd, Zeezrom held the money out before him toward Amulek. Whatever it was in his hand, the people could easily identify it, and it was worth significant value for Zeezrom to make his point of offering a lot of money to Amulek for the latter to deny the Christ.
    If this was anything other than “coined” money, it simply would not have carried any significance in that moment and Zeezrom would have been unable to sway the people to his side, as was his intent.
    Comment #3: “I’m at a loss about some controversy over the Wentworth Letter regarding Joseph Smith using a wrong sequencing of events or something. Could you straighten me out on this?” Redd H.
    Response: I assume you mean when Joseph wrote that the first settlement in this land of the Western Hemisphere was when the Jaredites arrived, neglecting to include the actual first settlement was when Adam was ejected from the Garden of Eden and eventually at the end of his life when the meeting at Adam-ondi-ahman, which of course would pre-date the Jaredite occupation.
    The problem arises over critics who look for something—anything—they can dig their heels into and yell “foul.” It is even very likely that the Wentworth Letter was a re-wording by scribes of Joseph Smith’s ideas which he wanted to convey.  And most importantly, the letter, as few things are, was not intended to expose everything Joseph Smith knew. Instead, the Wentworth Letter was intended to be a basic introduction to the Book of Mormon and to the Restored Gospel.
    As an example, does the letter’s neglect to mention Adam mean Joseph forgot about his settling here on the Western Hemisphere? Of course not. The context of the letter is limited. It is not about everything that has happened on this continent ever. The context is of a particular history—a history that started when the Jaredites arrived. The broad, sweeping language is probably the work of the scribes, who were evidently drawing on Orson Pratt’s 1840 Pamphlet. For instance, Pratt wrote “early settlement,” which was changed to “first settlement” for the Wentworth Letter. I imagine the scribes thought nothing of it doctrinally, but they may have thought the word “first” is more precise grammatically and therefore would sound more professional.
    As a side note, it may be important to remember that the audience for whom the Wentworth Letter was initially written was a society that had no problem crediting Europeans with the discovery of America, despite the fact that millions of people were already here when the Europeans arrived. Even the erudite Noah Webster, in his 1828 dictionary, says America was “first discovered by Sebastian Cabot.” It’s important, therefore, to remember that Webster was looking at things in terms of the European history of America, just as the Wentworth Letter was looking at things in terms of the Jaredite/Nephite history of America. The European view of who “first discovered America” didn’t stop the Europeans from integrating with the pre-existing Native population, just as the Mulekites and Nephites did.


  1. "marrying 14 year olds and brothers and sisters" What is this person saying when she says this? Why does she mention "brothers"? Was Joseph sealed to other men as his brothers? I do believe men were sealed to Joseph as their father.

  2. This comment is in response to Erma J.

    There is a thing called Presentism. According to the dictionary.. the definition is "uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts." What this means.. is to put OUR value system.. OUR way of seeing things today... OUR current political correctness upon those who lived in the past. In Joseph Smith's day.. according to the laws of the land that were established before Joseph Smith was even born.... this is what we find:

    The age of consent for marriage under English common law was TEN. United States law did not raise the age of consent until the late nineteenth century. In Joseph Smith’s day, most states still had the declared age of consent to be TEN! Some had raised it to TWELVE, and Delaware had lowered it to SEVEN! (See Melina McTigue, “Statutory Rape Law Reform in Nineteenth Century Maryland: An Analysis of Theory and Practical Change,” (2002), accessed 5 Feb 2005)

    in 1880 (nearly 40 years after Joseph Smith’s death), the minimal age of female consent in Illinois was age 10. The following U. S. states (and territories) identified their minimal age of female consent at age 10 in 1880: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. (Source 1)

    The following states identified their ages of female consent at 12 in 1880: Arizona, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. (Source 1)

    Outside the U. S., Denmark’s minimum age for female consent was 12 in 1880–and still 12 in 1920. Same ages and dates for Portugal, Scotland, and Spain. By 1880 England had advanced the minimal age from 12 to 13. The age of consent in Canada and Australia in 1880 was also 12. By 1920 Canada had advanced the age to 14. In Russia the minimum age in 1880 was 10. It advanced to 14 by 1920. (Source 1)

    So.. to put Joseph Smith down and look down upon him for what you think is wrong... without understanding the standards and attitudes of HIS day.. is wrong.

    Really... just do a google search on "Age of Consent" and you will be amazed at what you find.

    Besides.. Regarding the 14 year old that Joseph was "married" to had legal consent from her parents.

    1. I was fully aware the comment I was quoting was from Erma J. I do appreciate your good response to her presentism mentality. My issue was not that, however. My issue is why she used the word "brothers". It is hard to imagine she was saying Joseph "married brothers". So I do not understand her comment.

  3. MrMiron: Thanks for the enlightening information. Presentism is a dangerous issue so misunderstood and so misused today by arrogant and ignorant people.