Honesty is an Admirable Quality–Not!

 

IMG_0182Delightful Mother’s Day.  Church.  A leisurely drive to Surfside beach–a popular place on a holiday Sunday.  Then to historic Galveston for an hour long stroll, followed by lunch.  The weather was amazing.  Temperature perfect.  The steady breeze refreshing.

When we arrived home, my daughter was watching “Anne of Green Gables.”  My wife settled in for a nap.  I plopped down with a bowl of ice cream next to my daughter.  Within 30 minutes, I’m blubbering like a baby.  The drama was heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time.

Then this.  Marilla asks young Anne for forgiveness.  She had mistakenly accused the vulnerable orphan of theft.  “Please forgive me.  Now I know you are honest.  And honesty is an admirable quality.”  I was already having great difficulty controlling my emotions.  The statement “honesty is an admirable quality” brought a new wave of sobs.

You see, over the past couple of years I have found out that honesty is NOT always admirable.  Not when it comes to the Mormon religion.  My religion.  Silence and just going along are viewed as admirable.  Honest examination and discussion of truth is not admirable.  In fact, it is forbidden and not condoned in the church.  Honest dialogue is dangerous to family relationships and friendships.  Don’t ask, don’t tell are the best bywords.  Honesty is not admirable.

Some people have told me that you can discuss any of our church’s history and doctrine without any problems.  Those “some people” obviously don’t live in my ward or stake.  They are not members of my family, nor in my circle of friends.  In fact, I hear from people all over the world who have stumbled upon the same discovery as me.  Honesty is not admirable if you question, doubt or reach new conclusions.  Being honest and open is perilous.  Families have been and continue to be ripped apart.

Dear Marilla Cuthbert, your wisdom is so needed in my church.

Better Dead Clean, Than Alive Unclean

Prodigal Son

Genesis

Time:  April 1942.  World War II was wreaking death and havoc around the globe.

Place:    The tabernacle on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Occasion:  April General Conference of the Mormon Church.

Message:  An official statement from First Presidency regarding sexual purity:                                               Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

Drilling and Instilling

Now, it was an official slogan of the church.  It would soon be reinforced through publication in the Improvement Era.  The article was entitled “Be Ye Clean.”  It quoted the First Presidency’s message word for word:  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

This prophetic motto would then be drilled into the minds of the youth.  It was adopted by the MIA, where it was memorized and repeated at their weekly meetings.  Just imagine our children, aged 12 to 18, standing-up in a meeting, every week and rehearsing the phrase, Better dead clean, than alive unclean.  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.  Actually, they would only recite it once each week.  That adds up to 52 times a year.  Three hundred times over the course of their adolescent and teen years.

Harold B. Lee was an apostle all during my growing up years and the prophet during my mission.  He drove this mantra home by saying:

“May I remind you of what our youth repeated some years ago as a slogan in the MIA…. How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean. This youth has joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter. Sexual purity is youth’s most precious possession. It is the foundation of all righteousness.  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

In 1979, less than 1 year after I was married, Elder Marion G. Romney amplified this now well known teaching.   You can listen to his April General Conference talk HERE.  At the time, he was serving as the first counselor in the First Presidency.

To Everything There Is A Season…

A time to avow, a time to disavow.  A time to confirm, a time to condemn.

For 130 years, prophets officially avowed and confirmed that black people were cursed.  As of 3 years ago, our prophets now disavow and condemn our past racism, racist practices and racist policies.

Today, I’m following suit.  I disavow and condemn the official statement, Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

I want my children and grandchildren to know that they are precious and valued regardless of their choices.  They are better alive….period!!!

May my loved ones remember Christ’s beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son.  Can you imagine the father in the story saying, Better dead clean, than alive unclean?  Nope.  The whole point of the story was the polar opposite.

P.S.

Oh, the irony that this official statement was made as we were sending our children to war.  We sent then off with this:  God would prefer you to die in harms way, than to have a roll in the hay.

Happy 12th Birthday! Now, Let Me Ask….

BirthdayPrincess

….Do You Masturbate?

What kind of a sick and twisted birthday question is that for a 12 year old kid?

What kind…you ask?  Why it’s the birthday present that is given to our children every year in the only true and living church.  The Mormon church.  My church.  And I’m ashamed of it.

We don’t stop there.  Half birthdays are also celebrated with the very same gift.

Happy birthday!  It’s that wonderful time again.  Time to be isolated in a small room, alone, except for an older man, behind closed doors.

Happy, birthday!  Do you masturbate?

Happy, happy birthday!!  Oh, you don’t know what that means?  Let me explain.

Happy, happy, happy birthday!!!  Do you touch yourself down there?

Happy, happy, happy, happy birthday!  Oh, where’s down there?  I mean down there, right between your legs.

So…You Don’t Believe This is Happening to Our Kids?

The church has changed in many ways since I grew up.  As a youth, never once was I asked about masturbation by a bishop, stake president, or their counselors.  Never once during my 5 years as bishop did I ask any kids or adults if they engaged in masturbation

Two months ago, I asked one of my youngest daughters if this question had ever been asked during her youth interviews.  “All the time.”  Crap!  I had no idea.

Last year, a good friend of the family sat in on her 12 year old daughter’s youth interview.  She had given instructions to the bishop that no interview should be conducted alone with her child.  And…that masturbation was not to be discussed.  The meeting went fine until…”When you view media, do you touch yourself down there?”  Mom terminated the interview.  Her little girl was left confused about the question.

Last year I asked my local ward and stake leaders if they queried kids about masturbation.  I couldn’t get a straight answer.

Real Life Happy-Birthday-Interview Stories

Listen and see if you want your children to have these experiences.  Read and see if you are proud of our LDS masturbation meetings.

Our interview practices do damage to both boys and girls.  I’m not an expert, but after discussing with lot’s of folks, I’d say the harm is actually more severe with our daughters.

Girl:

I was kind of surprised and extremely self conscious.  Masturbation was never really emphasized with girls.  Somehow it never occurred to me that I wasn’t supposed to  do it until this old dude, I barely knew, asked me about it at my birthday interview.  So, of course, I lied.

Boy:

I was asked about it as I graduated from primary.  He asked about girls, etc.  I had no experience and remember being confused at the questions.  After that, I avoided interviews like the plague.

Girl:

I lived in a very conservative Mormon bubble.  When I was 16, my bishop, who just so happened to be my uncle, called me in for an interview.  I was dating a boy from another ward and I think he wanted to make sure we were keeping things rated PG.  He asked me straight out about masturbation.  I was so naive at the time that I thought only boys could masturbate.  I did’t know girls could.  When he questioned me about it, I was mortified!  Did he think I knew about my boyfriend’s private time?  He laughed.  He actually laughed and said I should stop pretending that I hadn’t touched my self “down there.”  Again, I really did not know I could!  I didn’t know how or where or anything about it!  He didn’t believe me, kept pushing for information and started getting graphic!!!  So, I cried.  I think he realized I was being honest and stopped the conversation abruptly.  He didn’t apologize for anything and told me to not go exploring on myself.  I never told my parents this, since my dad was the stake president and was never home.  This man was my uncle and would be over at my house with his family every Sunday for dinner and our families would vacation together.  I refused to accept any more interviews with him.  Crazy stuff, huh.  (Sam:  Nope, it’s not crazy stuff.  It’s sick and twisted stuff.)

My oldest daughter is about to turn 12 and the last thing I want is to have her mind filled with shame and guilt and go through “worthiness” interviews like mine.

Girl:

When I was 12, I was pulled into the Bishop’s office during mutual and asked all kinds of sexual questions, very detailed questions.  He also asked me about all my beehive friends, and if I knew if they were doing anything immoral.  I later found out that there was a rumor that the beehive class was sexually active, and he was going to find out the truth.  I am still traumatized from that experience.  If only I could go back in time.

I should also add that he cried the entire time he was asking me those questions.  Imagine a grown man with tears streaming down his face, asking a 12 year old girl if she’s ever touched a penis.  It’s actually pretty comical thinking about it.  (Sam:  It’s inexcusable, tragic, super dangerous and should never be allowed to happen!!!)

Girl:

I was asked by my stake president when I was in 8th grade and doing baptisms for the dead with my cousins.  It was a small Mormon town.  He was also my 8th grade history & English teacher, and principal of my intermediate school.  I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I knew enough to be mortified.  An older, more worldly cousin warned me to say “no” to anything he asked.  Overall, it was a traumatic experience.  I couldn’t bear to look him in the eye or even answer a question in class after that.

Boy:

Never remember being asked about it.  I was always the one who brought it up.  My Bishop, when I was like 16, said, “Ummmm, I wouldn’t worry about it.  I don’t think it will keep you out of the Celestial Kingdom.  I think it was a great attitude.  Sadly, I didn’t believe him and went on to torture myself with shame.

Girl:

My experience with a bishop wasn’t asking about masturbation, but me confessing on my 16th birthday. I waited knowing I would be called I’m for an interview. I was a scared 16 yr old telling a man about masturbation. He requested I not partake of the sacrament.

We got a new bishop a couple Sundays later and I had to talk about it all again with the new bishop, except for this time around, he called me in one Tuesday night and said he talked to the stake president and he needed to know if when I masturbated, I stuck my fingers inside. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself. During my transition I tried to think of anything that happened to me personally, and it came to me… that was none of his business. What does it matter to him? As a 16 yr old, I was trying to be obedient. (Sam: This is so horrid. Why would any parent risk such abusive treatment of their precious child? I am so sorry.)

Girl:

I was DEFINITELY asked about masturbation.  This is a major trauma from my adolescent age.  I felt guilty ALL…THE…TIME.  Like there was something really wrong with me cause I couldn’t stop the urges.  So frustrating to even think about now.  Just ridiculous.

Girl:

Masturbation shame is a reason behind suicides in the church.  Mark my words.  Nobody talks about it, but it’s true.

Girl:

Sadly, so many of us have a story to tell.  I’ve wondered many times what my teens and 20s would have been like without the heavy burden of guilt and shame I carried thanks to several bishops who may as well have had revolving doors to their offices.  Shame on them for their lack of spiritual sensitivity and discernment.  I developed an eating disorder in my teens as a way of coping with the pent-up sexual energy in my body.  The bingeing/purging ended when my eyes were open to the TRUTH at age thirty.  I sure wish someone would have tried to enlighten me sooner.  It would have made all the difference for me.  Thank you, Sam, for your boldness and courage in bringing attention to these matters.  (Sam:  Thank you my friend for sharing your story.  I was never asked about masturbation as a kid.  You should never have been asked either.  So sorry about that.)

Boy:

My stake president asked me, “Are you viewing anything in connection with masturbation?  I said, “Well, we have cable television.”  Then he told me, “If you do not overcome this, the day will come when you will not be worth a damn…to anyone.”  I already felt embarrassment and shame over this.  I  kind of suppressed the horrible feelings from his words.  But, this anger is now finally coming out years later.  For a certain kind of personality type, a statement like that could drive someone to suicide.

Girl:

I enjoyed “self love” all throughout my childhood without knowing what I was doing exactly.  As a pre-teen, I started to worry that something was wrong with me because in seminary and Sunday School I would hear references to “touching yourself.”  But, it was only directed towards the boys, not the girls.  I thought maybe something was wrong with my anatomy!  They wouldn’t even acknowledge that it was a pleasure girls could feel, all be it wrong and everything.

Then, a few years later in young women’s, a leader addressed the issue and told us that it was a sin you could not repent of unless you confessed to your bishop.  I learned that same in seminary.  I felt so horrible and for about a year I tried to stop.  I finally got the courage to call my bishop.  As a 16 year old girl, I drove myself to meet with an older man and talk about my sexuality.  So messed up.  He handled it well, but the whole situation was terrible.  I left feeling like I was the only girl to have ever confessed such a terrible sin.  Still to this day, when I see him I feel so much shame and awkwardness.

Of course, I couldn’t keep from doing the deed forever.  So, when I dreaded visiting him again, I talked to my mom.  She told me I didn’t need to confess next time and it was OK.  WHY DID SHE WAIT?!!!  She could have saved me from so much guilt and shame..Let alone putting myself in a very dangerous situation.

Now as an adult I’m so grateful I masturbated.  It means I knew what an orgasm felt like before getting married.  I could expect to feel pleasure from my husband and let him know what I liked!  I told all my married friends to figure it out before they got married.  Women should be proud of their pleasure and embrace every chance they can get to feel an orgasm.  It doesn’t always come easy for us!

When I think back to that experience in high school, I’m angry at a lot of people.  Especially my mom.  How could she have not been more concerned when she found out that I had met in secret with an older man?!  And discussed these things?  It’s so backwards.  (Sam:  I cried when at your question, Why did she wait?)

Mom About Her Son:

My Older son always talks about how much he hated those question.  I know a lot of kids feel really shamed by them.  I know a lot of adult members have stilted sex lives because sexual pleasure is made to sound so shameful.  It’s a travesty.

Girl:

I was DEFINITELY asked.  This is a major part of trauma from my adolescent age.  I felt guilty ALL…THE…TIME.  Like there was something really wrong with me cause I could stop the urges.  So frustrating to even think about now.  Just ridiculous.

Girl:

When I was in my teens, I actually did masturbate.  I felt like I was a freak of nature and felt so guilty.  So, I went in to “confess.”  I was told by my bishop, a PHD educated man, that if I didn’t stop, I’d turn into a lesbian.  Keep in mind, this was in the 70’s when it was totally NOT ok to be LGBTQ!  The fear and shame affected my hetero sex life and frankly still does.  This from a church led by direct revelation?  Of course, I was told to read “The Miracle of Forgiveness.”

Girl:

I think this is an important conversation that the Church needs to be having.  When I was in Beehives (1980-ish), the YW saw the video “Morality for Youth.”  Then we were all individually interviewed about “necking, petting and masturbation.”  Having figured masturbation out a few years earlier, I was shocked to learn that I was sinning.  I came clean with the bishop, who may have been more surprised than I was.  He gave me a humiliating scolding that I never forgot.  I struggle to be good, but would inevitably slip up.  However, after that first mortifying confession, I never admitted to it again.  I just figured I would cut out the middle man and go straight to God with any necessary repentance.  I felt sometimes guilty for not fessing up, which contributed to an overall feeling of unworthiness that followed me for a long, long time.  Learning that my children were getting drilled about masturbation in their interviews is one of the several things that finally pushed me away from the Church.

Girl:

I had a bishop at Ricks College make me sit next to him during an interview as he told me about HIS masturbation problem.  Masturbation was not the reason I was there.  I was there for getting caught with alcohol.  Maybe he was being nice and trying to relate with me.

Other Posts on This Appalling Practice

Behind Closed Doors–Don’t Let It Happen.  Click HERE.

I’m Going to Leave Before They Get Their Hands on My Baby Daughter.  Click HERE.

“I’m Going to Leave Before They Get Their Hands on My Baby Daughter”

danger

Recently, I was contacted by a struggling member of the church.  Here, I’ll call him Ron. He asked if we could get together for a one-on-one Talkeria.  Over the past year, Ron had been going through a painful and lonely faith transition…and wanted to talk about it.  I still view it as a great tragedy and travesty that there is no safe space inside the church for discussion.  We met for 3 hours.

This good brother has a young toddler.  During our chat, he made this startling statement.  “I’m going to leave the church before they get their hands on my baby daughter.”

I had never heard such a grim and jarring statement describing someone’s reason for getting out.

Mormon Stories #732, Scott Duke

Today, I heard something that made me think of my new friend, Ron.  Over the past couple of days, on the drive to and from work, I listened to a Mormon Stories Podcast.  In it, Scott Duke shares his fascinating and heartrending faith journey.  Heartbreaking on several fronts.

My attention was riveted until Scott shared a grim and jarring statement made by his Stake President.  He was being interviewed for his calling as a missionary.  Of course, masturbation was discussed.   Remember, what follows was said by a man who is viewed as having great authority—the Stake President.  The target of his comment was a young, inexperienced, and normal young man.

The Stake President’s words caught me totally off guard.  “If you don’t overcome this, the day will come when you are not worth a damn to anyone.

To My Six Children

This Stake President’s chastisement is totally out of bounds.  It has the potential to do great damage.  If this were ever said to a loved one of mine, my retort would be:  “It’s YOU, Mr. Church Leader, who is not worth a damn to me.  Stay away from my child.

We have a dreadful ritual lurking behind the closed doors in our church buildings.  An untrained man, in a position of authority, takes an innocent child behind those closed doors, alone, without a parent present, without parental permission, and asks the child about his or her masturbatory predilections.  This is a gross and dangerous practice.

Life may be like a box of chocolates.  But, some candies are corrupt and reprehensible. You never know what you are going to get when the door swings shut, isolating your child, alone, with an adult male who may say something idiotic like, “the day will come when you are not worth a damn to anyone.

Why Are We Waiting?

As the only true church, we should be on the cutting edge of what is good, right and safe.

Fortunately, we jettisoned polygamy when society demanded it.  Mercifully, polyandry never caught on.  Fortuitously, we granted black people the priesthood 10 years after civil rights laws were passed.

Our society has moved beyond grown men asking inappropriate questions to children in private.  I do not know of another church that engages in this unfortunate practice.  I’m ashamed that my church still does.

Why are we waiting for this alarming custom to go away on its own?  It won’t.  I encourage my adult kids, and every other thinking and concerned adult, to end it RIGHT NOW….for your children’s sake.  Especially, for my grandchildren’s sake.

My friend, Ron, has now left the church.  He was not willing to wait for the changes.  His child was too precious to him.

What To Do

  1. Don’t let your child be interviewed without your permission.
  2. Be present, in the closed door room, during the interview.
  3. Inform your bishop of your conditions for youth interviews.  You are to be present. No discussion about masturbation or other sexual matters.  That is to be between you and your child ONLY.
  4. Inform your child that they are to let you know whenever any church leader requests a meeting with them.
  5. If inappropriate questions are asked, stop the interview immediately.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about someone else’s experience regarding their child’s inappropriate interview with a bishop.  It recounts the altogether appropriate response from an involved and loving father.   HERE is the link.

Marilyn Monroe and Her Naked Breast

Marilyn Monroe

1977 was the year I graduated BYU and moved to Houston.  A strapping, single, 24 year old chemical engineer.  Ready to conquer the world.

I moved into The Richmond Chase, a brand new complex.  My apartment was an “efficiency” unit on the second floor, overlooking a quadrangle green that was surrounded on all four sides by other pristine buildings just like mine.

On the ground floor of  the apartment at right angles to mine lived a single woman about my same age.  She was cute and possessed all the physical attributes that attract attention from the opposite sex.  Her name was….well….I’ll call her Marilyn….Marilyn Monroe.  Of course, she turned my head.  I went out of my way to run into her.

We chatted.  I quickly realized that this beauty didn’t really attract me beyond her appearance.  Very nice person.  Marilyn just didn’t click with me.  But….it soon became obvious that I clicked with her.  She was now going out of her way to run into me.  Although, I was not interested in a dating relationship, I soon saw an alternative opportunity.

Three years previous, I had returned from 2 years of full time missionary service.   Sharing the gospel and bringing people into the church, are prime directives for LDS members.  During my college years, I had not seen many chances to proselyte.   But now, I was in the real world where 99% of the population was not Mormon.  And here was Marilyn Monroe, a non-member who was excited to hang out.

As a dutiful missionary, I told her about the church.  How could she not be interested?  I called the missionaries.  The lessons began.  Ohhhh, was she ever anxious to have the missionaries….and me….come to her apartment almost every evening.  The lessons were completed in a couple of weeks.  Marilyn’s baptism was put on the calendar.

Over those 2 weeks, my discomfort grew with each discussion.  It was obvious that Miss Monroe’s principle object was not the true church.  She was looking for the true catch.  I tried to explain this to the missionaries.  They were confident that Marilyn was the most golden of golden investigators.  I next spoke with the ward mission leader.  He was equally confident that baptism was unquestionably the proper course.

My dear Marilyn never managed to attend a single Sunday service.  Sheesh, the lessons only took a couple of weeks, giving her little opportunity.

More Than Baptism in the Font

The much anticipated day was here.  I got to the building early to change into my whites.  Marilyn had insisted that I perform the ordinance.  The starting time arrived.  No Monroe.  And then…there she was.  All dolled up and…..drunk!!!  Unsteady on her feet, I rushed to hold her up and sit her down.

The baptism was canceled.  More lessons started immediately.  Marilyn’s date was reset for the following Saturday, the same day as one of the 8 year olds.

Once again, I arrived early and changed into my whites.  With a primary child getting baptized, there was a crowd.  Marilyn showed up sober during the opening song.  I was very relieved.

The program proceeded.  Time for the ordinances.  Marilyn and I were sitting on the front row.   We arose together.  Turned.  Then slowly walked down the  center aisle.  Side by side.  Clothed in the purity of our white baptismal vestments.  A chapel full of people.  The innocent Miss Monroe must have felt like she was about to become the proud Mrs. Young.

We marched out of the chapel.  Down the hall.  Into the baptismal room.  Marilyn and I then parted in order to enter the font from opposing sides.  I descended the stairs into the warm water.  Waded across the font.  Extended my hand to guide my pretty admirer.  Arm to the square, I pronounced the prayer.  Then eased the girl in my arms down under the water and up again.  It was done…..well not quite.  The unexpected climax was about to happen.

It’s tradition to close the doors to the font immediately after the baptism is complete.  This allows the participants to exit in dignity.   Drenched clothing can immodestly cling to and inappropriately highlight certain body parts.

The doors were closed, leaving Marilyn and I in semi-darkness.  Water up to our waists.   Drenched clothes clinging in inviting immodestly.  Alone.  Completely alone.  Just me and Marilyn.  The pretty and petite girl in her wet whites looked up at me with longing eyes. Then, she threw her arms around my neck.  Squeezed us together in a tight embrace and……launched her mouth onto my lips.  Lips, mouth, moisture.  A kiss dripping as much as our dripping apparel.  I had never ever experienced anything like it.  I thought a kiss was just with the lips.  This was a completely full mouth kiss in the midst of the full wetness of the baptismal font.

Frankly, it was a turn-off for me, especially considering where we were.  Double especially, considering that there was a crowd of fellow members just on the other side of the not so soundproof doors.

Late That Night

I can’t remember anything that happened after the kiss….until 10pm that night.  The phone rang.  It was Marilyn.  She seemed troubled and HAD to talk to me.  Would I come down to her apartment?   I knocked.  The door opened.  There she stood in a captivating nightgown.  Marilyn Monroe…in her nighty…in her make up…in her lipstick…in her coiffed hair.  Ten at night and she looked great.  Well guess what.  I was a single man.  I had just baptized her.  I crossed the threshold.

We sat down and she eagerly explained that she wanted to date.  She had been baptized to please me as a possible mate.  Her hopes were high that we would sleep together that very night.  Oh man!  Awkward and sheepish,  I tried to let her down gently.  Soon her cheeks were streaked with tears and mascara.  But, she was about to reveal what she thought was her trump card.

Nightgown-clad-Marilyn reached up and clasped her plunging neckline.  She pulled it down.  Her left breast burst into view.  I was stunned.  Maybe mesmerized.  Never had I seen a naked breast in the flesh.  Now, one was only a few inches away.  I cannot remember what thoughts ran though my young, hormone riddled mind.  Somehow, I managed to tell her to cover up.  Then the real drama began.  Tears.  Sobs.  Finally, threats to commit suicide if I walked out the door.  Why didn’t I love her?  Why wouldn’t I go to bed with her?

I was naive, scared and highly inexperienced.  What to do?  Oh, what to do?

The clock stuck midnight.  The very hour that the Holy Ghost goes to bed.  But, I couldn’t go to bed.  Not here.  Nor could I leave and allow a suicide.  Fortunately, the Holy Ghost stayed up a few minutes past his bedtime.  A simple idea slowly unfolded in my head:  “Call the bishop!”  Yup, he’ll come to my rescue, to Marilyn’s rescue.  He’ll know exactly what to say and do.  We just had to hold on until he got there.

I made the call.  The phone rang several times.  It was late.  Would the bishop answer?  Thank heavens, he finally did.  What a relief.  He listened to my explanation.  Then said, “She’s not going to kill herself.  Go home.”  That was it.  He hung up.

With dread in my head, I headed home.  Slept very poorly.

The next day I saw Marilyn walk across the quad.  Anxiety alleviated.

The beautiful Miss Monroe and I….never…spoke….again.

A Missionary is Born

So, I’ve just described my very first missionary experience as a civilian member.  Over that next 30 years, I was to be called many times into missionary responsibilities.  Two stints as ward mission leader…a total of 6 years.  Bishop…5 years.  High council with the missionary assignment…4 years.  Ward missionary…I can’t remember how long.  Sunday School teacher for the investigator class…you get the point.  Over the years, I’ve Participated in dozens of conversions and baptisms.

And all this…..launched by Marilyn Monroe and her naked breast.  What an eye opening way to begin a proselyting career in “the only true and living church” on the planet.

A Proclamation to the Poor: Feed the church first, even if it means starving your kids.

City Creek MallSaturday, April 1, 2017, I attended the General Conference of the LDS church.  The whole trip was amazing.

I flew from Houston to SLC in a modern comfortable jet.  My accumulated flying miles qualified me for a FREE flight, including a plush seat with extra features and leg room.  A top end SUV was awaiting my arrival to whisk me off to my graciously provided stateroom, where I would be pampered for the next 3 nights.

Saturday morning, I drove a conveniently provided Cadillac to temple square.  Free parking on church property was easy to find.  I strolled through the great and spacious City Creek Mall.  Never have I seen such a well appointed and luxuriant building.  It brought such pride to my heart that this $3 billion sumptuous shopping structure was built and is owned by my church.

Next, I crossed the street to enter the temple grounds.  There stood the ornate and opulent symbol of our religion.  Honor and prestige welled-up again.  The grounds perfectly coiffed.  The flower gardens bursting with amazing and vibrant spring colors.

On to the Conference Center.  Just across the next street.  Oh, what a gorgeous great and spacious building it is.  I’d seen it in pictures, but never in person.  So impressive.  For a moment I was mesmerized by the waterfall flowing from its majestic height.

At last, I entered the celebrated Conference Center doors.  Renowned as “the largest theater-style auditorium ever built.”  Wow!  By size alone, we have beat down every other performance hall in the history of the world.  How can I not glory in the glory of our grandeur?

The carpeting showed no wear.  The walls no stain.  The decor all pretty and properly hung.

With hushed anticipation I crossed the threshold into the actual conference auditorium.  Oh my gosh.  A reverent awe slowly settled over me.  The magnificent organ with its 7,708 golden and gleaming pipes.  The choir seats were filled on one side by women and girls sporting all the pastels of a springtime pallet.  Opposite them, the men, each costumed in debonair dark suits and matching blue ties.

The epicentral focus of the expansive chamber were the imposing & over sized regal-red wing-backed chairs.  Empty now.   Soon to be occupied by the equally regal men of General Authority status.  They enter.  We stand.

The conference convenes.  Sustaining of the officers.  Financial report.  Statistical report.  At last, the business is over and on to the weightier matters…the prophetic words from the occupants of the regal red chairs.

First speaker…Elder Hales.  His appearance frail.  His voice, weak.  Oh man, that message of his was anything but frail and weak.  My day was made by his inspiring words alone.  The essence:  Be a disciple of Christ & follow His teachings and example.  I plan to hang on to Elder Hales message for a lifetime.

The next 2 speakers continued to dispense wise and interesting perspectives on life and the gospel.

Proclamation to the Poor

Elder Cordon then stood to speak.  His native country is Guatemala, the land of my missionary service.  He related a touching tale of tithing from his childhood.  His voice quivered as he delivered his poignant punch line.   My heart quivered, too.  Better said, it quaked.

His whole point boiled down to this, ‘If you are faced with the decision of buying food for your hungry children or giving your money to the church, the correct, righteous and blessed choice is to give it to the church.’

poverty

My jaw dropped.  I gasped audibly.  Is this really the crux of his message?  The poor should put the church before their famished family?  It’s better that the poverty stricken should suffer in hunger?  Really?  A starving child is expected to go without so the church gets its money?

I’m sure he’s a good man.  But, he’s also paid a very substantial “modest stipend” to preach this message to the poor and poverty stricken.  The poor who just scrape by.  Hand-to-mouth.  Day-by-day.  They barely make rent on their wretched quarters.  Then they face this choice,  “Do I use what’s left to buy food for my crying children?  Or do I give it to the church for salvation?”  A choice made horrible by the preaching of a rich man.  Insult to injury, this wealthy man is mandated by our church to pay NO tithing on his well endowed ‘modest stipend.’  At the same time, the destitute are demanded of their uttermost farthing, while their children are back at their hovel starving.

Our church teaches that tithing should be paid before any other bill.  Even if we don’t have enough funds for other necessities.  It’s a teaching that I have little real problem with.  I can afford it.  The poverty stricken can’t.

That the poor, the destitute, the impoverished must put the church over their children is a tenet that turns my stomach.  I am making the attempt to follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.  I see no spirit of Christ in the poor feeding the church if they can’t afford to feed their children.  Never did He pronounce anything or do anything that would put the needs of the children behind the needs of the church.

Here’s the example that He set:  God, the all powerful creator of this world, chose to be born in a lowly stable.  During His ministry, He had no wealth.  No fancy buildings.  No fine twined linen.  Nowhere to even call his own or a place to lay down his head.

When confronted by a wealthy man, He gave the command to sell all his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor.  What might Jesus say to the wealthy men at the head of the church today?  Go sell the mall and the hunting preserves?  Go sell the luxury apartment projects and high rise condominiums?  Go sell the massive Floridian land tracts?  Go sell it all and give it to the poor?

Certainly he wouldn’t say to the poor, “Suffer your children to be hungry, for my mall is more important.”

Here is what he did say 2,000 years ago to the church leaders of his day:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses.”  -Matt 23:14

Finally, Christ’s classic teaching on how to treat the least in our midst….”For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink.”  This is the lovely and gentle instruction that inspires me.  It’s the essence of who I worship.

Common Consent

Here’s my question:  Should we make this Proclamation to the Poor…pay tithing even though your children are starving?

The apostles say YES.

The members say…..

Oh yeah.  We have no idea.  It has never been put up for a sustaining vote.

The doctrine that the poor pay tithing before they feed their children has never been presented for our vote of approval/disapproval.  That makes it a temporary policy at best or a man-made horror at worst.

Is there another religion on the planet that has such a doctrine?  I have asked several people outside of our church what they thought of this scheme.  Without exception, they were aghast.

What member would be happy to see a child remain in hunger as the church flourishes (or languishes) in embarrassing wealth?  Who would put a gawdy mall over a godly child?  For one…..NOT ME!!!

If you believe in proclaiming to the poor that they feed the church before their children, I respect your right to believe that.

If you believe it’s dead wrong….VOTE your opinion.  Christ has provided a way for corrections to be made in His church.  Don’t stand on the sidelines and let the poor and their children be preached down to.  We should be lifting them up.  Not driving them further into penury.

There are now 380 members openly expressing disapproval.  If you truly disapprove of this Proclamation to the Poor, consider adding your name to the Common Consent Register HERE.

Other Resources

Common Consent Scriptures & Doctrine, click HERE.
Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove, click, HERE.
Letter to My Stake President listing temporary policies of which I disapprove, click HERE.
Do We Love Jesus Enough? click HERE.
The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
If I Don’t Dissent…I Consent, click HERE.

Letter to the Stake President

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Tomorrow, I plan to vote my disapproval during General Conference.  I don’t know exactly where.  Maybe in the basement of my mother’s home, in a local chapel, on Temple Square, or even in the Conference Center itself.

Regardless of where I vote, I want it to be counted.  As the apostles now direct at every conference, after my vote, I plan to send the following letter to my Stake President and Bishop.

To any member reading this piece, I encourage you to seriously consider your vote.  It CAN and WILL make a difference.  Other resources about Christ’s gorgeous law of Common Consent are provided below.

My Letter

Dear Stake President and Bishop,

This is my dutiful notification that during the April 2017 General Conference, I voted in disapproval when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve were presented.

Of course, I don’t oppose the church, the apostles or the prophet. I use the word disapprove as that’s the phrasing that Jesus used in the revelation found in D&C 124:144.

Here are my points of disapproval:

  1. Disregard for the Law of Common Consent.  This is a law from God, plainly taught in our scriptures, doctrine and pronouncements by prophets and apostles.  Currently, our top leadership is disobeying this commandment.  And they are leading the entire church to follow that same disobedience.
  2. The November 2015 LGBT policy.  If a gay couple gets married a church court is mandatory.  Yet, forcible rape, sexual abuse, and deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities do not automatically trigger church discipline.  What kind of a message does that send?  Forcible rape…maybe discipline is due.  Legal and lawful gay marriage…you’re out here.  Children of gay couples are excluded from the most important blessings of the church.  !!!Children!!!  No baptism.  No priesthood.  No youth leadership.  No youth temple trips.  NO HOLY GHOST.
  3. Twelve month waiting penalty if marriages don’t take place in the temple.  This penalty only applies in the U.S. and a few other countries.  As a result, much hurt and heartbreak happen as parents suffer the humiliation of being excluded from their children’s  weddings.  In most of the world, marriages are held outside of the temple, allowing all to celebrate this great event.  Then the sealing takes place a few days later in the temple.
  4. The demeaning process for a divorced woman to obtain a Sealing Cancellation.
  5. The inability for divorced men to obtain a Sealing Cancellation.
  6. The teaching/doctrine that the prophet can’t lead us astray.  I don’t even know what this is.  It’s not in the scriptures.  Is it a policy?  Is it revelation?  Is it doctrine?  Are they simply the words of a man who was trying his darnedest to get rid of polygamy?  Whatever this statement is, I view it as one of the worst and most dangerous elements of our church culture.
  7. Interviews with children, alone, behind closed doors, with an untrained older man about masturbation & other sexual matters without the explicit knowledge and consent of the parents.
  8. Nondisclosure of financial dealings.  Our finances were open for members’ scrutiny until the 1950’s.
  9. Meddling in politics without presenting the issues for a vote of approval.
  10. Keeping secret the policy manuals provided to bishops, stake presidents and seventies.  How can we be expected to approve our own policies if they are hidden from us?  Why is the church governed with secret statutes unavailable to its membership?
  11. Keeping secret the ordinance of the Second Anointing and the fact that it is taking place today in our temples.  What is this ordinance?  How does one qualify for it?  Why is it not open to all?  What does this ordinance mean for those receiving it?
  12. Use of the wording: Sustain or Oppose.  The words of Christ should be used: Approve or disapprove.

None of these policies, procedures, or practices have ever been put up for a vote of approval by the membership….except for the Law of Common Consent. This commandment was presented to the membership in the last century. Of course, it was accepted as a law of God by the ratifying vote of the early church members.

It’s ironic that out of the 12 items on my list, the only one that we know came from Christ and was also ratified by the membership, is the very one we don’t follow. The other 11 policies have never been approved, yet they are deployed and practiced.

Elder Hugh B. Brown taught that policies are to be considered “temporary” until presented for a vote of common consent. President Joseph F. Smith testified that no revelation is binding on the church until it is offered at a conference and confirmed by a simple majority.  Finally, our current doctrine states that all policies, major decisions and anything else that affects the lives of the Saints must be sanctioned by common consent.

I’m voting my disapproval of “temporary” policies that are not “binding” on the church or its members.

Please pass my vote and explanation to the proper authorities tasked with keeping the conference tallies.

Although disapproving votes are rare, they are starting to happen.  At this moment, 375 members have recorded their votes on the Common Consent Register.  If the church leadership is serious about obeying Christ’s laws, and I believe they are, then this really should be done by the church and not by me.

HERE is the link to the Register.  Several on the list reside in our ward and stake boundaries.  The rest are spread around the globe.  You will note that several show up as “anonymous.”    These are real people with names and e-mail addresses behind each “anonymous” entry.  Unfortunately, at this point, they don’t feel safe revealing their names in public.

Over the past couple of years, I have conversed with hundreds of members, many in our ward and stake. What do you think they have to say about the both of you? Let me just say that you are beloved. And I love you, too.

Thanks again for the magnanimous service and care that you render to our friends in this area of the Lord’s vineyard.

I also thank you for your immense patience…with me. It’s been a tough road.  Fortunately, in the end, I have chosen to put my faith in Jesus.  I am trying to follow his teachings and example.  The many hours that ya’ll have spent with me have been a great help in landing me on my feet and within the beautiful bounds of the gospel. We have a good church. I want to see it bettered.

All my best wishes & Godspeed,

Sam Young

Other Resources

Common Consent Scriptures & Doctrine, click HERE.
Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove, click, HERE.
Email notifications that can be sent to Bishops and Stake Presidents, click HERE.
Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
If I Don’t Dissent…I Consent, click HERE.