the thinker

Charles Hutchinson

This web page is dedicated to the accomplishments of Charles Hutchinson and his dealings with the Mormon Church.

Who is Charles Hutchinson?

Charles Hutchinson is a current Latter-day Saint & MT contributor.

Biography

Charles Hutchinson: (pseudonym)

Lifelong member, son of converts.

Is currently not active but a member in good standing.

Physician. Military officer.

Married (in the temple).

Most of last 6 years spent in young men's presidency/organization.


Introduction:

I Recently had one of the Seventies in my home where it became clear that the men at the head of this organization were no different then men heading any other organized religion. He confirmed that the Apostles do not speak directly with Christ or claim that it is too sacred to talk about if they do. This gave my brain permission to objectively 'investigate' the church as though I were being courted by the missionaries. My faith had always been centered in Christ, rather than the organization. The organization did not fare well against the abundance of historical evidence on the internet and in Grant Palmer's book. For the first time I understood the nature of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the evils that result from returning to a legalistic works based theology. I have been blessed by a wife who has taken this journey with me - though her awakening issue was the blatant sexism and prejudice within the church. Since our awakening, we have stopped taking our children to the organization indoctrination meetings - though we have returned for several sacrament meetings as a couple just to see how we interpret what is being said with our new Christ-centered perspective. The degree of personality worship, manipulation of acquaintances for the purpose of missionary work, and focus on superficial outward ordinance is so obvious that I am incredulous that it did not seem so wrong to me before. I am in the process of finding a healthy way to transition my family to a life centered in Christ and his message of simple grace free from organized religion.

Challenging Issue in Church History: Honesty

by Charles Hutchinson


As we send missionaries out to the field they will be assaulted with information from all different sources. They should know the facts from official church sources in order to respond honestly. As members we are instructed in honesty from the Gospel Principles manual as follows:


" When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest. The Lord is not pleased with such dishonesty, and we will have to account for our lies. Satan would have us believe it is all right to lie. He says, “Yea, lie a little; … there is no harm in this” (2 Nephi 28:8). Satan encourages us to justify our lies to ourselves. Honest people will recognize Satan's temptations and will speak the whole truth, even if it seems to be to their disadvantage." (Link is here.)


This is a universal principle and no exception or caveat is provided for persons of rank or privilege. The history of the Church in relation to the practice of plural marriage, as documented by official church sources, provides a challenging contrast to this powerful statement of honesty. What follows is a timeline of events gathered only from official church websites which is relevant to the Church and it's attitude towards honesty with members and the public.


The original 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants included a section 101 that made an official statement on the church's policy regarding marriage stating “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” (Link is here.)


On 12 July 1843 a revelation is recorded relating to plural marriage (Link is here.) In this revelation Emma Smith, Joseph's wife is commanded to accept plural wives that have been given or will be given to Joseph being told to “receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph”(verse 52) It is not publicly revealed to the general membership but will later be canonized as D&C 132.


On 18 April 1844 the 2nd Counselor of the First Presidency, William Law, was excommunicated on grounds of unchristian-like conduct.(Link is here.). With other dissidents he formed and became president of an offshoot church- the True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

On 26 May 1844 Joseph Smith publicly denies polygamy in a speech in Nauvoo stating “I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made on proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this... What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago.” (Link is here.)


Law and his associates acquired a printing press and published a single issue of a periodical called the Nauvoo Expositor on June 7 1844. In it he accuses Joseph Smith of practicing polygamy (among other things). The issue included affidavits describing a revelation that Joseph Smith had given to Law and his wife and others regarding polygamy. (Since this is not a Church publication there is a non-LDS record of it's text: Link is here.) The descriptions given of the revelation in the affidavits match the revelation that was ultimately canonized as D&C 132 - but this was not known by the membership of the church at the time.

In response to the Nauvoo Expositors inflammatory accusations the Nauvoo City Council declared the paper to be a nuisance and ordered it's abatement and, as mayor, Joseph Smith accordingly ordered the destruction of the printing press and all copies of the paper burned. It was this action which led to the Mayor/Prophet/General Joseph Smith's arrest, incarceration and subsequent murder on 27 June 1844 (Link is here.).


The Church continued to deny the practice of polygamy in it's official publications:


15 Nov 1844 Times and Seasons Vol 5 No. 21: “The law of the land and the rules of the church do not allow one man to have more than one wife alive at once.” (Link is here. Page 715)


1 May 1845 Times and Seasons Vol 6 No 8: “The Latter-day Saints are charged by their enemies, with the blackest crimes. Treason, murder, theft, polygamy, and adultery, are among the many crimes laid to their charge... As to the charge of polygamy, I will quote from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which is the subscribed faith of the church and is strictly enforced. Article Marriage, sec. 91, par. 4, says, "Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have BUT ONE WIFE, and one woman but one husband." (Link is here. Page 894)


Finally on 14 September 1852, 11 years after the revelation was originally recorded, the Church publicly announces the revelation regarding polygamy. (Link is here. Page 26) It wasn't until the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants that the original Section 101 which commanded monogamy was removed and the new revelation on polygamy was added as Section 132 (33 years after the revelation was recorded)

What does this all add up to? For 11 years the highest levels of Church General Authorities were aware of and practiced the principle of polygamy all the while publishing and stating publicly that the church was not involved in the practice. These facts are all documented on official church records. This cannot fall under any definition of “honesty” that bears scrutiny. There has never been an apology or explanation of this deception on the part of the Church Officials.

As such, is there any guarantee that no similar deception is underway at any given time? Modern culture is becoming much more permissive of nontraditional marriage arrangements. The current Doctrine and Covenants Section 132 is still canon and permits plurality of wives (though a subsequent revelation stopped it in this life). As recently as 1943 a sitting Apostle was excommunicated for polygamy (Utah State University source Link is here. page 173). Will there be a time in the future where we learn that the general authorities have re-instituted the practice and have been practicing it for years, while denying it to the world?


Missionaries going into the field should be aware of this record so that they can honestly address legitimate concerns on the part of investigators regarding the leaders to whom the investigators are being asked to give ecclesiastical submission. A frank and honest admission of the facts will prevent a sense of betrayal when converts ultimately discover the truth. The age of the internet will likely prove to be as difficult for the LDS church as the mass publication of the English Bible was to the Catholic church if it continues to ignore this and other challenging issues from it's history and current practice. The only way for the church to maintain integrity in the eyes of an informed and inquisitive membership is with the sort of Honesty that the Gospel Principles manual advocates - speaking “the whole truth, even if it seems to be to their disadvantage.”