Jacob 2 and 3, Censorship, and Mormonism’s Avoidance of Stubborn Book of Mormon Truth, Part 1

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By Scott S. Mitchell

Two Sundays ago, the lesson in my LDS priesthood meeting centered around a talk by Becky Craven in the April 2019 general conference entitled “Careful Versus Casual.”  Predictably, two things occurred during the classroom discussion.  First, the discussion quickly focused on two of the most prominently discussed Law-of-Moses-type items on Mormonism’s long checklist of do’s and don’ts–wearing the temple garment and Sabbath Day observance.  Second, two or three members of the class self-censored the comments they felt were most important to make.  (It should be obvious who one of them was.)  Had they not self-censored, they would have pointed out that neither temple-garment-wearing nor Sabbath Day observance were part of Jesus’ gospel when he preached that gospel to the Nephites.  Thus, as non-commandments, the rules of garment wearing and Sabbath proscriptions didn’t merit the attention LDS Church members give them.  In fact, it might also have been added that Jesus never even mentioned the word “temple” or anything about sabbath observance to the Nephites in all his teachings,1 nor were these items part of his teachings to the Jews.

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2 Nephi 4 and the Pain or Exhilaration of Learning What You Thought You Wanted to Know, Part 2

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In Part 1, I argued that the specific messages of 2 Nephi 4 in the Book of Mormon go almost completely ignored in the writings and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter, “the Church”).  This chapter, which is accurately called the psalm of Nephi, contains, among other things, Nephi’s lament over his repeated susceptibility to sin and temptation, and the depression and loss of self-esteem he suffers as a result.  The reader is surprised to read his words, since Nephi’s stature as a prophet of God is almost unparalleled in both the Bible and Book of Mormon.  And, no part of the Book of Mormon, outside of this chapter, informs the reader of any sinfulness on his part, much less the nature of such sinfulness.  Since this chapter is unique in all of scripture, and the messages in it are so crucial to our understanding of how major, persistent weaknesses and exceptional spirituality can co-exist in the greatest of individuals, one would think that its substance would be the focus of much discussion among the lay membership, church leaders and scholars of the LDS Church.  It should be one of the most famous passages of scripture, and by itself, should be the subject of lessons and talks.  Below, I’ll attempt to not only delve into the vital messages of this chapter that I feel have escaped public discussion, but also explain why I think the LDS Church purposely shies away from those messages.

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2 Nephi 4 and the Pain or Exhilaration of Learning What You Thought You Wanted to Know, Part 1

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One of my daughters, who loves math and majored in statistics in college, recently challenged me to solve a math word problem to which she had already figured out the answer.  Since I generally enjoy word problems, and believed careful thinking on my part  would reveal the solution, I had no reason not to accept her challenge.  I also assumed that the problem was tricky and the answer counterintuitive, because otherwise my daughter would have no reason to use this problem to test me.  So, with what I thought was the appropriate amount of confidence and wariness, I said “Sure, lay it on me.”

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Does the Book of Mormon Corroborate LDS Church Claims of Divine Revelation, and Do Church Leaders Receive More of It?

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I feel the need to begin with this short clarification.  Although the second half of this essay argues that leaders of the LDS Church too often claim to have received revelation from God when they actually haven’t, I don’t believe these leaders are unrighteous men.  Indeed, I consider them generally righteous, well-intentioned, and highly intelligent men, who, like most members of their church, accomplish much more good than evil during their lives.  Their principle mistake, I believe, is that they accept unquestioningly traditional LDS views regarding their own authority, the superiority of their spiritual gifts, and what constitutes revelation and what does not. Continue reading

What “Plain and Precious Things” did the “Great and Abominable Church” Keep Back from its Biblical Teachings?

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In two unique chapters of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13 and 14, the prophet Nephi, writing during the 6th century B.C., relates what an angel showed him in vision about the future history of Christianity in Europe and the Americas.  One of the most salient features of his vision is a description of what happens after the Old Testament Jewish scriptures and the New Testament Christian gospel have been recorded and written in their uncorrupted form1 by Israelite and Jewish writers of the Old and New Testaments.  Over the centuries, as these records and writings coalesce into what is known today as the Bible2,  they are then adopted and accepted by Christians as canonical.  Thereafter, the Bible comes into the possession and control of what the angel and Nephi refer to as the “great and abominable church.”  The result is that the biblical message, formerly pure, becomes corrupted in the way it’s taught to Christianity’s adherents.  Specifically,  the church’s teaching is observed to be missing “many plain and precious things” which have been “taken away” or “kept back” by said evil church.  See 1 Nephi 13:26, 28-29, 32, 34, 40. Continue reading

What Jesus Was and Wasn’t Talking About When He Spoke of Putting Away One’s Wife, Divorce and Remarriage

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In some of the most perplexing passages in all of scripture, Jesus appeared to indicate that a man should not put away his wife for any grounds other than sexual immorality, and that any man who married a divorced woman was guilty of adultery.  In this essay I’ll attempt to demonstrate why this statement by Christ is not at all harsh, and is so widely misunderstood. Continue reading

How We Know Shem Wasn’t Melchizedek, Part II, and What it Means for Christianity

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In a previous essay, I laid out the evidence demonstrating why Shem and the ancient high priest Melchizedek couldn’t have been the same person, contrary to popular Mormon belief.  See Why Melchizedek wasn’t Shem, and Why it Does and Doesn’t Matter, elsewhere on this website.  By reading further information on this subject, which was brought to my attention by a reader of this website, I have found what I consider to be another forbiddingly strong argument that further solidifies the case against Shem and Melchizedek sharing the same identity.  At the end of this essay, I’ll explain why I think this new piece of evidence has important ramifications for our study and understanding of not only the Bible, but all other books that Mormons accept as scriptural.

The “new” (to me, at least) piece of evidence is that Shem had been dead for 570 years when Abraham was born, so he couldn’t have been present when Melchizedek later encountered Abraham as the latter returned from the slaughter of the kings. Continue reading

Forgiving When We Shouldn’t

I recently had a private conversation with an acquaintance following an LDS priesthood lesson in which I, as a class member, had made a controversial statement.  This acquaintance had stayed after class to question me further about my statement, because the subject of my comment was a matter of great importance in his life.  I’ll write more about this conversation in the latter part of this essay.  My comment in class had been that in all of scripture, there is no support for the idea that we are expected to forgive people who have wronged us if they haven’t repented and sought to be forgiven.  In fact, I added, the Bible and Book of Mormon contain the opposite message:  We do harm to forgive unrepentant sinners, and the Lord has expressly instructed us to do otherwise.

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Mormonism’s Contradiction of its Own Book of Mormon: Who Exactly Was the God of Old Testament Times, and Does God the Father Really Have a Body of Flesh and Bones?

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Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter “LDS church”) are taught the following about the three entities who comprise the Godhead:  “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit.  Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” See Doctrine and Covenants (“D&C”) 130:22.  (Emphasis added.)

They’re further taught that in heaven, before the earth was formed, Jesus and all the future inhabitants of the earth were spirits, or “intelligences,” existing separately of the Father, who was also there (see Abraham 3:22-28 in the Pearl of Great Price, a canonized book of LDS scripture)1,  but that the God who governed the earth until his own birth into mortality was indeed Jesus, not God the Father.

Finally, LDS church members are taught in their temple ceremonies that the name “Jehovah” refers exclusively to the premortal Jesus, and in no sense refers to God the Father.  This understanding  is also embraced by the LDS Bible Dictionary under the entry “Jehovah” on the Church’s official website, where this statement is found:  “Jehovah is the premortal Jesus Christ…”  So, whenever they read the name Jehovah in scripture, Mormons cannot interpret it as referring to God the Father without running afoul of official LDS doctrine.

This essay will draw two conclusions.  The first will perhaps be less unsettling to Latter-day Saints than the second:  The Book of Mormon not only shows the LDS notion of Jesus being the God of the Old Testament to be in error, but reveals that God the Father and Jesus Christ were not even separate beings until Jesus was born into mortality, despite the scripturally baseless idea that they were entirely separate as promoted in temple rituals.  This conclusion will be supported by citing several scriptures from the Book of Mormon and Bible which straightforwardly declare it.

The second conclusion is that the Book of Mormon and Bible make clear that God the Father is a spirit who does not possess a body of flesh and bones.  Beginning in 1830 and extending through the first several decades of the Church’s existence, the teachings of the LDS Church on this point agreed with the Bible and Book of Mormon, or, to the extent that they came to not agree, were simply ignored.  But the Church later reversed the doctrine to teach the opposite idea, apparently due to the fact that Joseph Smith had introduced contradictory doctrine in 1843, now canonized at D&C 130:22, stating God the Father had a body of flesh and bones.  But the original understanding was correct, and the later canonized statement by Joseph Smith that the Father has a body of flesh and bones was incorrect.

Who Was the God Who Appeared to the Brother of Jared?

The concept that God the Father and the pre-mortal Jesus Christ were the same being  prior to Christ’s birth on earth is expressed with surprisingly straightforward clarity in the Book of Mormon.  But Latter-day Saints are blind to it because they’ve been taught by their church that the two beings were separate during this time.  Thus, when they read scriptures like the account of God appearing to the brother of Jared, they are unable to accept that God’s words on that occasion are to be taken at face value.  The account of the the conversation between the brother of Jared and the Lord, who was the same being to whom the brother of Jared had been praying all along, is set forth as follows:

9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?

10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.

11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?

12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.

13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

17 And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.

18 And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the great works which the Lord had showed unto him.

 (See Ether 3:9-15 in the Book of Mormon.  Emphasis added.)

In interpreting this passage, Mormons reflexively insist that the speaker in the above-quoted verses is exclusively Jesus, not God the Father.  For several reasons, however, this interpretation is illogical.  Those who desire to interpret this scripture accurately and objectively should attempt to strip themselves of the interpretations they’ve been taught, and try to infer from the verses what they would infer if they were not LDS and were unfamiliar with the LDS interpretation.  The speaker identifies himself to be not just Jesus Christ the Son, but also, the Father.  The “Father” part is always ignored.  In verse 9, Moroni adds that the speaker was “God.”

Therefore, Mormons who insist this is Jesus, but not God the Father speaking, should ask themselves these questions:  First of all, during his earthly ministries to the Jews and to the Nephites, did Jesus ever once refer to himself as the Father?  The answer is no; he never taught such a thing.  In fact, he taught the opposite.  He repeatedly prayed to the Father, and spoke to the Father, and referred to the being who had instructed him what he should do or teach either as “my father,” “the Father,” “your Father in heaven” or “God.”  The Father, or God, were both terms always spoken of grammatically in the third person as the Being who had sent him, and who loved him, and who would be glorified by his own crucifixion and resurrection.  Given these facts, why would the being speaking to the brother of Jared millennia before Christ’s birth refer to himself as the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, if he never referred to himself that way during his mortal sojourn?  As we will see, what God was making clear about his identity was that the Father and Jesus Christ were, at that time, more than 2,000 years before Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, one being, but they would eventually become two beings when Jesus came into the world.  Jesus was still the life-giving light of the Father, i.e., a part or aspect of him, but not yet separate from him.  This was the great truth that the brother of Jared learned, and which later Book of Mormon prophets understood, but which does not appear to have been made known to Old Testament prophets–that Jesus Christ and God the Father were the same being until Jesus was born of Mary.  Subsequent scriptures expounded hereinafter will bear this out.

A second question Mormons should force themselves to confront is whether the Lord who spoke to his people for four thousand years before the birth of Jesus ever once indicated that he himself had a father.  In fact, he did not.  He did the opposite.  He always claimed, in his communications with men, to be the highest of all, having no equal and no superior, the one being in whose image all others had been created.  Accordingly, when telling the brother of Jared that he created man in his own image, the Lord didn’t say “My Father and I created man in our own image,” nor did he claim to even have a father.  He himself was the Father, and he said so.  When in the Bible he alluded to the future coming of Christ to the Israelites, he referred to the man who would come as his “servant,”3  or in Moses’ words, a great “prophet, like unto me”4 who would be like unto Moses.  If it were simply Jesus speaking, he wouldn’t have referred to his own coming as the coming of “my servant.”  In other words, we are to understand the God, or “Lord” of the Old Testament, and of the time before Christ’s birth in the Book of Mormon, to be God the Father.  The stunning thing that the brother of Jared learned, which was previously unknown to man on earth, was that until Jesus’ birth on earth, Jesus’ identity would be shared with the Father.  As he explained on that occasion, the earthly body Jesus would one day inhabit would look like the one the awestruck brother of Jared was beholding at that moment.

A third question to be asked by Latter-day Saints is whether it is logical to argue that the being who says he created all men, and that they were all created in his own image, could be solely the Son.  Here LDS doctrine becomes very confusing and contradictory.  The LDS Church teaches that the speaker who claims he created all men in his own and his Son’s image, who in the scripture is referred to as “the Lord,” is God the Father.  This interpretation makes sense.  The speaker obviously can’t be Jesus, because the speaker twice refers to his Only Begotten Son.  See Moses 2:27 and 6:62 in The Pearl of Great Price.5  Significantly, Jesus never taught the Jews or the Nephites that all men had been created in his own image.  This is another reason the being speaking to the brother of Jared could not have been merely Jesus if he claims to have created all men in his own image.  But it makes perfect logical sense that the speaker would describe himself thusly if he were the Father, or if the Father and the Son were still the same being.  He could validly identify himself as Jesus Christ as well, because the spirit speaking the words would someday be multiplied into two iterations.  One of those would preside over heaven and earth as God the Father, and the second iteration sent to earth would inhabit the flesh of the Father’s Only Begotten Son–Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus’ earthly existence would constitute the fulfillment of the promised Emmanuel–“God with us.”

Other Scriptures which Corroborate that the Father and Son Were the Same Being Prior to Christ’s Mortal Birth

John 1:1-4, 14, New Testament

The interpretation that God the Father and Jesus Christ were the same spiritual being before Christ’s birth in Bethlehem is fully corroborated by numerous other scriptures in the Bible and Book of Mormon.  Mormons have had difficulty understanding or explaining several of these verses, precisely because the verses  contradict Mormon doctrine.  But if Mormon doctrine is pushed aside long enough to  consider the scriptures’ plain, unstrained meanings, not only do the interpretations become clear, but it becomes difficult to see how Mormon doctrine ever became so confused and scripturally baseless to begin with. Notice the agreement of John’s famous description of Jesus’ premortal identity with what the brother of Jared was told:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

. . .

14 And the Word [who was God] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 

(Emphasis added; see John 1:1-4, 14.)

Taken at face value, these words plainly, though also poetically, say that the spiritual entity that later became Christ was, in his premortal existence, with God, and an unseparated part of God.  This “Word” aspect of God was what gave him creative power to create mankind, and to infuse them with a spiritual power.  This same spiritual essence became part of the makeup of Jesus Christ, and it reflected God’s glory.

Acts 3:13, New Testament, coupled with 1 Nephi 19:10, Book of Mormon

In Acts 3:13, we read this excerpt from a speech Peter delivered from the porch of the temple:  “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.”  We thus learn that the God of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was the father of Jesus, not Jesus alone, as Mormonism teaches.  But note what understanding the prophet Nephi’s words, written in the sixth century B.C and found in the Book of Mormon at 1 Nephi 19:10, 13, add to this biblical knowledge:

10 And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the  isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel.

. . .

13 And as for those who are at Jerusalem, saith the prophet, they shall be scourged by all people, because they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting sign and wonders, and the power and glory of the God of Israel.

(Emphasis added.)

When read together, Peter’s and Nephi’s words permit no other interpretation than that the Being who was once God the Father becomes later the same Jesus who allows himself to be humiliated, tortured and killed by the very people he once created.  Only during Jesus’ earthly ministry do the Father and the Son become separate gods, but when they do, they everlastingly remain two gods unified in mind and purpose.

This understanding thus sharpens our appreciation of our Creator’s personality and mind.  God, recognizing his own need to fully understand what it feels like intellectually, emotionally and physically to be human and mortal, determines that he himself needs to experience mortality.  He cannot merely have it described to him by those mortals who have endured it.  If He is to judge mankind, he needs to do so with perfect empathy and fairness.  He also needs to bring about the resurrection of mankind, so that death cannot permanently prevent man’s return to his presence. As the Book of Mormon prophet Alma explained in Alma 7:12,

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

He thus determines that he himself must condescend to become a mortal man, and live life on earth, experience all that humans experience, and then allow others to succeed in putting him to death, even though he could prevent his death if he so desired.  By allowing himself to die, he will facilitate his resurrection by divine power, and thereby bring the resurrection to mankind.  The way by which he will accomplish this is to divide himself, in a way which we of course don’t comprehend, so that he can become two entities–one a mortal man born on earth, while the other remains behind in heaven to direct the activities below.

It should be stressed that the fact that we don’t understand how God divides himself to become two separate entities doesn’t mean that he didn’t do it.  We don’t know how God does any of the things that he does.  His intelligence and understanding are superior to ours.  But as we have seen, and will continue to see below, the scriptures are clear and unconfusing on this point.

2 Nephi 25:12-13, Book of Mormon

In prophesying regarding Israel’s future when Christ would come among them, Nephi reiterated the one-God-who-becomes-two concept:

12. . .[A]nd when the day cometh that the Only Begotten of the Father, yea, even the Father of heaven and of earth, shall manifest himself unto them in the flesh, behold, they will reject him because of their iniquities, and the hardness of their hearts, and the stiffness of their necks.

13 Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings. . .

2 Nephi 25:12-13. (Emphasis added.)

As argued further hereinafter, the “Father of heaven and of earth” phrase should not be understood to denote Jesus Christ.  It is a description that only fits Jesus’ father; Jesus isn’t the father of heaven. But Nephi here uses two terms together--one term to describe the Father, and another term to describe Jesus Christ–to describe a future and a present aspect of a being who is still one unseparated God as Nephi speaks.

Micah 5:2, Bible

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

In this verse the speaker can’t be Jesus, because the speaker speaks of Jesus in the third person form as one who will someday “come forth unto me.”  But if the speaker is the still-unseparated unity of the present Father and the future Son, it makes perfect sense.

Mosiah 3:4-11, Book of Mormon

In a famous speech approximately 125 years before Christ, Benjamin, a righteous Book of Mormon king, related that he had been told these words by an angel of God:

4 For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.

5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.

10 And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.

11 For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.

(Emphasis added.)

King Benjamin isn’t told here that the Son of God will come down from heaven and take upon himself flesh, but that the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down.  In current Mormon doctrine, this could not describe Jesus, because Jesus hasn’t existed from eternity, having instead been brought into existence as a spirit at some point by heavenly parents before his birth on earth.  But if the Bible and Book of Mormon are consulted, the scripture makes sense, because the aspect of the Son that constituted the Father has never not been with him.

So as to leave no doubt that the coming being isn’t just Jesus, the being here referred to, in addition to being the Son of God, is also called the Father of heaven and earth, which refers exclusively to God the Father.  The Son of God is a new title he will acquire when his second iteration is born into mortality.  But at the time these words are spoken, he is yet one God.

Mosiah 15:1-9, Book of Mormon

About a century and a half before Christ’s birth, before Mosiah’s above-quoted sermon, the Book of Mormon prophet Abinadi expounded on why, when in the future God came to earth, he should be referred to by both his role as God the Father and as the Son of God.  I have added emphasis where appropriate:

1 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. 

2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—

3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—

4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father f heaven and of earth.

5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.

6 And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men , he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

7 Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.

8 And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men

9 Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.

These passages completely vindicate the point being argued thus far in this essay.  God the Father himself shall come down among men and redeem his people.  The earthly iteration of God that comes to dwell here in the flesh shall be called the Son to distinguish him from the Father, because the Son has flesh and the Father doesn’t.  But the Son shall still be properly referred to as the Father because he subjects the flesh to the will of the Father’s spirit which is both in him and in heaven, and because he was conceived by the power of his Father. (We might say that he shares the Father’s spirit and is led by it.) Abinadi then concludes from these concepts that as he speaks, the two beings are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And it is God, who is said to break the bands of death, by infusing his Son with his own power to make intercession for the children of men.  The resulting redemption that takes place is thus understood to be accomplished by the Father, as he remains the syntactical subject of the continued sentence that ends in verse 9.  (Note that verses 1 and 9 are both referring to the same God in connection with the word “redeem” or “redeemed.”  The being known in Old Testament times as God the Father is thus the redeemer, though he creates a Son of himself by whom he accomplishes it.  It’s therefore inescapable that the being Abinadi is describing is one being who will eventually become two in order to accomplish his purposes.

It should also be well understood that though the Father and Son become separate as Jesus enters mortality, these two beings remain forever unified in purpose. Jesus makes this clear in his intercessory prayer found in John 17:20-23 in the Bible.  Praying for his disciples and those whom they would bring into his gospel, he said these words:

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

21 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thous hast loved me.

 

John 16:27 and 17:5, 7-8, Bible

John bolsters the conclusion from the foregoing scriptures that Jesus was once with God, and part of God, when he quotes Jesus’ words to his disciples (John 16:27) and his intercessory prayer to his Father (John 17:5, 7-8) which follows it, with emphasis added:

27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God . . .

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was .  .  .

7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

Taken together, these passages might well be interpreted as “Brethren, I was once part of God, and was created from his being.” Then, “Father, as I once shared your glory with you when I was part of your own self, and before I came out from you and became separate from you, let me now share it with you again as I return to your presence.”

Alma 11:32-33, 35, 38-40, 44, Book of Mormon

A famous Book of Mormon colloquy took place when the lawyer Zeezrom publicly cross-examined the prophet Amulek about 82 years before the birth of Jesus.  Zeezrom was questioning the soundness of a belief in a coming Messiah.  One tactic he tried was to allude to the logical inconsistency in saying there is one God, while also saying it is the Son of God who is set to come to earth, thus implying the existence of two gods as opposed to one.  Not only does Amulek aver that the Son of God is at that time the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, but he also refers to the Father’s and Son’s separate identities after Jesus’ coming and on the judgment day, when they will be distinguishable from each other but united in purpose as one eternal God.  From Alma 11, here are the relevant excerpts from their exchange, with emphasis added:

32 And Zeezrom said again: Who is he that shall come?  Is it the Son of God?

33 And he [Amulek] said unto him, Yea.

. . .

35 Now Zeezrom said unto the people: See that ye remember these things; for he said there is but one God; yet he saith that the Son of God shall come. . .

. . .

38 Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?

39 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;

40 And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name. . .

44 [And all] shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works. . .

Helaman 14:12, Book of Mormon

Five years before Christ’s birth, the Book of Mormon prophet Samuel the Lamanite explained to the Nephites that he’d come to prophesy to them of Christ’s imminent coming.  In Helaman 14:12, we find he repeated the same or almost identical phrases Nephi, Mosiah, Abinadi and Amulek had used down through the centuries to denote one being above all (“the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning”) and a second being (“Jesus Christ, the Son of God”), thus highlighting God’s dual identity:

And also that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and that ye might know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on his name.

(Emphasis added.)

3 Nephi 1:13, Book of Mormon

The day before Jesus was born into the world, the third prophet named Nephi in the Book of Mormon prayed to the Lord to know when the sign of the birth of Christ would be given.  That it was God the Father, and not exclusively Jesus that he was praying to is indisputable.  As we have seen, one of his titles was the Eternal Father of heaven and earth, a name that couldn’t apply to Jesus alone.  He was also known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which Acts 3:13 would later make clear denoted the Father, not the Son.  And, Abinadi and Benjamin had declared him to be “God himself” as opposed to the “Son of God,” who would only be called the Son of God when he took upon himself flesh.  Therefore, on this occasion, the being Nephi prayed to was still understood by the Nephites to be one God about to become two.  Notice the response given by the Lord to Nephi’s supplication in 3 Nephi 1:13-14, with emphasis added:

13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on  the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

14 Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son–of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh.  And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.

As already demonstrated above, the Lord’s words “on the morrow come I into the world” mirror words spoken by Abinadi and Benjamin that “God himself,” the “Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, and is, and was from all eternity unto all eternity,”  would come down from heaven to the children of men, thereby indicating that Christ is not the speaker here.  But all doubt is removed when the speaker says he comes to do the will “both of the Father and of the Son–of the Father because of me, and of Son because of my flesh.”  The Father’s identity therefore corresponds with the pronoun “me,” and the Son’s identity corresponds with the mortal version of himself that was born into a body of flesh.

It should also be stated here that which should be obvious: though the Father and Son become separate as Jesus enters mortality, these two beings remain forever unified in purpose. Jesus makes this clear in his intercessory prayer found in John 17:20-23 in the Bible.  Praying for his disciples and those whom they would bring into his gospel, he said these words:

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

21 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thous hast loved me.

 

The LDS Error of Teaching God the Father has a Body of Flesh and Bones

As demonstrated above, the Book of Mormon is abundantly clear in demonstrating God the Father to be a being of spirit, not possessing flesh and bones.  In addition to what the Lord told the brother of Jared, and what Abinadi told King Noah’s court, one should keep in mind that the Book of Mormon scriptures wouldn’t repeatedly refer to God taking upon himself flesh on earth if he already possessed a body of flesh and bones in heaven.  The Bible is also clear on this point.  In fact, in John 4:24, Jesus himself plainly told the woman of Samaria, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”  (Emphasis added.)

For these reasons, the LDS Church’s official doctrine, originally based heavily on the Book of Mormon and Bible, correctly taught God the Father to be a spirit.  The Lectures on Faith were canonized as part of the scriptural Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, upon the urging, endorsement and proposal of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, who declared that said lectures contain[ed] “in short, the leading items of the religion which we have professed to believe. . . .We do not present this little volume with any other expectation than that we are to be called to answer to every principle advanced. . . .”7  The fifth lecture therein contained this expalnation of the nature of God the Father and his Son Jesus, with emphasis added:  “The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power… The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle…he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father. . .”

Curiously, Lecture Fifth also instructed that the Godhead consisted of only two, not three, personages, the Father and the Son, and that the Holy Spirit consisted, not of a personage of spirit and the third member of the godhead, as Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 now states, but of the fulness of the divine “Mind of the Father,” which the Father and Son possess and share together.

The Lectures on Faith were many years later removed from the LDS scriptures in the 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, and became, suddenly, non-doctrine.  Why did this happen?  Simply put, LDS church leaders realized that the Doctrine and Covenants contained two statements on the nature of God the Father which couldn’t be reconciled.  The Lectures on Faith, Lecture Fifth, published in 1835, stated he was a personage of Spirit.  But Joseph Smith had declared in 1841 and 1843 speeches that the Father had a body of flesh and bones.  The contradiction was embarrassing to the church, as it showed that the prophet Joseph Smith had either not been inspired in 1835 or in the 1840s.  The doctrines couldn’t be both right.  One of them had to be removed.  Though the earlier interpretation in 1835 enjoyed a solid scriptural basis in the Book of Mormon and Bible, the LDS Church rejected it in favor of Joseph Smith’s doctrinally baseless assertion from 1843.

Not for the first time, Smith had forgotten what he’d believed and taught a few years earlier, just like he’d forgotten a great deal of what was in the Book of Mormon.  Interestingly, however, Smith isn’t known to have claimed that his idea that the Father possessed a body of flesh and bones had been revealed to him by God.  Today the preface to Doctrine and Covenants Section 130 merely states that the section consists of “items of instruction” given by Joseph Smith in 1843.

So, without informing or consulting the members of the Church before taking action,  Church leaders quietly decanonized and removed solid doctrine on the nature of God from the LDS scriptural corpus.  Richard S. Van Wagoner, Steven C. Walker and Allen D. Roberts have written an excellent article on how and why this happened, and the false and misleading statements later made by apostle and future Church President Joseph Fielding Smith to justify the move, including the absurdity that the Lectures on Faith had never been accepted as doctrine by the Church in the first place.  The article, entitled “The ‘Lectures on Faith’: A Case Study in Decanonization,”10 demonstrates the unnecessary complications that arise when a church is forced to choose between what the Bible and Book of Mormon teach, and a contradictory teaching by a church president who either has forgotten what he once read or claims to know better.

Conclusion

We here at LAMP choose to follow the teachings of the Book of Mormon and Bible, regardless of how they may conflict with those of LDS Church leaders. In the author’s opinion, the freelancing that goes on when LDS Church leaders presume to create new doctrine without firm scriptural foundations is a chronic problem.  It partially explains why some members eventually leave the Church.  They not only encounter doctrines contradicted or uncorroborated by Mormonism’s own scriptures, but they also find LDS leaders wholly incapable of reconciling the contradictions or explaining how the new doctrines came into being.  In fact, in most cases, the church leaders are completely unaware of the scriptural contradictions. Many of them are selected as leaders precisely because they’re deemed the least likely to question doctrine or policy (and therefore the most faithful). Hence the birth of this website–to delve into these matters, discuss them in depth, and expound on what the scriptures and accurate history show are clear and true.

Accordingly, we believe that before Jesus was born on earth, he was one being with, and part of, God the Father.  Though this concept certainly isn’t without its own complexity, it helps reconcile and explain how Jesus could tell the Nephites in 3 Nephi 15:5 that it was he who had given the law of Moses and covenanted with his people Israel, but also say in 3 Nephi 24:1 that it was the Father who had spoken the words to Malachi found in Malachi 3 and 4.  Before Jesus was born, God the Father was a spirit, and he still is a spirit.  When Jesus was born on earth as God’s second iteration and his Beloved Son, he inhabited a body of flesh and blood, and carried a portion of his Father’s spirit.  Today he remains a separate being with a glorified, resurrected body of flesh and bones.  And someday, we will behold that body, either at his second coming or on the judgment day, when we stand before both him and the Father.

Footnotes

1. Verses 22 and 23 of Abraham 3 show that the terms “intelligences’ and “spirits” are use interchangeably in this context.  However, it’s commonly taught within Mormonism that the intelligences, or intelligence itself, always existed, having no beginning, and that God formed all mankind’s individual premortal spirits from either that pool of intelligence, or from the already-individualized intelligences.  Obviously, LDS teachings are not well-formed on this subject, as the notion spirits were formed out of pre-existent “intelligence” or intelligences lacks any firm scriptural basis, and no basis at all in the Book of Mormon or Bible.  See, e.g., D&C 93:23, 29-30 and “Intelligence, Intelligences” definitions under Guide to the Scriptures, available online on the LDS Church official website lds.org.

2. See “Enrichment Section A:  Who Is the God of the Old Testament?” Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel (1980), 44-48, available online on official LDS Church website lds.org.

3. See Isaiah 53:11

4. See Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and Acts 3: 22-23 in the Bible and 1 Nephi 22:20-21 and 3 Nephi 20:23 in the Book of Mormon.

5. Although this writer does not accept the Pearl of Great Price as having been divinely inspired, and thus not cognizable as scripture, scriptures from that book are referenced here to illustrate the contradictions between the four books of scripture that Latter-day Saints officially recognize.  Then, later in The Pearl of Great Price, man is said to have been created by “the Gods,” see Abraham 4:22-27, which would further contra-indicate Jesus alone being the person doing all the creating.  Moreover, in the much-touted Proclamation on the Family, which is found on the LDS Church’s official lds.org website and is a doctrinal statement issued years ago by the LDS Church’s General Authorities, and is now deemed canonized, it’s declared that all humans are descended from heavenly parents, i.e., presumably a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother.  So if, as the LDS Church now avers, all spirits were created in heaven by heavenly parents before they came to earth, this becomes another reason not to believe that the being identifying himself as the Creator of all things is Jesus alone.

6. See Matthew 1:18-25 and Isaiah 7:14.

7. See Lectures on Faith, Preface, p. 3-4, available online at mormonbeliefs.com.

8.  Lectures on Faith, Ibid., Lecture Fifth, p. 53

9. Ibid., p 53-54.

10. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Steven C. Walker and Allen D. Roberts, “The ‘Lectures on     Faith’: A Case Study in Decanonization” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, (Fall 1987), pp. 71-78 (available online).

To Kill a Mockingbird, the Ninth Commandment, and Sabotaging Brett Kavanaugh

Image result for picture of Atticus Finch and Tom robinson

In Harper Lee’s famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which became an Academy Award winning movie, the story revolves around a married black man, Tom Robinson, who is on trial after being falsely accused of raping and beating a young white woman, Mayella Ewell, in a small Alabama town.  The reader or movie viewer learns from the evidence produced at trial that the putative victim and accuser is a poor, uneducated daughter of the mean town drunk.  The marks observed on her by the sheriff after the beating were on the right side of her neck, face and body, and finger marks around her neck showed they had to have come from both the right and the left hands.   Her injuries were thus inflicted mainly by the left hand of someone who also grasped her by the neck with both hands at one point during the beating.  No evidence is ever produced at trial that she was sexually assaulted other than her allegation, and though she claims she screamed throughout the assault, she cannot explain why none of the other children in her family heard her.

Tom Robinson’s defense lawyer, Atticus Finch, establishes in court that Tom could not have committed the crime because his entire left arm and hand are paralyzed and useless due to a prior accident.  Tom also testifies on the witness stand that he has never assaulted Mayella, but that on one occasion after she asked him to do some work around her home, she attempted to seduce him.  When Mayella is asked by Finch if she screamed only after she noticed that her father saw her with Tom, she does not answer.  Atticus also shows the jury that Mayella’s father is left handed.  When Mayella is confronted with the huge inconsistencies in her story, and questioned about whether she is trying to cover up other of her own and her father’s misdeeds by blaming a Negro for her injuries, she is unable to explain why the evidence contradicts her story.

But the problem facing Tom Robinson, his family, friends, and Atticus Finch, is that the case is being tried to an all-white jury.  Finch focuses his closing argument not only on the pitiful lack of evidence, but that the evidence affirmatively demonstrates that the State’s case is built on the assumption that a southern white jury will never reject a white woman’s accusation in favor of a black man’s denial, no matter how reasonable and convincing the Negro’s own testimony might be.  Atticus Finch thus doesn’t fight so much to persuade the jury that his client’s version is more reasonable, as he knows the jury knows that, but to convince them to do what is morally right, despite their culture’s history of racial bigotry.  He doesn’t blame them for feeling sorry for Mayella Ewell, who he himself pities as “a victim of poverty and ignorance.”  But he argues that pity for her cannot morally be extended to cost an innocent human being his life.  Atticus Finch memorably exhorts the jurymen to override their own culture of racial injustice, which Mayella and her father are trying to exploit, and instead do what is morally right as Christians:  “In the name of God, do your duty!  In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson!”

Less than two hours later, however, the jurymen, themselves utter slaves to the dictates of the white supremacy culture that supports them, find Tom guilty of rape.  The life of a Negro is a small price for them to pay to preserve their own preferred way of life, despite the small twinge of conscience they might have felt when Atticus Finch urged them to conform their verdict to God’s will.

On Mount Sinai, the Lord instructed the people of Israel, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”  Exodus 20:16.  This instruction became the ninth of the Ten Commandments.  That was 3,500 years ago, but since that time, the rule against providing untrue testimony against one’s “neighbor,” which includes all other human beings whether you love them, hate them, or are indifferent to them, has been a prominent and hallowed feature of Judeo-Christian law and morality.  It exists in other religious and legal traditions as well.  The idea that you should only speak the truth about another person is such a moral imperative in our culture, that knowingly doing the opposite to get them in trouble  is a crime, and if it’s done while under oath, it’s a felony, punishable with prison time.  It’s an inherently serious offense specifically because of its capacity to harm other people.

In Tom Robinson’s fictional case, Mayella’s lies about him, and the jury’s willingness to base their verdict on obviously perjured testimony,  sends an innocent man to prison as a convicted rapist.  When he later tries to escape, he is shot to death.  But in other instances where false witness is borne, real, nonfictional individuals, or large groups of them, can suffer harm equal to that suffered by Tom Robinson.  People can die or otherwise be ruined, but more permanently, a culture of bearing false witness can make all people everywhere unsafe.  The Ninth Commmandment should never be regarded as antiquated and less crucial today than it ever was, because it’s a rule that protects all of us, whether we’re experienced enough to realize it or not.  False words spoken about another, especially in today’s internet society where accusations spread quickly around the entire world, can not only get someone arrested and prosecuted, but cause them to lose their employment, their property, their honestly-earned reputation and even custody of their children.    Though libel and slander lawsuits are occasionally used as intimidation to scare off honest critics, actual libel or slander, which require a finding of falsehood be found present in the accusation, deserves to be visited with heavy penalties.

Even false compliments, praise or defense of persons whom we don’t honestly believe are worthy of them can do untold damage.  If I recommend a doctor to an acquaintance, knowing that said doctor has several times been guilty of malpractice, it might cost my acquaintance her life.  If I vouch for the reputation of a local priest knowing said priest has pedophilic tendencies, but am willing to bear false witness rather than go against the church, I may cost many additional victims their lives, or their emotional or mental health.  If a friend of mine makes allegations against someone else which I have substantial reasons to doubt are true, I can do great harm by vouching for my friend’s credibility simply because he asks me to and I don’t want to offend him.  And if I’ve seen my cousin beat his wife, and she’s later found beaten to death, the worst thing I can do at my cousin’s trial for murder is testify that I saw no evidence that my cousin’s marriage wasn’t a happy one.

The moral imperative of telling the truth extends to scenarios where the accuser is not perfectly sure he or she is falsely accusing someone.  You cannot defend yourself by saying, “Well, I wasn’t completely convinced that I was wrong, I just realized there was a definite possibility I was wrong, so you can’t say I was lying.  I was just mistaken.”  Nor could Mayella Ewell morally say, “Well, maybe I wasn’t raped, but because of Tom I got in trouble, and that made me mad, so I accused him of rape.”  Nor should she have said, if a rape really had occurred, “Well, I knew it was a Negro who did it, and I knew Tom was a Negro, so I thought it was probably Tom, so that’s the name I gave to the sheriff.”  Nor can a jury excuse themselves by saying, “Well, Miss Ewell may have been a little confused on some of the details, but that’s no reason to let a Negro get off Scot-free.”  We can sometimes afford to be confused about our own deeds or misdeeds, but we can’t be careless about reporting things done or not done by others.  If I think I remember winning the Heisman trophy way back when, I’ll only hurt myself, not my neighbor, by telling everyone I won it.  But we offend God, in my opinion, when we support a factual version of some event we’re not sure really happened, in the face of much countervailing evidence, and regardless of the potential harm to another child of God.  We must conform our actions to what the evidence shows, not what we wish it showed.  God doesn’t excuse choosing to ignore inconvenient, countervailing evidence like Tom Robinson’s jury did.  God wants truth to be the victor, regardless of which faction it happens to favor in any given case.

As the title of this essay implies, the principles discussed above apply to some important features  of the current accusations against United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  There are some obvious differences, of course.  Both men were accused of sexually-motivated assault and battery, though Tom Robinson was accused of completing the rape, and Kavanaugh was only accused of attempting it briefly at a much younger age. Kavanaugh’s proclamation of his own innocence faces a jury of 100 senators, almost half of which are hostile to his candidacy, and have said so, because he’s conservative and they are liberal.  Tom Robinson faced a jury of twelve racially prejudiced white jurors who opposed him because he was black and they considered Negroes inferior and not worth protecting.  But in both cases, the decision makers who opposed the fictional Tom, and those who now oppose the actual Brett, have each made unmistakably clear that they seek to defeat the accused whether the sexual allegations are true or not.  They consider the possibility of ruining an innocent man with false charges more desirable than failing to defeat him by finding him innocent.  In bringing him down, they honestly and unabashedly don’t care whether he’s actually guilty or not.  This similarity between the two stories is as egregiously evil as it is striking.

In July of 2018, after Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court, but several weeks before the confirmation hearings in the United States Senate  were scheduled to begin, Christine Blasey Ford, a California resident, wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee member Diane Feinstein in which she claimed that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her at a party one night in the early 1980s.  She claimed to remember the identities of five of the four boys and two girls present at the tiny party, but couldn’t remember who hosted it, or where it was held, or when, except that it was during summertime.  She likewise didn’t remember how she got there, or how she got home.  Specifically, she says Kavanaugh (but not she) was drunk, and that in the presence of another drunk boy, he pinned her down on a bed, held his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming, groped her, rubbed his body against hers, tried to pull off her clothes, and only stopped because his friend fell on top of him and knocked him off the bed.  She alleges she then ran into a bathroom and locked the door.  The two boys then left and went down the stairs, and she then ran down the stairs and out of the house unimpeded.  She has also announced that she has passed a polygraph test administered by an anonymous former FBI polygrapher.  However, as Ford’s attorney knows, but the public may not know, such polygraph results are not admissible in state or federal courts in this country, absent an agreement by both the proffering party and the party against whom they are proffered, because they are deemed too unreliable.  Pathological liars can pass them with ease, since lying causes no measurable physiological response in their bodies.  Otherwise, those whose heartbeat is affected by the polygrapher asking  them if they’re being truthful about their claims– i.e., those who have a strong enough conscience–are susceptible to lie detection.  Low intelligence subjects can pass them by not understanding the questions.  Mentally unstable persons can pass them as well, because even if their statements are untrue, they can’t properly distinguish what’s real and what’s imagined and don’t know that they’re wrong.  Individuals can also purposely skew the results by taking certain drugs or altering their sleep patterns prior to testing.  And finally, truth tellers can fail them because they’re so nervous about being wrongly perceived to be lying that their physiological response then erroneously suggests deception.  I say this as a former 30-year criminal prosecutor whose job required training in polygraph tests, evaluation of the questions used in many proffered polygraphs, and the occasional interviewing of polygraphers.

Kavanaugh has been interviewed on live television and has said that not only are the allegations not true, but that he was not at the party Ford is describing.  He has never even witnessed anything like Ford is describing, and in fact, he was a virgin throughout high school and for several years thereafter.  He has already released a written statement unequivocally and categorically denying the allegations, and has said he looks forward to reading that statement to the Senate under oath. As of this date, no woman has come forth to counter his claim that the first time he had sex was several years after high school.

If these were all the relevant facts of this matter, it would be difficult to form a strong opinion as to whose version is reliable.  It would be comparable to Tom Robinson’s jury only hearing Mayella’s allegation and Tom’s separate version of the facts, with nothing to corroborate either one.  The jury would have no reason to disbelieve Tom, other than a racist desire to do so, but would also have no reason to disbelieve Mayella.  But as was the case in To Kill a Mockingbird, there are already many important pieces of uncontested evidence which favor Kavanaugh’s denial over Ford’s accusation.  Later today, September 28, 2018, both Ford and Kavanaugh are scheduled to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee, and more evidence may be adduced which alters the current ledger of significant evidentiary facts.

The facts which weigh heavily against Ford and in favor of Kavanaugh are these:

  • The four people Ford says she remembers being at the party not only don’t corroborate Ford’s memory of any such party in any way, but the one most likely to corroborate it, Ford’s own girlfriend and fellow feminist opposed to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, says remembers no such party and doesn’t know Brett Kavanaugh.  This fact is devastating to Ford’s credibility.  It is the equivalent of what would have been the inference if in the fictional story, Mayella Ewell’s sister had testified that her dad caught Mayella trying to seduce the black man and beat her up as punishment, then instructed her to lie to cover up his involvement.
  • Ford claims she never discussed or reported what she thinks was an attempted rape until 30 years later.  While it isn’t uncommon for victims to fail to report experiences of sexual victimization experienced as teenagers, 30-year reporting delays certainly aren’t proof of veracity, either, especially when the claimant says she forgot the whole thing happened.  Almost none of the reasons many such experiences are kept secret are present here.  First of all, the overwhelming majority of experiences teenagers of both sexes tend to keep secret involve actual sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, cunnilingus or fellatio.  Aside from those cases where nothing is reported because the claimed experience didn’t actually occur, victims keep quiet usually because they’re afraid of reprisals by the perpetrators or their associates, or of the loss of dignity they will feel by having to discuss the details of what occurred and their own degree of willing participation.  They also may fear they won’t be believed and will suffer even more demeaning treatment by those who seek to impeach them.  Some teenagers don’t reveal what they’ve endured because they truly don’t recognize how serious or damaging the perpetrator’s behavior is; some of them are actually used to such behavior because of the dangerous environment they’ve grown up in.  Some teenagers aren’t traumatized at all by over-the-clothes groping and rubbing, or having their clothes tugged at, while others, having experienced similar acts or even actual rapes, hide their well-remembered experiences because it’s too emotionally traumatic to relive them.  But none of those reasons for secrecy have been claimed thus far by Christine Blasey Ford.  She has not claimed that her life suffered for the 30 years after the event in any way that could be linked to what she claimed occurred.  Brett Kavanaugh at 17 years old was neither well known, powerful, or intimidating to anyone, and Ford hasn’t alleged otherwise.  Both she and Kavanaugh attended separate single-gender private schools funded by well-to-do parents.  They didn’t belong to a common group of friends.  Ford was never threatened by anyone with any warning not to divulge what had happened to her.  She couldn’t reasonably feel much shame over what had transpired, because she doesn’t admit to having even been drinking, much less consenting to the unwelcome behavior.  Even if she might have gotten in trouble with her parents for attending a party where alcohol was being imbibed, as she has alleged, this reason wouldn’t inhibit her from revealing the incident once she became an adult.  Without these reasons to keep the matter secret, it is hard to explain why it went forgotten and unmentioned for 30 years.
  • The alleged event was divulged in a setting wherein Ford was receiving marriage counseling.  Those seeking counseling for marital problems are highly motivated to justify their difficulties.  They want to provide plausible explanations for their behavior, but if the true reasons are ones they don’t want to divulge (e.g., “I’ve resented having been expected to cook meals all these years after coming home from work”; “I’m having an affair with someone else but don’t want a divorce”; “I’ve had an abortion I never told you about”; “I’ve had a drug problem that I haven’t divulged”; “I’m not sexually attracted to you but don’t want to say so”; “I’m attracted to those of my own sex but don’t want a divorce”), it’s much easier to say some unnamed prominent person in Washington tried to rape you at a party when you were 15, and even though you have a husband, a doctorate degree in psychology, a job and two children now, you never recovered.  How can such an explanation be disproven?  It can easily be supplemented later, and it won’t be hard to name a perpetrator after a little research through yearbooks.  The only problem with this explanation is that one wonders why Ford withheld it from her husband before the counseling session became necessary, since it constituted virtually nothing to be ashamed of.
  • The explanation that Ford remembers five of the six people there, but doesn’t remember that sixth person whose house it was, and who happens to be the second most crucial witness in verifying that such a party took place, and when and where it happened, isn’t credible.  More credible is the inference that she does know perfectly well the sixth person’s identity, and where he lived, but can avoid his rebuttal of her story by simply not naming him.  If she keeps him secret, he won’t come forward and say, “That may have happened to you, but I wasn’t there and it didn’t happen at my house,” or “Part of that happened but it wasn’t Brett who did it; he wasn’t there, but you would remember it better if you weren’t so drunk yourself that night.  You don’t remember how you got home because you were passed out.”  Her forgetfulness would be more credible if her memory weren’t so precise on all the details that condemn Kavanaugh, or if there weren’t such a small number of people to remember, or if these experiences were too common in her life to keep them all straight, or if she admitted that she, too, had been drinking. To forget the identity of the second most important person capable of corroborating her story appears more than just suspicious, especially after her girlfriend, the first most important potential corroborator who Ford claims was present, says she remembers no such party and doesn’t know Kavanaugh.
  • Ford’s claim that she doesn’t remember how she got to the party, or how she got home, is extremely suspicious and implausible.  This is NOT normal for people who allege they were fearful for their lives and desperate to escape.  In all my years of prosecuting rape and attempted rape cases, and screening them for prosecution, I have never heard of someone forgetting how they got away from the place where they narrowly escaped being raped or killed.  If there is one thing they DO remember well, it’s how they successfully escaped this one-time-only, unprecedented peril.  They have to either go home by the same means they used to arrive, or they have to know why that’s not possible and devise a different, desperate method of getting to safety.  It is the most important decision they make in such a situation, and it’s never the part they can’t remember.
  • Kavanaugh’s yet-undisputed claim that he had sex for the first time several years after high school is one he’d be unlikely to make if he knew some woman  out there knew otherwise.  The fact that he made that claim makes two conclusions likely:  First, he knew the claim was true, and no one would dispute it.  Second, it was extremely unlikely that a someone who remained a virgin for many years after high school would be trying to rape girls when he was 17.  This is especially true in Kavanaugh’s case.  Someone who has the self-discipline that he possessed then to be class valedictorian, a successful athlete, active in his church, active in service projects and a virgin for so many years isn’t likely to have an uncontrolled weakness for trying to rape girls, which could land him in prison for life.  If he did have such a weakness, his weakness would be far more well-known than his accomplishments.  But no one corroborates this weakness.  Similarly, Tom Robinson was a well known married Negro in his small Alabama town, and many people were familiar with him.  No one had ever known him to try to attempt romance with white women or other black women prior to Mayella’s accusation.  How hard would it have been to hide such a propensity from everyone in a small segregated southern town?  Was it probable Mayella was right, and everyone else was wrong, or vice versa?
  • The number of people who have come forward to testify of Kavanaugh’s sterling character, especially toward women, cannot be ignored, no matter how convenient it may be to do so for his accusers.  This has strong evidentiary value.  Most of these have been women, and many of them have been liberal women who support liberal court nominees.  They have been his law clerks, his fellow judges, his fellow employees,  law professors and students, friends from church and volunteer organizations, and a host of people whom he grew up with.  They have rushed to his defense unsolicited.  They are unanimous in attesting to his goodness, his consideration for others, his efforts to promote women’s and minorities’ opportunities for advancement within his profession, and to fulfill the measure of his role as judge in the most honorable way possible.  Does all that weigh less than an accusation from a woman whose own life and credibility has been scrutinized not at all?  Is scrutiny unnecessary if she’s female and belongs to the accusing senators’ own political tribe? Do Kavanaugh’s opponents believe only Kavanaugh should be asked tough, frank questions, if the objective is to find the truth?  Should only the accused be grilled, but Ford spared any questions about the last 36 years of her life?

In our efforts to evaluate the evidence, should  Ford’s  improbable-sounding and unanimously uncorroborated version of what Kavanaugh allegedly did for one minute when was 17, which was affirmatively discredited by her longtime girlfriend, as well as by Kavanaugh, override what we know Kavanaugh has done for the last 36 years?  Or should it boil down to simpler questions:  Is Brett Kavanaugh conservative or not?  If he is, why does it matter if Ford’s story is accurate or not?  Why do we care if Tom really did rape Mayella?  He’s a Negro, ain’t he?