On the lds.org website, the Young Women's manual is available online. Lesson 11 is titled, "Appreciating the Bishop". In this lesson, girls ages 12-17 are taught by their leaders to respect and revere the bishop of the ward.
Some quotes from the manual: [bold is my emphasis]
“The bishop presides over every person in the ward and directs their local church activities. … All of your adolescent life you will be under the direction of the bishop. He will appoint teachers and supervisors to do his work, but he will be very much interested in your progress. Your life here will be constantly weighed by him, for he is the judge of your worthiness … to receive higher ordinances, and to be worthy to go to the Temple.
“If you are going to work in the Church system you will learn to be obedient to your bishop. If you get into trouble you will be wise if you seek his advice and counsel. He has been designated by the Lord and appointed by the President of the Church to be responsible for you and to make sure you progress according to your worthiness and ability. …
“… He will see you every year at tithing settlement. He will interview you. … If you go on a mission he will be the one who makes the first inquiry as to your fitness and ability to serve in this capacity” (S. Dilworth Young, More Precious than Rubies [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1959], pp. 40–41).
Is it any small wonder that men like Warren Jeffs come to power and control, when the members are so willing to submit to his authority?
In the LDS church, bishops are not trained clergy. They are farmers, they are business professionals, they are bus drivers and lawyers. They have little to no training on how to counsel people in distress or crisis, other than what is provided in the Church Handbook of Instructions. They often focus on minutiae of worthiness issues, like hemlines and shirt colors, and skip over really getting to know the members personally. But the interviews behind closed doors are the real danger to 12 year old girls. There, sequestered and alone, they bravely face a man who could be a complete stranger to them, yet they are to treat him as they would a father figure, and obey his counsel. This is taking a huge risk, and it is shameful that parents don't see the potential danger. I know a few men in the ward that I used to attend who were just on the edge of creepy, and if they had ever been elevated to the level of bishop, lots of people would have gone inactive. Yet there are the occasional wolves in sheep's clothing, just waiting for their turn at being the bishop so they can have access to all the young teens in the ward. It happens. Even home teachers have been known to take advantage of the youth in the ward, and parents are often unwitting accomplices because of the blind trust they have in "callings".
Mormons are so unaware of their own history, they can't even see the stark resemblance between Joseph Smith's Mormonism and Warren Jeffs' Mormonism. Warren Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to rape for arranging and forcing a marriage between a 14 year old girl and her 19 year old cousin.
Jeffs advised her to pray and to submit to her husband, learn to love him, and bear his children -- or risk losing her "eternal salvation," the woman testified.
Contrast this story with that of 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball, who was a plural wife of Joseph Smith:
Oh, but the similarities don't end there....
Warren Jeffs is the spiritual leader of a sect that calls itself the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints. They teach polygamy, blood atonement, and isolation from the federal government, just as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught. They hold to the original teachings of the church, and accuse the Mormons of being a break-away branch of the true church. They are unapologetic when confronted about their polygamy practices, and have nothing but contempt for LDS members, because their church gave up polygamy to obtain statehood. Joseph Smith was so determined to have a kingdom of Latter-Day Saints that he uprooted his followers numerous times so that they could practice their religion away from the interference of the federal government. Brigham Young accomplished that for a period of 40 years before the U.S. troops came banging on the doorstep, arresting anyone they could find practicing polygamy. In 1890, the LDS gave up the practice, but only on the secular level. It is still acceptable practice to be married to more than one wife in the eyes of the church, and is still part of the original doctrine. The only difference between LDS and FLDS in this respect is that the LDS are covert about the practice, and do not discuss it, even openly deny it to the media and to the world.
Now, granted, the men who are polygamously married to another wife through the temple sealing ordinance is under no obligation to support her, co-habitate with her, or otherwise maintain contact with her, but the fact remains that in the eyes of the LDS church, he is still sealed to her, and has the right to claim her in the afterlife as his wife, if he hopes to obtain the highest level of celestial glory. She cannot be sealed to anyone else without a cancellation of this marriage, and has to obtain HIS permission to do so. She also has to be interviewed extensively for any past sins and for worthiness issues prior to being 'given' to another man. But HE does not have to take these steps to be sealed to another woman in the temple. This is in the LDS church. So, what would you call this, if it's not 'spiritual polygamy'? And this is how they get away with saying they are not associated with polygamy, it was done away with many years ago, stop persecuting us, etc. Those of us who have left the church KNOW that it is still practiced in the temple, and in the LDS view, that supercedes the temporal law anyway.
Warren Jeffs rules his church with an iron fist, and any who oppose him are cast out, excommunicated, cut off from parents or children, and personal belongings, even wives and children are assigned to other 'more worthy' men. Joseph Smith was married to as many as 33 wives himself, some of whom were ALREADY wives of other men. If any man opposed him, he was publicly denounced, excommunicated, property seized and redistributed, and the wife was taken anyway. Most of the time, Joseph merely sent them on missions to England and took the wife while her husband was away. He might come back two years later to discover his wife mysteriously pregnant, and then the choice to leave her and their children behind or stay and submit to 'spiritual wifery' would have to be faced.
If polygamy was supposed to help the church 'be fruitful and multiply', why couldn't these women do that with their OWN husbands?
They can't be pregnant more than once at a time, right? So why would it be necessary for her to be having sex with Joseph Smith, if her husband could get her pregnant just as easily?
Growing up in the church, I was told that polygamy was a small practice and only used to secure the futures of widows, or young girls with no parents. Now that I have learned the truth about the practice, and that the source of the teaching was Joseph, not Brigham, and that other men's wives were given in plural marriage, I can't fathom how the LDS church can claim that they have nothing in common with the FLDS church. They have the same roots, and the same doctrine. They teach the young women early on to obey the bishop, follow his counsel, he is responsible for you, he knows what is best for you, etc. It's not that much of a leap...