Polygamy has been tightly intertwined with the Adam-God Theory. Some say that’s the reason the Adam-God Theory is no longer a doctrine in the LDS Church. Does Paul agree with that?
Paul: But I believe the text is a visionary text that’s trying to tell us something about the nature of reality that’s deeper than our perceptions. It says that God doesn’t insulate himself from pain, that God is willing to reverse roles with us, that he’s not willing to dominate as a patriarch. There is a matriarch of equal dignity with him that should be a message to us about how we organize our power structures on Earth. He makes an angel, his divinity, so that he doesn’t force patriarchy on his creation. There’s a message in that is visionary that informs how we should organize ourselves, with economics, with sex, with politics with how we organize our power structures. But I think it’s more spiritual than that. It’s how we organize ourselves. It’s how we think about ourselves and our relationship to God. So yes, I do believe that Joseph Smith was trying to, even with his polygamy thing that backfired.
GT: Well, because that’s exactly where I wanted to go. Because I had Benjamin Shaffer and David Patrick on where we talked about Adam-God. And I know Lindsay Hansen Park said, one of the reasons why the Church refuses to acknowledge Adam-God anymore, is because if you do, then you have to believe in polygamy. But you said you don’t believe in polygamy.
Paul: Absolutely not.
Paul: I think the idea of one man with many women is just exactly the idea that I’m talking about. It’s patriarchy. It’s misogyny. It’s basically a signaling that one man has the value of many women. And it takes many women. Basically, their only value is in reproducing other men to preside over other women. It’s an absurd thing. I don’t think Joseph was right about it, at all. Now, what we’re talking about is polygyny. That’s the real term…
Paul: …which means met one man, many women. That’s totally wrong. Polyandry, which is one woman, many men is equally wrong. If you’re talking about polygamy, where you have multiple marriages, that’s what the word polygamy really means. And you say that you’re going to have people that are–I’m going to be 77. And so what I’m going to say now is very unappealing to me. But it might be what he had intended. It is that you’re trying to figure out a way where adults can have sex with more than one adult and still be responsible for the children which are born as a result of those relationships. Is that going to be possible? I think that’s what Joseph Smith was trying to do when he said, “I want to create a sexual revolution.”
GT: The fundamentalist idea is a man marries multiple women. These women have eternal babies. These babies populate the planet.
Paul: If you want that, then you’ve become a wasp; become a wasp, literally. Instead of a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, you can become an actual wasp, a beehive only in reverse. Because the queen bee is a female and all workers, they have few drones. No. They don’t want that, the fundamentalists, they want a patriarchal harem. It’s an abomination to me, in my view.
GT: Is that what Joseph Smith was trying to do?
Paul: I don’t know what he was trying to do. I think that’s what happened.
Do you think Adam-God can be separated from polygamy as Paul believes?
Paul Toscano has some opinions on LDS Apostles, and he’s not going to hold anything back!
Paul: I know that some of them do love the Lord. But when you hear some of them speak, you wonder how could they love the Lord and say things like Dave Bednar says, and not be able to answer a question like Jeff Holland can’t. And to say things about gays and lesbian households and their children that Russell Nelson says, and Dallin Oaks says. How can they do that? They’re obsessed with power. When you see them all arrayed in white, standing beneath a white Christus statue, it should make us shudder.
Paul: Because, what does that mean? What is that symbolizing, a bunch of white men dressed in white suits, under a white Jesus, who for 120 years, proclaimed that black people were inferior in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. They didn’t just believe racism, they said it came from God. Of course, people are going to leave the church when they find out that man who claimed to speak with God never allow themselves to be corrected. They excommunicated Lester Bush.
GT: Did they?
Paul: I don’t know.
GT: They made his life bad. I don’t think they excommunicated him.
Paul: They made his life bad. They excommunicated me. They excommunicated Margaret and Lavina and Mike Quinn, and Lynn Whitesides, and a whole bunch of other people for trying to get them to choose love and not power. Love does not manifest itself by separating yourself and dressing in white and standing in front of the Christus statue. It’s picking up the phone and calling Paul Toscano in 1992 and saying, “Paul, what are you talking about? We don’t want you outside the church. Come on up. Talk to us.” But Boyd Packer wouldn’t do that because Boyd Packer never understood the difference between the church and the Air Force.
Paul: Bruce McConkie, who was a very simple creature, taught the saints that obedience is the first law of heaven. Obedience is the first law of hell! The entire devil’s plan is based on strict conformity and obedience to march us back into the celestial kingdom, everyone without a thought in their heads. That was what you get. And then at the end, after he humiliates George Pace at that BYU devotional that he gave in 1982, where he told people that they shouldn’t have a personal relationship with Christ. They should only follow their leaders. And George Pace was virtually informally excommunicated, and never got his legs under him again, just for being a religion teacher at BYU and telling kids there that they should try to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Bruce McConkie wasn’t having anything of it. But at the end of his life, he tries to give this last testimony, too little too late. Putting Jesus’s name in bigger letters on the buildings and saying that the Book of Mormon is the second witness of Christ isn’t the same. It’s just like saying, Lord. But there’ll be many who say more than and he says, “You don’t know me, and you don’t know me.”
What are your responses? What are your thoughts on Mormon culture? Is there too much leader-worship?
Why did Christ die for us? That has been a topic of debate among Christians for centuries. We’re going to delve into Atonement theories. Was Christ a moral teacher? Did he really pay the price for an infinite number of people’s sins?
GT: But one of the other things I wanted to talk about, that’s also related to your book was atonement theories. And I just want to read a couple of these. I know there’s five main theories. One is moral influence, Ransom, satisfaction, penal substitution and governmental. Are you familiar with those? First of all?
Paul: Yes, I’m familiar with them. But actually, I’m aware of them.
GT: You’re aware of them.
Paul: I’ve not explicated them, nor have I written critique on them.
GT: Okay. So, the penal substitution, I think that’s the one that people are most familiar with: the idea that Christ came, paid for our sins, died on the cross, that sort of thing. I’m trying to remember which one–oh, it’s ransom. That’s also known as the Christus Victor theory where Christ became victorious over sin, and Satan and that sort of thing. Satisfaction. I’m just reading comes from Wikipedia.
Paul: Yes. The highest source of ultimate error.
GT: Yeah, exactly. It’s nice. Yeah. But anyway, it’s nice shorthand. In this picture, mankind owes a debt not to Satan, but the sovereign God Himself. Sovereign may well be able to forgive an insult or an injury in his private capacity, but because he is sovereign, he cannot if the state has been dishonored. St. Anselm argued that insult given to God is so great that only the perfect sacrifice could satisfy. And Jesus being both God and man was this perfect sacrifice.
GT: So the governmental theory teaches that Christ suffered for humanity so God could forgive humans apart from punishment, while still maintaining divine justice. The satisfaction and punishment theories argue that Jesus received a full and actual punishment due to men and women, while the Christus Victor view emphasize the liberation of humanity from bondage of sin, death and the devil.
GT: So anyway, those are just some quick, brief definitions. I don’t even know if that’s the same there. But so moral influence, ransom, which is also known as Christus Victor, satisfaction, penal substitution, governmental. Those are five different theories for atonement. So my question to you is, do you think that the Book of Mormon follows any of those as far as atonement theories? My personal opinion, I think it’s penal substitution. To me the law of Moses, you’ve got the scapegoat or whatever. You put the sins on the goat,
GT: and kill it, or it runs away or whatever. There are different methods. But that seems like what most LDS people view the atonement of Christ as Christ paid for our sins. And we can go back and live with him again.
GT: So what does the Book of Mormon say, would you say?
Paul: I think the Book of Mormon doesn’t really address this. I don’t believe it addresses it directly. It may. I don’t remember a lot of things. I used to know more. I’ve forgotten a lot. Anyway, I think this scapegoat theory is probably in the Book of Mormon, because it’s an Old Testament theory, and it’s in the Law of Moses. But the Law of Moses is really looking back to a much earlier time of Abraham and Isaac and the ram in the thicket. Now, the analysis of that, Abraham was criticized because he was willing to commit murder. Yeah. That was the old-fashioned sacrifice. And that continues under the Law of Moses. A goat is sacrificed because the ram was sacrificed by Abraham, right? But in its context, it doesn’t really mean that the sins are heaped upon the ram. There was no heaping of sins on the ram. It’s just that the order of sacrifice was reversed. Rather than Abraham sacrificing something that he adored and wanted, his son, instead of sacrificing his son, God intervenes and says that doesn’t do it. That’s not an infinite sacrifice. That’s a terrible thing. That’s murder. And what God does is He says, “There’s a ram that’s called the thicket. That ram, I’m telling you, that is symbolic of me, the eternal God. I’m going to come down and atone. I’m going to come to earth and die, not your son. He’s not the atonement. He’s not the sacrifice. He’s not the Messiah. I am going to come and die.” But the question of why God does that? We’ve tried to answer with the five [atonement theories.]
What are your thoughts on Atonement? Do you agree with Paul?
Over the years I have heard a number of scholars and theologians argue that in order for Christianity to survive the long haul, we need to abandon the atonement theology entirely. Because the atonement is so integrated in to Christian theology and thinking I don’t see that ever happening.
“Bruce McConkie, who was a very simple creature, taught the saints that obedience is the first law of heaven. Obedience is the first law of hell! The entire devil’s plan is based on strict conformity and obedience to march us back into the celestial kingdom, everyone without a thought in their heads.”
This resonates with me.
My biggest problem with Christianity is the Atonement. For the life of me, I don’t see the need or requirement. It overcomplicates Christianity. Christ was a martyr, as were many of the apostles and early members. But Christ’s message was simple. Love God by loving your fellow man (and woman). This isn’t rocket science.
But somehow this message is lost in the Atonement and sacrament, miracles, trinitarianism, Adam-God, work for the dead, one man one woman, discrimination, etc. Christianity needs to get back to the basics.
Right on; RH. Gilding the lily is an ancient human problem. Religion is only one of the monsters we seem compelled to create. That said, the riotous Hindu festival known as Holi is a joy & wonder to behold. The closest we Mormons get is the annual SLC Pride parade which occasionally goes waaay over the top.
I’ve never understood the atonement as far as God only forgiving us because Christ is our advocate and died for us; and the examples used to try and explain it just don’t hold water. If God is all loving, wouldn’t that make Him all forgiving? He won’t (can’t?) forgive us on our own because we’re imperfect???
When I consider the absurdities of injustice and pain in the world, I need a God who does more than just preach a message of love. What does that message offer to the woman in Ukraine who has just buried her son and begs to be buried with him? Thin gruel. But when that God comes here and experiences the same pain, gets crucified, now the deliverer of that message has credibility and answers to the real problems of my existence. I am not sure what theory of atonement that aligns with; probably none, because it’s not really addressing sin, but suffering.