Addressing honest questions is an important part of building faith…
To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break!Neil L. Andersen
It is very curious to note that these two quotes are from the same section of the same talk. Anderson says addressing honest questions is important, but follows it up with the advice to ignore those questions.
Or in other words: dismiss and ignore those honest questions about events or statements. Put your issues on the proverbial shelf… indefinitely. Elder Anderson advises us to “Give Brother Joseph a break” “for now”. But how long should we give him this break? Just long enough to put the issue on our shelf and convince ourselves to stop thinking about it? Long enough for the church to rewrite the narrative to innoculate us from the issue?
This combined with suggestions that we shouldn’t criticize church leaders (including past church leaders) because it is wrong, sets up a religious tyranny where leaders have carte blanche to do basically anything with no accountability or repercussions. They cheat the government and the people with tax fraud and never have to face the members about it, because they can claim the “matter is closed” and then no one can bring it up without criticism.
Give Joseph Smith A Break?
This would dismiss all the evidence that the story of the first vision is a retroactive creation telling about a fictional event. This fictional event has now become a pillar of the beliefs of the church, so if we have questions about it, we should just put them on the shelf, and give Joseph a break.
This would dismiss all the evidence that Joseph was a sexual predator, and used his position and the faith of his followers to get women into bed. We have examples that show this with his teenage maid Fanny Alger and the attempted polyandrous relationship with Jane Law among others. We should just let him off? Why does Elder Anderson suggest we give Joseph a break? No reason, just his advice on how to remain faithful.
In order to remain faithful we should just give the prophet a free pass, because if we actually look at his actions and consider what kind of man would do the sorts of things he did, we must conclude that he was no prophet of God. The evidence shows more that he’s a charlatan who conned believers out of everything in starting a religion.