Some things just don’t smell right. Today the FLDS website (http://www.fldstruth.org) began filling in their Q&A section. This included:
A: No. The young girls are taught all their lives that marriage is a sacred choice that they must make. They are taught to keep their bodies covered and live a life of cleanliness and purity according to the teachings of our Savior.
I don’t doubt that this is a truthful answer, but is it an honest answer? Is this truly a choice? Is a girl completely free to say that she doesn’t want to marry some guy who’s been chosen for her? Is the choice really one between marrying the chosen groom or being put out of the community and separated from family and everyone they’ve ever known for the rest of their life? Technically that’s a choice, just not much of one. Are girls taught all their lives that when the time comes they MUST make the choice that is given them? Are they taught all of their lives that if they don’t ‘make the choice’ to marry the chosen groom that they will spend eternity in hell?
Q: Even if a young woman had the desire to leave the ranch, would she be allowed to leave with all her children?
A: If any one in our communities desire to leave, there is no one that will stand in the way. We have had women who have decided to leave that have taken their children. We have had women who have decided to leave their children with their loving fathers and the mothers who wanted to stay with him. We are taught to think for ourselves and make our own choices.
As above, are there caveats to ‘free to leave’? Is it perhaps free to leave, but if they do they will never see their family again, they will never see any of the only people they’ve ever known in their lives again? What kind of choice is that? And though the official position may be that people are free to leave, how many individuals might act differently? What might an individual husband do if his wife takes off with their kids? In what ways will he threaten her?
Now, to put all of this in a bit of perspective. For most people who grew up prior to the 20th century, including all of those in our Christian Bible, the choices offered within the FLDS were likely the norm. Parents chose spouses for their children; sometimes purely on their own, sometimes with input from a tribal or other spiritual leader, sometimes with input from the bride and groom, sometimes without. This doesn’t necessarily make it right or wrong, but the FLDS is far from an aberration.
Also, given all of the problems in our society, I can certainly understand a group wanting to stay as separate from it as possible. On more than a few occasions I’ve thought how nice it would be to gather together a bunch of like-minded folks and form our own community. A community where we have similar beliefs with regard to how we raise our children and what we teach them about drugs, sex, personal and corporate responsibility, obesity, integrity, and a host of other issues.
I can also understand people wanting to choose a spouse for their daughter (or son). I haven’t been through having a child marry yet, but many of my friends have and many of us have seen disaster waiting at the alter. There is an abundance of wisdom and insight that is gained after years of marriage that younger folks simply do not have. The groom is an absolute dream romantically, is good looking, and is overall a nice guy. But, he has the work ethic and morals of a noodle – no disrespect to rigatoni intended.
OK, back on topic. I don’t particularly like being lied to or misled and here I felt misled by the FLDS. I still believe that based on what we know so far that the Texas Authorities were wrong in their response. I still believe that they way over-reacted. I still believe that it would have been much better to have not removed anyone from the YFZ ranch but instead to have begun an investigation and removed only those people who had clearly violated the law or who were clearly in danger of real abuse.
As much as we in America like things to be black and white, as much as we like everything to come down to good guys and bad guys, that’s not always the case. In this one both sides appear to have their issues.