Obviously, President Bill Clinton wasn’t the first US president to be involved in sexual shenanigans. Roughly 100 years previous to the start of President Clinton’s term, another Democrat President was involved in a sex scandal: Grover Cleveland. Unlike Clinton’s false “I did not have sex with that woman,” Cleveland instructed his staff to “Tell the truth.”
Cleveland’s supporters, like Clinton’s a century later, took a “What of it?” approach–and, like Clinton, Cleveland was elected to two terms.
During the mid-1980’s, when I was living in the Middle East, I was being worked on by a dentist who was an Evangelical Christian. After detailing to me several of Joseph Smith’s alleged sexual sins–no doubt, gleaned from anti-Mormon sources, he concluded, “How can you accept as a Prophet such a wicked man as Joseph Smith?”
My answer: “So Joseph Smith was wicked. What of it?”
While that may not have been the wisest thing I’ve ever done (He was about to drill my teeth when I said it!), it DID get his attention! 😉
I continued, “EVERYBODY is wicked–compared to God!” That is the wrong question to ask. If we were to disqualify people from serving God for various sins, NOBODY would ever be a Prophet! THe RIGHT question to ask is whether a person is willing to be used of God.” He couldn’t argue with that.
I concluded: “From my own investigation, the worst of Joseph Smith’s alleged sins comes from bad press, rather that documented wrongs.
After my teeth had been worked on, I had some questions of my own: “The Bible record is clear about how genuine Prophets and Apostles of the Lord were sinful–some quite seriously so, right?” He confirmed that fact, mentioning Isaiah’s “potty mouth” [Isaiah 6:5] and how Paul “withstood [Peter] to the face, because he was to be blamed” [Galatians 2:11].
I then asked him if any of the obviously false prophets we’ve read about in the news would be humble enough to have their sins paraded in Scripture like this–broadcast to the world. “Of course not,” replied my dental acquaintance. “They usually proudly tell us how sinless they are, while sinning up a storm!”
“Quite so,” I responded. “And if you look at the Doctrine and Covenants, hardly a Section goes by without God chewing out Joseph Smith for one sin or another. To me, that’s more like the Biblical Prophets than like Jim Jones and his ilk!”
I finished our conversation by telling him that he would have had a point if we Latter-day Saints thought that Joseph Smith were God, or our Saviour, but we don’t. Joseph Smith was only God’s messenger–like Moses or Isaiah or Peter or Paul. “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour–no other need apply!” And I told him that the Church teaches me to treat Him as such.
I may not have gained a convert (Well, I wasn’t trying! 😉 ), but I think I gave him some food for thought. Later, our group chaplain–ordained by the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ–told me, “You’re no dummy!”