Emma Smith is a source of contestation and conflicting viewpoints for many within the LDS community. A popular song (at least amongst missionaries I served with) about Emma Smith has the refrain “How much could one heart take?” as it’s main theme. The popularity of the song concerns me. Not because of hatred or ill-will towards Emma, but because the theme of the song seems to be justifying actions that move us away from the Church as long as our lives are hard. A sentiment that does not seem to be scripturally supported (God will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able, anyone?) and is potentially damaging.
This is not to say however that we should shift the pendulum to the other side and judge Emma or anyone else for their choices, because we do not understand what they are going through and what experiences led them to make the choices that they did. We should strive for a middle ground, where we seek to understand and empathize with others, without judging or justifying their behavior, two-sides of the same coin. Both of these place us in a position where we make a final determination about someone’s intentions or worthiness, which is well beyond our place as mere mortals, flawed and trying to find our way in this crazy world.
Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants is revelation specifically for Emma, however it closes with the following verse: “And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen” (D&C 25:16). All can draw from the counsel given to Emma and apply the principles in our own lives.
“And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10). We can “lay aside the things of this world” by ceasing to justify or judge ourselves and others and “seek for the things of a better” by seeing the potential that we all have. We must look past the flawed choices that others make to find the intentions and motivations that drove them. We must seek understanding, so that we can love one another.
—Conor Hilton, Stance: Studies on the Family