Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Christ's doctrine and contention

When Christ says he who has the spirit of contention is not of him, but is of the devil, he is speaking of those who cannot hear truth without become agitated. They are uncomfortable in the presence of truth. That is the "spirit" that has power over them, and is the reason there were contentions among the Nephites about baptisms. The solution to contention is for all to have the Holy Ghost, not for truth to back down and give way to error.

When you or I write by the power of the Holy Ghost you and I cannot simultaneously be writing in a contentious spirit, that is, under the inflluence of the adversary. You and I cannot both write by the Holy Ghost and be writing by the spirit of the devil.

D&C 112:4 Let thy heart be of good cheer before my face; and thou shalt bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth.
 5 Contend thou, therefore, morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech.

In 3 Nephi 11 Christ teaches the children about baptism. He then says

3 Nephi 11:28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

So the Nephites are taught about baptism, and then told that there are to be no disputations concerning the points of his doctrine as there have hitherto been. For years I read this as meaning that if something bad is being taught, then our obligation is to not dispute it. However, let us take an actual example from the scriptures.

In Moroni 8 we read of a disagreement church members were having about baptism. Apparently some people in the church felt like infants needed to be baptized. So what would our gospel obligation be in that case?

If the doctrine being taught by Christ is that good should never oppose evil when it comes to church doctrine then those in the right should have said nothing. Imagine if it were us and that some members in our ward were saying we needed to baptize infants. Consider the consequences of saying nothing.

Moroni 8:14 Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.

This scripture states with perfect clarity and without exception that whoever is cut off while in the thought that little children need baptism must go down to hell. So in our example, the consequences of saying nothing are pretty drastic.

Is Christ really teaching that if a bad doctrine is introduced among the members, we are not to dispute against it?

No, not at all. He is teaching something altogether different.

3 Nephi 11:29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

The point is that those who are uncomfortable around the truth, who feel agitated by it, who get upset around it, those are the people who have the spirit of contention in the sense Christ is talking about. Those people are following the devil, they give him reign, and are therefore upset by truth.

So what is Christ's solution. His doctrine, which will do away with all contention (as stated in verse 30) is outlined in the following verses.

3 Nephi 11:32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

Christ's solution is that we repent, are baptized, and get the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then as we grow into that gift the Holy Ghost bears record of two things. It bears record of who Christ is. We know Christ insofar as we have the Holy Ghost. It also bears record of truth. We know truth insofar as we have the "mind of Christ", i.e. insofar as we have the Holy Ghost.

Christ's plan is Not  for good to fail to refute evil. He himself spoke quite boldly against evil doctrines. It is not for good to fail to dispute evil teachings within the church. Look at the prophets and scriptures and one can see that they clearly do so. Christ's plan is for people to get the Holy Ghost (not just formally, but to really hold to the iron rod), and then the Holy Ghost bears record to each of us of the Father and the Son by making us more like them. Christ's plan is to get rid of disputations by giving us the gift so that we each independently have a witness of truth and there is no cause for disputation.

Those people whom he discusses who have the spirit of the devil, as witnessed by the fact that they contend against truth are the source of the disputations spoken of by Christ, as well as the disputations spoken of in Mormon 8.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Smothering temptations and bad feelings

I find this quote from Brigham Young quite interesting. It refutes the false idea that one needs to give way to either temptations or to pent up bad feelings. Instead, smother them to death.

If I am tempted to speak an evil word, I will keep my lips locked together. Says one, "I do not know about that, that would be smothering up bad feelings, I am wonderfully tried about my neighbor, he has done wrong, he has abused me and I feel dreadful bad about it. Had I not better let it out than to keep it rankling within me?" No. I will keep bad feelings under and actually smother them to death, then they are gone. But as sure as I let them out they will live and afflict me. If I smother them in myself, if I actually choke them to death, destroy the life, the power, and vigor thereof, they will pass off and leave me clear of fault, and pure, so far as that is concerned; and no man or woman on earth knows that I have ever been tempted to indulge in wicked feelings. Keep them to yourselves.

If you feel evil, keep it to yourselves until you overcome that evil principle. This is what I call resisting the devil, and he flees from me. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses vol 3,  The Powers of the Priesthood not Generally Understood—The Necessity of Living By Revelation—The Abuse of Blessings)

As a second witness and third witness to this I include this quote from Ezra Taft Benson's talk "To the humble followers of Christ", in which he himself will quote from David O McKay.

But some sensitivity training doesn't stop there. They usually want each person to tell the group about all of their innermost feelings, their personal secrets, their fears, their repressed desires. ... They want the group to know each other's vulgar thoughts and lustful ideas, their hates, envies, jealousies. But this flies in the face of the counsel of the Prophet, who has said, "All such evils you must overcome by suppression. That is where your control comes in. Suppress that anger! Suppress that jealousy, that envy! They are all injurious to the spirit" (President David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 356).

Sadly, some of the aspects discussed in this last quote have actually been internalized by some as part of what spirituality really is. That is, there are those who will applaud someone for being  "vulnerable" and "real" if they behave in exactly the way that President Benson is speaking against. That same group considers that "vulnerabity" to be a token of spirituality. This has been particularly prevalent among people who are struggling with homosexual temptations. Rather than following Brigham Young, Ezra Taft Benson and David O McKay's counsel, they are encouraged to speak openly of their temptations in precisely the way both Brigham Young and Ezra Taft Benson speak against.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

President Monson on Innuendo

I love the this teaching of President Monson that appears below. Sadly, I fear it is far, far from where we, as members, are choosing to be. He objects to movies, television and music which have "innuendo" in them, and tells us not to subject ourselves to that. He says some other great things, but I particularly like that one in particular as it sets a clear moral boundary line. If a movie, television show, music or book has innuendo, then that is too much and we should not subject ourselves to it. If it has worse than innuendo, obviously the answer is still the same. 

Many movies and television shows portray behavior which is in direct opposition to the laws of God. Do not subject yourself to the innuendo and outright filth which are so often found there. The lyrics in much of today’s music fall in the same category. The profanity so prevalent around us today would never have been tolerated in the not-too-distant past. Sadly, the Lord’s name is taken in vain over and over again. Recall with me the commandment—one of the ten—which the Lord revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” I am sorry that any of us is subjected to profane language, and I plead with you not to use it. I implore you not to say or to do anything of which you cannot be proud.

Stay completely away from pornography. Do not allow yourself to view it, ever. It has proven to be an addiction which is more than difficult to overcome. Avoid alcohol and tobacco or any other drugs, also addictions which you would be hard pressed to conquer. (Thomas S Monson - "Priesthood Power", April 2011 General Conference)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fascinating talk on pornography by Ezra Taft Benson in 1959

Call to Repentance
Elder Ezra Taft Benson
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1959, pp. 111-116

My beloved brethren and sisters, humbly and gratefully I approach this sobering responsibility. First, may I say that I welcome and sustain with all my heart, my good friend and brother as a member of the Council of the Twelve. President Howard W. Hunter can look forward to the sweetest association known among men in this world. God bless him.

With Sister Benson and two of our daughters, I returned to the shores of this blessed land last Friday. Two weeks ago today we spent a glorious Sabbath with the Saints and friends in West Berlin. A week ago today we spent an inspiring Sabbath with Saints and friends in Helsinki, Finland.

It is truly good to be home, and it is an inspiration and an uplift to attend this great conference. How I wish and pray that every one of the millions of good people, citizens of Russia and other communistic-dominated nations, could sit through one of the general conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometime I would like to say more on this subject of communism. It would be inappropriate for me to do so now. I feel a bit like Alma of old, when he said, "O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart" (Alma 29:1).

My brethren and sisters, I commend to you the counsel and the warnings that have been issued in the instructions of President David O. McKay and President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., on this subject during this conference. I would add only one word, a word which I hope we will never forget. Any system which denies the existence and power of God, which robs men of their God-given free agency, and which destroys the basic institution of the home, is of the evil one. No true Latter-day Saint can ever become a part of any such system.

I know there are difficult days ahead, politically, economically, socially, and spiritually. But God rules this world. He is at the helm. May he help us to be prepared for any eventuality.

We live in a choice land. But we live in a time of anxiety—a time when the basic concepts and values of a free society, which we cherish, are being seriously challenged. This challenge is not only from godless, imperial communism abroad, but also from dangerous ideologies and practices here at home.

It is true that outwardly everything seems prosperous. More people are working at higher wages and enjoying a better standard of living than ever before in the history of our country. More of our people are enjoying travel, cultural and educational opportunities than any time in our history. New churches are being erected at a rapid rate, and an increasing number of people are church-affiliated. Our nation is at peace.

All these things should give a feeling of stability, inner assurance, and a sense of satisfaction, but they do not seem to do so. Discontent among our people, nationwide, seems to be high. We view with alarm the ever-rising level of public and private debt and the threat of inflation. We note with fear the increase in crime, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, drug addiction, and sex offenses.

We pay lip service to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution without realizing what they are and the danger of ignoring them. We demand more and more of government, so "government grows larger all the while, marking the stampede away from personal responsibility which occurs at all levels of life." We passively contribute to the spirit and demoralizing philosophy of "something for nothing."

Because sin is rampant and increasing, I make bold enough to call this nation to repentance. Only through righteousness is there safety for our beloved country. There is no other way.

Today I speak out against one of the insidious and rapidly increasing threats against our young people.

As a Church we have always placed great emphasis on youth. Our young men, if worthy, receive the priesthood at twelve years of age. We enlist a higher percentage of our young boys in scouting than any other group. We have a comprehensive program, combining Sunday School, Primary, MIA, priesthood activities, and weekday seminary classes, to guide the activities of our youth, instill within them a testimony of the gospel, and help them to grow up to be good citizens and faithful members of the Church. Yes, we recognize full well that our boys and girls, our young men and women, are our greatest asset. They are our hope.

The youth of today are the trustees of the future. Sooner than we think the leadership of the Church and the future of our country will rest in their hands. It is our grave obligation to help prepare American youth to be worthy trustees, to help them fit themselves for their coming responsibilities. This is the obligation of every adult citizen.

We have confidence in our youth, yes. But we know they face troubled times. They are beset by many temptations—temptations, which, if not new, are certainly more blatant, more prevalent, than ever before.

We know how important it is for our youth to possess clean minds in healthy clean bodies. ". . . be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord" (Isa. 52:11). Moral purity is an eternal principle. The Spirit of God "cannot dwell in an unclean tabernacle" (Mosiah 2:37). Purity is life-giving; impurity is deadly. God's holy laws cannot be broken with impunity. Great nations have fallen when they became morally corrupt, because the sins of immorality left their people scarred and misshapen creatures who were unable to face the challenge of their times.

I speak about one aspect of this question of morality which affects all our youth. There are forces at work in this country today which are victimizing many thousands of our youth, undermining their moral fiber, poisoning their minds. There is being spread about in this land a veritable flood of obscene photographs, movie films "for private showings," filthy books, and so-called comics that drip with depravity and obscenity.

Every day some 200,000 circulars are flooding our cities and towns, seeking to sell obscenity and filth to the American people. It is a $500,000,000 a year business and growing fast. The sales volume of mail-order obscenity has doubled in the last five years.

Who are the targets of this drive? Three-fourths of these circulars are sent to our youth. Our school children are the targets, our boys and girls, particularly between the ages of eleven and sixteen.

The United States Post Office department estimates that between 700,000 and a million children in American homes will receive unsolicited obscene and pornographic literature through the mails this year.

Our boys and girls need not have shown any interest in this vile stuff. It is thrust into their hands by racketeers who go to great lengths to get the names of our children. They buy mailing lists from standard sources. They get names from high school yearbooks and classbooks. They set up fake business "fronts." A boy sends away for a model airplane, a baseball bat, a toy automobile, a stamp collection, often advertised at bargain prices—and the muck merchant has his name and address on his list.

Then the solicitations begin.

The smut dealers last year mailed out an estimated fifty million sales circulars under the protection of first-class mail. Some of these circulars are in the form of pseudo-personal letters in girl's handwriting, signed with a girl's name.

The smut dealers go farther. They even seek to involve our youth as salesmen of their trash. One scheme is to sell our youngsters playing cards decorated with lewd pictures for perhaps $3.00 a deck—to be resold at 25¢ or 50¢ a card.

Many children fall into the trap of ordering obscene material. Traffic with children is a major and growing part of the filth merchants' business.

Postal inspectors in York City recently raided one dealer in pornography. They confiscated seventeen tons of highly obscene printed and filmed materials. They found mailing lists containing the names of thousands of high school graduates taken from high school yearbooks.

Some parents are almost frantic because of their inability to keep this unwanted material out of their homes. A mother in a midwestern state writes to the Post Office department as follows:

"Enclosed you will find the filth that has been sent to my son for the past year. He is fourteen. Think what this could do to him, and how many other innocent boys and girls he could corrupt by passing this literature on to them. Can't you do something to stop it?"

Another parent in the East writes:

"Ads like this come to my minor son at the rate of one or two a week."

A lawyer tells how his son answered an innocuous appearing ad in a national magazine and received a batch of obscene pictures and an order blank for more. His name is on the mailing list, and nearly every week an ad for pornographic material comes in the mail. The lawyer says, "My wife and I are beside ourselves as to how to stop this flood of mail."

Now, what are the effects of this material on our youth?

Juvenile delinquency has become a blot on our country. Gangs roam the streets of some of our big cities. Arrests of juveniles for major crimes rose about ten percent last year. Authorities have observed on repeated occasions that the obscenity racket is a prime contributor to the increase in juvenile delinquency.

FBI figures show that more boys of eighteen and nineteen are now committing the heinous crime of rape, than males in any other age group. The percentage of convictions of boys under twenty has grown substantially in recent years.

Now, of course, some people will argue that many children exposed to these pictures and books never become delinquent. This argument has no merit at all. Your child may be exposed to tuberculosis or polio and never contract either disease. Is this a reason for deliberately exposing children to infection? Of course not.

It is true that people go wrong for many reasons. Children become delinquent in part because of such factors as broken homes, drinking parents, indifferent parents, and bad companions. But the wish is father of the deed. Thought precedes action. We cannot help being influenced by what we read and what we see. A dirty book, a filthy picture, may be the trigger that sets off a terrible crime.

Reports from police chiefs and sheriffs indicate the tie-up. Here are typical statements from city officials in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Pennsylvania:

"Teenager criminally assaults 16-year-old girl. Search of his room revealed 50 pornographic pictures beneath his mattress."

"Student molesting two teenage girls found to have pornographic literature in glove compartment of his car."

Let me quote from a report of a Senate subcommittee that has studied this problem. The report says in part:

"There is a peculiar resemblance to narcotics addiction in exposure of juveniles to pornography. There is the same pattern of progression. Once initiated into a knowledge of the unnatural, the impressionable young mind with the insatiable curiosity characteristic of those reaching for maturity inevitably hunts for something stronger, something with more 'jolt,' something imparting a greater thrill.

"The dealer in pornography is acutely aware of this progressive facet; his array of material to feed this growing hunger is carefully geared to the successive stages. Like the peddler of narcotics, his only interest is to insure that his customers are 'hooked.' He knows that once they are 'hooked' they will continue to pay and pay."

These are some of the direct results of the smut campaign. There are indirect results too. Our children, our wives, our friends, may be the horrified victims of criminals who are triggered by obscene materials.

Well, what is the response of the smut publishers and dealers to these facts?

Their attitude is summed up in some such sentiment as this: My job is to make a dollar, not to look out for unstable children or adults. No wonder J. Edgar Hoover has said:

"The activities of the muck merchants are national in scope. Your child can easily become one of their victims."

What are we going to do about it? Shall we fold our arms, shake our heads dismally, and do nothing?

Shall we permit organized crime to continue and extend the obscenity racket—already a half billion dollar a year business — and make it really big and immeasurably more vicious?

Shall we allow more and more of our children to be victimized, allow them to be "hooked" by this menace to clean and right living, this threat to moral purity?

Shall we sit by and watch sex crimes grow and grow in number and violence?

Shall we permit these cheap peddlers of filth to undermine the moral fiber of our youth, the moral strength of our nation?

I believe I know what our pioneer forefathers would have answered to these questions.

And I think I know what you and other responsible citizens will answer. They would have said, as we say today: "Forbid it, Almighty God. We shall not sit by any longer. We shall act in defense of decency and order and in the name of our country."

Our government is striking with all the weapons it possesses against the obscenity menace. Until last year, purveyors of filth had to be prosecuted at the point from which they mailed their smut. This was a severe handicap to prosecution. Courts, notably in Los Angeles and New York, where the great bulk of the mail-order business in obscenity originates, handed down soft rulings on obscenity. Few offenders were convicted, and these usually paid a small fine and began operating again.

Legislation passed by Congress last year has now made it possible to prosecute where the mail is received.

The first case prosecuted under the new law was in Boise, Idaho. A man and his wife, who were mailing extremely obscene material from the west coast, were given ten years in jail, plus a heavy fine.

A Virginia man and his wife dealing in obscenity were sentenced to a year in the Federal Penitentiary and fined $2,000. In Louisiana, two more dealers in filth were given a year and eighteen months in jail respectively.

This is a good start. But it is only a start.

If government is to make full use of the new legislation, it needs and must have the co-operation of all our citizens and especially of all our parents.

The privacy of the mail is a basic American right. It will not be violated. The Post Office cannot open first-class mail even if it is certain the envelope contains obscene material. The Post Office can act only if parents supply the evidence after the mail has been delivered. Here is what we as parents can do, what we must do:

1. If mail coming to your home is obscene, or solicits the sale of obscene materials: save all the material, including the covering envelope; put it promptly in the hands of the local postmaster either personally or by mail.

2. Do not wait for this danger to strike your home. Join with other parents, teachers, local law enforcement officers, and civic groups in drawing public attention to the menace of this traffic in filth.

3. Work closely with teachers in your community to detect obscene materials in the possession of children and to determine the origin of such material.

4. Join with other parents and teachers in making a special effort to impress upon the community the fact that even children who are never exposed to the obscene material may be victimized by sex criminals.

5. Co-operate with the schools in taking positive, long-range steps to help children develop wholesome interests in good literature and art—making it readily available to them at home, in the classroom, through literary and library clubs, and through student groups.

6. Help civic groups bring about the establishment of a decent literature committee, broadly representative of the interested civic organizations in the community.

7. Get local judges, law enforcement officers, and representatives of the police force to talk before civic groups telling what they, as guardians of the community's laws, know of the relationship between the traffic in obscene literature and juvenile delinquency and sex crimes.

We must defend our youth, in the interests of this nation which God has blessed above all others. We must rise to this task, stand up, and be counted on the side of decency. We must show by our lives and actions that we possess the virtues that made America great.

There will be those who will cry "censorship" and "suppressing of freedom of information." To these people there does not seem to be any difference between liberty and license—but there is a real difference. It is not a denial of liberty to forbid the sale of narcotics or alcohol to children, and neither is it a denial of liberty to ban the distribution of filthy, obscene, character destroying materials.

There has developed in this country, I am sorry to say, a species of so-called "broadmindedness" which tolerates anything and everything. It is high time right-thinking citizens showed they are fed up with such false broadmindedness. I, for one, fail to see where this so-called "tolerance" of evil has made society any better or individuals any happier. We cannot steer a safe course without a compass. We cannot build an enduring society except on principles of righteousness.

As Dr. Daniel A. Poling recently wrote in the Christian Herald, "It's time for a new crusade," a crusade for decency.

The youth of the Church and of America deserve that we parents live up to our responsibilities in this regard.

Many centuries ago, a celebrated Roman matron, Cornelia, was asked by an acquaintance to display her jewels. Cornelia called to her children to step forward. "These are my jewels," she said.

The youth of the Church and of America are our jewels. Let us prize them as they deserve. A clean America will be a strong America, a secure America, a prosperous America, a peaceful America, a free America, an America that will continue to merit God's blessings in the future as it has in the past.

God grant it may be so, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Abraham and Prozac

Given the number of people I know that believe that there is something so wrong with their body or mind that they simply could not have a normal mortal experience if they didn't live much of their life on mood altering prescription drugs, I feel a need to write this.

Given the percentages (that I know of) among my own acquaintances, I simply don't believe it. Sure, there may really be individuals whose body does not function normally and for whom some medication will help their body to come back into the realm of normalcy. On the other hand, that is the odd exception. The wholesale number of people who live their lives on such medications clearly indicates that most of these people have bodies and minds that function normally, and they are simply turning to medicine instead of learning to live a normal mortality with its usual bumps and bruises. We can't all be the weird exception. Sure, some of us can be. But we need to knock off the excuses.

This borders on sacrilege to even ask, but given the current measure of insanity, I will go ahead: Do we believe the atonement could have been performed on Prozac? Or was that mental suffering necessary to accomplish it?

Would the story of Abraham and Isaac be different if Abraham was heavily medicated from the initial commandment to the day the angel delivered Isaac from being sacrificed?

If someone feels they need thought and emotion altering medicine to make it through, fine. But I can't help but believe that we cheat our own souls when we take unnecessary mood altering medications to pass through our troubles. Doubly so if we do so to pass through daily life.

After all, we still believe that "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never had the power to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation."

I think there is a measure in which we cheat our souls when we turn to thought and emotion altering medication. We remember the sacrifice made by those of the Martin handcart company, and the story of the man who was a member, and stood up in defense of those who did so. Can we believe they could have exercised the same degree of faith on drugs? This will not be popular, but I do not believe they could have either developed or exercised the same faith without faithfully enduring the same mental suffering. Do we believe that if that old man had been taking prozac, he could have come out of it saying "Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being right and being kind as taught in the scriptures.

Recently on facebook only a few posts apart I found one post with a picture of a child and a puppy and text stating "Choose being kind over being right, and you'll find that you were right every time."

Not far below that on my facebook page was an account of Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith walked into a Nauvoo store and said, "Brother Wooley, we want all of your goods for the building up of the Kingdom of God. " Brother Wooley (with what inner turbulence we can only guess) set about loading his merchandise into boxes, excepting only some goods on consignment from St. Louis. Calling the Prophet, he offered to pack them also. The Prophet asked searchingly, "Are you really willing, Brother Wooley, to give us all your store goods?" "Yes." Joseph , with deep feeling, embraced his shoulder and said, "Then replace them on your shelves."

I can't help but be struck at the difference between these two facebook posts. One is cute, and says we have no obligation to truth or right, only an obligation to be kind. The other is about Joseph Smith and hits at real core issues of eternal life. It would be hard to argue that Joseph Smith is more concerned about being kind than standing by what is right in this story. I think the difference is worth pondering.

Given how Laman and Lemuel felt about getting the brass plates from Laban, I wonder how that story would have turned out if Nephi's understanding of the gospel was based on a belief that the way to be right every time was to choose being kind over being right. Would he have sworn an oath that they would not go back when his brothers wanted to give up? Would he have slain Laban? What would have happened to his posterity?

How would the fate of the Nephite's have been different if Captain Moroni's motto was "Choose being kind over being right, and you'll find you were right every time"? How does that fit in with the title of liberty story? Or just any of the stories about Captain Moroni, of whom the scriptures state:

Alma 48: 17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

How does Christ's command to his disciples fit with the claim that choosing being kind over being right will ensure we are right every time? (note the significant JST changes):

JST Matt 7:6  And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.
7  Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?
8  Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

How would the story of Elijah, who slew all 400 priests of Baal by the sword have been different if he was more concerned with being kind than right?

I suppose Peter wouldn't have said "thy money perish with thee Simon".

We probably wouldn't read this about Christ:

Mathhew 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Actually, the idea that Christ stated that a person is offensive to him who savors not the things of God, but of men, is an interesting discussion of being kind vs being right all on its own.

What of King Saul who spared the king he was commanded by the Lord to slay? Clearly in that incident Saul chose to be kind instead of right. Did he find he was right?

Why did Christ ask his devoted disciples why they had so little faith, a rebuke which must have hurt, if he was mostly concerned with being kind?

If this is the way of Christ, why did an angel of the Lord appear to Alma the younger and speak the terribly unkind words "If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God!" Are angels no longer obligated to follow Christ, or was this, instead, Christlike behavior?

Certainly Nephi didn't object that what he was being taught sounded like it was more concerned with being right than with being kind when he was told:
1 Nephi 14:10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

I suppose Eli is probably the poster boy for being kind instead of being right. When his sons were stealing from people who brought offerings to the temple as well as committing adultery with some of the women, he was unwilling to correct them. Eli would apparently rather be kind than right. Given God's response, slaying Eli's sons and giving his role over to Samuel to inherit, apparently Eli didn't find he was right every time.

The world is full of good and evil, and they are in conflict. The scriptures are full to the brim with men who stuck to principle even if it upset those around them, even if it meant sharply disagreeing with those around them, and at times even if it cost those around them their lives. The kindness the world most wants from us, namely that we will shut up about right and wrong, is the one we must be most unwilling to grant.

2 Nephi 5:3  Yea, they did murmur against me, saying: Our younger brother thinks to rule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words...

The point isn't that we have no obligation to be kind. Charity is an essential principle of the gospel. But there are many illustrations in the scriptures that choosing being kind over being right will absolutely Not make us find we were right every time.

The point is that following the living Christ has far more depth and breadth than popularized Christianity either knows or desires. But as members of the church, we should be asking, seeking and knocking enough to be able to easily recognize the difference.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A new way out of the church

I have previously written on the principle that the way to save your own soul is to work to save other's souls.

There is an interesting other side to that same coin. If you are doing something that is destroying the souls of others, it simultaneously destroys your own soul.

This other side of the coin has always existed, but has been becoming a more and more common way to destroy one's own testimony these days. That is because in these days there is an oppressive atmosphere of scorn against any who raise their voice against the popular perversions of the day: pornography, fornication and homosexuality. Thus many are fostering people in their wickedness instead of standing firmly by the commandments. Those people seem to quickly lose their faith in the true and living church. That is because you can't be destroying other's souls, cheering them down the road to destruction instead of desperately encouraging them to repent and choose the path to life, without destroying your own soul.

As you seek diligently to save the souls of others, you save your own soul. As you diligently pursue a path that destroys the souls of others, you destroy your own.