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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Body, the Resurrection, and the Sealing

This is a first stab at some aspect of the resurrection, and I realized some things while writing it. I'll have to try again some time. Take a look and see what you think.

It is hard to get people in the church to give a straightforward answer to the question "What is the significance of gaining a body"?

Consequently, many members of the church also don't understand what the resurrection is all about. If you don't understand why having a body matters, then you don't understand why being resurrected matters. Since Easter is when we celebrate the resurrection, I am writing a bit about bodies and resurrection.

After all, we are reunited with our beloved dead friends and family in the spirit world, so why not just stop there, call it heaven, and be done?

The answer can be found in a simple observation for those with children. Those with parents can determine how the observation is relevant to themselves. :)

Consider one of your children. Let us say it is a son. Now here is the question: How did your son become your son?  Could he have become your son if you didn't have a body? Or if your spouse didn't have a body? What joy do you have that would vanish if you had never had a body?

The point is that gift of a body IS the gift of family. Family and body are synonymous. When you are born, you gain a body and by gaining that body you become part of a family. Those two things are inseparable. Birth is the process of gaining a father and a mother. Birth is the process of creating family, and creating family is accomplished by endowing a spirit with a body.

The gift of a body is the gift of family in a greater sense too. It is not only the gift to become part of a family, to become a child, it is simultaneously the potential to create a family of your own. Out body makes us part of a family, and also makes it so that we can create a family of our own.

The gift of a body is the gift to create a garden with your spouse that will grow up and continue to bring forth after its own kind. It is literally a gift that keeps on giving. We are given a body by birth, and in that gift we receive a family of our own that we are a child in. But that gift, if we subject it to the will of the Father, in turn then can bring forth a family of our own that is sealed to be ours not just in mortality, but in eternity.

We are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. This is a commandment that we should shout for joy about like those at the grand counsel in Heaven. For in that commandment we not only express the required gratitude for our gift by bringing other children of Heavenly Father into a home with the gospel, and inviting them to share with us in our gift of family by becoming part of it, but it also brings later gifts: grandchildren, great, grandchildren, and so on as it develops into the gift of posterity like the sands of the sea and like the stars of heaven.

When we read the story of the resurrection of Christ as a story about a body in the abstract we are missing the point. The resurrection is a story about family. If the resurrection had happened but nobody was sealed eternally in the resurrection then the whole earth would have a been a big stupid waste.

Scriptures says as much - the earth would be wasted at his coming if the families are not sealed to be families not only for time, but also in the resurrection. And why is it that it would be wasted at his coming? Because his coming is the first resurrection. If everyone was resurrected but they weren't sealed into permanent families then the resurrection and in fact the earth itself would have been wasted.

When Christ comes all the holy angels come with him. The dead will rise from the graves. But if they all rise singly and separately then the whole earth would have been wasted. The story of the resurrection is a story about creating eternal bodies for the purpose of creating eternal families. If you get your body back but you're not going to be part of a family, than you are missing out on the reason you wanted a body in the first place.

Put differently - a resurrection without eternal sealings persist in the resurrection is a tragic waste. The resurrection is about families because bodies are about families. Bodies are how families got to be relatives in the first place.

I am not talking of those who are worthy and simply never had the chance to be sealed. There will be nothing that is a waste in their cases, because they will receive every blessing they missed out on through no fault of their own. That is no waste. To miss exaltation is a waste.

I have a son. How did he become my son? Through his body. My body and my spouse's body became one flesh and in obeying that commandment a new thing was created. We gained a child who is now our son.

And to really understand the gift of the body and the gift of the resurrection you have to ask youself "What would I give so that my son would still be my son in the resurrection?"

Because if you or I prove unworthy of our temple sealing covenant then, in fact, our worthy children will no longer be our children in the resurrection. In the resurrection they will be another person's child. This will not just be a formal adoption. This will be as real in the resurrection as birth in mortality made them our child in mortality. Those worthy of the celestial kingdom will not be left fatherless and motherless and if we are not worthy then in the resurrection they will still have a father and a mother, and as surely as our body tied them to us here, that father and mother's body will be tied to them there. And ours will not be. We will no longer be their parent. We will no longer be a husband or a wife. Those experiences will be lost to us.

I expect we will still have parents in the resurrection no matter which kingdom we are resurrected into. Not just Heavenly Father and Mother as parents, but parents of our body. We will still have parents in the resurrection no matter what. After all that is the gift of a body, to become part of a family. And all who kept their first estate gain a body, and consequently all who kept their first estate will still belong to a family. But in the resurrection we may find ourselves the telestial or terrestrial child of celestial parents, which is much like the relationship we have here on earth with our Heavenly Father. Here on earth we are telestial, and he is celestial, but his is still our parent and we love that truth.

 But there can be no parents in the resurrection who are not celestial exalted beings, because according to D&C 132 there will be no marriages in the resurrection that are not sealed for eternity, and if you come up in the resurrection sealed for eternity then you WILL received all that the father hath. The only parents in the resurrection will be those who are exalted, and they will keep all their children,... though all their children may not also be celestial as well. This is no different that with Heavenly Father. He has many children. They will not all become celestial exalted beings. But they are still his children.

Birth is about family. And resurrection is about family. Resurrection that is not about family is, mostly, a wasted possibility. In fact, if no families are tied together in the resurrection, then the whole earth will be wasted at his coming. Or put differently, if no families are tied together in the resurrection then the whole earth will be wasted at the first resurrection, because that is the whole point of this earth and of the resurrection in the first place.

It is worth pointing out how rebellion has related to losing the reward of family in other cases.

The devil has no body and therein lies his punishment. (Joseph Smith)

The devil’s punishment is to never become part of a family, and to never have the potential to create his own family. He can never be a son, he will never be a father. He will never understand the joy of wife or children. That is his great punishment.

And because of that he seeks to destroy the families of the earth, both in mortality and for eternity. Satan is the nemesis of family. Chastity is the protector of the family. Consequently Satan and chastity stand as eternal enemies against each other.

So maybe I will close with this note. Keeping our first estate allows us to gain a body and become part of a family and the resurrection makes it so that all who kept their first estate will still get their body and become part of some family for eternity. But keeping our second estate not only allows us to be part of a family, to be a child with parents, it also allows us to be married, to be parents, and to have our own families as an eternal couple out onward forever.

When we remember the resurrection of Christ. I hope we can also have the common sense to recognize that he was sealed to a woman. The resurrection is about family, and while many who did not have a chance to have a good marriage here will have the opportunity hereafter, we should have the sense to figure out who Christ could have gone to see even before ascending to his Father in Heaven.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

False Christs who will save us no matter what

Sometimes there seem to be ideals being pandered among us which are in a running competition with Protestantism and Catholicism as to who has the most powerful, most generous, most willing to save Christ. Rather than looking to the scriptures and prophets, this competition seems to be carried about primarily by presenting a cartoon caricature of the Savior by taking some of His traits and exaggerating them into a cartoon, while neglecting others of His divine aspects altogether.

Instead of a strait and narrow path, these caricatures of the Savior provide an escalator. We can only fail to be saved by climbing the railing and jumping off or running fast enough in the wrong direction. He’s going to save us, despite our best efforts to the contrary. We can put aside our self doubt and fears as there is no need to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” with these false versions of the Savior. There is no cause to fret that we might lose our way and frankly, isn’t it so much easier knowing that He’s going to save us and there is hardly anything we can do to stop him. Be excellent to each other and party on.

Sometimes one almost feels these different false Christs are running for office, each with their own platform that sounds better than the one from last year. Before casting our vote, we should instead turn to the scriptures and the words of living prophets and apostles to determine what we can about the real Christ as He really is.

It shouldn't be a surprise that these caricatures of the Savior are being presented all around us. Christ himself warned that false Christ's would come and would deceive many.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Decency - the foundational virtue of a good society

A people that has rejected decency as a cornerstone both in law and in daily life has rejected the foundation on which the family and the great virtues are built. Unless such a society repents the other sacred virtues such as faith, justice, judgement, mercy, charity, commitment to children and to spouse, and all the other virtues that divinely define the family eventually succumb. Those virtues cannot stand long once one removes decency from the center stage.

Indeed, it is because of iniquity that the love of many has waxed cold.

Teaching children about missionary work and the poor of the earth

I have mused for some time how unfortunate it is that we no longer do missionary presentations when missionaries come home. I think hearing about someone being taught the gospel and changing their life changes missionary work from an academic duty into the reality of saving souls, and doing that helps one move away from the idea that it is a two year experience.

I realized youtube should have some missionary slideshows. Most of them are pretty lame - i.e. a bazillion pictures of a missionary and his companions. Who wants to see that?

But I found a few good ones, and most notably a channel devoted to missionary stories. Playing one of these occasionally as part of scripture study has been one of those things that has been profound in our family I think, so I wanted to pass it on.

I think this one had a profound effect in changing the meaning of missionary work for our children

I liked this one (no words, and I swapped out the music )

I stopped it at several points and pointed out what the homes looked like to the kids, and went over the D&C 38 parable.

And there is a channel is devoted to missionary stories. Not all of it is worthwhile, but considering the amount of flack I had to wade through to find anything half this good, here it is (they have videos organized by country if you scroll down):

I also think seeing faithful members and converts enduring real poverty is important for our youth. (Someone is going to be upset that I qualified that with "faithful members" but the D&C 38 parable backs me up on that). On my mission there was lots of poverty, but there was no escape from real poverty without deciding to first leave drugs and serial immorality behind.

It rings differently and more resoundingly in the soul to see faithful members and converts whom Christ has removed the slums from, but who have no means to remove themselves from the slums. Sure, we can help both, but the more potent and pressing image is the ironic one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What do have the right to require by law of those not of our faith

The answer to this question is that we have a right to require, by law, those truths which all mankind have access to by nature of having the light of Christ.

God holds nobody accountable for knowledge they do not have, but he holds even the heathen nations accountable for that knowledge they do have. And what knowledge do they have? All mankind has the light of Christ, and through that means, there are some truths that God requires accountability for from all of his children.

The most basic of these truths used to be known, in our own country, as part of common decency. I don't mean common decency in the sense of helping older people in need or lending your neighbor sugar. Those are good to do, but have absolutely no place in the law. I mean the the sort of decency which God has required of heathen nations in the scriptures, and destroyed them for violating.

Such principles include:

You cannot kill your children.
You cannot commit adultery
You cannot engage in homosexuality
You cannot engage in beastiality

All of which are listed by Jehovah in the scriptures as reasons he had destroyed the heathen nations that lived in Israel before the Israelites. In this same discussion (Leviticus 18) there is enough coverage of whose nakedness is not OK to look on that, with a little common sense about the existing list, we could fairly add:

You cannot distribute pornography

These truths both once were, and should by right still be, required by law of our own citizens.

The most controversial one is probably the adultery one. After all, even the best societies still have members committing adultery. Brigham Young complained about "some few" members doing so. But there is a difference in a society that approves of it, and one that does not, and is able to extact some nature of penalty for violating it.

To our current culture's mindset a law against adultery is downright unamerican. But your ancestors passed such laws in most states of the United States, and in some states it was even a felony.

A law against pornography sounds like a violation of basic rights to many modern ears. But just listen to Ezra Taft Benson who is primarily quoting NON member sources about 50 years ago.

Postal inspectors in York City recently raided one dealer in pornography. They confiscated seventeen tons of highly obscene printed and filmed materials.

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.

We do not expect a sudden return to morality. But we cannot reasonably fight for morality in law if we don't even believe it is allowable to require morality in law at any level.

What is right to require in the law? Well, if God can destroy a nation for failing to obey a thing, then he is holding them accountable in the worst possible way for it. He feels like they violated something sacred which they should have known better than to do. Your city isn't destroyed by an act of God for something he doesn't expect of you, or something that would be unfair to require of you. Those cities that were destroyed or threatened with destruction in many cases were populated exclusively or almost exclusively by people who were not members of the true church. Yet the Lord destroyed them. Why? Because, in fact, they did know better. A just God would not have destroyed them if they didn't. They had the light of Christ. They knew, when they married their sweetheart that to have intimacy behind her back was wrong. They knew, when they were children, that they wanted their father and mother to be true to each other. They knew, their own biology bearing witness as well as the light of Christ, that bestiality and homosexuality were perversions of God's intended purpose for them. They knew at some point that children were precious gifts, and to kill their own children was horribly wrong. These things were all listed by God as reasons he destroyed cities and nations that were made up of those not of the true faith. Their own religion may well have endorsed these things. In fact, these things were actually part of their own religion in some cases, such as sacrificing their children to Molech. But even though their religion said these things was OK, God still destroyed them for these things. He knew that in reality they knew better. He clearly stated that he destroyed them, as well as the reasons he did so.

These are basic principles of conscience that God requires of all mankind. These  are principles that the law has a right to require of all citizens regardless of their faith. If God will destroy a nation for violating these principles, then a nation has the right to require these principles of its citizens by law.

Honoring the law vs Commandments

Our belief in following the law is a belief in additional things we submit to, more than a belief that our obedience to the basic commandments can be altered by government. We DO NOT break fundamental commandments at the whim of government.

The scriptures, as well as early church history, are full to the brim with examples of this.
What do you think Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the furnace for? What was Daniel thrown into the Lion's den for? What were most of the early church leaders in Utah imprisoned for? Were the laws they broke not real? Weren't three virgins sacrificed on the same alter Abraham was offered on because they refused to give up their virtue? The early apostles broke the rules laid down by local rulers not to preach the gospel. How was a yet unconverted Paul able to get members imprisoned? Because their practices, and probably their very religion, didn't conform to local laws set by the Jewish leaders.

We also don't back down from fundamentals like prayer and scripture study, and certainly not the fundamental commandments, at the whim of governmental constraints, and we most certainly don't commit serious sins, such as participating in abortions, just because there is a law that insists on it.

Sure, we believe in honoring, upholding, and sustaining the law. We also believe in a lot of other commandments. We often find ourselves choosing between good, better, and best. Good principles conflict all the time for us just as they did for Adam and Eve at the fall. But when it comes between a good principle, like honoring the law, and doing something horrific, like participating in abortions, we, like the three virgins, have no question where we stand. Recently in the US there has been very insincere use of governmental power and lawsuits intended to limit and eventually quash religious freedom. In the decision of what principles to abide by we must not decide that "honor the law" means "willingly lay down your religious freedoms". Instead, we must stand for our religious freedoms with the same bravery shown by those who won them for us.

Look upon your little ones

A culture that doesn't value children more than themselves quickly turns to oppressing them. As children become an inconvenience rather than one of God's most highly prized gifts we thoughtlessly mistreat them.
What adult would tolerate a work setting where being 2 minutes late on 4 different days (months apart) would be counted against them as missing an entire day. But we thoughtlessly instigate that in our schools.
Last time we did a count we found that the amount of homework our elementary school children were given meant that their school day plus their homework was longer than a standard work day. It is quite common for school plus homework to add up to 10-12 hours a day for our teenage children.
Absolutely no value is placed on family time. We are so fascinated with raising young professionals that we can't remember that success will depend more on the stability, direction, and love they can only gain from family rather than spending their childhood doing overtime every week.
But everyone wants public school to be a free state sponsored day care, so we look the other way and talk about test scores and studies instead of looking into our children's eyes and seeing their desperate need for a childhood (can you remember childhood) and the precious years of nurturing with their family.
Those years are being tossed out the window.
And our greater focus on school instead of family is destructive even to schooling. The world's solutions to the worlds problems really are like crying flood in time of fire.