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.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spencer W Kimball on Spouses - April 1962 General Conference

Spouses and None Else
Elder Spencer W. Kimball
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, October 1962, pp. 55-60

In these days of radio and television, we may preach to all the world. Yesterday, the human voice could be heard only hundreds of yards. Today, the Lord having opened the way, modern inventions permit our bearing witness to all the people of the earth. From yards to miles to Telstars to planets the human voice may now be carried. The prophet of God may now be heard in all the world, fulfilling completely the command: ". . . Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:15-16, italics added).

"For the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass" (D&C 29:10).

Satan's threat to take all those who will follow him is no idle boast. He may be depended on to engulf and capture all who will listen to him. The Lord announces: ". . . ye are called to lift up your voices as with the sound of a trump, to declare my gospel unto a crooked and perverse generation.

". . . the field is white already to harvest; and it is the eleventh hour, and the last time that I shall call laborers into my vineyard.

"And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit" (D&C 33:2-4).

Nephi in his parting testimony reiterated: ". . . wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil" (2 Ne. 33:5).

More often, we warn the youth of the pitfalls endangering them, but today, let us warn the married folk, among whom there are many who suffer with discontent, jangling, and broken homes which, as we know, are the cradles for delinquencies.

The world is increasing in wickedness. We see the wanton disregard for the Sabbath, the limited number really active in any religious program, the graft, dishonesty, delinquency, divorce, and immorality.

In his address to the Relief Society sisters on Wednesday, President McKay quoted evidence that the world is ripening in iniquity. "Today, lawlessness is on the increase, the cost of crime at all levels in the United States is $22 billion, over $4 billion more than is spent for education. Sixteen percent of the total of $141 billion tax load at all levels of government is spent on crime. It represents a cost of $128.00 last year for every person in the United States."

President McKay pointed to the increase of 34 percent in the crime rate in the past five years, while the population increase was seven percent. And, we are constrained to ask, "How long will the Lord tolerate this people when crime increases nearly five times as fast as the population?" Now, as we speak of a sharp rise in iniquity, we are not unmindful of those numerous good people to whom the home life and the commandments of God are still their magnificent obsession. They have their reward. But all too many are following the path of evil, and our voices must sound a warning.

The revelations say: "Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father . . .

"For the hour is nigh and the day soon at hand when the earth is ripe; and all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the earth" (D&C 29:8-9).

And again: ". . . wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent; for the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice" (3 Ne. 9:2).

"Wo unto them . . . and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish . . .

". . . at that day shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good" (2 Ne. 28:16,20).

Infidelity is one of the great sins of our generation. The movies, the books, the magazine stories all seem to glamorize the faithlessness of husbands and wives. Nothing is holy, not even marriage vows. The unfaithful woman is the heroine and is justified, and the hero is so built up that he can do no wrong. It reminds us of Isaiah who said: "Wo unto those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isa. 5:20).

We make no apology then for raising our voices loud to a world that is ripening in sin. The Lord has said: "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation" (D&C 6:9).

The adversary is subtle; he is cunning, he knows that he cannot induce good men and women immediately to do major evils so he moves slyly, whispering half truths until he has his intended victims following him, and finally he clamps his chains upon them and fetters them tight, and then he laughs at their discomfiture and their misery.

The age-old sins continue with us today. The cry of repentance is to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. "But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation for awful is his state!" (2 Ne. 9:27).

To those people who hide their guilt and will not abandon nor confess, the Lord says: "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them" (D&C 58:43)

". . . I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken" (D&C 19:20).

And again, he says: ". . . hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, [who] . . . is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (D&C 33:1).

And, again: "Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord . . .

". . . can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having . . . a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?

". . . can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?" (Alma 5:17-19). Sins cannot be forever hidden.

And Jacob stated: ". . . by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God" (Jacob 2:5). Some folk hide their guilt and will not confess, and this is what Lucifer desires. He has a greater hold on them.

Peter, a man of God, discerned that Ananias and Sapphira had held back part of the returns from their sale and said: ". . . Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost . . .

". . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5:3-4).

And in our own day the Lord promised his bishops and other appointees: ". . . to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God" (D&C 46:27). And, again, ". . . and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God" (D&C 132:52). Men's thoughts and lives are engraved on their faces.

Some let their marriages get stale and common, the Lord says: ". . . whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.

"Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation" (D&C 49:15-16). There are those married people who permit their eyes to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share their hearts, and have desire for someone other than the wife or the husband, the Lord says in no uncertain terms: "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else" (D&C 42:22, italics added).

And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: "Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shall cleave unto him and none else." The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. We sometimes find women who absorb and hover over the children at the expense of the husband, sometimes even estranging them from him. The Lord says to them: ". . . Thou shalt cleave unto him and none else."

Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives self totally to the spouse: all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection with all dignity. Any divergence is sin—any sharing the heart is transgression. As we should have "an eye single to the glory of God" (D&C 4:5; D&C 82:19) so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family.

Modern revelation gives us: "Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out [or excommunicated]" (D&C 42:24).

Many acknowledge the vice of physical adultery, but still rationalize that anything short of that heinous sin may not be condemned too harshly; however, the Lord has said many times: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old times, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:27-28).

And to paraphrase and give the modern version: "And she that looketh upon a man to lust after him shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if she repents not she shall be cast out [or excommunicated]" (see D&C 42:23). The commands of the Lord apply to women with equal force as to their husbands, and those scriptures come with the same sharpness and exactness to both sexes, for he has but a single standard of morality. It is not always the man who is the aggressor. Often it is the pursuing, coveting woman, and note that for both, all is lost if there is not true, sustained, and real repentance.

Home-breaking is sin, and any thought, act, or association which will tend to destroy another's home is a grievous transgression. A certain young woman was single and was therefore free to properly seek a mate, but she gave attention to and received attention from a married man. She was in transgression. She argued that his marriage was "already on the rocks" and the wife of her new boy friend did not understand him and that he was most unhappy at home, and he did not love his wife.

Regardless of the state of the married man, the young woman was in serious error to comfort him and listen to his disloyal castigation of his wife and to entertain him. The man was in deep sin. He was disloyal and unfaithful. So long as he is married to a woman he is duty bound to protect her and defend her and the same responsibility is with his wife. Numerous cases have come to us such as the following one:

A husband and wife were quarreling and had reached such a degree of incompatibility that they had flung at each other the threat of divorce and had already seen attorneys. Both of them, embittered at each other, had found companionship with other parties. This was sin. No matter how bitter were their differences, neither had any right to begin courting or looking about for friends. And any dating or such association by wedded folk outside the marriage is iniquitous. Even though they proceeded with the divorce suit, to be moral and honorable they must wait until the divorce is final before either is justified in developing new romances.

Recently, I learned that the woman of a broken marriage was married within hours after her divorce was final. She had been untrue to her marriage vows, for she had been courting while she was still an undivorced wife.

If one cannot marry before the divorce is final, then it must be obvious that generally one is still married. How then, can one justify courtship while he or she still has living, an undivorced spouse? So long as the marriage covenant has not been legally severed, neither spouse morally may seek new romance or open the heart to other people. After the divorce becomes final, both freed individuals may engage in proper courting activities.

There are those who look with longing eyes, who want and desire and crave these romantic associations. So to desire to possess, to inordinately want and yearn for such, is to covet, and the Lord in powerful terms condemns it: "And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife; nor seek thy neighbor's life" (D&C 19:25).

How powerful! The seventh (Ex. 20:14) and tenth commandments (Ex. 20:17) are interwoven into one great command which is awesome in its warning. To covet that which belongs to another is sin, and that sin begins when hearts begin to entertain a glamorous interest in anyone else. There are many tragedies affecting spouses, children, and loved ones. Even though these "affairs" begin near-innocently, like an octopus the tentacles move gradually to strangle.

When dates or dinners or rides or other contacts begin, the abyss of tragedy opens wide its mouth. And, it has reached deep iniquity when physical contacts of any nature have been indulged in. Man's desires are fed and nurtured by the food-thoughts, be they degenerate or holy.

Amulek, the prophet, reminded us: "For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence" (Alma 12:14).

The case of Potiphar's wife is an example of the creeping tentacles of sin (Gen. 39:7-20). Even though this scheming woman did not succeed in defiling Joseph, her sin was most grievous. The intent was there and the desire and the lust and the coveting. She had "already committed adultery with him in her heart and mind . . ." as she "cast her eyes upon Joseph day by day" (Gen. 39:7,10). This woman's transgression did not begin when she ripped the clothes from the body of this fleeing stalwart. Her perfidy had been born and nurtured in her mind and heart in the "day by day" of wanting him, teasing him, desiring him, lusting for him, and coveting him. Her sin was a progressive thing. So, for all the numerous people, who, like this seductive woman, carry in their hearts and minds designs or desires or covetings, deep sin lieth already at their doors.

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). Nothing justifies evil. Two wrongs do not make one right. Spouses are sometimes inconsiderate, unkind, and difficult, and they must share the blame for broken homes, but this never justifies the other spouse's covetousness and unfaithfulness and infidelity. James Allen gives us this: "The outer world of circumstances shapes itself to the inner world of thoughts."

Many super-selfish folk think only of themselves when they begin to cross the lines of propriety in their romanticizing outside their homes; to them who ignore the innocent parents, the innocent spouse, and the innocent children, the scriptures are replete with warnings. ". . . I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God" (Jacob 2:10).

Little do most of those who deviate think of the innocent bystanders until the heaviness of final guilt weighs down upon them. The Lord speaks again: "For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people . . . because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands" (Jacob 2:31).

". . . Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad example before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you . . . many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds" (Jacob 2:35).

And, women also justify themselves in irregularities. They often invite men to sensual desire by their immodest clothes, loose actions and mannerisms, their coy glances, their extreme "make up," and by their flattery. Paul also called to repentance. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: . . .

"Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be unto their own husbands in everything" (Eph. 5:22-24, italics added).

And to the husbands comes the command: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . .

"So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

"For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Eph. 5:25,28-29).

Some who marry never cut themselves loose from the apron strings of the parents. The Lord says through his prophets: "For this cause shall a man [or woman] leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife [or husband], and they two shall be one flesh." (Eph. 5:31, italics added).

Parents who hold, direct, and dictate to their married children and draw them away from their spouses are likely to regret the possible tragedy. Accordingly, when two people marry, the spouse should become the confidant, the friend, the sharer of responsibility, and they two become independent. No one should come between the husband and wife, not even parents.

Paul concludes: "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Eph. 5:33).

To those who claim their love is dead, let them return home with all their loyalty, fidelity, honor, cleanness, and the love which has become embers will flare up with scintillating flame again. If love wanes or dies, it is often infidelity of thought or act which gave the lethal potion. To those who belittle marriage and its vows and responsibilities, to wives and husbands who joke each other about possible infidelities, Paul decries such jesting and joking about sacred things. "But fornication, and all uncleanness, and covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

"Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting" (Eph. 5:3-4).

To jest one's spouse about "affairs" could be the planting of seeds which might grow to destroy the marriage. Marriage is holy. It is sacred. Last week in Chicago four men sitting behind me were drinking. They were joking about their wives' boy friends, and their own girl friends. Whether or not they were adulterers and adulteresses was not known, but certainly no good could come from such foolish jesting, and it is an unholy way to speak of the glorious relationship of marriage.

May we, with Jacob, plead to the couples of the world: ". . . arouse the faculties of your soul, shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell" (Jacob 3:11).

". . . ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would dwell with the damned souls in hell.

". . . when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you" (Morm. 9:4-5).

". . . Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh" (D&C 36:6). Those who have slipped into the ugly approaches may have already silenced the still, small, pleading voice so many times that he hesitates longer to return as an unwelcome guest. He leaves the iniquitous one "on his own."

The Lord says: ". . . my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts" (D&C 1:33).

But, forgiveness may come to that person who repents with all his heart, restores all that can be restored, and lives the commandments fully and constantly.

In conclusion, I plead with all young people bound by marriage vows and covenants to make that marriage holy, keep it fresh, express affection meaningfully and sincerely and often.

Husbands, come home—body, spirit, mind, loyalties, interests, and affections, and love your companion into an holy and unbreakable relationship.

Wives, come home with all your interests, fidelity, yearnings, loyalties, and affections, and working together make your home a blessed heaven. Thus, would you greatly please your Lord and Master and guarantee yourselves happiness supreme.

I urge this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah

I believe the words of prophets and apostles who lived thousands of years ago in wildly different cultures from my own are completely relevant and true today. In fact, I accept them as the word of God. 

Thus I also accept words of President Spencer W Kimball in general conference April 1971 when he recalled statements from organizations recommending that homosexuality should no longer be considered a criminal act. He responded to those quotes stating: "Those are ugly voices - they are loud and raspy. Why do we speak in this vein? Why do we call to repentance when there are such pleasant subjects? It is because someone must warn the world of its doom if life does not change directions.... Some voices must cry out against them. Ours cannot remain silent. To the great Moses these perversions were an abomination and a defilement, worthy of death. To Paul it was unnatural, unmanly, ungodly, and a dishonoroble passion of an adulterous nature and would close all the doors to the kingdom."

If I can learn from an apostle who lived in 33 AD, or from prophets that live thousands of years before that, and accept their words as coming from God, I can certainly do the same for someone as recent as 1971. Truth doesn't change. Truth taught then is truth still now.
I also accept the counsel from prophets and apostles today. I do not see the two as contradictory, any more than I see Christ's admonition's for love as being hypocritical when he frankly speaks out against the pharisees, or even cleanses the temple. Quite the contrary, as a parent I know that the best way to show love is often correction.

There is another side to the coin of acting out of love. Sometimes a wicked mans actions forces one to choose. Nephi was reluctant to kill Laban, and it was only when he was reminded of the generations that would perish if he would not smite off the head of Laban that he conceded to do so. It seems odd to call that an act of Love, but it was only when Nephi's feelings of love for the Lord and love for his posterity were stirred up that he was willing to go through with it. Sometimes, we must act out of love to oppose evil. 




Monday, December 2, 2013

The MMM and Matt Walsh blog response chain letter

Matt Walsh wrote a blog telling married men to stop their pornography habit. MMM wrote a blog in response. To make sure this response blog chain keeps on going unhindered, I wrote a response to MMMs blog on my blog. The blog written by MMM was oddly critical of the Matt Walsh blog as well as oddly protective of those involved in pornography, objecting to Matt Walsh calling such husbands sneaky, shameful and perverted. Here is my response.

Loving the sinner: our most developed virtue

We live in a day where the sinner enjoys more protection and is less likely to be reproved than the faithful. If someone introduces themselves as living with their boyfriend or girlfriend no one in their right mind these days will so much as raise an eyebrow. My wife has many friends with large families and they have numerous stories of the criticisms they get for having many children. My wife has received much criticism herself over our family size. I remember the disdain with which one man asked me if I was going to continue to have children. The man himself lived with his girlfriend. But in our society there is no question which one makes you a weirdo: living with your girlfriend or having nine children. Sadly from what we can tell even church members appear to be much less likely to reprove the couple living together than to reprove the parent who has too many children.

Every one knows that we should love the sinner but hate the sin. But frankly the amount of love heaped on the sinner these days is already phenomenal. Movies and books portray him again and again as the heroic figure. Bad guys must be exaggerated in the extreme just to ensure the good guy still looks good by comparison. In real life many people don't challenge any behavior that isn't actually illegal. Our societie's idols are grossly immoral people portrayed in films, books and music which are portrayed, written and sung by yet more grossly immoral people. No longer are there many heroes in these days, and we are anxious to find flaws in any heroes the past has to offer. By constrast, somehow, the sinner enjoys a blessed state of protection.

This attitude is not limited to our media and has not been kept out of our churches. Sometimes bishops and stake presidents don’t get much love among their local congregation. But the sinner is generally free of any open show of disdain. In fact, to frankly condemn sin is more likely to bring opposition that if you actually commit sin. If I state that living together is a perversion (words used by a prophet in my lifetime) I will be more likely to be reprimanded for judging someone than the person who sleeps around freely and often is likely to be reprimanded for his immorality.

Another aspect of this is a dampening of accountability in the minds of many if a person has truly and fully given way to the sin. For instance, to be considered addicted to pornography one has to partake of it frequently and in large quantities. The occasional user is not the "addict" we speak of. Of course that comes at a terrible price spiritually. While I agree that it is terribly difficult to break free of I do not agree that it somehow provides freedom from accountability for it. For some the porn addict's plight is portrayed as if agency has nothing to do with it at all. The magic of the word "addicted" is invoked and partaking long and frequently is suddenly deemed as no longer being an act of will. A mental reversal takes place where the sinner's accountability is simply waved by some and rather than the wife and children being the victims, the sinner becomes viewed as a saint "struggling" with pornography. He may be a latter day saint, but let us not pretend that the justice we know God will exercise against him if he fails to repent is somehow arbitrary and capricious. As we believe God is just then let us put aside the notion that the sinner has no choice. Let us put aside the fallacy that is he is not the chooser, but the victim, not the perpetrator, but the valiant Christian. If we give way to that notion, which in his blinded state he may well believe and openly preach, we will only limit our ability to help him as well as limiting his own ability to save himself.

Of sacred things

One of the interesting things about the gospel is that the Lord sets apart some items as “sacred”. These things offer great spiritual potential, but come with serious consequences if toyed with. One example is the temple. The Old and New Testament dramatically illustrate that, whether or not Jesus loves you, if you mess with the temple the consequences are going to be grave. Sometimes quite literally. The Philistines took the ark of the covenant from the temple and started dying so fast they moved it to a different city, where in turn they started dying so fast it was moved again. Eventually it was moved again and then allowed to return to Israel of the Philistines own volition. The famous “writing on the wall” incident was precipitated by using the dishes from the temple for a kingly feast. On two occasions a man was slain for merely touching the ark of the covenant. The two different cleansings of the temple by Christ further illustrate that some things are sacred, and whether Jesus loves you or no, you must not tamper with them. Christ made a cat of nine tails and used it to forcibly drive people out of the temple.

I think this notion that certain things are sacred is one that is necessary to us for exaltation. We need to understand that even though God loves us there are still some things that if we tamper or toy with we will face terrible consequences. We need that idea partly because family relationships are guarded like the tree of life, with its guardian cherubim and their flaming sword that turns every way, by the law we call the law of chastity. We need to have the idea that “some things are sacred and you must not mess with them” written into our minds and hearts so that we will not rationalize away the sacred law that protects the family, the law of chastity.

From the JST of Matthew 5 we read:

Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosover looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath commited adultery with her already in his heart. Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart, for it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell. (JST, Matt 5:29-31)

They are coming out from under the law of Moses, and being offered a more complete picture of the gospel – looking lustfully is adultery in ones heart. The contrast between this and the law of Moses is lost on us because we are so used to these verses, but at the time the use of the word adultery there must have been a bit of a jolt.

I love the Savior’s frankness in these verses. He makes reference to his own crucifixion, and then speaks of taking up our own cross as keeping these lustful desires out of our heart. I love that because I don’t think I know anyone that is as blunt about the strength of men’s sexual desire as Christ is. Christ, who will, himself, take up his cross to be crucified on it, compares keeping lustful desires out of our hearts to taking up a cross as he did. I love it both for its expression of the crucial nature of the required sacrifice, as well as the difficulty of it.

So when a man says that it is really, really hard to cast lustful desires out of his heart then yes, sure, that is no unusual thing for a man. According to Christ that is the general situation. But when that man says “it wasn’t my fault”, “I can’t control myself”, “I’m addicted so it wasn’t really my own choice” then my response is “No, it is your fault, and you can control yourself – it is the crux, the crucifiction of your flesh, the crucial but tremendously difficult sacrifice – but as Christ took up his cross to save mankind if you will not face up and take up your own you will not save your soul”.

The woman taken in adultery

But what of the story of the woman taken in adultery? There are a lot of stories in the scriptures that involve adultery. It is probably a sad commentary on us that this is the only one anyone ever seems to be able to bring to mind. What was the penalty she was supposed to endure? Death. Death? Seriously? Who came up with that idea? It is just so completely unchristian. It was the penalty enforced during all the times when Israel was strictly following the law of moses. It probably claimed thousands of lives in those many years. But who came up with it?

Well, Jesus did.

I'm sorry if that is shocking, but it is simply the reality of the situation. Jesus, as Jehovah, was the one who came up with that penalty and it was enforced whenever the law he gave through Moses was followed strictly. It wasn't Moses, it was the Savior, Jesus Christ, though at the time he was called Jehovah by his followers.

And he wasn’t a different person with different sentiments in his premortal life, his mortal life, and his resurrection. In all three of these he was completely one with his father, subjecting his will to the will of his father. Do Heavenly Father’s opinions about moral matters change?

But as it has been pointed out (Talmage I think), under the circumstances where killing someone is forbidden by roman law except by roman consent, and where a lot of adultery is going on but nobody else is paying the consequences mandated by Jesus in the law, the right thing to do was to simply allow her to go with the imperative that she sin no more. But let’s be clear on who came up with that outrageous “death” penalty for adultery. It was Jesus’ idea.

What to call a spade?

What about Corianton? Alma tells him frankly he commited the worst sin he could have except murder. Had Alma no compassion? Or is it an act of compassion that leads him to say it.

The MMM blog post reproves Matt Walsh for calling husbands looking at porn sneaky, shameful perverts. With regard to whether it is wrong to refer to those committing such sins as perverts or shameful it is worth referring to whether apostles and prophets have deemed that unhealthy for the sinner to hear (all quotes are from general conference, just google them if you want to check).

N Eldon Tanner as well as L Tom Perry both quote Plato’s teaching:
“The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.”

Boyd K Packer
“There are magazines—you know the word, pornography—open, wicked persuasions to pervert and misuse this sacred power.”

President Kimball
“It is ridiculous to imply that pornography has no effect. There is a definite relationship to crime. Murder, robbery, rape, prostitution, and commercialized vice are fed on this immorality.”

Salvation is free, so isn't repentance free too? 

President Kimball teaches powerfully about the nature of immorality and the repentance necessary for forgiveness.

“Immorality does not begin in adultery or perversion. It begins with little indiscretions like sex thoughts, sex discussions, passionate kissing, petting and such, growing with every exercise. The small indiscretion seems powerless compared to the sturdy body, the strong mind, the sweet spirit of youth who give way to the first temptation. But soon the strong has become weak, the master the slave, spiritual growth curtailed. But if the first unrighteous act is never given root, the tree will grow to beautiful maturity and the youthful life will grow toward God, our Father.

‘Can we be forgiven, Brother Kimball?’ the young couple asked.

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘the Lord and his church can and will forgive, but not easily. The way of the transgressor is hard. It always has been and it always will be. The Lord said: ‘I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite’” (Luke 12:59).

But I went on to tell them that in his goodness he provided for us a way to forgiveness. One may do as he pleases, but he cannot evade responsibility. He may break laws, but he cannot avoid penalties. One gets by with nothing. God is just. Paul said, ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Gal. 6:7)
…..
We must repeat what we have said many times: Fornication with all its big and little brothers and sisters was evil and wholly condemned by the Lord in Adam’s day, in Moses’ day, in Paul’s day, and in our own day. The Church has no tolerance for any kind of perversions. The Lord has indicated his lack of tolerance, stating:

‘For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:31).’ ”

Elder Nelson made the stunning statement that
“Transgression of moral law brings retribution

I italicize the last word because it is so easy to read without thinking about what the statement means.

Sorting victims from perpetrators

The division of counsel in Jacob 2 is pretty clear for the immoral husband and the victim wife. It is not acceptable to simply offer a nod to her suffering, but then make the husband, the porn addict, a victim rather than the perpetrator. Sure, we are all victims of our own sins, but that doesn’t change who is the victim and who is the perpetrator of a sexual transgression. It is not right to make the husband the chief victim and leave the injured spouse forgotten in the background except as convenient to help quiet those who would rebuke the type of actions taken by the husband. Jacob 2 sets a clear precedent. The husband is the offender, not the victim. The wife's tender feelings do not mean one cannot speak out against the husbands sort of behavior in public.

There are those who would claim "but the perpetrator is also a victim!". Well yes, that is true...of every crime you have ever heard of. Of murder, of plunder, of theft, of lying, of hatred, of any sin you want to name. But when we speak of the victim of a murder, we mean the person who is dead, and when we speak of the victim of an immoral spouse, we mean the other spouse.

The protective Father (in Heaven)

I don’t know how many of you have daughters, but I am going to give you some nice ways to ignore everything I have said by offering some bizarre opinions addressed to the fathers. The first is that the zealously protective feelings of a father toward his dating daughters, aimed against those who would take advantage of her, are a reflection of a divine trait. Put differently, the way you as a father feel about the young man who wants to misuse your daughter when he takes her out on a date is a trait you share with your Heavenly Father. If you want an offended God on your hands, try leading one of his daughters into moral compromise. Try paying to see one of them shame herself in pornography. Try bringing penetrating shame and misery to your wife when she finds out her husband is involved in pornography. We live in a day when we don’t really think of God as being “offended” by things. But I firmly disagree. You want to make God upset, you offend one of his daughters in a way that violates chastity.

In my mind, the porn addict has chosen to defile sacred things. We love him as a person. We certainly do not intentionally mistreat him thinking “he deserves it”. But no, we do not withhold teaching frank warnings to the still innocent or already repentant or even to the guilty themselves in order to avoid offending the guilty. Nor do we fail to recognize him as the perpetrator and his spouse as the victim. Honestly, I think that you can try and make a porn addict as cheerful, as delighted, as happy as you want. You can try and bring him out of his depression, out of his wallowing misery by any means other than actual repentance. You can hush up everyone, make sure they treat him as an angel from heaven and it won’t make a smidge of difference in this one regard: Sooner or later he will still suffer excruciating misery and anguish one way or another. The man who offends God’s daughters through immorality, especially the man who offends his faithful wife, will pay the full measure and not a mite less. He has defiled the temple and will feel the lash. And it will not matter how tenderly anyone wishes the opposite were true. Forgiveness is possible, but don't offend a Heavenly Father's precious daughters in matters of virtue. You cannot do so for free.


Forgiveness is real, and reproof may help us find it

Now, all that being said. It is still absolutely true that there is a way to forgiveness. It comes through the atonement on the condition of repentance. It is still absolutely true that though our sins be red as scarlet, Christ can make them white as snow. It is true that we all sin, not just once or twice but day to day, and without the cleansing blood of Christ we would all be doomed. It is true  that we all desperately need the transforming power of the atonement of Christ. Elder Packer’s “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness” talk is all still true from beginning to end. But pay attention to the moment of that talk in which he states “It will not help if, out of tender regard for your feelings, I avoid telling you about the hard part.” We can be rescuers, but we are better rescuers for teaching the hard part, not for silencing accountability for sin. We all need reproof at times. It is not charity that fails to warn and ward away from the broad road that leads to destruction.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book draft excerpt - The atonement, repentance and the spirit world

Context: This portion was drafted as a summary of some truths about the atonement. This summary was so that some falsehoods about the atonement could be addressed immediately after the summary of truths that appears here.

The idea that we would be given commandments and expected to keep them is a fundamental part of the gospel. We make a covenant at baptism. A covenant is a two way promise between us and the Lord.

The Lord's plan is that it is possible for us to obtain forgiveness for our sins, to be made clean of them, through his atonement, so that even though we have made mistakes we can repent and be cleansed of those mistakes. The scriptures state that God cannot look on sin with the least degree of allowance. The atonement doesn’t alter that fact. It doesn’t make those scriptures untrue. 

The wonderful news of the atonement is that any sin we repent of we can be cleansed of through the atonement. The news of the atonement is NOT that there is no need for repentance, that we are cleansed without repenting at all. The news of the atonement is NOT that we can be saved in our sins. It is that if we repent, we can be cleansed of them.

To understand the need for the atonement, we must recognize that even our PAST sins, long dead and gone, are enough to keep us out of the kingdom of heaven, even the least of them. God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. But Christ made a way of intervention, where the penalty of those past sins could be completely wiped away. Through his intervention, though our sins be red as scarlet, he can make them white as snow. The condition of that forgiveness is repentance. Any sin, including the least of them, even so much as a sin of omission, is not forgiven until we repent. If I withhold required charitable feelings from my neighbor or from someone I run across during the day that is a very small sin. Even though it is small, it is enough to keep me out of the kingdom of heaven unless I am cleansed by the atonement of Christ.

However, and this is important, the conditions of that cleansing are repentance on my part. There is no way I can say my repentance is genuine while I am still committing that sin on a consistent basis. That is not what repentance is. Repentance involves forsaking a sin. Thus my degree of cleansing is always limited by my degree of repentance and obedience. Our forgiveness and cleansing through the atonement never outstrips our willingness to repent and live cleanly.

Reading that you may immediately ask “Then who can be saved”? The answer is everyone who takes upon them the name of Christ through baptism and endures to the end. This is the day of our probation. Anyone who is still alive still has the opportunity to choose. This is the day we set our course. This is the day we choose our kingdom of glory. We don’t expect to reach perfection in this life, but this is the day of probation. That doesn’t mean it is the day when our work is completed. It is the day when we set our course. The atonement continues beyond mortality. Its affects in our life do not complete, or even culminate, at baptism. Its effects are only completed in our life when it has brought us to exaltation, but that is a long time after death has taken us. 

Do we think that we can be exalted, as the Father is, without forsaking all of our sins? Of course we do not. Do we think we could ever be as pure as the Father and the Son while still having even the least sin? Ridiculous. The path may not be completed in this life, but the path Christ offers is that we are forgiven and cleansed as we repent. There is time between death and the resurrection. This time serves an important purpose in the plan. It is not just a waiting place, it is a place we can continue our progress on the path we have chosen. This is additional time granted in the spirit world for us to follow the path Christ provided for us before we dwell in the Celestial Kingdom, the place where the Father and the Son dwell, because no unclean thing can dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven, and we need to be given more time than we have in this life to prepare to enter it. The spirit world is not our final resting place with the Father and the Son. The spirit world is not where they dwell. The spirit world is here on this earth as Joseph Smith plainly taught. The kind of place where God dwells is not like this earth:

D&C 130:6 The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth;
 7 But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.
 8 The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.

We thus have more time granted in the spirit world to prepare to enter the presence of God, to repent, and by repentance, to be able to be cleansed of our sins and receive exaltation. There is a great work of preaching the gospel to the dead to be done there, and pursuing that work will help transform us there as surely as teaching the gospel, saving our families, and redeeming the dead will save us here. In fact, Joseph Smith even makes clear that while on this side of the veil we seek to gather our dead ancestors, some who have passed on seek to gather their living descendants:

"The Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed is small, but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches. The fowls are the angels. Thus angels come down, combine together to gather their children, and gather them. We cannot be made perfect without them, nor they without us; when these things are done, the Son of Man will descend, the Ancient of Days sit; we may come to an innumerable company of angels, have communion with and receive instruction from them." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Four 1839-42, p.159)

We will thus continue there in the same work we had here: to prepare ourselves and others to enter the celestial kingdom of God.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Brigham Young - Journal of Discourses vol 11 - Opposition Essential to Happiness

I wish the few remarks which I may now make to be comprehensive and instructive.

The subject upon which Brother Wells has spoken this afternoon is a very intricate one to define. It is very difficult to convey even the ideas  which we may have respecting the operations of, to us, invisible spirits upon the hearts of the children of men; and it is very difficult to frame in the mind a system of thinking and reasoning upon this subject that is at all satisfactory. It is very difficult to form in the mind an even, and unbroken, and correct thread of ideas which will truthfully and satisfactorily explain the variations which we see in the motives and actions of mankind, and to understand the varied motives and feelings of the people, and what they design in performing such and such acts. There are some who have a correct and clear thread of ideas framed in their minds relating to this subject, but cannot convey them to their fellow beings. This is a weakness that I believe is inherent to a greater or less degree in each and every one of us.

The opposition which we find in the hearts of the children of men to the Gospel of life and salvation, Brother Wells has been setting before us this afternoon in a very able manner. Upon this subject I have my own reflections, and my own way of revealing those reflections to others.

The opposition which we see manifested against the truth in this our day has been manifested in every day and age of the world wherein the Gospel of the Son of God has been preached to the children of men. There is no difference today in this respect from what it was formerly. Our opponents tell us that were it not for the doctrine we believe, teach, and practice, there would be no difficulty—no strife between the Latter-day Saints and those who call themselves Gentiles. We are all Gentiles by birth who are not of Jewish descent. We who are called Latter-day Saints are Gentiles by birth—we are nationally so. The opposition which we have to meet is not because we believe in polygamy. That principle is not the real bone of contention, but it is the power of Satan against the power of Jesus Christ here upon this earth. It is no matter what the doctrines are; it is no matter by what name they are called, in what manner they are presented, or  by whom they are believed; it is the power of God on the one hand, and the power of Satan on the other. We can see the workings of the two spirits upon the hearts and dispositions of the children of men. Opposition to the truth is made manifest by those who render themselves servants to obey false principles or false ideas, and their actions are directed by the power of Satan against the truth of heaven in the persons of those who love and advocate it.

We have been told that when error is introduced it is generally done in a most genteel, religious, scientific, and most refined and civilized manner. The servants of sin should appear polished and pious. It is necessary they should be learned, and be able to call to their assistance the accomplishments and elegancies of science and art, and the subtle, persuasive power of rhetoric. Jesus Christ describes this class of deceivers very forcibly in the following words—"But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." This external polish is really necessary for them as a covering to make successful the introduction of false theories and false principles, and to cover up licentious and wicked lives.

The servants of God have truth, and nothing but truth, to present to the world, that the world may be sanctified by the truth. The truth needeth no polish to make it lovely and desirable to those who love it. The principles of truth and goodness, and of eternal lives and the power of God are from eternity to eternity. The principle of falsehood and wickedness, the power of the devil and the power of death are also from eternity to eternity. These two powers have ever existed and always will exist in all the eternities that are yet to come. Although in relation to this earth, some time in its future history there will be no death, and him that hath the power of death will be destroyed. It is written in the Book of Mormon, "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad."

When man is born into the world he is at once subject to the influences of life and death, and to the innumerable and varied vicissitudes which he meets in his passage from birth to the grave, to give him an experience which will prepare him to enter into and enjoy life everlasting. He is endowed with agency to choose either life or death, and must abide the consequences in the next life of the choice which he makes in this. Were it not that evil exists with good, man could not have been an agent unto himself. When the spirit of man enters the earthly tabernacle, it is as pure as an angel of God. When man, as a child, is brought forth to the light, and begins to live, move, and have a visible and an individual being in this world, he is brought in contact with the principle of evil—he receives the mark of sin, and as passes the usual stages from infancy to manhood, he learns to become disobedient to the requirements of heaven, disobedient to the laws of man, and disobedient to the laws of his own nature; he engenders the spirit of hatred, malice, wrath, strife, and all that class of evils which render him unfit to return again to the presence of his Father and God; but if he will obey the Gospel and walk in the ways of the Lord, his mortal existence and his proneness to sin, which he has inherited through the fall, become profitable and essentially necessary to the full enjoyment of salvation and eternal life.

These ideas may be profitable to the Saints and aid them in understanding to some extent why things are as they are.

Then the opposition to the truth is not because we have no wife, because we have one wife or many wives; it is not because we are Socialists and have all things common; it is not because we believe in or practice this or that doctrine as individuals and as a people; but it is the spirit of him who is an enemy to all righteousness that is in the hearts of those who yield themselves to obey false principles. Paul, in his writing to the Romans, says, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" When truth comes, error comes also. When the Gospel of the Son of God is introduced among the children of men, it comes with light and intelligence, with pure and holy principles. It embraces all morality, all virtue, all light, all intelligence, all greatness, and all goodness. It introduces a system of laws and ordinances, and a code of moral rectitude which, if obeyed by the human family, will lead them back to the presence of God. As we were exhorted this morning to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, be baptized for the remission of sins, receive the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, receive the spirit of prophecy, the spirit of discerning of spirits, the gift of healing, and, in short, all the gifts, and graces, and laws, and ordinances of the Gospel, which are for life and salvation. Now, the power of Satan is opposed to all this.

Now, let me state somewhat the reason why the devil appears as a gentleman when he presents himself to the children of men. The children of men have good principles dwelling within them. When their spirits came into this mortal flesh, they brought with them the love of all truth, virtue, and goodness; but the sin that has contaminated the mortal tabernacle through the fall creates what the Apostle Paul, when writing in Timothy, calls a "warfare." When Joseph Smith first preached the Gospel to this generation the Spirit of God attended it, and that Spirit met an opposing spirit, which was the spirit of Satan, exerting his power to lead away mankind from the truth to everlasting ruin; while the Spirit of the Gospel, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, sought to lead to exaltation and everlasting life. Here are the two powers in opposition to each other.
Now, remember that it is not because we are called "Mormons," or Latter-day Saints, that we meet opposition; there is nothing odious in mere names and titles. Joseph Smith has as good a right to his name as John Smith has to his. There is nothing criminal in the simple name of Joseph Smith; yet, he being a servant of God and a preacher of righteousness, his name became odious to the wicked, and the three simple words, "Old Joe Smith," were sufficient to arouse in their hearts every vindictive and bloodthirsty desire. It was not, however, this simple name that aroused the worst feelings of the human heart against those who loved and obeyed the truth; but it was the spirit of Satan working in the hearts of the children of disobedience against the truth. Why was Joseph Smith, and why are his brethren, so odious to those who are  not of us? Because we have the words of eternal life to offer to the world. The devil is opposed to this, and offers resistance to the progress of the spirit of the Gospel by arousing the wicked, who are under his influence, to hate, and persecute, and annoy in every possible way, the true followers of the Lord Jesus.

Let me say to you, my friends (and if I have foes here I say it also to them), there is no spirit inhabiting a mortal tabernacle (that has not sinned away the day of grace), but what naturally loves and adores the truth, and would bless and honor all those who seek to walk in the way of the Lord, were it not for the influence and power of evil by which they are controlled. There is a constant warfare between the good and the evil. The mortal tabernacle is of the earth earthy, and came forth for the express purpose of being prepared to serve as a dwelling for the eternal spirit; and the spirit has come here for the express purpose of getting a tabernacle; and the sin that is in the fleshy tabernacle is against the good that is in the spirit. The Apostle Paul, when writing to the Romans, says, "For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."

It is not the name of a man or the name of a sect which inspires this warfare, but it is a war which has always existed, and will always continue to exist, between the good and the bad, between the power of God and the power of the devil. To these who are not instructed in the things of God it appears to be a warfare between sects and parties. The votaries of the bad excuse themselves for their persecutions of the good by supposing that they, themselves, as individuals, or their nations, are about to suffer some great wrong from the upholders of the good. As an example of this I will quote from the Gospel according to St. Luke—"And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him (Jesus Christ) unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a king." This is the cunning of the devil, and a means by which he leads down to destruction great numbers of the human family. He gets the political world to believe that they are, or are going to, be infringed upon; he makes the religious world believe that the sanctity and rights of their holy religion are in danger, and thus he gets them to make his cause their own; they are lashed into a frenzy of excitement and hatred against the Saints; every high-toned, honorable and truthful feeling of the human heart is blunted or entirely subdued in them; they plan for the destruction of God's people, and, in many instances, the blood of the Saints—the blood of innocence—has been shed by their hands. It is written in the book of Revelation: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels with him."

Paul in view of the power of this great deceiver and his host exhorted the Saints anciently to, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." A great number of those who oppose the truth, and mob and rob and kill the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, know not what they oppose, but they are moved to  commit depredations against the people of God by men who are desperately wicked; these are among the bitterest enemies of the truth. The multitude in the days of Jesus cried out: "Crucify him." The chief priests had delivered him up from envy. Pilate knew this; "But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. When Pilate inquired what evil he had done, they cried out more exceedingly: crucify him." They know not what they did.

Wherever the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached, either in these or in former days, it has met with a class of men to whom the truth looked lovely and Godlike, and the spirit within would prompt them to embrace it; but they find themselves so advantageously connected in the world, and have so many interests at stake if they should embrace it, they conclude that it will not do, and here comes the warfare again. Some few will overcome the reasonings of the flesh, and follow the dictates of the Spirit; while the great majority of this class of persons are won over by sordid considerations and cleave to their idols. The good spirit tries to overcome the wayward will of the flesh, and the flesh, aided by the cunning and power of the devil, maintains a strong warfare; but, notwithstanding this great power against which the spirit has to contend, the power of God is greater than the power of the wicked one; and unless the Saints sin against light and knowledge, and willfully neglect their plain and well understood duties, and the Spirit of God is grieved and it ceases to strive with them, the Spirit is sure to prevail over the flesh, and ultimately succeeds in sanctifying the tabernacle for a residence in the presence of God.

The spirit which inhabits these tabernacles naturally loves truth, it naturally loves light and intelligence, it naturally loves virtue, God and godliness; but being so closely united with the flesh their sympathies are blended, and their union being necessary to the possession of a fullness of joy to both, the spirit is indeed subject to be influenced by the sin that is in the mortal body, and to be overcome by it and by the power of the devil, unless it is constantly enlightened by that spirit which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which is imparted through the Gospel. In this, and this alone, consists the warfare between Christ and the devil.

It is not in my being called a Quaker, a Methodist, or a "Mormon" that is the true cause of contention between these two great powers—Christ and Belial; but it is in the fact that God has established His kingdom upon the earth and restored the Holy Priesthood, which gives men authority and power to administer in His name.

It has been told us this afternoon, and was this morning also, that we must be baptized in order to be saved. Much remains to be said on the means necessary to effect salvation in its completeness. We might as well say that a beautiful temple could be built and all its details completed and finished in a day, as to say that we can tell all we know about the plan of man's salvation in a short hour and a half or in a day. It is plain to every enlightened person that the Lord has introduced fit and proper laws by which he will save His children and exalt them into his presence. If these laws are not obeyed by the human family, they cannot be saved, nor be exalted to the presence of God. What will become of all those who will not obey the laws of salvation? Will they be confined throughout an endless eternity in  that bottomless pit, where their worm dieth not, and where their fire is not quenched?

It is necessary that men should become acquainted with the laws of God, and the ordinances of His kingdom, and receive of the power of the world to come in order to fit them to become angels of the devil, and that the devil may have full power over them; and these are the only ones who are cut off from every degree of salvation. Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

He has been lifted up, and He will save every son and daughter of Adam and Eve, except the sons of perdition, in some kingdom where there shall be no more death, no more aches and pains to afflict and torment them; and let me assure you that none of those kingdoms will be any worse than the one we now inhabit. Jesus Christ will draw all men unto him, except those who contend against the power of God and against his kingdom until they have sealed their own damnation.

The adversary presents his principles and arguments in the most approved style, and in the most winning tone, attended with the most graceful attitudes; and he is very careful to ingratiate himself into the favor of the powerful and influential of mankind, uniting himself with popular parties, floating into offices of trust and emolument by pandering to popular feeling, though it should seriously wrong and oppress the innocent. Such characters put on the manners of an angel, appearing as nigh like angels of light as they possibly can, to deceive the innocent and the unwary. The good which they do, they do it to bring to pass an evil purpose upon the good and honest followers of Jesus Christ. Yet the little good, if any, that is in them, they have received from God. Lucifer, the son of the morning, has not got a good principle, does not say a good word, perform a good act, or present a good idea to any people upon this earth or any other earth that he has not received from that God whom you and I serve. Everything that is good, everything that is lovely and truthful, virtuous and kind, everything to be admired and desired by the pure in heart comes from God, our Father, who dwells in heaven. The most wicked person that ever dwelt upon the earth, the Lord supports; He gives to him the breath of life, and causes His sun to rise upon that poor miserable wretch, who would, if he had the power, destroy everything that is good. The Lord our God sends His rain upon the just and upon the unjust, and gives food and raiment to the good and to the evil; He parcels out the earth among his children, and his mercy and loving kindness are over all the works of his hands. Though the Lord is thus kind and merciful to all, yet he saith, "them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."

In the days before Noah's flood those who served God and kept his commandments were prepared to receive glory, immortality and eternal life, according to the law of the Gospel. When this law was given to the people in any age, the kingdom of God was established, and the devil and his hosts were made mad even as they are at this day.

We are told that if we would give up polygamy—which we know to be a doctrine revealed from heaven, and it is God and the world for it—but suppose this Church should give up this holy order of marriage, then would the devil, and all who are in league with him against the cause of God, rejoice that they had prevailed upon the Saints to refuse to obey one of the revelations and commandments of God to them. Would they be satisfied with this? No; but they would next want us to renounce Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God, then the Book of Mormon, then baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Then they would wish us to disclaim the gift of prophecy, and the other gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, on the ground that they are done away and no longer needed in our day, also prophets and apostles, etc.

They want us to yield all these points, transgress the laws God has revealed for the salvation of the world, and change all the ordinances of God's house, and conform to the dogmas of modern Christianity and to the corruptions of the age. Will the Latter-day Saints do this? No; they will not to please anybody. Shall we have a warfare? We shall; we will war and contend for the right, and trust in our God until righteousness is established upon the earth, until peace shall reign everywhere, until the children of men shall lay down the weapons of their warfare and cease to exhaust their ability and ingenuity in forming weapons of destruction to slay their fellow men, until the minds and affections of mankind shall be turned unto the Lord their God, and their energies be directed to beautifying the earth and making it like the garden of Eden. We calculate to struggle on, and continue to exercise faith and enjoy our religion, keeping all the commandments of God, observing the ordinances of his house, trying to fulfill all his words, trusting in him, and we shall see what this course will come to.

I can tell the whole world that we shall preach the gospel of life and salvation and call upon the children of men to cease their wickedness and their warring against God and one another, and embrace those saving principles that will lead them to life here and to eternal life hereafter. We shall preach on, we shall struggle on until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ. To be gentle and kind, modest and truthful, to be full of faith and integrity, doing no wrong is of God; goodness sheds a halo of loveliness around every person who possesses it, making their countenances beam with light, and their society desirable because of its excellency. They are loved of God, of holy angels, and of all the good on earth, while they are hated, envied, admired and feared by the wicked.

What, then, is the mission of Satan, that common foe of all the children of men? It is to destroy and make desolate. When this house was built, every principle, every desire that prompted the putting of these materials together, had good for its object in making the people comfortable and happy. The desire to build cities, open farms, set out orchards and adorn and beautify the earth in every possible way is of God. But you say that those who do not believe in religion at all do that. Very good, are not their lives as much in the hands of God as yours and mine? Does He not prompt them day by day to do good, and blessed are they who resist not the Spirit. There is a spirit of truth gone forth to all the inhabitants of the world. The book of Job says, "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." Again, it is written of Jesus, "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds  should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
There is that in all men which prompts them to do good and forsake evil; then there is another principle which prompts them to do evil and forsake the good. The few who have moral courage enough to yield obedience to the promptings of the Spirit of God, bringing themselves in subjection to his will, are the ones who compose the church and kingdom of God on the earth, so far as they have opportunity. Whatsoever is good is of God, no matter by whom possessed or presented. If the devil presents principles that are good and pure and lovely, they are not of him, but they are of God.

The devil delights in the work of destruction—to burn and lay waste and destroy the whole earth. He delights to convulse and throw into confusion the affairs of men, politically, religiously and morally, introducing war with its long train of dreadful consequences. It is evil which causeth all these miseries and all deformity to come upon the inhabitants of the earth. But that which is of God is pure, lovely, holy, and full of all excellency and truth, no matter where it is found, in hell, in heaven, upon the earth, or in the planets. Let us live in obedience to the good; let us live our religion.

I do not know that I have explained these things sufficiently clear to you. The thread of the whole subject is clearly defined in my mind. I know what the children of men are when they come upon the earth, and the influence that attends them, and the power of Satan who lives upon the earth by permission like the wicked and ungodly do. Will we live our religion? I hope so. It was asked me by a gentleman how I guided the people by revelation. I teach them to live so that the Spirit of revelation may make plain to them their duty day by day that they are able to guide themselves. To get this revelation it is necessary that the people live so that their spirits are as pure and clean as a piece of blank paper that lies on the desk before the inditer, ready to receive any mark the writer may make upon it. When you see the Latter-day Saints greedy, and  covetous of the things of this world, do you think their minds are in a fit condition to be written upon by the pen of revelation? When people will live so that the Spirit of revelation will be with them day by day, they are then in the path of their duty; if they do not live according to this rule, they live beneath their duty and privileges. I hope and pray that we may all live up to our privileges. Amen.
Brigham Young

Excerpt from Heber C Kimball - Journal of Discourses vol 4, Departed Spirits, etc...


God says, "My house is a house of order, and not of confusion." The Holy Ghost will not dwell where there is confusion. I do not ask you whether you know this or not, because everyone knows that confusion does not come from the Father, nor from the Son. Does it come from the Holy Ghost? Everyone of you will answer, "No." Where does it come from? It comes from the author of confusion, and is produced by those who rebel against God and against His authority. There were many who did this formerly, and they form part of that hell which brother Wells was talking about. Although those men and women are dead, they have a good deal of power; their spirits have power over us when we render ourselves subject to them; their spirits  are busy at work. They are diligent in performing the work of destruction and confusion; they go at that work the very moment their spirits leave their bodies.
On the other hand, when righteous persons die, their spirits also go into the spirit world, but they go to work with the servants of God to help to do good, and to bring about the purposes of the Almighty pertaining to this earth; while wicked spirits, those who have been wicked in this probation, take the opposite course, just the same as they did here. I have said, a great many times, that that spirit which possesses us here will possess us when our spirits leave our bodies, and we shall there be very much the same as we are here.
If you are subject to rebellious spirits, or to a spirit of apostasy here, will you not have the same spirit beyond the veil that you had on this side? You will, and it will have power over you to lead you to do wrong, and it will control your spirits. If, then, you are opposed to the truth while you are here, you will be occupied in that opposition hereafter, for the spirit that is opposed to the work of God here, will be opposed to that work when beyond the veil. I do not guess at this, because I have been at the other side of the veil, in vision, and have seen a degree of its condition with the eyes that God gave me. I have seen it and have seen those that lived in the faith and had the privilege of seeing Jesus, Peter, James, and the rest of the ancient Apostles, and of hearing them preach the Gospel. I have also seen those who rebelled against them, and they still had a rebellious spirit, fighting against God and His servants.

Ezra Taft Benson, To the Humble Followers of Christ, April 1969 General Conference


Thank God for that timely and inspiring message from our beloved leader, President David O. McKay.
My remarks today are directed to the humble followers of Christ (2 Ne. 28:14). I pray that what I have to say will be of help to them.
One of the grand promises which the Lord made when he restored his Church in these latter days was that the Church should never again be taken from the earth (D&C 13:1) nor given to another people (Dan. 2:44). This is reassuring, for no matter how much individual apostasy we may see occur among Church members, the Church itself shall endure and remain intact. Our task, then, is to see that we personally endure to the end in faithful fellowship with the Church.
The Lord distinguishes between the Church and its members. He said he was well pleased with the restored Church, speaking collectively, but not individually (D&C 1:30). During his ministry on earth, the Lord spoke of the gospel net drawing in fish. The good fish, he said, were gathered into vessels, while the bad were cast away (Matt. 13:47-50).
It is important to realize that while the Church is made up of mortals, no mortal is the Church. Judas, for a period of time, was a member of the Church—in fact, one of its apostles—but the Church was not Judas.
Disharmony of some members
Sometimes we hear someone refer to a division in the Church. In reality, the Church is not divided. It simply means that there are some who, for the time being at least, are members of the Church but not in harmony with it. These people have a temporary membership and influence in the Church; but unless they repent, they will be missing when the final membership records are recorded.
It is well that our people understand this principle, so they will not be misled by those apostates within the Church who have not yet repented or been cut off. But there is a cleansing coming. The Lord says that his vengeance shall be poured out "upon the inhabitants of the earth . . . And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me" (D&C 112:24-26). I look forward to that cleansing; its need within the Church is becoming increasingly apparent.
The Lord strengthened the faith of the early apostles by pointing out Judas as a traitor, even before this apostle had completed his iniquitous work (John 13:21-30). So also in our day the Lord has told us of the tares within the wheat that will eventually be hewn down when they are fully ripe. But until they are hewn down, they will be with us, amongst us (D&C 86:6-7). The hymn entitled "Though in the Outward Church Below" contains this thought:
"Though in the outward Church below
Both wheat and tares together grow,
Ere long will Jesus weed the crop
And pluck the tares in anger up . . .
We seem alike when here we meet;
Strangers may think we are all wheat;
But to the Lord's all-searching eyes,
Each heart appears without disguise.
The tares are spared for various ends,
Some for the sake of praying friends,
Others the Lord against their will,
Employs, his counsels to fulfill.
But though they grow so tall and strong,
His plan will not require them long;
In harvest, when he saves his own,
The tares shall into hell be thrown."
    (Hymns, No. 102.)
Tares among the wheat
Yes, within the Church today there are tares among the wheat and wolves within the flock. As President Clark stated, "The ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than . . . We should be careful of them" (Era, May 1949, p. 268; see also Conference Report, April 1949, p. 163).
The wolves amongst our flock are more numerous and devious today than when President Clark made this statement.
President McKay has said that "the Church is little, if at all, injured by persecution and calumnies from ignorant, misinformed or malicious enemies. A greater hindrance to its progress comes from faultfinders, shirkers, commandment-breakers, and apostate cliques within its own ecclesiastical and quorum groups" (Era, December 1967, p. 35; see also, Conference Report, October 1967, p. 9)
Not only are there apostates within our midst, but there are also apostate doctrines that are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and that appear in our publications. And these apostate precepts of men cause our people to stumble. As the Book of Mormon, speaking of our day, states: ". . . they have all gone astray save it a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men" (2 Ne. 28:14).
The precepts of men
Let us consider some of the precepts of men that may and do cause some of the humble followers of Christ to err.
Christ taught that we should be in the world but not of it (John 17:11,14-16). Yet there are some in our midst who are not so much concerned about taking the gospel into the world as they are about bringing worldliness into the gospel. They want us to be in the world and of it. They want us to be popular with the worldly even though a prophet has said that this is impossible, for all hell would then want to join us.
Through their own reasoning and a few misapplied scriptures, they try to sell us the precepts and philosophies of men. They do not feel the Church is progressive enough—they say that it should embrace the social and socialist gospel of apostate Christendom.
They are bothered that President McKay believes that "the social side of the Restored Gospel is only an incident of it; it is not the end thereof." (Letter of the First Presidency to Dr. Lowry Nelson, July 17, 1947.)
They attack the Church for not being in the forefront of the so-called "civil rights movement." They are embarrassed over some Church doctrine, and as Lehi foretold, the scoffing of the world over this and other matters will cause some of them to be ashamed and they shall fall away (see 1 Ne. 8:28).
Publishing differences with Church
Unauthorized to receive revelation for the Church, but I fear still anxious to redirect the Church in the way they think it should go, some of them have taken to publishing their differences with the Church, in order to give their heretical views a broader and, they hope, a more respectable platform.
Along this line it would be well for all of us to remember these words of President George Q. Cannon:
"A friend . . . wished to know whether we . . . considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities of the Church was apostasy. . . . We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the Authorities constituted apostasy, for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the Authorities of the Church and yet not be an apostate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife and to place the acts and counsels of the Authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term" (Deseret News, November 3, 1869).
Birth control
The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father's children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children (Gen. 1:28). That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord . . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Ps. 127:3,5). We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who have tried to raise them up in righteousness.
False reasoning in population limitation
The precepts of men would have you believe that by limiting the population of the world, we can have peace and plenty. That is the doctrine of the devil. Small numbers do not insure peace; only righteousness does. After all, there were only a handful of men on the earth when Cain interrupted the peace of Adam's household by slaying Abel (Gen. 4:8). On the other hand, the whole city of Enoch was peaceful; and it was taken into heaven because it was made up of righteous people (Moses 7:69).
And so far as limiting the population in order to provide plenty is concerned, the Lord answered that falsehood in the Doctrine and Covenants when he said:
"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves" (D&C 104:17).
A major reason why there is famine in some parts of the world is because evil men have used the vehicle of government to abridge the freedom that men need to produce abundantly.
True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate God's purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to his spirit children through worldwide birth control are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine. They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support.
Subversion of educational system
The world worships the learning of man. They trust in the arm of flesh. To them, men's reasoning is greater than God's revelations. The precepts of man have gone so far in subverting our educational system that in many cases a higher degree today, in the so-called social sciences, can be tantamount to a major investment in error. Very few men build firmly enough on the rock of revelation to go through this kind of an indoctrination and come out untainted. Unfortunately, of those who succumb, some use their higher degree to get teaching positions even in our Church educational system, where they spread the falsehoods they have been taught. President Joseph F. Smith was right when he said that false educational ideas would be one of the three threats to the Church within (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 312-13).
Sex education in the schools
Another threat, and he said it is the most serious of the three, would be sexual impurity. Today we have both of these threats combined in the growing and increasingly amoral program of sex education in the schools. At the last general Relief Society conference of the Church, Elder Harold B. Lee quoted President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in regard to this matter. Let us listen and learn from the following wise words of this seer, President Clark:
"Many influences (more than ever before in my lifetime) are seeking to break down chastity with its divinely declared sanctity . . .
"In schoolrooms the children are taught what is popularly called 'the facts of life.' Instead of bringing about the alleged purpose of the teaching, that is, strengthening of the morals of youth, this teaching seems to have had directly the opposite effect. The teaching seems merely to have whetted curiosity and augmented appetite" (Relief Society Magazine, December 1952, p. 793).
". . . A mind engrossed in sex is not good for much else . . .
"Already the schools have taught sex facts ad nauseam. All their teachings have but torn away the modesty that once clothed sex; their discussions tend to make, and sometimes seem to make, sex animals of our boys and girls. The teachings do little but arouse curiosity for experience . . .
"A work on chastity can be given in one sentence, two words: Be chaste! That tells everything. You do not need to know all the details of the reproductive process in order to keep clean" (Era, December 1949, p. 803; see also, Conference Report, October 1949, p. 194).
Responsibility of parents
Our Church News editorials have warned us about sex education in the schools. As the April 1, 1967, editorial stated:
"Sex education belongs in the home . . . Movements to place sex education in nearly all grades of public schools can end only in the same result which came to Sweden."
In answer to inquiries that have been received by the First Presidency about sex education in the schools, they have made the following statement: "We believe that serious hazards are involved in entrusting to the schools the teaching of this vital and important subject to our children. This responsibility cannot wisely be left to society, nor the schools: nor can the responsibility be shifted to the Church. It is the responsibility of parents to see that they fully perform their duty in this respect."
When you make a close study of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (known as SIECUS), which is the major organization pushing sex education in the schools, and read their literature and learn of their amoral leadership, you can better appreciate why the Church is opposed to sex education in the schools, whether it is called family living program or by any other name. I commend the parents who have worked to keep it out of their schools and those who have pushed it out or are attempting to do so. They must love their children.
Sensitivity training
Let us consider another precept of men: One of the tragedies of the Korean War was the fact that the enemy was able to brainwash some of our men. Those methods, highly refined and deviously developed, have been introduced on a broad scale into our own country by some behavioral scientists through a program commonly called sensitivity training. While claiming otherwise, the overall effect of this training has been to break down personal standards, encourage immorality, reduce respect for parents, and make well minds sick.
As in Korea, the heart of the training involves trying to get each member of a group to self-criticize and confess as much as possible to the group. Now any informed holder of the priesthood knows that this is directly contrary to the word of the Lord as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 42, verses 88-92 (D&C 42:88-92). Only when a person has sinned against many people is he to make a public confession.
"If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her" (D&C 42:92).
As President Brigham Young put it, ". . . if you have sinned against your God, or against your selves, confess to God, and keep the matter to yourselves, for I do not want to know anything about it" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 158).
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 have even conducted nudity sessions as a means of supposedly breaking down their inhibitions. 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).
Standards attacked
In these sensitivity sessions one's standards, religion, family, and friends may be subjected to brutal and prolonged attack by the group. And when it's all over, if you've confessed all and had your values and ideals smashed, you may doubt if there is much worth believing or defending, and your loyalties may now have been realigned away from your family and church toward the group—for on them you may now feel very dependent, and you may be more anxious to get their consensus on a position and their approval than to find out what's right and do it.
When General William F. Dean was released from a Korean Communist prison camp, the young Chinese psychologists who had been trying to break him said: "General, don't feel bad about leaving us. You know, we will soon be with you. We are going to capture your country." Asked how, they replied: "We are going to destroy the moral character of a generation of our young Americans, and when we have finished you will have nothing with which to really defend yourselves against us."
Demoralizing influences
And so the precepts of men are at work on our youth in so many ways. Said President Clark, ". . . a tremendous amount of the modern art, of the modern literature and music, and the drama that we have today is utterly demoralizing—utterly" (Relief Society Magazine, December 1952, p. 792).
Have you been listening to the music that many young folks are hearing today? Some of it is nerve-jamming in nature and much of it has been deliberately designed to promote revolution, dope, immorality, and a gap between parent and child. And some of this music has invaded our church cultural halls.
Have you noticed some of our Church dances lately? Have they been praiseworthy, lovely, and of good report? "I doubt," said President McKay, "whether it is possible to dance most of the prevalent fad dances in a manner to meet LDS standards." And what about modesty in dress? When was the last time you saw a high school girl wearing a dress that covered her knees? The courageous address of Elder Spencer W. Kimball a few years ago entitled "A Style of Our Own" is certainly applicable today.
I want to congratulate the Tabernacle Choir for their attire. It was noted that in their broadcast at Constitution Hall during the inaugural festivities, all the ladies seated on the front row had dresses that covered their knees.
Now what kind of magazines come into your home? With perhaps one or two exceptions, I would not have any of the major national slick magazines in my home. As President Clark so well put it, ". . . take up any national magazine, look at the ads and, if you can stand the filth, read some of the stories—they are, in their expressed and suggestive standards of life, destructive of the very foundations of our society" (Conference Report, April 1951, p. 79).
President Cannon's test
Now hear this test proposed by President George Q. Cannon: "If the breach is daily widening between ourselves and the world . . . we may be assured that our progress is certain, however slow. On the opposite hand, if our feelings and affections, our appetites and desires, are in unison with the world around us and freely fraternize with them . . . we should do well to examine ourselves. Individuals in such a condition might possess a nominal position in the Church but would be lacking the life of the work, and, like the foolish virgins who slumbered while the bridegroom tarried (Matt. 25:5), they would be unprepared for his coming" (Millennial Star, Oct. 5, 1861 [Vol. 23], pp. 645-46.)
To repeat again from the Book of Mormon, ". . . they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men" (2 Ne. 28:14).
May we cherish God's revelations more than man's reasoning and choose to follow the prophets of the Lord rather than the precepts of men is my humble prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.