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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Religion is opposed by those whose own zealous beliefs are merely the echos of their television sets

We live in a country where religion is frowned upon as being arbitrary by those whose beliefs are nothing more than the fads of the moment. They cheer for anything the popular people are cheering for: feminism, abortion, homosexuality. They will cheer for pedophilia someday. They fight for their beliefs with zeal almost unknown among those of us who have the truth. They despise religious conviction while their convictions are nothing more than the dictates of their television sets.
Can't those of us with the truth fight a harder for it? Can't we stop apologizing and start standing firmly? Our religious freedoms are slipping away like the receding tide and we seem mostly unconcerned or unwilling to do more that fret.
Those who created a free nation were allowed to visit the prophet in vision and request that their temple work be done. Who else in history has been granted the right by God to visit the prophet after death to make such a request? Can we not see by the glory they won, that we stand at the brink of eternal shame if we stand idly by as the freedom they won is vanquished?
We were called to prepare the earth for the second coming, not to just hunker down and wait for it. John the baptist was called to prepare the earth for Christ's first coming - did he just hunker down and wait? No - he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He cried so and the spirit accompanied his boldness so that, though he lived in the wilderness King Herod himself could not ignore his words.
John the Baptist unflinchingly testifed that Herod's marriage was immoral. Are we too ashamed now to state that some marriages are immoral? And that fornication and pornography are immoral? Not just "addicting" or that they destroy families, but that they are both immoral and offensive to God.
Will we prepare the world for the second coming by hiding our candle? Those we live around and work with and talk to and those who read what we write about ourselves need to hear a voice crying out in the wilderness. It needs to be a voice for right and freedom. It needs to be a voice confident in the truth, not laced with apologies for truth and right.
Those who oppose us will never make peace with us because immorality can never be comfortable with the truth. Having taken up a war against religious freedom (which we should have known that they would) we should know they will never drop it. It is not a matter of simply having conversations with them. It is not matter of simply discussing and celebrating differences. They will use every compromise we make against us because it is the power of the devil opposing the power of God, and the adversary will never tire, flag nor stagger to destroy us, nor is there any victory he will be satisfied with short of total, absolute victory.
Immorality is serious sin. And those involved in it are the servants of him who they list to obey. They will never drop the fight against us, so we need to fight like we mean it. If we won't fight for our own religious freedoms, will we at least fight for our children's.
Our enemies show a zeal and devotion to their cause that is an embarrassment to us because by comparison we are unconcerned. We have the real truth while they are nothing more than echoes of their television sets. Yet many, many of us sympathize and even publicly argue for them.
Must the children of damnation always be wiser in their generation than the children of light?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The world wants acceptance just as it is, but the natural man is an enemy to God

The world wants acceptance exactly as it is. It is the same teaching as Nehor - since God created man then all men need to be accepted as they are for they are innately worthy "just as they are":
Alma 1:4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
But God's message is essentially the opposite
Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

It is worth nothing in Alma 1:4 that when Nehor teaches that "they need not fear nor tremble" he is not intentionally directly contradicting the scriptures, which teach that we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

When he was known as Saul, Paul was a respected member of society. He was learned. His zeal probably earned him a lot of honor among the religious leaders of his day. He probably had what we would call a good life.

But when the truth of that matter is unveiled by the Lord, whatever worldly acclaim and honors and comforts Saul enjoyed, he was not happy. His life was hard and unsatisfying. To use the Lord's words "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks". That is a statement of what kind of life Paul was leading. It just all seemed wrong and unsatisfying. It was hard.

Afterwards we read of Paul living a life that involved great suffering. Paul was scourged, which was such a horrific punishment that many people didn't survive scourging. Paul was eventually imprisoned and, we believe, executed.

And there is something interesting in the fact that it was the first half of Paul's life of which the Lord would say "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" rather than the last half. The last half involved great persecution and suffering to be sure. But these burdens were swallowed up in Christ. They were light compared to the burden of fighting the truth.

Local church leadership vs middle management

As I think back with a little more knowledge and experience it becomes clear to me that there was always an odd mix in the wards I was in. There were people who seemed to think of their positions in the church as being like a business, particularly those positions that brought them into Ward Council, Bishopric meeting or Priesthood Executive Committee meeting. They seemed to feel they were supposed to be managers - they just happened to be managers where part of that management was to tell people they loved them. They had a measure of affection, to be sure, but in retrospect I can't help feel it frequently it was a way they felt obligated to act more than anything else. For a number of them, I think they saw friendship almost as the gospel "management style". Which, sadly, robs friendship of its soul.

Then there were people who I believe really had started to develop some measure of the love of Christ. There was a depth to their interest in people, and an insight that accompanied it that was born of inspiration. I can think of a stake presidency member whose years of military service sometimes made him come across as gruff, but who carried gospel light with him in his dealings with his fellow man. That greater light seemed to be accompanied by greater insight. He had a knack for finding the heart of a matter, and insight into keeping people in the right way.

I can think of a Bishop who, after being released, was criticized by the next Bishop for not doing his priesthood duty because he would often miss much of church to take his adopted son home. His adopted son had pretty serious problems due to physical abuse prior to being adopted. The Bishop who took his son home still strikes me as one who rather strikingly carried the light of the gospel with him as he dealt with people. He was our friend, but not because friendship was how you manage the church. The Bishop who criticized him was a good man too. He really was. But there was a difference. One of them saw the "one sheep" through different eyes than the other, and used a different stick by which to measure priesthood duty.

I am not saying that any of these people was called against the Lord's will. I believe the Lord completely supported them in their callings. Bishop's don't need to be perfect. That is OK. No one wants a "be perfect" requirement suddenly heaped on their back. They are regular members. It would be too much. No one could be a Bishop. The leaders worked really hard and did huge amounts of good in building the Lord's kingdom, and of course the Lord honored their sacrifices.

But I worry that the "being a bishop is middle management" mindset had started to gain some real footing in some of our wards. In at least one stake I believe a relation between church leadership ability and business management ability was openly suggested by the stake president.

Christ did not behave like a company CEO. Had he done so, he would have failed. The scriptures say of Christ:

Mosiah 14:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Apparently Christ wasn't the most energizing, the most dynamic, the most charismatic leader. That isn't what being a Savior is all about.

Christ called Matthew, who was a publican, to be an apostle. The publicans were generally despised by the people because they were tax collectors for the Romans. That is why the phrase "publicans and sinners" is used as a recurring insult in the new testament. But that wasn't what concerned Christ. He called someone who was despised by the people to be an apostle because Matthew had the spirit of the Lord.

Just as Christ was not like a CEO, Christ's Bishops are not called to be middle management. Worldly ideas about "management" have no place in the church. The scriptures are the manual for running the church. Worldly ideas about management impede true gospel leadership. They grow up around it and constrict it. The scriptures are more the real manual than the handbook of instructions is the real manual. The handbook of instructions may hit more difficult, finicky cases and spell out vastly more bureaucratic rules, but the scriptures are the backbone it is trying to support, and in time the handbook of instructions will be replaced and no one will miss it. By contrast the scriptures are the living water we drink from to have the light of inspiration. Inspiration is the lifeblood of the church. The scriptures are the word of God.

I absolutely, unquestionably think the Lord was very pleased with the work all these local leaders did. Very much so. He accepts our sacrifices even though we err. He honors them for their extensive efforts in his kingdom.

But I still find something repugnant in the idea that church leadership is like middle management in a large company. I'm not sure anyone ever stated it that way precisely, but it seemed to be an underlying assumption for some people. For some, it was as if friendship was a commodity. For some, it was as if friendship was just a "management style". That just comes across differently than gospel light shining through you because it has become so much a part of you. Of course I don't think the Lord will reject the many, many sacrifices in his service made by those who viewed their own church positions in ways influenced by worldly ideas about leadership. Absolutely not. He honors their sacrifices. But the numbers who follow such an idea in their hearts weaken the spirit of the work being done, and thus weakens its ability to accomplish its principle ends - the immortality and eternal life of his children.

They were all very good men.

But the idea that local church leadership should take any inspiration from middle management in a large company is still repulsive.

Monday, September 28, 2015

We worship the Father

Feminism stands in direct opposition to the gospel.

In the gospel we worship a Heavenly Father. We do not worship a Heavenly Mother.

We pray to the Father, we do not pray to our Heavenly Mother.

Christ on the cross cried out to his Father, he did not cry out to his Mother. Christ told Mary that she could not hold him because he had not yet ascended to his Father.

Our enemies know what we fail to acknowledge - that our doctrine is a patriarchal one. That where Christ went first to his beloved wife Mary (and Martha), the next person would be his Father. What we are seeing here is the divine order as proclaimed in Eden: that a man will leave his Father and Mother and cleave unto his wife and they will be one flesh. Thus Christ went first to Mary. Then, again echoing the commandments of Eden, Christ ascended to his Father. Why? Because as declared in Eden, the Father rules over his home. Thus the Son reported to his Father, was concerned about obeying his Father, and spoke morning and night with his Father.

Christ spoke often of his Father in heaven. He did always his Father's will, therefore his Father loved him. There is no scripture about Christ doing his Heavenly Mother's will. And that is because His divine home is patriarchal.




The Gentiles should not at any time hear his voice

I hadn't put these together before, but I expect they belong together. Again we see blessings here based on faithfulness in premortality. The Lord didn't arbitrarily and unfairly decide that the gentiles would not at any time hear his voice. Abraham was given a promise that he would be the father of the faithful, that is, that the most obedient spirit children would be born into his posterity. In these days the logical consequence to that are considered unspeakable, but they are plain enough. Those born into the gentile lines were the less righteous spirits.

Those who were most righteous in the spirit world were given foreordinations and promises. Among those was the possibility that they might hear the Lords voice directly here in mortality. Those spirits who did not live up to the privilege of receiving the promise of being born into the house of Israel also will not receive the opportunity to hear his voice in mortality.

3 Nephi 15:23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.
 24 But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.

Mark 7: 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

Matt 10: 5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Now there are many Israelites who were choice spirits in the premortal life and threw away everything here in mortality. There were Israelites who killed the prophets and there were Israelites that crucified the Son of God. The Book of Mormon except for the book of Ether is a story about Israelites and yet it has plenty of wickedness as well as righteousness in it. It is possible to completely throw away the blessings obtained in the premortal life and we see that constantly in the scriptures.

And on the other hand, there are those who are born gentiles and repent and receive great spiritual honors in this life. There is Ruth, who though a gentile was allowed to have the Son of God be among her posterity. What an incredible honor that is. There is Cornelius, who the Holy Ghost converted and who Peter, by vision from God, knew needed to be baptized into the true church.

That is the meaning of the scripture that there are many who were first who shall be last and many who are last who shall be first. What we did in the premortal life is nothing compared to what we are going to choose to do now. If we choose exaltation here, it doesn't matter what we chose there. If we choose damnation here, it is irrelevant what we choose there.

What matters right now is what we are going to choose to do right now.

Sealings and remarriage

Before a man gets married to a widow that is sealed to another man he needs to consider how he will feel if and when his children through her are not his in eternity, as well as how that knowledge will affect their children, that they will not have their physical father in eternity, but another man.

If he is allowed to be sealed to her, despite the fact that she is already sealed to another, they need to consider how this will affect her previous children, who no longer have certainty about who exactly they will be sealed to. Which man will their mother be sealed to in eternity? If it is not their physical father, will they be unhappy to either have another man as their father in eternity or another woman as their mother in eternity? Before a woman gets sealed to another man after her husband has died, she needs to consider the possibility that the children may go with him, instead if with her.

If I am faithful and sealed to my wife, and I die, it is a shame to my memory to abuse and invalidate the fruits of my faithfulness to my covenant and to my wife by her sealing herself to another man. It is a shame to my covenant and memory if she risks putting me aside from herself and our children by seeking to be sealed to another man in his place. By very nature of such a choice she shows her unfaithfulness to her eternal commitment to her original husband and I wonder whether because of that the children may usually go with him, despite that we usually think of children as "going with the mother". She has breached her covenant to give herself to him for eternity, by giving herself to another for eternity, so how can she receive the fruits of that first covenant, which included the children made eternally his and hers by that covenant? If he has been faithful to the covenant, why would she, who has beached it, receive them.

While only the Lord knows exactly how such things will be resolved, there are a few things that are clear from the revelations.

1. A man can be sealed eternally to multiple women.
2. Women cannot be sealed eternally to more than one man.
3. Children cannot be sealed eternally except to a couple who are, themselves, sealed eternally.

That means if a woman marries more than one man, eternally she will be sealed to at most one of them. Others will not have her in eternity. Also, each child will be sealed as the child of a couple that is sealed. How that is resolved when a woman is sealed to multiple men isn't clear, but the consequences shouldn't be ignored by those who are considering putting themselves in such situations.

The eternal nature of sealings should weigh heavily in the minds of those who are considering putting themselves or their offspring in one of these difficult positions. Consequences of sealings seem to have been thrown out the window in a divorce minded culture. They should be taught and it made clear that a woman will be sealed to only one man in the eternities and the children will be sealed to a set of parents,who are in fact sealed to each other.

If a man marries a woman sealed faithfully to another man, he is raising up seed to the other man, and not to himself.

A hard doctrine for us

One of the hardest of doctrines for us is the doctrine of the family and the promises made concerning posterity. We know that the members of the church were the Lord's most faithful spirits, but we don't want to admit that means that not all spirits in the premortal life were equally faithful. We want to take the powers of the waters of life out of God's hands, and use modern medical means to specify exactly when and how many children we will accept. We want to take the power to ourselves, but we don't want to face the spiritual consequences I think it is because we are spoiled. In our socieity we are used to thinking that we always deserve the best, and if we don't choose the best a first, we shouldn't be stuck with that which isn't. For instance, suppose a woman has a child out of wedlock, and then later repents. Can the Lord send one of his most great and noble ones to be born as that child, or will he send someone whose spiritual promises in the premortal life were not at the foremost? He cannot send one of his great and noble ones into that situation. Now that goes horribly against our thinking. We think that if she repents then the Lord should send her a better spirit child because he knew in advance that she would repent. But we don't gain spiritual blessings in advance and not all blessings can be gained in retrospect. It really isn't any different that if she chose to marry a horrible man, and is then converted to the gospel. There is nothing in that conversion that changes the fact that she is married to a horrible man. Now the fact that she has repented offers opporunities to that horrible man, or to that child, but there are consequences of our actions, and the most sacred choices can have the most enduring consequences.

If we respect the Lord in the sacred choices we find blessings beyond our greatest expectations. If we do not do so we find disappointments that are beyond our greatest expectations.

The choices of intimacy have an ability to grow into something much larger. They are the power of creation and we need to watch out for what we choose to create through them. If we choose to ignore the great creators commands, then we may find that we have spouted a branch through marriage to or to children that will be a rebellious branch. As with any of Gods children, it may be that with great effort they can be swayed, but the branch that was PLANTED in that action is not a pleasant one and it will grown and begat more posterity after its likeness - if it is not swayed it will grow into a tree with wild fruit.

And if we will instead treat the ability to procreate with the utmost respect, not damming up the waters or life when married, getting married under the covenant of Abraham so that the lord can send us posterity through our generations that will bless all the nations of the earth, and whose hearts will turn to their fathers to in turn bless us long after our death, then we have planted a good tree that can grow into something wonderful.

So we must be very careful how we respect the waters of life, as they have the capacity to grwo into a tree that mimics the source from which they sprang.

Now there is more to this doctrine. After all the disciples did ask whether the man sinned or his parents sinned that he was born blind. The disciples did know that premortal choices and mortal choices of parents can have consequences for children. But the answer was neither, but so that the glory of God could be manifest in Christ healing him. And who can argue with that as being a coveted blessing, to be one who Christ would heal and thereby show forth his power in. It sounds as if the man knew of this honor the premortaity just as surely as the man who saw Christ as a baby in the temple already knew in mortality that he would see the Messiah before he died.

We want to make the Abrahamic covenant of sealing in the temple, but we don't want to face the fact that if we intentionally choose to violate the covenant to multiply and replenish the earth, then we necessarily lose the accompanying blessing that through our posterity all the earth will be blessed, i.e. we lose the blessing that the Lord will send us spirit children that were foreordained to bless all the earth.

Yes, we can repent, but the gift of his choicest spirit children as posterity is bequeathed by covenant, and not in retrospect.





Burning down one's tree

There are some laws that the world overlooks. One of these is the relationship between parenting and chastity. We see the results of this in the lives of others around us. But never really put it together.

Our children are, as it were, a tree. There is a sacred influence that we have as parents that supports and protects that tree. This influence is a spiritual grace that is not normally perceived. It is as real as the light of Christ, and is similar in some ways. It comes from God and it provides light and spiritual strength and goodness to our children that is very real. But when parents violate fundamental laws of chastity, that protection is taken away, and it is as if our tree is burnt down.

This influence is so much a part of how we grow up that we don't really notice it exists, any more than we notice the light of Christ or the gentle presence of the Holy Ghost in our life. But, just as with the light of Christ or the Holy Ghost, we notice a drastic difference when it is missing.

Because it is normal throughout our lives, we notice it when it disappears, more than we recognize it during our lives.

Chastity is the law of a body, and the law of the family. When a parent violates the law of chastity, it is, as it were, as if they have burnt down their tree. It is not that the children don't still have choices.

But it is as if much of the protective and supportive goodness the child acquired from that parent suddenly disappears. The child may still stand strong, possibly all the children will, but that protective tie is gone and it is as if that parents effect for good has largely evaporated, leaving the children on their own.

It is always surprising to see the results of this. A parent gets involved in immorality and not long thereafter the children that seemed to be well raised seem to fall apart morally. This is most surprising when it is a much older parents and not long thereafter some of the adult married children suddenly start falling apart morally.

When we get involved in serious immorality, we burn down our tree that spouted from a proper use of the fountains of life.

Brigham Young and blood atonement

One of the things that were taught in the early church but that people seem to consider an embarrassment in these days is the doctrine of blood atonement.

But it is not an embarrassing doctrine at all. It is badly misunderstood, to be sure. And as protestant ideas about the atonement have been being popularized among many church members it becomes more foreign to us, as it is clearly at odds with such teachings. But it is a perfectly good doctrine, and not at all what it is commonly portrayed as.

The typical portrayal of this doctrine is this: for a man or woman who commits adultery to be saved their blood must be shed, i.e. they must be killed.

Now Brigham Young clearly recognized that some of the things he had taught could be misconstrued as meaning that. He said "From what is at times said here, it might be inferred that everyone who did not walk to the line was at once going to be destroyed, but who has been hurt? Who is about to be killed?"

The answer is that nobody had been hurt or was about to be killed. Had none of them committed adultery, or was it just not known? No, in the same talk he stated "I mention this to inform the people, that they may understand what they should do with regard to the law of God, and the transgression thereof. The law is very strict; and in this congregation there are men and women who, with uplifted hands to heaven, before the Father, the Son, and all the holy angels, made solemn covenants that they never would do thus and so. For example, one obligation is, 'I will never have anything to do with any of the daughters of Eve, unless they are given to me of the Lord.' Men will call God to witness that they never will transgress this law, and promise to live a virtuous life, so far as intercourse with females is concerned; but what can you see? A year will not pass away before some few of them are guilty of creeping into widows' houses, and into bed with the wives of their brethren, debauching one woman here, and another there. Do we enforce upon them the strict penalty of the law?"

Brigham Young did teach that when the full celestial law was both known and the children had been raised up knowing it, then such a thing would be part of it. But he also stated, in the same talk, that "it will never come until the inhabitants of the earth, and especially those who have been gathered together, have a sufficient time to be educated in the celestial law, so that each person may understand for himself."

I have written elsewhere explaining that when he speaks of the celestial law, he means a great deal more that what we currently enjoy. That is a day when all saints are as prophets. It is a day in which no man needs to say to his neighbor "know thou the Lord" because all will know him from the least to the greatest and the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. And in a day like that, with that degree of light and knowledge among all the members, one may well expect that the penalty for adultery falling from that level of knowledge would be severe.

Which is what Brigham Young is teaching. Such a penalty is only exacted when there is such tremendous light and knowledge among the people that it really is a violation in direct opposition to even common sense, that it becomes a sort of treachery. It is analogous to the terms on which one becomes a son of Perdition. Becoming a son of perdition requires turning to fight against God after having come up into the presence of the Son. The sort of blood atonement Brigham Young speaks of is the penalty in a day and among a people who are so spiritually enlightened that adultery is similarly a treacherous rebellion. As we come to understand the principles on which the world runs, it becomes more and more clear to us that sexual misbehavior stands in opposition to joy in intimacy. The two are in conflict.

He also teaches that the atonement doesn't cover the breaches of individual covenants, e.g. if someone has gone to the temple and then commits adultery. This really rubs those who have taken on protestant ideas about the atonement the wrong way. Brigham Young asserts that such people must atone with their own blood. But he makes very clear that it isn't by the shedding of their own blood. In fact, he makes it clear that they atone by their suffering in mortality both through whatever punishments God sees fit to inflict by his own hand, as well as through the suffering of their own conscience. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE. When he says they must atone by their own blood, he is very clear that it is not by the SHEDDING of their blood, but by their suffering in mortality for their sins.

So there are two distinctions between the usual misconception and what Brigham Young puts forth as the correct understanding. (1) There really is a circumstance where the shedding of blood is to be required, but that circumstance is one in which a generation has grown up with the celestial law (which is far more than we currently enjoy) and so such actions are done against a perfect knowledge of the full ramifications of the deed (which we do not now have as members), and (2) there is still a sense in which people even in his day and ours must atone for with their own blood for adultery in violation of temple covenants, but it does not involve the SHEDDING of their own blood. It involves whatever suffering of conscience they go through to repent as well as whatever punishment God sees fit to inflict directly by his own power.

Note that this doctrine has ceased to be taught not because it is wrong, but because it is probably not strictly necessary for the saints to know about. Especially if they are unprepared.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

We understand the blessings of Tithing, but ironically don't know how to fix our families

We all recognize that as there are blessing associated with paying tithing, there are consequently costs associated with not paying tithing. No one is surprised that a member who is otherwise faithful but won't pay their tithing might finds that their money doesn't go as far as it really ought to, whereas a member who pays it faithfully finds that their smaller income is somehow sufficient for their needs

We are familiar with the many stories of people paying tithing and miraculously having enough money to get by, when by all rights they should not have.

So why can't we realize the same general principle in other commandments?

What we so clearly recognize about obeying the law of tithing is nothing more nor less than a manifestation of the scripture:

D&C 130:20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

The biggest commandments involve life and death or involve sexual intimacy. Can't we recognize that if the principle taught in D&C 130 is true of tithing, that it is also equally true of the greatest commandments?

We know if we don't pay our tithing we can expect the Lord not to bless us.

But we think we can watch a woman taking off her shirt on television or being filmed provocatively or listen to a song with innuendo or two men kissing on many much worse things and that it will have no consequences.

We look back the stable families in the fifties before the sexual revolution, and we wish we our teenagers weren't rebellious, we wish our marriages didn't end in divorce, we wonder how the church is losing so many youth?

We think that we can use birth control to limit the spacing and number of our children, or to control the timing of them.

And we wonder why sterility has become such a common issue that terrorizes so many of our members? It has always existed of course, but the numbers that are tormented by such grief now seem totally out of proportion now when compared with what we find in older days doing our family history.

We have many that would not dream of skimping on tithing or taking a sip of alcohol, but think nothing of watching sex and open nudity played out on the movie screen in front of them.

We need to recognize that what we know about tithing, that the Lord one way or another blesses those that keep it, and blows on either the wealth, or on the enjoyment of that wealth, of those who do not, and we need to carry it over to the other commandments, and particularly the necessity for a firm commitment to basic moral decency and modesty akin to what was common among men before the sexual revolution if we want to have the basic blessings of marital stability and

Our culture has unilaterally not only rejected the idea of the husband as the head of the home, but consider the idea oppressive and offensive. Our society crows over the freedom so called liberated women enjoy, but their hearst are broken as our societies husbands commonly consider pornography normal and and huge numbers of marriages end in divorce. So much for our societies promises to women. They offer all the the world can and it turns out to only be heartbreak. And not just heartbreak for the women, but for the little children who are viewed by their own mother as being a secondary concern, next to their mother's pursuit of career and fulfillment.

We look back snidely at older days as naive and simplistic and yet our sophistication has only brought us sorrow. We are too sophisticated to stand by plain truth about decency. We "too grown up" to be "bothered" when sleaze shows up on the movie screen. We are learned and think we are wise.

But we will never regain the stable families, the life long marriages, the unity among children and the unmitigated joy of family until we insist on the same decency in our own lives - in what we watch, listen to and read, until we submit with faith to the hand of God with regard to the number and timing of our children -- seeing each as an incredible joy and blessing rather than a secondary object subject to our whims and plans. We will never have the same level of happiness for our women until our husbands are the head of their homes and the providers for their families.

Until we return to decency, turn away from birth control, turn back to husbands at the head as provider and protector, until we insist fiercely on decency in all our media and are not too sophisticated too invoke God and scripture as the foundation of our society with a proper place in motivating laws and public policies, until we return to submitting our will to God's will when it comes to the sacred powers of procreation, the nature of men and women, the structure of family leadership, and the timing and number of our children when the mother's health is not at risk, then we are like those who pay a part tithing, and we cannot expect the blessings of family joy unity, heritage and family endurance that come only from living these principles.

When we look at something sleazy, we need to realize that we anger our God and he, being a God will not fail to ensure that we pay the due price for it.

There is no moral misbehavior that doesn't come at a cost in divine punishment whose misery always far outweighs whatever fun we thought we were having at the time.

And simultaneously, the blessings God is willing to pour out if we are willing to submit our will strictly to his on this matter in terms of family joy are always far more than what we conceive that he is willing to bless us with. His hand in our happiness will be shown almost without bound if we are willing to keep these weightier, but largely discarded, matters of his law.

We know that if we rob God $1 in Tithing, we will find our blessings sapped by far more than $1 worth. At the same time, if we strictly obey, we are surprised at the immense financial storms that we can weather. How great the cost of that stolen dollar!

And the same is true of much more serious commandments than tithing. There is a tremendous cost for the small disobediences we rationalize away as being nothing. Yet if we will instead obey strictly over time we will be amazed at how it will affect ourselves and our family.

It is not different for the lesser law than for the greater. But we seem to understand this for the lesser law, and not understand it at all for the greater.

Many of our eyes are more on big callings than on our little ones

Ezra Taft Benson taught No nation ever rises above its homes. This Church will never rise above its homes. We are no better as a people than are our firesides, our homes. … The good home is the rock foundation, the cornerstone of civilization. It must be preserved. It must be strengthened.

We have lost track of the greater calling, having chosen the lesser instead. We want to have a big calling in the church. We want the honor of being in the Elder's quorum presidency, the Young Men's presidency, the Bishopric, or maybe even the Stake Presidency. As this becomes more a part of us, the women feel resentful, because they are missing out on the greater rewards the gospel has to offer. Or so they think, and so we encourage them, by thinking so ourselves.

If our calling is what we are all about, then the bigger callings are the greater rewards. But that is not the case. It is our relationships as husband, wife, child, father, mother that most define our activity and position in the church. Those who miss out on those blessings here will have them bestowed later if they prove worthy here. By contrast, if you don't get called to be the Bishop here, you won't need to be a Bishop in eternity. In fact, the Aaronic priesthood will be taken away when the sons of Levi offer an offering in righteousness. The Aaronic priesthood is nothing more than a slice of the Melchizedek priesthood, and it was not a separately available thing in the beginning, nor will it be in the end.

Being Bishop isn't what the gospel is all about. The gospel is about the home. Our men have lost track of that and rank family below callings, and frequently rank the family low when making callings. Our women have lost track of that and.

Draft that previously ended the Grace section of atonement book

REAL GRACE AND FAKE GRACE -- this is taken from the end of the Grace section of my book on the atonement. There are some interesting points here, but I think there is a lot of improvement on this that belongs in the book.
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Two of the most destructive errors in the teachings of Brad Wilcox and Stephen Robinson are

(1) The mixing and intermingling the consequences of serious sin and the consequences of the daily errors we are all prone to make. They lump them all into one big group called sin. Compare that to President Kimball’s, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, or his conference talks as the prophet. There are some matters of which we may need to repent, but when it comes to serious matters such as moral transgression, he says. Do these sound like they can be put on the same footing?
Doesn’t baptism distinguish between them? If you want to get baptized but you are a somewhat rude person, you can still get baptized. But if you want to get baptized and you want to keep on sleeping around, that is another matter. In the sense that all are guilty and have fallen short of the kingdom of God it is worth pointing out that everyone has sinned to one degree or small. But past that point, it is mostly deceptive to fail to distinguish between big sins and small ones. What is worse about this is that they use the scriptures and teachings about the small matters to address the big matters. Wilcox is a particular offender in this area. He persistently uses cases that seem imply that the matter at hand probably has some moral misbehavior as part of it, then applies scriptures and sayings to address it as if it were a fault like gossiping, with an attitude of “let’s not pretend it is really an offensive matter”. Wilcox’s Christ and Spencer W Kimball’s Christ have radically different reactions to immorality. The Christ of the new testament was quite strict about morality.

(2) The other really awful mistake both authors make is that they replace the need to press forward diligently holding to the iron rod with a different path entirely. And this is a serious matter because by replacing the path with a manmade one they have replaced it with one that SOUNDS a lot easier, more friendly, and certainly more palatable, but in reality they have replaced Christ’s path with one that is much more treacherous, much harder to really stay on. THAT IS BECAUSE, IRONICALLY, WHAT THEY DON’T REALLY BELIEVE IN IS CHRIST’S GRACE. They believe in a false version of grace that justifies us in doing sin. And in doing so they reject the true power of Christ’s grace that is offered to us only on condition of repentance. It is the repentance that brings us into Christ’s power, and allows him to free us from the adversaries influence and really start pouring out his spiritual endowments, including the Holy Ghost, upon us. That is his grace, pouring out the gift of the Holy Ghost upon us as we repent. Christ knows that the faster we can press forward along the path, the quicker we free ourselves from the adversary’s power and the more powerfully his influence can strengthen and enlighten us. Thus he warns us of mists of darkness that can pull us off, warns us to hold firmly to the iron rod, and admonishes us to press forward diligently that we might obtain the prize. By contrast Wilcox and Robinson both portray a path that is, for all practical purposes, optional as long as you got through the starting gate. Yes, they come up with reasons that we ought to move along. But what they don’t have is a reason we MUST move along. Wilcox says that Christ is offering us a better life, and so he is. But from Wilcox’s writings one sees that it isn’t compulsory that we take Christ up on his offer. Wilcox states repeatedly things along the lines of: if we don’t press forward we are not taking advantage of Christ’s investment in us, or not showing the proper gratitude, or missing out on the higher plane he would have us enjoy. But if a man can enjoy a little bit of sexual gratification from questionable, but not downright pornographic, movies and websites without losing out the kingdom of God, he may well choose to do exactly that. Robinson similarly only cajoles the reader toward repentance. They both say that the IDEA is that we need to repent and improve. But what both are missing is that it is not just the idea, it is crucial. And in fact, it is crucial. And if you are going around telling everyone it is a form or gratitude, and more fulfilling, and it is taking advantange of an investment, but everyone really believes that there is also the stick around without actually getting excommunicated path AND THAT TO DO SO DOES NOT LACK ONE THING IN OUR WORTHINESS TO INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD, then many people will choose to do just that with their favorite misbehaviors, and their favorite ones are usually the ones that are the most dangerous. It presents a strait and narrow path, that isn’t really strait or narrow. It is a wider and reasonably accommodating one with signs suggesting we ought to move along, and THAT IS DANGEROUS DOCTRINE.

Let’s take an example of this. Let’s say we have a young man who doesn’t participate in downright pornography, but certainly likes to read books with some sleazy material in them and to watch movies with “a scene” in them. If he reads Wilcox’s book, he knows that he should move along, but he knows that it isn’t strictly necessary for his exaltation. If he reads Robinson’s book, he knows that as long as he has a broken heart and contrite spirit (in an attitude-only sense) then he is spiritually better off than his friend who always reads his scriptures and seems determined to keep all the commandments. After all, Robinson discusses the people who won’t accept grace and want to save themselves, and claims that those people are actually rejecting grace.

And here is where the other path is treacherous. The things this young man is reading and watching are offensive to the Holy Ghost, and he cannot have the Holy Ghost to be with him. He is missing out on that real manifestation of God’s real grace. But these same things that offend thy Holy Ghost are invitations to the adversary. And here is the point, they not only drive away the Holy Ghost, they give the adversary increasing power and influence in this young man’s life as he continues to give way to them. He can probably keep up his habits for a week and no one will notice much. But given him some years and the adversary’s hold will manifest itself so much that it will clearly show up in spiritual matters. Spiritual truths will kind of glance off of him without leaving a lasting impression. Things leaders and parents say just won’t sink in very well. Certainly sacrifices like a mission will seem unappealing to him.

The problem with the path that Robinson and Wilcox portray is that it neglects the conflicting nature of good and evil. They are in combat with each other. A fallen man must flee evil, and press forward diligently along the path. Not because he is thankful, not because a lot was invested in him, but because to dally on the path is often deadly. It may not be in all cases. But the casualties will be heavy in a society that believes that pressing forward along the path is a sign of gratitude, instead of realizing that pressing forward IS choosing to let light win out in one’s own soul against competing darkness. If the light is not growing and casting out the darkness – including the darkness of dark deeds, then of necessity, the darkness will be growing and casting out the light. The Holy Ghost was not given to us for the purpose of standing still, and it will not continue with us if that is all we want to do. As soon as it leaves, the adversary gains sway. There is a reason nobody in Lehi’s dream was just leaning against the rod. The nature of good and the nature of evil are such that they are in conflict. The path is clearest as we press forward, and it is as we stop moving that we lose sight of the route.

The book “Believing Christ” has left most of a generation of members no longer motivated to press forward diligently, and worse than that, it has taught many that to press forward diligently is a rejection of Christ’s grace, is trying to save oneself, and is actually a rejection of the atonement. It is probably obvious to many that if one is rejecting the atonement one’s salvation is in question.

FAKE GRACE VS REAL GRACE
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Fake Grace provides an easy path. Its advocates are always surprised that people won’t accept just how easy it is. Fake grace offers an easy path, but no accompanying spiritual gifts per se, because it limits our contact with heaven. It teaches us that God will justify in committing a little sin, and that all is well in Zion. It offers spiritual security without offering spiritual gifts.

Fake grace provides an easy path without connecting us to the powers of heaven. Real grace is often quite directly about connecting us to the powers of heaven.

Fake grace offers a warm blanket of feel good easiness. It tells us to stop working so hard. It tells us that serious sin isn’t really so serious in God’s eyes. Sure, fake grace insists that sexual sin is still sin. But it rarely admits that it is actually offensive to God.

Fake grace does not bring us more and more into spiritual light and truth. It convinces us that we have done what was required. It doesn’t bring about great light and spiritual power. It just convinces us that we have already got every eternal thing there is to get. By contrast, real grace is actually the beginning of what grows into the full grace that Christ received and thereby became like his Father.
Compare that to real grace. The person receiving real grace is more able to discern and do rightly before God. The light of Christ, the gift of the Holy Ghost are examples of real grace. Real grace is often manifest as spiritual endowments and gifts. It is obtained only on the conditions of repentance. Real grace makes it easier to repent, opens our eyes to the places we need to repent, by increasing our connection to God’s generous gift (or grace) of the Holy Ghost. Real grace always requires more repentance to receive more grace. We have to become better tomorrow than we were today if we want to receive more real grace tomorrow than we received today. There is no other condition on which real grace is bestowed. It is in accordance with the scripture that

There is a law decreed in heavens before the foundations of the world and when any …. It is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Thus grace is earned. But the rewards for our behavior are always exceedingly generous. Real grace is, in part, the overly generous rewards that are offered in reward to obeying the corresponding laws. We repent and are baptized, and we receive remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Nothing in our baptism earned those for us. They are merciful gifts, extraordinarily generous rewards given by obedience to the law on which they were predicated.

Fake Grace is a legalistic agreement of spiritual security with limited requirements made of us in mortality. It is offered by other churches, but it is also offered by false teachers within the true church. It doesn’t bring us more and more into the power of God. It leaves us feeling no necessity to press forward, as it teaches that to move on is optional, and it is sometimes accompanied by the teaching that if you press forward too hard, you are actually refusing to accept God’s grace. It has left an entire generation unmotivated to press forward because they believe there is no necessity to do so, and frankly our acceptable sins are comfortable. Otherwise everyone would be teaming for repentance. If sin offered no hold on the soul and mind we would just have people lining up to be baptized and live the word of wisdom, the law of chastity, tithing and fast offerings, fasting ,… people just couldn’t wait to live the better life if sin wasn’t so comfortable, if it had no hold on the mind and soul. In fact, it has such a hold that many will reject salvation over the matter, wandering off the path into the mists of darkness or even seeking out the great and spacious building. So who is going to “press forward” and get rid of their sins once that salvation is no longer the issue? Especially if salvation is maybe even less likely if we seem to believe too strongly that we need to repent and keep all the commandments.

Fake grace PREVENTS us from moving forward and receiving real grace. It tells us that it doesn’t really matter whether or not we press forward. We already have the prize. It usually teaches that if we press forward too hard, we are actually rejecting the atonement, and rejecting God’s grace.
Now there are degrees of fake grace, adapted to the willingness of the recipient to buy into it.
Real grace – real grace is not a means by which those things we are still doing wrong in our life are forgiven. There is no such thing. Repentance is the terms under which we gain forgiveness for something. If I am withholding charitable feelings from my neighbor, then I won’t really enjoy forgiveness for doing so until I repent and give him the charity that is due to him. Real grace is the merciful and loving gifts bestowed by a merciful and loving Father and His Son. Some forms of real grace, or, we should just say, grace, did not require the atonement, as Heavenly Father has bestowed many merciful gifts upon us. The creation of this earth, the gift of a physical body, the plan of salvation, these were all mercifully bestowed upon us by a loving God and were part of his grace manifest in our lives. These gifts from the Father are all examples of grace bequeathed upon us that did not require the atonement.

When we read the statement “We are saved by grace after all we can do” from a fake grace perspective, it means that we do our part, then the atonement forgives us of everything we messed up on so that we are, by that means, perfect and can be saved. In this interpretation it is a statement of a contract, whose terms are all about what will happen at the future judgment bar.
When we read it from the perspective of real grace, it fits perfectly with D&C 93. As we do better, we have greater spiritual gifts imparted to us. Those gifts show us truth much more clearly and with them it is easier for us to do right. As progress the grace we enjoy increases. We progress from one grace to the next. Note that these manifestations of grace are not future contractual obligations, or statements that our sins are remitted, even the ones we still habitually partake of. No, real grace is all about tying us directly to the powers of heaven. Real grace is inseparably connected with the powers of Heaven. It is all bestowed her and now as we repent and improve here and now. We do all we can do, and God grants us greater manifestations of his grace as our doing improves. Real grace is all about tying us to the powers of heaven here and now, because that is the only way we will find ourselves tied to the powers of heaven at the judgment bar. It is the only way to save us. We will continue to press forward, but it will ultimately be through the merciful spiritual endowments God grant unto us that we will have the spiritual light and the spiritual behavior needed to enjoy salvation. That is what it means that we are saved by grace, after all we can do. It is not a statement about a contract God will fulfill at the judgement, it is about endowing us with spiritual gifts, one grace after the next, as we press forward diligently, so that in the end those spiritual endowments give us the Behavior and the Knowledge that are necessary to live happily and without sin in the presence of God.

Think of the men in Alma 13. They were given spiritual endowments that made it so they could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence.

Joseph Smith's "three grand orders" instruction.

Joseph Smith's understanding of the priesthood was staggering, but we have only a fraction of his understanding. By that I don't mean that we only understand a fraction of what he privately knew, which is certainly true, but that we only understand a fraction of what he revealed in scripture or publicly taught. Take his instruction about "three grand orders" found in TPJS pages 322-323. 

We will "versify" his instruction so it is easier to discuss. We start by recalling it.

(1) There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.

(2) 1st. The King of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life.
(3) Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes.
(4) God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law from Moses.

(5) The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things.
(6) When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned.
(7) The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.

(8) What was the power of Melchizedek?
(9) 'Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices.
(10) Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings.
(11) In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.

(12) Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away.
(13) Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood.

(14) Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.

(15) How shall God come to the rescue of this generation?
(16) He will send Elijah the prophet.
(17) The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation.
(18) Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the father to the children, and the children to the fathers

(19) The anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure.

(20) "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually."
(21) The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.

(22) The 2nd Priesthood is Patriarchal authority.
(23) Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.

(24) The 3rd is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.
(25) The Holy Ghost is God's messenger to administer in all those priesthoods.
(26) Jesus Christ is the heir of this Kingdom--the Only Begotten of the Father according to the flesh, and holds the keys over all this world.

(27) Men have to suffer that they may come upon Mount Zion and be exalted above the heavens.

(28) I know a man that has been caught up to the third heavens, and can say, with Paul, that we have seen and heard things that are not lawful to utter. (Aug. 27, 1843.) DHC 5:554-556.

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(1) There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.

(2) 1st. The King of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life.
(3) Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes.
(4) God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law from Moses.

So here we learn that Melchizedek (the  King of Shiloam) has power and authority over that of Abaham. Specifically Melchizedek held "the key and the power of endless life", and Abraham did not. Let's not pretend that when we were ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood that we received power and authority that Abraham didn't have.

Joseph Smith then says "(3) Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes". That sentence is hard for us to make much sense of. But Joseph Smith uses the phrase "set up too many stakes" in a number of places so we can figure out what it meant to him by looking at his other uses of it. It will turn out to fit the rest of what he teaches here nicely. Elsewhere he uses the phrase "set up too many stakes" for those who either reject something offered by God, or limit what God is allowed to command, require, or teach them to fit within their own traditions. Joseph Smith said:

It is the constitutional disposition of mankind to set up stakes and set bounds to the works and ways of the Almighty.

as well as having stated shortly before in this very discourse that:

I say to all those who are disposed to set up stakes for the Almighty, You will come short of the glory of God. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, one must put away all his false traditions.

Thus the last sentence "(4) God cursed the children of Israel because the would not receive the last law from Moses" continues the thought that "(3) Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes". Joseph Smith's specifically use of the word "Angels" here is probably a reference to the sort of doctrine found in the scriptures.

D&C 132:37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
Continuing Joseph Smith's instruction about "three grand orders":

(5) The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things. 
(6) When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. 
(7) The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.

So Abraham wanted the keys of the kingdom of an endless life. He wanted the greater keys and power that Melchizedek had, but that he did not. But to attain it, he didn't just need to be ordained and Elder. He could only attain it by being willing to sacrifice all things. This should be tied with Joseph Smith's teaching that:

A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.

The statement "
(6) When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned" appears to be the same thing being said in "(3) Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes" but laid out more explicitly. In verse (6) it says they are damned. In verse (3) it says they are Angels. Both are equally true. They are damned in that they miss exaltation, becoming only Angels. Again, just as in the previous paragraph Joseph Smith illustrates this with ancient Israel. That is we have "(7) The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law" as an illustration of "(6) When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned."

Continuing Joseph Smith's instruction:

(8) What was the power of Melchizedek?
(9) 'Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices.
(10) Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings.
(11) In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.

The characters in our story thus far have been Abraham who didn't have the keys and power of endless life and Melchizedek who did. Abraham wants the keys of eternal life himself. Joseph Smith has repeatedly that if we are offered a blessing from God and reject it we will be damned because we have set up stakes for the almighty. He has twice given the Israelite's rejection of the Lord's offer to speak with them as an example. Apparently, and this sounds like an important part of the story, Abraham leans that to gain the keys he wants, he will have to be willing to sacrifice all things, and his sacrifice of Isaac was part of a test the Lord gave him. That appears to be part of what was required by the Lord in order for Abraham to receive the keys and power he desired from Melchizedek.

From other sources it is clear that the phrase "the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood" is not what one receives when one is ordained an Elder or a High Priest (see the long JST at the end of Gen 14). From verse 10 we see that those who have the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood are kings and priests, whereas I have only been ordained that I might, if I prove faithful, one day become a king and a priest to the Most High. When I got the Melchizedek priesthood I got a small sapling, not the full grown enormous tree that is called the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood.

Now we have a climax, a culmination of all the preceding instruction:

(12) Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away.
(13) Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood.

Joseph has repeatedly said that when we refuse to receive a blessing God offers then we are damned, we will become angels and not Gods. The significance of verse (12) is that Abraham is saying he will believe (or accept) all that the Lord is teaching and offering him. Because of that, he is then given the desired keys. This required the sacrifice of all things. Unlike Israel, who rejected what the Lord offered and was cursed for it, this verse is saying that Abraham, when offered needed greater light and knowledge accepted it completely in all its ramifications, including the requirements it made of himself. Therefore Abraham could be ordained with the keys he desired, and he went away rejoicing saying "Now I have a priesthood".

The remaining verses on the Melchizedek priesthood are
(14) Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.
(15) How shall God come to the rescue of this generation?
(16) He will send Elijah the prophet.
(17) The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation.
(18) Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the father to the children, and the children to the fathers
(19) The anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure.
(20) "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually."
(21) The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.

We usually think of the Melchizedek priesthood in terms of the traditional sorts of things one does when one is ordained an Elder. But Joseph Smith is not talking about the Melchizedek priesthood in part, or what we initially received when confirmed to be an Elder. In his division into three grand orders he has made the Melchizedek priesthood one of the divisions, but he is using the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood - the full thing it is intended to grow into - not what re receive when we are initially ordained to be an Elder.

As evidence of that let me point out that when we read the phrase in verse 20 "made like unto the Son of God, abideth a preist continually". That is not a reference to just being ordained an Elder. We are not "made like unto the Son of God" and "abide in that continually" when we are first ordained an Elder. But this is his culmination of what the Melchizedek priesthood is about. It brings to mind the description in Alma 13: 

Alma 13:9 Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.
...
 11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
 12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

This description of men who repented and worked such righteousness that their garments were washed white and they were sanctified and could no longer look upon sin save with abhorrence is not a description of a newly ordained Elder or High Priest. This sounds like someone who can say, with Abraham "Now I have a priesthood". It is in these terms that Joseph Smith describes the Melchizedek priesthood: in its fullest manifestations rather than in the young sapling form that it is initially bestowed upon us in.
Joseph Smith points out in verse 14 that salvation could not come without the mediation of Jesus Christ. Then he points out one of the ways that Christ has mediated to save this generation. He sent Elijah and will reveal the covenants (not revealed to ancient Israel) to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers, as well as to anoint and seal someone, making their calling and election sure.

So the Melchizedek priesthood culminates in the sealing power: in the power to seal families, do work for our dead, and in particular in being sealed up unto eternal life. That is not where most of us would end a discussion on the Melchizedek priesthood. But Joseph Smith is talking about the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood and that is not obtained when we are simply ordained an Elder.

After all, we remember that Joseph Smith taught:
"If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord." (TPJS 308)

So we must keep all the commandments and obey all the ordinances of the house of the Lord if we are too, with Abraham, be able to say "Now I have a priesthood". Or put differently, if we are to become kings and priests unto the most high God then we must keep all the commandments and obey all the ordinances of the house of the Lord just as Christ did.  

The second grand order that Joseph Smith refers to is Patriarchal authority. He states

(22) The 2nd Priesthood is Patriarchal authority.
(23) Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.

If we watch the temple endowment and sealing ordinance there are certainly some teachings about Patriarchal authority. 
Certainly we know that

D&C 131: 1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

And it seems that this eternal marriage is the Patriarchal authority that Joseph Smith refers to (interestingly, being one of the ordinances of the house of the Lord this is one of the ordinances the Savior had to obey to obtain the fulness of the Melchizedek priisthood as well).

We live in an age that completely rejects patriarchal authority with indignant feminist self righteousness, even among many of the best of us.

Thus eternal marriage is one step along the way to the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood that Joseph Smith uses here to discuss the Melchizedek order of the priesthood. And the sealing power which is part of the Melchizedek priesthood is necessary to being about the sealing of husband and wife.

But Patriarchal power is a grand order of the priesthood that Joseph Smith describes as being distinct from the Melchizedek priesthood and distinct from the Levitical priesthood and that we are to learn about, at least in part, by going into the temple to learn about it. Certainly there is something profound about the fact that men can become kings and priests unto the most high God, but while women can become queens and priestesses, they do not become so to the most high God, but unto their husbands.

Joseph Smith's description of the third grand order of the priesthood, the Levitical priesthood, is about what we expect.

The Holy Ghost is God's messenger in all these priesthoods. Thus the Patriarchal power Joseph Smith refers to is for members of the true church, as it requires the gift of the Holy Ghost as a messenger for it to operate properly. Also the Levites were necessarily baptized and received the Holy Ghost (by one of hose few who held the Melchizedek priesthood), or they could not have administered in their priesthood. 




No the Father did not make the Son suffer unnecessarily so that he could empathize with us more

We are pretty sold on ourselves. It has become common for us to read the verses in Mosiah 3 now to mean that Christ suffered the experience of every discomfort, embarrassment, hunger, ailment, injury,  agony, shame, pain, etc that every person in mortality will suffer when he suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross, and that the reason this was the case was so that he could always say to any one of us about whatever we are going through that he had gone through that as well.

I'm sorry. That isn't what Mosiah 3 says and it is frankly revolting doctrine.

The sacrifice of the atonement is the great show of mercy. Christ suffered for sins. The just suffered for the unjust.

But for what causes will the Father cause his perfect son to have to undergo incalculable agony?

Throughout the scriptures we see correct doctrine taught. I paraphrase it here:

Salvation for a fallen world: The Son of God, who was God before the world was, descended and conquered sin and death making salvation and eternal life possible for God's children.

That is a notion found throughout the scriptures. But now we see a new idea being taught, added on top of the other won.

Empathy for a spoiled world: The Son of God suffered every pain - both emotional and physical - that anyone in this earth ever suffered so that he could empathize with them.

This new teaching has absolutely no sense of proportion. It is one thing that the Father would sacrifice his precious son because it was crucial to prevent his other children from being doomed to becoming devils and angels to a devil for eternity. That is a magnificent sacrifice, and it makes sense.

The idea that the Father would have his son suffer every piece of misery that every person suffered so that Christ, who was in and through all things, who knew all things past, present, and future, could empathize is, well, a revolting rejection of any sense of the majesty of the sacrifice of God himself for our own sakes.

Don't we have enough reverence for the Christ, and enough of a sense of the justice of the Father, to realize that while the Father would ask his son to "suffer these things for all that they may not suffer if they would repent", the Father did not make his son suffer anything that wasn't necessary for him to suffer to conquer sin and death? Do we really think Christ had to suffer not only the punishment for our sins, as D&C 19 clearly states that he did, but to also suffer IN ADDITION TO THAT every individual sorrow, pain, worry, illness, infirmity, ... that any person suffered just so that he could empathize with us?

Can't we sense how cringe-worthy that idea is?

The verse that is the source of this states:

Mosiah 3:7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

When the scriptures states that Christ would suffer the pains of all mankind, everyone previous to this generation knew that it clearly referred to Christ suffering for the sins of the world. When the angel gives the summary statement that "for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people" that is meant to be the justification for the statement "except it be unto death".

In other words. the angel is saying Christ will suffer temptations, pain, hunger, thirst and fatigue.
Then the angel is stating that Christ will suffer more than man can suffer without dying.
To justify the statement that Christ will suffer more than man can suffer without dying the angle then states that "for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people."

The angel is NOT saying that Christ will suffer EACH of the things suffered more than man can suffer without dying. The angel is explaining that Christ's suffering on earth will exceed any man's because in addition to suffering the regular severe hunger, thirst, and fatigue Christ will suffer the infinite pain and agony of the atonement.

The punishment for sin was unavoidable. Someone had to suffer it. If I have earned something it is mine, and having earned punishment for sin is what we are referring to.

Temptations, hunger, thirst, and fatigue were things Christ did suffer. We remember that Christ fasted 40 days in the wilderness - he suffered hunger, thirst and fatigue. We remember that he grew up first a refugee in Egypt and then later in a conquered nation where one petitioned God for one's "daily bread". We remember that, though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

Honestly I think this new teaching comes from being spoiled and ungrateful. It is no longer enough if God himself suffered for our sins. It is no longer enough that God is our Father. He has to have actually experienced what we experienced or it isn't good enough for us. We won't accept his comfort or believe he knows best unless he actually experienced precisely the same physical pain or mental anquish we did - not even just  the same type, but he has to have experience our actual individual pain, otherwise we are too proud to think his comfort is genuine, his wisdom is right, and that his knowledge is sufficient.


Modern education

The relativistic thinking that our ancestors warned about is the dogma I was raised on in the public education system. We think we need to "have an open mind". We don't believe it is OK to assert that our position is true. We grew up thinking that we had no right to make assertions about God in the public square, and particularly not when trying to pass or oppose a law.

As Isaiah warned those who led us have caused us to err. We have been raised to think like a good relativist and we are offended at those that don't have the sense to walk the relativist line. We think we know better than them, and consider them ignorant.

We need to get back what has been lost.

We look around at the generation that calls themselves Millennials and are gravely concerned about their lack of believe in absolutes, their open opposition to standing up for the truth and their general apathy about modesty, pornography, and even such abhorrent practices as "friends with benefits" in which necking and petting are not even considered romantic activities that involve love, but are casually initiated with friends in whom there is no romantic interests to gratify lusts. Necking and petting are pernicious evils in themselves. But here the "benefits" are that you can gratify your lusts and not even feel a romantic interest in each other. We are disturbed at the way they toy with homosexual and lesbian relations without realizing that only a few escape from that deadly trap once it begins to take hold.

We must recover what we have lost, and we must proclaim the truth so clearly that it will not be easily lost in the rising generation for those willing to keep it.





Friday, September 25, 2015

Ezra Taft Benson's "Three Threatening Danger's" Talk October 1964 General Conference

Three Threatening Dangers
Elder Ezra Taft Benson
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1964, pp. 56-60

Some years ago President Joseph F. Smith, a prophet of the Lord, warned that "There are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within" (Gospel Doctrine, p. 312). He also counseled the Authorities of the Church to warn the people unceasingly against them.

These dangers are:

Flattery of prominent men in the world,
False educational ideas,
Sexual impurity.

I should like to comment briefly on these three dangers.

Flattery

First, the flattery of prominent men in the world:

The Master warned, "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you!"  Luke 6:26

As Latter-day Saints we have been driven, mobbed, misunderstood, and maligned. We have been a peculiar people. Now we are faced with world applause. It has been a welcome change, but can we stand acceptance? Can we meet the danger of applause? In the hour of a man's success applause can be his greatest danger.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with being honored by men, if one is being honored for a good thing, if one comes to these honors through righteous living, and if, while holding these honors, one lives honorably. One should strive to have wide influence for good.

However, virtue is not the only basis for being singled out and promoted. As the world gets more wicked, a possible way to attain worldly success may be to join the wicked. The time is fast approaching when it will require great courage for Latter-day Saints to stand up for their peculiar standards and doctrine—all of their doctrine, including the more weighty principles such as the principle of freedom. Opposition to this weighty principle of freedom caused many of our brothers and sisters in the pre-existence to lose their first estate in the war in heaven.

We are far removed from the days of our forefathers who were persecuted for their peculiar beliefs. Some of us seem to want to share their reward but are ofttimes afraid to stand up for principles that are controversial in our generation. We need not solicit persecution, but neither should we remain silent in the presence of overwhelming evils, for this makes cowards of men. We should not go out of the path of duty to pick up a cross there is no need to bear, but neither should we sidestep a cross that clearly lies within the path of duty.

We are in the world, and I fear some of us are getting too much like the world. Rather than continue a peculiar people, some are priding themselves on how much they are like everybody else, when the world is getting more wicked. The Lord, as he prayed for his Apostles, said, ". . . the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world"  John 17:14 As Latter-day Saints, we too have been called out of the world.

Some things are changeless—priceless. We must anchor ourselves to the eternal verities of life, for life is eternal. The honors of men more often than not are fleeting. Anxious to run after the honors of office or succumb to the pressures of public glamour and worldly acclaim, some of us are no longer willing to stand up for all the principles of the gospel. We seek to justify our unrighteousness by claiming that if only we can get title or position, then think of the good we can do. Hence we lose our salvation en route to those honors. We sometimes look among our numbers to find one to whom we can point who agrees with us, so we can have company to justify our apostasy. We rationalize by saying that some day the church doctrine will catch up with our way of thinking.

Seeking the applause of the world, we like to be honored by the men the world honors. But therein lies real danger, for ofttimes, in order to receive those honors, we must join forces with and follow those same devilish influences and policies which brought some of those men to positions of prominence.

More and more the honors of this world are being promoted by the wicked for the wicked. We see this in publicity and awards that are given to movies, literature, art, journalism, etc. We see in our own newspapers widely read columnists carried who advocate one world socialism who have been consistently caught in falsehoods, and who continually parrot the communist line. Less and less we see the virtuous rewarded by the world, and when they are, ofttimes it almost seems to be done insidiously in order to get us to swallow the many evils for which the wicked are even more profusely honored.

Yes, President Joseph F. Smith was right. Today we are being plagued within by the flattery of prominent men in the world.

False Educational Ideas

Second, false educational ideas:

During the past several years many of our institutions of learning have been turning out an increasing number of students schooled in amorality, relativity, and atheism—students divested of a belief in God, without fixed moral principles or an understanding of our constitutional republic and our capitalistic, free enterprise economic system. This follows a pattern which was established years ago at some of our key colleges that produced many of the teachers and leaders in the educational field across the country today.

The fruits of this kind of teaching have been tragic, not only to the souls of the individuals involved but also to the parents and even to our country. We saw these tragic fruits with some of our boys in Korea.

When a survey was recently made among students asking which they would prefer, nuclear war or surrender to the communists, those campuses scored highest for surrender who had been most permeated by these cowardly teachings of false economic principles, atheism, and amorality. On one very liberal college campus over 90 percent favored surrender. Other surveys on moral standards are equally alarming. More disturbing is the fact that the more college courses the students take on these campuses, the worse their thinking seems to become. Freshmen who have just left home or work do not seem as fully permeated with the brainwashing as the seniors.

Some alumni of various schools have expressed concern. One alumnus from Yale wrote a book a few years ago entitled God and Man at Yale. Another group (which includes Teddy Roosevelt's hero son Archibald) from Harvard University established the Veritas Foundation and wrote a book, Keynes at Harvard, explaining the degree to which the destructive Fabian economic philosophy has permeated educational institutions and government. Concerned educators have begun to write books. Professor E. Merrill Root authored Collectivism on the Campus and Brainwashing in the High Schools. Dr. Max Rafferty, now state superintendent of schools in California, wrote Suffer Little Children and What They Are Doing to Your Children.

In the school history textbooks of recent years, some of the greatest phrases in American history have been dropped. This Week Magazine recently surveyed history books issued before 1920 and since 1920. Patrick Henry's famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death," appeared in twelve out of the fourteen earlier texts, but in only two out of the forty-five recent texts. Perhaps this might help explain the percentage of students who are willing to surrender to communism.

The whole process can be quite insidious. Young people know that the best jobs are available to college graduates. They want to do well at school. When exam time comes, they must give back to the teacher what the teacher wants. Now under the guise of academic freedom—which some apparently feel is freedom to destroy freedom—some teachers reserve to themselves the privilege of teaching error, destroying faith in God, debunking morality, and depreciating our free economic system. If questions reflecting the teacher's false teachings appear on the exam, how will the student answer who believes in God and morality and our Constitution? One student put on his exam paper what he knew the professor wanted to see, but then the student added a little p.s. which said, "Dear Professor So and So: I just want you to know I don't believe one word of what I just wrote above."

These kinds of professors are not concerned about the truth or even giving both sides of a question that only has one right answer. They weight the scales on the side of falsehood. If they can see there is another side, it usually gets but passing and belittling reference. To give the impression that they are objective, these professors often invite someone to present a different point of view in one lecture, while the professor spends the whole semester pointing out the other side.

Now truth, if given as much time and emphasis as error, will invariably prove itself. And if our young students could have as much time studying the truth as they and some of their professors have had time studying error, then there would be no question of the outcome. The problem arises when under the pressure of a heavy course of study and the necessity of parroting back what certain professors have said, the student does not have the time or take the time to learn the truth. If he does not learn the truth, some day he will suffer the consequences. Many an honest student, after graduation, has had to do some unlearning and then fresh learning of basic principles which never change and which he should have been taught initially.

Now these false educational ideas are prevalent in the world, and we have not entirely escaped them among teachers in our own system. There are a few teachers within the Church who while courting apostasy still want to remain members in the Church, for being members makes them more effective in misleading the Saints. But their day of judgment is coming, and when it does come, for some of them it would have been better, as the Savior said, that a millstone had been put around their necks and they had drowned in the depths of the sea  Matt. 18:6 than to have led away any of the youth of the Church.

The Lord has stated that his Church will never again be taken from the earth because of apostasy. But he has also stated that some members of his Church will fall away. There has been individual apostasy in the past, it is going on now, and there will be an even increasing amount in the future. While we cannot save all the flock from being deceived, we should, without compromising our doctrine, strive to save as many as we can. For as President Clark said, "We are in the midst of the greatest exhibition of propaganda that the world has ever seen."

Parents, stay close to your children; you cannot delegate your responsibility to the educators no matter how competent they may be. Parents have a duty to train their children, to talk over their problems with them, to discuss what they are learning at school. And it is neither wise nor safe, as President Stephen L Richards stated, to leave the determination of our educational system and policies exclusively to the professional educators.

Students, study the writings of the prophets. Fortunately, the consistent position taken over the years by the prophets of the Church on vital issues facing this nation have recently been compiled in an excellent book entitled Prophets, Principles and National Survival [by Jerreld L. Newquist].

Students, pray for inspiration and knowledge. Counsel with your parents. Let Sunday be the day to fill up your spiritual batteries for the week by reading good church books, particularly the Book of Mormon. Take time to meditate. Don't let the philosophies and falsehoods of men throw you. Hold on to the iron rod. Learn to sift. Learn to discern error through the promptings of the Spirit and your study of the truth.

Yes, false educational ideas are a serious threat today.

Immorality

Third, sexual immorality:

Sexual immorality is a viper that is striking not only in the world, but in the Church today. Not to admit it is to be dangerously complacent or is like putting one's head in the sand. In the category of crimes, only murder and denying the Holy Ghost come ahead of illicit sexual relations  Alma 39:5 which we call fornication when it involves an unmarried person, or the graver sin of adultery when it involves one who is married. I know the laws of the land do not consider unchastity as serious as God does, nor punish as severely as God does, but that does not change its abominableness. In the eyes of God there is but one moral standard for men and women. In the eyes of God chastity will never be out of date.

The natural desire for men and women to be together is from God. But such association is bounded by his laws. Those things properly reserved for marriage, when taken within the bonds of marriage, are right and pleasing before God and fulfil the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth  Gen. 1:28 But those same things when taken outside the bonds of marriage are a curse.

No sin is causing the loss of the Spirit of the Lord among our people more today than sexual promiscuity. It is causing our people to stumble, damning their growth, darkening their spiritual powers, and making them subject to other sins.

Recently, a young man commented that if he quit reading books, watching TV, seeing movies, reading newspapers and magazines, and going to school, there was a chance he might live a clean life. And this explains, in large part, the extent to which this insidious evil has spread, for the world treats this sin flippantly. These evil forces build up your lust and then fail to tell of the tragic consequences. In so many movies the hero is permitted to get away with crime so long as he can joke about it, or explain he was powerless to do anything, or else at the close of the movie show forth one minimal virtue that is supposed to cover over the grossest of sin. Many of our prominent national magazines pander to the baser side, but then try to cover for themselves by including other articles, too.

So garbled in values have our morals become that some youth would not dare touch a cigarette but freely engage in petting. Both are wrong, but one is infinitely more serious than the other.

Parents should give their children specific instructions on chastity at an early age, both for their physical and moral protection. Years ago President David O. McKay, God bless him, read a statement written by Mrs. Wesley to her famous son John. I commend it to you as a basis for judgment pertaining to the matter of chastity. "Would you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure? Take this rule: Now note, whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself."

Avoid Pitfalls of Immorality

May I suggest some steps to avoid the pitfalls of immorality:

(1) Avoid late hours and weariness. The Lord said retire to your bed early  D&C 88:124 and there are good reasons for that. Some of the worst sins are committed after midnight by tired heads. Officers in the wards and stakes, branches and missions should not keep our people, especially our youth, up late at night even for wholesome recreation.

(2) Keep your dress modest. Short skirts are not pleasing to the Lord, but modesty is. Girls, do not be an enticement for your downfall because of your immodest and tight-fitting clothes.

(3) Have good associates or don't associate at all. Be careful in the selection of your friends. If in the presence of certain persons you are lifted to nobler heights, you are in good company. But if your friends or associates encourage base thoughts, then you had best leave them.

(4) Avoid necking and petting like a plague, for necking and petting is the concession which precedes the complete loss of virtue.

(5) Have a good physical outlet of some sport or exercise. Overcome evil with good. You can overcome many evil inclinations through good physical exertion and healthful activities. A healthy soul, free of the body-and-spirit-dulling influences of alcohol and tobacco, is in better condition to overthrow the devil.

(6) Think clean thoughts. Those who think clean thoughts do not do dirty deeds. You are not only responsible before God for your acts but also for controlling your thoughts. So live that you would not blush with shame if your thoughts and acts could be flashed on a screen in your church. The old adage is still true that you sow thoughts and you reap acts, you sow acts and you reap habits, you sow habits and you reap a character, and your character determines your eternal destiny. "As a man thinketh, so is he" (see  Prov. 23:7

(7) Pray. There is no temptation placed before you which you cannot shun. Do not allow yourself to get in positions where it is easy to fall. Listen to the promptings of the Spirit. If you are engaged in things where you do not feel you can pray and ask the Lord's blessings on what you are doing, then you are engaged in the wrong kind of activity.

Yes—avoid late hours; dress modestly; seek good associates; avoid necking and petting; have a good physical outlet; think good thoughts; pray.

May the Lord bless us as a people. We have taken upon us sacred covenants. We must be faithful. We are in the world, it is true, but we must not partake of the evils of the world. Let us be ever on guard against the flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.