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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I am trying out a different blogging site

For various reasons I have been trying out wordpress, if you want to take a look at my new blog over there, you can find it at:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Not a matter of priesthood, but of gender

There are some women these days that want the priesthood. They think that if they could only have the priesthood than their responsibilities would be different.

But it is not because of the priesthood that men are given the responsibility to lead

It is because they are men.

Such was declared by the father in Eden.

It is not a matter of priesthood. It is a matter of gender.

In these days we have forgotten that men and women are fundmentally different. We think we can make them the same by putting them in the same clothes, and treating them the same way, and having them do exactly the same thing up until marriage, and after marriage having them do as much of the same thing as the realities of human physiology and reproduction allow.

And that is utter crap.

Men and women are fundamentally different.

Right from the beginning, God gave different commandments and different punishments to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

I'm not sure the full weight of that has sunk into our minds. But let me at least try and offer a hint.

The declarations made by God the Father himself on this earth are those things which define the foundation. They define gender and family. They are the foundation stone which all else which is good must be built on.

And the Father gave DIFFERENT commandments to Adam and Eve.

They have different foundations laid for them. They are different from square one. They are given different foundations on which their exaltation will be built.

Sure, it will be built on obedience and the virtues of the gospel. But the commandments they are trying to keep are different. They are as different as the different commandments given in differing dispensations.

Which is obvious really. Exaltation is about family. Adam and Eve have different parts to play to establish a family. If exaltation is eternal family, and Adam and Eve are different parts of the family, then it should be obvious that Adam and Eve have different requirements for exaltation.

Adam and Eve have different conditions for their exaltation, because they were given different commandments by the Father in Eden.

For Adam to try and gain exaltation by following the commandment given to Eve is as apostate as for Peter to reject Christ's commandment to "feed his sheep" and to instead start building an ark and gathering animals into it two by two, hoping for exaltation founded in God's commandment to Noah.

For Eve to try and gain exaltation following the commandment given to Adam is equally wrong. She cannot go out and sacrifice her only son and hope to find exaltation in obedience to the commandment given to Abraham.

This doctrine is all through the scriptures.

Paul writes one command to the women, and another commandment to the men. He tells the men to love their wives even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it. He tells the wives to obey their husbands even as the church obeys Christ.

Why different commandments from Paul?

Because Paul knows the doctrine. He saw the third heaven. He is not a man speaking based on random opinions. It is the elephant in the room of the scriptures. It is all through them. The women of the church obtain exaltation. But we don't read about them doing the same thing as the men. And why? Is God not concerned about the exaltation of his daughters? Is it a technical matter of who has the priesthood?

No. No. No. Of course God is concerned about the exaltation of his daughters and has been through the dispensations. We don't read of them doing the same thing in the scriptures as the men not because they were spiritually less valuable, but because they accomplish the task required for exaltation by doing the works God required of them for exaltation, which are different than what God requires of the men.

Joseph Smith spoke with the Father, and was called to be a prophet. Mary, the Mother of Christ, knew more, and pursued the path of her exaltation. Peter walked on water, Mary wept at her resurrected husband's feet as he spoke her name.  One was called to feed God's sheep, the other found her exaltation quite differently. One was a boy, the other was a girl. Both heeded the commands of the Father and are no longer men but are Gods.

It is the wisdom of the world that would instead recast that blaring difference in the scriptures as a vice, rather than as both righteous men and righteous women pursuing and obtaining the eternal prize.

The conditions for exaltation for a man and a woman are as different as the commandments to Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden.

You may disagree and say all people are saved on the same conditions. In one sense, yes, the conditions for exaltation are the same for men and for woman. This is plainly taught. The conditions are obedience and acquiring the virtues in the scriptures. The conditions are to put off the natural man and become a saint, submissive to his Father's will even as a child submits to his parent.

That is the sameness. And it is also the difference.

It is the sameness because it is the task that must be accomplished by all who seek exaltation whether male or female.

And it is the difference because the commandments God laid out from the beginning for men and women are different. To submit to the will of the father is submitting to a different commandment for Adam than it is for Eve.

The condition for exaltation is, ultimately, whether we will follow our Savior's example and submit our will completely to the will of our Father.

Consequently, the conditions for exaltation for a man and a woman are as different as the commandments to Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden.

Monday, February 29, 2016

You cannot have more faith in todays prophet than you had in yesterdays prophets

My wife consistently deals with people pressuring her to believe a great lie. It is the lie that you can have more faith in today's prophet than you can in yesterday's prophet, and that we cannot stand by both of them together, and thus must discard the early prophets of this dispensation that we can fully be devoted to the prophets of this day.

Is Christ divided?

What do the scriptures say of those who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas?

D&C 76: 99 For these [the telestial] are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.
100 These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;
101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.

And that is, at least in part, because you cannot receive only part of the gospel and only some of the prophets and be a true latter day saint.

You can shoot your faith in the foot by rejecting today's prophets and apostles, and not recognizing them for what they are. And you can shoot your faith in the foot by rejecting yesterday's prophets and apostles.

And if you shoot your faith in the right foot so that you are are forced to place your full weight on your left you may feel confident in that choice for a moment. Standing there pretentiously poised you may feel strong. But once you need to start walking forward along the strait and narrow path, you will find that it climbs upward in places, and that you have slowed your pace to a hop and thoroughly crippled your ability to traverse its steeper moments.

You cannot believe that the man at the head of the church today holds all the keys of the kingdom and that the man at the head of the church yesterday did not. You cannot sustain todays prophets and apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators more sincerely than you can sustain yesterdays prophets and apostles. Todays leaders obtained their keys from yesterdays leaders. They are one in Christ.

God will not bestow an extra measure of his spirit spirit for embracing one prophet if you do so while poking another in the eye.

Did they not testify by the same spirit of God? And as they spoke by the same spirit of God, can we reject either without offending that same spirit?

Other churches pick and choose among the words of the prophets, believing this from one and that from another. But with with us it is not so. We only have a living prophet because we previously had living prophets. We only have living apostles because we previously had living apostles. There are no revolutions, no coups, no toppling of former governments in God's true church. There is God. And he is the head. And when we reject the words of one of his prophets ancient of modern, we do so at our peril.

Brigham Young quote

Brigham Young: As this kingdom of God grows, spreads, increases, and prospers in its course, it will cleanse, thoroughly purge, and purify the world from wickedness.

Very short note - God reveals things different than man expects, but god is always right

God reveals things different than man expects, but god is always right.

Quick note on the inspired version

Just a small note: It is interesting to compare the different versions of the Inspired Version of the bible, as it has sometimes been called.

I had noted differences between two different references, so out of curiosity I am copying those verses out of each one to see what I get [Spoiler: for these verses the 1944 and 1970 editions turned out to agree].

Romans 1:28
1867 Inspired Version Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, according to some to do those things which are not convenient;

1944 Inspired Version Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God according to some knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

1970 Inspired Version Romans 1:28  And even as they did not like to retain God according to some knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Romans 1:32
1867 Inspired Version Romans 1:32 And some knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are inexcusable, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

1944 Inspired Version Romans 1:32 And some who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, are inexcusable, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

1970 Inspired Version Romans 1:32 And some who, knowing the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, are inexcusable, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

In both cases the 1944 and 197 editions turn out to agree. The 1867 edition is different, and of course the KJV is different.

As a side note, the LDS scriptures does not contain all of the JST changes and shows very few of the changes in Romans 1. It doesn't include JST footnotes for either verse 28 or 32. I am not sure whether or not it even contains most of the JST changes in the bible. At the time the JST footnotes were added to the scriptures the brethren were perfectly clear that only the JST changes that were largest or most significant were included.

As a further side note it is quite easy to get a free electronic copy of the 1867 version photographed from the actual book, which is in the public domain.

There is an online version of the 1944 edition, which I assume to have represented a significant revision since my 1970 edition copy lists that as the one it is descended from.

The 1970 edition claims it is a "new corrected edition".

Certainly the 1944 and 1970 versions of Romans 1:32 (which are the same) seem to fit better than the 1867. They know the judgement of God which is that such are worthy of death as the Lord plainly laid out to the Israelites. It just feels right. It fits the scriptures.

Nephi's comments on Isaiah and Isaiah's vision of the Lord

Just a quick note about these verses.

2 Nephi 11:2 And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.
3 And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.

Nephi writes that "... for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true".

We often read this, but I don't think I have ever heard it connected to the fact that after Nephi gives us this introduction in 2 Nephi 11, he then quotes Isaiah chapters 2-14, which includes Isaiah's account of his vision of the Lord found in 2 Nephi 16.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The gospel of brokenness and the gospel of God

We live in a day when many people are troubled, even in the church. It has become popular, in some circles, to use the word "broken" and to say that everyone, or that many people are broken. They congratulate each other in discussions of their "brokenness".

Such teachings are a gospel of failure that stands in opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Such people have lost their faith in Christ's ability to heal. They don't really believe it. They think healing is actually against his plan.

One wonders whether they have ever read about his life. How frequently he healed people.

Perhaps the victories of modern medicine over the body have left our spirits weak.

When people find themselves "broken" what do they need to do?

How did they get "broken"? Suffering may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. But what leaves our members broken that they do not find those joyful mornings? Where have their sunrises gone?

Because while all may endure the the ups and downs of lifes wheel, sometimes enjoying the top, and other times enduring their periods and times of pain and spiritual trauma, these discussions of being broken do not fit that description. They are not talking about the periods of suffering and joy that all experience. They are not talking about the tides of joy and grief that are the lot of man in a fallen world.

They are more "broken" than that.

And the answer is simple. It is sin that leaves our members broken.

We live in a day of misbehavior and coddling. We look down at ancient Israel for their wickedness. But if we suddenly had to live the law of Moses, would we not find many of our members saying "this requires too much" for it casts stones at adulterers. If we could not endure the lesser law, why do we think we are spiritually better than those in ancient Israel?

If we have faith, we do well in that. But must we not also show our faith by our works?

The issue is not one of tribulation. Joseph Smith endured horrible tribulation. But that didn't make him feel "broken". It wasn't even an issue, because he stayed true and didn't give way to the adversary. Therefore, he never complained of being "broken".

Our members who complain of being broken could find the roots of their malady if they would look back to their choices. Have they suffered tribulation? Certainly, as others have before, and as others will after.

But our trouble is not one of affliction, but of sin. We do wrong and think nothing of it, saying that the Lord will not hold it against us.

We tread dangerous waters when our youth engage in pornography, our young single adults use each other as "friends with benefits", and our married couples get divorced.

But what use is there in pointing out the fire that surrounds us if we give no heed to the danger of our circumstances.

We must repent. We are not even claiming the spiritual blessings that were common among non members in the 1940s and 1950s. We no longer claim the blessings of family stability and unity that come by adhering and requiring strict decency in what we bring into our own homes. Thus the non members of last century, by adhering to a more moral life more strictly have greater claims on the blessings of the home and family than the members of God's true church are claiming for their own families in this day.

Our media, our friends, and Paul's writings on the company we keep

We sell our birthright for a song.

Or a video.

Or a book.

Or a website.

It is through our media that the adversary has so thoroughly silenced the Holy Ghost among us.

We don't believe that he has.

But I invite you to try some things for a few years.

Don't watch anything, or read anything, or listen to anything which is, in the least bit, provocative, sleazy or immodest. Don't watch anything, or read anything, or listen to anything which is, in the least bit, portrays immorality or gender apostasy as normal or acceptable.

There is counsel in the scriptures that we have all but forgotten.

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

Now Paul is perfectly plain that when he says not to company with fornicators, he is not meaning simply everyone that commits a sort of fornication with the world. He doesn't mean not to company with people just because the are covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, because then we would need to actually go out of the world. He does explain in the succeeding verses that if a member of the church is involved in any of those things they need to be cut off.

But when it comes to the big moral sins, such as fornication, Paul says not to company with people involved in them.

Now that is saving counsel right there. It is inspired. If we would teach that to our children from their youth up we would lose far, far, far fewer of them.

Of course, it means to literally "not company with fornicators".

Certainly that includes friends that think nothing of pornography, and would pass it on to our youth.

But we also company with them constantly through our media. We think nothing of watching a show with adultery being portrayed as normal and acceptable, particularly if it doesn't "show anything". We don't think anything of it even involving us in the act, portaying a woman being seductive. We cannot look upon such things and be obeying Paul's counsel.

Such things are offensive to the Holy Ghost. We may do many things that are pleasing to the Holy Ghost, but we habitually partake of that which offends him and think it makes no difference in our lives.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Temple work and family.

I sometimes run into those who do not see family temple work through eyes of faith. They see cards with names printed on them, but do not think of the actual people those cards represent.

My daughter recently turned eight and was baptized. Imagine if when the time for the baptism arrived the bishop had picked out whoever caught his eye first and asked that person to do the baptism. Most of us would recognize that something was wildly wrong if I was sitting there ready and willing to do the baptism, but some local authority intervened, acting like he had the right (which he doesn't) and assigned someone else to perform the baptism of my own daughter as I sit there.

But you can go to the temple and some people there do exactly the same thing. People bring the names of their own ancestors and relatives to the temple. They can be sitting there ready and willing to do the ordinance, and some local authority at the temple will think they have the right to ignore family relationships and just give the ordinance out to whomsoever they see fit.

The dead are as real as we are. They have families, just as we do. I sometimes wonder whether they are not shocked at our ignorance of their own reality, and of their own family. There are those who do not have sufficient faith and they ignore that these dead ancestors are perfectly real, and they ignore that these dead ancestors have families, just was you or I do. It is because they don't have the faith. They say they do, but in reality they just see a card with a name printed on it. They want efficiency or convenience and lack the faith needed to see the truth.

We cannot be made perfect without our fathers, and they cannot be made perfect without us. Work for the dead is a family affair. If we cannot be made perfect without the fathers, then we should not treat these relationships lightly at the temple. If the fathers cannot be made perfect without us, then we should not treat family relationships lightly when doing work for our dead.

When we are doing family history and we find an ancestor name, it not infrequently happens that we feel that ancestor telling us they want us to research and do the temple work for some of their other descendents, who are not our direct ancestors. What does that mean? It means that ancestor either knows that the person desires to receive the gospel, and would like their work done by you, or it means that the ancestor who is prompting you is committing themselves to actually take the gospel to those relatives if you do the work. When we feel prompted to extend the work to other relatives than our direct ancestors, feeling whispers by an ancestor to do work for another relative, or by a relative to do the work for themselves, we can trust those promptings from beyond the viel. If we follow the Holy Ghost we can always have confidence that what is going on beyond the veil matches up with the work we are prompted to do on this side of the veil. The holy ghost will always lead us right.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The JST of Romans 2:1 - It isn't about judging, it is about homosexuality

Just as the JST clarifies Christ's meaning from "Judge not, that ye be not judged" to "Judge not unrighteously that ye be not judged, but judge righteous judgment"

So also the JST changes Romans 2:1 from

Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same thing.


Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosever thou art that judgest thus: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same thing.

That one word "thus" makes a tremendous difference, as it refers us back to the the preceding verses. The preceding verses are about homosexuality and lesbianism. Putting the JST of Romans 2:1 in context so we know what "judgest thus" refers to, we get

JST Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature;
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, according to some, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful;
32 And some who, knowing the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, are inexcusable, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 2.1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosever thou art that judgest thus: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same thing.

The structure here is that 26-27 describe homosexuality directly. Then verse 28 discusses their being given over to a reprobate mind. Then verse 29-31 illustrate what it means that God gave these homosexual and lesbians over to a reprobate mind by describing their traits. They are spot on. Then verse 32 discusses those who know the judgments of God against homosexuality (because it is continuing the thought of the previous verses), and yet do the same themselves and take pleasure in others who do them.

Now, how the JST is precisely supposed to read on Romans 1:28 and Romans 1:32 is something that is somewhat unclear. Robert Matthews, who was the one who obtained permission from the RLDS church to verify that the Inspired Version they published matched the original document (which we previously had no access to) said that sometimes there are notes pinned to the page, and occasionally notes pinned to notes. I don't know if this is one such location, but there is a difference between the 1867 Inspired Version, and the one that I have a printed copy of. The commentary in McConkies Doctrinal New Testament Commentary matches the 1867 inspired version, whereas mine was printed in 1970 which claims to be "a new corrected edition". It seems clear that the 1944/1970 version of verse 32 is better than the 1867 edition version of verse 32.

All that aside, it makes no particular difference to the changes in Romans 2:1. There we read a completely different text in either case. There we read no condemnation for judging, but instead read condemnation of those "inexcusable" people described in verse 32, who know the judgment of God against homosexuality and lesbianism, but nevertheless commit such things themselves, and have pleasure in those that do so.

The JST is terrific, and offers more than you thought

It is not well known, but the footnotes in the lds scriptures do not contain all the Joseph Smith translations. That was made clear at the time that the current edition of the scriptures came out. They said that only the most significant changes were included in the footnotes. Generally they do a decent job.

But as I recall, there are places where no single change makes a tremendous difference, but where there were a large number of minor changes that, taken together, significantly clarify the meaning of the text. The book of Romans was this way as I recall.

So I am just starting in on part of Romans 1 and including the full JST changes in the text over part of that chapter. I will put the JST changes in bold.

Romans 1:1-13

1 Paul, an apostle, a servant of God, called of Jesus Christ, and separated to preach the gospel,
2 (Which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures)
3 Concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
4 And declared the Son of God with power, by the spirit according to the truth, through the resurrection from the dead:
5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, through obedience, and faith in his name to preach the gospel among all nations;
6 Among whom ye also are called of Jesus Christ;
7 Wherefore I write to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called saints; Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ, that you all are steadfast, and your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, that you may be kept through the Spirit, in the gospel of his Son,
10 Making request of you, to remember me in your prayers, I now write unto you, that you will ask him in faith, that if by any means, at length, I may serve you with my labors, and may have a prosperous journey by the will of God, to come unto you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, that it may be established in you to the end;
12 That I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, ( but was hindered hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

Now there are actually more changes than are apparent at first glance at this, because there are probably 4 or 5 places where the JST took a word or phrase out of the text. And you can see the additions and changes easily with the above highlights, but you can't easily tell where there is text that was removed. But it gives you a sense of how much JST there really is in Romans 1.

Note that only the changes in verse 5 appear in the JST footnotes.

Now the vast bulk of the scriptures are not corrected or clarified nearly that much by the JST. Generally, the lds footnotes do a decent job of giving you the JST.

But there is very significant clarification to the text here, and it is mostly not available in the JST footnotes of our scriptures. If you don't have a copy of the "Inspired Version", you might want to consider getting a copy of it for personal study. If you want to quote and read verses aloud that sound like everyone else then the JST might be an obstacle. If you want to understand what the scriptures are teaching, the JST is amazing.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being blessed on condition of obedience is different than earning and deserving all we recieve

The scriptures plainly teach that when any man receives a blessing from God it is by obedience to that law upon which the blessing was predicated.

And if you try to teach that, someone is going to object. 

The will mock you saying we don't earn our spiritual blessings. The will say that we can't do works that make it so that we deserve to be saved. They will say we can't earn our salvation through our works.

But they are just knocking down a straw man. 

Gaining salvation by receiving blessings predicated on obedience to law is very different than earning our salvation or deserving our salvation. 

There is an enormous gap, a great distance, between what we actually earn and deserve for our works, and what God has, by his very merciful and generous laws, said he will bestow upon us.

When I bow on my knees and close my eyes and attempt to speak to God, what have I earned? Not much. What I have earned is the direct physical consequence of my actions - namely that some sound emanates from my mouth if I said the prayer out loud.

But what generous blessings has the Lord been willing to pour out in response to that action? Has he not granted great miracles in response to prayer?

We do not earn, nor deserve, our salvation. The blessings God grants are overly generous and full of mercy. 

At the same time, his blessings are all conditioned on our obedience.

Gaining blessings by obedience to law is different than earning and deserving those blessings, because the laws are set by a generous and merciful God.

I do an act of service for someone, and I feel light and truth in my soul. Everyone experiences that. But did they earn that light and truth, that feeling of edification? No. What they earned by their work was simply that the service itself was accomplished. The feeling of edification and joy was an overly merciful and generous gift given by a loving God. At the same time, did they gain that edification it by obedience to eternal law? Yes. They obeyed law and had the overly generous and merciful blessings predicated on that law poured out in response. 

We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But that doesn't mean that we earned, or deserved salvation. We do not deserve, or earn, the overly merciful gifts that God bestows.

We have faith, repent, and get baptized for the remission of sins. Then we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Did we earn the gift of the Holy Ghost? Not even close. It is a merciful and generous gift. It is far above what we have earned or deserved. But did we gain it by obedience to eternal law? Yes we did.

What we can obtain as a generous blessing given mercifully for obeying eternal law is far and above what we actually earn and deserve. This is the generosity and mercy of a loving God: That his laws bestow divine gifts that are merciful and overly generous, and that are frankly outside of man's power to obtain in response to works of obedience to his divine laws. What man can force the Holy Ghost to come? None can. The Holy Ghost is a God, and will go where he pleases. Yet the Holy Ghost will descend on a man in response to a man's obedience. That is simply outside a man's power. Man cannot force a God to let his presence fall on a man. It is a merciful and loving gift of something that is outside man's power, in response to obedience to God's law.

When we decide that, because there is a law set, and a blessing attached to obeying that law, then we must have earned and deserved whatever we obtain by obeying that law, we are simply giving way to false pride and denying the merciful nature of our God.

It seems that with us you could offer to pay a man a million dollars a day, and he would be grateful for the first month. But give him six months with such wages and he will decide he earned and deserved such a rich reward just because that was the price that was set. In his pride he forgets that the reward was far, far more than what he rightly earned or deserved. It was merciful and generous.

And when we think of receiving such marvelous manifestations as answers to our prayers, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and baptism, and the temple endowments, we may be tempted to give way to pride and think we deserved them and earned them. But no, we did not. We obeyed the law and obtained the prize, but the law was set by a merciful and generous God and its rewards for obedience are far better than millions of dollars, but far more unattainable by the power of mankind.

We are judged by our works in mortality as well as in eternity

The scriptures testify again and again that we will be judged according to our works. Interestingly, we don't realize that that is no different in mortality than in eternity. That is exactly what the scripture means:

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.

We are judged by our works in mortality. We will be judged by them in eternity. This is the doctrine of the scriptures. And it is laid out for us as plain as day, that we cannot misunderstand. 

... must be judged of their works (1 Nephi 15:32)
... must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; (1 Nephi 15:33)
... all men shall be judged of their works (2 Nephi 9:44)
... they shall be judged, every man according to his works (Mosiah 3:24)
... stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body (Alma 5:15)
... stand before God, and be judged according to their works. (Alma 11:41)
... to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil. (Alma 11:44)
... stand before God to be judged according to their works (Alma 12:8)
... all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works. (Alma 33:22)
... stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds. (Alma 36:15)
... stand before God, and be judged according to their works. (Alma 40:21)
... men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life,
 and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored  unto them for evil... (Alma 41:3-4)
 ... they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works (Alma 42:23)
 ... all people, all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil (3 Nephi 26:4)
 ... be judged according to your works (Mormon 3:18)
 ... to be judged according to your works (Mormon 6:21)

We will be judged by our works in eternity. And just so, we are judged by our works in mortality, for when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Short note - Polygamy and the millenium

Every once in a while I hear someone speculating about polygamy and the millennium. But no one points out the very obvious answer, so I will just quickly note it.

In an article of faith we read that "Christ will reign personally upon the earth". The resurrection will precede the millennium, and in the millennium resurrected beings will interact with mortal beings, for otherwise how can a resurrected Christ reign personally upon the earth? In fact, we read:

Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Thus resurrected beings will interact with mortals ones. The earth with have a resurrected being as its king.

And Joseph Smith will walk again upon the earth. And Brigham Young. And Wilford Woodruff. And many other prophets and apostles. Even Joseph Fielding Smith, who was never polygamous in mortality, will be resurrected with his three wives, and walk the earth as a polygamist in the millennium.

So yes, it is blindingly obvious. There will be polygamists on the earth in the millennium. For the resurrection will precede the millennium.

The graces of God, the atonement, and obedience

As we learn to live righteously enough to more fully enjoy God's merciful gifts, such as the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost, they transform our works and we gradually become more worthy and partake more fully of God's spiritual blessings But we do so as the scripture dictates: "by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated".

There is no such thing as grace that grants us blessings in violation of the scriptures. When we receive any blessing from God it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. The only grace that counts for anything in matters of salvation is grace that transforms our works. It is by our works, by obedience to laws upon which blessings are predicated, that we receive any spiritual blessing from God. That is true not only in mortality, but in eternity, for we will be judged in by our works. 

That is precisely the meaning 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.

Those graces that change our works, that transform them, are plainly taught to us as part of our doctrine and clearly laid out in the scripture.

The light of Christ - where would we be without a conscience. It is a gift from God, we have no power to bestow it upon ourselves. The more we heed it, the more we can learn through it and be changed by it.

The Holy Ghost - this one is enormous - as it can vary from the beginning whisperings we hear all the way to the visions Joseph Smith received "while in the spirit". It is the primary means by which we become one with God. The more we heed it, the more we can learn through it and be changed by it.

The gifts of the spirit - We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healings, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. The more we heed them, the more we can learn through them and be changed by them.

The ministering of angels (D&C 13). No personal experience, but I'm noticing a pattern here, so I'm going out on a limb and saying that the more we heed it, the more we can learn through it and be changed by it.

The privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom, to have the heavens opened to us, to commune with the general assembly and the church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. (D&C 107:19) Again, no claim to personal experience, but can we not realize that the more we heed these, the more we can learn from them and be changed by them.

These graces of God can transform our works, but they are also conditional upon our works. Truly, we are saved by grace after all we can do. We are saved by grace, but will be judged according to our works. And our works will only be judged to be good if they were transformed by God's grace. These very graces are so much a part of our doctrine, but we think they have nothing to do with redemption or the atonement. 

But they are the very reason the atonement was brought to pass. That is why it is called a "preparatory redemption" in Alma 13.

Alma 13:3 ... therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such. 

That is why Joseph Smith taught 

These, then, are all gifts; they come from God; they are of God; they are all the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they are what Christ ascended into heaven to impart (TPJS page 245)

These graces of God are the very reason the atonement was brought to pass. 

The law irrevocably decreed and the atonement of Christ

The idea that the atonement makes it so that we receive rewards above and beyond our actual righteousness is pure garbage. In reality the atonement transforms our righteousness so that we can receive promised rewards. Those are radically different ideas.

Consider the false idea that the atonement makes it so that we receive rewards above and beyond our actual righteousness. It tells us to put down our labors. It says to stop pulling on the yoke. It teaches that once we are good enough that Christ's mercy will at least bring us into heaven, there is no longer any point to our efforts. 

But here, read the scriptures on the matter. 

First off, regarding receiving spiritual blessings above and beyond our actual righteousness.

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.

That is perfectly plain. It was given as revelation long after the atonement was performed. It is a truth that is not altered one iota by the atonement. 

Now, if you thought that is what the atonement was all about, and these days many people wrongly do, you may think that I just said there is no atonement. Not at all. I just quoted a scripture and said it was true. And now I will quote another one, which is equally true.

Mosiah 3:18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
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.
20 And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
21 And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.

So we cannot be found blameless before God, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent. Salvation can come in and through the atoning blood of Christ. 

How are these two different scriptures both true? The answer is laid out plain as day in the verses I just quoted. It says that the reason no man can be saved except through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord is that the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, UNLESS.

And what is that "unless"? 

The scripture is perfectly plain. Mankind is an enemy to God and will be forever and ever unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, unless he putteth off the natural man, unless he becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ, unless he beomes as a child, unless he becomes submissive, unless he becomes meek, unless he becomes patient, unless he becomes full of love, unless he becomes willing to submit to all things which the Lord sees fit to inflict upon him.

Unless we BECOME something different than the natural man through the atonement, then the atonement is of no use to us, because we are left as if no atonement had been made.  

The atonement is the vehicle that makes change possible. 

The atonement is NOT a substitute for change. It never has been. It never will be. 

And that is the doctrine of the scriptures.

Small note - No jail in the law of Moses

Small unimportant note.

I think it is interesting that there doesn't appear to be a prison or jail under the law of Moses. The law of Moses punishes some violations by death. Some people are punished by being given a certain number of lashes. It covers only various scenarios and leaves the Levites to serve as judges over difficult cases (so I would guess Samson was a Levite, as he judged Israel for a time). It does have ways people can become servants for up to seven years, or, if they desire, for their lifetime.

But I don't think it once mentions putting a man in prison or in jail.

Given that prison is the almost universal criminal punishment these days, I thought it was interesting that the law of Moses worked so differently. It tends to give punishments many would call harsh, but taken on the whole, it also tends to "get it over with" and let a man continue living his life as long he didn't do anything worthy of death. I expect that, the "harsh" punishments of the law of Moses are far more merciful than our prison systems where a man is kept in a cage for years on end.

The Nephites had prisons, for Alma and Amulek were cast into prison, and Moroni cast the king men into prison at one point when there is not time to deal with them properly. But, taken on the whole, Moroni's handling of the King men reflects the law of Moses. The king men have to decide what they are going to do, and then they are either punished (to death in that case, for it was sedition) or let free. Languishing in prison wasn't one of the options.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Agency is not "the right to disobey"

If you have a right to something, it is yours, and there is no consequence for what you do with it. We have rights in our country that we believe in, but none of those is the right to break the law, the right to murder, to steal, ... The God given rights we have are rights to obtain things by our own merits and effort. We have a right to the pursuit of happiness. We do not have a right to happiness.

Government is not to infringe upon our God given rights. What we do that is within the realm of our rights has no governmental consequence. That is precisely what we mean by saying that they are rights.

But we do not have a right to disobey God. We have the ability, no doubt. But the fact that we have agency does not give us a RIGHT to disobey. If it was a right, then it would not matter how we used it, because it belonged to us and we could do with it as we pleased.

So first off, agency is not a right to disobey God. If it was, then there could be no consequence for disobeying, because we acted within our rights by disobeying. Rights are things that we can do as we please with because they inherently belong to us. That is not the case with disobeying God.

Allowing us to choose is different than giving us a right to disobey, because the conditions of that choice are stated plainly from the beginning, and the consequences of choosing the path of disobedience is to suffer unspeakable agony like a lake of fire and brimstone. It is therefore not our "right" to disobey. It is within our abilities. But abilities are different that rights.


Agency is simple.

It was illustrated very clearly in God's statement to Cain: "If thou doest well thou shalt be accepted."

Satan's plan was to replace the principle "if thou doest well, thou  shalt be accepted". He proposed replacing it with a different principle: "thou shalt be accepted independent of what thou doest". That is the opposite of agency.

Agency is to choose our end by our actions.

Satan wanted to destroy the plan of choosing our end by our actions. He wanted to reward good for evil.

Agency is not "the Right to Disobey". When we live within our rights there are no consequences for doing so. By contrast, there are awful punishments that await those who exercise their agency to reject the truth. Agency is different than a right.

The declaration of independence states that man all men are created with certain rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are implicit bounds on those rights. We do not have the right to pursue happiness by becoming a serial murderer. That is outside of our rights. But as long as we live within those rights, the pursuit of those rights are without consequence.

Good choices enhance agency. But we don't have more rights or fewer rights by living within our rights. When we read of the war in Heaven, we immediately think of rights because of the heritage of our government. But Agency is different than a right. Agency increases as we exercise it properly, rights do not.

God both has requirements he makes of all mankind. While all mankind is expected to live by at least basic principles of conscience, accepting the greater light of the gospel is not forced. In fact, it is offensive to God to impel, by force of law, men to believe in and worship him.

We see examples in the law of Moses where those who are not members of his church, not even Israelites in fact, are required to abide by some of God's laws when they are among God's people. Those who are visiting Israelites are required to keep the Sabbath day holy. Not only them, but even their servants are required to keep the Sabbath day holy.

The whole point of rights is that they are yours and the government can have no hold on you for living within your rights. That is what makes them rights.

But agency is different. We can choose, but sooner or later we will be held accountable. Consider whether the follow scriptures are teaching that we have a RIGHT to do whatever we want, or whether our agency to choose is different that a RIGHT because we will be held accountable for every exercise of it.

Matthew 12: 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Alma 12: 13 Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned.
 14 For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.

Those who are found to have hardened their hearts against the truth will find themselves condemned even by their thoughts. Does being guilty for one's thoughts sound like one is exercising a right? No, rights are things that belong to us to do with as we please. Agency is not a right to disobey.

Joseph Fielding Smith said: "I have heard people say, and members of the church too, 'I have a right to do just as I please.' My answer is 'No, you do not.' You haven't any right at all to do just as you please. There is only one right that you have and that is to do just what I read to you: keep the commandments of Jesus Christ.
He has a perfect right to tell us so.
We have no right to refuse.
I do not care who the man is, I do not care where he lives or what he is, when the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented to him he has no right to refuse to receive it.
He has the privilege. He is not compelled to receive it
because our father in Heaven has given to every one of us in the church and out the gift of agency.
That free agency gives us the privilege to accept and be loyal to our Lord's commandments,
but it has never given us the right to reject them.
Every man who rejects the commandments of our father in heaven is rebellious."

Prayer is like an ordinance

Do we recognize that Prayer itself is like an ordinance. We go through various outward actions. We bow our head, we close our eyes, we kneel down, we close the prayer is the name of Christ.

If by prayer we can speak with God, then it is no surprise that there may be an ordinance, or maybe one could call it a type of prayer, by which we could come into God's presence.

Our upside down culture.

2 Nephi 13:12 And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.

This scripture has become a virtual theme for our day. Tragically, we have lived so long in this setting that we have grown accustomed to it, and can hardly figure out what it would be referring to.

There is a scripture elsewhere that describes a people who were so wicked that they could not keep their hands on their own goods. If they laid a sword down the next day it would not be there. They began to sleep with their swords just to ensure the safety of their own goods.

While this sounds extraordinary, one might imagine that if it had continued for 50 years then there would come a point at which it would be what most people remembered as the norm for most of their lives. It would just be part of what life was like, part of the normal backdrop in which life takes place. It would become just part of the reality of a dog eat dog world.

We do live in a setting that is extremely destructive, but which has become perfectly normalized. It is the one described in 2 Nephi 13:12.

Children are their oppressors

The horrible effects of modern ideas about home and family can hardly be overestimated.

One example of these is the normalization of rebellion in our youth. From older teachings it appears that while some youth were rebellious, e.g. the story of the prodigal son, it was also quite normal for youth to not be rebellious, and to be very respectful and diligent. One reads about this distinction a number of times in the book of Proverbs. Respectful and diligent youth seem to have been as much a normal thing in their culture as rebellious youth are in ours.

Our youth grow up being taught that rebellion and disrespect are not only a normal, but even the natural and expected way to live as teenagers.

If you teach every convert to the church that he or she will go inactive for some period of time (and yes, I have heard members tell new converts that), then it will be very easy for that to happen. They will think to themselves "if others who have trod this path before me said that going inactive for a time is normal, then it's not going to hurt if I slip a bit". When we use our position as one who appears wise, or a leader, or a teacher to give a nod of approval to rebellion or apathy then we won't be surprised when more of our members and new converts give way to rebellion or apathy.

Many of us don't even really believe in respectful and diligent youth.

We read the story of the stripling warriors, but we do not really believe that is possible for our own youth. If we lack faith that our own youth can be raised to be that faithful, then how can is possibly become true?

And by faith I don't just mean belief. Weak belief comes from weak obedience. Strong faith comes from righteous living. If we lack faith, just believing more is not the whole issue, we must improve and live better, and then rather than just more belief we will find that we have greater faith.

Women rule over them

The scriptures span the entirety of man's fallen history. They do cover some times in much more detail than others, but they still cover a remarkable range of cultures and times. For example, the Nephite history spans 1000 years along with some history of the Jaredites which spanned from the tower of Babel almost to the arrival of the Nephites. By contrast, the United States has been around for about 240 years. Modern ideas about the family clearly came about primarily in the last century, with the most dramatic changes taking place starting in the 1960s.

It is rather interesting that in the entire history of the scriptures there is nothing that suggests that the at any time in that, the structure of the family that God endorsed changed from the one given to Adam and Eve.

But interestingly, there is a strong tendency to believe that all the new "truths" we have discovered about the family since 1960, are the real gospel truth. We have this remarkable idea that the notions about the family that came from an age when decency was replaced with unabashed sexual immorality are somehow a broad step forward toward the truth.

Lest a preachment against it cannot be remembered

Spencer W Kimball, speaking of Christian churches in general, stated the following.

"One prominent voice booms out that there are many steepled edifices in which the word sin has not been mentioned for a long time, and a preachment against it cannot be remembered."

What struck me most when I heard that recently was whether that same culture actually has many proponents now in our own wards and churches. 

I think that it has. There are those that want "a more loving message" among us. Even among those who are not actually apostate, I think this is quietly sneaking into our wards. 

Good men and women still speak plainly, no doubt. 

But let us be careful to heed the warning implicit in President Kimballs mournful complaint about the other churches of his day.

My wife's excellent remarks on the constitution

My wife wrote some excellent stuff. As context, she gave a quote from James Madison, who wrote most of the constitution.

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasure; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor. . . .
Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America."

With that as context, Diane made an excellent point, which I do not believe I understood previously. The following excellent notes were written by her.
The Constitution was written to keep the regulation of day to day in the hands of the states. That gave each individual more say and more representation in the government. With a large federal government regulating the day to day lives of the American citizens, the people have less and less representation and say in those laws.

Think about it. Your state representative represents a few thousand people. They usually listen to the voters and care about what they want. Your federal representative represents a few million people giving you much less voice and much less say. The Constitution was written to give the people a lot of say in the laws and regulations that affected their day to day lives. The Constitution did not intend for a few people in the federal government dictating education, healthcare, marriage, business practices, property rights and use, religion, and speech. Those were left to the states, so that each person can have the most amount of say in the laws that regulate them.

Do your children know this? Do your children know that the Founding Fathers meant for them to have a lot of say in laws and regulations that affect their day to day lives? They are not being taught this in school. You can teach it to them by reading the Founding Documents and discussing them with your children. Read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.
And I think that is profound. Big government wants sweeping decisions made that force everyone to capitulate. Big government has an unquencheable thirst for power and continually finds reason for it's whims to becomes laws. It becomes, more and more, a spoiled child that believes it Deserves anything that it wants. And, like a spoiled child, it's wants grow without bound. It becomes increasingly unreasonable, selfish, unfair, and even irrational. It doesn't just want a pony, it wants a purple magical pony. In fact. It wants a real unicorn and a real live fairy and a pot of gold.

Just look at the bizarre denial of physical reality that has been descending to the people from above recently: denial of the physical realities of marriage, and even of something so blindingly obvious as gender. They want to cast into law what can never be real. They think they can MAKE it real. They are spoiled children sitting on thrones of state, wielding its full power to their own personal ends.

Very limited federal government, as our constitution was intended to be, allows people to have a real say in precisely the laws by which they will be governed. It is truly self government. It is government by the people, because each person has a reasonable influence in the laws which most affect them.

The differing punishments of men and women in 2 Nephi 13

It is interesting that there are punishments for the men, and punishments for the women both listed in 2 Nephi 13.

Of the men we read:

2 Nephi 13:25 Thy men shall fall by the sword and thy mighty in the war.

And of the women we read:

2 Nephi 13:16 Moreover, the Lord saith: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet—
17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments, and cauls, and round tires like the moon;
19 The chains and the bracelets, and the mufflers;
20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings;
21 The rings, and nose jewels;
22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins;
23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and hoods, and the veils.
24 And it shall come to pass, instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well set hair, baldness; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; burning instead of beauty.

It is rarely noted that these two punishments are adapted to the misbehavior we see by the men and  the women in the church. 

In general, the men are more likely to get into moral trouble. These days, there are already many men in the church who have fallen into the web of pornography. Immorality, including pornography, is like setting off a bomb in a person's life. It destroys a person spiritually, leaving little left in its wake. It is a spiritual kaboom that can turn a righteous king David into a man that is worthy of hell. 

By contrast, our women are involved to a degree in immorality, but to a much lesser degree. However, they are almost universally afflicted with feminism. They have stretch-forth necks and are haughty. They don't think they are. But they look down at their demure ancestors with scoffing, and even a sense of indignation and disdain toward their meekness, gentleness, and quiet humility. This is very different than immorality. It is not a bomb that blows up and destroys a person. It is more like a sickness that afflicts the general population of women in the church. They have pride and animosity over it. They are even proud and self righteous about their feminist pride and feminist animosity. 

And it is interesting that the punishments offered to the men and women in 2 Nephi 13 match up with the type of misbehavior we are seeing.

In 2 Nephi 13 the men are punished with death.  That is pretty serious punishment. It matches the seriousness of the misbehavior. When ancient Israel was immoral, the Lord frequently used exactly this sort of punishment, such as when he sent a plague that was stayed by Phinehas' righteous zeal. Immorality, like death, usually doesn't destroy a person half way. Immorality is like a bomb that leaves spiritual death in its wake. The punishment given to the men of the church in 2 Nephi 13 matches the type of misbehavior we are seeing in the men of the church.

In 2 Nephi 13 the women are punished with scabs on the crowns of their head, stink instead of sweet smell, baldness instead of well set hair, torn clothing of sackcloth in place of fashionable clothing with accessories, burning instead of beauty. They aren't punished with death, but with intense physical ailments and with clothing like that of refugees that is a mockery of the beauty that women desire for themselves. They become, visually, the antithesis of a picture of beauty and feminity.

And that punishment matches the misbehavior we are seeing in the women of the church. 

The punishments of the men and of the women match the misbehaviors we are seeing in the men and the women of the church.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

History that fails to show socialism and communism for what they are is a lie

What is the impetus behind socialism? It is laziness and greed on behalf of the poor, as well as a desire for power on behalf of the few who want control of the government.

It is the opposite of Zion. Zion requires the rich to love their God so much they will become poor themselves if necessary to serve him. They must, as a class, accept Christ's challenge to the rich young man. Zion also requires the poor to not look at the things of the rich with greedy eyes and idleness. They must prize God far above their desire for things. The changes in both the rich and the poor are essential to Zion.

Socialism makes a few men powerful. By having power over the property and commerce of the people socialism offers society nothing better than an oppressive return to the dark ages. Socialism seems less oppressive to us than the dark ages were, but it is only so on the surface. It seems more bearable than the dark ages were because we have a hard time recognizing how oppressive it is when our measuring stick is primarily whether people are enjoying modern technological advances and conveniences that we have come to value more than we care about the fundamentals of liberty, happiness, and the unrestricted right to worship our God.

Zion gives power to God instead of giving power to despots. No man can serve both God and mammon. Zion requires both the rich and the poor to completely choose God over mammon.

A history that portrays socialism and communism without portraying it's true nature of corruption, greed, laziness, and government oppression is a lie. A history that portrays socialism and communism as just a "different form of government", a different flag, a different color on the map, is a lie.

All is right with the brethren

I feel certain that all is right with the prophet and the twelve. Not that my observation counts for anything. But the Lord holds them in the palm of his hand. They are right with him, and they are leading the church just as he pleases.

We gather the souls of men to the prophet and the twelve. If they were not on the earth, where could we gather them to? There would be no place.

Joseph Smith did too know how to lead the church in temporal matters

I think it is funny that we know not to speak against the prophet (and rightly so) but have no problem speaking all manner of filth against Joseph Smith these days now that Richard Bushman's book "Rough Stone Rolling" has become mainstream within the church.

Here are a couple of times where a prophet addressed claims that have been laid at the feet of the Joseph Smith or at the feet of our members.

Brigham Young
Now let me relate one item of it, not for those who are wise, and pretend to be filled with knowledge, and at the same time know nothing, but I relate it for the information of those who know nothing about it. To my certain knowledge, men and women left the counties of Davies and Caldwell, in the upper part of the state of Missouri, set fire to their own buildings, drove off their catttle killed and slayed, (I know, and could name the people), and then swore the "Mormons" had done it. Now this circumstance came under my certain knowledge. Says I, can it be possible that men can become so corrupt, and so sunken in wickedness? I say this for the information of those who do not understand and know this people from the beginning. From the first day I knew brother Joseph to the day of his death, a better man never lived upon the face of this earth.

Joseph Smith and the temporal and financial matters of the church
Taken from Brigham Young, J of D, vol page 75

The remark that was made this morning is a true one, although the matter referred to is small, apparently, but it is a fact, there was not enough confidence in the people to satisfy them that the Prophet knew how to handle money, or what to do with it; they did not believe he knew how to manage temporal affairs. This lack of confidence brought poverty and distress upon the whole people.

When men came into our midst, who shut up the bowels of their compassion, and held their money with an iron fist, they were held in communion with us, our faith was exercised for them, we mingled with them, and gave them fellowship for a time, yet one man, with his covetousness, tied up the whole people. In many instances, men were cut off for their covetousness, and because they had not confidence in the Prophet, and held their substance when means were wanted to carry on the work of God, to send the Gospel to distant lands, to sustain the poor, build houses, and accomplish that which was necessary to be done. While this means was withheld, it brought the whole Church under condemnation, for this reason all had to suffer.

This was in the days of the Prophet Joseph. Have the people reformed since then? Perhaps a few of them hard; and again, perhaps a great many of them have not. Many have not had an opportunity to reform, as there is a considerable portion of this community who have not had an acquaintance with the Prophet; they never associated with him, they have not had an opportunity of sustaining his hands. Again, there is a certain portion of the people who were associated with him. What would the people do now, if they by their voice could call him hack to their midst? Would they be willing to lay their substance at his feet? I very much doubt it. He was poor, harassed, distressed, afflicted, and tormented with law suits upon law suits, persecution upon persecution, and thus it cost thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep him alive, which a few had to sustain. Is this affliction upon them now? It is not. The scene is reversed. And as the people once thought, that many by one man could be made poor, they now believe, by one man many will be made rich. At the present day I do not know where the opportunity is to prove the people.

There are individuals here, and members of the Church, that when they come up to this land, are very careful to leave their substance behind them. And if they have money to lend, they are very careful to lend it to persons who do not belong to the Church. There are such present to-day. They are fearful and unbelieving. They did not believe in the days of Joseph that he could tell them the truth. But if you asked them if they believed Joseph was a Prophet, and if God sent him to build up the kingdom, "O yes," would be their reply; and yet they had not confidence to ask him what they should do with the thousands in their possession. These are a few facts in the life and experience of the Prophet Joseph.

How is it now? Have the people confidence? They say they have. Are they willing to take counsel? They say they are. As it was observed here this morning, when we wish anything done, the [p.76] people are ready and willing to raise their hands to accede to the propositions made by their leaders. Do you remember what I told you a few sabbaths ago—this whole people are willing to receive counsel, but who of them are willing to carry it out to the very letter? The future will prove that. It is not proven by sitting on your seats and simply raising your hands, as a token, a covenant, a witness to God and angels that you are ready to take counsel, and also carry it out.

For men of principle, and seemingly of good sense, to believe the Prophet Joseph, who was inspired to build up the kingdom of God temporally as well as spiritually, did not know as much about a picayune as about God's spiritual kingdom, about a farm as about the New Jerusalem, is folly in the extreme, it is nonsense in the superlative degree. Those who entertain such ideas ought to have their heads well combed, and subjected to a lively course of friction, that peradventure a little common sense might dawn upon their confused ideas.

Consult your own judgments in such matters. Do you think that God would set a man to lead his people, who does not know as much about a picayune or a farm, as about God's  spiritual kingdom, or the New Jerusalem? Shame on those who would entertain such ideas, for they debase and corrupt the hearts of the community who imbibe them. According to the sentiments of some of the Latter-day Saints, the Lord must have become wonderfully high minded in the last days; I should think he has become too proud according to their belief, to notice farms and merchandise, and other little affairs and transactions that pass around us. He used to notice the very hairs of our heads that fell and the sparrows; He took care or the ravens, and watched over the children of Israel, and supplied all their temporal wants; but we say now, He does not condescend to such small matters, having given us an understanding, and we know what to do. Are not these the feelings of the people? I could refer to some little things by way of example, but it would hit somebody rather too publicly.

Let me ask that brother, if you have not thought in your heart, you would not go to brother Brigham for counsel, for fear he would counsel you to go to some place you do not want to go? Still you say, "I believe this is the kingdom of God, and I do not want to come in contact with brother Brigham, I do not wish to meet him, for fear he should come in contact with my calculations, and what I have decided upon in my mind." I could put my hand upon some of you who entertain such thoughts.

Adam the ancient of days, Joseph Smith, and the modern prophet

Currently, Thomas Monson is the prophet. He does lead the church under Christ. But there is a bit more to the authority than that. Thomas Monson leads the church under Joseph Smith, who remains the head of this dispensation beyond the veil. Joseph Smith still leads the church. He still leads it under Adam, who is the ancient of days, is Michael the archangel. Michael led the saints in the premortal world and he continues to lead them in this world. And when Satan is cast out of this world it will likely be just as true as it was in the premortal life that it was done with Michael the archangel at their head.

And who does Michael lead the saints under?

Why Michael leads it under Christ.

So yes, this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. Yes, he is the head of it. President Monson leads the church under Christ. But there is nothing wrong with acknowledging the whole chain of authority and realizing that President Monson leads it under Joseph Smith who leads it under Adam who leads it under Christ.

Work in the church is paid work under consecration

I read these verses and have to laugh at my own lack of understanding.

D&C 42:71 And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes as before mentioned;
72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and the bishop.
73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.

Wait, what?!?

When the mouth of the Lord speaks something, we do not take it lightly. I am certain the Lord has put in place the current practice in which all the work done in the church is done as volunteer work. We kind of messed things up when we failed to live the law of consecration. And my impression is that even under the lesser law, the financial law of Moses that we call tithing, the members did not initially give enough for this to be brought about.

But wow. Apparently when members are living the way the Lord wants for their finances, then things are also different. The elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors (and right there we get that elders can be counselors in a bishopric -- don't get me wrong, I have perfect confidence that the brethren are doing what the Lord wants now, but I expect, when we have everything laid out more perfectly, it will return to the revelations)  are to either have their families supported out of the consecrated property, or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services.

This reminds me of a statement Joseph Smith made. He is talking about temple work instead of about bishoprics. But his meaning on this score is plain enough:

The declaration this morning is, that as soon as the Temple and baptismal font are prepared, we calculate to give the Elders of Israel their washings and anointings, and attend to those last and more impressive ordinances, without which we cannot obtain celestial thrones. But there must be a holy place prepared for that purpose. There was a proclamation made during the time that the foundation of the Temple was laid to that effect, and there are provisions made until the work is completed, so that men may receive their endowments and be made kings and priests unto the Most High God, having nothing to do with temporal things, but their whole time will be taken up with things pertaining to the house of God. There must, however, be a place built expressly for that purpose, and for men to be baptized for their dead. It must be built in this central place; for every man who wishes to save his father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends, must go through all the ordinances for each one of them separately, the same as for himself, from baptism to ordination, washing and anointings, and receive all the keys and powers of the Priesthood, the same as for himself.

Things I know nothing about

The fact that we cannot understand the meaning of this is probably a sad commentary on us. Joseph Smith said:

"...for every man who wishes to save his father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends, must go through all the ordinances for each one of them separately, the same as for himself, from baptism to ordination, washing and anointings, and receive all the keys and powers of the Priesthood, the same as for himself."

The part about temple work is very familiar to us. If we leave that out though, what remains is an enigma to us.

"...for every man ... must go through all the ordinances ... from baptism to ordination, washing and anointings, and receive all the keys and powers of the Priesthood, the same as for himself." (TPJS page 362)

It is not that we are confused that our dead must receive the same things that we ourselves receive. 

What is this really saying. 

I have no idea. I have no idea what keys and powers are referred to, and particularly no idea why it says "all the keys and powers of the Priesthood".

It reminds me of another statement made by Brigham Young. I believe both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young knew truck loads more about the priesthood and about keys than I do. Brigham Young said:

"Who has received and understands such an endowment, in this assembly? You need not answer. Your voices would be few and far between, yet the keys to these endowments are among you, and thousands have received them, so that the devil, with all his aids, need not suppose he can again destroy the Holy Priesthood from the earth, by killing a few, for he cannot do it. God has set His hand, for the last time, to redeem His people, the honest in heart, and Lucifer cannot hinder Him." (Journal of Discourses vol 2, pages 29-33)

Sure, many had received their endowments. But in what sense were the keys among the saints and the priesthood could not longer be destroyed from the earth by killing a few men?

Other statements that are curious include:

Joseph Smith: "When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and how to come to him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it." (TPJS  page 349)

In Teachings of the  Prophet Joseph Smith we read the following: "He spoke of delivering the keys of the Priesthood to the Church, and said that the faithful members of the Relief Society should receive them with their husbands, that the Saints whose integrity has been tried and proved faithful, might know how to ask the Lord and receive an answer".

It seems quite clear that these refer to those things bestowed in the endowment, which is where the faithful members of the Relief Society "receive them with their husbands".

The keys of the Aaronic priesthood and of the Melchizedek priesthood referred to are delivered to both women and to men in the temple. (Not realizing that spurs on some radical movements in the church such as the recent movement for women to be ordained.) They are keys comprised of knowledge, and not of authority or presidency, just as the three grand keys in D&C 129 are comprised of knowledge but not of authority nor of presidency.

But frankly, I think the knowledge is mostly lost on us. Which is no surprise. It is exactly as Brigham Young himself stated above: "Who has received and understands such an endowment, in this assembly? You need not answer. Your voices would be few and far between, yet the keys to these endowments are among you, and thousands have received them, so that the devil, with all his aids, need not suppose he can again destroy the Holy Priesthood from the earth, by killing a few, for he cannot do it."

Those darn scriptures

Sometimes the scriptures just don't fit that well with modern thinking. Joseph Fielding McConkie said it well:

In revelation both ancient and modern, the Lord refers to his own words as being “sharper than a two edged sword.” In modern vernacular, much that he said is “politically incorrect.” It is judgmental, divisive, rigid, closed-minded, and all too often just plain embarrassing. In many of our instructional meetings, the teaching of ethics prevails over the teaching of doctrine simply to avoid giving offense or to avoid disagreement. Everyone is pleased to speak of God’s love; rare are the mentions of his wrath or displeasure.

Here I collect some of the scriptures which are least satisfactory to the modern thinker. For those that hope they are not really scriptures I include references to more modern teachings of them.
1 Corinthians 5: 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators

Paul follows this by clarifying that he isn't meaning a symbolic "fornication with the world", he means those involved in serious sexual sin. Obviously this includes those engaging in homosexuality and other perversions.

If I was to raise my hand in sunday school class and state that we should avoid companying with those involved in serious sexual sin, I just can't imagine what the backlash would be. But there it is in the scriptures. Yes, we invite them to have faith, repent of their sins and be baptized. Joseph Smith taught:

"Christ said he came to call sinners to repentance, to save them. Christ was condemned by the self-righteous Jews because He took sinners into His society; He took them upon the principle that they repented of their sins. It is the object of this society to reform persons, not to take those that are corrupt and foster them in their wickedness; but if they repent, we are bound to take them, and by kindness sanctify and cleanse them from all unrighteousness by our influence over people as the fear of being disfellowshiped by so goodly a society as this."

By contrast, in these days "fostering them in their wickedness" has become all the rage.
Moses 2: 28 And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

That the command is to multiply and replenish, not to have children if, when and to the degree that it fits your personal designs, is definitely unpopular. In my lifetime I believe I have never heard a speaker or teacher I wasn't related to teach this truth in a local church meeting, not even when (as happened quite recently) the sacrament speaker is boldly summarizing the truths found in the proclamation and reads the relevant sentences. They were read as if they were empty space and the speaker moved on. Thank goodness for general conference and the proclamation on the family (and the temple). That this is not only a commandment, but a covenant requirement was taught by Boyd K Packer. This requirement has been taught again and again with clear clarifications that it means to neither wait to have children nor to limit the number of them. Some speakers who have hit this are Spencer W Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Neil L Anderson. Joseph Fielding Smith was extraordinarily blunt about this. Brigham Young and Spencer W Kimball taught that when members limit the number of their children they force spirits who would have been born into gospel homes to go to families who don't have the gospel.

Some of the most offensive scriptures I am aware of to modern ears are the found in Ephesians 5.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

These are so offensive to modern ears that you can become an outcast merely for quoting them like they actually mean something. These same verses have been taught in general conference by A Theodore Tuttle, Hugh B Brown, Stephen L Richards, and on three occasions by Spencer W Kimball. They have also been quoted without apology by Joseph Smith who, from the context, took them quite seriously.

Yes it is true that there is a heavy obligation on the husband to love your wife, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself to it, and the above speakers clearly believe in that obligation. Yes some of these speakers as well as other more sacred settings clarify that whatever this teaches about wives, it is contingent on the husband's righteousness. However, merely quoting those scriptures immediately leads to accusations (spoken or unspoken) that you are an apostate who desires to be a tyrant in your own home. No, that isn't what I want. But I believe in the scriptures, and the mere rabble rousing effects these verses have suggests to my mind that something is amiss in the minds of those who respond so.
Another strong candidate that would make a world of difference to our lives and the lives of our posterity is found in the Book of Mormon:

Mosiah 23: 14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.

The scriptures require that we make judgment

We have some funny ideas about judging. Many of us think that we are not allowed to make any sort of judgment about what eternal reward someone will gain. But the scriptures state

In D&C 42:45 Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.

How can we obey this if we believe we are not allowed to decide who has a hope of a glorious resurrection? We cannot.

Why would the Lord give us a commandment that requires that we disobey him? He does not. There is no commandment that we pretend his plain words about his judgment will not all come to pass exactly as he has spoken. Quite to the contrary, we are required to have absolute faith in them. Part of which is simply accepting them.

D&C 63:17 Wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Like Amulek, we have no right to deny his word. That is not taking judgment from God, but leaving judgment in God's hand.

Alma 11:36 Now Amulek saith again unto him: Behold thou hast lied, for thou sayest that I spake as though I had authority to command God because I said he shall not save his people in their sins.
37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.