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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lake Wobegon Mormons

Last month an anonymous reader left a comment which read in part:
"This is the most disgusting thing I've ever read in my life. I don't know what's worse: the article, or the comments. These members of the Church are of the worst kind. They literally make me sick."
I was immediately relieved to discover he wasn't referring to anything I had written, but to a piece by someone else I had linked to.  The commenter was referring to an article over at the Millenial Star blog entitled "Please Don't Question Church Leaders On Finances."  Here is the rest of his comment:
"Maybe they should take a break from reading the Ensign for a while, and try giving the D&C a perusal. But then again, why would they want to? The D&C, according to the modern faithful Monsonite, is full of apostate teachings, like accountability and discipline of Church leaders, the principles of transparency and common consent, not trusting in the arm of flesh, etc.

"D&C 104:71: "And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent."

"It is our RIGHT to question Church leadership on finances. If you don't like what the Lord has to say on the subject, then stop pretending to be the Church of Christ, and admit you're just the Church of Monson, acting in open opposition to the word of God."
I felt the writer's use of the word "disgusting" to describe the opinions expressed at Millenial Star to be a bit harsh, but I understand where this guy is coming from.  It is views such as those expressed in the piece he's criticizing that contribute to the image that Mormonism is a cult.  After all, the difference between a religion and a cult is that religions generally worship some god or another, while a cult is marked by obedience and blind devotion to a mere man or group of men. When members of the LDS church provide this kind of aid and comfort to our enemies by demonstrating such cultish attributes, I'm inclined to agree there is cause for concern.

I generally like reading the stuff they feature over at the Millenial Star; that blog is often quite informative. But I have to agree with my reader about that particular piece being beyond the pale. You can judge for yourself by clicking here.

The author of that Millenial Star piece was himself reacting in righteous indignation to those of us concerned over the current policy of hiding Church finances from the general membership.  We maintain this practice is both improper, and a violation of Church law.  We are asking that the Church return to doing things the way the Lord commanded they be done, and to that end a petition has been circulating requesting the leadership abide by God's imperative in this matter.  The writer at the Millenial Star sees things differently, insisting that how or where the leaders spend our tithes is simply none the member's business.

One of the things I find unsettling about this piece is the clear inference that those of us wishing to see the general authorities abide by their legitimate responsibilities are somehow siding with the adversary to "destroy our faith in the Church." 

Yet I can find nowhere in scripture to indicate we are instructed to have faith in the Church.  Joseph Smith taught that the very first principle of the gospel is "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," not faith in the Church. The Church has an essential place in our lives, but as many people have learned, to put one's faith in an earthly organization made up of fallible people like you and me (D&C 10:67) can lead to a crisis of faith when those people inevitably disappoint.  As I have demonstrated previously, putting your trust in the earthly institution is a good way to keep your vision focused downward toward the mundane and diverted from looking heavenward and "doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God." 

In support of his argument that we members should not be informed about what the leaders do with our tithes, the writer quotes from former Church Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley and Spencer W. Kimball. Hinckley has assured us that the leaders "are constantly aware of the great and sacred trust imposed upon us as officers of the Church," and tells a story of how his father taught him that what the authorities of the Church do with the tithes he pays "need not concern" him.

It is all well and good to get Hinckley's take on the topic, and it's nice to know what his father thought about it, but since when does the president of the church teach doctrine he got from his daddy?  The thing that is missing from Hinckley's statement is any reference to what the Lord himself commanded on the subject.  Young Gordon's father may have been a good and honorable man, but his opinion does not trump scripture. And it is the scriptures that call for financial transparency.

The statement provided by President Kimball is equally insipid, but at least Kimball started out by admitting he was only expressing his opinion.  The writer seems to have elevated these two musings to the level of decrees from on high, apparently forgetting Joseph Smith's admonition that a prophet is only a prophet when he is speaking as a prophet.  When any of these men is expressing an opinion, he is not speaking for the Lord, and his statements are not to be taken as doctrine.

If we are to take seriously our popular assertion that Jesus Christ is the head of this church, then we should begin to show more interest in what the position of Christ happens to be on a particular point. Previous revelations make clear the Lord agrees with President Hinckley that the leaders have a sacred trust imposed upon them; but as a part of that trust they are expected to provide a full financial accounting to the general membership every April.  Contrary to the opinion of Hinckley's father, the scriptures are clear that what the Church does with the tithes we pay should very much concern us.

This is what those circulating the petition are asking the leaders to consider; that the Church return to its former practice of providing a thorough accounting of how Church funds are spent, so that the members can perform their part by either voicing or withholding their consent. That's all we want, a return to the doctrine the Church is required to obey, and which used to be followed every year without fail. 

Nowhere in that petition is there any suggestion that the petitioners want to direct the disbursement of funds themselves, or that they know better how the money should be spent because they are smarter and wiser than Church leadership.

Yet this is what the writer of that article claims.  He builds a straw man argument that has no relation to anything in the text of the petition, then provides additional quotes from Church leaders knocking that straw man down.  No one begrudges our Church leader's role in directing the disbursement of funds. That's what leaders are for.  But after those funds have been disbursed, the members are to be provided an annual report so they can have informed consent pursuant to the will of the Lord.  To suggest that the petitioners wish to direct the spending of the money themselves is dishonest and misleading, reminiscent of the kind of mischaracterizations readily found in anti-Mormon literature.  Perhaps it's understandable why my commenter calls this piece "disgusting." It is a deliberate distortion.

But perhaps a more appropriate word to describe this opposition to scriptural imperative might be "baffling." After all, judging by the number of commenters who agree with the writer at the Millenial Star, there are a large number of otherwise devout members of this church whose belief system is in sync with his.  For example, one reader wrote, "I second this. Nothing makes me sadder than when members question the Brethren."

Really? Nothing? How about when the Brethren ignore God's commandments? Shouldn't That make us just a little bit sad?

Reading this piece and the comments that followed, I was struck by the proclivity of these people to vigorously denounce those who merely suggested that perhaps, as the apostle Peter declared in Acts 5:29, "we ought to obey God rather than men."

This is an intriguing puzzle. Just how did it happen that so many believing latter-day Saints, good folks who belong to the same church as you and me, could arrive at such dissimilar systems of belief when it comes to a question of whether we are better off trusting in the arm of flesh, or following the sacred word of God?

In other words, how did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which began as a theocracy (government by God) find itself largely transformed into an oligarchy (government by a small group of dominant elites)?

For the answer to that, it might be instructive to trace our history back several generations to the days of the early Mormon pioneers.

Joseph Smith's Other Biographer
A good many Latter-day Saints are unaware of the excellent biography of Joseph Smith written by Professor Robert V. Remini.  That's unfortunate, because Remini, though not LDS, is America's foremost historian of the Jacksonian era, the age when Joseph Smith and Mormonism took to the stage.  His biography of the prophet is a fair and sympathetic one, but what Remini brings to the story is the bigger picture.  He knows this time period front and back. Most of us in the church have studied Mormon history in a vacuum, as though our people were isolated from the rest of the country.  Remini provides a context missing from most Mormon histories, as he is intimately familiar with the religious landscape, politics, and the national character of the time.  Remini places Joseph Smith and the Mormons within the tapestry of all else that was going on in America in the early 19th century.  And from this we can deduce what kind of people the typical early Mormons were.

Frontier America in the 1820s, 30s, and 40s was the breeding ground of a nation of rugged individualists, particularly around Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, where the incipient LDS church was sprouting. Most of the people alive at the time were either the children or grandchildren of those who had fought for America's independence from England.  Having recently thrown off the British crown, most Americans -particularly those on the frontier- vigorously objected to anyone who might try to place any kind of yoke upon them.  Anyone trying to impose his will on a feisty frontier American had better be able to prove his right of authority, or suffer some bruises for his impertinence.

One of the reasons we Mormons had so much trouble getting along with the Missourians was because some of our people were so much like them.  If a pack of Missourians raided a Mormon farm, a pack of Mormons was likely to gather the next night to ride off and burn out the farm of some Missourian.  Frontier Mormons could give as good as they got, often ignoring the rules of engagement revealed by God in Doctrine & Covenants 98 which required them to "bear it patiently and revile not against them."  Like famous frontiersmen Mike Fink and Davy Crockett, native born Mormons weren't the types to take any crap. The prophet Joseph had a devil of a time trying to keep some of these people in check.

But these early Mormons were diamonds in the rough, and their character was such that if you didn't try to lord it over them, you could get along with the Mormons quite well, as the Latter-day Saints were, by and large, a loving and accepting people.  Mormonism had at it's core a libertarian, live-and-let live philosophy, one reason it has been called The American Religion.  It was a faith where a man could believe as he wished and no ecclesiastical authority tried to rule over him.

By the time the city of Nauvoo was five years old, a large influx of converts had poured in from England, and at the time of Joseph Smith's death, it is estimated the population of Mormons had reached well over 20,000.  About10,000 of them elected to follow Brigham Young to the Rockies, and an overwhelming majority of that number were these new British converts.

These Brits were no less rugged than the Americans, but they were somewhat less spirited, and in that way they differed a bit from their rough and tumble frontier counterparts. Most of these people had belonged to the poor and servant classes of England; they were the coal miners, footmen, carriage drivers, and stable boys; charwomen, scullery maids, cooks, and servant girls.  They had more in common with the characters in Dickens novels than those of Jane Austen. In their home country these humble people had been accustomed to continually being told what was expected of them, and conditioned by centuries of class distinction to the understanding that they were to be subservient to their betters. They were brought up to know their place, and were ever careful not to overstep it.

The strong-willed "Lion of the Lord," Brigham Young, was well-suited to lead and dominate such a people, for many of them were unused to making decisions on their own.  After the murder of the Prophet, a large number of them quite literally did not know what to do next. Many of these new Mormons had been brought into the church by Brigham Young himself, or by some of the other apostles such as Heber Kimball, John Taylor, Orson Pratt and Orson Whitney, all of whom had served missions in the British Isles, and who now made up the new hierarchy of the Church in Utah.  It was natural for the converts to subvert their will to what some saw as the ruling class of the Church. They neither questioned Church authority, nor felt they had a right to.

My own great-great grandfather, Charles Law, was among the thousands of British converts who came across the plains and joined those already settled in Utah. He was not much different from the others.  If Brigham Young told one of these Saints to pack up his family and move to some faraway outpost such as Cedar City or Santa Clara, or even deep into Nevada or California territory, that Saint didn't ask any questions. He simply did as he was told.

I have never read an account of any of these early Mormons who described their move to the hinterlands as having been their own decision.  Rare also is any account of leaving the relative comfort of Salt Lake City as a result of a personal witness that the Lord wanted him to move.  It was always "Brother Brigham says I must go, and so I go."

Of course, Brigham's main reason for wanting settlements in all the outlying areas was not religious; it was so that he could establish the borders of Deseret.  Having people living in these distant borderlands was necessary to staking a claim to the Mormon empire.  But it's questionable whether the Lord actually revealed to Brigham that Brother So-and-So should leave the main body of Saints and go spend the rest of his life far away from friends and loved ones.  As Brigham Young famously admitted, he was not a prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel, and no one at the time considered him a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator as Joseph Smith had been.  So it's a testimony to his strong personality that so many would pull up roots and follow his orders without questioning whether those orders came from the mouth of God or simply the desires of Brigham Young.

Nordic Invasion
On my first visit to Utah as a young teenager from California, I had expected to find a bunch of hunched-over, plain looking girls wearing calico and bonnets.  Imagine my surprise to find the majority of girls I met were statuesque blondes.  These, I later learned, were the Petersons and Sorensons and Lunds, descended from the huge migration of converts who had joined the church in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.  Between 1850 and 1904, 22,653 of these Scandinavian converts joined the Saints already in Utah.  In many ways these Nordic converts were similar in temperament to the English already there.

I don't pretend to understand the cultural influences that molded the character of those from the Scandinavian countries, but it is telling that a 19th century Mormon immigrant farmer in Utah differed little from his counterpart in Minnesota.  They tended to be sturdy, stoic, and rugged, with one other marked characteristic: neither the Scandinavian who immigrated to Minnesota, or the Scandinavian who gathered to Zion were inclined to question religious authority.

If you're familiar with Garrison Keillor's stories of the inhabitants of Lake Wobegon, you may recognize the type.  Although the rural town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota is a fictional village, Keillor based his stories on real people he knew and grew up with in rural Minnesota. The people he fondly writes about are good, salt of the earth types; fine neighbors, taciturn, and slow to pick a quarrel.  They are a people known for a preference of minding their own business.  And just as the Scandinavian immigrants in Utah tended to be good Mormons, those in Minnesota were known to be good Lutherans.  Even if they disagreed with their pastor, they would go along quietly rather than risk an uncomfortable confrontation.   Above all, these Lutherans were respectful and obedient to religious authority -which is a bit ironic really, since Martin Luther himself was probably the biggest religious dissenter of all time.

This similarity between the Mormon and the Minnesota pioneers came to mind recently while Connie and I were watching a sweet little independent film which was aptly titled "Sweet Land." It's a realistic portrayal of a community of immigrant farmers living in Minnesota just after the first world war. The story involves a reticent Norwegian farmer with a Moe Howard haircut who sends to his homeland for a wife, sight unseen.  When she arrives at the station, he and his new fiance are taken directly to the church to be married.  But at the altar it is suddenly learned that although the bride hails from Norway, she happens to be a German national.  The pastor is horrified at this revelation, as during the war just past, German women were all understood to be either prostitutes, harlots, or spies.  He refuses to marry one of his parishioners to a German woman, and sends everyone home.  "There will be no wedding," he declares.

Having no where else to go, Inge stays in the home of her intended, Olaf, while Olaf sleeps in the barn.  This only makes things worse, because although the two of them are perfectly chaste, appearances result in their getting expelled from the congregation.  The couple work the farm together, always careful to keep their distance from one another.  Over the harvest season we see they are falling in love, even though they never get close enough to each other to touch.  Eventually there is a scene wherein Inge comes right out and tells the pastor in her broken English that whether he marries them or not, they are married in God's eyes. "You not marry us, but in my heart I know I am married."

That night after their usual silent supper together, Inge goes upstairs to bed as Olaf takes the lantern and prepares once again to head out to the barn.  Inge, hidden from view, calls down from the top of the stairs.

"Olaf?"

"Vhat?"

"Come."

Olaf hesitates. "Vhat?"

"Come."

And the viewer cheers because these two are finally going to live as man and wife as we know they are meant to.

And why not?  We want Olaf and Inge to be together because we sense instinctively that is what God himself would want for these two. This idea that a couple is not wed unless a ceremony has been  performed is one born of tradition and not etched in stone.  All it takes under American common law to be married (and this has been borne out over centuries the world over) is for the bride and groom to decide they are married.  Sure, it doesn't hurt to have witnesses, and it's a good idea to write up a certificate of marriage signed by the both of you, but the bible shows us that all God requires for a man and woman to be married is that they vow to cleave unto one another and none else.

In Genesis 30, for instance, we learn that Jacob selected Bilhah to wife and simply "went in unto her." That was it. There was no ceremony and no license.  Throughout most of recorded history, the wedding night was the ceremony.  Nothing else is needed for a marriage to be lawful in God's eyes; certainly not the approval of any earthly authority.

Smug Mormons who might scoff at these simple Minnesota farmers for allowing one stubborn country pastor to hold such control over them for such a long period of time might do well to remember we share much of that same DNA. In fact, as I was watching this movie, it put me in mind of a film I had seen produced by the LDS Church which promoted what I consider to be a very disturbing message.

The Worst Church Movie Ever
"Godly Sorrow" is a well-meaning short film on repentance produced for the department of Seminaries and Institutes. You can find it for about six bucks at Deseret Book as one of the lessons embedded on the New Testament DVD. It concerns a sweet LDS girl about to be married in the temple to the man of her dreams, "a return missionary and good student" played by a young Aaron Eckhart before he was famous.

So we open with this girl, Kim, in her bishop's office having a final interview just days before the wedding.  The invitations have been sent, the wedding dress has been bought, everything is ready for the big day.  After a little chit-chat about how much Kim is looking forward to her wedding day, her bishop, played by Chuck Metten of the BYU theater department, asks the dreaded question.

"Is there anything in your life, Kim, that hasn't been resolved with the proper priesthood authority?"

Uh-oh.

Kim cautiously admits that "before Matt returned from his mission, I was involved with another boy. We probably spent a little too much time together alone." The film doesn't give us the details, but Kim assures the bishop that she's not involved with that guy anymore, it was a long time ago, it's behind her, and now she is deeply in love with her husband-to-be.

None of that is good enough for Bishop Metten.  He pulls rank and tells her this is a very serious matter.  More than that, he pulls her temple recommend and, like the pastor in Sweet Land, tells her there will be no wedding, at least until he decides she has shown a sufficient degree of Godly sorrow.

The film doesn't tell us, but we all know what that means. Kim is going to be on probation for at least a year.

"But I'm not involved with that guy anymore," Kim pleads, "It's not a problem now."

"I'm sorry, Kim," the bishop explains in a patronizing tone, "True repentance is not merely the stopping of something that's wrong.  It's much more involved."  What that involves apparently is seeing Kim publicly humiliated for something in her past, a sin that should be of no concern to anyone but Kim and her future husband.

"But the wedding is coming up!" Poor Kim is frantic now, and crying. "The announcements have been sent out!"

Doesn't matter. The bishop is in charge now, and he has decided the problem has not been resolved.  Why? Probably because Kim hadn't mentioned this matter to him before.  He is, after all, "the proper priesthood authority" over her, and perhaps he resents having been kept in the dark.

When Confession Is Bad For The Soul
Ever since I was a deacon I have been conditioned to believe that God required me to spill my guts to my bishop over every little indiscretion.  It turns out that wasn't based on doctrine, it was based on conditioning.

Our bishops sacrifice a lot of time and energy into serving us, and for that they deserve our gratitude and unending support.  But we should never relinquish control of our lives to them.  God called these men to serve us, not to manage our lives.  We are responsible to God for our sins. No man has the power to forgive us, to punish us, or to be the one who decides whether we have spent enough time repenting.  Joseph Smith used to excommunicate people for sexual sin, then turn right around and reinstate them once he saw they were sincerely penitent.  He knew God's forgiveness was immediate, and understood he had an obligation to forgive as well.  In those days our leaders were guided by the spirit, not by the Church Handbook of Instruction.

So Kim's temple wedding is postponed indefinitely.  This being a Church film, there is no talk of going ahead with a civil marriage in the meantime.  In our community talk of that sort is off the table, so there's no way the possibility of a civil marriage would even be hinted at in a Church sponsored production. (Never mind that Joseph Smith declared that an open and public marriage was to be the only kind permitted in this church.)

Bishop Metten does not offer to perform a church wedding for this whore, he just pulls the rug entirely out from under her.  Next we see a montage set to music of Kim having a rough go of it, throwing herself angrily on her bed, lying alone in her room, crying into her pillow, friends failing to be supportive, etc. There's even a scene where her own fiance awkwardly avoids talking to her when he bumps into her at school.  In the end we find Kim having a heart to heart with Matt where she admits the struggle and humiliation she had to endure has all been worth it.  She clearly hadn't been forgiven before the bishop decided she was, but now everything is hunky. 

Pardon me while I call bullshit.

The Law Governing Confession
Yes, we should experience Godly sorrow, and yes it's necessary to confess our sins if we are ever to obtain forgiveness, but the scriptures make clear this confession is to be made to God and/or to the person we have offended.  There are a couple of narrow and specific circumstances where bishops may be brought into the confession process, and those are laid out in our Doctrine and Covenants. Such situations are necessary to uphold the purity of the church, but they are actually pretty rare.

Situations like Kim's do not warrant this kind of ecclesiastical interference.  On the website LDS Anarchy, you can find a detailed post that walks you carefully through the law of God governing confession as provided by our Doctrine and Covenants.  Aside from these narrow conditions God has revealed to us, there isn’t a single passage of scripture that states or even hints that to receive forgiveness, a Latter-day Saint must seek out his bishop and confess to him a sin he has committed. It doesn't matter what you were raised to believe, it just simply isn't so.

Sweet young Kim owed an apology to the unnamed boy she had been involved with, and she owed an apology to young Brother Ekhart, who, based upon what we know about him these days, probably wouldn't have cared. What Kim didn't owe is any explanation or confession to her bishop.

Why did Kim admit something to her bishop that was really none of his business? Because, like most of us, she found it easier to accept the false teachings about her religion that she had been raised with rather than seek the true process as furnished in the word of God. The clumsily forced "lesson" promoted by this film to the contrary, Kim was actually harmed by this false teaching, as are many real life latter-day Saints who follow such vain traditions in the church.

If there is anything to find encouraging about this film, it is that it surely had the opposite effect from that expected.  I am convinced that most of our young people exposed to it, and seeing the way the protagonist's life was turned horribly upside down, resolved then and there to never divulge any private information to their bishop under any circumstance. Which is too bad, because sometimes it's helpful to have clergy to talk to for counsel, guidance, and encouragement. People in the protestant denominations enjoy this privilege without fearing the consequences, but in the modern LDS Church, the bishop has often become The Holy Exacter of Justice, and though that is not his proper role, a person desiring to simply talk to his bishop about personal matters never quite knows going in exactly how things might turn out.

This religion of ours is just crawling with the vain traditions of men; traditions we have come to accept as true for no other reason than we have heard them all our lives.  Whether we reject the idea that Church finances should be transparent simply because it's never been done that way in our lifetime, or believe God doesn't want us drinking beer because we think it is prohibited in the Word of Wisdom, we are often acting on our own and contrary to the desires of heaven.  Quite often we'll see otherwise faithful members vigorously defending a false teaching rather than embrace that which is true.

The Desert Incubator
On my mission I met a direct descendant of David Whitmer, and we had a long conversation about his prominent great-great grandfather.  This man was proud of his historical pedigree and delighted in sharing stories of his famous ancestor.  He even let me hold a peep stone that was passed down from his great-great grandfather and reported to have been owned by Joseph Smith. Oddly, a true appreciation for the doctrines of the Restoration embraced by this man's ancestor had not been handed down in his family.  He himself identified with a local protestant denomination.

David Whitmer had been a proud and independent man, but like many others who chose not to follow Brigham, he did not have a hand in expanding the religion. Instead his religion died with him.  Some unsuccessful attempts were made by men like Lyman Wight and James Strang to build up Zion, but those diverse groups had their preferred way of doing things and often lacked an overall sense of cooperation and unity.  So these branches of the church also splintered and dissipated.

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (now renamed the Community of Christ), though somewhat more robust than the others, has always remained somewhat in the shadows. For a great many of the independent frontier Mormons who stayed behind, their religion failed to carry on through their descendants, to grow and expand the way it did with the Utah Saints, and it's possible that one reason for this is that so many of them were just too damned independent-minded to unite and build something together.

So I guess a case could be made that moving out to the desert under the strong leadership of Brigham Young gave the Utah Church a chance to incubate, to be nurtured through hardship and isolation, giving it time to grow strong and harden in a way that might have been impossible had those Saints remained back in the states.  I suppose the case could also be made that a humble and compliant membership may have been necessary for this growth to occur, a growth that could only attain with a people who obeyed their leaders without question in order to birth a cooperative community.  Individualism has its place, but individualism can sometimes get in the way of unity.

But I think a case could also be made that the time for the members of this church to offer blind obedience to authority is long past. Once celebrated as the fastest growing Church in the world, we are now losing strength as fast as we are losing members.  Statistics show us now to be a Church in decline.

I think a good deal of this atrophy can be directly linked to our merry acceptance of doctrines we think our religion teaches rather than what it actually stands for.  If we want to know the true doctrines, we are going to have to start going to the source.  That means investigating the scriptures and organic teachings, and few of us really do that with any alacrity.  We prefer the indirect approach, receiving our doctrine as filtered through manuals, commentaries, and faith promoting stories.

In his recent presentation, A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon, LDS social anthropologist Daymon Smith has shown how a lot of what we believe about the Book of Mormon isn't even in there.  Much of what we "know" to be true about it originated in children's stories written in the 1880s, which over time made it into the BYU curriculum and eventually into our Sunday School manuals.  If we are ever to return to a type of pure Mormonism, we are going to have to shed our preconceived notions about what is contained in our religion and look at the pure teachings.

We ought to respect and honor the efforts of Church leaders, but when anyone insists that our safety is to be found only in following them, we must say to those people, "Thank you. We love you, and we appreciate your intentions, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  These men may frequently have some valid counsel to offer, but we must not elevate their opinions to the level of scripture.  It is our responsibility to question those opinions, to examine them and confirm the truth of them by comparing them to the revealed word of God and the witness of the Holy Ghost. We are not greatly edified by tuning into conference and hearing sermons that differ little in theme or substance from those offered on other Christian television networks.

I am beginning to think that one reason God no longer communicates revelations through his living prophets in our day may be because we are no longer a believing people.  Why don't we see our prophet healing the sick or raising the dead, or even taking a hand in translating the Dead Sea Scrolls?  Is it because we have grown up in a church where such miracles have been absent so long we no longer expect them?  What would happen if someone got up in Fast and Testimony meeting and suddenly started speaking in tongues as was common in the church in Joseph Smith's day?

Well, we all know what would happen.  Someone in the bishopric would stand up and gently usher this person away from the podium, and we would all sit in awkward silence and feel embarrassed.

The church today is markedly different from the church in Kirtland, Missouri, and Nauvoo. Moroni prophesied in Mormon 9:20 that the reason God would cease to do miracles in our day is that in our day we will have dwindled in unbelief.  That's the reason, pure and simple. We lay our hands on a sick person and bless them to get better. But face it: we don't really believe they will instantly be healed on the spot and made whole. And so they are not.  If the most memorable thing our Prophet, Seer, and Revelator has done all year is make a celebrity appearance at a shopping center opening, it may be time to examine how far we've fallen.

God honors our free agency, and will therefore give us only as much as we ask for.  Some members of the body of Christ are offended at the suggestion that we should be doing things God's way.  Why, they ask, should we suddenly go back to a time when the Church provided financial transparency?  That has never been required during our lifetime, so why insist on it now?

The answer of course, is because God says so.  "Come unto me," the Lord says to the church in our day, "and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge of which is hid up because of unbelief."  But we aren't really interested in that stuff, are we?  We are satisfied just wading around in the lesser things, like looking to our leaders and obeying their rules. "Greater things" like the baptism of fire, the ministering of angels, and the gift of the second comforter might be too much for us to handle right now.  And so we dwindle in unbelief, all the while convinced that our belief is strong because we frequently testify that "we know the Church is true."

Our faith in "The Church" has never been stronger.  But that's just the problem, isn't it?

We don't really want this faith challenged, either.  We like having our ears tickled by the familiar, and so we don't learn anything in church as adults that we haven't already learned in primary.  We prefer the milk since meat is sometimes difficult to chew.

Those who sit in "the chief seats in the synagogue." -Mark 12:39
If we ever expect to receive further light and knowledge from God, we are going to have to start actively seeking for it.  If we are satisfied with the vapid opinions of men, that's all we're ever going to get.  And if we don't wake up and demand more, this Church will continue to be run by a team of corporate suits rather than by Jesus Christ Himself.




[A note about leaving comments: Many readers have posted as "Anonymous" only because they see no other option. This has resulted in an epidemic of commenters all going by the same name, which can be confusing.  I would prefer everyone use some type of username.
If you don't have a Google, Wordpress, or other username among those listed, you can enter a username in the dropdown box that reads "Name/URL." Simply put your name in the "Name" box, ignore the request for a URL, and you should be good to go. If the system still insists on a URL, enter any website you care to.  It doesn't matter.
I have a pretty firm policy of never censoring or deleting comments.  If your comment does not immediately appear, it probably means it is being held in the spam filter, which seems to lock in arbitrarily on some posts for reasons unknown.  If you have submitted a comment and it doesn't immediately show up, give me a nudge at RockWaterman@gmail.com and I'll knock it loose. -Rock]

_

135 comments:

GayBob Spongebath said...

Confession is not always good for the soul? NOW you tell me!

fish23420 said...

Alan,

Thank you for this wonderful essay. I'm an exmo, but I think it's important and wonderful of you to question things like this. Also, you're quite the writer! Thanks for this.

On a side note: Both my father and uncle were in your ward in the early 80's in Orange County. I regularly share your articles and we have plenty of great conversations. Thanks again!

Jamie said...

Omg! I remember reading that millennial star piece when your other blog piece came out and I remember seeing that comment "I second this. Nothing makes me sadder than when members question the Brethren."
Holy crap! my Bishop said the same thing when were were discussing my kids outdoor baptisms
He said. "If it's good enough for the Brethren then it's good enough for me" Made me cringe. :/

I don't really have words for this other than it just makes me sad to see the Church in this state. :(

Good job Alan!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Fantastic reading, it definitely gives food for thought. I'll have to spend some time in the good ol' scriptures reading up on the confession of sins thing- that is genuinely an intriguing idea.

I don't know if I'm really going out on a limb here, but I'll go anyways :P) I read an article last week on the New York Times website regarding race and the church, specifically blacks and the priesthood: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/racism-and-the-mormon-church.html

As I was thinking about the temple ordinances, the phrase "Priests and Priestesses" ran through my mind, which to me suggests that at some point women will hold priesthood keys and offices as well. Putting this together with what I had read in the NY Times article, I began to wonder if the church has unjustly withholding the priesthood from women due to the "wicked traditions of (our) fathers (Alma 23:3.)"

I'm completely unsure as to what the truth may be, but have found my next topic of gospel study! Feel free to discuss and engage with the idea (This forum seems like a somewhat receptive spot to put the idea out there) but please don't just say "you're wrong" without citing any sources etc.
Brendon

Steven said...

I agree that the church manuals are used too often and neglect the scriptures. I've recently been keeping score in my elders quorum and the average number of verses read in a lesson per week is 3. With a minimum of 0 and a max a few weeks ago at 15 verses. We aren't reading the Scriptures enough.

I've felt this way a long time, it's good to find other people who think similar things. Now too share what i've been doing about it.

I was asked to sub for the 14-18 year old sunday school class last week. It was lesson 30 or something in the manual, after reading it i decided that it would be better just to read the actual Book of Mormon with the youth. So we did. The whole hour each of us read a few verses and then the next person and so on. I think it may have been the first time they had seen a "teacher" just read from the scriptures.

I've given a few sacrament talks that way too. Just reading the scriptures, no commentary, just the text.

Jon said...

Assuming that the temple ordinances are necessary for salvation and come from God then it also begets that women do have the priesthood since they perform priesthood ordinances in the temple, else our claim that one needs the priesthood to baptize is invalid - with the assumption that the temple ordinances are true.

A side note. What does it say of the Initiatories when it is in name only? We regular condemn other religions for improper baptism (like symbolic baptism only).

Zo-ma-rah said...

Anonymous,

Joseph Smith gave priesthood to "black", he also gave priesthood to women. The Relief Society was organized as a parallel priesthood organization for women. If you read the Minute Book for the Relief Society on Joseph Smith Papers Project You read that the Relief Society was supposed to have equivalent offices to Deacon, Teacher, Priest, etc. Also the President of the Relief Society was to be very similar to the President of the Church. Finally there are at least three places where Joseph Smith give Keys to the Relief Society.

Women holding the Priesthood was lost because of Brigham Young. But it was originally a part of the Restoration.

liv435 said...

Holy moly! If I had to confess all my stuff to the bishop he would die from shock! So glad at this moment to not be a sheep. When I prayed years ago about whether or not it would be good for our family to become active in the church my main reason for asking was because I wanted an easy road. The straight and narrow path was just SO narrow. The thought of getting our salvation secured by being told by men exactly what to do sounded very nice, and easy! I received a "NO" answer along with, "I want you to be leaders, not followers."

I can identify with "follow the brethren" church goers. Working out your OWN salvation is hard. It's a difficult road to walk. Thankfully we don't have to walk it alone. But the ONLY one who can walk it with us is Jesus Christ. A lot of LDS are just like the ancient Israelites wanting Moses to speak to God for them. The blessings obtained are always contingent upon the effort you put forth though. If you have a "middle man" between you and Christ then you also have a barrier between you which will hinder the blessings which He so desperately wants to pour out on you.

PS, I laughed so hard when I read, "Pardon me while I call bullshit." So thank you for that! And for an excellent article.

D. M. Brooks said...

That was an awesome job Rock, I'm glad you took your time with it, frustrating as it may have been. I agree wholeheartedly, and Zo-ma-rah I am fascinated by what you mentioned. I will definitely do some research on that.

goingtozion said...

Rock, when you mention the laws governing confession, you bring up how the bishops and members belief there revelations that are part of the scriptures that they are following...pertaining to their duties and responsibilities.

Well, a while back I had a conversation with a friend where he mentioned he was going to be obedient and follow his bishop's counsel, even though we just discussed the issue and it didn't make any sense. So I compiled all the verses in the D&C that mention bishop. I read them all, in context. I compiled all the verses and put them into groups of what the duties are. The role of the bishop is mainly only when the law of consecration is in effect. The next role is in judgement councils regarding excommunications, which is for cases that are quite rare. Without the law of consecration, bishops would only be exercised once every few years since consecration is no longer practiced.

My brother mentioned that perhaps most of their jobs they do are because they are high priests. So then I looked up all those. Even more generic and basically they are to be travelling preachers and officiate in the office of bishop and sit on those judgement councils.

I could send you a list of those if you're interested. I think they'd make a great infographic.

Zo-ma-rah said...

I did the same thing a while back. Isn't it amazing what ISN'T in the scriptures. There's so much extra crap we've piled on top that today scriptures are really only sources for inspirational quotes. Like those little quote books that sit on the back of people's toilets.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I would be interested in that, as I'm sure most here would be. Is this something you could post here in the comment section?

JR said...

Many yrs ago, while I was in the Army, I sinned long and hard. Eventually I went to my Bishop and confessed. Being a MPH holder, he referred me to my SP where I had to confess again. Then a court was convened and I had to confess again in front of the whole Stk High Coun. and I was disfellowshipped. A couple of months later I was transferred by the Army. Had to go to my new Bishop and tell him the whole dreadful drama, then to my new SP and confess it all again. Then I got out of the Army, and moved to a new city. Off to the new Bishop again, to the SP again for a full confession. When my time of disfellowshipment was over, to the newly called Bishop, to the SP, then that SP convened the entire Stk High Coun. and I had to AGAIN confess all my sins in front of all 15 members of the SP and the SHC, this time in graphic detail not withholding even the least nuance of my sins and lustful activities, with the SP standing in front of a chalk board and making notes and diagrams of who, what, where and when all my sins had been committed.
Something like 10 in depth confessions of the same events over approx. 3 yrs...I should have just printed it up and distributed the copies at each meeting!
Brother, when you called BULLSHIT, you weren't just woofin'!!
JR

goingtozion said...

In bold are actual duties
Consecration - 17
bishop can be a high priest-7
Judgement counsels-4
Can officiate in lower offices-2
Directs that a bishop’s duties can found in scriptures-2
Generic, but mentions bishop-2
Judged by 1st presidency-1
Referring to an Individual person who’s a bishop-1
Preach other cities-1
Ordenation of bishops-1
Discern gifts-1
Warnings against if not faithful-1

goingtozion said...

Those are the times bishop is mentioned, while the verses are much more. So there might be a chunk of 7 verses in a row that mention the duty as it relates to the law of consecration.

The biggest thing I noticed, like Zomarah said, is what isn't in the scriptures. D&C is super generic about what a bishop is supposed to do and even more so with high priest. I feel that he's generic for several reasons, one of which, is that things don't need to be detailed like the CHI, which is what dictates a bishop's duties. Instead of relying on the Spirit, the source people turn to are manuals and men in leadership positions. Sometimes the chains can feel warm and snuggly to people.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unbelieveable, JR. Yet sadly, not at all surprising. This is ecclesiastical abuse.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'd love to know who your father and uncle were, Fish. Please email me at Rockwaterman@gmail.com

Mossimo said...

Rock,

I wait patiently every so often for you to write a new article. I really look forward to your words. My wife's extended family and my extended family are so incredibly awful and judgmental, that I have often remarked to my wife "if that person makes to the Celestial Kingdom, I don't want to be there". It's nice to see that I have fellows in this world that hold views similar to my own. Rock, you Rock.

The Arkwelder said...

"I think a good deal of this atrophy can be directly linked to our merry acceptance of doctrines we think our religion teaches rather than what it actually stands for. If we want to know the true doctrines, we are going to have to start going to the source. That means investigating the scriptures and organic teachings, and few of us really do that with any alacrity."

And this is what I've come to realize. We have this vaquely-defined thing called Mormonism, then we have the interpretation thereof. The interpretation I speak of is by the SLC-based LDS Church, led by President Monson and others before him. What I've come to realize is that I simply do not subscribe to their interpretation. I reject the in vs out, active vs inactive dichotomy. That is, I am a Mormon, but I know longer identify as one of the Cult of Monson.

And this is why: I think Monson offers a religion of certainty, i.e., simply do as your told, when your told, and you'll be fine. It's undoubtedly a challenge, but as long as you attend the temple, say your prayers, read your Scriptures, do your home teaching, fulfill your calling, conduct Family Home Evening, go to Church, etc., etc., etc., you'll be saved. This was Lucifer's program, not Christ's.

None of this has anything do knowing or following Christ. It's a system of indoctrination meant to keep you busy and tied down to the world.

I totally agree. We need to start fresh. That is, we need to go to the source. But I would counter that the scriptures are not the source. The Holy Ghost is the source. The Spirit of Elijah is the source. The change of heart wrought by Christ is the source. The scriptures come next. Because more than anything, we need a living religion.

goingtozion said...

Arkwelder makes a great point: "I totally agree. We need to start fresh. That is, we need to go to the source. But I would counter that the scriptures are not the source. The Holy Ghost is the source. The Spirit of Elijah is the source. The change of heart wrought by Christ is the source. The scriptures come next. Because more than anything, we need a living religion."

I'd also add, that scriptures are not just confined to the "standard works." That's the same attitude other christian religions have regarding the Bible.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I agree, Arkwelder. Unfortunately, this reliance on the Holy Ghost is something many of us do not experience, or is something we are not sure we can trust due to the conditioning that we should look to our leaders for guidance.
That was my experience up until about five years ago when I really felt the baptism of fire.

So I'm thinking the scriptures are a decent starting point for most. But we have to get away from reading the scriptures as a goal. We have been encouraged to "spend 15 minutes a day reading your scriptures" or "A chapter a day and you're on your way."

This is scripture reading as a chore to get through, rather than something to experience. We don't look at any other book as something o "get through." So I think we first deserve to get past the process of goal oriented scripture reading.

GoingToZion, I'd like to see you elaborate on that point of the scriptures not being confined to the Standard Works.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Great comments. I agree, the scriptures are the words left behind by past people with a living gospel. We too must have a living gospel if we are to be accepted as Christ's Church. What I mean by living is that we must be experiencing sign, visions, prophecies, healing, etc. Unlike the L-DS interpretation of "living" which means there is a living human male as President of the Church and he can give us a new manual every few years.

I completely agree with you Rock about reading scriptures. My wife and I were at our institute class last year and the teacher told us "President Monson want to know how much scripture reading you're doing." And we were supposed to write down how many days that week we had read our scriptures. My wife asked me how many days I had read. I said that I had no idea how many days I had read. I don't keep track of reading my scriptures. I just read them. If I have a question I read the scriptures. I don't have a check list for each day. Read my scriptures today, CHECK. My wife just put down that I read seven days that week.

Inspire said...

Bravo, Rock! You are helping us see what is at the core of "waking up to our awful situation...." and that is a changed heart. Once our heart is turned to face Christ, the checklists, assignments, outward ordinances and programs in the church become passé, if not offensive. After all, the most vile, wretched sinner can "do" all of the stuff on list. Fortunately, the Lord doesn't looketh upon the checklist, He looks on the heart.

For me, this has meant tossing out EVERYTHING I thought I knew about doctrine, culture, history, the Church and the scriptures, then starting from scratch. After cleaning the slate (which was no easy task), I reset my foundation with Christ, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith (so far as the account can be trusted). There have been some amazing discoveries, for now there is no MAN leading me and telling me what to do (by compulsory means), but only the Holy Spirit to guide and teach.

Remember, the Lord Himself has poured out upon us "the spirit of deep sleep," but now is the time that He would have us "awake from a deep sleep, yea, even the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which [we] are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe." The good thing about it is that a merciful God is gently nudging us awake (although sometimes it feels like a rigorous shake). If you think about it, this is about all the doctrine we Gentiles need to know: wake up, cast off the natural man, turn to Christ and BELIEVE that He redeems us, not that our own merits do it. In other words, "Come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him.... and if [we] by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not His power, then [we] are sanctified in Christ by the grace of God..."

Shawn said...

its as if i had written your blog myself. i've for years felt like something 'just wasn't right' with things in the church yet i still love so many things about the gospel. i didn't know what to do. i guess i still don't. but at least i'm not the only one. i feel like my world is upside down because the things i've always LIVED by i'm questioning doing them the same way. like tithing, going to the temple, accepting callings, speaking, etc.

i just barely renewed my temple recommend the other day and now i feel like a hypocrite because almost all my answers were half-truths. i always knew my word of wisdom answer was a half truth because i frequently over eat. but if i were to say that i don't think i obey due to that, then all sorts of red flags would shoot up. either red flags or they'd dismiss it and hurry me through.

i also have never like the wording 'do you accept this church as the only true church on earth (or similar wording)' because i don't necessarily. i think the gospel abounds in many different places and churches. and do i sustain the prophet as seer and revelator? i guess, but i have not seen any seeing or revealing unless i'm not looking hard enough.

interestingly i was talking about this stuff a few weeks ago with one of the strongest and spiritual people in my family (who lives in orange, ca) and i was talking about the ridiculous amount of time the church wants us to spend away from our families. she mentioned the poelman talk, which i had never heard of. and then last night i read your post about it. further proof to me that members all of the country and world are seeing the same types of issues in the church structure.

what to do though?...

Anonymous said...

DPer here:

Thank you, Rock, for finally getting to the 'crux' of the matter--

culture, culture, culture, culture, culture--

You pull it together better than anyone I've read so far. I had thought some of these things, but reading what you have written has clarified my own thoughts about my British ancestors--

my German ancestors were less obedient, though, strangely, because Germans are highly conforming--

they refused to practice plural marriage--

they didn't jump when "Brother Brigham" said to jump--

very, very interesting--

I have often concluded that many of my British ancestors were so poor that they saw coming to America as Mormons to be such an improvement over working in mines and factories . . .

that it wasn't necessary to be 'converted' in the same way many of the early Americans were 'converted'. I don't doubt that many were, but--

get to America first, do what you're told to do and you may get a piece of land and a house and won't starve--

and perhaps your children will have more than you do. Why not?

Fine piece--

Anonymous said...

DPer here--

I am so sorry. Someone I know very well and care deeply about is mentally/cognitively handicapped and has gone through this many times, due to very poor judgement. Finally, he has gotten to the point where he doesn't want to go to church anymore. Why try again?

I am so sorry, JR; I am so very sorry. You could be my loved one--

except that my loved one never sees the trouble when it is coming--not in time to keep it from coming.

There is some doubt about whether or not he should have been baptized, but then that is a topic for another time--

Anonymous said...

DPer--

another close family member has been a bishop and SP, and he talked about a very simple man from a very poor background (a minority) who repeatedly was 'unfaithful' to his wife and then would come in, crying, sad--

and be 'disciplined' for the required time, be 'clean' for a time and then go through the entire process again; it happened over and over again. My family member was very fond of him and talked about it in a really casual way (just to me who lives far away from the person)--

and then said, "it was a relief when he died, knowing he wasn't ever going to have to go through that again, but he died clean"--

so sad--

such a . . . miscarriage of justice--and a travesty against mercy--

Don't recall Judah being excommunicated for thinking his daughter in law was a harlot--

!

Don't think either of them was--

repugnant as was the behavior of both of them--

Anonymous said...

DPer again--


I don't want to get controversial about Romney (Mitt)--

but many who are not LDS have a feeling he was born 'with a silver spoon in his mouth'--

I have wondered if his family were from an 'aristocratic' (not impressed, btw) family, because a breed of sheep is called "Romney"--

but apparently the ancestor was a carpenter--

however, there was also an artist in the family--

I've been looking for leads on other lines that would show some connection to aristocracy, because aristocrats were definitely socialists in the 1800s--

and very 'progressive'; also many had ties to banker elites--

but I don't seem to be finding the connection. Still, many descendants seem to be politically/financially connected in a way that the typical coal miner British Mormon convert's descendants are not, in spite of the fact that apparently Romney's wife is the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner--

it's all very mysterious to me, but the fact is that Romney's tendency to make up his own rules seems to be much more aristocratic than subservient, and I can imagine that those early saints who were aristocrats were less inclined to 'obey' Brigham Young but to be opportunists and use their membership (whether sincere in their conversion or not) to amass fortunes to themselves and compete, in their way, with the religious hierarchy--

and to blend with it as quickly as possible.

Romney doesn't 'act' like a typical Mormon, however you look at it; his family does not either. I knew some Romneys (or A Romney) years ago, and the family was very wealthy--

perhaps not all of them are wealthy, but in my own family wealthy people are rare; there is a certain level of well-doing financially among many, but wealth and power have never been attained, in spite of rigorous work and much education.

I am fascinated; I am intrigued now by the social/cultural ramifications of why the church membership (generally) is now what it is--

I would never see Mitt Romney as 'obedient'; I would see him as an opportunist, someone who would get himself into a position of control as quickly as possible, and his attitude towards poor people is indicative of something that isn't the norm in terms of the typical British convert--

just throwing this out--

curious to see what others think, and I'm not trying to re-hash the RNC; I am merely trying to understand how characters/personalities/'leaders' (*gag*) are created--

Elijah Stanfield said...

t should be enough to have a person say, "I have sinned and I need some support". The path to repentance is pretty much the same weather it be ripping DVD's or murder. Why would any bishop want to know the gory details? I

The Arkwelder said...

I mentioned this in my blog article, but the Holy Ghost does more than just tell you stuff. It isn't so much that it sits you down and explains to you the Plan of Salvation, but rather, you all of the sudden "get it" without being told. I would argue that this is also the gift of prophecy. In a sense, the Holy Ghost is like a stimulating agent that makes the Scriptures come alive. The scriptures are largely useless until that happens, although I have felt the sudden rush of the Holy Ghost brought on by reading my scriptures. More importantly, the Holy Ghost can't be controlled and shouldn't be, which is what the LDS Church is guilty of doing. It has carved out a very small sphere for when it is appropriate to feel the Holy Ghost and act.

I really think the gift of the Holy Ghost is the price of admission. The feeling of the Holy Ghost will come and go, but if you aren't feeling it with some frequency in your life, I don't believe there's a lot you can do to build up the kingdom. Rock, you're saying 'what about all those people who don't or never have felt the Holy Ghost?'. Sure, we encourage them and try to help, and of course we each support one another, but until they do feel it, they are really not part of the movement to establish God's kingdom. In fact, until you've felt the Holy Ghost, you are not really one of Christ's.

Because this is how the Holy Ghost works. One person feels it, feels inspired to act, and inevitably meets another who has also felt it, and so they act together. In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. I have no interest in reforming the LDS Church. 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. Christ's TRUE Church has no borders. The true Church is those who follow Christ, period. And these people can be found anywhere and everywhere, but not never all in one place.

The Arkwelder said...

Culture is the problem.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree--

I had been thinking of how many of the current LDS, especially in the intermountain west, are descended from pioneers who were impoverished, and how a hierarchy has become established--

but I had never made the connection between how Brigham Young used the cultural and social poverty of those who joined the church in places where independence was punished . . . to 'grow' the church--

indeed culture is the problem--

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It's an interesting question as to how far back the Romney family goes. I don't know. But in Utah by the 1880s there had definitely developed a hierarchical structure where the leaders were on the top and had more access to use the system to acquire wealth as well as status. Remember how even Brigham Young Jr lamented the tendency of the twelve to spend all their time with their investments.

A natural division between the leaders and the common rank and file could not help but evolve because of the tendency of the lower classes to defer to those whose callings and offices in the Church awarded them status. It has always been thus. There is no question that certain families in Utah are considered somewhat dynastic.

I always found it interesting that Hyrum Smith's widow Mary followed Brigham, Since her husband was the true heir to the presidency and the rest of the family felt Brigham was a usurper. But then Mary Fielding had come from England, and probably felt more at ease going with her friends than staying behind with Joseph's relatives. Interesting to contemplate her reasons. The upshot is that her descendants, Joseph F. and Joseph Fielding rose to prominence in the hierarchy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Someone who is so feebleminded that it's questionable whether he should have been baptized in the first place certainly shouldn't be repeatedly disciplined.

We are all aware that some borderline retarded women are easily taken advantage of by manipulative men. What should we do, go after them for it?

Doesn't surprise me though, to find some bishops think it's their duty. Sometimes -especially with certain people- you just gotta let these things go.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

For those who have not seen it, The Arkwelder writes some very stimulating stuff at The Mormon Reconciliation Movement, which can be found here:

http://mormonreconciliation.blogspot.com/

ShawnC said...

Kind of the same thing as the Constitution. So many people assume the Constitution says things that it doesn't, (church and state) because they have heard that it does somewhere, (some government person with an agenda?) It's surprising what it does not say. Basically, it lays out the limited powers that the Federal Government has, and then everything else is delegated to the States.

Same thing in the church. The scriptures give clear instruction for the limited authority ecclesiastics have, the rest have been created and assumed because of agenda.

Abigail's daughter said...

Rock wrote: Pardon me while I call bullshit.

No pardon necessary. I heartily endorse this sentiment.

We have one mediator with the Father and His title isn't Bishop, Branch president, Mission President, or even Stake President.

goingtozion said...

In reply to your comment Rock, "GoingToZion, I'd like to see you elaborate on that point of the scriptures not being confined to the Standard Works."

What is scripture? Art

This is coming to me as I write and answer your question...let the illusion walls built up around your definition of art dissolve.

What is Art? Art is when we experience something sensually. Think about it. When you see a painting, when you hear a song, when you feel the rhythm and dance, when you smell a delicious meal, when you taste the beautiful art that is the person you love.

Art is an experience on sensorial level. If we don't, it is dead to us. That is why the scriptures for many only occur as a result of goals as Zomarah mentioned. For example, without ART, words on paper or computer screens, are just that...words. Which are symbols, not the actual thing they represent. When we experience the art, we go through words to what they symbolize, we experience them as one would a song or painting or a meal...something on a different level.

For example, what is GOD? God is truly nothing. It is a three letter word. That is it. Is Jesus Christ GOD? No, he is a mask we have put on God. We have to go past the mask, which is the legends and stories of a Carpenter's son. We have to experience who that being is. Such an experience is art. In the 4th chapter of the Epistle of John, he speaks of love. Why? Because he wants us to have a spiritual, metaphysical experience. He wants us to go inside ourselves, re-experience love that we know and then connect with God through love. Art.

For a more black and white, left brain answer, scripture is truth revealed by God. So there are two parts that one must face...what is truth? And who is God?

Truth: all that exists. If it didn't exist it wouldn't be true, it would be an illusion.

God: telling people who God is won't achieve as much as experiencing and recognizing the God within you.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Very nicely expressed.

Winnie Jacobs said...

A woman's divine role (and this is proven by virtue of the fact that she conceives a seed, grows a child in her womb and bears it) is to be a mother and nurturer of children. This is a Priesthood role equal to any which a man may be given. A man's Priesthood role is to provide for his family, administer the affairs of the Kingdom of God, and propogate the species of God through his seed. I think we can all agree that God is NOT an individual, but is a husband and wife conjointly. It's my opinion that the roles of Priesthood in mortality should mirror that which exists in the heavens. Men and women are to be co-equal in power and authority, but with differing roles. This, of course, will be perfected as we progress and receive our exaltation. We see a pretty rough-shod attempt at it here in mortality. If there were not to be different roles among men and women, God could have simply created everyone the same sex.

Also, there is evidence that, although a black man was ordained to the Priesthood, it was not Joseph Smith who performed it, although he approved it. Joseph Smith, Sr. ordained Elijah Abel an Elder and Zebedee Coltrin then ordained him as a Seventy. Zebedee expressed to Joseph afterward that he felt uneasy about what he had done in light of the scriptures in the Old Testament regarding the seed of Cain and Priesthood restriction. Joseph then agreed with Zebedee, but did not take any action to rescind the ordination that had taken place. Joseph was learning as he went along, according to his meager understanding at the time.

Winnie Jacobs said...

Have you noticed that most of the pass along cards now carry Monson's image? That says volumes about the Church of Thomas S. Monson.

Steven Lester said...

Remember that Lee guy...the one who sat on his own coffin so he'd fall into it after they shot him...he who was the adopted son of Brigham Young, the adopting dad who abandoned Lee completely at the end? Well, while knowing that he was about to die for things that he did not do, although he certainly was involved in the Mtn Meadow Massacre, he wrote a testament or biography of his dealings and advancement in the Church, and he spoke of the Danites, giving names and incidents of murder most fowl. Apparently, the Danites were a real force of control during the early Utah days, and were justified by the concept of blood atonement, which Brigham certainly preached about in a positive manner. Disobedience was a sin against the Priesthood, and once a person was accused, just accused, he was a dead man. Those killing motions in the old version of the Temple endowment? Back in the day, they were meant very seriously, because they were carried out in real life enough times to maintain control over the general population.

Anonymous said...

I know, because it happened (the killing) to an innocent ancestor of mine (a woman, even)--

LDSDPer

Craig Richards said...

Thanks again Rock for your well written blog. I can't help to think about how much the LDS leadership going as the ways of the Pharisees. Maybe not as bad though. How would they or the LDS membership would react if God calls another person to speak on His behalf, that stand on the top of walls that surrounds Temple Square, in boldness of Samuel the Lamanite, calling people to repent and quoting verses from Mormon chapter 8?

Jon said...

If you believe in the temple ordinances then women would necessarily have to have the priesthood by default. I think we justify everything to fit our world view.

Interesting history lesson Zo-ma-rah. I was talking to my wife about "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" and she commented on how even though history was written down scrupulously in the past it seems like we still don't know anything because of so many differing views on the subject. History seems to be immensely important on how we view the world. Lots to read!

Jon said...

Steven Lester,

You referring to the "Mormon Menace?"

http://books.google.com/books?id=-Vk3AAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:%22John+Doyle+Lee%22&source=bl&ots=aAs5jsXGOh&sig=PPIR_LPWxez_m7_DWBcE5qmI8nA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=cDNCUKiBNITvigKThYBY&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's interesting, John. I'm not familiar with The Mormon Menace, but I have read The Life and Confession of John D. Lee, written in prison while he was awaiting execution. He didn't think much of Brother Brigham there near the end.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I wonder if they are the same book? Lee's book went by at least one other title, though I don't recall what that was. Maybe this one.

Abigails daughter said...

How would they react?

They'd send out a letter to be read in sacrament meeting warning us not to be misled by people purporting to be faithful members who go about teaching [insert doctrinal points they find offensive] or joining groups that do [insert practices and behaviors they find offensive].

That's the corporate response - a form letter with the dual purpose of creating social stigma and protecting the church from liability.

Jon said...

There is another book called "Mormonism unveiled: including the remarkable life and confessions of the late Mormon bishop, John D. Lee, and a complete life of Brigham Young"

These books were copyrighted after Lee had died (1877) is the testimony of Lee true in these books? Oh history!

http://books.google.com/books?id=KEBOAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Life+and+Confession+of+John+D.+Lee&source=bl&ots=W2oEOJqcRG&sig=LiBCMfntWsinaXIMXtvyf1kN4Hw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=N2NCUNetMqWUiALcn4BQ&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=The%20Life%20and%20Confession%20of%20John%20D.%20Lee&f=false

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Exactly, Abigail's Daughter.

Members of this Church will never respond favorably to anyone who does not come through the proper line of authority, in spite of the fact that the scriptures show that true prophets almost always come from outside, not inside the established order.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yes John, that's the same one I have. It was reprinted a few years ago with that terrifically sensationalist cover. Your statement that it was copyrighted after his death may explain the varying titles.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oops. I spelled your name wrong, Jon. Bet that rarely happens.

Anonymous said...

DPer here--

well . . . --

Wasn't it Joseph Smith who said every member could be a prophet? And aren't there people (any of *us*) on "Mormon" blogs talking about the importance of turning to Jesus Christ and repenting?

Maybe it's happening a different way this time.

How can the 'brethren' (or the corporation) stop this movement?

I haven't wanted to be too 'open' about this, but among my friends (near and far) there IS a movement towards going back to basics--
towards, well, pure Mormonism!

I've sent a few here to see what Rock writes and have then said, "Rock has some good things to say; see, you aren't alone--and then try: (other sites)"--

Maybe this time there is a different media, but the message is the same.

I know when I read Denver Snuffer I want to repent--*no joke*

I don't see any of these bloggers as prophets in the same that Joseph Smith was, but Samuel the Lamanite wasn't called a prophet--

he was a Lamanite! :)

And there is my point--

Look around; there is a 'revival' for lack of a better word going on--

I have some family members who are experiencing this as well--

it's happening independently, but it's nice to find others who are having the same experience--

I had come to many of the same conclusions (and others as well that are more tailored to my family) that many of *you* bloggers have come to--

I remember the first time I spoke with a family member; not sure which one of us said it first, but the idea was, "I want to remain in the church, but the church has been hijacked; what do we do next?"--

And as we've sorted it out, we've found we're not alone--

and I had already discussed it thoroughly with my husband, and my family member had already discussed it with his/her spouse--

Anonymous said...

DPer again--

frankly, I felt from some of the apostles that they are concerned, too--


can't imagine how it would feel to be 'inside' that group and feel that something was terribly wrong--

I just get a 'gut' feeling that some are terribly unhappy and want to break out but don't know how--

*they* need *our* prayers--

Jon said...

In the BOM in Jerusalem they talked of multiple prophets.

Brian and Hillary said...

I would like to thank you for re kindling my belief in mormondom. I and my wife were excommunicated some years back for believing in some of the early principles of the church. I then lost complete interest in the whole mess. Now I find this wonderful site and my heart leaps for joy and I know that the gospel is true. Thank you.

Brian Johnson
Orderville, Utah

Bjorge Queen said...

Are you saying, then, that it was wrong for Eli to receive the priesthood and that JS, person where the buck stopped, was too intimidated to do anything about it?

Bjorge Queen said...

Excuse me for asking, but what does bei.g "simple" or "poor" or a "minority" have to do with being unable to keep one's marriage vows? If I were a simple poor minority reading this, I might take exception. People make mistakes, but when it's happening over and over, that's a little ridiculous.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Bjorge,
Not speaking for DPer, but I think he was referring to a simple minded person. I knew a female member with an IQ of around 80 who just didn't seem capable of bridling her passions on an intellectual level. Kept making the same mistakes over and over. That's why I say that a person unable to fully grasp the importance of chastity should probably not be continually disciplined for violating Church law. Such people are like little children and may not be fully accountable.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thank you, Brian. That is very encouraging.

Steven Lester said...

Yes. It was entitled The Mormon Menace, and I found it on the Guttenburg free classics site via Kyndel. It contains the same Life and Confession of John D. Lee that Rock speaks about above, but is prefaced by a long warning written by some famous (back in the late 1800's) minister which sought to discredit Mormonism in every way possible, mostly about Smoot's senatorial attempt to join Congress and polygamy. I read it a long time ago, so my memory isn't that precise. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I know; I know--
And Lehi was among them. There were many times when "prophetS" came to call the people to repentance. I do know that; I just think it's interesting that Samuel was called "The Lamanite"--
maybe I'm straining at gnats; I need to go open my Book of Mormon and see if he was called a prophet; I'm not sure now--
no argument here on the multiple prophets--

Anonymous said...

DPer here:

(can't figure out the contraption you encouraged us to use, Rock)--

Time for truth--LOL!

I live in Lake Wobegon! :) Truly. My husband is a convert (joined young enough to serve a mission to the areas where his Scandinavian Lutheran ancestor was an evangelical minister and built churches--one of his areas was 40 miles from where he graduated from high school!)--

we live in an area where Lutherans and Catholics 'compete' amicably for cultural/social/political control--:)

It's delightful and delicious, and I think it would be hard for a Mormon to live in the intermountain west (we tried it once and found it difficult)--

These people ARE 'salt of the earth'. Many in our ward, however, are from 'The West'--and there is a completely different culture. We blush and cringe as our fellow LDS 'look down upon' the people we have come to realize are sometimes truer in their sainthood than our own brand of saintliness--but culture is powerful.
I am a 7th generation LDS but was raised outside the intermountain west, so my perspective is unique--
But one of our former bishops here (also a convert from far away) once mentioned that it is a great challenge for LDS to 'stand out' as examples of generosity and virtue when often their generosity and virtue is surpassed by those among whom they live.

Anyway--

listened to Garrison for decades; he's gotten a bit edgy lately, IMO--but my husband and children still find him highly amusing. He is a good humorist, to be sure.

But for context, one of my husbands ancestors (who was a pioneering minister in the area) fought hard against the splintering up of the Lutheran church, traveling to the big cities in the area to plead with ministers who were leaving with their congregations--
Not long ago we visited one of the churches he helped to build about 50 miles from our home, and the church clerks know us well (from our family history forays into their basement archives), and we have a very genial relationship with them.
When my husband mentioned which minister was his ancestor and that he was the one that had tried to keep the church together . . .
the woman looked sad and said, "Oh, so many Lutherans now regret that splintering; what trouble and confusion it has caused; if only we had listened to Pastor ________ 150 years ago"--
I thought it was interesting--many now are trying to go back to "pure" Lutheranism and find it difficult within the 'corporate' Lutheran church--


Hope it's not too off-topic.

Rico said...

Bro Rock,

First off: I think you watch too many movies. That's a sin...

Second: If you look long enough, there is revelation in the church. Haven't you heard? Coke, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew are now OK to drink.

Lastly: Speaking in tongues won't get you in trouble. It's reading the scriptures and leaning on your own uncorrelated understanding to arrive at uncorrelated conclusions.

IOW, things that you know that just ain't so correlated.

That gets you trouble.

:-)

weston krogstadt said...

Are you telling me there are actually people out there who disagree with the General Authorities?

Winnie Jacobs said...

I don't know the circumstances under which Joseph Smith did not rescind the Priesthood from Elijah Abel. Everything was so new at the time, and he may have viewed it as a "non-issue". There weren't that many blacks in the church. There was never another sanctioned Priesthood ordination after that until 1978, when Spencer W. Kimball declared that all worthy male members of the church were to receive the Priesthood. There was never a revelation written down. It was a declaration, based on a personal belief that blacks should hold the Priesthood. The Lord will be the judge regarding this matter and it will be made clear in due time.

Winnie Jacobs said...

I just looked up the new pass along cards and they no longer carry Monson's image. They did up until last year. One of my granddaughters left one on my kitchen table for me, because she comes from a "follow the prophet" family, and I believe she wanted to help me realize that I should also follow the prophet. I stopped following the "prophets" of the current LDS church over a year ago.

Winnie Jacobs said...

Oh, come now. Brigham Young never used the poor in the church to "grow it". That's totally ridiculous! If the poor chose to blindly follow a prophet, that's their choice. Brigham Young preached on more than one occasion that he didn't want the Saints to blindly follow him. He was imperfect and he wanted the Saints to follow the Spirit, so that they could discern that a leader was not leading them astray.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Rock, I was--

and that's right, IQ around 80--

Thank you--

No offense was intended, Bjorge, but then I don't see 'simple, poor, minority' as disadvantages in God's true kingdom at all--

but 'simple, poor, minority' people often aren't treated well by the world, and I think that there are those leaders who don't deal charitably with them--

I think Bjorge and I are either talking about two different things or just coming from wildly different experiences--


In the one case I was 'proud' of my family member for dealing lovingly with an obviously handicapped person; in the other case I saw a handicapped loved one be treated brutally, at times, by priesthood leaders--

DPer



Anon 23 said...

Great Article!

I still feel bad about my non-member MIL not being able to see our wedding in the temple. I am going to have to really apologize to her for allowing myself to be so deceived.

Joseph was right, a civil public wedding is the only kind God wants. Mothers above all should be allowed to see their own children's wedding.

Those leaders who teach such false doctrine are the one's not worthy to be in the temple.

I do not believe that Brigham Young did the Church any service in bringing most members out west. Following him back then would be like following Warren Jeffs today.

The Church leaders and most members all lost their Priesthood authority and keys for committing and supporting abominations and whoredoms (polygamy). While their may be some rare souls in the Church who are righteous and have maintained and passed down their Priesthood, they are awake to the false prophets that lead them and they don't stay associated with the Church very long.

The true Church will went into apostasy after Joseph's death and Christ will have to restore it once again when he comes. But I do believe there are a few righteous people in and out of the Church who will be worthy and ready for Zion.

But I don't believe the LDS Church will have anything to do with building up Zion, and probably won't even know or hear about it's establishment until the rest of the world does.

Anon 23 said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Brigham Young had to try hard to persuade Mary to come with him, since Emma probably was trying to get her to stay.

Brigham knew it looked bad for Emma to refuse to support him so he knew it would help to have at least Hyrum's wife behind him. So he probably bribed her big time, saying he would take good care of her and give her sons high positions, etc.

Anon 23 said...

Yes, women have always had just as much Priesthood authority as men, usually much more. Women bring it with them from heaven, having been foreordained with God's power and authority to fulfill their high calling as wife and mother, and save and exalt their husband and children.

It is just another false doctrine of the apostate LDS Church to teach that only men can hold the Priesthood. Joseph seemed to be learning this truth, but was never able to completely teach it to the saints, who were too unrighteous and not ready or willing to accept it. They instead wanted to believe falsehoods and accept the idea of unrighteous dominion of men over women.

Women are completely equal in power and authority to men and husbands in every way, in fact usually superior in righteousness, power and authority, and of necessity usually have to save and exalt their unrighteous husbands by their valiancy, for it's rare for men to stay righteous and completely faithful in thoughts, feelings and actions to their wife for their whole life. Most husbands become abusive or adulterous to some degree and also some women.

If women want to be married in heaven they usually have to save their husband to have him there with her in the Cel. Kingdom, such is the power of women. Though a few men also save their unrighteous wife in the same manner.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Can anyone doubt that women are innately more spiritual than men? For men to assume "authority" and righteousness over the clearly superior sex in the religious arena has always seemed a bit skewed to me.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Bjorge Queen, Winnie, et al.,
I have not seen this DVD presentation of "Blacks in the Scriptures" presented by Marvin Perkins and Darius Grey, but it wouldn't surprise me if the answer to your questions is addressed there. I understand it's pretty comprehensive.

Anon 23 said...

Rock you are so wise. No wonder I love your blog.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Uh-oh. Now you've made it so my hat won't fit.

Anonymous said...

anon 23--

as a woman I don't know what to say about women having the priesthood or having the power from heaven, because they are mothers--

I know quite a few righteous women who never marry and become mothers or who marry and aren't able to become mothers, and there is a very big difference between nurturing the children born to other women and bearing children to nurture; there are also women who don't nurture well, and men who do--

Men and women are certainly different, basically, yes--

but the collectivization (complicated word; this culture, LDS and western, makes it very hard to express the inherent weakness in collectivizing)--

of men 'versus' women is part of the problem. Most discussions surrounding men/priesthood and women/motherhood generalize so thoroughly as to be almost ineffective--
I don't want to turn this into a discussion about gender--

but the idea that all men are: _______; all women are: ______, all Mormons are: __________; all 'leaders' are: ___, all Americans are: ________, etc., etc.--

is so weak that when speaking of "men" and "women" there can only be few things said that will be true.

I have known some vicious women and some noble-hearted men; I have met the 'stereotypes' (men are tough and insensitive; women are gentle and spiritual)--but I believe that this LDS culture does itself more harm than good by generalizing/collectivizing--
There are a few societies or organizations that are wise to focus on one gender, but generally speaking both segregating genders and uniting them have downsides--
Too much focus on 'the priesthood' in one room and 'the RS' in another; too much focus on 'scouting' in one room and 'YW' in another--
on the other hand there are times/places when men need special attention (not all, but there are some areas where men excel generally more than women, such as engineering and the heavier aspects of construction) and where women need special attention (most men don't need to become midwives, though I know a man who did a great job of it)--

I suppose I sound like off-key to this discussion, but I really find it offensive to read these generalities--

I think Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ look on us less as "men" and "women" or "sons" and "daughters" than He does as "children"--

That said, if men were to try to form a group (even online) the equivalent of "mormon feminist housewives"--a prime example of collectivism . . . I think there would be an outcry--
and yet when a man who attended a regional boy scout 'thing' in our area came back and stood at the pulpit and talked about how spiritual it was being with all those men (ick!) and disturbed most of the congregation and had the bishop considering getting up to finish his tearful praise of male bonding--

a man needs a woman; a woman needs a man--

men are not by their nature abusive; women are not by their nature non-abusive--

if there are evil men who do evil things, there are generally women who assist them in it--

if there are evil women doing evil things, there are generally men standing behind them, too--

humans are humans; there are gender differences, but the natural woman is also an enemy to God--

--a woman


Anonymous said...

sorry, Rock; that was LDSDPer--
by the way, both my husband and I are 'members' of the DP--
and he also reads this blog; he just doesn't respond much--
and he feels pretty much the same way I do--
if he were on here (if he had time, which he doesn't)--
he would figure out how to put a name in that would show up--

Anonymous said...

I just realized that I might not perceive my own acidity--

and I hope I have not caused offense.

I grind an axe over generalizations/collectivizations--

I have nothing personal against anon 23 or anyone else who appears to have a bias towards women (whether male or female)--or men (whether male or female). I just don't personally subscribe to chauvinism (which word has a negative connotation but doesn't need to be used negatively)--
I appreciate Rock's blog a lot and have been really glad to find it--
and I do think that one of the things that happens to this female is that when things are difficult in 'real life'/personal life--
blog entries can become bitter--

LDSDPer--

Anon 23 said...

LDSDPer,

I definitely realize that women can be just as evil or more so than men. And many are. And many men are just as righteous & valiant as women.

But the fact remains that women have been blessed and trusted with the greatest power on earth, to bear children, it is a Priesthood power. Women can do everything men can do, they can be prophetesses, they can heal, bless and lead. But men do not have the power to bear that women were given.

That is no small thing and for some reason God only gave that power to women. I believe because generally women proved worthy of it in the Pre-existence. That doesn't mean that many men aren't worthy of the same power, but just probably that most men weren't or aren't. And yes, it's true that many women don't live up to their callings and power on this earth and do become wicked, yet they still never lose that great power, though in the next life they will. But women do need to stay righteous to maintain their Priesthood power in a spiritual sense, the same as men do.

Also, both God (in Genesis- "Thy desire shall be to they husband") and Joseph Smith, have stated that women, in general, have a natural disposition towards Charity/true love and devotion to their husband. Men usually have to work on being totally faithful and devoted to their one wife their whole life. Even Christ's disciples, upon hearing Christ's law against divorce, thought it might be better to never marry if men could not divorce and change wives if they wanted to,

I believe it appears quite clear that most husbands are adulterous to some degree, even in the church, (some wards are 90% men on porn) whether in their thoughts, feelings, or actions by porn, checking out other women, affairs or divorce and remarriage, etc. (And yes, many women do these things also, but I don't see it on the scale that men do)

Even Pres. Hinckley believed and stated that men are usually the cause of most divorces.

As we look over the world's history, where do we find a society where women controlled, abused and enslaved men for 6000 years and had multiple husbands and the men had no legal rights, to equality or even property or their own children? Whereas in most countries and societies of the earth most men did such things to women. Even still today in just the LDS Church, you see such prideful control and belief in men's right to rule over women.

Even most Presidents of the Church, starting with BY, held/hold abusive beliefs that women were not equal to men in marriage or in the Church leadership or Priesthood power.

We need only look at the early LDS Church to see how women were so abused by and expected to put up with men's adulterous abusive polygamy. Even BY admitted his wife and most all women hated polygamy and did not want to live it. But he threatened them into it anyway.

And yes, these women shouldn't have gone along with polygamy, but men pressured them into it. And many women were trapped because they loved their husbands and wanted to stay faithful to him (despite his unfaithfulness taking on more wives) and many of these women did not have rights or ability to take their children away and provide for them, so they were forced to go along with the polygamy thing.

Clearly, even still today in many countries, we can see how abusive and controlling men have been in general towards women on this earth. Countless women around the world are still enslaved by men and their controlling laws in many countries.

Anon 23 said...

LDSDPer, Part 2...

In my own experiences I have seen how most all men, even in the Church, are abusive or adulterous to some degree, if even only by their beliefs and thoughts (believing in things like polygamy, even if they don't now live it).

Even D&C 121 warns that it is the disposition of nearly all men to be abusive to those they are asked to watch over and protect. I realize that many women are abusive also, but from what I have seen it is not on the scale of men's abuse and control for 6000 years.

I know so many tired lonely single mothers who have been abused and abandoned by a man, who work long hours to provide and take care of their fatherless children. While the ex-husbands and fathers of those children are off with their new wives or girlfriends and hardly see their children, except for the occasional visit, if those children are lucky. For the statistics are that after 5 years. most children of divorce don't see their father again. He is off with some new honey and her kids. But mothers usually stay around.

Most wives and mothers I personally know are struggling with an abusive and adulterous husband, even if both are good members of the Church, while the wife wears her fingers to the bone to serve that husband and her children and her callings.

With God, Joseph Smith, Pres. Hinckley and 6000 years of history backing up the idea, I do believe women are more righteous in general than men. And thus God has asked them to save and exalt his unrighteous sons by their true love and valiancy. And yes, sometimes we find a righteous man who is saving his unrighteous wife.

But how many abandoned fathers or husbands do you know who are keeping their covenants to their abusive/adulterous abandoning wife who is out with some new husband or boyfriend, and the abandoned husband is home with the kids full-time and not dating. But is staying faithful to his errant wife, waiting for the day when she repents and returns to him, in this life or the next, as all must. Or how many widowers do you know who are not dating or remarrying but are staying faithful to their deceased wife until they can be reunited?

I know many many single mothers who are doing the above, yet I have not found one single dad who is, though many want to and they try to for awhile, but it's just so hard for men to handle being alone and go without love. Whereas women seem to be able to do it much easier. I'm sure there are some men out there who do keep their covenants to their errant abandoning wife, but they are so rare I have never known of one.

I am sorry, but though generalizations are not always correct, the overwhelming amount of evidence against men, in and out of the Church, and even among most all of our own LDS church leaders today, and men in general throughout history, make such generalizations too hard for me to ignore and not believe.

Anonymous said...

Well, you believe what you believe; I believe what I believe, and we are both women.

I'm quite 'liberated' as a woman. I am the woman in my ward who talks 'back' to men, and thus I am not popular with either men or women. I won't be 'soft' in my speech with men or demure. Because I refused to let a member of a bishopric abuse me I was threatened; it was my husband who came to my defense--

My husband has had some abusive things said and done to him by other men, curiously not by women--

One of our children says that we are both too good at backing down and not defending ourselves. I was in my late 50s when I stood up to the abusive bishopric member after having heard similar things for decades. My husband finally spoke up to someone who was being a bully recently; we were both proud of each other.

Evil is evil; it is not assigned to gender. I know there are 'trends'; polygamy was/is a trend, and the tendency for one gender to do a thing is probably proven by past experiences.

In my family's 'line' it was a woman who stopped polygamy, but she did it with the full blessing of her husband who was being taunted to do it by other men--

I know that men and women have their separate gifts--

but you did ignore my one point--

you say that the power to create children (in a woman) is the greatest power 'on earth'--

well, there are many women who don't have that power, and any man, even if he can't father children, can 'hold' the priesthood.

Having said that, I have experienced extreme rejection from women in the church; there are women in my ward to whom I could never turn for any kind of help, no matter how desperate, and there are men to whom I could/would turn 'in a heartbeat' and with my husband's blessing, if he were not nearby to help--

I have seen a man (current ward) cower and tremble after having been told by his wife that things would be a certain way; I have heard that same woman lie and turn a cold shoulder towards those who need help--

but, again--

the power to create life is not universal--

*I* don't want the priesthood, to hold it; it's an extra burden that I don't need in my life--

I have had powerful prayers with and for my children; I have had precious experiences in temples, and my life has been spared several times in dramatic ways from priesthood blessings--

given to me by men (three men: my father, a zone leader on my mission, my husband)

So I guess we'll just have to agree that we don't see things the same way--

my ancestor who stood up to polygamy? She could have lost her husband, I suppose; I guess she took that risk, but she trusted in God (who had told her to stand up to polygamy)--

and raised a huge family of faithful children--

Anonymous said...

LDSDPer again (as was the last post--good grief; I can't get that right)--

when I was abused verbally/emotionally by a bishopric member it had nothing to do with anything that I had done that was perceived as wrong--

I was doing my calling, as I had been asked, and the bishopric member believed I had not been submissive enough to him in it--

he went to the bishop who later agreed that the man was 'out of control'--

I chose to stand up to him and say, "this is out of control behavior", and he threatened to go to the bishop and told me that I needed to talk to the bishop and be called to repentance, because HE (the bishopric member) had the priesthood--

he did go to the bishop who dismissed it--

my husband called the man and talked to him; we had a conference call, where I expressed everything--when my husband told the man that he was out of control in his unrighteous dominion towards me, the man backed down--

it was a mess--

for decades I had encountered men like that and never said anything--

but those men were always rare; they were not the 'rule'; they were the exception--

that is my point--

Anonymous said...

anon 23--

LDSDPer here--

I just read your second part--

Well, according to your evidence, men should just be given a lower place in some heaven somewhere--

why are they needed?

LOL!

This, in fact, is the philosophical basis for polygamy (one man, more women)--

that most men are deadbeats/drones, and that women have a higher purpose (that of bearing/nurturing children)--

and that there are a few men, only, who are capable of and worthy of fathering and husbanding--

and that fewer men will make it to the heavens anyway, so why not start living polygamy now? I say this 'tongue-in-cheek'--

*I* don't believe that; I don't believe men must be relegated to drones. I believe that much of the reason women are abandoned with children (and yes, most women have powerful nurturing abilities) is due to a thoroughly corrupt culture (in and out of the church, in and out of the nation)--

things that go so deep legally, environmentally, medically, etc.--that it is hard even to grasp them--

I believe that chemical and pharmacological pollutions have devastated men more than women in some areas and women more than men in others--

in terms of genetics men aren't always stronger; there are those who believe that chemicals may be contributing to higher rates of homosexuality, especially in men, who are more genetically vulnerable as embryoes--

who knows what is causing the present horror? All I know is that I cannot with an eternal perspective condemn one gender and exalt another--

either way--

could it be that women are tested as much as men, when/if *we* find out that men had some sort of unknown weakness that contributed to a greater trial in one way than another? Just as in a completely darwinistic culture a weak woman who can bear children but can't hunt for food is seen as dispensable? (There is a facet of modern culture that believes that, hence the pressure for women to work outside the home when it's not necessary)
I know women who are kind and loving and nurturing who become absolute monsters during certain times of the month--who could murder . . . during that time but somehow manage not to, who terrify their children at some times and at others would feed their children and starve themselves--

women who could never fight the battles that most men fight constantly--

I know women who appear very righteous and very good and very kind outwardly who are cruel to husbands in ways men can hardly articulate--because women do have communication abilities (generally) that most men do not--

brains work differently, and each gender has its downside--

but if I were to take what you are saying to its obvious conclusion--

the world doesn't need men--

the plan of salvation doesn't need men--

or if there is a righteous man here or there . . .--

maybe let him live--

I say this with some humor, please--

but I have come to see that often it is those within my 'own' religion with whom I have the least, philosophically, in common--

and often those within my own gender. I am pleased to be a woman. And I like my husband. And I don't believe he is adulterous. I know that he has a different make-up from me; I know he has different needs, but he is a human being--

and I am not more perfect than he--

I appreciate your passion, though--it is obvious you have seen a lot of life--

God bless you--

and . . .

peace?

LDSDPer

Anonymous said...

From what I read in 3 Nephi 20-26, Zion truly has almost nothing to do with the church, because the church is going to largely be destroyed (D&C 112:24-26) before Zion is built up by the Remnant of the House of Israel who happen to be the descendants of Lehi, who happen to NOT be european gentile Mormons except those who have repented, come to Christ, and been adopted into the House of Israel to help the Remnant build Zion.
Whew! Just had to get that out. Sorry it all came out in one sentence.
JR

Anon 23 said...

LDSDPer,

Reality is what it is. I don't know why most men have a hard time being righteous but so it is.

But God knew before he created this earth that most of his sons, at least the one's who grew to maturity, would not be righteous. For whatever reason that seems to be a fact. Even many of his daughters would not be righteous, as you and I both know.

But God hoped and asked that his strong righteous daughters would save at least some of his sons by their valiancy and true love.

There will not be any polygamy in heaven, for every woman who is worthy and wants to be married in eternity will save her own husband, if he needs saving, and thus she will be able to be married for eternity to her own husband.

I believe only those who have unconditional true love for their spouse, whether that spouse is righteous and faithful to them or not, and are thus willing to save them if they need it, will be married in eternity.

So all women who make it to the Celestial Kingdom will have their own husband there, for he will either be righteous of his own merit or she will save him and bring him there. That is the power of true love, it saves souls, after they repent in Spirit Prison.

Anonymous said...

I'm inclined to believe with you; however, I don't think as many will be destroyed as might be believed by some--
there are those who are clueless but good who will definitely be worthy to be in the terrestrial kingdom; I don't believe there as many evil people in the world as there are good--
the evil will be destroyed; the righteous will be preserved--

as *we* know from the Book of Mormon the 'more' righteous were preserved--

I'm just not praying for brimstone to fall upon any but the most vile--those who are causing suffering around the world--

and then it is up to God how much brimstone--

LDSDPer

Anonymous said...

that is a very interesting concept, Anon 23--

(LDSDPer here)--

and for the sake of being open-minded, I hope you are correct--

truly--

I can see now why you feel so strongly about men needing to be saved--

I have the same feeling about someone close to me (obviously not my husband) who has severe cognitive defects and almost no judgement who is always in trouble but harmless as a lamb--

and yet people who are harmless as lambs can obviously do plenty of damage if they have strong bodies (he's not aggressive) and try to work, have families, etc.--

My eyes have been opened to the possibilities that happen when medical science goes awry, because that is what happened to this person--

consigned to a life of not understanding what is going on around him--

but being very capable of doing many of the things 'normal' men can do--

it's been a persistent heartache--

and it was caused by chemicals--

I know there are people who think there is no 'excuse' for any kind of misbehavior; all are 'equal'; it doesn't matter whether the IQ is low or whether the judgement center of the brain has been damaged--

and dealing with such people has been a problem--

I hope you are correct; I do believe in post-mortal repentance; the scriptures point to it--

I believe the Book of Mormon tried to help people avert the need for it, but I really believe it--

again, LDSDPer

Anonymous said...

to Arkwelder above--

this is LDSDPer--

your blog is not accessible by me for comments (lucky for you); I'm reading one of your entries and finding it very interesting--
thank you--

I just found out about it on here--and I just ran in to Rock's blog a few months ago; this is a new world for me--and I feel like a kid on Christmas day--

Chuck said...

Mormon listed Samuel and Abinadi by name, by virtue of their words having been fulfilled, at the end of Mormon chapter 1, but strangely never mentioned fulfillment of his forefather Nephi's vision as found in 1 Nephi. Makes me wonder if Nephi's wilderness vision was generally known during Mormon's time.

Toni said...

But indoor baptisms are performed in dead water. Jesus represents living water.

Rock, a powerful post. Thank you. The church seems be be gaining a great division. There are the brethrenites (the brethren are not to be questioned, but to be obeyed as if they were God) and the Jesusites (Jesus trumps any mortal, no matter what his position may be).

Toni said...

"How would they or the LDS membership would react if God calls another person to speak on His behalf,"

He already has, only the man is not standing on a literal city wall. If you want to know the reactions, go to ldsfreedomforumdotcom and look up the topics about Denver Snuffer. Also read the many, many posts accusing those of apostasy who put Christ above mortal men and their callings.

If you don't want to look at the site, I'll tell you that the reactions range from listening (and praying about the messages) to lusting for excommunication and "discipline" for "speaking evil of the Lord's anointed" which he (Denver Snuffer) does not do.

The Arkwelder said...

Anonymous...anyone should be able to post. Can you tell me more about the problem you're having? (Sorry, Rock, for doing this one your blog).

The Arkwelder said...

Oh, and Anonymous, please feel free to join the Facebook group, which is linked from the blog.

The Arkwelder said...

Sorry, I should be calling you LDSDPer.

I changed the settings to allow anonymous comments, assuming that was the issue. I might change it back if I start getting too much spam, but for now anyone should be able to post.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No apology necessary, Arkwelder. I want to see folks access blogs like yours. Besides, this is an open forum; people can use it to talk about anything.

Rico said...

Regarding the idea of the church being destroyed by God, I think we have to tone that down a bit. I wish I could say this as simple as I can, but the scriptures are straightforward:

"25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself."

The Apostle Paul said quite a mouthful there, but he's not
done yet...

"29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:23-32)

There you go... it's a "great mystery"... it is something that needs to be pondered and digested well.

Main points:

1. The Church is the Bride of the Lord Jesus.
2. The Church is not perfect. It is not spotless.
3. Christ died to cleanse the Church by the washing of water, by his word.
4. The Church is a member of Jesus..."OF HIS FLESH, OF HIS BONES"
5. A man and his wife are "ONE FLESH". (Therefore: Christ and the Church are ONE FLESH).
6. No man hates his own flesh.

Now, when you put all these ideas together, it is rather hard to expect that Jesus would want to see his church destroyed, right?

He will cleanse it, purify it, and sanctify until it becomes acceptable to him. By what? By fire and brimstone? Nope. By the washing of the water, by his word.

Jon said...

Rico,

The scriptures talk about two churches. The institutional church and the church of just people meeting together that love God. I think it is reasonable that any reference that you allude to would be the latter rather than the former since the scriptures also talk about taking the church away from the gentiles and giving it to the Israelites. Not that that means we shouldn't continue to try and love the people in the institutional church (which includes me) but that doesn't mean that one should support it either.

Don't know how accurate that is but that's just my first thoughts.

Toni said...

Jesus does not WANT to see anyone destroyed, but sometimes the wickedness is just so great that the destruction has to be allowed. Nature can no longer be held back. Protection from enemies cease. People begin killing each other even within the church. It can get pretty bad, as you can see if you read the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon).

Anon 23 said...

I agree with Rico.

I believe the Church that those scriptures are talking about is more of a spiritual church of all those who truly believe in and follow Christ.

For we know that Christ cannot cleanse or sanctify anyone unless they are righteous. The wicked will have to pay for their own sins in order to become clean. So it appears to me that Christ was talking about the righteous who believe in him, they are the true members of his Church, whether they are LDS, Catholic, Baptist or any other religion.

Also, just because so many followed Brigham Young out west does not mean his break off was the true church. Otherwise you would have to say that the FLDS and RLDS church's are also Christ's church, along with Brigham Young's followers.

Brigham Young had no authority or keys anymore to lead the true church out west or anywhere, he spiritually lost his Priesthood, keys, callings, authority, position and membership and was excommunicated spiritually long before Joseph even died. For he acted out on his whoredoms long before probably even Joseph found out and tried to stop him.

Everyone who followed BY out west was sorely deceived to support and follow a false prophet/s and evil and abominations.

Those who stayed behind and didn't fall for BY's shenanigans were the only one's who could have been members of Christ's true Church, even if their numbers were few and far between and not officially recognized as a body of one particular church anymore.

The true Church lived on in the hearts and souls of various members around the world after Joseph died, as it still does today. One here and one there.

It is rare to find a member of Christ's true Church, but they are out there, and are not a part of an official group or true Church anymore, for the true church died with Joseph Smith, and went into apostasy and cannot be redeemed by Christ, but must make atonement for it's own sins someday, along with everyone who let themselves be deceived by it.

Anon 23 said...

Correction above - I agree with Jon, not Rico. Sorry.

Shawn C said...

Anon 23,

I would love to see some backing for these claims?

Anon 23 said...

Shawn,

Brigham Young himself admitted to living polygamy even before Joseph died.

And since prove shows that Joseph did not believe in or live polygamy and he repeatedly taught publicly and in the scriptures he gave us that polygamy was an abomination in every case, we know that Brigham Young lost is Priesthood, postition and membership (spiritually) for committing and teaching whoredoms.


What other proof do you need then that? Joseph proved polygamy was wrong and BY proved he was guilty of it long before Joseph even died. It's pretty clear to me.

Rico said...

When one reads those passages from the Paul's epistle to the Ephesians, it should be evident that the married men of Ephesus who are now members of the church have a problem loving their wives. If they weren't, there would be no need for Paul to exhort them to love their wives just as Christ loved the Church.

This means that they weren't exactly behaving as they should. They weren't spotless. They were in a state of sin, and their sin had to be cleansed by the word. So Paul referred them back to the old doctrine of "one flesh", a doctrine that went all the way back to Genesis, to the story of Eve's creation as partner for Adam. It wasn't a new idea. It was hundreds of centuries older than Paul and his generation.

However, what was new is the revelation of Christ and the Church as his bride. For Paul, they too are "one flesh", just as the first man and his wife were declared "one flesh" in Eden. Paul here was taking the doctrine of the Church to a deeper level. That's why he called it a great mystery.

Think about it: Christ is in "heaven above" ruling the angels now, where all power has been delivered to him by the Father. Yet here we are on this "earth below" mired in sin. How can Paul say that we members of the Church are "one flesh" with Christ? Can the Perfect in heaven be "one flesh" with the imperfect ones on earth?

It doesn't really matter whether one belongs to the institutional church or not; Paul didn't make distinctions to his audience exhorting the Ephesian husbands to love their wives. We are all sinners in God's eyes. We all fall short of his expectations. And yet somehow, we are still "one flesh" with the perfect One who rules the heavens.

Personally, I don't comprehend it. But neither can I deny that the scriptures don't say it. It's written there.

But that is what Paul uses to get to the next idea: No man hates his own flesh. Christ cannot hate the Church. He loves it just as any man would love his own flesh.

However, it goes without saying, that here in the "outward church below, both wheat and tares together grow". God will not pluck up the tares lest the wheat is uprooted too. There's a day appointed for that task. In the Final Judgment Day, when the wheat are ripe, God will send his angels to harvest and gather them into the barns. And then the tares are left in the field where they will be burned. The scriptures are quite clear about that too.

Isaac said...

I assume you have no piercings, no tattoos, enjoy happy music from the 1930s, and have banished "All You Need is Love" from your iPod. Congratulations on agreeing with the general authorities.

Shawn C said...

I take no sides in the debate. Only and always looking for information. You seem to be relaying a great deal of information which at best seems to be very biased. I am looking for information, credible, backing to what you claim? I can say my personal opinion about a lot of things. George Albert Smith was only interested in money. Heber J. Grant had severe bi-polar disorder. In the end, just an opinion. I am interested in any evidence you have to back up your claims though, scriptural or revelatory evidence is always great. Please relay if you have?

all the best...

Scott said...

After the exodus from Egypt, some men ran to Moses crying about men in the camps prophesying and teaching. Moses' reply was great. He lamented that all men weren't prophets, or something to that effect.

Anon 23 said...

Yes, It is true I rely on the words of Christ and Joseph Smith, especially only the words that can be proven to have been actually published by Joseph Smith when he was alive. I never believe hearsay, like the Church's version, over published factual proof.

So yes, proven history and the scriptures that Joseph gave us are very biased.

I don't believe the hearsay that Brigham Young and his followers pass on, for there is no proof to it.

It is foolishness to me to believe Brigham Young's hearsay about Joseph versus Joseph's own words and teachings that he published himself. Why would I ever believe BY over Christ and Joseph Smith?

You will find all the evidence you need if you read Rock's articles on polygamy and church history and research his references further, especially the book - "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy", and the Book of Mormon and the original D&C that Joseph gave us, they are from actual factual proof of what Joseph published during his lifetime, not the unproven hearsay that the Church has always believed and passed on.

Also, the personal revelation I have continually received over the years has taught me the truth of Joseph's teachings against polygamy and the complete apostasy that happened to the Church, for I don't care 'who's' right, I only want to know 'what's' right.

Anonymous said...

Thank you--

(LDSDPer)--

I'm not very computer 'competent', and I'm not on FB--

and I will respond on your blog--

I've been away from a computer for 10 days--

Brother Benjamin said...

Sadly I was a temple worker when the initiatory ordinances were overhauled (or out right discarded). The teachings of the Prophets and the scriptures are clear: You cannot change the ordinances. To change the ordinances is apostasy. The Good news is that the Lord promised that this dispensation would end with his coming and not utter apostasy. This leaves as the only question. "If the Church no longer administers the ordinances according to the commandments, where is the group of saints who have preserved them?" For their preservation, and the preservation of the fullness of the keys of the priesthood is a promise of the Lord on which I have faith. So where is the temple where we can receive the full endowment, the full initiatory, and all the ordinances God has given to us? Write me and I'll tell you... GospelFullness (at) Gmail.com.

Brother Benjamin said...

A few thoughts about women and the priesthood:
I wish I could simply point you to easily accessible published material, but considering the subject, that is quite the taboo. If you are interested in early Mormon perspectives on women, there is a great wealth of material, though obscure and out of print. You can see some of the e-books I have posted on the subject here:
http://www.scribd.com/collections/2780367/Mormon-Feminism
To my knowledge there are no good commentaries to turn to on the subject of the women and the priesthood in the temple. There is however a robust oral tradition among temple workers. Sadly the only time this is usually shared with patrons is during sealing sessions, either before or after the ordinances. If you get the chance you should attend a sealing session.
The sealing ordinance is so elegant and in a very comfortable setting. doctrinally it comes across as simple and hopeful, and yet contains enough depth to keep the studious mind occupied for a lifetime. When going to the temple to do sealings you need only ask a temple worker if you could do sealings, they will point you in the right direction. There is no pressure to participate in any other ordinances, unless you also desire to. The sealing ordinance also summarizes the purposes and promises of the temple.
The Gospel is so called because it is the "good news", what good news is that? the promises reiterated in the sealing ordinance. The power to come forth in the Resurrection, and enjoy eternal life with all those you love. The end of all suffering, and sin. If we can see the gospel, as taught symbolically in the temple, it will no longer seem strange. The temple is filled with symbolism. symbolism that will often seem strange to a person not already steeped in its study. This is why learning the sealing ordinance is helpful: because it is a more direct summary and is on the surface more easily understood.
As for the initiatory, it should be helpful for sisters to remember that this is a clear exercise of priesthood power. Sometimes women feel that the patriarchal system of the Gospel and the priesthood is an affront to them. The initiatory should remind them that they are not meant to be dominated by men but that men and women are to complement the other in their roles, even in Priesthood power and ordinance work. A Woman is anointed, set apart, or "ordained" to become a priestess when they become a temple worker. this is quite a literal and straightforward promise. The "Matron" of the temple was originally called the "High Priestess of the Temple." And her assistants were originally simply called Priestesses. The title was changed so that this sacred title be not over used. much like "the higher priesthood after the order of the Son of God," was changed to "The Melchizedek Priesthood."
Women originally also participated in priesthood ordinances more. For example, mothers used to hold their infants when they were given a name and a blessing, and sometimes would anoint their children or other sisters for blessings on the sick etc. This type of thing is rare now and some bishops may disagree with doing this in church, so this information should be used carefully. If however a Woman would be benefited in her testimony from this information, use prudence in sharing it.

Brother Benjamin said...

We must be careful in our distinction between the Gospel itself, and the church, and its subculture. The gospel is unchanging and eternal. The subculture is constantly changing, and therefore is not always exactly in harmony with the gospel. Still, if a peaceful co-existence is to be maintained with everyone in the ward, it is sometimes best not to debate touchy subjects like this with just anyone.
I think too many saints make the false equation that priesthood is for men and motherhood is for women. this is comparing apples to oranges. In fact Motherhood is for women, Fatherhood is for men, and the priesthood, just like parenthood, is also for both, simply with distinct roles. Being a Priest is for men, Being a priestess is for women. The process and functions are simply different, equal and complementary. This does not mean that they are both head of the house exactly either, just that being the head is the man's role, and to quote a rather funny modern movie. "The man is the head of the house, but the Woman is the neck and she can turn the head the way it needs to go!" Thus she fulfills her role as "Helpmeet".
The relief society originally had its own hierarchy, in parallel to the church. The general relief society president actually called and set apart her own councilors, and on down to stake RS presidents who would call the ward or branch RS presidents, etc. The bishop did not call or even "approve" these callings.
The Women's Exponent was a relief society magazine of the nineteenth century, it was a method of not only creating an independent income stream for the relief society, it also acted as a completely independent voice for women's issues, and accepted submissions from any member of the relief society who wanted to contribute. It thereby guided the discourse of the feminist movement in the church, which was really the most robust bastion of feminism in the world at one time.
I don't know if you are familiar with or studying any aspects of American history, but there is an incredible disconnect among American historians between Mormon and non-Mormon history. There are very few who have any kind of well rounded perspective. Most historians treat the Mormon feminist movement with utter disdain and disregard on the grounds that any woman in a plural marriage must be weak minded and only a puppet, exhibiting feminist ideas in order to undermine the movement and prop up male dominance with an air of respectability. Most church historians likewise disregard this rich history, partially to deny that such a feminist legacy exists. The church would like to maintain a male monopoly on priesthood, as much as it is trying to maintain its image, and correlate its curriculum. Many in the church would like to see the world revert to the 1950s but are horrified by the more modern views of the 1850s.
I have been distressed at the consolidation of all power and almost Orwellian homogeneity the church has been encouraging, especially in the last thirty or so years. being united in faith, is very different from institutionalized conformity. Dissent and in some cases even liberal thinking politically or socially, is now termed apostasy. There was no such definition before the 1930s. Apostasy used to mean joining the mob, later it meant starting a rival sect, only since Heber J Grant has it come to mean daring to dissent, or debate, and only in the last thirty or so years it has come to mean failing to conform.

Brother Benjamin said...

This leads me to an interesting, if often inflammatory, question: are you familiar with the link between the history and ideology of Mormon feminism and plural marriage? the end of the independence of the relief society, the stifling of all preist(ess)hood and ordinance related roles for women, and even the teachings about heavenly mother(s) all ceased with the end of celestial (plural) marriages in the church. If it was not for the hymn "Oh my Father" written by one of these independent, feminist, plurally married, priesthood exercising, (she was even occasionally referred to as the "High Priestess" over the church!), women: Eliza R Snow, it is doubtful that the idea of a Heavenly Mother would even persist in our collective consciousness.
It is interesting to note that in the semi-autonomous state of Deseret, was the first place in history where women had the right to vote. This is however disregarded by history on the grounds that these votes were declared invalid after the fact by the US supreme court. Many feminists also disregarded the equality and rights of Mormon women on the grounds of their objection to polygamy.
I contest that it was not in spite of Mormonism, or plural marriage, that these women were such accomplished activists, professionals, and theologians, it was a natural outgrowth of the restoration of the gospel. It was precisely because of plural marriage that these women were liberated. The teachings and practices of Mormonism at the time were great catalysts for equality and a great check on misogyny. It is no coincidence that when women's right to vote was finally accomplished it started in the western states where Mormons formed an ethnic majority. It is also telling that when the state of Utah was accepted into the union of American states, it was forced to include in its constitution a prohibition against women voting and against polygamy. fortunately at least one of these restrictions has since been rescinded.
I realize that I have a tenancy to ramble, perhaps I should become a blogger too so that I can create meaningful articles instead of just long directionless comments. You have no doubt by now also noticed that I am not exactly your average "all is well in Zion" type Mormon. I have a firm testimony of the truth of the gospel, but I do have a conditional view of just how true the church is at times in actually implementing those truths. In this view I consider myself "Orthodox," but some members might consider me to be the "apostate" one. for this reason I usually keep certain knowledge secret unless I feel prompted to share it.

Brother Benjamin said...

I would like to close this already too long string of comment posts with a few observations about the priesthood. I would like to share with you a few insights I have gained, however be warned that while these teaching are in accord with the gospel they are often opposed by church leaders and you will need to use your own judgment in applying these truths. I desire to be void of offence toward anyone, yet some are offended by the truth. In such cases it must be carefully decided how much to make known. Yet, I feel that it may be beneficial to tell you what I have learned about women's role in the priesthood.
In the priesthood, there are several divisions. We are all aware of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, there are however also the Levitical priesthoods which are part of the Aaronic, and the Patriarchal and Matriarchal priesthoods, which complete the Melchizedek. There are also further temple ordinances, rarely spoken of, and even more rarely performed. One is called the Second Anointing. I refer to these things because they are related to the feminine priesthood.
It is tempting to think that the priesthood is something that you can aspire to and claim because of reaching a certain spiritual state and this is partly true, but the Lord's house is also governed by his eternal laws, and is a house of order. In order for a person to have the gift of the holy ghost for example they must receive it by the laying on of hands of those who are in authority to perform this ordinance. A person who has not received the ordinance may experience the holy ghost, but this does not fully comprehend the blessing or responsibility of a person who has received the ordinance. Likewise a person who has received the ordinance but does not seek to invite the spirit in to their life does not have it either. Priesthood works in a similar way. Ordination alone does not guarantee that the one ordained will have any true priesthood power, while one without ordination may experience priesthood power under certain circumstances. However only the person who has received the correct ordinances, AND who has lived worthy to be filled with the power of God will truly have the priesthood.
Likewise the priesthood is governed by principles that connect us together and link us to God. Every person who has the priesthood is linked, and each person has a priesthood head from which they derive their duties or the conferral of their authority. The power of the priesthood is also linked to these lines of authority. You can think of it like a circuit, if it is not a complete circuit there is no power, if lines are crossed in an disorderly manner then shorts can occur. It only works properly when each line of authority is in proper order. If I attempt to take the honor of the priesthood unto myself I will have no power, it is not a complete circuit (Heb 5:4).

Brother Benjamin said...

So this leads to the difficulty of women in the priesthood. How can you obtain the proper authority through the proper channels? This is when it becomes difficult to know what to do. This is because true priestesses operate through the patriarchal and matriarchal priesthood. The ordinance that introduces you into that highest order of the priesthood is the second anointing, it is not often performed. The second anointing is only performed for married persons who have proven faithful in all things. It also completes the priesthood of a woman and she is then a high priestess, and Queen to reign in the house of Israel forever. The only scriptural account of this ordinance was when Mary of Bethany anointed Christ just before the crucifixion. (Mark 14:3 & John 12:3) The full import of that scripture is only understood by those who understand this ordinance, and why it was a woman who administered it to Christ. It is however a provocative thing to bring up to any Mormon, why was it a woman who anointed and set Christ apart in preparation for the supernal work of the atonement? He is called the Messiah with means "the anointed one," and his highest anointing, truly the beginning of the atonement for all mankind, was under the hands of a woman.
A woman's priesthood leader is also ideally to be her husband. this is why the Early Presidents of the Church were so fond of pointing out that Mary of Bethany was the Wife of Jesus. This is only possible if a Husband is ready and worthy to do so. This was one reason for polygamy: so that all worthy women could have access to the worthy man of their choice. This is also the reason why dissolution of sealings are taken to the first presidency and are not always granted, even if the marriage has been annulled or a divorce happened many years ago, because doctrinally a woman derives additional authority from the sealing ordinance.

Brother Benjamin said...

I will now explain a few things about the line of authority of the feminine priesthood, because it does not work in the same way as it does for the men. Women are never ordained in the same manner nor do they receive the same offices, but a priestess does hold actual priesthood power. You could think of it this way: a woman is ordained to a preparatory level of priesthood in the initiatory. There are priesthood powers associated with several of the blessings. At this point a woman can now anoint for the healing of the sick and administer a type of blessing to other women, her children, and other family members to whom she is sealed, such as her parents. Occasionally she can administer to other women. She can be a witness to ordinance work, set apart or be set apart to special ordinance work etc. She is proclaimed "Clean every wit" but the confirmation of her authority is contingent upon her faithfulness. What it is she must then be faithful to do is another huge subject. But at this point it is unlikely that she would perform baptisms, ordinations, or other ordinances that are specifically performed by men.
Next, when she is sealed then there is a complete established line of covenant priesthood authority. This then gives her access to administer under the direction of her worthy husband in all things he can administer, as he is under the direction of the father. This means that if her husband cannot perform any priesthood duty, or if he is inspired to ask her to perform any ordinance she can then do so. She can even assume this authority when prompted by the spirit, or at need. She is however to respect her husband as her priesthood leader, and follow his counsel in her priesthood work.
She is under her husband's direction in her use of the priesthood, but this does not mean that she does not have authority. It should be remembered that every man who claims priesthood is also linked to his priesthood head and cannot use it except under his leader's directions as well. "The head of the woman is the man, and the head of the man is Christ" it says in the scriptures. This is simply a priesthood leadership diagram, and even Christ reports all his work to his father. Everyone has someone above them in the priesthood. This should not make a woman feel inferior any more than it should make a man feel inferior. The proper way to look at it is that we are linked in an unbroken chain of authority to God and to those we love and should love: our families and the other faithful saints with whom we hope to rejoice in the Kingdom.
Lastly when the second anointing is performed it must be done by matriarchal priesthood authority. after being herself anointed and essentially ordained by, usually an apostle, The woman anoints her husband, and places her hands on his head and gives him an inspired blessing as part of this ordinance. When they both have been anointed she then has within herself all the priesthood necessary to perform any ordinance of the gospel. She is even promised that whatsoever she binds on earth will be bound in heaven. This comprehends all the power, keys, and authority that any person can hold while in the flesh. This is the highest ordinance given to mortals. In some of the historical accounts it was confirmed at the end by the savior appearing in person. This is also called the more sure word of prophecy. In each step the woman's role increases. Until, at last, the highest ordinance on earth is confirmed and completed by a woman for her husband. they are then "sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise"

Brother Benjamin said...

While many of these ideas may seem incomprehensibly far off, I felt that in telling you about a few of the things that have been experienced by our fore bearers, and the methods by which women have exercised the priesthood in the past, you would be able to have hope for what is possible. It is my testimony that these blessings are only the beginning, for the heart of (wo)man cannot conceive what great things the Lord has in store for them that love him.
The keys, and priesthoods have been restored to the earth, and the revelations of the Lord will continue to be poured out upon the saints who are prepared to receive them. The Lord will come and set all things in order for his millennial reign and then the earth shall rest for a season. I hope that even if this post opens up more questions for you than it answers, that it has been helpful to you, and been accompanied by the spirit. There is so much more that I would like to share with you about saints who are gathering and living all the commandments today. There are true prophets and apostles on the earth today, who can help you find all the answers you seek through revelation. These priesthood bearers are actually still receiving revelation, performing all the ordinances of the temple of the living and the dead, and gathering saints into consecrated communities. The difference in the platitudes you are fed in general conference and the depth of the principles of the Gospel taught by true prophets is stunning, it is like comparing night and day. If you are interested in the idea of learning more about this or any other subject, please feel free to send me your questions and I'll try to respond in a timely manner. I am so grateful for the revelations of God, and that there is an eternity of light and knowledge to explore as we draw nearer to him. I testify that you can also come to know that the things I have spoken of here are true, by the spirit of God. If There is anything here that causes you to feel offended, please let me know and I will seek the spirit to overcome any misunderstanding I have caused. The Lord will draw near to us as we draw nearer to him. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Brother Benjamin
GospelFullness (at) Gmail.com)

Anon 23 said...

Benjamin,

I appreciate you sharing your beliefs and that information. I am familiar with most of what you talked about. But I do not share your same beliefs.

I believe you have been deceived to believe in abusive philosophies of men towards women, like most all men fall for, in and out of the Church. For it is the disposition of nearly all men to desire to rule over women and become abusive and fall for abusive philosophies.

It is very rare to find a man who understands the true position and power of a woman.

Women have just as much Priesthood as men, and can perform every act and blessing that men can. Women can bless and heal both women, children and men as the Spirit directs her. There is no limit to her power and privilege to bless others. Women actually bring their Priesthood with them from heaven, whereas men must prove worthy of that same Priesthood here in this life.

Women are also the head of the home, just as much as the man, in fact women are the 1st head of the home, for God gives women the power and privilege to preside over her children, carrying them inside her for 9 months, long before her husband is allowed to preside with her over those children. God gives the wife/mother the responsibility to decide if the husband/father is worthy of the right to preside with her over the home and children, if he is not the woman is to do it herself with God's help.

The husband actually is obligated by God to listen to the wife and love, respect, protect, listen to and serve his wife's every wish, before the wife is ever asked to do the same for the man. The man must 1st submit to the leadership of the wife if he ever hopes for her to submit to his wishes also.

The Bible has not been translated correctly in most cases, the plain and precious truths have been lost, especially about women and marriage. Unrighteous prideful men have written the Bible according to their own agendas, so they can appear to have God's blessing to rule over women.

But women are the supreme rulers of the home and society. They have the power to save and exalt their husbands and children if they will. It is very rare for a man to be righteous enough to be able to save and exalt unrighteous wife and children. But women do it all the time.

I do not believe that Joseph had anything to do with the temple ceremonies that we see today in the temple. Joseph meant for the temple to be used for completely different things then it is used for today.

I believe Brigham Young made it all up and it is all apostate ceremonies and ordinances. Brigham Young had no more right and authority to lead the Church or instigate temple ordinances then did anyone else in or out of the Church. Brigham Young had lost all his Priesthood, keys and position and even membership in the Church (spiritually, even if not officially), long before even Joseph died, because BY fell for whoredoms like polygamy.

Following Brigham Young out west back then was the same as people following any polygamous leader today. Polygamy was never authorized or a righteous principle ever in the whole history of the earth.

Joseph Smith was very clear that he never lived or believed in polygamy and that it was a most abusive abomination towards women, one that the carnal nature of most all men easily falls for believing, for it sounds so good to their prideful egos, to be able to collect and rule over women.

Christ's teachings prove polygamy is just another form of adultery and spouse abuse towards women. The Golden Rule also proves the falsehood of polygamy, for men would never want done to them what they do to women in polygamy, nor would they ever put up with it.

Sadly many women have not had, and do not have the self-respect and high self-worth to see through polygamy and thus are sometimes convinced to go along with it, often being falsely inspired by the Adversary that it is a good thing.

There is no such thing as righteous polygamy, nor has there ever been, nor will there be polygamy in all eternity.



Anon 23 said...

Benjamin, Part 2

Eternal Marriage is based on 2 people who have complete true and exclusive love and faithfulness for each other forever and ever.

Polygamy is the complete opposite of love and true marriage.

The Church went into apostasy after Joseph Smith died and the majority of the Saints were deceived to fall for and follow the adulterous abusive false prophet Brigham Young and those who supported him.

But many men and women like Emma Smith had enough self-respect and the Holy Spirit as their guide to see and understand the truth and not fall for the wickedness that most of the Saints did. They maintained the true Gospel of Christ and the scriptures that Joseph had given them and did the best they could on their own, without a prophet to lead them.

Christ will soon return and restore his true Church upon the earth, but as Joseph said, the true church remains on the earth as long as one righteous person can still receive personal revelation. I believe there are a few righteous men and women on the earth who do and who have maintained their Priesthood and pass on the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to their children and who await Christ's return and the establishment of Zion.

Joseph saw that the Saints in his day were falling for wickedness and he tried to teach them to do right, but he knew that most of the apostles and members desired whoredoms more than righteousness, despite his efforts to teach them correct principles. Thus God allowed the Saints to be deceived and lead out into the wilderness to suffer and learn by sad experience the error of their ways, but few ever repented in this life.

Joseph never sealed anyone to anyone, he married everyone according to the marriage ceremony that he put in the D&C. If at least one spouse kept their covenants of marriage, they saved their other spouse and children and their marriage was eternal.

Rarely do both spouses keep their marriage covenant, almost always one is unrighteous and must be saved by the other if the marriage is going to be saved, and usually it's the woman who saves the man, for most men usually date and remarry if abandoned by an unrighteous wife, they have a hard time staying faithful til the wife returns and repents, but many women are able to maintain their true love and wait for her husband to repent.

I am sorry that you believe as you do, and that your wife isn't able to teach you the errors of your thinking, for it is usually women that must teach men these things, and teach men to respect them and not to believe in or fall for abusive precepts like polygamy and men ruling over women and the inequality of women in the Priesthood.

There is so much abusive and false doctrines taught in the temple that it is very apparent to righteous men and women that it is not of God. God protects women from such abusive doctrines, and he commands men to submit to women, not to make them submit to him 1st. But very few men are humble enough to understand and do this.

Only if a man is truly righteous and submits totally and completely to his wife and fulfills her ever wish as did Ammon to King Lamoni, does Heavenly Father then ask the wife to submit to and fulfill the wishes of the man also.

Righteous marriage is when both spouses seek to fulfill the wishes and counsel of the other, and seek to make the other spouse happy and exalted.

Such righteous men and marriages are rarely ever seen, so it is only from the Spirit that one can learn the truth of true Celestial Marriage.

weston krogstadt said...

Unlce Rico?

FeRod said...

I'd like to know too Fish! Rock and I were both in A1

Anonymous said...

Could you address why Romney is lying so much? Most politicians lie a bit but Romney is setting new records for big lies. This doesn't reflect well on Mormons. Is this just Romney or is it ok to lie to non-Mormons?

Anonymous said...

Apparently you missed how Brigham Young taught his followers that it was ok to lie, if it furthered a cause.

BY and all the church leaders since him have supported the 'lie' that Joseph lied about polygamy. For Joseph constantly taught that it was a whoredom and those who fell for it would be damned. (I, for one, know he wasn't lying but church leaders then and now like to believe he was lying, cause they like the idea of polygamy and collecting many wives, it sounds good their carnal minds.)

So you apparently don't realize the Church teaches that prophets can lie their whole life about the most serious things and it is good.

But don't worry, just follow blindly and don't ask questions, the prophet, or a Mormon like Mitt, can't lead us astray, all is well.

Jon said...

@AnonymousOctober 15, 2012 11:19 AM,

Just in defense of church leaders. They could support polygamy because the alternative is that BY and others were corrupt and left the church in apostasy. Which means, did the RLDS church get it right? Or is 3 Ne 16:10 right, it will be given to the Jews?

That is far more likelier of a reason most members support the idea of polygamy in the church, to hold onto the current institutional church.

Anonymous said...

Jon, (Part 1)

Not sure what you are trying to say, but there is no justification to support polygamy under any circumstances. Joseph was very clear that those who fall for it & support it will be damned.

I believe the Church leaders today and always have known the Church is in apostasy, yet they seem to like the idea of polygamy as much as the early leaders, so they keep teaching it and allowing men to be sealed to multiple women today, after the death or divorce of their spouse.

Not to mention all the continual adultery the Church allows, encourages and rewards by letting people divorce and remarry, let alone in the temple, which completely dececrates it.

For everyone knows that Christ said that divorce and remarriage is adultery. Yet LDS Church leaders allow that adultery just like they allow & preach & promise polygamy, just another form of adultery.

Staying in the LDS Church is not holding on to the 'original or institutional' Church anymore than being a part of the FLDS or RLDS or any other of the multiple break offs is, that came to be after Joseph died. If anything LDS members will be held more accountable for supporting such evil prophets and practices when they could have studied their scriptures and history to easily learn the truth, especially if they lived worthy of the Holy Spirit to teach them the truth of all things.

No one is justified to support evil.

For everyone knows deep down when they do wrong or support wrong, it just hardly anyone is willing to stand for right.

Brigham Young had no more right, authority, Priesthood or position to lead the Church after Joseph died then did the exed apostle 'John Bennett' who Joseph exed. Joseph would have exed BY too if he had lived much longer.

From what Joseph said and taught it is very apparent that he was about to crack down on the apostles who were secretly living polygamy in Nauvoo, so none of them had any Priesthood power or authority and were already excommunicated 'spiritually' for adultery and whoredoms. That is was never done officially during their life was just a technicality that didn't matter, they still had lost everything for their evil deeds.

Thus the group of members who followed BY out west were not part of the 'true church' anymore but just an apostate break-off group.

After Joseph's death the members were dispersed into many different groups and many just went off on their own to do the best they could with the scriptures & teachings & Priesthood that Joseph gave them. If they lived righteously they would have been able to pass down their Priesthood to their sons.

So it is possible and provable that many non-members today could very well have the Priesthood, far more than any current LDS, for all LDS have been deceived to support evil and false prophets & leaders and false doctrines, from BY to today. No one who is deceived to support evil can retain the Priesthood of God or the Holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Jon, (Part 2)

Though the LDS Church is filled with many good and nice people who don't want to realize how they have been deceived, D&C 45 & 76 is very clear that even good and honorable people who allow themselves to be deceived by the craftiness of false prophets and men teaching falsehoods and whoredoms will lose their place in the Celestial Kingdom and have to go to the Terrestrial Kingdom at best.

I believe the true Church went into apostasy and there was no true Prophets anymore on the earth to lead the people after Joseph died. Everyone had to fend for themselves by their own personal revelation and living according to the scriptures that Joseph had given them, especially the BoM & D&C.(which didn't include false doctrines like 132 yet)

So I don't believe that any of the churches were true that broke off from the original church. I don't believe any of the churches that were formed had real authority to lead people, though some of their members were probably very righteous people, like Emma Smith.

The RLDS Church at 1st was a very good church when they 1st adhered to the exact teachings of Joseph Smith and Christ, but I don't believe it was authorized as 'the continuation of the original church. But once the RLDS Church began to also teach that Joseph lived polygamy then I believe they really went down hill and probably lost many righteous people.

After Joseph died, everyone had to fend for themselves as did Alma when he left the apostate Church headed by the wicked and polygamous King Noah in his day. Alma joined with other righteous people who had left the apostate church and they studied the Gospel and worshiped together as best they could but they had to wait until someone with true authority came along to restore the true Church. We are in that same situation today.

Christ and Joseph Smith will return soon and re-establish the true Church and authority again to the earth in Zion, which will include the righteous from all over the earth. I believe most of the people in Zion will have never been a part of any current LDS break offs, be it LDS, FLDS, RLDS, etc.

Though many people around the globe may have found the BoM & D&C and gained a testimony of it but realized that the true Church which teaches according to Christ true doctrines is no longer upon the earth & thus they wait for it to return.

Jon said...

@AnonymousOctober 15, 2012 3:19 PM,

My main point was just that the power of belief is extremely strong. So, in defense of those leaders, I think they believe because the alternative would cause too much cognitive dissonance.

I agree, polygamy is wicked.

Anonymous said...

Jon,

I agree, the power of belief is extremely strong, but everyone knows when they do wrong, that's why we are held accountable for our ignorance (for ignorance is a choice, especially today in the western world when truth is so available) and we are held accountable for being deceived to support evil, even if it's because we didn't want to face 'the alternative'.

But I believe it's because they are just plain and simply 'past feeling'. Just like the Priests of King Noah. They have all supported evil for so long they can't see or feel it anymore.

It would be interesting to see one 'Alma' wake up among them and alert the people. But what we really need is an 'Abinadi' to go before the Church leaders and call them to repentance.

But I believe the LDS Church is just like any other apostate church teaching false doctrines today, to the Lord, is he going to send an Abinadi to every Church in the world.

I think we will soon see true prophets arise independently of any church, and they will preach to the people and those who have the Holy Spirit to recognize truth will listen to them. We know that at least 2 Prophets will arise to preach in Jerusalem, probably not too far off.

Zack Woolwine said...

Luckily there is a ton of info out there on Joseph Smith... it doesn't take long to see what he really was. The lies, manipulation, Mason connection, jail time, adultery, etc..... it's all out there in plain view. How can one follow something so blindly? The BOM and Joseph Smith do not stand up under any type of honest scrutiny. Please look at the evidence and be honest with yourself.

Anonymous said...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/75949077/Addendum-to-the-Doctrine-Covenants-Printable-Version

Ben & Windy Shaffer said...

There are others as well. Denver Snuffer does not claim or aspire to any prophetic mantle other than the one he was given: to share his testimony of the second comforter and how it is obtained, and to do so within the confines of the mainstream church. There are several other prophets and apostles "crying in the wilderness" right now, but they are hidden from those who have hardened their hearts against the Lord's message. Some of these men and women have been excommunicated by shortsighted bishops and stake presidents, but that does not diminish their authority or the truths they teach. It is like Brigham Young said of those who reviled Joseph Smith "you cannot cut off the prophet[s] of God, you can only cut the tie that bound you to the prophet and to God and sink your souls to hell!" For those who seek the fullness of the gospel and the priesthood the door is always open, if you have the courage to seek the spirit and follow where he leads. Either he will show you where the keys of the power you seek are located, or he will send you angels, but in every age the Lord will provide a way for the seeker of truth to find whatever truths they are prepared to receive. The condemnation of the world according to the D&C is not that we don't have prophets, but that the light is plainly made manifest and WE simply "receive not the light."

KellyCoinGuy said...

>Above all, these Lutherans were respectful and obedient to religious authority -which is a bit ironic really, since Martin Luther himself was probably the biggest religious dissenter of all time.

This is not ironic, it is predictable. Only a rebel would know how to really put down other rebels. Jesus Christ was a rebel. Joseph Smith was a rebel. They both knew how to put down a rebellion. It just seems that Jesus wasn't very interested in an 'organization' so much. It took Paul to do that part.

Sean said...

Rock, if I had known more people like you in the LDS church, I might not have become an exmormon. There are points of your belief on which I disagree, but I cannot fault you for your zeal in seeking out the truth.

I was one of those many unfortunates who sought out the bishop when I felt bad about some "sins". I would not wish the process of "forgiveness" on anybody, and you've explained very well the reasons why. It's like being forced to flog yourself in public while proclaiming how unworthy you are, and only then being allowed back into the clubhouse.

Anonymous said...

You are spot on about that seminary video. My freshman year of high school, two years ago, we watched that video and it bothered me. A lot. I can't remember the exact reasons, but I think I remember telling myself that that is why I will never screw up. Silly of course, of me, to think I will never screw up. A year and a half later I figure out that I'm at least a little bit lesbian. When I finally came out to my parents, my inactive father warned me not to tell the Bishop or any leaders because it would go on my permanent record that any bishopric member in any ward I was ever in would have access to. So some clerk in a wars I might move to in thirty years could know that I thought I was gay when I was sixteen. And my dad told me that that was, to him, wrong. I agree. Record keeping is important but so is privacy. I said to my dad that there was no need to tell the Bishop unless I ever acted on te feelings, but my dad told me not even then because it's not in the scriptures I have to do that. And I'm glad I followed my dad's advice. Sexual orientation is fluid, and maybe one day I'll end up marrying a nice guy and living a seemingly hetero normative life. I don't know. Whatever. But if this is somehow a phase I don't want it to come back and bite me in the butt because I thought I was obligated to tell someone things that I really shouldn't have.