Relationships and Doughnuts

How many of you have seen the statue of Joseph and Emma outside the Visitor’s Center at the LA Temple? How many have seen the statue in the LDS Church Museum in Salt Lake City, of Joseph and Oliver being ordained by Peter, James, and John?

Go see either statue next time you get the chance. Try to notice the looks that pass between “Joseph” and “Emma” in Los Angeles and “Joseph” and “John” in Salt Lake City. Then try to imagine one figure without the other. You can’t.

In both statues the sculptor has shown a special chemistry passing between the two figures. The chemistry is not present with either figure standing alone, but can only been seen when both figures are present.

Another word for this “chemistry” is “relationship”. The essence of this relationship is not something inherent in either figure but is a certain something which passes between them. Therefore, to fully appreciate the full statue, you must not only look at each figure, but also at the air between them. In other words, sometimes we are so busy looking at the doughnut that we forget about the hole, which in reality, is what makes an ordinary bun into a doughnut.

So it is with us as people. When two or more persons are joined together in any kind of relationship (loving relationship, priesthood quorum, Church membership, teacher/student, or business partner), a third entity is created; and that entity is called a relationship.

If you stop and think about it, the Gospel of the Kingdom is really concerned with establishing relationships. We are taught that the “fullness of the Gospel” in contained in the ordinances, which embrace and further the “new and everlasting covenant”. What is a covenant if it is not an agreement or form of relationship between two or more people? For example, there is the “new and everlasting covenant of marriage” mentioned in D&C 132, and the covenant entered into by members of the School of the Prophets (D&C 88:133).

If seen in its proper perspective, the Gospel is nothing more than a system designed to develop and further eternal relationships: between man and God, between man and man, and between gods. This is something we need to teach in this Church. Think about this: the Godhead is composed of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. If we understand the Gospel correctly, we should not only worship the three Beings and become like Them, but we should also worship the relationship that they have between them and seek to become one with one another even as They are One.

Authority in the Church – How is it Obtained?

Brigham Young said: “Whoever is ordained to the office of an elder in the Holy Priesthood possesses the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood to a certain degree and, if only one elder should be somehow left on the earth, he could go and set in order the Kingdom of God through revelation.”

Elder John A. Widstoe in his book A Rational Theology on page 103 wrote of this proposition: “As an illustration of the great power, authority, and duty carried by the Priesthood, it may be recalled that, if by any chance every man holding the Priesthood in the Church should be destroyed, save one elder, it would be the duty and right of that one elder, UNDER DIVINE REVELATION, to reorganize the whole church with all the grades of the Priesthood and its offices.”

Mixing Church and State

I fail to see how a church has any right to enforce its religious beliefs on the general populace, either directly or hiding and working in the shadows behind a government, particularly when it comes to abridging the rights of others. A church has a right to discipline its own members as it sees fit, but what the Mormon Church tried to do with Proposition 8 in California was evil in my view, and I see nothing in D&C 134 to justify it.

We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship. D&C 134:10.

But if the Church is more interested in regulating public morality according to their doctrines, why not fight with equal fervor against divorce, child abuse, and abortion? These are clearly labeled as sins, so why not lobby to deprive all who commit these offenses of their civil liberties? The reason why is because these things are now politically acceptable to the religious right.

And the idea that the leaders of the LDS church “hold” certain keys and pretend to certain eternal privileges is not provable. Read the D&C carefully and see exactly which keys were actually COMMITTED (not given) to him and which are still committed to Elijah and to Peter, James, and John. (See my post about “Eternal Lives” for exact references.) Also, keep in mind that the gold plates were also COMMITTED to Joseph Smith, and he was required to render an accounting for his use of them; he lost them on one occasion, and eventually had to return them. Then there are many questions concerning succession of authority.

A better way would be to foster and uphold the good rather than fighting against evil. Satan really doesn’t care what side you are on an issue. His plan is to entice you into hatred and contention. This is the clearest sign to me that the leadership of the LDS Church has lost its vision: that it is spending more time and effort fighting the petty political values of the day and ignoring what Joseph Smith called “its greatest object”: building up ZION, which by the way, will be made up of ALL nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples.