The Law of Chastity as of 1990

Many people object to discussing any and all aspects of the LDS Temple Endowment in or out of the temple. While there are specific items which we are under covenant not to divulge, I believe it is important to know and understand the various covenants which participants will take upon themselves in the ceremony.

As I have mentioned in other articles in this blog, it is of utmost importance to our personal salvation and to the salvation of society, that we voluntarily make and keep various covenants. And, in order to make and keep these covenants, we must first understand them. And, in order to understand them, we must first be able to read them.

If it was important for the children of Lehi to have the brass plates in order to have the laws and covenants of God, then it is equally as important for modern-day saints to have access to the written versions of the covenants which they will take upon themselves. To this end, you can search for these on the Internet.

But, this blog will concentrate on one specific covenant — the Law of Chastity.

The Law of Chastity, having to do with marriage, is one of the foundational covenants, as it grounds the marriage and family, which in turn, are the building blocks of society.

Unlike previous versions of this covenant, this covenant does not explicitly state that the daughters of Eve are restricted to sexual relations with their husbands, nor are the sons of Adam restricted to sexual relations with their wives, leaving open the future possibility of the daughters of Eve taking wives, and the sons of Adam taking husbands.

… the Law of Chastity, and to put them under covenant to obey this law, which is, that the daughters of Eve, and the sons of Adam shall have no sexual relations except with their husbands or wives to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded, …

I am assuming that Church authorities read this blog from time to time with interest. They should. And, if they do, they are free to take anything they find here, publish it unaltered, and call it a revelation, with the proviso that they give proper credit for it.

No, not me.

But, taking a negative view of things, once this change in the covenant is pointed out to them, they will hasten to amend the wording yet another time so as to preclude any possibility that two men or two women in a committed, monogamous, and legal relationship actually could be keeping the Law of Chastity.

Heavenly Mother

I recently read a book which made reference to “a vision about a mother in heaven” that was had by Joseph Smith. Since this is not widely known, I did some research, and this is what I found. There are actually two accounts of this, and they differ slightly in their details.

One day the Prophet Joseph Smith asked him (Zebedee Coltrin) and Sidney Rigdon to accompany him into the woods to pray. When they had reached a secluded spot Joseph laid down on his back and stretched out his arms. He told the brethren to lie one on each arm and then shut their eyes. After they had prayed he told them to open their eyes. They did so and they saw a brilliant light surrounding a pedestal which seemed to rest on the ground. They closed their eyes and again prayed. They then saw, on opening them, the Father seated upon a throne; they prayed again and on looking saw the Mother also; after praying and looking the fourth time they saw the Savior added to the group. He had auburn brown, rather long, wavy hair and appeared quite young.” Abraham H. Cannon Journal, 25 Aug. 1880, LDS archives

Zebedee Coltrin’s journal records the event two years before Abraham Cannon’s journal did. Coltrin said the man and woman were Adam and Eve. The following comes comes from my book that will be published soon:

According to Coltrin, he and Oliver Cowdery were walking with Joseph Smith outside one day when Smith stopped by some wild grape vines and said, “Let us kneel down here and pray.” After the completion of the prayer, “Joseph stretched himself on his back upon a grassy spot with his arms extended like one upon a cross. He told me to lie by his side with my head resting upon his arm, and Oliver in like manner upon the other side”…. “We did so,” said Coltrin, “all three looking heavenwards. As I looked I saw the blue sky open. I beheld a throne, and upon the throne sat a man and a woman. Joseph asked us if we knew who they were. We answered ‘no’, Joseph said, ‘That is father Adam and mother Eve.’” Zebedee Coltrin, Diary Excerpts of Zebedee Coltrin (1878); as quoted in my book Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo (John Whitmer Books). (Mike Reed)

Cannon says it happened with Rigdon, while Coltrin (who allegedly had the experience) says Cowdery. Cannon also says Father and Mother in Heaven and Coltrin reported Adam and Eve. Cannon evidently conflated two of Coltrin’s visions into one. And in the context of the Adam God doctrine there is even less contradiction.

As you may know… Zebedee Coltrin reported all sorts of visions, another being of Jesus crucified on the cross in the Kirtland Temple.

HC 2:50 reports that Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Zebedee Coltrin were all present on this occasion.

Once after returning from a mission, he [Zebedee Coltrin] met Brother Joseph in Kirtland, who asked him if he did not wish to go with him to a conference at New Portage. The party consisted of Presidents Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and myself [Zebedee Coltrin]. Next morning at New Portage, he noticed that Joseph seemed to have a far off look in his eyes, or was looking at a distance and presently he, Joseph, stepped between Brothers Cowdery and Coltrin and taking them by the arm, said, “Let’s take a walk.” They went to a place where there was some beautiful grass and grapevines and swamp beech interlaced. President Joseph Smith then said, “Let us pray.” They all three prayed in turn—Joseph, Oliver, and Zebedee. Brother Joseph then said, “Now brethren, we will see some visions.” Joseph lay down on the ground on his back and stretched out his arms and the two brethren lay on them. The heavens gradually opened, and they saw a golden throne, on a circular foundation, something like a light house, and on the throne were two aged personages, having white hair, and clothed in white garments. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind he ever saw. Joseph said, “They are our first parents, Adam and Eve.” Adam was a large, broad-shouldered man, and Eve as a woman, was large in proportion. (“Statement of Zebedee Coltrin.” Minutes, 3 October 1883, Salt Lake School of Prophets, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 66-67 ?)

Note: In a different account of this same vision, Coltrin said of Adam and Eve that “their heads were white as snow, and their faces shone with youth” (See “The Papers of Zebedee Coltrin,” in E. Cecil McGavin, The Record of the Spanish Fork Branch [29 April 1866 to 1 December 1898], LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 251 ?)

The Truth

Here is a recent conversation on Facebook

Comment 1: I Know that, but i still believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints still moving and no one can stop it.

John Crane: The fundamental ideas (like eternal progression, knowing the truth, seeking wisdom through study and faith, direct human experience with God, building a society where each person esteems his brother as himself, a person is saved no faster than they gain knowledge, etc.) behind the church will keep moving and no one can stop them. These are ideas that appeal to everybody, once they hear them explained. However, it seems to many people that the church, as now constituted, is no longer the vehicle for spreading and supporting these ideas, but has degenerated into a conservative, reactionary relic of the 19th century.

Read this quote from Joseph Smith. He doesn’t say a thing about the church:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

Rob Lauer said: “The truth of God will go forth boldly…” As soon as anyone reduces the truth of God to nothing more than an organization, or one particular creed or nation or program or group of people–then amen to the priesthood of that person. The Spirit–the Light of Truth that is in ALL things and through ALL things; the same Light that is in ALL people, that quickens the understanding of ALL people–this Spirit is grieved and withdraws.

Kate Kelly and Ordaining Women

She’s exercising Priesthood right now. She’s speaking. She’s teaching. She’s writing. She’s organizing. She’s serving others as she sees it. Those are all Priesthood functions. They are just not in the church.

It’s easy to stand on the outside and look at the men in the church and think they have so much power. But, that is not true. Any male who has ever held the priesthood and tried to exercise it within the LDS church knows how little power he really has.

As a local leader, he has very independent latitude to make decisions, because all the thinking has already been done for him and placed in the handbook. Teaching by the Spirit? Not likely. Teachers have to strictly follow the manual. Speaking by the Spirit? That used to be one of my delights in the church. But, I understand now that topics for Sacrament Meeting talks are now assigned.

Even if a general authority says something in General Conference that is not in line with the current thinking of the authorities. Google “Ronald Poelman” and find out what happened to him when he dared stand up and say that members ought to follow their free agency.

We all hold the priesthood. The church never gave it to us, and the church cannot take it away from us. The power of God is a gift we all have from God, simply because it is one of the attributes we inherited by virtue of being children of God. The question is whether a person can develop power in their Priesthood and whether or not he or she can function in their priesthood within the LDS church, or any other church that believes in the Priesthood.

If we have desires to serve God, we are called to the work, but sometimes God calls us to do requires that we serve OUTSIDE the church. This is a shame, because the Priesthood is best exercised in concert with other Priesthood holders, as Joseph Smith and John Taylor taught. But it can be done, if God wills it, and if we have the faith to do it, He will provide all the assistance and support we can use.

If nothing else this Kate Kelly thing has got me thinking. I don’t agree with her methods, but I agree that women should be ordained. I have been scratching my head trying to figure out with scriptural justification for denying women the opportunity to serve. In the Bible, there were female prophets, judges, deacons, and priests. I just saw a problem on Islam today. It explained that the way they treat their women came from a misinterpretation of the Koran and a long-standing cultural norm that predates Islam. In other words, there’s no reason other than “we say so”.

However, lets not get the cart before the horse.

  • First, priesthood leaders must be open to the IDEA that God has Priesthood callings for women as men, and that a women could fulfill the office as well if not better than a man could.
  • Second, ordination to the Priesthood for ANYBODY should be by inspiration, and not done because a person has reached a certain age, or they are related to a high church official, and certainly not done because a person demands it. (Remember the story of Simon in the Book of Acts. Remember also, the story of Mozart’s Magic Flute.)
  • Third, women as well as men must be trained in their duties as priesthood holders.
  • Fourth, women as well as men must be held accountable for how they use their priesthood.
  • Fifth, women as well as men must be unleashed and unmuzzled from the constraints of the church handbooks and encouraged to follow the promptings of the Spirit, which always accompany who answers the call to serve and humbly seeks guidance.

There, ladies, still want to be ordained? The field is white already for harvest.

Holiness and Perfection

There is really only one great commandment, which, if you live, you are automatically living all the lesser commandments.

Moses said be holy. Christ said to be perfect. That is essentially the same commandment. (Lev. 19:2). Holiness and perfection both mean to be whole, finished, complete.

But, HOW does one become “holy” or “perfect”? For those who need elaboration, Moses and Christ expressed the same principle as two commandments.

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut 6:5)

“Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18)

Knowing God and your neighbor and loving God and your neighbor go hand in hand. The more you know the more you love, and the more you love, the more you know.

The three great principles of the Gospel are in the old and new testaments. You can’t really love God or your neighbor, completely, totally, and without reservation, unless you are a whole and complete person with integrity. If you are fighting yourself, or you heart says one thing, but you mind says another, you are not a person of integrity or wholeness.

But, one or even two commandments were too simple for a people who constantly wanted to look beyond the mark. They wanted more commandments. They wanted to be told what to do in every given situation so they didn’t have to think about it, or rely on the transforming power of the Spirit to change their nature, as the Book of Mormon teaches. This need was as true for the children of Israel as it was for the Jews of Christ’s time as it is for today’s Mormons.

So Moses and the LDS church multiplied commandments. “Meet the new schoolmaster. Same as the old schoolmaster.”

Then, Mormons moan and groan about how they are “striving” for perfection, but can never quite make it. But, why would God give us a commandment if it were impossible to live it? That would really make God a cruel and jealous God. Once, you understand what perfection and holiness really mean, and once you develop love connections with God and your neighbor, living a life of perfection and wholeness is not only natural, it’s a joy.

Judgment and Righteousness

Righteousness has more to do with judgment than it does with personal morality. Judgment is an attribute of God. We are all gods in embryo and one of the purposes of the nursery school which we all are attending is to “learn how to be gods ourselves”, as Joseph Smith put it. We learn judgment by exercising judgment. i.e. making decisions.

What is God’s will? God’s will is not to much what we decide as THAT we decide. If our decision has undesirable consequences, we can always repent and decide again. If our decision has desirable consequences, we can continue to pursue that course. That is God’s will. There is no guesswork. There is only an application of eternal principle. The only times eternal principles don’t work is when we fail to apply them.

The Doctrine & Covenants has clearly spelled out how we may discern the will of God. Sometimes, its obvious. Sometimes, we have to think about it or consult others. Sometimes, we have to plunge into the darkness and “guess”. But, there’s no harm in guessing as long as you know you are guessing, and you are prepared to take responsibility for the consequences, whatever they may be.

Here is a good, workable definition of humility: know where you are on the path and act accordingly.

Books of Moses and Enoch

I agree, too. I don’t go along with the explanation of the facsimiles, but the contents of the books are revelation. If we are going to have a true Restoration of all things, and I believe the Restoration is an unfolding process that didn’t begin or end with Joseph Smith, we need to consider, not just going back to the primitive Christian church from the time of Christ, but all the way back to Adam and the Patriarchs.

Enoch actually succeeded in building Zion. He gathered a people. He taught them true principles of righteousness, because he and the other patriarchs were preachers of righteousness (the LDS don’t even know what that means, but the CofC have their Evangelists who come a little closer); Enoch’s people obtained the Presence of God, and Christ came down and dwelt among them. The Book of Moses finishes with the promise that when we build a similar society in the latter-days, Enoch and his community will descend from heaven and join us. And Christ will also join us.

THIS dream or vision is, to me, the most exciting thing about Mormonism, and the religion that has the beginnings of a practical plan to bring this about — a plan that was never quite realized.

Every effort since that time has been a failure. Righteous men and women down through the ages sought for that land, but were unable to obtain it, and they had to confess that they were strangers and pilgrims wandering the earth.

What is the secret that Enoch knew that seemed to escape everybody since? Christ probably knew it, but because of the stiffneckedness of the Jews was unable to implement it. Joseph Smith revealed these two books and tried to implement it, but even he was so caught up in imitating the failed religions of his time, and his followers had no inkling of what he was trying to tell them, and the whole thing degenerated into polygamy.

I know that’s a radical statement to say that Joseph Smith tried to imitate the religions of the day, but if you really step back 1,000 miles and look at the Mormons, the Jews, the Catholics, and the Protestants from a distance, they share most of the same spiritual DNA. Like humans and chimps.

What we need to do is to revisit those books and use the aid of modern revelation — both modern revelation from the days of Joseph Smith and modern revelation from today — meaning the 20th and 21st centuries. We need to see what is missing and try to recreate it.

No, it’s not just buying a plot of land in Timbuktu, Missouri, putting on your overalls and taking up farming. If we build an autonomous community without changing our fundamental nature or mindset, all we do is export our problems to a new locale and start another failed church.

You might want to check out the references at, with particular attention to The Foundation of Zion Volume 2, and the revelations to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff.