When we were directed by revelation to organize the Priesthood in the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, I was called to be Second Counselor in the “Temporary Presidency”, and as a Patriarch. Eventually, I was ordained a Patriarch, given the Sealing Power, and was eventually sustained as Presiding Patriarch/Evangelist to the church.
I had a rough idea of the duties of a Patriarch, as every member of the LDS church does, but it never dawned to me to ever think I would become a Patriarch. In the blessing I was given, the Lord instructed me, through the person acting as voice, to study the revelations in the Doctrine & Covenants pertaining to Oliver Cowdery and Hyrum Smith. So, I studied and prayed to receive the spirit of the calling, as well as receive the Lord’s confirmation that He approved. And, as Evangelist, a calling that was completely unfamiliar to me, I prayed for an understanding of the duties of an Evangelist. It is one thing to have an office conferred upon you, but quite another to receive the Lords ratification and to connect with the “powers of heaven”.
I found out the Lord really knows what He is doing when He calls somebody to a position. I asked for confirmation, and received it many times in many miraculous ways, which I won’t go into now. Sometimes, when you ask the Lord if a calling is right, He doesn’t say “yes” or “no”, He just starts in with “Here’s how I want you to do.” If you ask for His approval, then just go ahead and act in faith and perform your duties, the approval comes in a way that you cannot deny.
I was amazed at how the calling rested so naturally upon me, and the doctrine of this, the Patriarchal Priesthood, literally distilled upon me as promised in D&C 121, and the Lord taught me of and about the covenants he made with mankind, as explained in D&C 84.
The Patriarch to the LDS church, and the Community of Christ is traditionally somebody who is a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith. (However, the LDS church released its Patriarch, Eldred G. Smith, and never called anybody in his stead. That office no longer exists in that church.)
I am not a direct descendant of anybody in the Smith family. I don’t have any great or illustrious ancestors going back in the church. The closest thing I had was a great great great uncle who was a farmer and school teacher living near Palmyra, New York. When Joseph Smith showed him the Book of Mormon characters, my uncle told him he was crazy and to forget about the whole thing.
Still, even after I had a testimony of my calling, I also know about the ancestry requirement. I had to know Why Me? So, I once asked the Lord, how come he wanted me to be the Patriarch, seeing as how I was not of the proper lineage, etc. The answer I got was this: “Because you are filled with the Holy Ghost”. The Lord can call whoever he wants, whenever He wants, to do whatever he wants.
If I didn’t have an incentive before, I had one then. I was directed by the Spirit about what to read, and given additional insights about what to teach the members. The impressions I received were that I was supposed to teach about family and relationships. And I use the term “relationships” with the broadest possible meaning. Not just relationships within a couple, or family, but the human relationships that make up societies. My constant emphasis was on preparing people to establish Zion. This became my obsession.
What I learned became the basis for what I taught in the church, and for what follows in this post.
Although we in the Restoration Church saw ourselves as a home for all displaced, disaffected, and disenfranchised Mormons, our primary membership was individual Gay and Lesbian people, who had no families or had been cut off from their own immediate families. I was impressed to teach about getting into steady, committed relationships. Marriage was on nobody’s radar at the time. We met not as congregations, wards, or branches, but as small ad hoc “families”, as the basic unit of the church. We were each others’ families. Zion, when it is established, will be gathered from all God’s creations and it will function as one big family.
What better group for the Lord to instruct about the true basis for families and relations than those who were ripped from their families and told their relationships were “abominations”? Who could be more open to learning about the reordering of the world, the coming Kingdom of God, and the establishment of Zion, than those who had been cast out of the religions and societies of men? It just seemed to be the right people, in the right place, at the right time. It’s time for the “weak things of the world” to step up. The so-called wise and noble didn’t bother to show up at the party when the Lord sent out the wedding invitations, so He went out into the streets and gathered in all the homeless and outcasts — people who could understand and appreciate what he had to offer.
I felt impressed to study what was called the “Patriarchal Order”. In the Pearl of Great Price, in the Books of Moses and Abraham, we read about the ancient Patriarchs, whom Abraham refers to as “the fathers”: Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham. In the modern world, these men get a bad reputation as feminists decry “the patriarchy”. Knowing these men as I do, it’s painful to hear this, because they were benevolent leaders and mentors to their posterity. They were fathers, and in a day where there are so few decent role models for fathers and males in general, this might be hard for us to visualize anything other than an angry old man with a beard and long hair. And though we know little of their wives, except for an occasional name, these men would necessarily have strong women at their side. Mormons most familiar with Eve, and view her as just as noble a character as Adam.
These men were preachers of righteousness; they were evangelists, to use the modern term. They taught their posterity the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve, even after being cast out of the Garden of Eden, by obedience to the Gospel, and by keeping their covenants, and by teaching their posterity to keep their covenants, eventually obtained righteousness and were redeemed from the Fall. Some of their children believe their first parents and were righteous; most did not. God called Enoch to leave his righteous community and go out and preach among the more wicked part of the people. He and his people built a city that was so righteous that Christ came down to earth to join them. In the process of time, Enoch and his city were taken up to heaven. How did they do it?
If we are to have a Restoration of all things going back to the beginning of the world, if we are supposed to be building Zion which will eventually join with the Zion of Enoch, and if the last days are supposed to be like the days of Noah, then how come we still know so little about these people? What did Enoch do to succeed in establishing a Zion, when mankind has failed to do so ever since? How are we ever supposed to have Zion here on earth, and have the Heavenly Jerusalem descend and join us? When will Jesus return? What responsibility does mankind have in determining WHEN and exactly HOW he will return?
The Bible, is a collection of books which appears to modern people to be lot of isolated and sometimes unrelated bits and pieces of mythology and history. Modern scripture sheds additional light on the Bible, but behind it all, there are some very important, common elements. We have misunderstood the scriptures and have failed to see the grand thread that sweeps down throughout all history. And that grand thread is the covenants that God makes with us to join us back into his family. Everything that we learn in the Gospel is a part of this thread, and once we understand this, the Gospel takes on a new simplicity. You might call this “The Vision of ALL” because it takes in the grand view of the history of God’s dealing with man throughout all of history. And, when we can connect with our past history, as a race, when our hearts are turned to the “fathers”, when the promises made to the fathers are planted in our hearts — the children, then we can continue this journey which our fathers began, and see it through to completion.
The Gospel is not merely a prescription for individual righteousness; the “fullness of the Gospel”, is also a description of perfected human relationships. It could be called an “order”, and is often referred to as “The Patriarchal Order”.
The design of the great God in sending us into this world, and organizing us to prepare us for the eternal worlds, I shall keep in my own bosom at present. (Joseph Smith DHC, Vol. 5, p. 403)
What Joseph Smith kept close to his bosom will be gradually unfolded to us, as we follow the instructions we are given, step by step. One of the most profound clues is given out right in plain sight in the Lord’s prayer. “The kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. This is why the Kingdom of God must go forth, that the Kingdom of Heaven may come. (D&C 65:6)
If we are gods-in-training and destined to become like God, we must also learn to think like God thinks, and work like God works.
We need to organize the human family on earth such that it matches and corresponds to the way things operate in heaven. This affects everything that a society of people engage in. All their “covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations” will be affected. In other words, our human relationships. What better defines a human relationship, whether it be a marriage, a family, a group, or a society better than the set of mutual agreements or expectations we have between ourselves, as enumerated above and in D&C 132:7.
But we are going to need a lot detail to go on this. Where do we go from here?
As latter-day saints, we say we believe in revelation, but who is receiving this revelation, and shouldn’t they start preparing? But we also know that Zion will be gathered from all of God’s creations, not just Mormons. So, God will have to speak to a lot of different people. In fact, everybody who gathers to Zion will have to have their own vision. This program is as big as the world.
Do we not believe in the prophecy of Joel that young and old alike will dream dreams and see visions (Joel 2:28), or the prophecy of Habakkuk that the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord (Hab. 2:14), or the prophecy in Hebrews that says no one will need to teach their neighbor, for all shall know the Lord from the greatest to the least (Heb. 8:11)?
Moses wanted all of Israel to be prophets. Christ wanted all his disciples to enjoy eternal life by coming to know him. Joseph Smith wanted all the saints to know for themselves. But, in every case, the people rebelled or apostatized and demanded a single “strong man” to lead them and tell them what to think and believe. Joseph Smith felt that the minds of the saints had been darkened because they were depending too much on him.
How else can a people share one heart and one mind if they don’t share a single vision?
I had a vision or an idea or a conception that a lot of people in diverse places and diverse cultures would independently come to more or less the same vision, back about 10 years, and this is why I put up this blog in the first place. But this is a vision that one person cannot and must not impose upon anybody else. Each person must see and understand it for themselves. And not just to know, but to act as the Lord directs them. The day of the “strong man” is over. We each need to take responsibility for ourselves, our families, our knowledge, our salvation, for building Zion, and for preparing for the return of Christ.
I was hoping to catch the attention of like-minded people, but I am not very good at promoting my website, and attracted very little attention. But, this hasn’t stopped me from looking to see what else is out there. I was surprised to find out that a lot of other people, isolated and unbeknownst to each other have the same idea, too. I believe this is how Zion is going to be built: from the grass roots, from the bottom up.
So, it seems to be individuals coming together with the same vision, gathering in small groups, and then coming together in ever larger groups.
But what about “the One Mighty and Strong”, the “Davidic servant”, and other prominent individuals prophesied to some forth in the latter days? Joseph Smith talked about angels and some of the noble souls from the past who could come and assist in the work from time to time.
These men are in heaven, but their children are on the, earth. Their bowels yearn over us. God sends down men for this reason. And the Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that give offense and them that do iniquity. All these authoritative characters will come down and join hand in hand in bringing about this work. (Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 159)
There may still be a parade of these “authoritative characters” sent to assist in this work, but we will know them more because of what they will accomplish behind the scenes, rather than who they as personalities. Christ said he will come “as a thief in the night”. People don’t usually recognize that a “thief in the night” has been there, until he has come, done his work, and left.
These are pretty big dreams, and a far cry from the narrow-minded misogyny, prejudice, jealousy, and arrogance we see all around us today. Churches are built up to get gain, fighting one another, each claiming to be the Lord’s. We need to rise above that, learn the scriptures for ourselves, and see what they say to us, not how we have been taught. Then, we need to lift up our eyes and see the big picture. I am hoping and praying that even more people will see the picture, catch fire, pray for revelation, and do what the Lord directs them to do. I have faith in people. Maybe too much faith. But, “I’m not the only one”.
I wrote this the following post back in 2011, and recently re-posted to my blog.
The Foundation of Zion, Volume II