Legalized Immorality

Recently, Boyd K Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, in a Conference talk April 2013, warned of the “tolerance trap”. Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, we must not carry it to extremes. I believe this is a fair and correct paraphrase of his remarks. Then he went on to imply that in the context of the pending U.S. Supreme Court’s pending ruling on marriage equality, too much tolerance leads to “serious spiritual consequences” and amounts to “legalizing immorality”

Let’s take a deeper look at whether marriage between two partners of the same gender or sex equals “legalized immorality”. And let’s use the words and doctrines of the LDS Church to do this.

Spoiler alert:

I am going to quote something to you from the LDS Temple Endowment. If this offends you, stop reading now.

However, these are words from a covenant which many of us have taken and are expected to covenant to live by. This is not any big secret, nor should it be. If you have not received your endowments, you have a right to know the nature of the covenants and obligations you will take upon yourself.
The church publicly teaches the Law of Chastity, and most of us understand what this entails. We are also told by church authorities that legalizing same-sex marriage is tantamount to “legalizing immorality”, because it violates the Law of Chastity. However, the true Law of Chastity is taught and explained in the temple endowment, and the specific wording of that Law is what we covenant to obey “before God, angels, and witnesses”.

So, is legalizing same-sex marriage, and thus making it possible for a man or a woman to be faithful to their “legally and lawfully wedded husband (wife)”, in reality legalizing immorality or, in fact, providing a way for people to obey this Law? Let’s examine the wording of the Endowment Ceremony:

Pre 1990
We are instructed to give unto you the law of chastity. This I will explain. To the sisters, it is that no one of you will have sexual intercourse except with your husband to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded. To the brethren it is that no one of you will have sexual intercourse except with your wife to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded.

Post 1990
Footnote: The 1990 revision does not have women and men covenant separately to keep the law of chastity. Instead, women and men simultaneously covenant to have no sexual relations except with their “husband or wife” to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded. This revision was no doubt made to streamline the ceremony. However, the new wording has the presumably unintended consequence of bringing same-sex marriages–if legalized–within the pale of the law of chastity.

Source: http://www.ldsendowment.org/terrestrial.html

Therefore, a person could be legally and lawfully married to a person of the opposite gender, under the laws of New York, Washington, California, or any other jurisdiction that recognizes marriage equality, and live a monogamous and chaste lifestyle with his or her companion, and according to church doctrine, NOT be living in legalized immortality, Boyd K Packer’s absurd rantings notwithstanding.

And what about those who are in such marriages, but were previously prevented from doing so, and were forced out of necessity to live an immoral lifestyle?

For them, there is the principle of repentance. A person can recognize that he has sinned, make restitution, and promise to himself and God, not to repeat the offense. Or, in other words, stop being promiscuous, find a worthy companion, settle down, getting married and be monogamous.

There is also the principle that God has applied to His people in the past, where He commanded His people to do a thing, but were prevented by the legal authorities from doing so. Moses wanted to take the children of Israel out into the wilderness to offer sacrifice and serve God, but the pharaoh of Egypt would not prevent it. A little closer to the modern day was when the Mormons believed that God commanded them to practice polygamy, which they believed was a requirement for entering the highest degree of heaven, but were prevented from doing so by the U.S. government. Now, whether you believe in the story of Moses or that polygamy was divinely inspired, members of the LDS church, and most importantly, its leaders do.

These leaders should be versed enough in the Bible and in their own history and fair-minded enough to recognize the same principle here. But in this particular case, we have uninspired church leaders siding with the extremists in our government to prevent people from fulfilling his commandments.

D&C 121:16 Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.

The Book of Mormon repeatedly references a people having “ripened in iniquity”, but what are the signs that a nation, a people, or a church has “ripened in iniquity”.

We hear these terms a lot in the Book of Mormon, but how do we know what a people or a church is “ripe for destruction”?

What has to happen before the Lord allows destructive forces to come in and effect a long-overdue cleaning?

Samuel the Lamanite has the answer in Helaman 13:14:

“But behold, it is for the righteous’ sake that it is spared.  But behold, the time cometh, saith the Lord, that when ye shall cast out the righteous from among you, then shall ye be ripe for destruction; yea, wo be unto this great city, because of the wickedness and abominations which are in her.”

This defines the point at which a city, a nation, or a church is ripe for destruction — when they cast out the righteous from among them. Could we say that the LDS Church has reached this point where they cast out the righteous from among them – good and faithful members whose only sin is thinking for themselves and questioning the established authorities?

Freedom, Free Agency, Freewill

I recently read a comment on Facebook to the effect that Free Agency was so important that a war was fought over it. This is in reference to the passage in Rev. 12:17. “And there was war in heaven …” LDS teachings tell us that in that war Lucifer sought to rob man of his agency.

Thanks to Strong’s concordance. “war” could also mean dispute, fight, or quarrel. But whatever you call it, the fight for freewill always figures someplace in the mix, though it may be disguised by other issues. And, nobody said the war in heaven was ever settled. It just moved to a new field of battle: here and now.

Most LDS incorrectly assume that agency was a gift given to us by God. This is not true. Man was in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created, neither, indeed, can be. Man was in the beginning with God. If there was any attribute that God possessed, man also possessed it. God, through the application of free agency, and the aquisition of knowledge developed into the position where he is today. If man is to achieve the same exalted status, it must be on the same principles. If not so, then God is not God, and we can never become gods, ourselves.

But, agency is not a “gift”. It is an inherent part of what we are. I suppose one could consider that it is a “gift” to recognize that freedom in others and allow them to enjoy it. But, to presume free agency is a “gift”, i.e. something that was given, it also to presume that it can be taken away. We can thoughtlessly allow others to take it away, but it can never be taken from us.

Don’t ever fall into the trap of being led to believe that your inherent freewill is a gift that can be given or taken away at somebody else’s pleasure. There is a war going on, and to surrender your free agency is to surrender in the war.

Callings and Service

We all can serve God anywhere, anytime, in season, out of season, inside the walled garden of an institution, outside in the field of labor known as the world.

You say you don’t have any talents? We have all been given talents and gifts of the Spirit. Don’t hide them. Use them, and watch God multiply them.

You say you don’t have authority? As you serve and seek to understand your calling, the Holy Ghost will fill your mind and mouth with words, and you, too, will speak and teach as one having authority, and not as the scribes. You will teach out of a knowledge OF God, not just a knowledge ABOUT God.

You say you don’t have a calling, no mission? Pick the highest and most noble thing that you can do, then call yourself, and do it. The fields are whiter and more ready to harvest than they were 2,000 years ago. Don’t just pray that God will send more laborers. Send yourself. If you have desires to serve God, you are called to the work.

A New Spirituality

I would like to see something emerge that is beyond religion, beyond belief, beyond authority. Some people call this “spiritualism”, but from what I have experienced of what passes for New Age “thought”, they have simply substituted new beliefs, new guru’s, new god’s, new devil’s, new messiah’s, new apocalypses.

I want to see something emerge which marries thought, reason, and science, with intuition and spirituality. Something which brings the individual into direct contact with both the spiritual and the physical universe, and which reveals the oneness and unity of all things. I would like to see belief supplanted by knowledge.

I also want to see such knowledge permeate and affect human society, where we truly see God in each other, and that, not just through the eyes of belief, but the eyes of actuality. And, where we will strengthen our bonds with our families, with humanity, and with the Gods on high, through sacred covenants, which Joseph Smith hinted at, but never fully realized.

The Manipulator and the Manpulated — There is a Better Way

A commentator in an internet chatroom said: “I have a hard time believing that anyone would want to be manipulated, but you may be right.”

I have a hard time believing that as well, but I have come to accept it as a real fact that people are attracted to the religious world, either because they want to be manipulated and expect to be manipulated, or they want to be on the giving end of the manipulation.

Commentator: “*** is a wretched creature that wants nothing to do with his family or people who profess love for him if they don’t bow down to him, in fact he disowns them and reverts back to his own internal cravings to place himself above all others who have ever lived on this planet, and any other planet. His feigned piousness is as transparent as glass.”

Such manipulators, often disguising themselves as “divine messengers”, can only relate to other people in one way. They must see themselves as superior to every other person. They must never be the effect of anybody else, but everybody else must be the effect of them. In the long run, this situation is unsustainable, because in order to continue to exist, energy must transmit power, and in order to transmit power, energy must circulate freely, and must be renewed.

You can call it “religion”. You can call it “philosophy”. You can call it “metaphysics”. They are all the same. Just find a label to attract the most and offend the least. This works because few see past the labels to the reality under the label.

If a third party comes in from the outside and tries to change the equation to one of mutual respect and cooperation to further advance the “good cause” that the manipulator claims to support, he is looked upon with suspicion by both the manipulator and the flock. The manipulator sees him, first as a potential acolyte, but when the third party turns out not to be as pliable and submissive as one of the typical followers,the manipulator first ignores, and then marginalizes him. The manipulated flock see him only as a rebel or a supplanter. Why is this? Because in their state of non-thinking compliance, they see everybody as is either a master or a follower, and since the person is not a submissive follower, he must be one who seeks to replace their master.

The flock does not see that the one who comes in from the outside is forcing a new choice upon them — a choice which they do not see because, as the Oracle in “The Matrix” said, they cannot see past the choices which they do not understand.

But, that there is a counterfeit is also evidence that there is truth. There are “good causes”, which are true. There are those who bring a “true message”, and the truest message than could ever be given, is that each of us have the power and capacity to see and make our own choices, and we each have have the capacity to perceive truth and teach one another. If one person has a greater capacity to receive, perceive, and understand truth, it is because he has followed the principles that lead to such. But, together with that greater capacity for truth should come the understanding that every person has a soul which is capable of enlargement, and that true understanding is not a playground for the elite few, but a laboratory for everyone.

What we learn from Star Wars

Satan only has as much power over you as you give him. A lot of the theology in Star Wars is nothing more than feel-good pop psychology, but the part where Luke is battling his father and the emperor is spot-on.

A primary trap is to succumb to invitations to hate.

And if Luke was motivated by his hatred of the emperor, he would have gone over to the dark side. But his motivation was to help his father turn to the light side because he still sensed good in him.

Your average church spends all its time fighting evil rather than establishing good, and look where they are. Remember that Darth Vader also started out on a crusade to fight evil.