In response to somebody who finds faith confusing and contradictory

I thank the church for teaching my about Christ and His Gospel. I thank the church for teaching me the principle of personal revelation. Thanks, church, but I am no longer a child. I can take it from here.
 
I know that anybody who takes this issue directly to God will discover that there is NO conflict. Fallible men who seek authority over others try to interpose themselves between you and God. They teach arbitrary doctrines that have nothing to do with the Gospel, and drive you further from God instead of bringing you closer. There goal is not to enlighten you or empower you. Their goal is to CONTROL you.
 
Well did Christ describe their counterparts in his day. They will not enter the Kingdom of God, but instead block the way so that nobody can enter. Fortunately, they only guard the front entrance, through which only the proud and haughty can enter. The back entrance is the servants’ entrance. It is only available to those who truly humble themselves and seek to be servants and co-workers of God.
 
I find FAITH to be totally rational and not contradictory in the least, but is a straightforward, cohesive path forward from belief to KNOWLEDGE.
 
“Faith” when used to designate a belief in a church is not the true definition of faith as used in the Bible. Faith is something you exercise, not a set of teachings that you just believe. Everywhere in the NT where it says “believe”, a passive verb, the actual Greek word has no English equivalent, but it means to exercise faith. That is the closest equivalent.

Looking past ordaining women — The true meaning of the Sacrament

Sacrament

Look at this picture. How many people in this picture really see Christ? You see people concerned with the formalities of the ordinances, people lost in their own thoughts. And, now add to that, people who are concerned about the gender of the person passing the Sacrament or staring at his crotch.

Or, they now are concerned that the young man has privately confessed that he has attraction for men, and they won’t accept the Sacrament from him. Or, if he’s a handicapped kid who just got out of surgery and wants to pass the Sacrament, but people laugh at him as he hobbles down the aisle with his crutches and cast on his legs.

I’m for giving young girls the opportunity to pass the Sacrament, not for political reasons, but for no reasons at all. There are no reasons why she shouldn’t be allowed to pass.

While I realize that you have to start someplace, let’s at least start with a much larger goal in mind than just ordaining women and welcoming gays, but otherwise preserve the same old status quo.

I’m praying that either the members of this church will either start to demand more and better from their leaders, or enough people will realize that they are being denied the opportunity to hear and live the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, or will ask God to show them how they can authoritatively organize anew and form a body of Saints dedicated to serving God and building Zion, not serving either some liberal or conservative political goals.

The people clamor to have a church, just like all the other churches. Guess what, that’s what they have. The apostasy is alive and flourishing. The lady in Revelations gave birth to the kingdom, but the dragon came along, swallowed it up, and took over.

The song says “Teach me all that I must do…” Well, there really isn’t a whole lot of “doing” is there? There’s a lot of believing, and a lot of demanding, but very little doing.

Ordaining Women

I, together with others, ordained the first woman to the Melchizedek Priesthood in this dispensation with the possible exception that Joseph Smith ordained Emma and other women of the Relief Society in Nauvoo. So, I know a little bit of which I am speaking.

Prople on the Internet are asking God for guidance. Sometimes, when those who should be listening close their ears and refuse to listen, God resorts to speaking through a jackass, or a little child, or through a “renegade” rabbi who is not part of the Jewish hierarchy. If God can speak through Balaam’s ass, through Samuel, or through Jesus the son of a poor carpenter, or Amos who was not a prophet, nor a prophet’s son, or through Nephi, whose father Lehi was the authority, he can probably speak through a FB friend.

The lack of ordaining women is not the problem. No, the problem is much larger, and it starts with the lack of understanding of what the Priesthood really is. We all hold the Priesthood – men and women – LDS and non-LDS. The Priesthood is simply the power to act in the name of God. We are all Gods in embryo. We are as God was and are in the process of fully becoming what God is. There is no attribute that God can give us that we don’t already have. (If you don’t believe this, just look at a new-born baby. You helped create the body, but the mind and spirit were already there. Neither you nor God created it. Now, God is entrusting you to develop it.)

What we don’t have is the knowledge and experience to use what we are already have. This is the purpose of mortality. The purpose of the church is to teach us how to properly develop what we have. The reason there are so many churches and religions is because we are all a different places in our development. We have different cultures and understandings. Each of us perceives God according to our own understanding and culture. But, God is greater than all of this because he is too big to fit in any one church or any one culture.

To ordain somebody to the Priesthood is simply to acknowledge that they posses the power and authority of God. And, to allow them to act, using that authority, in some capacity in the church. That is all.

When seen from this angle, there is no reason why some women can’t be ordained, and, this is the point everybody misses, why all men MUST be ordained. To exercise the priesthood in the church, a person must be called of God. He or she must not demand it, but they can feel a sense of calling and seek it out. Nobody takes this honor (not really the word I would use) unto themselves. Some men just do not feel this calling, while some women may feel such a calling.

The prophet of the RLDS church a number of years ago received a revelation wherein the Lord effectively said don’t be surprised if you see a number of women being called to positions within the church that required that they be ordained to the Priesthood. As I said, Joseph was instructed to ordain Emma in D&C 25. Early writings of church history indicate that Joseph ordained women in the Relief Society.

In the RLDS church (now Community of Christ), husbands and wives who both hold the priesthood, can exercise it together, by going to the hospital and jointly anointing the sick. I could see a father and mother, thus, blessing their children in the home.

Once, in the LDS church, I had to do my home teaching, but couldn’t find a male to go with me. I was recently married, and I asked my new bride to go with me. It was a wonderful, spiritual experience for all. She enjoyed it and appreciated the opportunity, and God didn’t fall off his throne in the process.

Church authorities need to revisit this whole issue of the meaning of Priesthood and its role in the church. They need to start using inspiration to call both men and women to these callings. They should not be automatic at a certain age. They should also prepare people to accept and understand these callings. We didn’t prepare our women properly and the results of their ordinations were not as smooth as they should have been.

Church authorities also need to look at the roles of the partners in marriage. If same-sex marriage has anything to teach society and the church is that there is greater strength and power in a marriage when the partners are equal. The church already recognizes this in their change the the Endowment in the 90’s. We need to be less focused on gender, and more focused on role.

I won’t tell you this is the word of God and threaten you with excommunication or damnation if you don’t believe it. That is your choice and your choice, alone.

But, if it touches your emotions, believe it.

If if makes logical sense to you, teach it.

If it touches you in the innermost being, testify of it.

When are people going to learn? You can’t pour new wine in old bottles. When are you going to recognize that this church has apostatized. The Restoration did not begin with Joseph Smith, and it will not end with Joseph Smith. If true Apostles and Prophets with the revelation and direction from God for us today are not coming forth from the LDS church, then, they must then come from somewhere else.

If all you are looking for is political change, and a voice for your activism, and if you want to continue to play Mouse to the church’s Cat, then by all means, continue to do so, but please stop mourning and thinking your lot is hard.

If, on the other way, you are truly interested in furthering the cause of Christ and the Restoration and bringing about a true Zion, where everyone is welcome and everyone wants to live peaceably with their neighbors, then pray with all the energy of your soul that God will send you true Apostles and Prophets, who understand their callings and fulfill those callings. But, don’t expect these true leaders to do your thinking for you. Zion will only come about because of the shared vision of all, not imposed by the few.

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?

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.