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.

New major writing available

The Foundation of Zion Volume 2

I haven’t been active with this blog because I have been busy for months getting this ready for publication. This is the result. This document gathers together in one place all that I am about. If you don’t read anything else on this website, you should download and read this.

Gathering Chicks

There a lot of parables about gathering that Christ could have used when he stated: “Israel, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings but you would not.” (Matt.  23:37)

He could have spoken of gathering a flock of sheep, or gathering an army as Caesar would have done, or gathering stones as Solomon stated, or gathering the wheat from the tares, as he also spoke of.

But why chickens?

My house mate is an old farm boy and he explained to me that this parable was given in terms people familiar with raising chickens would have understood. When does a hen gather her chickens? When danger is near. Why does she gather them? For safety and protection to ensure their survival, such as when a hawk is circling overhead, or a fox is at the hen house door.

Do the chickens stay gathered under their mother’s wing? No. It is important for the chicks to go about their business of finding food and doing other things that chickens do. If they constantly stayed under their mother’s wing, they would not be free to develop in other ways in which they need to develop. Once the chicks are fully developed many of them will grow up to be hens just like their mother, with chicks of their own to protect. Others will grow up to be roosters, who just go around crowing a lot. But that’s another story.

In what other ways would Christ be like a mother hen to her chicks if only Israel (us) would allow him? The mother hen not only protects her brood, but she loves them and teaches them. The chicks stay near mother, but they are not constantly under her wing.

Christ says “How often would I have gathered your children”. There were many opportunities to gather, not just one. Christ wanted to be their teacher, their protector, and to nurture them as a mother would, but they would not.

Christ is not about to force us to gather unto him. It must be an act of our own free will. It must happen with our full knowledge and agreement and without force or fear. Some political and religious philosophies believe that the end justifies the means. With true followers of Christ, the means is just as important as the end. He said: “I am the WAY.” and “No one comes unto the Father except BY me.”

If we are indeed gathered in the Name of the Lord, He will truly be in our midst. Even now. Even today. Not to discount the evils taking place in the world today, but this is an unconditional promise, and even before the actual appearance of the Christ, we will witness the arising of the Christ Consciousness, and the overshadowing of many disciples.

Collectively, the disciples pray that the door where evil dwells may be sealed. Perhaps they do not realize that they have a hand in accomplishing this. As this Great Invocation states: “From the kingdom known as the race of men, let the Plan of Love and Light work out. And may it seal the door where evil dwells.” That’s us. That’s our part of the plan to work out. And it starts out with letting the Plan work out in our own lives, and sealing our own door where evil dwells.

Moses attempted to gather Israel unto Christ, and he received the following promise:

“For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” Deut 23:14

However, after the people built the golden calf, Moses was instructed to move the tabernacle OUTSIDE of the camp, so that any time Moses needed to commune with God he was forced to leave the congregation of Israel, and go outside of the camp, and attend to his duties in the tabernacle. Every day the children of Israel watched Moses leave them because the Spirit of God could not abide in the midst of their wickedness.

Christ was still available to all, but he was outside the gathering because of the unrighteousness within.

Simply being a member of a group which professes to honor the name of Christ but does not honer the name of Christ in deed will not be privileged, as a group, to enjoy the benefit of being gathered into his Presence which they might otherwise have enjoyed, and those seeking Him will still find him, according to his promise, even if they must seek Him without the camp.

“For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”

Hebrews 13:11-13

Every church that God has ever suffered to exist has had one true purpose in mind, in the mind of God at least, and that was to provide a place for the gathering of the true followers of Christ. Whenever we consider gathering or joining in to Church, we should ask ourselves whether the Christ is there. And as we are reminded in Hebrews, Christ will not always be in the biggest or most popular organization, or what is considered the “camp”. Look for Christ where he is; do not look for him where he is not. Don’t be afraid to look for Him “without the camp”.

Question for contemplation: Why does a chicken coop only have two doors? If it had four, it would be a chicken sedan.

Have you had your “Peter Moment”?

I was on a mission to Sweden in 1966-68. We had an investigator that we had met in a public sauna in Stockholm. In Scandinavia everybody goes to the baths. May people do not have showers or bath tubs in their older apartments. We once stayed in an apartment with only one cold water tap, no fridge, and an outhouse for a toilet. So, when you are sitting in the sauna with a bunch of men, you talk. If you are a missionary, you talk about religion. This man was very interested, and we taught him and eventually baptized him. However, the mission president was concerned that he might be Gay because we met him in the sauna.

The mission president made a preposterous statement, which I am sure most modern Mormons (even 2011) would have no problem with, but which runs completely against the teachings of the New Testament. He said to us: “You have to make sure the man isn’t gay, because if he is gay, we can’t teach him. Gays are attracted to us and they feel the Spirit, but they can’t be baptized.” In the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter saw that the Holy Ghost fell upon the Gentiles, and he realized that was a sign from God that the Gospel was not meant for the Jews only, but also for the Gentiles. These authorities today, claim to hold the same authority as Peter, but apparently do not share the same inspiration that Peter had.

You can read the entire story in Acts, Chapter 10, but the main principle that Peter realized is summed up in these words:

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” Acts 10:34.

This was a perception that came to Peter through the Spirit. The perception came to him in a flash when he could not deny what he say before his very eyes. Please note that there was much preparation leading up to this moment. You can read all about that in this chapter of Acts.

These general authorities need to have their “Peter moment”. But, I am afraid it will never happen because they are so invested in their current ways of thinking that the only way to “reform” Mormonism is to do it from without. But this Gay issue or women issue, is only symptoms of a far greater problem. I, for one, would not return to the church, even if they accepted Gays with open arms. There are many other issues that are far greater on which they have made some wrong turns. The documents that I have been reading in connection with Reform Mormonism document some of these changes, and these aren’t just theological niceties. These are basic fundamental issues.

I have had my “Peter moment”, and I know several others who have also had their “Peter moments”. I know a man who was a gay, former LDS bishop. Once a member of the RLDS church was sick, and he and an elder from the RLDS church together laid their hands on the person, blessed him, and the person got better. He took this as a sign that God recognizes Priesthood, whether it was in the LDS or RLDS church. I was a co-founder of a group that eventually was considered on offshoot Gay Mormon church. I’ll post more about this later, but in that church, which many people would consider to have no authority, or no valid reason to exist, I saw and felt spiritual manifestations in my own life and in the lives of members that far surpassed what I had even experienced in the LDS church. The Lord show us, in a very powerful way, that we were doing the right thing.

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.