Friday, August 21, 2009

Pure Love of Christ

Charity is pretty much my favorite gospel topic right now. That and mercy. I love it! I want to talk about it all the time and read about it and learn more about how to have it.

Charity is so important that Joseph Smith talked about it in every Relief Society meeting he spoke at. He was urging the saints towards charity.

1 Cor. 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, • • •
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Moroni 7: 44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Col. 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

1 Tim. 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

D&C 88:125 And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.

“It is one evidence that men are unacquainted with the principles of godliness to behold the contraction of affectionate feelings and lack of charity in the world. The power and glory of godliness is spread out on a broad principle to throw out the mantle of [b]charity[/b]. God does not look on sin with allowance, but when men have sinned, there must be allowance made for them. … The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. …" Joseph Smith

I am especially struck by the verse in 1 Peter. Do you believe we could cover the multitude of sins if we have fervent charity among us? Is it possible for us to love our family, friends and neighbors so much that we want to lift them up and put their sins behind us?

We are nothing without charity. We can do great things, but without charity it does nothing for us. We cannot be saved in the kingdom of God without it. Charity never fails even when other things fail. Have you noticed the connection between charity and the Atonement?

I love the images of "cleave to charity" and "clothe yourself in charity" and the "mantle of charity." It makes me feel like it is something to fill or encompass my entire being. Cleave to charity like you cleave to your beloved spouse. It is the bond of perfectness and peace!

When we see someone perishing, how does our heart tell us to treat them? Do we desire to inflict further harm and pain or do we desire to "put them on our shoulders" and relieve their burden? Charity suffers long and is kind. How do we suffer long? How might this relate to the suffering of Christ? Is this how we "take up his cross" and follow him?

Charity is the most glorious gift we can give or receive. It is a power can change the world.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Counfounding of False Doctrines

2 Nephi 3:12 Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.

I have to wonder how and when this is going to happen. The Book of Mormon has not yet fulfilled this prophecy. False doctrine has not been confounded and contentions still exist. Peace has yet to be established.

Father in Heaven will not take away our agency and force us to believe. So, I ponder, how can this scripture come to pass.

In my mind, I can only come up with the idea that everyone trancends their current belief systems to a higher, unified one. It would have to go beyond religous institution.

I'm also left thinking it would need to be very, very simple and open. Like the gospel of love and the doctrine outlined by Jesus Christ.

3 Nephi 11:28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And
there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall
there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there
have hitherto been.
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto
me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father
commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. 35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.
37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine,
the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

What a beautiful, simple doctrine Christ outlines.

The only real obstacle I see is that so small a percentage of the world is Christian (or Judea-Christian). I wonder how on earth "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ." Now, I'm not saying it won't happen, just that it stretched the imagination beyond the breaking point.

Could it be that we just do not understand this prophecy? Could we be taking it too literally? Could it be that all religions, cultures and people have enough truth and pointers towards Christ, the Eternal God?
If they use different words, symbols and rituals to arrive at the same eternal truths-would that still fulfill the prophecy?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Woman taken in Adultery

John 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
12 ¶ Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus Christ is my hero. My soul sings at the tender mercy he offers all mankind.

John is the only gospel that contains the story of the woman taken in adultery. It is such a beautiful story, I am grateful we have it. I know this God, he is my Eternal God and Savior.

This woman was taken in the very act of adultery. There are some disturbing things about this. First, where is the man she was with? He, too, is guilty. Second, this is daytime, I smell a set-up. Those are the results of the law.

According to Jewish law (which was a curse) she was to be stoned. Jesus says that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. Being under the law, they were all sinners and could not do it.

Then, in the most beautiful act of mercy, Jesus condemns her not and tells her to go and sin no more. Perfect! The only way she could sin no more is if she is no longer under the law. I believe that her trust in Jesus Christ released her from the bondage of the law (sin) and made her free.

I find it so confusing that Jesus would deal so mercifully with this woman and have so much wrath towards Emma and the early female saints. It just doesn't make sense. It doesn't even sound like the same God. The confusion melts away when I come to the knowledge that D&C 132 is a cursing, just like the law of the Old Testament.

There is a choice to be made. We can live the law of justice, carnal commandments and cursings OR we can be claimed by mercy, walk in the light and be free in Christ.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why I don't believe in Polygamy Part Deux

I realized I left out a whole lot of really important points in my last article. And since this remains such a hot topic on LDS forums and the Bloggernacle I have decided it warrants a second look.

*D&C 58: 21 Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.

Now, it has been argued that God only expects us to keep constitutional laws. Well, there is no evidence that Joseph Smith ever fought anti-bigamy laws. In fact, all evidence points to him speaking out against polygamy. Plus, if we believe that America was set up for the Restoration wouldn't that follow that the laws were capable of sustaining God's laws?
Last time I checked the LDS church teaches to be subject to the powers that be. We don't teach the gospel in countries where it is illegal, for example.

*3 Nephi 11 contains the doctrine of Christ's church. It breaks down to faith, repentance, baptism and become as a little child. 3 Nephi 11:40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

Notice that polygamy is absent from the list.

*Polygamy is absent from what would appear to be the most important times to repopulate the earth. Adam and Noah were monogomists. So were Lehi and all his sons. (thanks Fabledsog for bringing up this point)

*Article of Faith 12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

This was part of canon and well known to the saints. Do we believe it or not? Is it a lie?

*Article of Faith 13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Again, do we really believe in being honest and true? Do we believe in doing good to ALL men or will we steal the wives of some?

I will warn you that I am about to pick apart D&C 132. I will point out conflict with previous scripture and the nature of our Loving God.

D&C 132:41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.
42 If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.
43 And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.

If you read this passage closely you will notice that the woman will be destroyed for adultery but not the man! Seriously?!?! God appears to hate women in these passages, but I testify that he loves women.
Now, you should also notice that it says if a woman is not sealed to her husband and is with another man it is adultery! Joseph took several married women as wives in direct conflict to this passage.
It is also very likely that Joseph and Emma took vows of monogomy when they were married. If true, he was in violation of verse 43.

D&C 132:51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.

What did Joseph offer her? Well, some historians claim that she was offered another husband by Joseph.

D&C 132:52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.
Wow, so again, God will destroy the women. I guess someone forgot about the Atonement.

D&C 132:54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

Yet more talk of destroying Emma. I'm kinda surprised she outlived Joseph. She did fight against polygamy.
It also uses a familiar script. Cleave unto your husband and no other. We see that repeated in the scriptures that men should have one wife and cleave to her and none else. Are we to believe that sometimes God means it and other times he doesn't? Are we being Punk'd?
D&C 42:22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

D&C 132:55 But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds.

This passage clearly promises these things in this world-not limited to the next. As yet, all DNA testing has come up with no children of Joseph outside of his marriage with Emma. This never came to pass.

D&C 132:61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. 62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

Here we see that a man can marry 10 virgins with the first wifes approval. They must be virgins who are vowed to no other man. Right here we see there is a problem with the already married women that Joseph took as "celestial wives." It is agaist this passage.

D&C 132:63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

But wait, there's more! Those women who were already married are gonna get wiped out! Yup, they are so gonna get destroyed! Not the men, mind you, they can commit adultery all the day long and not get God's wrath. Lucky them.
We also see that the command was given so they could multipy (have babies). We still have no proof of children with Joseph and any of his "celestial wives."

D&C 132: 64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.
65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.

Now, if your husband teaches you about plural marriage-the new New and Everlasting Covenant-you had better believe and give him wives or guess what? You're destroyed.

The Law of Sarah is referring to the idea that the first wife must give consent for subsequent wives. This law is really nothing more than a curse. It is only there to damn women. See, you don't really have a choice. Submit or be damned is the message.

We also have a conflict with previous scripture here. It says here that God commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife, but that is not what it says in the Bible.

Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an
handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
4 ¶ And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

From the way the story is told here it appears that is was Sarai's lack of faith in the Lord's promise which caused her to offer Hagar to Abram. Hmmm. It says Abram was listening to his wife, not the Lord.

We also can look at the family of Abraham as pretty disfunctional. Let's be clear, sending your wife and child into the wilderness is not to be emulated. This also was done at the behest of Sarai.

We read in the New Testament more about Abraham and what was so great about him. There is no mention of polygamy. His faith is what is remembered. I highly recommend reading all of Galatians 3. It talks about faith versus the works of the law.

Galations 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of
the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

There is so much meat here! It is by faith that we are justified. The law is a curse. Abraham's faith and belief was his righteousness. It also becomes clear to me that Abraham and Sarah missed the mark when they took the promise of seed literally. All who are baptised become the seed of Abraham!
Let's revisit D&C 132 and see if we can find more clues that it is a curse.

D&C 132:58 Now, as touching the law of the priesthood, there are many things pertaining thereunto.
59 Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me, and I have endowed him with the keys of the power of this priesthood, if he do anything in my name, and according to my law and by my word, he will not commit sin, and I will justify him.

I just noticed this today. I don't think it is a coincidence that the name "Aaron" is used in this passage! Aaron did not have the keys to administer the higher priesthood. It is my understanding that those were taken with Moses from the children of Isreal. The priesthood of Aaron can only administer the preparatory gospel. Joseph expounded on what this priesthood has the power to do.
We also just read in Galatians that the law cannot justify. This passage seems to condradict that by saying Joseph is justified by the law.

The priesthood of Levi consisted of cursings and blessing carnal commandments and not of blessings and if the preisthood of this generation has no more power than that of Levi or Aron or of a bishhoprick it administers no blessings but cursings for it was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. [Joseph Smith]

You can read all the notes of the full sermon here. He outlines the 3 priesthoods and what they are capable of. According to Joseph the carnal commandments are a curse and that is all the priesthood of Aaron can administer.

The New and Everlasting Covenant is baptism. Always has been, always will be. The ordinance has been changed just as prophesied in the scriptures.

D&C 22:1 Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.

Baptism, the ritual of being spiritually reborn, is what is being spoken of here. And in D&C 22 it talks of the outward ordinance being pointless if the inward change does not take place. When we are baptised we die to sin (the law) and are born to Christ. We become a new creature.

In conclusion of part deux, people can participate in polygamy and still be saved by the grace of God. But there is no scriptural support that polygamy (celestial marriage, spiritual wifery, etc) is required for salvation OR exaltation. That is false doctrine.