Follow the prophet…he knows the way

president-thomas-s-monson-lds-560823-galleryThis post is written in response to Sister Bryndis Roberts’ guest post found on the blog Flunking Sainthood.

When I served as a missionary more than three decades ago I had a personal revelatory experience that forever shaped my outlook on prophets, seers, revelators, and apostles. A year into my mission my companion and I approached a lady walking down the street. We stopped her, and I asked whether or not she would be interested in hearing about God and His prophets. She politely said no, we excused ourselves, and went on our way. Almost immediately it hit me; I was asking the people of Japan to believe something I was not sure I believed myself, and I knew then and there that either I must gain a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and his work of the restoration, or I had to go home. You can read the full story here.

A few years ago I struggled again, only this time with the Church’s stance on illegal immigration. Admittedly, I didn’t know everything the Church had published, but I knew some things. I also knew that I believe in being subject to the laws of the land (Article of Faith 12), and that individuals coming into our country outside the legal and proscribe manner were violating our sovereign laws and should be dealt with. My stake president and I were driving to have lunch one day and I expressed this concern to him, to which he gave a very short, but very succinct response- “Kelly, you need to get yourself right with the prophet.” I went home and had a discussion with my wife, who held the same position I did, and then I did a little more research on the position of the Church, made it a matter of thoughtful prayer, and came to the conclusion that I was simply not smart enough to solve the problem of immigration, or that I could do anything about it individually.

But I followed the advice of my wise stake president and determined that based on my belief in and testimony of prophets, seers, revelators, and apostles, I would follow the prophet I turned my faith to God, and to the wisdom and foresight of the prophets, and although I still do not accept the illegal entry into our country, I see wisdom in finding a path that keeps families together, and that teaches our members to be obedient to the laws of the land. In Doctrine and Covenants, we read

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he [the prophet] shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you. (D&C 21:4-6)

During the October 2014 General Conference of the Church, Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy gave a talk entitled Which Way do You Face? The first and most poignant doctrine Elder Robbins teaches is that “trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments.” He goes on to say

We seek respectful coexistence with those who point fingers, but when this fear of men tempts us to condone sin, it becomes a “snare” according to the book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 29:25). The snare may be cleverly baited to appeal to our compassionate side to tolerate or even approve of something that has been condemned by God.

Elder Robbins continues- “Some members don’t realize they are falling into the same snare when they lobby for acceptance of local or ethnic ‘tradition[s] of their fathers’ (D&C 93:39) that are not in harmony with the gospel culture.”

It is my personal position that the answers to Sister Roberts’ questions lie not in navigating the intersection of politics, social justice, and religion. They don’t rest in finding “a balance of courage, conviction, compassion, and compromise.” And while we are free to choose how we will believe about any subject or position, we must choose wisely. No, the answers to Sister Roberts’ questions lie in the advice given In the August 1979 Ensign, where former member of the First Presidency N. Eldon Tanner quoted Sister Elaine Cannon, former General Young Women President as saying “When the Prophet speaks, …the debate is over.” He continues by saying that

Today there are many issues under debate as controversies rage all around us. It should be evident to all that we need divine direction, as men and women who argue their causes seem to be unable to come to workable or peaceable solutions. It is sad indeed that the world does not know or accept the fact that in our midst is a prophet through whom God can direct the solution of world problems.

In the June 1981 Ensign, Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, gives 14 fundamental principles for following the prophet. Fundamental number five reads: “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or diplomas to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.” The seventh fundamental reads: “The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.” He then quotes President Harold B. Lee: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may conflict with your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life … Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow … Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church.” (Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152–153.) The ninth fundamental reads: “The prophet can receive revelation on any matter- temporal or spiritual” and the tenth reads “The prophet may well advise on civic matters.”

Our personal feelings, political beliefs, and the traditions of our fathers may conflict with the words of the prophets. However, isn’t putting off the natural man, as hard as it may be, the end goal? Trust me, I understand it is hard, I struggle constantly against the things of the world. But I testify that there is peace in accepting the word of God through His chosen prophets. It takes faith that God speaks to His children today, and that His chosen oracle for our time is Thomas Monson. It may be the case that we do not understand all things, and that we will continue to wonder about things we have long held positions on that are seemingly contradictory to the position of the Prophet. But I reiterate that peace will come to those who “follow the prophet,” for “he knows the way” (Childrens’ Hymn 110).  It will be difficult, but when we turn to God and say “I will follow Your prophet, and will align myself with Your teachings as given through Your prophet,” peace will attend.

Government in the Religious Square

US Capital BuildingI recently struck up a conversation with a Facebook friend over the following headline “HHS Pushes Church Talking Points, Bulletins to Promote Obamacare.”  The conversation went back and forth, but in the relatively small space Facebook presents, I felt that I could not do justice to what I believe, and so I am posting it here as an opinion piece.

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights reads, in part: “THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added:”

 Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment guarantees to all citizens the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to peaceably assemble.  It is no small matter that these three freedoms are enumerated together, and enumerated first.  Equally important is the fact that no one is guaranteed freedom from offense by the religious speech of others peaceably assembled.

Congress does not establish any religion when two teenage girls discuss John 3:16 in the school lunch room.  Congress does not establish religion when I have a religious conversation with friends in the halls of the courthouse.  One may take offense at such religious speech, as I would take offense at two ruffians swearing in the same courthouse while they discuss their weekend exploits.  But nothing in the Bill of Rights states that you or I have any right to not be offended.  Thomas Jefferson is noted as saying “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” And thus we should all consider the speech of others, whether in Church, at school, or on the playground.  Speech alone can neither “pick [your] pocket, nor break [your] leg.”

Now, we may agree on the idea that a state employed teacher, who by default represents the state in the classroom, should not stand before the class each morning and require a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or other religious prayer be recited.  But she cannot prevent a student from bowing her head and offering a silent prayer before a test.  The former leans to the establishment of religion, the latter the free exercise thereof.

In our Facebook discussion, my friend’s first comment read: “Oh no! Somebody might get health insurance! Does this constitute ‘establishment of a religion’?”  No.  No more so than a small group of high school kids getting together to pray before they go out on the football field.  But that is not the point of my posting this article.  “HHS Pushes Church Talking Points, Bulletins to Promote Obamacare” is about the federal government inserting itself into religious services to push a government mandated healthcare program.  Let me invert the headline and turn the story just a bit: “(Insert church name here) Pushes Courtroom Talking Points, Bulletins to Promote Health-based Word of Wisdom.

In an effort to sign up as many citizens as possible for a healthier lifestyle under the Word of Wisdom, the (insert church name here) has gone to extraordinary lengths to partner with courts and other government-based groups, even publishing sample courtroom and government workplace bulletin inserts, flyers, and scripts for announcements, as well as “talking points.” These materials are part of the “Second Monday & Legal Weekend of Action Toolkit,” which is available on the website of (insert church here).

Any judge attempting such a feat would be severely reprimanded, if not by his superiors, certainly by main-stream media and progressive talking heads.  So why is the opposite not true?  No, government is not establishing any religion by asking churches to promote government mandated programs.  But when it seeks to establish and control the conversation that is being had in the church, everyone should be very concerned.  Is there any difference between the government saying “you will be Christian” and the government to saying “you can be whatever religion you want, but we ask that you push our agenda?”

In the end, the argument is not about having or even pushing healthcare.  The argument is about government inserting itself into religion, pushing churches to promote its agenda on the one hand, and demanding that churches refrain from political speech on the other hand.   On October 14, 2104, Todd Starnes reported that “The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.”  Fortunately, better senses prevailed and the subpoenas were rescinded, but this is another example of government injecting itself into the religious square, but demanding that religions refrain from entering the public square.

You may be asking yourself what this has to do with Mormonknowledgy, or my beliefs as a member of the LDS Church.  Let me quote from the 134 Section of Doctrine and Covenants:

“We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life. We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” (Doctrine and Covenants 134: 2,4)

The Church, the LGBT Community, and the Equality of Choice

The media has spoken both good and otherwise of the declarations made by representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this past week.  For the Church, it was a declaration of religious freedom.  For those in the LGBT community, it was a statement that the Church wishes there to be fairness and equality in housing and employment.  For the press, it was either the Church promoting this fairness and equality, or it was the Church promoting the right to discriminate and maintain a bigoted stance against those in the LGBT community (a stance that, I believe, is largely imagined).  I think the press has it wrong, and it is my belief that the Church, without so much as saying so, tried to reiterate its position on the doctrine of agency, without directly saying so.

In the Book of Revelation John tells us that “there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven” (Revelation 12:7-8).  Isaiah brings a little more clarity to the picture, describing Lucifer’s, or the dragon’s, vain ambitions: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).  And the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi sheds a little more light on this Lucifer, or “a devil,” when he recorded has father’s pronouncement: “And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God” (2Nephi 2:17).

So what was that which caused such a war to be fought in heaven?  Simply put, it is agency, or the ability for man and woman to choose for themselves, “for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves (D&C 58:28).  The Plan of Happiness is that all God’s children would be given the opportunity, when faced with choices to follow God’s plan, or not, to choose for themselves which course they would take.  The freedom to choose is the greatest God given and unalienable right we have. In making the statement that the LDS Church supports equality in housing and employment for the LGBT community, it is simply stating, in my opinion, that members of the LGBT community have a right to exercise their God-given agency to be a part of that community and we, as God’s children, who are commanded to love one another, need to defend that agency and the right of equality.

Likewise, I believe the Church is asserting that the LGBT community should be equally as forthcoming in defending the agency of members of the Church, the Church as a collective, and other religious organizations, to choose how they will exercise their God-given agency in the practice of their religion. In the end, this is about the equality of choice, of agency.  For

We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.  (D&C 134:1-4).

Forgiving the sins of our fathers

Christ and womanYears ago, shortly after being called to serve as a bishop, I was summoned to the stake president’s office for a discussion. My offense? A sister in the ward had stopped attending church because I had failed to shake her hand on my first Sunday in my new calling. My defense? I had no idea I was supposed to shake her hand. The stake president taught me a good lesson- sometimes it is necessary to apologize, even if you have done nothing wrong from your own perspective, in an effort to move the relationship forward. I apologized, and the sister started coming back to church.

Spencer W. Kimball, former prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is fondly remembered for his contribution to LDS literature in his seminal work “Miracle of Forgiveness.” As individuals we find forgiveness and the peace it brings when we recognize our sins, acknowledge them before God and, where necessary, His appointed servants, and then turn from those sins and move forward. I seem to recall from President Kimball’s book that our objective should be to flee any and all situations that would drag us back into the sins of the past and only by doing so will we make progress toward a better life. If we place ourselves in a situation where we are always being reminded of our past, of the sins we committed previously, of what awful, terrible people we used to be, we will never progress beyond that life, we will never be able to lift ourselves to new heights or make progress on our road to salvation.

The longest chapter of “Miracle of Forgiveness,” if memory serves, was the chapter on the need for us, as individuals, to forgive others their trespasses against us. The atonement of Jesus Christ serves not only to offer forgiveness to the sinner, but to the wronged. As victims of the sins of others we have the opportunity to lay all our anger, frustration, hurt, and anguish at the feet of the Savior and find the peace that comes from frankly forgiving the perpetrator.

In the eyes of some the Church has sinned by virtue of what might be called distasteful or disappointing historical practices. Perhaps the leadership of the Church has recognized the need to acknowledge the past in an effort to “move the relationship along,” as it were, and in its effort to do so has made available historical documents and discussions relating to a past some find difficult. It is kind of like the apology I needed to offer, whether I was wrong or not. However, just as it does no good for anyone to continually remind the individual sinner of his or her sinful past, it serves little purpose to the progress of the Church to dwell on the past. George Santayana is famous partly for his statement that those who do not know the past are doomed to repeating it. It is true that there is much to be learned from the past, both good and bad, but it is always best to dwell on the good rather than stomp through the muck and the mire of what we, as individuals, believe bad.

In the end, what value will come from dragging the past into the present? Mopping the floor with a dirty mop will not leave the floor clean. Is it not better for each of us to practice what the Savior taught and quickly forgive the sins of our fathers, and move on? How will anyone feel better by continually reminding everyone of all that was, in the eyes of some, problematic? This is not to say that in individual group or family discussions outside of Church these things cannot be discussed. Indeed, the prophets and apostles have encouraged us to take up deeper discussions of the doctrines of the Church in our homes and families. Using the plethora of historical data the Church has made available now enhances this opportunity. But when our discussion take us away from, rather than closer to the Church, the gospel, and the Savior, we need to determine whether or not those discussions are truly useful. I have always been taught that for a marriage to be successful, one should never bring up the past indiscretions of one’s spouse. Doing so never brings about a good ending.

My wife pointed out to me as we discussed this topic that she had nothing to do with the “sins” of the Church that currently dominate public discussion, and should therefore not be held responsible in any way for the history of the Church institutionally. But this is exactly what happens, by extension, when the critics of the Church speak out against the Church. Considering this idea I did a little research. It was reported in the April 1978 General Conference that Church membership through December 1977 stood at 3,966,000. According to the statistical report for the end of 2013, there were 15,082,028 members. In other words, there are 3.8 times more members today than prior to the June 1978 announcement that all worthy male members of the Church could hold the priesthood. Factoring for those who have died subsequent to the Official Declaration, this means that more than 11 million members had absolutely nothing to do with previous practices. As members of the Church leadership, only three remain as apostles and prophets: Thomas S Monson, Boyd K Packer, and L Tom Perry. And the number is even more staggering when you look at the statistical data of 1890 when the declaration to end polygamy came about. So why are we bent on making the current Church as a whole responsible?

In the end, we need to ask ourselves what will change because of these discussions. What will the future Church look like when we have finished our discussion on the sins of our fathers? Will the discussion ever end? Or will it continue well into the future as long as there are new members coming into the Church who may not know all of its history? How long will the discussion need to last before everyone agrees that all of the differences have been worked out and we can move forward? For me, the discussion ended when I apologized and the sister forgave me for failing to shake her hand, and I took up the practice every Sunday thereafter. Yes, I changed. And yes, the Church has changed. Polygamy is no longer practiced. Every worthy male member of the Church can now receive the priesthood.

Perhaps the discussion ends when each member of the Church practices the forgiveness the Savior taught, that we individually forgive others and the Church, that we place our burden of anger, frustration, anguish, and hurt at the feet of the Savior, and we move on to a more peaceful existence, the kind of peace the Savior promised.

Who are we to judge God?

The Creation of Man by Michelangelo Sistine ChapelAs mortals we complicate our lives and fall victim to our own finite perspective when we seek, errantly, to judge God without the benefit of experiencing God in our lives. One would never think today that it would ever be okay to physically mark another human being for crimes he or she committed. And yet, this is the very thing God did when He punished Cain for having murdered Abel (Genesis 4:15). We would never think it acceptable to flood out an entire city along with its residents because they somehow did not measure up to our standards. Indeed, we have fought wars against such tyranny at the hands of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and others, and rightfully so. Yet, God Himself destroyed all of the inhabitants of the earth save eight when He caused the Great Flood (Genesis 6-8). As societies progress, especially in the United States, we see more and more call for the acceptance of languages other than English. Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, confounded the languages of the people when they sought to build a tower to heaven, taking away their common language. This was not a blessing of inclusion to the people, but a chastisement for wrong doing which caused great turmoil (Genesis 11). We are pressed upon more and more to accept homosexuality as a norm for some people and though there are those who would do harm to gays and lesbians individually, generally speaking, the populace does not. On the other hand, those men of Sodom who sought to “know” (read have sex with) the two angels who visited Lot were blinded by the power of God, who later sent fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah, destroying them completely. Even Lot’s wife, who did nothing more than turn to watch the destruction was turned to a pillar of salt (Genesis 19).

It would be appalling for us to read today that a prophet of God was commanded to kill his own son. Consider Jim Jones and others who have been roundly condemned for similar actions. On the other hand, we read in Genesis 22 that Abraham, as a test of his faith, was commanded by God to sacrifice his son on the altar. No one today would wish plagues of frogs, lice, flies, and locusts on any people, but these were the very tools God used to torment Pharaoh, up to and including the destruction of the cattle and the taking of every first born son in all of Egypt (Exodus). God commanded Joshua to destroy Jericho and everything therein, and then He destroys the household of Achan because he was disobedient to God’s command and took the spoils of Jericho (Joshua 7). For some it is troublesome that God would command a modern prophet to engage in plural marriage, and condemn that prophet and the Church he founded for having done so. And yet, Jesus defended, and indeed promoted the works of Abraham, who had multiple wives (John 8). Some find it unpalatable that Smith married a 14 year old girl, and yet Mary, mother of Jesus, was likely around that age when she gave birth to the Savior. To top it all off, she was with Child at the time she married Joseph, whose child it was not.

And the stories go on and on of God doing things that we find reprehensible by today’s modern and progressive society. In each of these instances, God either punished someone for bad behavior, warned His prophets to warn the people, commanded His prophets to take certain actions, saved His prophets from the actions of others, or gave the world His only Begotten son through a young girl. Who are we, then, to judge God for His mighty works which we, today, might find abhorrent? We are nobody, in reality. In the end, we are foolish to judge an omniscient God by the limited knowledge and understanding of man, and would do better to align our individual and collective will with His. After all, He knows the beginning from the end, and we can barely figure out today.

How do we align ourselves with God? It is not enough to know the word of God through scripture, but we must experience the works of God in our personal lives. For example, one may read and come to a knowledge of the doctrine of repentance and baptism, but unless one actually repents and is baptized, the experience of forgiveness can never take place. And it is this experience, given through the Holy Spirit, which enlightens the mind and spirit of man to things not previously understood. This includes understanding the will of God, not just knowing what God say or does. When one experiences God through revelation, one begins to understand God and His dealings with His children. The process is clear as taught by Peter on Mars Hill when asked what was to be done to understand who Jesus is. To the men who asked he said “repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2). The Book of Mormon prophet Moroni taught us that if we are to know the truth of things we must ask God with a sincere heart (Moroni 10), and James taught in the New Testament that if any of us lack wisdom, we should ask God, with faith, and we will receive wisdom (James 1). These are things to be experienced. One can know of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but until one experiences the divine revelation from the Holy Ghost within, one will only know, but never understand.

When juxtaposed against God’s actions throughout time, we can see that our preferences may not be His preferences and that at His pleasure, He may command His prophets to all kinds of actions we may find distasteful. But He has given us the ability to learn for ourselves that He deals justly and commands righteously, with infinite knowledge and understanding, and we can experience His will in our lives, and come to a better understanding of His dealings with His children.

Does the bible support polygamy?

There has been no shortage of press on the release of documents by the LDS Church indicating the previously established fact (ref. Doctrine and Covenants 132) that Joseph Smith had multiple wives. In one instance, a blog article asked the question of whether or not the Bible supports the idea of polygamy, or plural marriage. I believe the answer is yes. Now, this is not a scholarly report or paper designed for presentation to a peer review, but it is my opinion based on the facts as laid out in the Old Testament in response to the question “does the Bible support polygamy.”  This is not a treatise on whether polygamy or plural marriage is right or wrong.

The first recorded instance of plural marriage, or the marriage of one man to more than one wife is the case of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar. If you recall, Sarai was barren and had no children of her own, and she said to Abram “pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her” (Genesis 16:2). In verse 3 we learn that Abram took Hagar to wife. Following along in the story we learn that once Hagar’s child was born, Sarai became angry and Hagar took flight to avoid Sarai’s wrath. Not long thereafter, “the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. At this encounter he said to Hagar, Sarai’s maid, ‘whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude” (Genesis 16:7-10).

We have to ask ourselves whether or not the angel of the Lord would supplicate Hagar to return to her mistress and submit herself to Sarai if this relationship had not been sanction of the Lord. Clearly it was, and so Hagar returned to the house of Abram and Sarai, and became the mother of an exceeding number of offspring over generations of time. The fact that this relationship was accepted of the Lord is further evidenced in that when Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and made a covenant with him that he would be the father of nations and kings, and as token of that covenant God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. God then made a similar covenant with Sarai and changed her name to Sarah. Would the Lord have done this to Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar had He found any of them in disfavor?

We later read in Genesis of the marriage of Jacob to both Leah and her sister Rachel. When Rachel, Jacob’s favored wife, could not bare children, she gave Jacob Bilhah, who bore Dan and Nephtali. When Leah became barren, Jacob took Zilphah, who bore Asher and Gad, adding to the twelve sons of Jacob. These sons would become the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, the name given of the Lord to Jacob (Genesis 32) in the same covenant the Lord made with Abraham. Again, would this covenant have been made had the Lord found disfavor with Jacob?

Further evidence of plural marriage in the Old Testament-

In Exodus we read of the provisions for taking “another wife” (Exodus 21). In Deuteronomy we read of the regulations surrounding a man who has two wives, and the terms of dealing with their children should he hate one wife and love the other (Deuteronomy 21). 2 Samuel speaks of David and two of his wives and the instruction David had of the Lord on relocating to Hebron (2 Samuel 2) and again of the fact that David, as king, took additional wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5). Perhaps we can rationalize the taking of these additional wives and concubines as having not been of God, but clearly the first two wives were acceptable to the Lord, the fact that the Lord conversed with David and gave him instruction being the evidence. In 2 Samuel 12 we read of the prophet speaking to David on behalf of the Lord, chastising him for having not been content with the wives the Lord had given him. 2 Chronicles tells us of Joash, who “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. And Jehoiada took for [Joash] two wives; and he begat sons and daughters” (2 Chronicles 24: 2-3).

Clearly the Lord found no reproach in those who took multiple wives, though it is also clear that David did wrong in taking to himself the wife of Uriah, whom the Lord had not given him. It is the general doctrine of the Lord that a man should be married to one woman. However, the examples laid out here from the Old Testament demonstrate the belief held by the LDS Church, as I understand it, that the Lord is certainly within His purview to determine that His prophets and leaders (ref Abram/Abraham and Jacob/Israel) are justified in taking more than one wife when He declares it necessary (ref. Doctrine and Covenants 132). At the present time the law of plural marriage is not practiced, having been ceased by command of the Lord in 1890 by revelation to Wilford Woodruff, then president of the LDS Church.

So, does the Bible teach that plural marriage is acceptable? I think it does. But, the comments are open for you to share your thoughts, and let’s see what we come up with.  Twitter @mormonknowledgy

Why do I go to church?

sacrament-meeting-578251-galleryI read a blog recently that left me asking the blogger the question “why do you go to church?”  I asked her this question, and I can do no less than ask myself the same question- Why do I go to church, and why the LDS Church?

First, and foremost, I go to church to take the sacrament in remembrance of the flesh and blood given by the Savior in His quest to bring me salvation. I take the sacrament as a token of my desire to be forgiven of my sins, of the things I do wrong and which offend a perfect God. So then the question becomes why I choose to go to church at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? For me, the answer is simple- because the sacrament can only be lawfully (as in God’s law) administered by one who holds His authority here on earth, and for me, that authority is the priesthood as restored through Joseph Smith, the prophet.

To those who come to church for other reasons, including the opportunity to find and air grievances and present the Church in a less than flattering light, I hope to present a different perspective.  It may be true that the actions of some members and leaders of the Church, for whatever their reasons, cause you to question the voracity of the Church. But those are the people in the Church, not the Church. The gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect. There are no flaws in the doctrines of salvation that lead us back to God’s presence. There are, however, flaws in the men and women- mortals subject to the same human frailties we all possess- who become our leaders, and followers. Perfection does not exist in the members of the Church, as the Savior Himself has stated:

And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually— For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven; And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts. (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30-33)

In the end, if the Lord can forgive those who repent of their humanness and seek to put on the attributes of Christ, can we not also forgive those who, for whatever reason we surmise, have caused us to stumble, to question, to lessen our own activity? And can we not look inward as individuals and cleanse the inner vessel first to ensure that we are right with God, regardless of who we imagine may not be right with God, or with us? I go to church in hopes of making myself right with God, in hopes of finding the peace the Savior promised, and I believe that that hope and peace comes through a witness of the Holy Spirit, and through the ordinances of salvation as administered through the perfect Priesthood, even if those who hold His priesthood on earth are not perfect. After all, there has only ever been one on earth who reached that stature.

Edited 11/23/2014