Gender Apostasy

We are paying the price more and more as we forget one of the basic realities of mortality.
Sin gives Satan power over people.
A more refined statement is important in this day when big sins are common: Big sin gives Satan big power over people. Little sin gives Satan a little power over people.
This power is not limited to power to tempt them. 
The scriptures give examples of Satan stirring up people to anger against a cause. Certainly the adversary stirred people up to anger against Joseph Smith and the early saints. 
The scriptures give examples of Satan lulling people into false security.
The scriptures say there are doctrines of devils and doctrines of men. How could there be doctrines of devils if the devil can’t inspire wicked men with ideas?
However Sin is not necessary for Satan to be able to offer temptations to people. The sinless Christ was tempted.
A person may be tempted with practically anything.
Anytime we reject a truth from God, Satan takes power.
The more fundamental the truth we reject, the more power Satan takes.
If a mother rejects her nature as a mother and kills her unborn child, that is rejection of a deep fundamental truth, and Satan will have a river of power to exercise against her. Such rejection doesn’t come from nowhere. It start with temptations not to treasure her child. The mother considered those temptations. She gave them sway in her thoughts. And ultimately she performed the ultimate rejection of motherhood by killing her own child. This is apostasy from motherhood. It rejects fundamental truth, it rejects the person’s own nature, it rejects something she knows with more clarity than members usually even know the church is true.
Apostasy isn’t failing to recognize that something is true. It is knowing it strongly and rejecting that truth. 
The worst apostasy is the sort that can look at the sun at noon day and deny that exists.
And this is the sort of apostasy that gender apostasy is all about. It is no harder to realize the sun exists while looking at it than it is to recognize your own gender. Rejecting your own gender as real and true is the same type of apostasy as denying the sun exist while looking directly at it.
If someone rejects his or her own gender, that is profound rejection of the truth of the person’s own eternal nature, and it will give Satan profound power over that individual. It starts with temptations of course. Satan pulls on the persons’s thoughts and tries to get them to question their own gender. He plants ideas and seeds to see if he can undermine their defenses. If he can get them questioning fundamental truth about their own nature, if he can get them to question that divine and eternal truth, then he gains significant power over them in doing so, and his ability to influence them is increased. They may find themselves feeling such ideas more powerfully. Such compulsions may feel more real, and the truth may seem less likely. This is no different than when Satan gets a faithful member to reject any other of the foundational truths that they know, such as getting a member with a strong testimony to begin to question the truthfulness of the church. The more they question, the more power Satan gains, and the more and more it seems to the person that the church cannot be true.
When Satan gets someone to question their own gender, it is just like when he is getting someone with a strong testimony to question the truthfulness of the church. That is because their gender is a a divine and eternal truth that they already know perfectly. It is a rejection of a known eternal truth, not a failure to recognize truth. It is apostasy.
Someone who has rejected his or her own gender really shouldn’t be taking the sacrament and particularly not entering the temple. One need only consider the nature of the requirements to enter the temple. No, you can’t go to the temple if you put aside your holy garments. How much worse to put off the temple God clothed you with than to put off the outward vesture that clothes that body? 
Yes, we really do care what someone thinks. Alma says as much. We will be held accountable for our thoughts. We particularly care when those thoughts move to beliefs, and start being more than thoughts, but become words.

Rejecting the opposite gender is another popular form of gender apostasy. It isn’t really that different. The scriptures use these words

Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Gender apostasy is serious sin. One really only needs to think of the tortured lives those involved in it tend to lead to realize this. Far from the peace of the gospel they endure the pains and travails of hell, insofar as we endure those pains in mortality when we are involved in evil. You cannot reject the most fundamental divine truths about yourself, you cannot reject the temple of God that he gifted you: your own body with its own nature to cleave unto a member of the opposite sex, without being apostate. You cannot reject the temple of God, which temple you are, your own body and gender, and still be worthy to enter the temple of God which is his own home on the earth. You cannot reject your own body, your own flesh and blood, gifted you by God and be worthy to partake of the flesh and blood of that God who granted and redeemed your body. 


There is a reason we call it being “Born of the Spirit”

There is a reason we call it being “Born of the Spirit”.

It seems from the scriptures that we are forgiven through the cleansing power of the atonement, but we are changed though the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost. Yes, if our guilt vanishes it is because of Christ. But there is a reason we talk of being “born of the spirit”. It is too bad that these days everyone wants to remove the Holy Ghost from the picture. Without remission of sins we could not receive the Holy Ghost. We cannot move forward one step one the path to redemption without the atonement.

But it is through the Holy Ghost that the Father bears witness of the Son, i.e. it the through the Holy Ghost that the sanctifying effect that makes us more like the Son comes about.
Don’t know why it has become a fad to try to replace the role of the Holy Ghost and make it all the Savior. But Christ himself talks about the changing effect of the Father sending the Holy Ghost. And of the comfort available through the Holy Ghost.
Oh well.

We must protect our religious freedom

Wow. Indiana passed a protection for Religious freedom bill. 

Yesterday CNN announced this on their front page list of articles as “Indiana passes Anti-LGBT bill”. 

By this afternoon their website’s fullpage front was about the Indiana bill with a headline pointing its finger at the governor for signing it. 

By tonight it has in large newpaper style headline font about the religious freedom protection bill: “Freedom to do what?” with a picture of the Indiana governor and a subheading that the governor has now decided he wants clarification of the bill he just signed.

I really expect we can anticipate more difficult days in our future. I don’t know when. I don’t know the timeline. But it seems that the evil forces in our country are not only pushing forward, but doing so with great acceleration.

We need to remember the horrible price that was paid to gain our religious freedom. There is no “new world” to flee to now. There are no “rocky mountains” to flee to now. We need to make our stand here. We need to stand up and be counted now with all the zeal we can muster.

We sit perched on the brink of disaster, and mostly we are comfortably sitting at home looking for what’s on TV.

The Body, the Resurrection, and the Sealing

This is a first stab at some aspect of the resurrection, and I realized some things while writing it. I’ll have to try again some time. Take a look and see what you think.

It is hard to get people in the church to give a straightforward answer to the question “What is the significance of gaining a body”?

Consequently, many members of the church also don’t understand what the resurrection is all about. If you don’t understand why having a body matters, then you don’t understand why being resurrected matters. Since Easter is when we celebrate the resurrection, I am writing a bit about bodies and resurrection.

After all, we are reunited with our beloved dead friends and family in the spirit world, so why not just stop there, call it heaven, and be done?

The answer can be found in a simple observation for those with children. Those with parents can determine how the observation is relevant to themselves. 🙂

Consider one of your children. Let us say it is a son. Now here is the question: How did your son become your son?  Could he have become your son if you didn’t have a body? Or if your spouse didn’t have a body? What joy do you have that would vanish if you had never had a body?

The point is that the gift of a body IS the gift of family. Family and body are synonymous. When you are born, you gain a body and by gaining that body you become part of a family. Those two things are inseparable. Birth is the process of gaining a father and a mother. Birth is the process of creating family, and creating family is accomplished by endowing a spirit with a body.

The gift of a body is the gift of family in a greater sense too. It is not only the gift to become part of a family, to become a child with parents, it is simultaneously the potential to one day create a family of your own. Our body makes us part of a family, and also makes it so that we can create a family.

The gift of a body is the gift to create a garden with your spouse that will grow up and continue to bring forth after its own kind. It is literally a gift that keeps on giving. We are given a body by birth, and in that gift we receive a family of our own that we are a child in. But that gift, if we subject it to the will of the Father, in turn then can bring forth a family of our own that is sealed to be ours not just in mortality, but in eternity.

We are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. This is a commandment that we should shout for joy about like those at the grand counsel in Heaven. For in that commandment we not only show the required gratitude for our gift by bringing other children of Heavenly Father into a home with the gospel, and inviting them to share with us in our gift of family by becoming part of it, but it also brings later gifts: grandchildren, great, grandchildren, and descendants continuing on in perpetuity. It becomes like a well springing up unto eternal life. It develops into the gift of posterity like the sands of the sea and like the stars of heaven.

When we read the story of the resurrection of Christ as a story about a body in the abstract we are completely missing the point. The resurrection is a story about family. If the resurrection had happened but nobody was sealed eternally in the resurrection then the whole earth would have a been a big waste.

Scriptures says as much – the earth would be wasted at his coming if the families are not sealed to be families not only for time, but also in the resurrection. And why is it that it would be wasted at his coming? Because his coming IS the resurrection of the just. If everyone was resurrected but they weren’t sealed into permanent families then the resurrection, as well as the earth itself, would have been wasted.

When Christ comes all the holy angels come with him. The dead will rise from the graves. But if they all rise singly and separately then the whole earth would have been wasted. The story of the resurrection is a story about creating eternal bodies for the purpose of creating eternal families. If you get your body back but you’re not going to be part of a family, than you are missing out on the reason you ever wanted a body in the first place.

Put differently – a resurrection without eternal sealings that persist in the resurrection is a tragic waste. The resurrection is about families because bodies are about families. Bodies are how families got to be relatives in the first place.

I am not talking of those who are worthy and simply never had the chance to be sealed. There will be nothing that is a waste in their cases, because they will receive every blessing they missed out on through no fault of their own. That is no waste. To miss exaltation is a waste.

I have a son. How did he become my son? Through his body. My body and my spouse’s body became one flesh and in obeying that commandment a new thing was created. We gained a child who is now our son.

And to really understand the gift of the body and the gift of the resurrection you have to ask yourself “What would I give so that my son would still be my son in the resurrection?”

Because if you or I prove unworthy of our temple sealing covenant then, in fact, our worthy children will no longer be our children in the resurrection. In the resurrection they will be another person’s child. This will not just be a formal adoption. This will be as real in the resurrection as birth in mortality made them our child in mortality. Those worthy of the celestial kingdom will not be left fatherless and motherless.  If we are not worthy then in the resurrection our will children be given a different father and mother (one might guess a worthy ancestor), and as surely as our body tied them to us here, that father and mother’s body will be tied to them there. And ours will not be. We will no longer be their parent. We will no longer be a husband or a wife. Those experiences will be lost to us.

I expect we will still have parents in the resurrection no matter which kingdom we are resurrected into. Not just Heavenly Father and Mother as parents, but parents of our body. We will still have parents in the resurrection no matter what. After all, that is the gift of a body, to become part of a family. And all who kept their first estate gain a body, and consequently all who kept their first estate will still belong to a family. But in the resurrection we may find ourselves the telestial or terrestrial child of celestial parents, which is much like the relationship we have here on earth with our Heavenly Father. Here on earth we are telestial, and he is celestial, but his is still our parent and we love that truth.

But there can be no parents in the resurrection who are not celestial exalted beings, because according to D&C 132 there will be no marriages in the resurrection that are not sealed for eternity and if you come up in the resurrection sealed for eternity then you WILL received all that the father hath. Anyone who is not exalted will remain “singly and separately forever”. The only parents in the resurrection will be those who are exalted, and they will keep all their children,… though all their children may not also be celestial as well. This is no different that with Heavenly Father. He has many children. They will not all become celestial exalted beings. But they are still his children.

Birth is about family. And resurrection is about family. Resurrection that is not about family would be a waste. In fact, if no families are tied together in the resurrection, then the whole earth will be wasted at his coming. Or put differently, if no families are tied together in the resurrection then the whole earth will be wasted at the first resurrection, because that is the whole point of this earth and of the resurrection in the first place.

It is worth pointing out how rebellion has related to losing the reward of family in other cases.

Joseph Smith taught “The devil has no body and therein lies his punishment.”

The devil’s punishment is to never become part of a family, and to never have the potential to create his own family. He can never be a son, he will never be a father. He will never understand the joy of wife or children. That is his great punishment.

And because of that he seeks to destroy the families of the earth, both in mortality and for eternity. Satan is the nemesis of family. Chastity is the protector of the family. Consequently Satan and chastity stand as eternal enemies against each other.

So maybe I will close with this note. Keeping our first estate allows us to gain a body and become part of a family and the resurrection makes it so that all who kept their first estate will still get their body and become part of some family for eternity. But keeping our second estate not only allows us to be part of a family, to be a child with parents, it also allows us to be married, to be parents, and to have our own families as an eternal couple out onward forever.

When we remember the resurrection of Christ. I hope we can also have the common sense to recognize that he was sealed to a woman. The resurrection is about family, and while many who did not have a chance to have a good marriage here will have the opportunity hereafter, we should have the sense to figure out who Christ could have gone to see even before ascending to his Father in Heaven.

False Christs who will save us no matter what

Sometimes there seem to be ideals being pandered among us which are in a running competition with Protestantism and Catholicism as to who has the most powerful, most generous, most willing to save Christ. Rather than looking to the scriptures and prophets, this competition seems to be carried about primarily by presenting a cartoon caricature of the Savior by taking some of His traits and exaggerating them into a cartoon, while neglecting others of His divine aspects altogether.

Instead of a strait and narrow path, these caricatures of the Savior provide an escalator. We can only fail to be saved by climbing the railing and jumping off or running fast enough in the wrong direction. He’s going to save us, despite our best efforts to the contrary. We can put aside our self doubt and fears as there is no need to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” with these false versions of the Savior. There is no cause to fret that we might lose our way and frankly, isn’t it so much easier knowing that He’s going to save us and there is hardly anything we can do to stop him. Be excellent to each other and party on.

Sometimes one almost feels these different false Christs are running for office, each with their own platform that sounds better than the one from last year. Before casting our vote, we should instead turn to the scriptures and the words of living prophets and apostles to determine what we can about the real Christ as He really is.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that these caricatures of the Savior are being presented all around us. Christ himself warned that false Christ’s would come and would deceive many.

Decency – the foundational virtue of a good society

A people that has rejected decency as a cornerstone both in law and in daily life has rejected the foundation on which the family and the great virtues are built. Unless such a society repents the other sacred virtues such as faith, justice, judgement, mercy, charity, commitment to children and to spouse, and all the other virtues that divinely define the family eventually succumb. Those virtues cannot stand long once one removes decency from the center stage.

Indeed, it is because of iniquity that the love of many has waxed cold.

Teaching children about missionary work and the poor of the earth

I have mused for some time how unfortunate it is that we no longer do missionary presentations when missionaries come home. I think hearing about someone being taught the gospel and changing their life changes missionary work from an academic duty into the reality of saving souls, and doing that helps one move away from the idea that it is a two year experience.

I realized youtube should have some missionary slideshows. Most of them are pretty lame – i.e. a bazillion pictures of a missionary and his companions. Who wants to see that?

But I found a few good ones, and most notably a channel devoted to missionary stories. Playing one of these occasionally as part of scripture study has been one of those things that has been profound in our family I think, so I wanted to pass it on.

I think this one had a profound effect in changing the meaning of missionary work for our children

I liked this one (no words, and I swapped out the music )

I stopped it at several points and pointed out what the homes looked like to the kids, and went over the D&C 38 parable.

And there is a channel is devoted to missionary stories. Not all of it is worthwhile, but considering the amount of flack I had to wade through to find anything half this good, here it is (they have videos organized by country if you scroll down):

I also think seeing faithful members and converts enduring real poverty is important for our youth. (Someone is going to be upset that I qualified that with “faithful members” but the D&C 38 parable backs me up on that). On my mission there was lots of poverty, but there was no escape from real poverty without deciding to first leave drugs and serial immorality behind.

It rings differently and more resoundingly in the soul to see faithful members and converts whom Christ has removed the slums from, but who have no means to remove themselves from the slums. Sure, we can help both, but the more potent and pressing image is the ironic one.