The plight of a virtuous, but disinterested few

It took a virtuous people to win religious freedom. It took a virtuous few who preferred their religion to their lives to lay the foundation. It took a much larger group, not just a virtuous few but a virtuous people, for the Lord to be able to inspire them to build a nation with religious freedom.

But now we are back to the virtuous few. There is no pretending we are a virtuous nation. Sex before marriage is common. Living together before marriage is common. Birth outside of wedlock is common. Abortion is common. Divorce is common. Decency is a thing of the past. We are no longer a virtuous nation.

Which means we are back to the virtuous few.

Now don’t get me wrong. Things are still pretty OK. We still have the vast, vast bulk of our religious freedoms perfectly intact. But that cannot remain the case unless we can get our nation to become virtuous again. We cannot save the constitution without changing the people it governs. It was meant to govern a virtuous people and is wholly unsuitable for any other. In time they will throw off religious freedom as if it was a yoke of bondage.

Thus the only answer to our religious freedom that has any long term significance is to teach, teach, teach the gospel.

We have no new world to sail to. We have no rocky mountains to flee to. We should have the sense to see that we are on an ocean liner whose sides are punctured, and the unsinkable ship is still pleasantly afloat, but it must go down unless its people will change.

Its not that I don’t think that if we as a church really turned and stood we couldn’t make a difference. But even with such a slap in the face as gay marriage being forced on Utah just before Christmas it was hard to get people to stand up for their religious freedom. Sure, the numbers increased, but what is 1,000 or even 10,000 people who care enough to act when the it should have been millions?

We cannot save the constitution without changing the people it governs. We cannot save the constitution without a return to being a society of decency and virtue. That is the real forefront of our battle for religious freedom. And at this point our nation’s hands are steeped in immorailty, it is drunk with vice, and our righteous few, our virtuous men and women, are mostly disinterested in the whole affair. That means that God cannot currently intervene on their behalf in this matter. It is faith that precedes the miracle. Always.


Prom, 2 Nephi 13 and Feminism

Recently I was rather astonished when it was Prom and my wife’s facebook friends started posting photos of their daughters. I happened to be sitting in bed talking with her, looking over her facebook wall with her. The first prom photo was quite modest. But that turned out to be quite the exception. Not only was that the only daughter photo I happened to see that night that was modest, but I was astonished at how very immodest some of them were. Two were baring enough up top that I thought to myself “if this was an advertisement I would turn it off”.

I was astonished. I know some of these families.

I thought to myself of the fathers in some of these homes and I was astonished because I knew those fathers.

I thought how could those men allow their daughters to go on a date like that?

And the answer immediately presented itself.

I have long thought that the prophecies of the women in the church becoming sultry and seductive before the millennium was related to feminism. These are the prophesies about the daughters of Zion, as prophesied in 2 Nephi 13.

Yes, of course these fathers knew better. Fathers KNOW what is seductive. They aren’t consulting an abstract list. They KNOW what the guy will think the girl intended by dressing like that.

But the Fathers don’t have much say these days. Sure, they call family prayer, they lead scripture study. But they are mostly figureheads in their own home. They have been trained and retrained that they are to take a back seat. They have even been taught that being a priesthood leader in ones home MEANS always taking a back seat. And so they do.

But women can never KNOW why their daughter can’t dress that way on her date in the same way that a man can. She may have observed it from what she knows about men, including her husband. But it is not the same. Fathers KNOW in  a way that can’t easily be set aside by whether the dress is so slimming, or brings out her eyes, or looks gorgeous on her, or any number of other things that a mother may let her guard down over, because the father knows what it FEELS LIKE for a man to look at a women dressed like that. He knows what a guy thinks a girl intends by dressing that way. He may not speak the same language as his daughter, but he speaks the same language as her date.

So yes, there is a link between emasculating fathers, taking away their role as the head of the home, and the prophesy that before the millennium the church will raise a generation of daughters who “walk with stretched forth necks and wonton eyes”.

Man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other

When Lehi said:

2 Nephi 25: 16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

he is not using the way act the way we are. He isn’t counting things like eating, sleeping, driving, walking, running, painting, etc… as acting. He is also not including any of the things an animal can do as acting.

He is using the word “act” to mean either choosing to submit to the will of God or to rebel against it. This is man’s great power: to choose between submitting his will to Gods, or to choose to rebel against God’s will.

In order to do that he needs some inclination of what God’s will is or isn’t. That is what the phrase “man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” is trying to say. Without that knowledge, he may do all sorts of daily things, but none of them is to “act” in the sense that Lehi is using the phrase. To act in Lehi’s sense here is to be enticed by God or and adversary and to choose to hearken or to not.

The three books I consider to have done the most harm to members

I firmly believe that the books Believing Christ, The Continuous Atonement, and Rough Stone Rolling have done the most harm among members in our day. Anti-mormon books rarely have a significant impact within the church. It is the incorrect books that we take and start teaching in Sunday School and quoting in sacrament talks that do the most harm.

The first two books have very successfully convinced members that the protestant version of the atonement is the real atonement. The third book has convinced many members that Joseph Smith’s being called as a prophet was just proof that God can use anybody, even someone who is involved in all sorts of immorality. In reality Joseph Smith was not involved in immorality, and in reality it was his faith that the preceded the miracles, it was his righteousness that opened the doors to him for revelation.

All three books erode one of the chief doctrines of the gospel: We must work out our salvation by fear and trembling. They deny that a celestial reward requires being valiant in the testimony of Jesus, and instead portray a gospel in which the atonement exists specifically to grant us exaltation for being nothing more than an honorable man of the earth. They replace the atonement with one which is nothing more than Protestantism adapted for Mormons. They teach that the atonement gets rid of our sins by making us clean even of the things we are still not doing right. They teach that the atonement grants us 100% perfection by nature of our covenant at baptism, because our imperfection added to Christs perfection adds up to 100% perfection. That is not how it works. Christ forgives us through his atonement as we change. His forgiveness is always on condition of repentance. We are never cleaner through the atonement than our actual behavior.

In reality, just as faith precedes the miracle it is repentance and change that precedes forgiveness. Consider baptism as a perfect example. We don’t tell Christ that if he will forgive us of our sins first, then we will subsequently repent and be baptized. Instead we repent, and then manifest our commitment to keep his commandments by baptism. In that baptismal act he grants us remission of our sins. But that doesn’t mean we are clean and pure every whit yet. After all, as we continue past baptism even as we avoid the serious sins there are still many small matters that we do wrong. We know that and we are not clean of those matters every whit until we change them every whit. When we do something wrong, the former sins return, i.e. what that means is that you aren’t cleansed through the atonement of some little misbehavior or other that you are still indulging in.

We will not be perfect, and thus also not perfectly clean, until we have learned to submit our will perfectly as Christ did. When we do then Christ can make us perfectly clean. That is a work that isn’t going to be completed during our mortal probation. So it is not surprise that Christ preached repentance and forgiveness of sins through his atonement even when addressing the righteous in the spirit world. Thus continually pressing forward diligently is not something that ends with mortality.

The protestant view in Believing Christ and the Continuous Atonement is that Christ came to save us in our sins, and in reality he came to save us from our sins. We have not been saved of them until we have stopped doing them. And whatever we have stopped doing wrong, we can be cleansed of through his atonement.

We must press forward diligently that we might obtain the prize. All three books teach that the opposite is true one way or another, and all three have had an horrible effect on whether or not members think that they must prove valiant in the testimony of Jesus, or just prove that they are at least an honorable man of the earth that happens to belong to the true church. The first two books, Believing Christ, and The Continuous Atonement both portray pressing forward diligently as the INTENTION, but not as the REQUIREMENT. Intention and requirement are very different things. Those two books have effectively convinced a generation of members that the atonement of Christ is almost a sort of credit card for misbehavior as long as it isn’t anything too bad along with a side note that if the misbehavior IS too bad there is a relatively easy fix. They teach a doctrine of being being saved IN ones sins, instead of being saved FROM them. Or maybe, they teach that being saved from our sins is the intention, but not the requirement.

The third book I mentioned, Rough Stone Rolling, has a similar effect on members to the other two. Fundamentally it teaches that a man can be an instrument in the hands of God while still doing all sorts of wicked things.

And Rough Stone Rolling teaches the falsehood that morality isn’t even required, that one can be the great head of a dispensation without it.

Basically the two books on the atonement I cited, while very popular, really teach in effect that the atonement makes it so that we will be exalted if we can manage to be honorable men of the earth. They teach that being Valiant in the testimony of Jesus is good, but that because of the atonement, it isn’t necessary for exaltation. They teach that is actually the whole point of the atonement. The authors have the sense not to use that language, but that is their doctrine.

And Rough Stone Rolling takes it a step further and makes its point clearly enough without ever coming out and saying it. It preaches loud and clear that being a good member doesn’t even require chastity, while avoiding ever making a statement it can be pinned down on.

These three books, Believing Christ, The Continuous Atonement, and Rough Stone Rolling, have supplanted good Mormon truth far too long. We need to turn back to our scriptures where we can find the correct doctrine of the atonement taught, and the way to eternal life laid out before us.

The restoration of all things isn’t a checklist, it is a foundation

I have often heard people say that one thing or another is or was or will be practiced briefly because of restoration of all things. An example of such a practice I have heard this applied to animal sacrifice. I have heard people teach that there will be a one time animal sacrifice at some time before the second coming because there is supposed to be a restoration of all things.

Now the point isn’t sacrifice, the point is what we mean when we talk about a restoration of all things. The restoration of all things is not just an arbitrary to do list that Heavenly Father laid out. He didn’t just think to himself “why not do all the things in all dispensations during the last one as well” as some sort of divine whim.

In fact, it isn’t literally a restoration of all things because the lesser law given to Moses will not be part of the restoration of all things. That is because the restoration of all things doesn’t mean the restoration of every specific gospel practice that was ever done, it is a restoration of every gospel POWER and BLESSING that has ever existed because the building of Zion requires the full measure of all the gifts and ordinances available through the gospel (which, if you will pay attention, is taught in the endowment).

Now wait, you may say, we the general membership of the church already have everything. You may say we already have all the saving ordinances there are. You may say there isn’t anything else we could have.

Not so.

We have all that we are willing to receive, but we have a long ways to go.

I mentioned animal sacrifice previously, so I may as well cite some of the relevant teachings on that as an example:

Joseph Smith taught:

“It is a very prevalent opinion that the sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed. This was not the case; if you read Leviticus 2:2-3, you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the maintenance of the priests; so that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the altar–but the blood is sprinkled, and the fat and certain other portions are consumed.

These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.”
 (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 172)

The first paragraph here leaves us in no doubt that we are talking about actual animal sacrifice. He even discusses some of the details of how it is to be done. The second paragraph states that the animal sacrifices that existed prior to Moses’ day will be restored. Whenever this is restored, it is going to be horribly unpopular.

But why does it say they will be restored? Joseph Smith said it was because “this ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are sufficiently manifest”.

To put that in plainer speech, it means that we do not have animal sacrifice now because we are not yet ready. As of yet the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are not sufficiently manifest. When they are, they go hand in hand with animal sacrifice, as was offered by Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the other ancient prophets. According to this statement there are “ramifications, powers, and blessings” that are available only through that ordinance once it is properly restored.

The restoration of all things isn’t a checklist of things other dispensations did before that we need to do again for a moment or two. The restoration is a restoration of all the ramifications, powers, and blessings that have ever existed on the earth, because this is the day in which Zion will be redeemed and in Zion all such powers are fully manifest.

This isn’t limited to animal sacrifice of course. That is probably a small example. We have a long ways to go before we can list the following, which are given only by God’s own voice, among the rights and blessings that are general in the church:

JST Gen 14:27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
 28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
 29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
 30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
 31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
 32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
 33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
 34 And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;

Note that these powers of the priesthood were relevant to those who built a Zion. It is far, far more that what we generally enjoy now.

I would add another example of this same blessing given to another man besides Enoch. Just as was stated in the last scripture, it was delivered by God’s own voice. We call it the sealing power, but it is a much fuller manifestation of the sealing power than temple sealers are given. After all, as described in the previous scripture, it is only given by God’s own voice:

Helaman 10:2 And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him.
 3 And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:
 4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
 5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
 6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
 7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
 8 And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.
 9 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.
 10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.

And there is yet one more example of one who had such power delivered to him. Again, as was stated it was by God’s own voice. I expect this version refers to the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood we sometimes hear referred to:

JST Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
 7 (Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered);
 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
[The JST manuscript has a note that verses 7-8 are a parenthetical references to Melchizedec]

Thus the restoration of all things is not just a restoration of those powers we now generally enjoy, but a restoration of the powers we do not yet enjoy, but that will be enjoyed when we choose generally to become a people who are pure in heart, a people who Christ himself can come and live among, just as he dwelt among the people of the Zion that Enoch built previous to their being taken up into heaven.

Tithing, children and finances

In order to get to the temple, we need to be paying our tithing. It is part of our baptismal covenant and many, many people will openly attest to the miraculous way the Lord has blessed them when they have faithfully paid their tithes and offerings.

But it is odd how when it comes to not limiting our children how little faith we seem to have. Far too many of us say we “can’t afford” more children.

Paying tithing is part of our baptismal covenant. Not limiting our children is part of our sealing covenant. Our sealing covenant is a higher covenant with a higher blessing.

So why do we think God won’t be more generous in his tender care for us when keeping our higher covenant than we do for keeping our lower covenant?

We should know and trust our God better than that. We should believe Nephi who said “I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

Surely, he will provide tender and watchful care for those who are keeping their temple covenants. It will be as we keep the commandments that we prosper in the land. Putting the commandments behind seeking our own prosperity will only backfire. Even if the Lord allows some to gain wealth by it, they sadly do so at the cost of eternal rewards.

Addressed only to the most gullible

Someone was claiming that religious freedom would mean freedom of religion inluding the relgions of athiesm, satanism and wiccan (witches). They added islam into the same list. 

As only the most gullible would believe that, this is dedicated solely to them. Here is my response.

No it doesn’t. Go back and read where it came from. It was the right to worship your God, it was the right to do according to your conscience. It never included the right to worship the devil. It never included the right to act against your conscience, to consciously choose evil. 

All men have a right to worship God. The fact that some people have perversely adapted the phrase “religion” to mean worshiping the devil instead just means some people have perverted the word. Those who are gullible can’t tell the difference.

Yes, it did protect muslims from square one, as it ought to. No, it did not protect those who worshiped the devil and sought to do evil, masking their deeds as “religion”. Religion is worship of God, not the devil, and those who penned the constitution understood that when they wrote it. Religion is to act by conscience for good, not to seek evil.