The world wants acceptance just as it is, but the natural man is an enemy to God

The world wants acceptance exactly as it is. It is the same teaching as Nehor – since God created man then all men need to be accepted as they are for they are innately worthy “just as they are”:
Alma 1:4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
But God’s message is essentially the opposite
Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

It is worth nothing in Alma 1:4 that when Nehor teaches that “they need not fear nor tremble” he is not intentionally directly contradicting the scriptures, which teach that we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

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It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

When he was known as Saul, Paul was a respected member of society. He was learned. His zeal probably earned him a lot of honor among the religious leaders of his day. He probably had what we would call a good life.

But when the truth of that matter is unveiled by the Lord, whatever worldly acclaim and honors and comforts Saul enjoyed, he was not happy. His life was hard and unsatisfying. To use the Lord’s words “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”. That is a statement of what kind of life Paul was leading. It just all seemed wrong and unsatisfying. It was hard.

Afterwards we read of Paul living a life that involved great suffering. Paul was scourged, which was such a horrific punishment that many people didn’t survive scourging. Paul was eventually imprisoned and, we believe, executed.

And there is something interesting in the fact that it was the first half of Paul’s life of which the Lord would say “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” rather than the last half. The last half involved great persecution and suffering to be sure. But these burdens were swallowed up in Christ. They were light compared to the burden of fighting the truth.

Local church leadership vs middle management

As I think back with a little more knowledge and experience it becomes clear to me that there was always an odd mix in the wards I was in. There were people who seemed to think of their positions in the church as being like a business, particularly those positions that brought them into Ward Council, Bishopric meeting or Priesthood Executive Committee meeting. They seemed to feel they were supposed to be managers – they just happened to be managers where part of that management was to tell people they loved them. They had a measure of affection, to be sure, but in retrospect I can’t help feel it frequently it was a way they felt obligated to act more than anything else. For a number of them, I think they saw friendship almost as the gospel “management style”. Which, sadly, robs friendship of its soul.

Then there were people who I believe really had started to develop some measure of the love of Christ. There was a depth to their interest in people, and an insight that accompanied it that was born of inspiration. I can think of a stake presidency member whose years of military service sometimes made him come across as gruff, but who carried gospel light with him in his dealings with his fellow man. That greater light seemed to be accompanied by greater insight. He had a knack for finding the heart of a matter, and insight into keeping people in the right way.

I can think of a Bishop who, after being released, was criticized by the next Bishop for not doing his priesthood duty because he would often miss much of church to take his adopted son home. His adopted son had pretty serious problems due to physical abuse prior to being adopted. The Bishop who took his son home still strikes me as one who rather strikingly carried the light of the gospel with him as he dealt with people. He was our friend, but not because friendship was how you manage the church. The Bishop who criticized him was a good man too. He really was. But there was a difference. One of them saw the “one sheep” through different eyes than the other, and used a different stick by which to measure priesthood duty.

I am not saying that any of these people was called against the Lord’s will. I believe the Lord completely supported them in their callings. Bishop’s don’t need to be perfect. That is OK. No one wants a “be perfect” requirement suddenly heaped on their back. They are regular members. It would be too much. No one could be a Bishop. The leaders worked really hard and did huge amounts of good in building the Lord’s kingdom, and of course the Lord honored their sacrifices.

But I worry that the “being a bishop is middle management” mindset had started to gain some real footing in some of our wards. In at least one stake I believe a relation between church leadership ability and business management ability was openly suggested by the stake president.

Christ did not behave like a company CEO. Had he done so, he would have failed. The scriptures say of Christ:

Mosiah 14:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Apparently Christ wasn’t the most energizing, the most dynamic, the most charismatic leader. That isn’t what being a Savior is all about.

Christ called Matthew, who was a publican, to be an apostle. The publicans were generally despised by the people because they were tax collectors for the Romans. That is why the phrase “publicans and sinners” is used as a recurring insult in the new testament. But that wasn’t what concerned Christ. He called someone who was despised by the people to be an apostle because Matthew had the spirit of the Lord.

Just as Christ was not like a CEO, Christ’s Bishops are not called to be middle management. Worldly ideas about “management” have no place in the church. The scriptures are the manual for running the church. Worldly ideas about management impede true gospel leadership. They grow up around it and constrict it. The scriptures are more the real manual than the handbook of instructions is the real manual. The handbook of instructions may hit more difficult, finicky cases and spell out vastly more bureaucratic rules, but the scriptures are the backbone it is trying to support, and in time the handbook of instructions will be replaced and no one will miss it. By contrast the scriptures are the living water we drink from to have the light of inspiration. Inspiration is the lifeblood of the church. The scriptures are the word of God.

I absolutely, unquestionably think the Lord was very pleased with the work all these local leaders did. Very much so. He accepts our sacrifices even though we err. He honors them for their extensive efforts in his kingdom.

But I still find something repugnant in the idea that church leadership is like middle management in a large company. I’m not sure anyone ever stated it that way precisely, but it seemed to be an underlying assumption for some people. For some, it was as if friendship was a commodity. For some, it was as if friendship was just a “management style”. That just comes across differently than gospel light shining through you because it has become so much a part of you. Of course I don’t think the Lord will reject the many, many sacrifices in his service made by those who viewed their own church positions in ways influenced by worldly ideas about leadership. Absolutely not. He honors their sacrifices. But the numbers who follow such an idea in their hearts weaken the spirit of the work being done, and thus weakens its ability to accomplish its principle ends – the immortality and eternal life of his children.

They were all very good men.

But the idea that local church leadership should take any inspiration from middle management in a large company is still repulsive.

The Gentiles should not at any time hear his voice

I hadn’t put these together before, but I expect they belong together. Again we see blessings here based on faithfulness in premortality. The Lord didn’t arbitrarily and unfairly decide that the gentiles would not at any time hear his voice. Abraham was given a promise that he would be the father of the faithful, that is, that the most obedient spirit children would be born into his posterity. In these days the logical consequence to that are considered unspeakable, but they are plain enough. Those born into the gentile lines were the less righteous spirits.

Those who were most righteous in the spirit world were given foreordinations and promises. Among those was the possibility that they might hear the Lords voice directly here in mortality. Those spirits who did not live up to the privilege of receiving the promise of being born into the house of Israel also will not receive the opportunity to hear his voice in mortality.

3 Nephi 15:23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.
 24 But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.

Mark 7: 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

Matt 10: 5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Now there are many Israelites who were choice spirits in the premortal life and threw away everything here in mortality. There were Israelites who killed the prophets and there were Israelites that crucified the Son of God. The Book of Mormon except for the book of Ether is a story about Israelites and yet it has plenty of wickedness as well as righteousness in it. It is possible to completely throw away the blessings obtained in the premortal life and we see that constantly in the scriptures.

And on the other hand, there are those who are born gentiles and repent and receive great spiritual honors in this life. There is Ruth, who though a gentile was allowed to have the Son of God be among her posterity. What an incredible honor that is. There is Cornelius, who the Holy Ghost converted and who Peter, by vision from God, knew needed to be baptized into the true church.

That is the meaning of the scripture that there are many who were first who shall be last and many who are last who shall be first. What we did in the premortal life is nothing compared to what we are going to choose to do now. If we choose exaltation here, it doesn’t matter what we chose there. If we choose damnation here, it is irrelevant what we choose there.

What matters right now is what we are going to choose to do right now.

We worship the Father

Feminism stands in direct opposition to the gospel.

In the gospel we worship a Heavenly Father. We do not worship a Heavenly Mother.

We pray to the Father, we do not pray to our Heavenly Mother.

Christ on the cross cried out to his Father, he did not cry out to his Mother. Christ told Mary that she could not hold him because he had not yet ascended to his Father.

Our enemies know what we fail to acknowledge – that our doctrine is a patriarchal one. That where Christ went first to his beloved wife Mary (and Martha), the next person would be his Father. What we are seeing here is the divine order as proclaimed in Eden: that a man will leave his Father and Mother and cleave unto his wife and they will be one flesh. Thus Christ went first to Mary. Then, again echoing the commandments of Eden, Christ ascended to his Father. Why? Because as declared in Eden, the Father rules over his home. Thus the Son reported to his Father, was concerned about obeying his Father, and spoke morning and night with his Father.

Christ spoke often of his Father in heaven. He did always his Father’s will, therefore his Father loved him. There is no scripture about Christ doing his Heavenly Mother’s will. And that is because His divine home is patriarchal.

Sealings and remarriage

Before a man gets married to a widow that is sealed to another man he needs to consider how he will feel if and when his children through her are not his in eternity, as well as how that knowledge will affect their children, that they will not have their physical father in eternity, but another man.

If he is allowed to be sealed to her, despite the fact that she is already sealed to another, they need to consider how this will affect her previous children, who no longer have certainty about who exactly they will be sealed to. Which man will their mother be sealed to in eternity? If it is not their physical father, will they be unhappy to either have another man as their father in eternity or another woman as their mother in eternity? Before a woman gets sealed to another man after her husband has died, she needs to consider the possibility that the children may go with him, instead if with her.

If I am faithful and sealed to my wife, and I die, it is a shame to my memory to abuse and invalidate the fruits of my faithfulness to my covenant and to my wife by her sealing herself to another man. It is a shame to my covenant and memory if she risks putting me aside from herself and our children by seeking to be sealed to another man in his place. By very nature of such a choice she shows her unfaithfulness to her eternal commitment to her original husband and I wonder whether because of that the children may usually go with him, despite that we usually think of children as “going with the mother”. She has breached her covenant to give herself to him for eternity, by giving herself to another for eternity, so how can she receive the fruits of that first covenant, which included the children made eternally his and hers by that covenant? If he has been faithful to the covenant, why would she, who has beached it, receive them.

While only the Lord knows exactly how such things will be resolved, there are a few things that are clear from the revelations.

1. A man can be sealed eternally to multiple women.
2. Women cannot be sealed eternally to more than one man.
3. Children cannot be sealed eternally except to a couple who are, themselves, sealed eternally.

That means if a woman marries more than one man, eternally she will be sealed to at most one of them. Others will not have her in eternity. Also, each child will be sealed as the child of a couple that is sealed. How that is resolved when a woman is sealed to multiple men isn’t clear, but the consequences shouldn’t be ignored by those who are considering putting themselves in such situations.

The eternal nature of sealings should weigh heavily in the minds of those who are considering putting themselves or their offspring in one of these difficult positions. Consequences of sealings seem to have been thrown out the window in a divorce minded culture. They should be taught and it made clear that a woman will be sealed to only one man in the eternities and the children will be sealed to a set of parents,who are in fact sealed to each other.

If a man marries a woman sealed faithfully to another man, he is raising up seed to the other man, and not to himself.

A hard doctrine for us

One of the hardest of doctrines for us is the doctrine of the family and the promises made concerning posterity. We know that the members of the church were the Lord’s most faithful spirits, but we don’t want to admit that means that not all spirits in the premortal life were equally faithful. We want to take the powers of the waters of life out of God’s hands, and use modern medical means to specify exactly when and how many children we will accept. We want to take the power to ourselves, but we don’t want to face the spiritual consequences I think it is because we are spoiled. In our socieity we are used to thinking that we always deserve the best, and if we don’t choose the best a first, we shouldn’t be stuck with that which isn’t. For instance, suppose a woman has a child out of wedlock, and then later repents. Can the Lord send one of his most great and noble ones to be born as that child, or will he send someone whose spiritual promises in the premortal life were not at the foremost? He cannot send one of his great and noble ones into that situation. Now that goes horribly against our thinking. We think that if she repents then the Lord should send her a better spirit child because he knew in advance that she would repent. But we don’t gain spiritual blessings in advance and not all blessings can be gained in retrospect. It really isn’t any different that if she chose to marry a horrible man, and is then converted to the gospel. There is nothing in that conversion that changes the fact that she is married to a horrible man. Now the fact that she has repented offers opporunities to that horrible man, or to that child, but there are consequences of our actions, and the most sacred choices can have the most enduring consequences.

If we respect the Lord in the sacred choices we find blessings beyond our greatest expectations. If we do not do so we find disappointments that are beyond our greatest expectations.

The choices of intimacy have an ability to grow into something much larger. They are the power of creation and we need to watch out for what we choose to create through them. If we choose to ignore the great creators commands, then we may find that we have spouted a branch through marriage to or to children that will be a rebellious branch. As with any of Gods children, it may be that with great effort they can be swayed, but the branch that was PLANTED in that action is not a pleasant one and it will grown and begat more posterity after its likeness – if it is not swayed it will grow into a tree with wild fruit.

And if we will instead treat the ability to procreate with the utmost respect, not damming up the waters or life when married, getting married under the covenant of Abraham so that the lord can send us posterity through our generations that will bless all the nations of the earth, and whose hearts will turn to their fathers to in turn bless us long after our death, then we have planted a good tree that can grow into something wonderful.

So we must be very careful how we respect the waters of life, as they have the capacity to grwo into a tree that mimics the source from which they sprang.

Now there is more to this doctrine. After all the disciples did ask whether the man sinned or his parents sinned that he was born blind. The disciples did know that premortal choices and mortal choices of parents can have consequences for children. But the answer was neither, but so that the glory of God could be manifest in Christ healing him. And who can argue with that as being a coveted blessing, to be one who Christ would heal and thereby show forth his power in. It sounds as if the man knew of this honor the premortaity just as surely as the man who saw Christ as a baby in the temple already knew in mortality that he would see the Messiah before he died.

We want to make the Abrahamic covenant of sealing in the temple, but we don’t want to face the fact that if we intentionally choose to violate the covenant to multiply and replenish the earth, then we necessarily lose the accompanying blessing that through our posterity all the earth will be blessed, i.e. we lose the blessing that the Lord will send us spirit children that were foreordained to bless all the earth.

Yes, we can repent, but the gift of his choicest spirit children as posterity is bequeathed by covenant, and not in retrospect.