Those darn scriptures

Sometimes the scriptures just don’t fit that well with modern thinking. Joseph Fielding McConkie said it well:

In revelation both ancient and modern, the Lord refers to his own words as being “sharper than a two edged sword.” In modern vernacular, much that he said is “politically incorrect.” It is judgmental, divisive, rigid, closed-minded, and all too often just plain embarrassing. In many of our instructional meetings, the teaching of ethics prevails over the teaching of doctrine simply to avoid giving offense or to avoid disagreement. Everyone is pleased to speak of God’s love; rare are the mentions of his wrath or displeasure.

Here I collect some of the scriptures which are least satisfactory to the modern thinker. For those that hope they are not really scriptures I include references to more modern teachings of them.
1 Corinthians 5: 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators

Paul follows this by clarifying that he isn’t meaning a symbolic “fornication with the world”, he means those involved in serious sexual sin. Obviously this includes those engaging in homosexuality and other perversions.

If I was to raise my hand in sunday school class and state that we should avoid companying with those involved in serious sexual sin, I just can’t imagine what the backlash would be. But there it is in the scriptures. Yes, we invite them to have faith, repent of their sins and be baptized. Joseph Smith taught:

“Christ said he came to call sinners to repentance, to save them. Christ was condemned by the self-righteous Jews because He took sinners into His society; He took them upon the principle that they repented of their sins. It is the object of this society to reform persons, not to take those that are corrupt and foster them in their wickedness; but if they repent, we are bound to take them, and by kindness sanctify and cleanse them from all unrighteousness by our influence over people as the fear of being disfellowshiped by so goodly a society as this.”

By contrast, in these days “fostering them in their wickedness” has become all the rage.
Moses 2: 28 And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

That the command is to multiply and replenish, not to have children if, when and to the degree that it fits your personal designs, is definitely unpopular. In my lifetime I believe I have never heard a speaker or teacher I wasn’t related to teach this truth in a local church meeting, not even when (as happened quite recently) the sacrament speaker is boldly summarizing the truths found in the proclamation and reads the relevant sentences. They were read as if they were empty space and the speaker moved on. Thank goodness for general conference and the proclamation on the family (and the temple). That this is not only a commandment, but a covenant requirement was taught by Boyd K Packer. This requirement has been taught again and again with clear clarifications that it means to neither wait to have children nor to limit the number of them. Some speakers who have hit this are Spencer W Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Neil L Anderson. Joseph Fielding Smith was extraordinarily blunt about this. Brigham Young and Spencer W Kimball taught that when members limit the number of their children they force spirits who would have been born into gospel homes to go to families who don’t have the gospel.

Some of the most offensive scriptures I am aware of to modern ears are the found in Ephesians 5.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

These are so offensive to modern ears that you can become an outcast merely for quoting them like they actually mean something. These same verses have been taught in general conference by A Theodore Tuttle, Hugh B Brown, Stephen L Richards, and on three occasions by Spencer W Kimball. They have also been quoted without apology by Joseph Smith who, from the context, took them quite seriously.

Yes it is true that there is a heavy obligation on the husband to love your wife, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself to it, and the above speakers clearly believe in that obligation. Yes some of these speakers as well as other more sacred settings clarify that whatever this teaches about wives, it is contingent on the husband’s righteousness. However, merely quoting those scriptures immediately leads to accusations (spoken or unspoken) that you are an apostate who desires to be a tyrant in your own home. No, that isn’t what I want. But I believe in the scriptures, and the mere rabble rousing effects these verses have suggests to my mind that something is amiss in the minds of those who respond so.
Another strong candidate that would make a world of difference to our lives and the lives of our posterity is found in the Book of Mormon:

Mosiah 23: 14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.


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John Robertson

I am nothing more than a regular member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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