There are many disagreements among Latter-day Saints. Sitting in on a Sunday lesson in my High Priest’s Group will show just how many topics divide us. We understand a great deal differently from our history, our doctrine, and our priorities. This is normal among any group of people, even when they join together as fellow believers.
The most unifying thing about the church, however, is the service we render to others. Unlike many other denominations, our church is filled with opportunities to serve. It is expected. And it is rendered. Everywhere you turn the members are giving service.
I am not particularly political. The differences between political parties is so little as to not justify enthusiasm for either. However, I watched the evening of Mitt Romney’s acceptance last week. A number of speakers extolled his past service to others. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as parents spoke about the support they received from Bishop Romney for their troubles.
As I listened, it seemed to me this was a description of a typical Mormon Bishop. It can be found in thousands of wards throughout the church. It is an expected part of the calling. And that service and support is rendered willingly, week after week, throughout the church.
From Home Teachers to Visiting Teachers, Relief Society Presidents and Bishops, Elder’s Quorums and Young Women Leaders, there are continual acts of service and support expected and delivered.
It is my view this is the church’s greatest strength and its greatest appeal. We take it for granted. But when behavior which is “normal” for a Mormon Bishop was put on public display, it touched people to the point of tears. We get used to it. We shouldn’t. It is, after all, the pure religion of Christ. (James 1: 22-27.) It is what we do, more than what we say, that matters in practicing our faith.
This should unify us no matter what may divide us.
The fullness of the Gospel is found in the Book of Mormon. There you will find individual after individual who have returned, through faith, back to God’s presence. Once they have returned to God’s presence, they have a different view of themselves and others.
In the case of Lehi and his family, he listened to the testimony of others warning of the destruction of Jerusalem, took their warning seriously, and begged God on behalf of his people. (1 Ne. 1: 5.) As a result of his intercession and compassion for others, he was visited by God. (1 Ne. 1: 6.)
Lehi’s family did not believe him. They followed him into the wilderness, but only because of the respect accorded to the father in their society. None of the family could believe what he was saying.
The younger son, Nephi, prayed to be able to believe what his father Lehi was saying. Even though Nephi wanted to acquire faith, it was not easy to trust his father’s message. Because of his desire to believe, Nephi reports the Lord “did visit me;” this sounds like something more than it was. The Lord’s initial “visit” to Nephi consisted only in ‘softening Nephi’s heart so that he was able to believe his father.’ (1 Ne. 2: 16.)
This is the beginning. This is the first step. When the Lord first takes hold of your hand, it is a faint grip, a partial contact, a weak beginning. It is the token, however, that everyone must first receive. It comes from obeying and then acting faithfully on what has been shown to you. It requires you to sacrifice your own will to the Lord’s.
No one will return to the presence of God who has not received this gentle grip from the Lord. It is a true token given by the Lord; not just something ceremonial. It is the companion to faith. It is the start of the path you will walk back to the presence of God, passing the sentinels who stand along the way. They will want to know you have learned all you need from your experiences here to be able to return to God’s presence.
When the most dramatic points of struggle happen along the path, the Book of Mormon provides us with a view into the person where the struggle takes place. Nephi’s record of the fullness includes his testimony of kneeling on a dark Jerusalem street where he found the person of Laban lying drunk and unconscious before him. (1 Ne. 4: 7-8.) He disarmed him. Then took the time to admire the weapon of war he had taken from his fallen uncle, noting its precious material and workmanship. (1 Ne. 4: 9.)
While admiring the sword, he had the urge to slay Laban. (1 Ne. 4: 10.) Though Nephi attributed this impulse to “the Spirit” it was nothing more than an impulse. Here is where the cosmic struggle plays out. In Nephi’s heart, there is a strong urge to kill a man which, in Nephi’s life, is unprecedented. It is foreign to him. It is “the Spirit” and not Nephi who has this will to kill the man.
Nephi’s hesitancy is not based solely on moral scruples, but on all he believes about himself. He is not a man of war. He has “never before shed the blood of man” and does not think it appropriate to start now. (1 Ne. 4: 10.) This is not about self control, this is about who his identity. This is who Nephi believes himself to be. He is better than this base impulse. It is beneath him.
When he resists this impulse, “the Spirit” elevates the message. No longer is it “constraint” or inclination, but “the Spirit” now “speaks” to him in unmistakable words. (1 Ne. 4: 11.) The message not only clearly tells Nephi the Lord’s will in ‘delivering Laban into his hands,’ but also makes enough sense to Nephi that he can immediately recognize the many reasons for the Lord accomplishing this. (1 Ne. 4: 11.) The proof of the Lord’s hand lays before Nephi. After all, Laban is lying helpless, and “has been delivered into thy hands” as the most tangible, clear proof of God’s power. (Id.)
Yet all of this struggle is internal to Nephi. You could stand on the same street, at the same moment and see the same scene play out before you, and you would not be a witness to God’s great work underway.
The fullness of the Gospel requires us to recognize the hand of God guiding us. The battle we join is within. No one is spared from these stages of growth and development.
The church cannot provide you with an alternative means to get there. It is between you and God, alone. The scene will be as the Book of Mormon continually portrays it. That record is the most comprehensive retelling of how to return to God’s presence ever compiled. It was put together by those who made the journey along the path, passing all the sentinels who stand guard along the way. They embraced their Lord through the veil before entering again into His presence. Then, having been true and faithful, they were brought back into His presence and redeemed from the fall of mankind. (Ether 3: 13.) They, like the Brother of Jared, were redeemed because of their knowledge. (Ether 3: 19.)
Yet you insist on captivity because you have no knowledge. (Isa. 5: 13.) You take blind guides and are therefore, blinded by your own ignorance. (Matt. 23: 16.) You insist on keeping what can never inform you, while rejecting what is told you in plain words. (2 Ne. 32: 7.) You refuse to see and are willingly blind and therefore the greater darkness lies within you.
You can wait, as one recent and frequent, anonymous commentator has insisted, until there is a program offered to you by an institution and see how long it takes for you to learn of God. Or, believe in the Book of Mormon and remove yourself from condemnation. (D&C 84: 56-57.) But if you seek for approval from an institution, then the Lord cannot overcome the barrier you have erected between you and Him.
We are not accountable for things we do not control. The Lord alone in His wisdom will determine what will be done about such things. For us, it is what we do control that will matter. Our decisions about what opportunities He offers have eternal consequences.
One of those decisions is whether we recognize the opportunities before us. We allow a great deal to blind us and let us think the opportunity was never ours, when it was really within our control all along.
I’ve addressed the issue of “plural wives” elsewhere. I do not believe it is a requirement imposed on those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. The greatest challenge is to produce a couple who, in the image of God, are one. If a couple manage to overcome the world and become so, they do not need additional women to join them to qualify for exaltation. And if a group insists upon complicating the process by the multiplicity of wives before they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, the challenge to become one may never be overcome.
I have no doubts about the Lord’s kindness and compassion for all men and women. Therefore, I have no doubt about the circumstances of the single, or the forsaken woman who is faithful to the Gospel. There will be none who are abandoned by the Lord who are faithful to His teachings.
The role of woman is more glorious than I can explain in the present circumstances. To discuss all I know would be to violate the present order, which I will not do. But I have no hesitation to say that the “many great and important things” which are “yet to be revealed” (Articles of Faith, Article 9) will include a great deal more than presently understood about women. I do not know if that will need to wait until after the Lord’s second coming, or if it will be known to the church before then. What I do know, however, is that the full picture of woman’s past and future glory is presently withheld from man’s view in the wisdom of the Lord.
Temple rites are not complete. I’ve said that before on a number of occasions. When they are, the role of women will be greatly clarified. But it is not my calling or my right to get ahead of the Lord on such matters. What I can do, however, is to testify that among the things which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” is included a sound understanding of the role of women. It is only withheld at present because of our wickedness. What we have is enough to test us, and we are being tested. Will we ever be enough to pass the test to warrant the Lord giving more?
When we have more before we are ready to receive it then it only condemns us. The Lord is merciful in witholding such things.
What I also know is that if He will reveal things to any man He will do so to all mankind. Therefore as I said at the beginning, these are legitimate and worthy questions. They deserve an answer. Ask the Lord and trust His answer.
No man has ever been elevated to a throne in eternity who was not placed upon it by his wife.
I know more than I can or ought to say about this matter, but that has been a deeply personal journey. You should take that same journey. I do not want to rob you of discovery. Therefore, let me reiterate that this is a worthy topic and ought to be something you take to the Lord and inquire of Him. He can make it plain to you, only if you are prepared to receive it.
What is required to qualify us for the kingdom of Heaven is driven by what we each lack. In each person that is different. However, the final standard is the same for all of us.
Do not think a merciful and self-sacrificing Lord, who endured infinite suffering to redeem you, has any intention of disappointing you, much less of making you miserable. He will exalt you. But you cannot be as He is without first learning to trust Him and then to follow Him. He descended below it all. Are you greater than He? (D&C 122: 8.)
Man is incomplete. Woman is incomplete. The “image of God” is both male and female. (Gen. 1: 27.)
There is a reason for this necessity of both the man and woman to complete the image of God. The capacity of one is different from the other. Without betraying too much, I will close by saying this, which if you were to understand you would know more about God than you do at present:
The role of the man is knowledge.
The role of the woman is wisdom.
These are eternal, and not merely found here.
Even the names of God reflect these separate roles and the scriptures associate wisdom with the feminine. Underlying this are things which we are only shown to the faithful when we have first become more like God.
There is nothing to your lamentation and complaints that God will not provide a more than adequate reward for enduring. God will not leave you comfortless on this issue any more than He will on any subject which causes you tears. They will all be wiped away. (Rev. 7: 17.) You need to develop the faith to trust Him. He will not disappoint you.
Each of us needs to find God. Then we should lead our spouse to Him likewise. There is a lifetime of effort required to do so.
You ask about women and the Second Comforter. It is apparent from the question you have not read Come, Let Us Adore Him. I ask people to read what I’ve written to understand this blog. If you had taken that advice you would already know the first person to receive the risen Lord’s personal ministry was a woman. And you would likewise know there were many others who received His companionship and ministry before any of His Apostles. When He did visit with the Apostles, He rebuked them for not receiving the testimony of the women in particular. This makes clear that the Lord values His family and closest associates and companions more than an hierarchy. You should read that book if you’d like to understand Him better.
The “ambition” to have position or authority or power or “equality” is based on our mistaken understanding of patriarchy and confuses mankind’s bad example with God’s intention. You have also associated the idea of priesthood with the institutional positions of the church. Therefore, since women are barred from filling those institutional positions, you’ve reached a wrong conclusion.
Go back to what is most basic. It is the basic truths which matter most. All great truths are simple.
What is “priestly?” Whether it is done by a “priest” or by a “priestess” what exactly is “priestly?”
At the core, to perform a priestly act is to do something for the Lord; to act as His surrogate, or to act as His agent. The greatest of these priestly acts are rendered through service to others, and can be done by anyone, almost at any time, and in almost any circumstance.
When administering relief to others, you can act on the Lord’s behalf. When you clothe the naked and needy, or visit the sick and confined, or feed the hungry, you are doing His work. (Matt. 25: 34-46.)
The “chief seats” don’t matter. When men obtain the honors of others, sit in the chief seats, and receive public acclaim, they are not the ones to envy. Those who support themselves through the widow’s tithes are damned. (Luke 20: 45-47.)
The Lord has respect to the obscure, and He took greater notice of the faithful who donated her two mites than the rich who made a show. (Luke 21: 1-4.) This is who He is. This is who you are to serve. He has no respect for those who consume these donations from the poor. When you serve others, you are a priestess whom the Lord will recognize and are the one He intends to exalt. (Matt. 23: 11-12.) It is not the ruler who will be honored, but the servant. (Matt. 23: 8-12.)
There is nothing to envy from anyone who receives public acclaim, praise, adoration and celebration. (Matt. 23: 5-8.) When crowds gather to proclaim your greatness, this is neither priestly nor godly, and you have your reward. (Matt. 6: 1-4.) But when you serve in quiet and are faithful in secret, then you are priestly and the Lord will honor you. (Matt. 6: 5-6.)
There is nothing preventing you from acting the part of the priestess in blessing others and serving on the Lord’s behalf. (D&C 58: 26-29.) If you wait to act the part of a priestess until someone calls you to a priestly position, and then only want to hold office to be seen and recognized as a priestess, then you have failed to know your Lord.
You have confused priestly service for God and to your fellow man with rank, position and institutional authority. That is nothing. Worse than nothing. These institutional positions confuse both holders and observers into thinking this is what matters. Misused church position can become little different than membership in a civic club, as some leaders I have known. You probably have seen such people in your own experience. If your “service” is entirely confined there, and you do nothing to benefit the poor, the weak, the needy, the naked and you let the beggar pass by you unnoticed, then priestly service is for you only vanity and pride. It is not something to connect you with God. (Mosiah 4: 12-27.) You can do that without any institution conferring upon you, like “the Great and Powerful Oz” what is in reality nothing more than a watch, a certificate and a medal.
I would advise against looking to those who are almost always damned to decide what example to follow. (D&C 121: 39-40.) The ones acclaimed the most, celebrated the most, and who hold the greatest public eye generally have no authority from God anyway. (D&C 121: 34-37.) Do not either envy them or take them for your model. People who make this mistake aspire to be a child of hell. (Matt. 23: 10-15.)
Even if we receive all the praise men can bestow upon us, we are STILL not priestly. For that, you need to serve our Lord. The honors of men are nothing. They never have been anything. (D&C 121: 34-36.)
You want to be priestly? Then cry repentance. It will offend others, and will cause them to despise you, but will bring you to know your Lord. He is meek and lowly. He speaks to man in plain humility, as one man speaks to another.
His first witness of His resurrection, and therefore the first apostolic voice having authority to declare her witness that He who was dead is alive, was a woman. She was not among the church hierarchy, but the Lord rebuked the them for ignoring her authoritative and true witness. They were “fools and slow of heart” for this error.
Our Lord is no respecter of persons. You ought not be either. To the extent you allow false and exaggerated claims to inform your understanding of a meek and lowly Lord, you will always reach errant conclusions. That is part of the deception we are required to overcome here.
There are many questions about issues specific to women in the emails I receive. They go way beyond the one email I posted on Sunday. Many express disappointment about “denying” priestly office to women in the church. My reaction to that issue is to say: Why aspire to be like those claiming patriarchal priority based upon an exclusive “priesthood” when, for almost all men, their ordination will never result in heaven conferring power upon them? (D&C 121: 36-37.) Why envy nothing?
There is a misapprehension about “priesthood” and authority. This can be tracked back to the failure to adequately teach in the church, and by the example we see in the management of the church. In the church the man is called to office (bishop, stake president, elder’s quorum president, etc.). The man is supposed to fill that office using two counselors to help him. His wife is not one of his counselors. The positions often require confidences to be kept. Because of this, a bishop does not discuss everything about his calling with his wife. This gives the mistaken impression that the men fulfilling these roles matter more, and are trusted more by the Lord.
This model is a mirage, and to the extent the church is selected as the object of admiration and reverence, it will only fool you. Remember the church will end with death. The government of God in eternity is His Heavenly Family. These family relationships endure. The church will remain a creation of, and occupant confined to the Telestial world. It is a Telestial institution, attempting to invite you to rise up to something more, something higher, something that will endure. But the church extending that invitation is not to be envied. Service in it is not the model of Celestial glory. Your family is the critical relationship in mortality.
A man and woman would be better off if they never held any church office other than home and visiting teaching. They would be better off if they realized it is the family alone that will endure, and then devote themselves to improving that relationship. Inside the family, the woman is the natural and undeniable counselor, and she is presiding within the family alongside her husband. She should join with him in blessing their children, she should lay hands on her husband when he asks and bless him, and she should be one with him. Because inside the home it is the husband and wife, not the bishop, who presides. Even the president of the church does not call a man to office without first asking his wife to sustain him in the calling. Nor does the woman get a calling without consulting her husband. All the envy and misapprehensions notwithstanding, the fact remains that the church is inferior to the family. The church is temporary, transient and Telestial. The family can be eternal, enduring and Celestial.
To the extent that you choose the church to inform your understanding, you are setting it up as an idol. That approach does more harm than good. No institution can display what it was never intended to be. It is the unity found in marriage, not the structure of organizing the church, which should become our focus.
This week’s topic has been the subject of repeated discussions between me and my wife. Each morning we spend about an hour talking about many different issues as we walk together, the role of woman being one of them. Each evening we also spend time discussing important issues, from the Gospel to family matters to finances and everything in-between. She not only edits my writing, but discusses what I write with me. She is a constant adviser and counselor to me. Her view of this subject is much more critical of women’s misunderstanding than mine. She finds many complaints and complainers exasperating. Through prayer and study, she has had to come to terms with many of these same issues. On the ones she doesn’t struggle with or can’t get answers to, she trusts that God loves her and that “everything will be okay.” We find it joyful and necessary to reason together and discuss gospel issues with one another.
If we are all the Lord’s, there should be unity between us all; even more so between husband and wife. That does not come through neglect. It comes through effort. Sometimes the effort must begin by the woman bringing to the attention of the husband what he is failing to do or to be. Then it grows from there to discussion, and finally understanding and agreement. That is the work of every relationship. It cannot be avoided. Effort and time are required for any union to be obtained.
The unity of man and woman is required for either of them to be saved in the truest meaning of “saved” (meaning exalted):
Paul wrote: “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11: 11.) But what does that mean?
-Is “sealing” enough?
-What if the couple are unworthy of being preserved because, among other things, they are not happy together?
-Why keep together what is more punishment than reward?
-If this union is required for either to be exalted, then does it matter who is sealed to who, with what language?
-What is your responsibility?
-How can you return to God without seeking to reclaim and redeem your husband?
-Remember the counsel of Hyrum Smith when he wrote as the prophet to the church? He said:
These things we have written in plainness and we desire that they should be publicly known,
The marriage of man and woman puts into the closest and most intimate contact two very different people. In their union it is possible to create offspring. It is this basic relationship where the two most important things are accomplished:
1. The work of bringing new life into the world, and
2. The work of overcoming the world and becoming “one.”
Yet fools seek to overcome the world while leaving their spouse uninvolved. Or, in other words, they seek to avoid the very test that is required and which is given to us all to help us to overcome the world. Remember there is neither the man nor the woman without the other in the Lord.
Assuming this is the requirement, then does the wording of church rites matter? Does language sealing the woman to the man change this need of unity?
I’ve received several requests about how to register for the October Temple Conference. The telephone number at Utah State University taking the registration information is:
You can register over the phone for the conference.
The link to the website where additional information can be found is:
That site will be updated from time to time as additional information becomes available.
First, and foremost, the questions about the role of women arise from a misunderstanding of God’s will and nature, and from mistrust of God’s intentions. The first is because we teach poorly. The second is because we make the mistake of identifying God’s intentions with men’s behavior. The failure of men to live the ideals required by God do not alter God’s intention. Therefore, you should not conflate these. You can overcome both without ever listening to anything I have to say. It is, or ought to be, between you and God. I loathe to put myself between you and Him. The understanding of these two principles is all you need to go forward and get an answer directly from Him. To overcome the second, you will need to repent of your idolatry. Do not make the church an idol, and do not judge God by that idol. Realize the church is an organization staffed by frail men trying hard, but with very difficult circumstances facing them in this fallen world. Be charitable.
With that in mind, your questions should not be viewed as a problem, but as an opportunity to learn more about (and from) God. These are wonderful concerns, and they deserve an answer. God does have answers. I cheat people when I say too much about a given subject. Particularly when the topic is so important and the answer ought to be given by God.
Ponder these questions:
-What if the “role” you occupy is not just your test, but also a test of your husband (and Mormon men generally)?
-What if the Lord has only allowed you and your husband to “suppose” he has “a little authority” when, in fact, he has nothing more than an invitation to arise and receive it from heaven? (D&C 121: 39.)
-What if the Lord intends to judge your husband (and all Mormon men) on the basis of how the man conducts himself to see if he uses the wrong kind of “authority” to impose and control and exercise dominion? (D&C 121: 37.)
-What if no authority can be claimed by virtue of the priesthood? (D&C 121: 41.)
-What if to prove the heart of the man, it is necessary to put you and your husband into this probationary relationship to see if he follows the Lord or is blinded by the craftiness of men who deceive among all sects, including our own? (D&C 123: 12.)
-What if the man chooses to ignore the Holy Spirit and proceed ahead on his own desire for patriarchal supremacy?
-What if the Lord intends for you to ultimately be his “judge” because you are now apparently “subject to” him and will learn best what is in his heart?
-What if, whether you want to show all the compassion of a saint toward mormon leaders (including your husband), you are nevertheless subjugated, controlled and exploited? Will they be left in such a position after this life when greater things are underway?
-What if the conditions for the salvation of man are different than the conditions for the salvation of women?
-What if the primary obligation of the man is to preserve correct doctrine, God’s approval to bestow ordinances, and practice correct faith? If it is, how well have men performed this obligation throughout history? How well do men perform this today?
-What if women have a primary (not exclusive) obligation to bring children into the world, care for and nurture them, and live chaste lives? In other words, what if women will be judged primarily in their role as mothers? How well have women performed this obligation throughout history? Unlike men, has there ever been a worldwide “apostasy” by women where children were no longer born or cared for in this world?
The illusion of man’s patriarchal and priesthood power allows them to put on display what is in their hearts. (D&C 121: 35.) When they begin to “exercise a little authority, as they suppose” in a way which gratifies their pride, or exercises control, dominion and compulsion over the soul of another, they “prove” who and what they are. The one most immediately affected (the wife) would be the one most able to judge the man’s performance. Therefore a wise man will seek to elevate his wife, and a fool will abuse and dominate her. A wise woman will trust in the Lord and know that He is the judge of the living and the dead, and He will always restore only what is right, pure, merciful, just, true and worthy. (Alma 41: 13.)
The focus of the question is wrong. It takes a topic which should be unifying and changes the it into something competitive. I do not fault anyone for having these questions. They are a product of the environment. However, marriage as intended by God should be cooperative. The relationship is intended to make of the two “one flesh.” (Gen. 2: 24; see also Matt. 19: 4-6.) It is in becoming “one” that both the man and woman become like God. In a very real way, everything I said above, even if entirely appropriate and justified, is merely adding to the problem. The real value of the man and the woman is to be found in their unity, not in their disunity. Therefore, we must look to what the unity should include to know the real answer to the questions that alienate, divide spouses from one another, and make women feel subjugated.
Here is an update on the Temple Conference. There will be a more formal announcement that will include some additions. However, since some will be traveling to attend, here is some information to help you plan.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE REGISTERED:
All those who registered for the Conference will be invited to a reception on Saturday evening, October 27th. The presenters will be there and available for you to meet during that evening reception.
On Sunday, October 28th, I will be speaking at an evening fireside. This will be free and open to the public. The location and time will be announced later.
The Conference will be all day on Monday, October 29th. Those who are registered and attend will receive a book that will include all the talks. This is part of the registration fee.
Seating is limited. At present, about half the seats have been reserved. This is a first come first serve event, and I believe there are approximately 320 seats.
More information will follow.
There are a number of comments that come in and I only respond to them generally. In that way, I hope to cover more than just one inquiry in a single post. Here, then, are some general reminders:
How can you want so intensely what you do not yet understand?
The identity of who the Lord will send will be known only when that person has done the work. No one who has failed to accomplish the work can claim the identity. Vanity is no substitute for doing the works of God.
No man ever pleased God without repenting.
The greatest evidences of God’s power, apart from Christ’s resurrection, are yet to be. It will be the latter-day Zion: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.” (Jer. 23: 7-8.)
It is apparent that for many people the concept of “the Celestial Kingdom” is only an imaginary concept based upon the vaguest of understanding. But it is something they claim to “really want.” Something a person claims to want ought to be the subject of a better informed investigation.
There have been many questions (perhaps hundreds now) from women asking about women’s issues. I’ve decided to spend next week addressing these questions in a very general way. However, to give you some context, here is one of the latest comments I’ve received. Read this and you can better understand next week’s posts:
What happens if someone like me has concerns about some of the things the church teaches as doctrines? I always go along, never making waves. But sometimes I feel like the worst kind of hypocrite. I feel like a complete mutant when you speak of Zion and sanctification. I’ve had almost every calling a woman can have, and yet I feel like a stranger in the household of God. I pray, study the scriptures, fast, attend the temple, and read from good sources, such as yours. But a lot of how the church believes feels alien to my soul: the role of women chief among them. Sometimes it feels hopeless because the things you and other men in the church say just don’t feel attainable to people like me. We never hear of stories of women receiving their calling and election, except through their husband. I know of no story where a woman has received the Second Comforter. No matter how it’s worded, women are not valued the same as men. Afterall, we are given to our husbands, but they do not give themselves back. Men receive the power of God to act in his name, but women do not. We are sealed to our husbands, but they are not sealed to us. We hearken to our husbands while they hearken to God. Why can’t I just hearken to God like he does? Men become the Sons of God, but women never become the Daughters of God. We are queens and priestesses to our husbands, but not to God. Everything for women is to your husband or through your husband, but not directly through God or to ourselves. Plural marriage is the greatest abomination to women that ever existed — worse than rape and prostitution — because we are expected to be happy to have our husband fall in love with and show sexual attraction to another, many other women. Yet we are selfish if this bothers us. How can this be morally clean when a man shares with another woman what he should only share with one wife? If a wife wanted to be with another husband, or many, she would immediately be called immoral, an adulteress, and kicked out. Surely a just God who is no respecter of persons would not be so favoring of His sons, and so cruel to His daughters. I have studied until I am in a deep abyss of pain. I have lost all joy for the hereafter. I have no hope to be the kind of woman the church teaches women must be. I cannot understand how women can be so blasé about such horrible positions and men can think women would want to live like this for eternity. You may think me ignorant or rebellious, but I can only say I have studied for decades and my pain is desolating to my soul. Doesn’t anyone understand how inherently unfair and condescending patriarchy is? I’ve heard several brethren say that whatever God commands, setup, or mandates is right. Period. But would a truly loving God setup something so blatantly one-sided? Motherhood is comparable to fatherhood, not priesthood. And no, I don’t lust to be a Bishop or any other position men hold. I just cannot understand how women can be relegated to such lesser status as to not hold the holy priesthood and be able to have the same responsibilities and roles as men. We are worthy, capable, and it would lift humankind to a greater level of living. It would enrich the kingdom tremendously. To be told you don’t need it, you share it with your husband feels like a very patronizing stand to take. It is patronizing. Why can’t we share it by both of us holding it and helping our families together? What is to become of people like me?
The “third member of the Godhead” is still in a probationary state. “The Holy Ghost is now in a state of probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.” (WJS, p. 245, 27 August 1843.) Perhaps you understand that now.
The Holy Ghost is “a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (D&C 130: 22.) It is “the testator” of the Father and the Son. (TPJS, p. 190.) Perhaps you understand that now.
The baptism of water is unto repentance. It is done upon the body you occupy. You no doubt should understand that.
The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is unto sanctification. It is done upon the body and Spirit within you. Perhaps you understand that now.
There is “power” which sustains everything, as we have discussed over the last two weeks. (D&C 88: 13.) That power is called the Holy Spirit. Among its many attributes is the Holy Ghost. But no matter what you think you know, there is always more to learn. The responsibility to teach what cannot be said is reserved for God. God teaches, or “reveals” to man through the Holy Ghost the deep things of God. Hence the saying by Joseph that “the Holy Ghost is a revelator” and “you cannot receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelation.” (TPJS, p. 328.)
Man was made in the image of God. (Moses 2: 27.) Man’s destiny is to be redeemed. God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life and exaltation of man. (Moses 1: 39.) That work is not completed until you sit upon the same Throne as Christ and His Father. (Rev. 3: 21-22.)
Nothing here is static. Things in this sphere are either growing or decaying. There is either increase or decrease. These two opposing forces bring new life into this world and then decay and destroy it. Then it is recycled as another life rises from and uses the elements of the prior, deceased plant, animal or man. The purpose of baptism of “fire and the Holy Ghost” is to preserve and to purge a living being. It is to render indestructable the organism upon which it descends. It is not to prevent earthly death, but to allow eternal life. Christ’s Gospel is to bring eternal life so that those who die may live again eternally. (John 11: 25.) These people never die, because they live eternally through the fire bestowed upon them. (John 11: 26.) Such eternal life begins now, while still in the flesh. They live here as members of another assembly, and then pass from here to join them again. (D&C 76: 67.) Though they are men in the flesh, they are gods, even the sons of God, and all things are given unto them. (D&C 76: 58-60.)
Yet in all this man cannot glory in man, but must glory in God. The victory is His alone. (D&C 76: 61.)
This topic cannot be adequately explained by man to another man, but it can be known to any man through God. It is intended that all should be converted and experience this, including you. Be believing. Ask. Seek. Knock. It will be opened to you, as it has for all those who are faithful and trusting of God.
The Holy Ghost is not only “the Comforter” but also:
-the record of heaven.
-the truth of all things.
-that which quickeneth all things.
-that which maketh alive all things.
-that which knoweth all things.
-that which has all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment.
(Moses 6: 61.)
Therefore I say unto you: “receive the Holy Ghost.”
The work of this “baptism of fire” is always sanctification. It brings the recipient into greater contact with God. The end of that increasing contact is to receive the Son, through whose blood you are sanctified. (Moses 6: 59-60.) Once sanctified you are prepared for the presence of the Father. (Alma 45: 16; 1 Ne. 10: 21.) Therefore, this is how you receive “the fullness” (D&C 93: 19-20) and are able to join the “general assembly and Church of the Firstborn” (D&C 76: 66-67).
In the Lamanite experience and in the Nephite group who Christ visited in the 3 Nephi account, there came a point at which the heavens opened, a pillar of fire descended, and angels came and ministered to them all. Each were endowed with knowledge of mysteries belonging to God. There was a connection forged between them and those on the other side of the veil. These others are the “general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”
There is a significant difference between the Lamanite experience and the 3 Nephi experience. The latter one began with Christ ministering to the recipients. This point should not be lost. Joseph Smith’s experiences likewise began with the Father and Son appearing to him. As pointed out yesterday, the sequence is not important and does not control. Even with the Lord’s personal ministry, you can still read in the account a similar series of events, steps and milestones. This means something. Events can and will vary in order, but do not vary in content. As explained in Beloved Enos, the Lord’s work is consistent with all who receive redemption.
This kind of conversion is required for Zion to return (D&C 76: 66) because those who will be in Zion must dwell with God (D&C 29: 11; D&C 45: 66-71). The first Zion was brought through the ministry and teaching of Enoch. (Moses 7: 20.) As a result of this the priesthood was renamed for him. When Melchizedek, by teaching righteousness brought about the City of Peace, the priesthood was again renamed for him. (D&C 76: 57.) Joseph Smith could have brought again Zion, but he was betrayed by his own people, surrendered to arrest, and was killed.
When Zion returns again, the priesthood will be renamed. (Moses 6: 7.) It will no longer be called the priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” (D&C 76: 57), nor the priesthood “after the order of Enoch” (D&C 76: 57), but will again be called the priesthood “after the Order of the Only Begotten Son” (D&C 76: 57.) The one whom our Lord uses to accomplish this last gathering will refuse to allow the priesthood to be called after his name; respecting instead the prophecy of Adam rather than claiming such an honor for himself (Moses 6: 7). He will want it to return to the Lord. The city will likewise be the Lord’s Men must finally return to Him, and He to them.
There is a progression of blessings conferred through the fire and Holy Ghost. Even if there is a mere beginning, there is a glorious ending. As with the Lamanites, it leads to an open vision into heaven, ministering of angels, and an endowment of unspeakable learning. It brings to the initiated the knowledge of the mysteries of God.
This more distant end of the endowment also involves priestly rights. Priesthood ordination is required before entering into the ceremonial presence of God in His Temple rites. Priesthood conferral is required to enter into His actual presence. The revelations are clear in connecting baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost with knowledge of God’s mysteries. (3 Ne. 11: 35-36; 3 Ne. 19: 13-14.) They are equally clear in connecting this knowledge of God with priesthood. (See D&C 84: 19; D&C 107: 19.)
The fullness of the Gospel, the fullness of the Priesthood, and the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost all have as their object to reconnect man to God and God to man. Man is unworthy to enter into God’s presence, and therefore, requires a power higher than their own from which to borrow purity. This purifying agent is the Holy Ghost. (3 Ne. 19: 22, 28.) Christ will administer the final rites and confer the final blessings only upon the pure. (3 Ne. 19: 29-33.) The reference to “blood” as sanctifying is a reference to the Lord. (Moses 6: 59-60.) He alone sanctifies.
The Lord is directly involved in the final endowment of fire upon the Holy ones. This is what He explained in January, 1841 to the Saints when He explained to Joseph: “For there is not a place found on earth that he [meaning Christ] may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.” (D&C 124: 28.) The Lord can confer this upon a single man in any location. (See, e.g., D&C 132: 45-50, when Joseph Smith received it long before the first Temple was built.) But to confer it upon a group intended to become His people, He requires His House to be built for Him to meet with and confer these final rites upon them. (D&C 124: 39.) Only there will these things take place. (D&C 124: 40-41.) People can gather and build a Temple. A single man cannot.
When the Lord establishes Zion, He will come dwell with His people there and complete the process of endowing them with His knowledge and power. The power of God will protect these people.(D&C 45: 66- 70.) They cannot be moved because the Lord will not permit it. (D&C 124: 45.) While man does not have the power to do so, the laws of the Celestial Kingdom must be lived for Zion to be established. (D&C 105: 5.) The power to do so comes from God, delivered through His Holy Spirit, making men’s spirits Holy. Baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost are necessary parts of bringing mankind back to redemption and into God’s presence.
The experience of Joseph and Oliver at their baptism, months before they would receive priesthood with authority to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, requires you to ask yourself:
-Can this experience be regarded as a form of “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost?”
-If so, then what are the essential elements of the experience?
-If not, then what more is required?
We want to have absolute events; for the light to be either on or off. However, the scriptures use the experiences in the lives of disciples following the Lord to illustrate and teach the doctrines. Nephi in particular, is a gifted composer of experience-based doctrinal teaching. He focuses his narrative entirely on doctrine, but uses his personal experience to draw from to teach the doctrine.
Christ declared the Lamanites experienced “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” (3 Ne. 9: 20). This week we have compared that event with the Nephites’ experience in 3 Nephi. The following is a list of what was similar between the two:
-A voice speaks to them telling them to repent. (Hel. 5: 29; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 3.)
-The voice is not thunderous, but nevertheless pierced them to their core. (Hel. 5: 30; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 3.)
-The voice repeats a second time. (Hel. 5: 32; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 4.)
-The voice repeats a third time. (Hel. 5: 33; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 5-7.)
-The communication includes such marvelous information man is unable to communicate it. (Hel. 5: 33; compare with 3 Ne. 17: 16-17.)
-The Lamanite observers saw Lehi and Nephi in a pillar of fire, with angels ministering to them. (Hel. 5: 36-37; compare with 3 Ne. 17: 23-25.)
As the account continued, they repented, were wrapped in fire and were able to speak inspired words. (Hel. 5: 44-45.) These are additional events, so you must decide:
-Do all these things need to occur before there has been “fire and the Holy Ghost?’
-Are they things that will unfold as a result of receiving “fire and the Holy Ghost?”
-Can you receive “fire” and have your sins purged without all of this accompanying the event?
-Can you receive the “gift of the Holy Ghost” as your companion without a visible pillar of fire?
Joseph received an audience with the Father and the Son, stood in a pillar of fire, and was commissioned to do a great work. BUT this happened before he was baptized, before any priestly authority was conferred by John the Baptist, before a church existed, temple rites were restored, before marriage, sealing, etc. If you reflect on that for a moment you will see the order of events does not control. There is an order, and it is generally followed, but it is the fullness of this endowment that is important and not the order it is given.
In Nephi’s explanation of this gift, he refers to another, much shorter list. It includes:
-Repenting of your sins.
-Witnessing your repentance by baptism in water.
-Receiving the power to “speak with the tongue of angels.” (See 2 Ne. 31: 13-14.)
Joseph and Oliver did these things. And, as they experienced it, “No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things.” (JS-H 1: 73.)
The Lamanite experience in Helaman 5 does not include baptism by water before this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, but it did require repentance. We can know from subsequent missionary work they performed that they preached, and undoubtedly did receive baptism (or rebaptism). But the order is changed. A change in order, however, is not a change in requirement. To fully repent, they needed to witness it by baptism. Therefore, the ordinance may have followed, but it was a necessary part of the process.
The most consistent and the minimum description of this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost includes these elements:
-baptism by water,
-baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost,
-evidenced by speaking with the tongue of angels.
One proof of baptism of fire is the gift of prophecy. Both Joseph and Oliver experienced the gift. So did the Lamanites, which they used to preach and declare repentance. I also experienced it after baptism in water. The gift follows as a sign to confirm baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. (D&C 63: 9.)
This “gift,” like other signs, is designed to confirm in the one who receives it a witness to them, from God, that this baptism has occurred. It is one of the essential elements, and is present in all the accounts. It appears on Nephi’s list also.
Beyond this minimum list, however, there are these other events that the Nephites and the Lamanites also experienced. There are many facets to understanding the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost, and there is a host of things which can be associated with baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. There is a continuum.
It is in this sense that Nephi’s and Joseph Smith’s experiences provide us the best blueprint. The Book of Mormon accounts (with the exception of Nephi) are often sudden and compressed. Both Nephi’s and Joseph’s were unfolding, growing and spreading to include ultimately comprehending both God and the eternities.