Category: Patriarchal

New Paper-Update November 21st

I gave a talk on Reformation Sunday about the priesthood. A paper based on the talk is now available as a download. The document is titled The Holy Order and can be accessed either on the Downloads page or through this link:
The Holy Order

The paper has been updated to correct some typos and add some missing words. Also a new footnote 58 has been added to clarify that the example used involved Moses. The example illustrated ancient Israel’s tribal identity issues involving Moses, and was “patriarchal.” In most Native American cultures today clan identity is reckoned from the wife’s clan, and is “matriarchal.”

Role of Women

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.

Cite your minds forward

A few days ago I directed you to Alma 13.  I suggested that it be read without preconceptions and you let the words just acquire whatever meaning they appear to have in the chapter itself.  Some of you have begun that process and have raised questions.  I thought I might revisit the chapter to open up a few ideas for those who haven’t begun the exercise.

 
Here’s the first verse:
 
And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.”
 
Why “cite your minds forward?” Especially since it was talking in the past tense?  Why is this idiom in the verse?  How would Joseph Smith know about this kind of word usage?  (Perhaps this is an indication the text is translated from another language rather than being composed in English.)
 
Why “the Lord God ordained priests?” Were they ordained by God indeed? Was there another man involved in conferring that authority? Did it necessarily come from God alone? What priesthood is it that is referred to?
 
What is “after his holy order?” Is this Aaronic? Is this Melchizedek? Or is this something different?  There are three orders of priesthood, the third being “Patriarchal” as explained in Beloved Enos.  Which one is this verse referring to of the three?
 
What form of priesthood is “after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son?”  Are all three? Or is there one that is distinguished by being uniquely after the order of His Son?
 
What “things” are these people to “teach.. unto the people?”  Is there something associated with what is contained in the chapter that alone is the province of those possessing the “holy order” to teach?  If so, why is that? 
 
What is going on here?  Is this deeper doctrine than we normally encounter?  If so, why has it eluded our attention?  If our preconceptions have blinded us to this material, then why would we want to ever read scripture through the blinding lens of the notions we have inherited?  Is this part of the wicked “traditions of our fathers” that the Book of Mormon warn us against?
 
Oh ye Gentiles….. 
 
Now I’m missing the weekly Book of Mormon class I taught for so many years. There I could go ahead and discuss all the answers.  My home was too small for the crowds and I wasn’t going to export it to a less sacred place where the Spirit would not permit me to teach.  Well, the questions are better than merely giving answers, as I have said before.  If you can learn to ask good questions, then you can go to the Lord and get the answers.  Who knows where that dialogue will lead you.