There are many references to early church leaders being descended from Israelite bloodlines. Even if that is the case, however, the Book of Mormon usage refers to us as “gentiles” unless descended from Lehi.
Luke preserved this now familiar parable of the Lord’s:
Until we understand the core, there is no topic on the periphery worth giving any attention.
That’s a title that ought to get readers.
I’ve been thinking about adultery since the 4th, when my wife, the bishop’s wife and I were talking about the abysmal job we do of teaching anything on the subject. The bishop’s wife is a nurse, and she does rape-kit exams at local hospitals. Her view of the condition of young Latter-day Saints’ understanding alarms her. Both perpetrators and victims are often Latter-day Saints. The casual way in which young women put themselves at risk reflects poor teaching, warning and counsel. She tries to educate, but there’s a lot of soft-selling going on instead of candid teaching and warning.
I wrote a paper for the stake presidency when I was on the high council. As a result, there was a series of 5th Sunday adult meetings conducted by a member of the stake presidency in our stake. The paper later became the basis of one chapter in Eighteen Verses.
Out of wedlock children who are raised by single mothers has become one of the great tragedies of our day. Children raised by a single mother, without fathers present comprise about 70 percent of juvenile murderers, drug abusers, suicides and runaways. While I was on the high council, adultery was the top reason for temple marriages breaking up in our stake.
Parents have the primary responsibility for teaching youth about this subject. It is important enough that you should be candid with your children. They deserve to be taught, to be warned, to understand the cultural atmosphere of casual sex is ultimately destructive of life itself. It imprisons.
If you love your children, teach them. And set a good example before them. The church is not responsible for teaching your children, you are. They aren’t going to be doing the job only you can perform.
Well, on another topic, I finally enjoyed being able to do legally what used to require sneaking up to Evanston, Wyoming, and smuggling back contraband to Utah to accomplish… Aerial fireworks are now legal in Utah. I suspect that has kept several million dollars in Utah for the 4th, and will keep even more here for the 24th. (That’s Pioneer Day, a State holiday in Utah.) We may not get drunk in Utah, but we do blow the hell out of things as a workable substitute. –Well, perhaps I ought to qualify that: Some few of us, who celebrate around our neighbors, and invite our street, where our bishop lives to our 4th of July party, don’t get drunk in Utah. As for those out of sight, I can’t account for them.
Although Joseph Smith revealed many, previously unknown things, his ministry was devoted primarily to bringing others into fellowship with God. The ordinances, scriptures, revelations, and teachings restored through him were not intended to titillate, but to instruct on how to reconnect with God.
From his emphasis on the promise in James 1: 5 (“if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God …and it shall be given him”) leading to the First Vision, to the promise of Moroni 10: 4 (“I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and … he will manifest the truth of it unto you”), to D&C 93: 1 (“It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandmetns, shall see my face and know that I am”), and in numerous other places throughout his ministry, Joseph reiterated both the possibility and imortance of each soul coming directly to God.
This is the role of a true messenger. It is to bring others into harmony with God. Not to titillate them with new information, leaving them without knowledge of God. When someone delivers a new message that does not include knowledge about how the audience may come to God themselves, then the primary intent is always to make others dependent on the messenger. It is vanity. It is prideful. It is to call attention to themselves in an effort to place themselves above their fellow man, and interject themselves between the person and God. It is priestcraft.
The “welfare of Zion” consists of teaching others how to come to God themselves, and receive the heavenly promises directly from God. (See 2 Ne. 26: 29) Zion will be composed exclusively of those who can endure the presence of God. Therefore, it is necessary for everyone to come up to the heavenly mount by their own repentance and remembrance of the Lord.
It is foolishness to separate information about the Lord’s doings from instruction on how to become redeemed. It is vanity to spread new, and personal revelation about the afterlife, God, man, prophecy, visionary encounters, and spiritual experiences if the primary reason does not focus on instructing how the audience can come to God themselves. It is also dangerous to trust teachings which fail to give you guidance on how you can find God for yourself. If all that is delievered is a message about some great experience, the experience was not intended for you. It isn’t important. It is the way to find God that will save you. Not someone else’s new, and exciting spiritual manifestation.
I’ve shared almost nothing of the things I have learned. But I’ve tried to share everything about how you can “come and see” (John 1: 46). Still, however, there are very few who can detect the difference. Still there remain those who are tossed to and fro by the sleight of men. (Eph. 4: 14.)
Here’s how things really work: New revelation for the church comes from the top. It is not binding upon anyone unless it comes through the correct channel, and then is sustained as binding upon the church. Whether you like that system or not, that is the system. HOWEVER, every church member is obligated to teach one another the doctrines of the kingdom. Expounding, exhorting, teaching, and instructing is a common obligation imposed upon us all. Therefore, everything I have written, all I have taught, and the things I have testified about are confined to elaborating upon the established doctrines of the church, the revelations in the Book of Mormon, the other standard works, and Joseph Smith’s teachings. I’ve said almost nothing about my personal revelations because they were intended for me. They will not help you. They equip me to be able to preach, teach, exhort and expound, but just publishing what I know to the world will not aid any other person in their individual journey.
Salvation for you is a journey exactly like the journey undertaken by Joseph Smith. Which is also identical to the journey undertaken by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Which was modeled upon the pattern coming down through Noah. Who was a contemporary with Enoch, both of whom undertook the same journey. Which originated with Adam, who came back into God’s presence three years previous to his death, and received “comfort” from the Lord (D&C 107: 53-55). The Lord is the promised Comforter who will come to all of us on the same conditions (John 14: 23, D&C 130: 3). I was asked, and wrote a manual on that process in the first book, The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. The purpose of the book has nothing to do with my own recognition or importance. Throughout the book my many failings are discussed. The book is about the reader, and how the reader can come to know God.
Still people will go to great trouble, and spare no effort to find someone who will only give a titillating peek behind the veil, but who will do nothing to instruct you on how you can meet God here, be redeemed from the fall of man, and come back into God’s presence. This is the purpose of the Gospel, and the definition of redemption. (Ether 3: 13.) Telling about personal experience cannot help another. Testifying to the process, however, is the burden of all true teaching.
I am a fool, and anyone who thinks otherwise is misled. My only relevance is the common obligation imposed upon us all to preach, teach, exhort and expound. I confine all I do to that obligation. The only thing I can offer anyone is to point them to the One who is filled with truth and light, which is intelligence. (D&C 93: 36.) And still there are those who cannot discern between what and how I teach, and how others who are practicing only priestcraft do so. I am saddened, not particulary surprised, but saddened. These are the times we live in. (Isa. 29: 9-10.)
What more could have been done than the Lord has already done? Is it not us, not He, upon whom the blame must be lain?
The Latter-day famine continues unabated still. Not because there isn’t something worth consuming, but because we crave only the weakest of gruel, which cannot sustain life. Therefore, let us all feast away and still become famished until at last we perish without hope, having wasted the days of our probation. We didn’t care much for Joseph’s message in his day, and we fail to even notice it in ours.
I’ve been reflecting on a commonly held belief concerning the Holy Ghost. Among Latter-day Saints the assertion is widely believed that the Holy Ghost will always leave a “good feeling” as the evidence of a message coming from God. This is in contrast with Joseph Smith’s correct description of the Holy Ghost as delivering “intelligence” or “sudden insight” or, to use scriptural language, “light and truth.” The feelings which follow an authentic encounter with the Holy Ghost can be anything from fear and dread to joy and rejoicing. Our emotional reaction to the message can vary depending upon the information we’ve been given. But “feeling good” about something is separate from the Holy Ghost.
When the message from God calls to repentance, the reaction can be best described as anger, or distress, or fear; but is not likely to be described as leaving a “good feeling.” The message of repentance always requires change. It will always confront the error and require you to alter what you are doing.
I have noticed some reactions to what I’ve written measure what has been written against the standard of a “good feeling” and, as a result, some have concluded I’m not worth reading. I suppose against that standard Abinadi would have been rejected. Samuel the Lamanite, too. John the Baptist, Elijah, Christ, Peter, Paul, Joseph Smith, Noah, Enoch, John the Beloved, as well. Certainly Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mormon and Moroni. In fact, I can’t think of a single authentic message which did not include as its most important content information which violates the “feeling good” standard. I think care should be taken when a standard gets employed. Use a false standard and you risk reaching a false result.
This is one of the criticisms made by Grant Palmer in his Insider’s book. He took aim at a false notion (“feeling good” means the Holy Ghost) and then leveled criticism against the false notion. Though a lifelong employee of the Church Education System, he was ignorant of the correct standard and lost his faith in the Holy Ghost’s ability to enlighten because of it. His criticism was justified, but not the standard. He, like many Latter-day Saints, confuses something which inspires with a witness from the Spirit. You can be inspired by music, movies, plays and thrilling speeches coming from unenlightened sources which bring no light and truth. You may be entertained, but you are not given greater light and truth or intelligence from such thrilling encounters.
The one thing I do know, and the truth I can proclaim is this: Truth will come through and confirm itself when measured against the standard of: 1) imparting truth and light, which is intelligence; and 2) whether the message leads to greater belief in, understanding of and testimony of Christ. These standards do not involve “feeling good.” They do, however, involve enlightenment and edification. Even if the result of gaining more light is to see yourself in a new way, requiring repentance, confession of sin, re-baptism, breaking your heart and becoming contrite in spirit. Anyone who can teach a message which will pass this standard, whether they are high or low, rich or poor, great or obscure, has given something of value.