The Boy Scouts of America And The Savior’s True Church

May 30, 2013

When I say the Church is true, as so many Latter-day Saints affirm, what do I mean?  I mean that 1)  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day  Saints is the ONLY church currently upon the earth that has the priesthood and authority of Jesus Christ.  And 2) It is the ONLY church that is led by a prophet chosen by Jesus Christ through revelation.  And 3) It is the ONLY church that enjoys continuing modern revelation.

Keeping this in mind, I have decided to support the Brethren in their decision about the policies of the Boy Scouts of America regarding same sex attracted boys in scouting.  It is my understanding that only boys who are living the Law of Chastity will be permitted to participate in Church sponsored boy scout troops.  How effectively the policy will be carried out remains to be seen.  The so-called gay rights movement is hailing this as a great victory.  They are virtually dancing in the streets.  That puzzles me.  If the Brethren are able to enforce this policy as it has been explained, it will not be a victory for the wicked even though it may appear to be one.  We must all avoid letting this change in policy weaken our determination to be chaste and to teach chastity to our young men.  I pray that will be so.

AIDS, Germ Warfare, Anti-Biotic Resistant Disease And The Gospel of Jesus Christ

March 27, 2013

 31 And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.

32 But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die. (D&C 45:31-32)

What does this mean?  It is a prophecy in the 45th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.  And I am not sure what it means.  Some possible interpretations are pretty scary.  Years ago while I was living in Ketchikan, Alaska, I attended a fireside in the Ketchikan Ward meetinghouse and the speaker was Elder Bradford of the Seventy.  After the meeting, I asked him about this scriptural passage and he said it had already been fulfilled by the AIDS epidemic.  I have also thought it might refer to the growing problem of anti-biotic resistant diseases and infections.  Or it might refer to biological weapons of mass destruction used in some future war and perhaps an attack on our nation.  Or possibly “all of the above.”  I have heard others insist it refers to the drug problem in our world, or the pornography problem.

What do you think?  What is this “desolating sickness?”  Is it still ahead?  Has it already happened? What other scriptures could help us understand this one?

God, Man, Darwin and Insufficient Evidence

February 4, 2013

When Jesus Christ was upon the earth in mortality, he became somewhat irritated with his apostles when they asked to see the Father.  He told them that he looked just like his Father, and if they had seen him, they had seen the Father. (John 14:9)

We also have the testimony of Joseph Smith who met with both the Father and the Son during the First Vision.  The Father is one man or personage.  The Son is another.  And they look alike.  Both were modern men as Joseph Smith was himself. (JS-H 1:17-20)

Who but “God” could have made the heavens and the earth?  And is not Jesus “God” or the Creator according to our doctrine?

Keeping this in mind, God was a modern man before this world was created.  How could this be?  Is not all the “scientific evidence” for Darwinian evolution here upon this earth?  And if there is such evidence elsewhere in the universe, have our anthropologists, paleontologists, geologists and other scientists been able to examine that evidence?

Joseph Smith taught, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man… I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea… He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth. (Joseph Smith.  King Follett Discourse. April 7, 1844)

I am just foolish enough to believe that if I am a child of God, and I look like my Father just as the Savior and Joseph Smith did, I was “created” in the same way too, and the pattern for that creation was set long before the earth was made or in other words long before any of the evidence we have seen for Darwinian evolution.

Presented with this argument, many have told me, “Well, he [God] must have evolved on another planet, the one where he spent his mortality.  To which my answer is, but all the evidence we have is right here.  Could there be missing data that is essential for understanding this?

I love debating Darwinian evolution because like arguing politics and religion, there is no end to it.  Might that be the result of insufficient data?  Do we need to answer every question even when we do not have enough evidence?  When we travel to the stars, might we learn more about our origins?

Jesus Christ And The Right To Keep And Bear Arms

February 3, 2013

What does Jesus Christ and his authorized prophets believe about the right to keep and bear arms? Consider these passages:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (US Declaration of Independence. 1776)

We are all born with a right from our Creator to life and liberty.  Because we have a God-given right to life, we also have a right of self-defense.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. (Constitution of the United States of America, Bill of Rights, Amendment II)

Because arms are essential for defending our lives, we have a right to bear arms.

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (Jesus Christ as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 101:80)

Here our Savior Jesus Christ who gave us these rights of self-defense and bearing arms tells us that he inspired the Constitution and Bill of Rights which guarantee those rights.

I am hereby resolved that under no circumstances shall the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights be infringed. In particular I am opposed to any attempt on the part of the federal government to deny the people their right to bear arms, to worship, and to pray when and where they choose, or to own and control private property. (Ezra Taft Benson, a prophet of God. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 617)

And here an authorized prophet of Jesus Christ tell us the government must not deny these rights to us, his children.

Others have a different opinion. Of course. Satan rages in the hearts of men in these last days. They value their own opinions above those of the Lord. All they can do is protest and state their contrary opinion.  But the truth cannot be successfully refuted.

The Intolerance of Jesus Christ

February 3, 2013

Through his prophet Alma, Jesus Christ taught:

And he said: Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. (Alma 45:16)

We know that God loves us. And so he must possess the virtue of tolerance to a degree that we do not. But from this passage we learn that there must be things he does not tolerate. What are they?

God does not tolerate sin. Why? It is because he loves us. Sin causes us pain. It injures us. It brings failure and disappointment. Ultimately it destroys us. We should not marvel that Jesus Christ is intolerant when it comes to sin. He is intolerant because he loves us. He wants us to be happy, and he knows better than any of us where the path is that leads to happiness. Hence, Jesus Christ loves us, but he is intolerant of our sins. We must repent of them or we will suffer.

When Was Jesus Born?

December 24, 2012

What is real Christmas, the day that Christ was actually born?  Some cite this to answer the question:

1 The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called Apri…. (Doctrine and Covenants 20:1)

Many others have refuted this interpretation claiming that other evidence indicates that Jesus was born at other times.  Some claim that this revelation, recorded in our canonized scriptures, was prefaced with introductory material written by Joseph Smith but not included in the rest of the revelation.

When James E. Talmage wrote his classic study of Jesus Christ entitled JESUS THE CHRIST, he had this to say about it:

As to the season of the year in which Christ was born, there is among the learned as great a diversity of opinion as that relating to the year itself. It is claimed by many Biblical scholars that December 25th, the day celebrated in Christendom as Christmas, cannot be the correct date. We believe April 6th to be the birthday of Jesus Christ as indicated in a revelation of the present dispensation already cited [D&C 20:1], in which that day is made without qualification the completion of the one thousand eight hundred and thirtieth year since the coming of the Lord in the flesh. This acceptance is admittedly based on faith in modern revelation, and in no wise is set forth as the result of chronological research or analysis. We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, B.C. 1. (Talmage, 1915, 98.)

Personally I do not know whether or not April 6th, 1 BC was the actual birth of Jesus, but in the absence of strong reasons supporting any other date, I will continue to accept this one as authoritative even though it is not acceptable to many LDS scholars.

In all matters I trust prophets more than I do scientists, scholars and academics.  With that said, my motto has long been “All my opinions are tentative pending futher data.”

Merry Christmas, Christmas Eve, 2012

Update: The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball

October 15, 2012

I was in Salt Lake City a few days ago and I visited the Church Distribution Center.  I was pleased to see that The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball was still sold there, and it was either the only doctrinal work promoted by Church Distribution or one of very few.  Six years ago I wrote A Controversial Book That Should Not Be Controversial. It has always surprised me that so many saints hate this book.  I love it.  Next to the scriptures themselves I consider it to be the most important book written in this dispensation.  It changed my life forever, and without it I could never have repented sufficiently to obtain the Melchizedek priesthood, my first temple recommend, and my temple marriage to Esperanza thirty-five years ago.  Highly recommended.

Mormon Funerals

October 14, 2012

I just returned from a week in Salt Lake City and Provo.  My wife’s nephew passed away at the age of forty-four, and we attended the funeral.  I cannot remember when I felt more spiritually fed.  The Spirit was strong, and we were comforted.  It was not a secular funeral.  It was a gospel funeral, a Church meeting.  Mormon funerals are filled with hope, and a genuine testimony that the life after this one is real.  Over the last fifty years I have noticed that because the saints have such a strong faith in the teachings of their church, and are not just going through the motions, their funerals are very different from others.

Prayer, Scripture Study, and Fasting

May 6, 2012

Over the last several years I have found myself praying less, studying the scriptures less, and fasting not at all. In years past I have considered myself a man of prayer, one who prayed often and fervently. Not so much lately. I feel like I am in a precarious position, in great danger actually. I am nearing the end of my life as all of us are, but at sixty-seven years of age I am nearer than many. Does my dwindling in the matters of prayer, scripture study and fasting mean that I am failing to “endure to the end?” I would be mortified if I were to lose my exaltation after a lifetime of devotion and service. Keeping the commandments has never come easily to me. Walking the straight line has been difficult all these years. It would be a shame to fail after so many years of effort.

How can I motivate myself to the levels of prayer, scriptures study and fasting that were once such an integral part of my life, so many years ago?

To Accept A Call Or Not

January 29, 2012

Is it ever appropriate to turn down a call from the Bishopric or the stake presidency? I suffer from a chronic health problem that is embarrassing to discuss with anyone outside of my immediate family, and from time to time it is incapacitating to the point where I cannot go to Church. This makes fulfilling most callings problematical. I made the mistake in a previous ward of sharing with others the nature of my problem, and while that mollified some who might otherwise have thought I was a slacker in my church work, I am sure that some of the less charitable members just thought I was malingering and making excuses for staying home from church which could not be more untrue. I love going to church. I have been very active since January of 1968.

The best calling for working around my occasional handicap was a few years ago when both my wife and I were called to teach the Gospel Doctrine class. We alternated with her teaching every other Sunday, and I taught on the off Sundays. And when I was too sick to come to church she filled in for me. We did this for over five years, and it worked out very well for us and for the ward as well.

But when we moved here to Idaho about three years ago, I decided to keep my health problems a little more private than I did for the twenty-three years we were in our last ward. There I had a couple of bad experiences that convinced me I should not share my most personal problems with everyone. In a ward of any size, there will always be at least two or three who are uncharitable in their reaction.

Well, they called me to be the Sunday School president here in our new ward. I explained to the member of the Bishopric who called me that several times a year I have to miss Church for two, three or even four months because of my condition. I did not turn down the call, but thought they should know I would not always be able to do a good job. They went ahead and called me anyway saying they would make sure I had a strong counselor who could stand in for me when I could not come. Well, my counselor is a wonderful man who has been in the Church less than a year. He has a testimony but not a lot of Church background. And this morning I am feeling bad about not being able to go to Church. I feel like I’m dropping the ball.

What should I have done otherwise? Should I have just turned down the call? Should I have blabbed all my most personal health problems? Or should I have done what I did and just let them deal with my not being there many Sundays? I am missing Church again this morning, and it is about the fourth or fifth consecutive Sunday that I have missed.

I love the Church. I love going to Church. I want to honor and magnify my callings. But I have other responsibilities, some such as my family are even higher responsibilities than my responsibility to take care of my normally considerable load of Church work.

What do you think? I have agonized over taking my Bishop into my confidence or perhaps my stake president, but I know from years of past Church service that some leaders do not truly understand the importance of confidentiality. And until we buy the home we are shopping for, we are renting and have attended several different wards. The more people I share my problem with, as I foolishly did in the ward where I attended for over twenty years, the more chance there is that I will have the same problems here that I did there.

I guess these may seem like dumb questions to some of you. If that is the case, please forgive my foolishness. When I’m not feeling well, sometimes my judgment is below par as well.