Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sunlight and Stains

My daughter has helped show to mom and dad that not all diapers are created equal.  And even the best diapers sometimes can't withstand what a baby is capable of producing.  Needless to say, some of her little outfits are....stool stained.  Even the laundry detergent has trouble getting those stains out. It leaves a memory of the stain even after being washed a few times.

A little while back Kelsey put one of said stained outfits out on the back porch.  A few hours later the stains were gone.  The sunlight bleached them out.  What laundry detergent couldn't do, the sun did by simply shining.  Just the presence of the sunlight removed the stain.

What a great symbol we have in the sky above us.  Just by being there, just by shining the sun does amazing things.  What a great symbol of a higher truth.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Churchianity

Every Sunday during Sunday school I get to see the below picture.  No matter where you sit in the room you have a good view of these two pictures.  I've been tempted to switch which one is on top, but as of yet have not because I think its a telling symbol, and a good reminder of the state of things in our church.

It gives me pause every time I see it.  The artificial light glare seems to have jumped on the bandwagon of "Follow the Prophet" by also pointing to the most important man in the LDS church.  Whom ever sits in that "seat".  



We are all familiar with structure, hierarchy, and that when something is of higher importance, we typically place that item in the center, or above other items to show it's higher importance or preeminence.

That being the case, the visual symbolism of these two images, and their placement with respect to each other is telling.  While some people increase in importance, others seem to decrease.  This holds true far beyond the placement of the first presidency above Jesus on the wall of the Church.  I use it as a symbol of a larger, cultural problem foretold and warned about in scripture only Mormons accept.

Ask yourself if what this photograph portrays holds true beyond this symbol?  Don't be afraid of the answer. The truth doesn't need to be feared.  The truth can set you free, but not if you resist it, and fight it, and refuse to see what is actually occurring right before our eyes.  You cannot fix a problem you refuse to acknowledge.  The scriptures foretell of modern day idolatry (3 Nephi 30:2).  Consider that leaders, the institution itself, and various "mindsets" can also be idols.

To me, this image captures an important element and even symbol of scriptural prophesy.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Newsroom Public Condemnation

A Church newsroom article published recently says the following: 

"We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.

Another recent article from the LDS church news room says this:
"Stated simply, we would like to be known and recognized for whom we are and what we believe, and not be inaccurately associated with beliefs and practices that we condemn in the strongest terms."

And another recent article says this;
"Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."

Yet another says this:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns abuse of any kind.

The Church in multiple statements has identified itself in the role of condemner.  "Unreserved condemnation"Condemn in the strongest terms"Unequivocally condemn"Condemns abuse of any kind".  We get the picture, they WANT the public to know that they condemn things.  

I find it interesting that the word 'condemn' is used by a religious organization with such abandon, frequency, and with no reservation (per their own words). The word comes from the Latin root "damnare: inflict loss on". and "con" meaning expressing intensive force. From those, Old French and the English word "Damn" we get the word "condemn".  It's a well known scriptural word, and we all seem to sense it's meaning at some level.  It's not good. 

As I read these continuing and frequent newsroom statements of condemnation my mind went back to the end of the new Testament, as Christ was on the cross.  He was mocked, abused, belittled, treated cruelly, discriminated against.... by the religious leaders of the day.  Among his final words were a petition to forgive those who were in the act of killing him.  He not only didn't condemn them, he forgave them (Luke 23:34).  In scripture He seems reluctant to condemn.  The scriptures say that he did not come to earth to condemn, he came to save people (John 3:17).

These statements of public condemnation by the Church are not an accident, they are carefully prepared by paid professionals and were likely researched for a particular effect.  And as they say in very clear terms, the condemnation they level is unreserved.  They have no reservation about it.  This gives me pause.  It's easy to read these statements and not comprehend what is happening.  However this does not seem to agree with the example and scriptures we as a Church claim to follow and who's name our church carries.  I"m not saying anyone should condone things which are wrong, or not speak out against evil, wickedness, and or societies ills that need to stop.  Calling to repentance is different from just unreservedly ascribing condemnation to others.  The attitude and words employed in the above official statements begin to place condemnation on just about everyone at one point or another, and it seems increasingly distant from the role and path Jesus taught us to follow.  

Repentance is hopeful, Christ's message is a hopeful one.  We should follow Him and His message.  Within that message there is no need to take upon us the role of public condemner, the Gospel does not ask us to do so.      

John 3:17 17 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

Luke 6:37 "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:"

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Church Newsroom Doctrine

The Church responded to an HRC Petition this week, link.

In the article, which was said to represent the Church leaders, the following statement was made : "The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation."

It's clear by "feelings" they are not totally focusing on emotions, but about inclinations, urges, dispositions etc..   

This is not the first time these kinds of statements have been made (another is here), but it is the most recent.  This post is about just those statements as it would apply to anyone.  I'm not addressing the same topic as those articles. This post is just one perspective (mine), about how such statements quoted above compare to scriptural teachings.

The Church may distinguish between having inclinations vs acting on them, however the scriptures tell of a loftier goal with a higher purpose.  The goals of the Church and goals of the gospel are plain and simply.... different.  I believe it is good to take notice of such things, and give it some deliberate thought and pondering.  The Church has historically changed it's doctrine, even doctrine that was stated to be required for salvation.  But we also see that after many years, current church leaders can denounce prior teachings (for reference see Church's own statements regarding blacks and the priesthood, and the Church published article on plural marriage).  To seek to please the world carries with it the necessity of compromising true doctrine.  But whether or not that is occurring in our day is up to you to decide.  

My point here is the difference between scriptural, and Church teachings.

Mosiah 5:2 says the following: "And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."

Here we have a group of people being taught true doctrine. It came from God. The effect was a mighty change in them, in their hearts "that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually".  It occurred during a sermon by a prophet of God.  

They lost their disposition to do evil.  You can't loose something you never had.  The scripture says they had a mighty change of heart which had as it's natural consequence a disposition to do good continually.  This is deeper than outward behavior.  It came as a result of getting a true view of their actual fallen state, and consequent desire for the atoning blood of Christ to be applied to them  (Mosiah 4:2).  With that in mind, now consider the church is teaching that they distinguish between having an inclination and acting on it.  The Gospel goes all the way to the heart and speaks of removing even "disposition to do evil".  While the church may ignore your inner dispositions and inclinations as long as you don't act on them, the Gospel is pointed much higher.  Your selling yourself short to adhere to the Church's teachings about what they distinguish between.  Our outward behavior in lots of ways is most under our direct control.  Christ however will need to be involved if you want a new inner nature.  And that is the gaping hole in the church's newsroom doctrine. They leave Christ out, and what He does for us.  Oddly enough.  

The message of the Church soothes you, and tells you all is well as long as your outward actions (visible by others) remains in check.  The other message quoted from Mosiah puts the fear of God in you!  It stamps on your toes. Christ goes way way further than merely avoiding sinful outward acts, he wants to remove the inner cause which lies within the heart. The intent and heart, not just the act matter.  I can't see how the experience in Mosiah is repeatable unless the same doctrine and message was taught.  The newsroom statement said that by "staying faithful to Church teachings" a person can enjoy full fellowship in the church, attend the Temple, and receiving God's blessings.  By these standards you can "stay faithful" and receive God's blessings but remain inwardly sinful.....  You see how this is bad and misleading doctrine?  You see how this doesn't really point to the Savior? "Staying faithful" is important, but to whom, and to what should we be faithful?  What if the Church's teachings are different than Christ's?  That question will make some very uncomfortable but it's important.

Mosiah 27:25-26 has this to say:  "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."  

"Marvel not" the Lord says.... that all mankind must be changed from a carnal and fallen state.  Apparently this all inclusive need causes some to marvel.  Rather than marveling at the requirement, we should perhaps instead be humbled by it.  Even if some body of people get taught something else by men, the scriptures remind us what the Lord has to say, and He says all must be born of God and changed from a fallen state to a state of righteousness.  All.  Including me and you.  It's troubling that religious teachings exist which sort of remove the need for the change of nature by making allowances.  Allowances that are based on outward behavior which blind to the inward stuff.  It's as though in our day there is fear about telling people they sin or have sinned.  The New Testament makes it plain as day that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  That should be no surprise.  We're all pretty much idiots.  My self included.

Christ says in 3 Nephi 12:28:  "But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart."

If simply not acting on lustful inclinations was good enough why did Christ make a clear statement otherwise, which took the message to a whole new level?  The scripture seems different from what the Church is saying.  But you decide for yourself what that difference is.  

I don't think scripture authors just happened to forget to mention that fallen inclinations in our hearts are acceptable, it's just the acting on some of them that's not ok. They say nothing of the sort. Church doctrine seems to be altering or accommodating various outside pressures and we should be aware enough to notice changes, and search for the truth. Historically church doctrine has undergone changes to meet social and legal pressures.  We should be on the watch for this trend.

At some level it seems arrogant or presumptuous, or both, to say our feelings and inclinations in this mortal fallen world are no sin.  Who are we comparing to when we make that conclusion?  We certainly are not comparing ourselves to Christ or we would make no such conclusion. In our modern world did we somehow escape the fall?  Are leaders doing members a favor by making allowances that make them feel better?  Are we really in a place to tell the Lord, a just and holy being, that our attractions and inclinations are not riddled with impurities, caked in lust, and often extremely selfish?  We're born into a fallen world, yet we claim our attractions are pure?  (I'm not making any distinction to any particular group of people. I'm talking about the human race)  We really shouldn't marvel that all mankind must be changed from the fallen nature and redeemed of God to enter His kingdom.  Seems self evident if you look closely.  Or take off the blinders religion can impose.  The issue is not cloudy from the scriptural point of view.

Rather than focusing on soothing distinctions which can distract you from a potential need for repentance would it be better to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?  That's what the scriptures seem to suggest.  I don't think temptations or passing biological attraction are necessarily lusting after a woman.  Lust goes further.  Once a person is born again I do not think temptations stop.  That is hopefully common sense. Part of righteous living is subduing temptations.  Our biology and all that goes with it is God given.  We're just supposed direct it with wisdom according to Gods commandments. 

The people of Mosiah viewed themselves in their fallen state (Mosiah 4:2).  Those realizations by the people prompted a very specific reaction. I think we should be cautious of any message that could prevent or distract you from that same view and reaction they had.  King Benjamin's message from God put the fear of God into the people.  This was no "all is well", "your fine just thew way you are" "Forget your heart, just make sure your outward actions don't represent what is going on inside you".  His was no heart warming message with nice music in the background, and touching emotional messages to lull you to sleep.  

Notice how the Lords words, as well as various scriptural teachings are interesting to compare to the doctrine coming from the News Room.  Christ says people cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless they are changed from their carnal and fallen state.  Yet the Church statement says that it doesn't matter if you have inclinations or "feelings", all is well as long as you don't actually do the thing. That seems like a lesser law at best, and at worst, completely misleading.  Gods commandments are reasonable.  I don't think God asks what we cannot do.  So we need to keep in mind that God asks what's possible, not what isn't possible.         

The Church's new commandment of men is essentially: "Thou mayest have all sorts of inclinations or even carnal nature, but thou shalt just not act on them".  God will justify a little sin right?  Lie a little, cheat, set up a roadblock for your neighbor, there is no harm in this, do all these things for tomorrow we die, and if it so be that we are guilty God will beat us with a few strips but at last we will be saved in the Kingdom of God?  Vain, false, and misleading doctrine.

Come to Christ, be born of God.  Find the joy of the Lord's countenance.  Accept doctrine from Christ, and the scriptures, not from a PR newsroom.  They have conflicting agendas.  God does not ask what you cannot do.