Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


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The Restoration of the Gospel–what exactly has been restored?

This post can be considered a sort-of “part two” from my previous entry. As with that entry, the bulk of this text will be based on the words of Gordon B Hinckley, previous prophet and 15th President of the restored church of Jesus Christ.

Following the First Vision in modern times, many things began to occur, not the least of which was the fulfilling of prophecy. In addition to those previously quoted was another by an ancient prophet on this continent, regarding the circumstances surrounding the vision of Joseph Smith: “..and it shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away… Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and lifted up in the pride of their hearts” (Mormon 8:26, 28).

While many people in the 1800’s professed to believe in miracles, there was quite a dramatic change in attitude when Joseph began telling others a miracle had happened to him. He wrote about the persecution from friends as well as all of the local churches that began against him from that day forward.

Joseph goes on to confirm, however, “it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision…I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true… I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” He had found the testimony of James 1:4-5 to be true–that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.

During this great vision, what did the Lord say to Joseph? He had gone to pray to ask which of the churches was right, and which he should join as so many taught contradictory doctrine. He was told to join none of them, for they were all wrong; that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt. Then He quoted scripture (Isa 29:13, Ezek 33:31), saying “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” This was the beginning of the restoration of His true church to the earth. What doctrine was restored? Many things were restored that had been lost. I’ll briefly comment on each.

parson-first-vision_hrThe Godhead

Joseph could see God and hear Him. He was in form like a man, a being of substance, affirming that taught in Genesis 1:26-27: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Beside Him was the resurrected Lord, a separate being, whom He introduced and with whom Joseph also spoke. It’s possible that within the short time of that vision Joseph learned more about Deity than all of the scholars and clerics of the past, confirming the reality of Stephen’s vision in Acts 7:55-56: “Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man (Jesus) standing on the right hand of God.” This restoration of the knowledge of Deity was the first and great thing God revealed to His chosen servant.

jesus-blessing-the-nephite-childrenThe Book of Mormon as a companion witness with the Bible

The Christian world accepts the Bible as the word of God. Most, though, have no idea how it came to us. It’s apparent from reading many Biblical scholars that the various books of the Bible were brought together in a non-systematic fashion. In some cases, the writings were not produced until long after the events they describe. The verses of the Bible have been translated, re-translated, edited, etc by various men down through the centuries. One is led to ask, “Is the Bible true? Is it really the word of God?” I testify that it is, insofar as it is translated correctly.

Scripture declares that “in the mouth of two of three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor 13:1). The Book of Mormon has come forth by the gift and power of God, and is convincing evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It speaks as a voice from the dust in testimony of the Son of God. It speaks of His birth, of His ministry, of His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and His appearance to the righteous on the American continent; these are the “other sheep” Jesus speaks of in John 10:16. As the Bible is the testament of the Old World, the Book of Mormon is the testament of the New. This sacred book, which came forth as a revelation of the Almighty, is indeed another testament of the divinity of our Lord.

joseph-smith-receiving-melchizedek-priesthood_1214163_inlPriesthood authority and Church organization

Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. If the authority of the ancient Church of Christ was lost, how was it to be replaced?

Priesthood authority came from the only place it could come: from heaven. It was bestowed under the hands of those who held it when the Savior walked the earth, including John the Baptist and Peter, James and John. As we learn in revelation “and this…priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh” (D&C 84:19-20). Priesthood authority is what gives any ordinance (such as baptism) its validity, that it is acknowledged in heaven.

Even the name of the church was given by revelation. At the time these events were occurring there was not one church on the earth that was bore the name Jesus Christ. As the Lord says, “… how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Ne 27:8).

familyThe Family

Another great and singular revelation given was the plan for the eternal life of the family. The family is the creation of the Almighty, and is the fundamental organization of society. Through the revelations of God to His Prophet came the doctrine and authority under which families are sealed together not only for this life but for all eternity.

39-laughter-and-little-childrenThe innocence of little children

The innocence of little children is another revelation given of God through Joseph Smith. The general practice is the baptism of infants to take away the effects of what is described as the sin of Adam and Eve. Under the doctrine of the Restoration, however, baptism is for the remission of one’s individual and personal sins. It becomes a covenant between God and man. It is performed not at birth–for infants and little children cannot sin–but at the age of accountability, when people are old enough to recognize right from wrong. It is by immersion, in symbolism of the death and burial of Jesus Christ and His coming forth in the Resurrection.

salt-lake-mormon-temple71Salvation for the dead

We are told that God is no respecter of persons, but in no other church I’m aware of is provision made for those who have died to receive every blessing which is afforded the living. The great doctrine of salvation for the dead is unique to this Church… The dead are given the same opportunity as the living. This is what Paul refers to when he says “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor 15:29) There is much more doctrine here, but sufficeth to say all who have lived, and died, will be given the opportunity to hear and accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ and enter into saving ordinances such as baptism.

set-of-ready-to-print-clipart-images-of-the-plan-of-salvation-dh4i1p-clipartThe nature, purpose, and potential of God’s children

Some of the greatest doctrine ever revealed or restored is that we lived before we came here, to earth. We had personality. We were born into this life under a divine plan. We are here to test our worthiness, acting in the agency which God has given to us. When we die we shall go on living. Our eternal life is comprised of three phases: one, our premortal existence; two, our mortal existence; and three, our postmortal existence. In death we die to this world and step through the veil into the sphere we are worthy to enter. Only through the restoration of the fulness of the gospel can we make sense of Paul’s writings when he says “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Cor 15:40-41). This is a unique, singular and precious doctrine of this Church which has come through revelation.

revelation-god-1Modern revelation

Speaking of revelation, an article of our faith states: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” The heavens are again open, revelation from the Lord Himself continues and is present in the only true and living Church on the earth today. Direct revelation from God is the only principle on which a Christian church should operate. A church based on the interpretations and direction of men alone will, sooner or later, go astray. The “rock” the Lord refers to in Matthew 16:17-18 is not merely a reference to Peter, but to revelation itself that He builds his church on. Make no mistake, the Church of Jesus Christ is not based on the Bible, or any private interpretation of it. It is based on what the Bible is based on, which is revelation.

I testify of the truthfulness of what I’ve written here. Anyone can know it is true also, more than it simply making sense; we too can receive revelation from God. We can ask Him directly if these things are true, the way is open. Feel free to ask me questions, visit mormon.org, or contact friends of yours that are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


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The Church of Jesus Christ, its Apostasy and glorious Restoration

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

The great majority of what this blog entry will be about is based on the words of Gordon B Hinckley. Jesus Christ was and is the great central figure of human history, the zenith of the times and seasons of all people. Before His death He had ordained Apostles, special witnesses of him, carrying his Priesthood, that carried on for a period after his death. His church was set in place.

Following our Savior’s death, the Church He established drifted into Apostasy. The influence of pagan religions surrounding the region (e.g. Greek philosophical traditions) not to mention the increasing persecution from the Romans and others, added to the general waywardness of so many members of the Church. The killing or banishment of the Apostles was the nail in the coffin. Priesthood authority was taken from the earth, and Isaiah’s words were fulfilled: “The earth is also defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isa 24:5). This was not just a people turning away prophets, who were messengers of God, but a turning away from the great Message Himself. This great Apostasy–meaning a turning away from the gospel, its truths, and Priesthood being taken from the earth–had been prophesied by other prophets, including Amos (Amos 8:11-12) and the Apostles themselves (2 Thess 2:2-3; Timothy 4:2-4).

Centuries passed. Constantine assembled scholars of various factions at Nicaea in the year 325. After two months of bitter debate, they compromised on a definition which changed the nature of God Himself. This creed was then amended, 56 years later, which did nothing to fix things. Isaiah described this time and centuries following as well: “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa 60:2).  The earth was under a season of plunder and suffering, marked by long and bloody conflict. It was an age of hopelessness, a time of masters and serfs. A time of the preaching of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

Well over a thousand years later the age of the Renaissance brought with it a flowering of learning, art, and science. There came an attempt at a Reformation, a movement by bold men and women who saw problems with the Christian church and did what they could to reconcile it with the truths taught as they understood them in the Bible. Men such as Luther, Melanchthon, Hus, Zwingli and Tyndale stepped forward, many of whom were killed for doing so. Protestantism was born with its cry for reformation. When that reformation was not realized, reformers organized churches of their own, doing so without priesthood authority as it did not exist on the earth anymore. Their overriding desire, however, was to find a niche in which they might worship God as they felt He should be worshiped.

constitution

Centuries later  came the American Revolutionary War, which resulted in the birth of a nation whose Constitution declared governments ought not extend its hand into matters of religion–perhaps the first time this has ever occurred. At long last there was no state church! No one faith was favored above another. After a multitude of long, dark centuries, at last the time was ripe for a restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it was not to be found on the earth the way the prophets and Apostles had delivered it, and its Priesthood authority had long been absent. Ancient prophets had spoken of this day; they had looked forward to this day, Daniel among them. He spoke of it directly in his prophecy of the “latter days”, when the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands rolled forth and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:28,31-45).

The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph Smith. How truly remarkable was that vision in 1820 when Joseph prayed in the woods and there appeared before him our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. One of these spoke to him, calling him by name, and, pointing to the other, said “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

firstvision

This event was also prophesied by ancient prophets. In Isaiah’s words, “Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder…and in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isa 29: 13-14, 18). Peter refers to this as the “times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21), Paul calls it the “fulness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25) then later refers to it formally as the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10). John refers to the events of the Restoration somewhat symbolically in Revelations when he says “I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Rev 14:6).

Beginning with the First Vision in modern times, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth had begun. In my next post I will discuss what exactly has been restored.


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“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”

sabbath

Those of us of any Christian faith believe in the Bible, and are generally agreed to keep the commandments contained therein. The purpose of the Sabbath dates back to the creation of the world, when after six days of labor the Lord rested from the work of creation as recorded in Genesis. It’s importance has been underlined by prophets, presidents, and the Lord himself.

In Moses’ day, God revealed the Ten Commandments and He commanded: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days thou shalt do all thy work:  but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God:  in it thou shalt not do any work… For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:  wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.

Down through the centuries Sabbath day worship continued to be practiced, both in the Old Testament and after the coming of our Lord and his Apostles.

In fact Isaiah called keeping the Sabbath “a delight.” “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:  Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13-14.

We learn from Ezekiel that the Lord gave the Sabbath to His people “to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them…hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:12, 20.

The Lord Himself endorsed the Sabbath, and its importance. What did He mean when He said “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”? To indirectly quote a living Apostle, He wanted us to understand the Sabbath was His gift to us, giving us a break from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual as well as physical renewal. God gave us this special day. He didn’t give it to us for our own amusement or for work but for a rest from our duties, with physical and spiritual relief. Our Lord declared Himself Lord of the Sabbath. It’s His day! He’s repeatedly asked us to keep the Sabbath or to hallow the Sabbath day.

As many of my readers know I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In our faith there is modern revelation that re-emphasizes the importance of the Sabbath: “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High… And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances… the fulness of the earth is yours.” Doctrine & Covenants 59:9-16.

Think about the blessings promised in the preceding verses. We will ‘delight ourselves in the Lord,’ ‘ride upon the high places of the earth,’ be fed ‘the heritage of Jacob,’ we will be sanctified, and the ‘fulness of the earth’ will be ours. Those are some great promises! Every commandment the Lord gives us is to bless us, and to help us become more like Him. The Sabbath has been observed by many people down through the ages, but is it a commandment we are keeping today?

Scripture is pretty clear that while Sunday is a day of rest, it’s not necessarily a day of recreation. Recall the scripture asks us to “turn away from doing thine pleasure” and “not do thine own ways.” It’s also not a day for work according to Exodus, except in cases where this is unavoidable. I’m not advocating shutting down the police or fire departments, or other emergency services. Too often, though, we think of Sunday as a day for partying, shopping or working. I read of a man who was a barber, and as he drew closer to the Lord realized that his profession required him to work on the Sabbath, which is when a large proportion of his business was generated. He prayed about it and changed his profession. THAT is faith, and a willingness to please his Lord by obeying his commandment.

So how are we to make the Sabbath a delight? What does He want us to do? What does He want us to refrain from doing? Certainly worship has always been a component of Sabbath Day observance. One of the most important and significant things our Lord did was to organize a church, both in the Old Testament and the New. The Apostles appear throughout the book of Acts as observing the Sabbath, and what better way can you spend the Sabbath than by attending church and worshiping, especially as a family? Consider making this a priority on the Sabbath. Reading your scriptures on this day is a great use of time also and highly recommended, especially if it’s hard to find time during the week.

How else can we make the Sabbath a delight? Sabbath days are a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family ties. Wholesome family activities are in short supply these days, and time to engage in them is in short supply also. Visiting relatives, renewing ties with them through phone calls, emails or letters is a great way to spend some of your day!

Here’s one many of you will be happy to hear about:  sleep! Nothing wrong with napping and getting some physical rest. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 40% of Americans are getting 6 hours or less sleep per night, which is insufficient. Rest and restore yourself.

Serve others, especially those who are not feeling well or those who are lonely or in need. Our Lord famously healed a man on the Sabbath, which angered the Pharisees. Rendering service or assistance to others is emulating our Savior Himself.

Not pursuing our own pleasure on the Sabbath requires self-discipline. We may have to deny ourselves of something we might like. If we choose to delight ourselves in the Lord, however, we won’t permit ourselves to treat it as any other day. Help yourself by arranging your week so you can reserve the Lord’s day for activities that are appropriate for it. A guiding rule is “what sign do I want to give God?” This question may help make your choices about Sabbath day observance crystal clear.

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The significant but often subtle blessings of obeying the Law of Tithing

tithingOn my mind today is the topic of tithing. Tithing, or the giving of 10 percent of one’s income to the Lord and his Church was given anciently. In fact we don’t have a record of when this law was first given–some believe it originated with Malachi, which has the clearest declaration of the law of tithing as quoted in chapter 3, verses 7 – 12. However, we learn that Abraham payed tithes to Melchizedek anciently, as noted in Genesis 14:18-20 and referenced later by Paul in Hebrews 7:1-4 and Alma in the Book of Mormon in Alma 13:15. The payment of tithing clearly predates Malachi. Given how long tithing has been practiced, it can be reasonably supposed tithing may have been given as early as the days of Adam and Eve. Tithing is a commandment of the Lord, and as such it is required of us to be obedient to it just as any other commandment. This is a tough one, because it goes right to the materialism and love of the things of the world that so many of us share. Some rationalize and say this law was part of the Law of Moses, and as such as done away with by Christ, but this cannot be the case as it was practiced long before Moses and was reiterated during the Christian era. Others state we should give what we can afford, but the 10th is very clear–in fact the very word tithe means “one-tenth.” It has been given again in our day in the church to which I belong, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a simple declaration of modern revelation which simply states members of the church shall pay “one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever.”

While it is established that tithing is a commandment of the Lord, it seems that very few of us keep it. The research I could find found that only 5% of all adults tithed. Another article I found stated that the payment of tithing has hit a record low. Per this research, parishioners were giving an average of 2.38 percent of their income. Hmm. Like all commandments, this one is given to bless us! I’ve had times in my life when I didn’t pay tithing, and the blessings that have come into my own life since I began again (approximately 10 years ago) have been so mercifully given that I have a strong testimony of paying tithing. I read a great talk by an Apostle of our church–David Bednar–and I’d like to take from his words to discuss the blessings that can come into our lives by obeying the law of tithing.

He gives an example from his own life, of his mother-in-law who from the beginning of her marriage kept meticulous records of expenses. She would use data from these simple ledgers she kept to share basic principles of provident living to her daughter, Elder Bednar’s wife, as she pointed out trends. The costs for doctors visits and medicines, for example, were far lower than might have been expected, and was related to a powerful truth:  “as we live the law of tithing, we often receive significant but subtle blessings that are not always what we expect and easily can be overlooked.” A loving Heavenly Father had bestowed simple blessings in seemingly ordinary ways. These blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

Malachi’s promise from the Lord is “if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes…” The imagery of windows is pretty instructive. Elder Bednar states “spiritual illumination and perspective are poured out through the windows of heaven and into our lives as we honor the law of tithing.” One subtle blessing, he points out, is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment, whereas an ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (Luke 12:15). He then gives more examples of blessings such as “an increased spiritual and temporal capacity to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired.” A more extended quote which I found really helpful was:

Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.

Tithing, like every other commandment, is given of God for our benefit; in effect to bless us and help us become more like He is. Remember the words of Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I add my testimony to Elder Bednar’s that as we are spiritually attentive and observant, we will be blessed with eyes that see more clearly, ears that hear more consistently, and hearts that understand more fully the significance and subtlety of His ways, His thoughts, and His blessings in our lives.

To my mind, payment of tithe is a way to combating materialism and covetousness, and a recognition that everything we have comes from the Lord. We are not giving Him something that is ours, but rather returning 1/10th of what was his to begin with. Remember that the honest payment of tithing is much more than a duty; it is an important step in the process of personal sanctification. Just a quick story from my life. I was unemployed for a few months in 2007. During this time I had no income and relied upon help from the church and my family, but even though it was barely enough to cover gas, food and rent. I eventually got a part-time job working at a book store, but this did not appreciably help matters. In fact my budget was so tight each of those months until I got a full-time job in my profession that I knew I could not afford to both pay my tithing and my rent, it was a matter of simple math. However, I decided to pay my tithing as soon as I received money, and each month I was still able to pay my rent. It should not been able to happen, but it did! I was tempted, perhaps as you are, to not pay tithes or offerings when I was poor, but I believe when we pay during those circumstances it matters to the Lord more than when we pay them in our abundance.  I always go back to the story of the Widows’ Mite from the New Testament:

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which has cast into the treasury; For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

If anyone wants a testimony that any principle of the Gospel is true, the invitation is simply to try living it and see what happens. I have done it, and because of that I have a strong and vibrant conviction that living the law of tithing is a powerful way to draw closer to God, and to become more like Him. I invite any who read this to do the same.

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What if everyone lived the Law of Chastity?

chastity-bites_posterHeh. As a sometime blog writer I always try to imagine the reaction of my readers when they first start reading something I’ve written. This topic is one that most people have an opinion on long before they’ve even seen the title of this article, and what are the chances that something I write will actually have an impact? Definitely I am trying to persuade, but more than that, this has been on my mind for the last little while and really the benefits are so obvious there’s not much of an excuse for living any other way. Having said that, most people don’t live the law of chastity, and while it doesn’t mystify me, it’s such a shame.

What is the law of chastity? To paraphrase from the Lord, it’s simply that we are to have sexual relations only with our spouse to whom we are legally married. Whether or not you agree with that on the face of it, let’s look at some of the societal implications, hypothetically, if everyone lived this law. First of all, teen pregnancy would all but disappear. In fact the only teens that would be pregnant would be those few who married at, say, 18 or 19, or those who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. In the fullest ideal sense there would be no rape or sexual abuse because of the law of chastity, but the implications of a world like that go far beyond the scope of this article. Even assuming sexual abuse continues at exactly the rate it does now (which it wouldn’t, I believe) the teen pregnancy rate would drop by what, at least 90%?

Second, abortions would plummet. Whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, no prominent advocate that I know of wants abortions to be high, and there is general agreement that abortions are not a desirable goal in general. Other than pregnancies in which the mother’s life is in danger (such as ectopic pregnancies) or as the result of rape or incest, the great majority of abortions are the result of unwanted pregnancy as a result of consensual sex and the prospect of a negative impact on her life, financial instability, or an unwillingness to be a single mother. The proportion of women who seek abortions that are single outnumber by a vast margin those that are married seeking abortions, whatever the reason. When the only real possibility of becoming pregnant is within marriage–where financial stability is much more likely, where a negative impact on her life is much reduced, and by definition one would not be a single mother–abortions would be reduced by, what, 75 – 85%?

Poverty would markedly decrease, particularly among women and children. There is a large body of research on the juvenilization and feminization of poverty, and in fact entire classes at universities are taught on this very topic. The most common circumstance appears to be a single mother raising her child alone. How does this often occur? A woman becoming pregnant and then her boyfriend (or one night stand) leaves, for whatever reason. This does not explain all occurrences, of course, but when children are born in a marriage, the odds of financial stability are higher. Even in the worst case scenario, if they later divorce, a woman has a claim of income from her ex to defray the cost of raising a child, and in those cases where the ex does pay on a regular basis this also reduces the financial burden on the state to cover the cost as well. I am personally also convinced the divorce rate would drop significantly as well, as if premarital sex (and its consequences) is taken out of the equation the reasons for marrying for good and right reasons increases.

Crime in general would decrease markedly as well. Imagine the impact if virtually all children were raised by both their biological parents. There is a large body of high quality research supporting the assertion that children have the best chance of growing up to be well-adjusted, upstanding and contributing members of society if they are raised by both of their biological parents, as I cited as part of an eight-part article I wrote on the institution of marriage. Now there are all kinds of parents, and also all kinds of children, and nobody is asserting that crime would disappear or families would be perfect, but given the best possible environment, less juveniles would grow up and engage in delinquent behavior such as drug use and gang activity. In fact gang activity in general would sharply decline as well, as gangs  are simply substitutes for the absence of an intact family.

What about STD’s? Would you like a world with no HIV, for example? The first AIDS epidemic began in Africa, in the Congo in the 70’s. “It is speculated that HIV was brought to the city by an infected individual who traveled from Cameroon by river down into the Congo. On arrival in Kinshasa, the virus entered a wide urban sexual network and spread quickly.” As far as I can determine the history of AIDS in the US began in 1981, in a CDC report from Los Angeles among the gay community. This isn’t an indictment of homosexuality, and certainly AIDS is spread in ways other than sexual contact, but if most or all of us lived the law of chastity STD’s in general would largely be a thing of the past within a generation or two.

How about things that are less measurable, such as regret and heartbreak? Who isn’t aware of the cliche of a girl having sex because her boyfriend wants to, and not long after he doesn’t see her again and spreads the tale of his conquest all over school? How about the cliche of two people who begin dating and rush into the physical part of their relationship, often sabotaging the relationship for good, or two friends who sleep together once and permanently damage the friendship? The latter examples happen well into the 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s for a lot of folks. I’ve counseled many clients who don’t trust men or who don’t trust themselves, and how quickly people become jaded as a result. Then there’s the double standard of women being pressured into sex, but the more they have sex the more they have a reputation for being “easy” or “slutty” they have, meanwhile men suffer no particular stigma for sex with multiple partners. The amount of sorrow and regret in relationships would decrease–by how much, who knows, but what a relief it would be for everyone affected.

The seventh reason is entirely faith-based, so feel free to accept or reject it, but this blog entry would be incomplete without mentioning it. When we live the commandments, the Lord blesses us. He cannot bless us for living a commandment that we are not living, that wouldn’t make any sense. This does not imply that if you’ve had sex once in your life you are ineligible, but rather should you make a determination to start living by this law, and repent for having sinned in the past, the blessings will start to come and you will receive strength to be able to live it. It’s happened in my life and it’s pretty amazing.

I’ve outlined seven likely positive outcomes from living the law of chastity. You may think I have overstated them, but it seems doubtful that any of them could be discounted entirely. What are the reasons for not living it? They all seem to boil down to one reason: I want to do it, and I shouldn’t have to wait! There are a number of rationales based on this reason, but they are nothing else.

The choice is ours, do we want immediate gratification, or do we want to delay it for a greater reward? And the rewards are many. Some people will say it’s too hard or it’s not realistic but this is sophistry, and simply a lie. It is tantamount to saying that people are merely animals, not having any control over ourselves so we shouldn’t be accountable for not doing so. Would that argument fly in a rape case? I personally know several people who stayed virgins until they married.

For the overwhelming majority of the history of the world the standard has been chastity until marriage, and there are an uncountable number of cases where this has occurred. Heaven knows it ain’t easy, the Lord made us as sexual beings and gave us sexual desires, but one of the purposes of this life is to learn how to master our passions, not be enslaved by them. When our desires overcome our reason then we start being driven by them, instead of the other way around. Which way would you rather live? Which is the most likely to result in lasting happiness, not just for you but all of us? Something to consider. 🙂keeping-the-law-of-chastity


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The oft-underestimated importance of family

I haven’t blogged about anything in too long a time, I suppose. I was reading a story today that I thought I would share; it’s about the importance of family, and how powerful an effect reminding others of it can have. I’ll be quoting the story here. The setting is that several years ago, Craig Cardon and his wife Debbie attended a dinner for members of the Dean’s Alumni Leadership Council at the Harvard Kennedy School:

After the dinner the president of the council invited the council members and their companions to stand and introduce themselves. He suggested that each person share educational and professional background information, along with what each considered to be his or her most significant accomplishment. Because of the way the room was organized, our table would be the last to participate.

[My wife] later explained to me that as she saw all in attendance standing and listing their many academic degrees and professional accomplishments, she thought, ‘What can I possibly say to these people who have been ambassadors, high government officials, educators, professionals, and leaders of gigantic enterprises? I don’t even have my bachelor’s degree yet.

Her mind continued racing: ‘I’ve got to think of something to say. No, I’ve got to find an excuse to leave.’ Then, in an instant, she thought, ‘I’m going to pray.’

She said a silent, earnest prayer, pleading with the Lord for His help and direction. In that moment, a voice came into her mind with perfect clarity. It said, ‘Debbie, who in this room has achieved more important things in this life or has had more amazing experiences than you? You are a mother in Zion. You have brought eight children into this world. Those who are of age are happily married and are having children of their own. What is more important than that? Debbie, get up and tell these people with power what you have done.’

At that moment, the microphone was passed to our table. I had seen her shifting in her chair and looking a bit uneasy, so I extended my hand to take the microphone, thinking to give her additional time to prepare herself. Imagine my surprise when her hand stretched out in front of mine and literally grabbed the microphone.

She confidently stood, and with an elegance difficult to describe, she said ‘A few years ago I accompanied my husband here to the Harvard Kennedy School. And my most important achievement is that I am the mother of 8 children and the grandmother of 18 grandchildren.’

With that statement, spontaneous applause erupted in the room. It was the only applause of the entire evening. She shared a few additional thoughts relating to the central, societal role of the family and the happiness found therein. Then she handed me the microphone and sat down. I stood and added simply, ‘I’m her husband.’

The significant of what the Lord did through [my wife] was evidenced by the fact that for the remainder of the evening we were inundated with questions about families, children, and marital harmony–subjects eminently more important than anything else that had been addressed. Because she had earnestly sought direction from the Spirit and had exercised the faith and courage to respond to what she was told, the Lord had magnified her in a powerful way in furthering His purposes.

I really enjoyed this, because it helped remind me of what is really important, and also how this message seemed opposed to the message that the world is currently giving. The greatest accomplishments are not to be found in a lab or a meeting or a presentation or a discovery, but rather in the home. I hope to someday have a family of my own, and when that happens I hope I never lose sight that (next to the Lord himself) they are the most important things in this world to me.


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My position regarding the poor

Are we not all beggars?

Are we not all beggars?

I’m not going to use a lot of my own words for this post. Sometimes I just read scripture and I want to share it, either because it affected me or because I believe in it so strongly and I want others too, also. This is an extended passage from the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, regarding giving to the poor. It was given by a prophet-king during his last address to his people before he died:

And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Perhaps thou shalt say:  The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just–

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

…And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou has done.

I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that:  I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you–that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God–I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

Just something I thought should be shared, and that we perhaps, should try to integrate into our lives. I’m not great at it, but I do give money to beggars when I can.

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