Patient

Just a short post to say I think we should be much more patient with each other.  Patience is hard for me.  I love peace, and am impatient when my peace is disturbed.

But we all disturb each other’s peace, even when we don’t mean to.  Even when we just mean to show love.  So, I think we must be patient with each other, as we all are trying to figure things out.

And I think the most important thing we are here to figure out is love, and what pure love is and how it acts.

And being patient with each other is a way to show love, and to learn more about each other, and therefore be able to love each other more and more.

To my children: Be patient with the young. Be patient with the old. Be patient with yourself.  Be patient with the ways God chooses to teach you, because at the end you will see it was all for you.  And forgive me my impatience whenever I have displayed it in your life, please!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

To Answer a Question

A dear friend of mine asked me a question about my last post, and I am going to try to answer it here.  There is a huge, long answer that I could try to give, involving all kinds of things, including the history of the temple, how Joseph Smith handled it, commands given by the Lord about it, changes made to the ceremonies and ordinances, experiences and revelations the Lord has given me about it, etc.  I probably will want to post about at least some of those things as I go along with this blog (some I have already discussed a bit in earlier posts), but it is too much at the moment, so I will try to give the short answer (short is relative for me, as most of my posts fall into the “too long, didn’t read” category, I am afraid 🙂 ).

First of all, let me say that I believed I understood the Baptism of Fire before the experience I related in my last post.  But what I understood, from what I had been taught in the Church for almost 4 decades was much more nebulous than the truth of it.  And, as I mentioned, I didn’t call the experience a Baptism of Fire for a long time.  My understanding of it was certainly unclear, until after I had experienced it.

The very short answer to the question of why, if the experience came related to me going to the temple, do I “participate in activities that will deny you the blessings of the temple,” is that the experience really had nothing to do with the physical building we call a Temple.  Also, I take exception to the assertion that I “participate in activities that will deny you the blessings of the temple.”  But that is because I view the whole question of the Temple and it’s purpose much differently than most members of the Church.

When I had this experience in 2011, the physical Temple building was a very holy place to me.  I went often.  The drive from my house then to the Temple was close to 5 hours one way.  I occasionally made the trip alone, but at the time I was quite ill with Lyme disease, and it was extremely difficult for me to do that.  I also often went with friends to the temple.  But during this particular period of time, when I was so very focused on doing the Lord’s will, I did have such a strong desire to be in a holy place, that I went whenever I could.

The Lord works with us where we are.  He speaks to us in our own language, which I don’t think only means the actual words we use, but also through experiences we are familiar with and in a way that will help us understand within the paradigm we are in at the moment.  He can only break us out of false paradigms, if He first meets us in the paradigm we are in.  BUT, I think it is very important to point out that He won’t force us.  If we are comfortable where we are, and do not ask for more (maybe not even thinking we need any more) then He will usually let us be where we are.  And if we fear, he will not force.  Agency is so important, He will not infringe on ours.  And so we have the command all throughout the scriptures that we must ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK.  When we do that, we give the Lord permission to teach us, to shatter our false paradigms if need be.

One of the major things about the whole experience I related in the last post was that it began many hours before I was at the temple, continued while I was there, and then continued for days afterwards.  There was no difference in the experience while I was in the physical Temple building than when I was in the car, or in my house, or anywhere else I was during those days.  I expected there to be a difference while I was in the temple, but there was not.

I have since had at least one days long experience that was the same intensity, and I was not in the Temple building at all during that.  I have had profound spiritual experiences that have been similar to each other in the Temple building, on mountains, in my bedroom, in my living room, in my car, in my shower, etc.  I have learned many things from the Temple ceremony.  The main thing being that we are supposed to be progressing along until we are brought through the veil (in this life) and see the Lord face to face.  That does not only happen in the Temple.

The Temple building is a symbol.  The Temple covenants and teachings are invitations to come to the Lord and receive the real thing.  I realize that view is different than what most all members of the Church believe.  Although if we really think about what is taught about the Temple ordinances, and all things we do in this life that we hope will endure, we realize we are taught that they must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise to be of force.  I have received the invitations, and I am seeking for the real things from the Lord.

The Temple building is a symbol of our own bodies.

I Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

The reason I am not allowed by the Church to enter the temples now is because I have done what the Lord has asked me to do.  Sacrifice has been required to do what the Lord has asked of me. Things I would not have chosen of myself have been asked, but I do not regret any of it, because what the Lord has given me in return has been so much greater.  I asked Him for truth, and to be given it as fast as I can bear it, and He has been doing that.  I wish my capacity were greater so I could progress faster.  One of my friends told me to pray to be “bigger” so I could handle more faster :).

I realize that most members of the Church believe that the Lord would not ask something of me that would result in me not being able to enter the Temple, and even not being a member.  But believing that is setting up stakes for the Lord and deciding for Him what He might ask a person to do.  I testify that He has asked these things of me.  And the confirmation I have felt about these decisions is the same confirmation I felt when I was 15 and He told me to join the Church.  And all I can do is testify of that.  I cannot prove to anyone in any other way that I am not deceived in what I have done, at least as pertains to my membership in the Church.  I do not claim to have never been deceived.  We are all deceived sometimes.  It is part of the process of learning about opposition in all things.  If we never experience deception, we can’t begin to learn the difference between deception and truth.

So, my answer to my wonderful friend is, I am not separated from the Temple.  I am not allowed in the Church’s Temple buildings any more.  But I went enough throughout the years that I can pretty much recite what goes on there, including the things that were there when I first went through in 1978 and have since been removed.  I received the invitation from the Lord there.  And I continue to seek the fulfillment of all that I was invited to receive.  I live in the actual Temple, my own body.  And I look forward to the day when the Lord will “suddenly come to His temple.”

Now, let me say also that I do believe the Lord commands some Temple buildings to be built.  For instance, I do believe He commanded the Nauvoo Temple to be built so that He could actually come to that Temple and meet the people there.  If you read my first post on this blog, you will see some of the reasons and evidences why I think the members failed at doing that, and so He never came to that Temple.  I think what we have had in the Temple buildings since then is instruction and invitation.  When a people fails in seeing the Lord or doing whatever He has asked, that does not preclude individuals from rising up and receiving everything the Lord has for them.  But as a people, we fail.  As a people, we almost always fail.  Zion is very, very rarely established.  What is happening now is what almost always happens.  It is to be expected and has been prophesied in our own scripture.  But we generally cannot see it.

I do believe at some point the Lord will again command a physical Temple to be built where His people can come and as a group actually see and commune with Him face to face.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

To My Children, Grandchildren, and . . .

Several weeks ago I was thinking about my life, and how long I might live, and what I would want to do before I die. One of the most important things I thought I want to do is to make sure my children and grandchildren know what I believe, and that they know the wonderful things the Lord has done for me.

As I think of the circumstances I have been through in my life, I see that my whole life has been for my learning and experience, and also for the learning and experience of those close to me. I can clearly see that the Lord has been helping me my whole life. I am sure it has looked like an ordinary life when looked at from the outside, but to me it has been extraordinary! I am such a blessed woman!

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was talking about how he wanted his blog to now be mainly for his children. This was the same kind of thing I had been thinking about. I think maybe only a few people have ever actually read this blog, and likely that will continue to be the case. So, I feel that I am supposed to use this blog now to write things the Lord has taught me, and many of my experiences. And that it is now for my children, grandchildren, and perhaps a few other people I love very much who might feel inclined to read this blog. And if others happen onto it, and feel to read anything here, that’s great.

As I have mentioned before, those of you who know me know I am just a very fallible ordinary person, although I am important to my family and dear friends, just like most everyone is. I also know I am important to the Lord, just like everyone is. And He has taught me many things. And He has told me to share what I believe.

But one thing I have learned through my life is my understanding of things continues to evolve through the Lord teaching me. Some things I have understood to be true earlier in my life have now been shown to me to be either a misunderstanding of the truth, or such a small part of the whole of the truth as to have given me a totally wrong comprehension of how things really are. And I am still learning and gaining more understanding, and getting rid of unbelief, so whatever I say now is what I know and understand now, but I know through experience that the Lord will continue to refine my understanding and broaden my knowledge, as long as I keep asking and seeking.  And I claim absolutely no authority over anyone, and have learned that anyone claiming authority over anyone must be very suspect.

D&C 121:39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

I have seen so much “supposed” authority exercised in my life, and it is very dismaying.  I have no authority.  I only believe that the Lord wants me to share some things on this blog.  And I would ask that each person who reads what I believe go to the Lord themselves to discern the truth.  I also ask that each person who reads this let the Lord wake you up, and let the Lord shake you if need be, out of any preconceived notions you might have.  I think Hugh Nibley once said something like, “No one likes to be awakened out of a deep sleep.”  I was awakened.  It was rough in many ways, but SO VERY MUCH WORTH IT!  Do not let fear keep you locked in false beliefs or unbelief.

I have been awakened, but that is not nearly enough.  Now I must arise.  Awake and arise!  That is what I am trying to do.  And I am trying to let the Lord help me shed all my false beliefs and unbelief.  We must act on new knowledge and understanding we are given, even when acting is hard and causes trials for us.  If we harden our hearts and do not ask and do not listen, we will lose even that understanding which we have been given.

Alma 12:10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

So, where do I start?  I have felt to start by relating a Baptism of Fire experience I had sometime in 2011.  I only wrote about it in my journal and to others after the fact, so I am not sure of the exact date.

This happened during a time when I was fervently pondering and praying about how I wanted to only do the Lord’s will.  My whole desire with every fiber of my being was to do His will and to help others.  I was profoundly sorry for anything I had ever done wrong, anything that separated me from the Lord.  I prayed for forgiveness for everything, to be totally clean before the Lord.  I wanted to be filled with the pure love of Christ and to serve His children.  This has pretty much been my desire always, but I think I was much more focused on it during this time, and I was also willing to do what He asked, even if it meant sacrifices I would not have considered before.  I have memories of lying in bed around this time in mighty prayer for hours about these things.

I will share here something I wrote a while ago about this Baptism of Fire experience.  I did not call it that at the time.  I just knew it was an amazing experience, but did not know what to call it.  I did not know what to call it because the Church (when I say the Church in this blog, I am usually meaning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) generally talks about the Baptism of Fire in a very different, and much more vague way, than the scriptures do.  I had the idea that the term Baptism of Fire usually meant the general good feeling that you would be entitled to from the Holy Ghost after baptism.  That it was kind of, sort of, the same thing as the Gift of the Holy Ghost, but maybe kind of, sort of meant the good feelings you could have as a result of that.  Anyway, clearly the concept of what the Baptism of Fire was was a hazy concept in my mind, even though in scripture it is pretty clear.  But I think in the Church we have watered it down because we don’t generally understand it.  We have made it into a gradual good feeling and understanding that usually gradually comes upon you over the years as you are good.  I believe most have not experienced it, even though they think they have, and so never seek for something they think they already have.  I think this is a terrible stumbling block.

So here is what I wrote a few years ago about this experience of mine:

“. . . I had an extremely profound experience.  I was thinking about going to the temple the next day (almost a 5 hour drive) but would have to go alone, and I was afraid I felt too ill, and I was in the shower thinking about it and the Lord said in my mind ‘Come and see me in the temple.’  The whole drive to the temple I was so filled with love and joy!  I even thought maybe I was going to die and go be with Him, because I felt so close to something profound (and I was OK with that, if that was what it was).  I felt the same during the temple session, and I expected to see Him, probably in the Celestial room.  I didn’t see Him, but I felt He was there, and the extreme love and joy continued with me all through the temple, the drive home, and for I think a couple days after.  I had never had such a long intense experience like that.”

The words in that short account are feeble in describing what I experienced.  I might have even used those same kinds of words to explain other, earlier spiritual experiences I have had, but it was not the same.  IT WAS NOT THE SAME!  I use capitals to try to get the idea across.  This experience was EXTREMELY PROFOUND for me.  I can remember it very well now.  I marveled at it the whole time it was happening.  And I feel frustrated that our language is so limiting that I cannot possibly get the truth of the experience across to anyone who has not experienced it.

After I woke up some more (I already was waking up to greater truth and our awful situation when that happened, but I woke up more and learned much more after it), I realized that this was a Baptism of Fire.  I have heard other people describe theirs, and their experiences resonate with me and what I experienced, even though their words are also inadequate.

During it, I think literally anything could have happened, and it would have been OK.  I was at such a high vibration, and felt the Lord so close, that I think any experience, no matter how bad, could have happened, and I would likely have been able to bear it.  The love from the Lord was so strong.  The clarity and perspective with which I viewed my life and the whole purpose of life and experience, etc. during it was so different than how it usually is.  I remember thinking at the time that Abinadi must have been in the same sort of state when they were burning him alive, and that others who experienced such horrific things in order to do the Lord’s will must have been in that kind of state.  It was amazingly comforting to me to realize that.

So, of course, now I have a great desire to somehow get to the level where I am always in that state of being.  I do not know if it is possible in this Telestial world to remain that way constantly.  Nephi lamented being able to be dragged down, even after all his experiences.  But I am sure it is possible to be that way, or closer to that way, much more than I currently am able.  That is what I pray for.  And I pray for the Second Comforter experience, so I can stand face to face and talk with the Lord that way.  I know that is possible because others have testified of it.  Someone I know personally has testified of it to me.  When you have seen the Lord, testifying to others that you have seen Him and that He lives is an important part of it.  But that is another blog post :).

What is different for me now:  I notice I have no desire to sin.  I didn’t have much before, because I always wanted to be a good girl (and have always fallen way short).  But there is a level of no desire to sin that is much more profound and deep in me now.  Also, I feel the Savior with me really all the time now.  This is also in a different way than I felt that before.  As long as I can remember, I have been aware that the Lord is aware of my thoughts, and in that sense I have always felt Him with me, and been happy to have Him involved with what I am thinking about.  But this is different.  This is now me being able to sense the Savior standing beside me any time I think of it.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  He is there.  I can feel Him there.  I often sense where He is standing, or if He is standing or sitting, and at least once I knew He was kneeling in front of me to talk to me at my level as I was sitting.  I can often feel how He is feeling.  Sometimes I can hear His words clearly in my mind as He stands there and talks to me.

Life is different since this particular experience.  I have had many amazing and wonderful spiritual experiences in my life, but they were mostly not like this one.  They pale in comparison, although at the time I had them, I thought they were a pinnacle.  I have had at least one other extreme one like this one I have related since then.  And one early in my life that was also similar, which I will probably relate in another blog post sometime.  But this particular one was unique in my life in the major change it made in me.

3 Nephi 9:20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Mosiah 5:2 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.

Alma 19:33 And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.

I will say more about all this later, but I want to get this post on the blog today.

To my children, grandchildren, and friends: I love you!  I am writing this because I love you, and I believe the Lord wants me to be writing this stuff for you here on this blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A Post to Share a Post

I am writing this post to share one of the most wonderful, and I think valuable, blog posts I have ever read.

This post was written by a friend of mine.  I love it so much because it says what I would say if I could express myself better :).

Many of my friends have been shocked, saddened, distressed, or even obviously angered by what I believe and some of what I share with them.  I have expected some of that, but still I have often also been shocked, saddened, and distressed by their misunderstanding of what I was trying to share, and also their misunderstanding of my feelings about it all.  I am sure it is at least partly due to my inability to express well what I am thinking and learning and feeling.

What some of my friends see as negative or upsetting, I see as marvelous and evidence of the glorious work the Lord is doing right now.  It does require a shift in paradigm, and the sacrifice of much (if you choose to act on the knowledge given), which can be very rough, but the resulting light and knowledge and joy is certainly worth any of the sacrifice it causes.

Near the end of her blog post my friend says this: “I add my witness again that God is speaking to us now, to restore again the restoration. To take seriously the things that were given to us through Joseph Smith the prophet. To call us to repentance and turn us back to Him, away from our unbeliefs so that we might have real faith in Him once again.”

I want to add my witness to hers of these things!

The things she talks about in her post are things I also believe with all my heart.  Her experiences are hers, but I have experienced very similar things, and have also been taught by the Lord the things she has been taught.

So, if you have any desire to know what I think and believe, I ask that you read what she has written.  Please read it all.  It is worth it!

Here it is:  http://puretestimonyofjesuschrist.blogspot.com/2016/01/another-casualty.html

Request Baptism

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Matter of Life and Death

LGBT suicides.jpg

It is at least 34 now.

The LDS Church recently instituted a policy saying that children of parents (who have primary custody) in a homosexual relationship cannot be baptized.  The LDS Church also changed the policy about what constitutes apostasy, and included being in a same-gender marriage.

81 days ago was when the policy came out.

Here is the new LDS Official Handbook statement about apostasy:

 

 

When I wrote the last blog post, I was just beginning to realize the pain the baptism policy was causing.  I am writing this post to let people know who may not know that people are suffering because of these new policies, people are dying.  This is a matter of life and death.

It is clear from what I have written here and in the last blog post that I do not like the new policies.  I do not believe they were revelation.  I believe they go against scripture.  But what I think about that doesn’t really matter.  This is what matters:

Whatever you believe about the policy, even if you believe it was a revelation and is totally right, children are dying!  And we all have to do whatever we can to help those children, and adults too, by letting the Lord and Christ-like love guide our actions towards them.

I am sure that each circumstance is different, but we can all be guided by the Lord and by love.  And since God is love, that would seem to be the same thing, so if you don’t feel guided by the Spirit, then maybe think “What would pure Christ-like love do in this circumstance?”  We have to be aware that many of our brothers and sisters are in agony, and some feel so alone and awful that they are thinking of taking their lives.  I doubt there is a Ward in the LDS Church where there is not someone in pain over this.  You may not be aware of it, because they may be afraid to tell anyone.  So, even our rhetoric when we think there is no one listening who could be hurt, could still hurt.

I have a Facebook friend who is an active Mama Dragon.  Their family is LDS and their teenage son is gay.  If you haven’t heard of the Mama Dragons, here is an article about them: http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2438383-155/mama-dragons-lead-the-fight-for?page=1

I admire these Mama Dragons, even though all I know about them is what I have learned by being Facebook friends with one of them.  They protect and fight for their children.  They protect and fight for the children of others who for whatever reasons were not able to.  I believe they save lives.

To give you all a real life picture of what is happening because of this policy, I am going to quote this Mama Dragon Facebook friend’s husband, Thomas Montgomery.  She gave me permission to post this here on my blog:

“I have no doubt that the policy, which is an extension of Proclamation Doctrine, is completely not of God. This week Elder Neil Anderson and Elder Whitney Clayton came and ‘trained’ the local leaders. In a nutshell, they are not to tolerate ‘distractions’ to their wards and to reinforce the Proclamation as the only acceptable path at every turn.
Last night, I got a call from a terrified, young trans man that his Bishop has called him in for a 9 pm meeting. This is on the heels of the ‘training’ this Bishop just received. (The Bishop is aware that this youth had attempted suicide as recent as October.)
The spirit told me to jump in my car and get there as fast as I could. I found that young trans man collapsed in the gutter in front of the Bishops house just afterward.
Dragon Dads – we have a mandate from God above to minister to these kids. There will be multiple generations of these kids being born in the Church and it is going to take 20-40 years before the Church comes around. Until then, we are the safety net. We are the ones listening and hearing God’s promptings – because the TBM members have chosen to close their ears and hearts to the matter. It is inconceivable that they could be wrong and causing harm.
We can beat our hands bloody in vain trying to change the Church, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But we can reach these kids. Whether you decide to minister to these kids by staying or going, find a way to make a different in the lives of these LGBT Mormon kids. It is life and death (We are aware of 34 deaths via suicide of LGBT Mormon youth since Nov. 5th. Ages 14-20.)

So, I am writing this blog for the purpose of making everyone who reads it aware of the danger to LGBT Mormons right now, especially the youth.  I am sure everyone who is LDS knows someone who is LGBT or whose family member is, and who is in distress.  There is someone in your Ward or Stake who is suffering, who needs love and care and to not feel alone, to not feel judged.

I also plead with any LDS leaders who might read this post: please, please be guided by the Lord in your dealings with the members you serve.  Be aware that your position of authority is a heavy burden, and that you are looked up to by the youth, and what you say or do to them can affect them in often terrible ways.  Lives are literally at stake.

When I first wrote this blog post, I put a lot in the beginning about what I thought about the new policies, etc.  I am going to leave that stuff in mostly, but now I am putting it here at the bottom, because although I think it is important to understand what the policies are, and for everyone to go to the Lord, without preconceived ideas that it has to be right because the leaders said it, and ask the Lord if it is truly His policy or not, the immediate dire need is for people to help save these children’s lives.

The last post I wrote was about the new LDS Church policy about not allowing the children of gay and lesbian parents to be baptized.  I did not even address the other new policy change that happened at the same time (I am not sure I was really aware of it yet), which was that now people in a same-gender marriage are considered apostate.  It is now apostasy to be in a same-gender marriage.  And disciplinary action is mandated for apostasy “to protect Church members.”

It is not considered apostasy to commit adultery.  It is not considered apostasy to be a pedophile.  It is not considered apostasy to be a thief, or a rapist, or a murderer.  (And you can be a child of all those people and be baptized.)

Apostasy is a very charged word in the LDS Church.  It is very painful to be called an apostate (I know).  Apostates are feared.  That is why disciplinary action for apostates is mandated, to protect Church members.  If you must be protected from something, that thing must be dangerous and therefore feared.

Fear is the opposite of love. God is love.

When I wrote the last blog post, I was totally consumed with the thought that many innocent children could not be baptized.  I also talked about how the policy was just a policy and not a revelation.  But Elder Nelson has implied recently that it is a revelation, and I know that has caused renewed waves of anguish for many people. I am still shocked that the Church I loved for so many years, full of such glorious and wonderful people, would bar innocent children from baptism and the blessings associated with it.  I very much believe that if any other church had announced such a policy, that my wonderful Mormon friends would have thought it was terrible.  But because it is so ingrained in the LDS culture to follow the leaders, and to assume they do things like this only with direction from God, many of the members think that somehow it must be right.  But it is hard to keep the cognitive dissonance from making you crazy.

I need to mention something else here as an aside.  It is something I said in my last post that I wish I hadn’t.  But I am going to leave it in that post and let my blindness in saying it remain for people to see, because although the Lord has opened my eyes to many things, I realize I am still blind to so many things.  Here is what I said: “I prayed for something like this. That probably sounds awful to many, I think, but I did. I didn’t want people to be hurt, but I prayed that something would happen that would wake people up to our awful situation . . . .”  I did pray for something to wake people up to the problems now, to help people see that the Book of Mormon warnings are for us, are about us, not other people who will never read the book.  I hoped that things would happen to wake people up BEFORE the destructions and devastations prophesied in scripture come upon us.  But I NEVER wanted something to happen that would harm people in the way this is harming people.  I never even imagined something like this!  But my rhetoric, of saying I prayed for something like this may have been very hurtful, and I deeply apologize for it.

Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

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

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

19 We love him, because he first loved us.

20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

I am adding a link here to a site that can give people some ideas of how to help: http://mormonsbuildingbridges.org/lgbtqissa-health-and-wellness/

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

My thoughts on the new Church policy

I am happy this morning as I begin to put my thoughts together on this subject. I am not happy because of the subject at all. I am happy because I was awoken at 7:00 am by our youngest who wanted to give me a kiss, tell me it was snowing, and remind me that it is her 15th birthday today :).  And therein I was reminded again what a wonderful life I have and how blessed we have been.

Now on to more sobering thoughts.

When I first saw the article on the new Church policy about children of same sex couples, I was stunned and saddened. Immediately I felt that it was so very wrong and so much against scripture.

Here is the first article I read about it:

http://kutv.com/news/local/lds-church-to-exclude-children-of-same-sex-couples-from-membership

I first heard about it from a link on Facebook.  I have friends on Facebook on all parts of the spectrum on every issue, and this was no different. I rarely jump into any Facebook frays. I sometimes put something out there that states my opinion or a link to something I like, and very occasionally that leads to a small kerfuffle, but that is rare.  Normally I stay out of controversy there.

This time I had a few things to say on there, and wanted that to be all I said, but I can’t get it off my mind.  It has kept me awake for large parts of more than one night thinking about it.

So, I have decided to discuss some of what I think about this whole thing here on my blog. It is too long for Facebook.  I believe in what it says in D&C 121, so I don’t say any of this to cause contention. I only say it to express my thoughts and in a spirit of persuasion and love, with respect for those who think differently.

D&C 121:41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

Confusion about what the policy actually is

One of the first things I noticed people saying in support of, or defense of, the policy was that it did not say that children couldn’t be baptized, that it just had some qualifications to be met.  So, I read the policy carefully.

Here is the text of the policy from Handbook 1:

Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship

A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing. A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows: A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met: 1.The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage. 2.The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.

So, that says babies can’t be given a name and a blessing if their parents are in a same gender relationship. Children of parents who have lived, or are living, in a same gender relationship can be baptized, confirmed, ordained, or go on a mission ONLY after they are 18 and then ONLY if they do not live with their parents, AND they disavow the practice, AND get First Presidency approval. So, they cannot be baptized, cannot have the gift of the Holy Ghost given, and cannot be ordained during their childhood years.

This policy is very absolute. There is no wiggle room for any different circumstance to be taken into consideration at all, if the child is under 18.

I am mostly going to talk in this post about children not being allowed to be baptized, but the policy of not being able to give babies a name and a blessing is also horrible to me. And most of the same arguments apply. But, as an aside, here is a quote from Teachings of Our Times from 1899 on this topic:

In some minds there seems to be an idea that there should be a different form of blessing for children born of non-members and for those who are identified with the Church; and it is from such sources that in the case of children belonging to members of the Church ‘the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ and all the attendant favors are frequently conferred upon the child. This is all wrong. If we take the example of our Lord and Redeemer, who is our pattern and whose example we cannot too closely follow, we find that He blessed all who were brought to Him. We have no hint that He asked whose children they were, or the standing or faith of their parents. His remark was, ‘Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven;’ and He laid His hands upon them and blessed them. All little children, no matter what their parentage may be, are innocent in the sight of heaven, and they should be received as such and blessed as such.
The Editor [George Q. Cannon], “Topics of the Times,” Juvenile Instructor 34 (March 1, 1899): 137-138. Reprinted in Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 61 (March 30, 1899), 198-199; Latter-day Saints’ Southern Star 1 (April 29, 1899): 170.

I will try to address now some of the other questions and thoughts I have seen from people about this policy. These are just going to be some few of my thoughts about each of these things, because I cannot possibly write, or even remember, all of the things I have thought about this over the past few days:

“But the policy is the same as the one already in place for children of polygamists”

Well, first of all, I don’t agree with that policy either, and don’t remember knowing about it, or at least thinking about it, until very recently.  (There were a lot of things I didn’t know about or think about.) And my Mom always said “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Also, that policy has not been quite as restrictive or set in stone as this new one.  There was more wiggle room in that one.  But I still think it was wrong for the same reasons as I think this one is wrong. Here is what that policy was in the Handbook in 2006:

Children Whose Parents Have Practiced or Are Practicing Plural Marriage

            Children of parents who have practiced or are practicing plural marriage must receive approval from the First Presidency to be baptized. The mission president or bishop may request this approval when he is satisfied that the children (1) accept the teachings and doctrines of the Church and (2) repudiate the teachings upon which their parents based their practice of plural marriage. The mission president submits the request through a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency. The bishop submits the request through the stake president.

And here is what it was in 2010:

Children Whose Parents Have Practiced or Are Practicing Plural Marriage

Children of parents who have practiced or are practicing plural marriage contrary to the law must receive approval from the First Presidency before they may be baptized and confirmed. The mission president or bishop may request this approval when he is satisfied that the children (1) accept the teachings and doctrines of the Church and (2) repudiate the teachings upon which their parents based their practice of plural marriage. The mission president may request this approval from the Office of the First Presidency when he is satisfied that all three of the following requirements are met:

  1. The children accept the teachings and doctrines of the Church.
  2. The children repudiate the teachings upon which their parents base their practice of plural marriage.
  3. Minor children are not living in a home where polygamy is being taught or practiced. The bishop submits the request through the stake president.

So the children of polygamists could possibly have been baptized as children, under the age of 18. There was provision for that. There was wiggle room. In this new policy there is no provision for children under 18 to be baptized, no matter the circumstance, no matter the desire of their parents, no matter if their parents desperately want them to be baptized, no matter what their parents believe, no matter what their parents teach them, no matter what the Spirit says, no matter what.

It is also interesting that the changes in the 2010 policy for children of polygamists seem to allow an out for those who live in countries where polygamy is legal.

“But the policy is actually to make sure the family’s wishes are respected”

I have read and heard this argument, that the policy actually supports the idea that the family is paramount.  The family should be paramount. The parents should be the ones in charge of their children.  HOWEVER, that is already the case with the policy that was and is already in place where parents have to give permission for any minors ever to be baptized anyway.  I had to get my non-member parent’s permission to be baptized when I was 15.

This new policy clearly takes away the agency of the family/parents to decide what is best for their children.

“With this policy children are protected from the confusion and distress being in conflict with their parents’ beliefs or lifestyle might cause”

First of all, whenever any child whose parents are not members, or who have any different beliefs from what the Church teaches, gets baptized there is going to be some amount of discomfort. There are going to be things they believe that put them in some level of conflict with their parents. I know. I was baptized at age 15. My Mom gave permission, but that did not mean my family liked all the things I did because of being a member. It caused great stress and sorrow for me, and for them, sometimes.

But do I ever wish I had been made to wait until I was 18 to be baptized? No, never. I am so thankful that I had the Church, and my beliefs, and the support of Church friends, and the Holy Ghost to help me through those very difficult years.

Again, the parents are the ones who should be allowed to decide for their child what is best. Will they get it wrong? Sometimes they will. But should we take away agency to force people to do things right?

“Nothing is lost with this policy. Children can wait until they are 18 and nothing will be lost because the Lord will not penalize them”

The Lord will not penalize them. The Lord loves them. The Lord loves everyone who is oppressed and constrained and trammeled and hurt and abused, etc., etc. The Lord also loved the women and children who were burned up by the wicked people in the Book of Mormon. He loves everyone who is born during any 3-4 generation of cursing that follows a wicked generation. He takes every circumstance into account when He judges those children. But He does allow the wicked to have their agency, and to harm and punish and oppress, and even torture and kill the innocent.

I do believe that the Lord will not penalize any child who is not allowed to be blessed, baptized, confirmed, ordained, or to go on a mission because of this policy. But does that mean they won’t hurt because of it? Does that mean they won’t suffer from not having the guidance of the gift of the Holy Ghost (if you believe they can only get that through confirmation)? Does that mean they won’t feel less than their peers in the Church when they can’t go on temple trips, or get ordained when their friends do, or hold callings?

The Lord does not penalize the abused child, but did they not still suffer?

It is not true to say nothing will be lost. It is true to say that all experience can be for our good. The Lord can make up to them in the eternities what they have lost and any offenses they have suffered.

But wo, wo, to them by whom the offense comes.

“Why do you care if you are not a member of the Church. I don’t understand why people are so upset about this”

 I am upset by it because it is wrong. It goes against scripture that I believe in. It removes agency. It takes the decision away from families and puts it into the hands of the Church. And it hurts people I love, care about, and people I don’t know, but feel so sad for their pain.

Here is what the Savior Himself says His doctrine is:

3 Nephi 11:32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

 33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

 35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

 36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

 37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

 38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

 39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

 40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

Now this new policy is just that, a policy and not a doctrine. However it is infringing on a doctrine, on THE doctrine according to Christ. It is requiring more and different requirements for baptism than the Savior says is His doctrine. I believe that this policy is doing exactly what it says not to do in verse 40. I believe it is declaring much, much “more . . . than this,” and the Savior Himself says that comes of evil.

Here are other scriptures that I believe show that the new policy is not what the Lord would want:

Ezekiel 18:20
…The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Mark 10:14
…Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
2 Nephi 26:33
[The Lord] inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
Alma 19:35
…as many as did believe were baptized…
Alma 48:19
…they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.
3 Nephi 7:25
…all such as should come unto them should be baptized…
3 Nephi 11:22-23
…On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name…baptize them…
4 Nephi 1:1
…as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized…

This policy has already terribly hurt many people.

I have dear friends whom this affects. One of my friends who is in a same sex relationship has a teenage daughter who is very active in the Church.  My friend is very supportive of her daughter in her membership in the Church.  Now that daughter cannot go on a mission, if she chooses to, unless she moves out of her mother’s home, disavows her mother’s lifestyle, convinces her local leaders of these things, and gets First Presidency approval.  Even if her mother were no longer in a same sex relationship at that point, the daughter would still have to go through the same process.  According to the policy, repentance by the mother of living in the same sex lifestyle would not change the requirements.

Just a few of the things I have heard happening already:

I have heard of at least a few children’s baptisms that were to have happened even this past weekend that were cancelled because they have a gay parent.

Within the first day after the policy was leaked I heard of several people who were suicidal over it.

A gay father is suicidal because he had been trying to contact his kids since the decision and they wouldn’t answer him, and then one of them told him that they want to be a good Mormon so they won’t talk to him again.

An acquaintance who is active in the Church and who has a gay teenage son sat with him sobbing with his head in her lap after he heard of the policy.

I have heard that at least one BYU student who has a gay parent has been called in by their Bishop and told they must repudiate their parents’ relationship or lose their ecclesiastical endorsement and be kicked out of BYU.

Many of my LDS friends are in agony over this. It has caused such cognitive dissonance in them that they are in great pain over it. They have no idea how to resolve the idea that the leaders can’t lead you astray, with a policy that the spirit tells them in their hearts is wrong.

Here are a few links to other stories of those who have been hurt by this, or who would have been had it been in place when they joined the Church:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10207976114665595&set=a.2660328192328.2149391.1379615591&type=3

http://www.kivitv.com/news/mormon-family-leaves-faith-following-controversial-announcement

http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:0b92c9d24c44431ab3221608e98bd633

http://www.sltrib.com/blogs/tribtalk/3147032-155/trib-talk-lds-policy-on-same-sex

http://www.the-exponent.com/if-and-then/

http://thesubtleblogger.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-unconventional-journey-uncorrelated.html

People are already hurt terribly; more people will be hurt terribly. That is why it matters to me. And I believe the Lord is not pleased.

I have heard people saying, “Why don’t you just leave the Church, if you don’t believe this is right?” If you believe that the saving ordinances are in the Church, why would you not do everything you could to kindly persuade and love and help everyone to stay? Why so quick to get rid of anyone who disagrees? Where is the charity in that sentiment?

“But the ‘Brethren’ have put this policy in place and endorse it, so it is right, and we just need a testimony of our leaders”

Here is a great blog post by a member that speaks a bit to parts of this idea:

http://www.the-exponent.com/to-my-friend-who-accepts-the-church-handbook-changes/

This is one of the scariest, dangerous, and most insidious things that has happened in the Church, I believe – the idea that the leaders can’t lead us astray and that every policy, decision, and even statement made by the Church or a General Authority must be right and must be believed. Some believe that current leaders always trump earlier leaders and even can trump the scriptures. And that the only reason to ponder and pray about it is to bring ourselves in line with what they have said.

The rebuttal to those ideas is a whole other blog post, or multiple posts.

So, here I will just say that there has been no claim by any leader that this is a revelation. The Church does extensive polling, and sends out many surveys, and checks with their legal entities, etc. They do these things all the time, and use the results to make decisions. I know that many people are not aware that this happens, but it does. It is very rare that any decision they make is even claimed to be revelation from the Lord.

And this new policy is also not claimed to be that. Elder Christofferson did not claim revelation when he talked about it. He mentioned reasons that are the philosophies of men. Many philosophies of men are great and worthy of consideration, but I do not believe they trump the word of God.

As I have pointed out already, I think this policy goes against scripture, and therefore any other argument for it, no matter how reasoned, is really moot.

I realize that there have been some children who have gotten baptized whose parents are gay, and that they have had problems because of it. Most LDS people I know believe that the government is too intrusive in our lives, that they try to legislate every little thing and bind us down with the multitude of laws, all ostensibly designed originally to help us in some way, to make us be good, or force us to do the wise thing, or keep us safe. We recognize that is Satan’s plan. We may recognize it in the government, but may be blind to it when it happens in our own religious institution.

Here is a blog post by a friend of mine that deals with some of these and other issues, too:

http://uponhisrock.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-real-problem.html

“The children are not being banned from the Church; they can still attend all the meetings and activities”

It is true that they can still come to meetings and participate in most activities (as long as it is not a temple trip). But many have pointed out that they will still feel a stigma, they will still feel “lesser” than others. There will be social and emotional consequences.

There is a lot that could be said about those consequences caused for children and youth by being stigmatized in this way, but the infinitely more important point is that, while they are not banned from participating in Church, the Church is banning them from participating in the gospel of Christ. They can’t be baptized, they can’t be confirmed and given the charge to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, they can’t partake of the Sacrament. When they are told these things, they are actually being told they cannot participate in the gospel of Christ.

Some other thoughts

I feel a bit frustrated writing this because I wish I had a lot more time and a better memory, so I could remember more of the many thoughts I have had over the past few days about this and could organize them and write them. I could say more in a later blog post, but it truly wears me out.

But I want to say this:

I prayed for something like this. That probably sounds awful to many, I think, but I did. I didn’t want people to be hurt, but I prayed that something would happen that would wake people up to our awful situation, before it is too late, or at least before the terrible judgments of death and destruction come upon us. I think Mormon 8 is talking about us, and it is pretty harsh. Moroni saw us:

Mormon 8:35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

He saw us, and he asked us, “why have ye polluted the holy church of God?”

I think this egregious policy could be at least a part of the mercies of the Lord allowing things like this to try to wake up His people, people who love Him, but who are blinded by philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

Believing any arm of flesh cannot lead us astray is so dangerous.

One of my friends said to me once that he thinks the Lord will be merciful to those in the Church who are blinded. That He will give them another path to wake up. The problem is, the other path is often painful, and we don’t have to wait for that other path. We can choose to look carefully and fearlessly at things that are going on, to recognize that the Book of Mormon is talking to us, not to a people who will never read it. We can realize from things like this policy that there is a problem, and we can go to the Lord, and trust our own revelation from Him, and not the arm of flesh, for answers.

It is important for all of us, when we look at things like this and think, “Well, here we go, the wheat is being separated from the tares,” to really go to the Lord and plead and pray, and ask and seek and knock, to know whether we are actually wheat or tares. Being in the Church is not a guarantee of being wheat.

One thing to remember in all this is that baptism is not about joining a Church. In the Church we think of being baptized and joining the Church as synonymous, but they are not. Several years ago, for a short while the policy was to make investigators wait for a week after baptism before being confirmed. This was because some people were being baptized and confirmed the same day, and then never showing up at Church again. So, they would baptize them, and then if they never showed up again, they were never actually a member of the Church, because they hadn’t been confirmed, and the Church didn’t have to have another inactive member on the rolls.

And in the early days of the Church people were rebaptized all the time, any time they wanted to recommit themselves to the Lord and for other reasons.

Here is a quote from my friend on her blog post at this link (the whole blog post is great):

http://puretestimonyofjesuschrist.blogspot.com/2015/11/born-of-water.html

“God does not deny baptism to those who qualify for it. . . God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so these qualifications have not changed.

For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. 2 Nephi 26:33

You don’t have to believe what I say on the matter, but you should look into your scriptures. You should ask God for the truth of the matter, for yourself, who giveth to all men liberally.”

I echo those words. Ask God for the truth of the matter, with an open mind, laying aside your preconceived ideas, and willing to accept whatever answer you get, no matter how surprising it might be.

And I am talking about asking about the greater issues, not just this particular policy.

If you want to be baptized, or rebaptized, by someone with authority, please go to this web site:

https://bornofwater.org/qualifications-for-baptism/

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Following Prophets

There is a great story in the Old Testament about following prophets.  It is a cautionary tale.  I will get back to it in a bit.

In the LDS Church we are taught to follow the prophet. The Primary children are taught a fun song about it.  All the children I know enjoy that song.  The chorus of the song hammers the idea home. “Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet; don’t go astray. Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet; he knows the way.”

I believe in listening to prophets and determining if their words are from The Lord. Even when I already believe someone is a prophet or a messenger from the Lord, I believe in the importance of determining whether the message they are giving at the moment is from the Lord.  And when I believe it is from the Lord, I believe in heeding that message. I believe the Lord sends prophets, true messengers, and that it is vital to recognize them (another topic for another time: how do you recognize a prophet or true messenger from the Lord?) and listen to and do what the Lord lets us know, through them, that He wants us to do.

But I also believe it is paramount that we personally learn to hear the Lord’s voice directly to us. And that that is what the Lord sends prophets and messengers for mainly, to point us to Christ, to help us learn that the Lord wants us all in direct contact with Him.  He wants each one of us to be a prophet.

Numbers 11:29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

D&C 1:9 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh-

10 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world

Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Hebrews 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

D&C 84:98 Until all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song . . .

It has been more recently in my life that I have realized that even beyond determining whether they are a true messenger, and actually speaking for the Lord at the moment, that I also have to be aware of what the Lord has told me personally, and that no matter what, I must do what the Lord has told me personally, even if it goes against what a true messenger says.

Now that is a scary prospect! Most of my LDS friends would probably read that and think I have really totally gone off the rails and into very dangerous territory if I believe something crazy like that.

Well, it is dangerous territory. We are all in very dangerous territory here in this wicked telestial world.  And the game is afoot, the test is on, and how we meet that test is eternally important.

Sitting back and believing all is well, and ignoring the warnings from the Lord all over in the scriptures because they grate against the lulling voices telling us that we are the chosen people, and we are special, and our leaders can’t lead us astray, is very dangerous.

We want to rely on others. We want to rely on prophets. We like hierarchies and file leaders and people to lean on above us whom we can listen to and follow and know we will be “safe” if we do.  We have even been taught by some that if we follow a leader and do what they say, even if they are wrong (and I have heard people say even if we know they are wrong) that we will be blessed for it.

I believe that to be dangerous false doctrine! That is the kind of belief that gives rise to very sad cult-like behavior.  I have seen it happen to people I know.  I have known of otherwise loving, kind people totally shunning and cutting off people they love, because a leader advised them to do that.  I have seen very cruel and emotionally abusive treatment of many, because someone in higher authority told them or suggested to them that they needed to do that.

In history we see more extreme things come from this mindset, like people drinking the poison cool-aid, and Nazi’s and others murdering people and later claiming they were just following orders. You may say those are extreme cases, but they come from the same mindset of following the leader, and that mindset has caused millions to suffer and even to die.

Are we supposed to be learning something from these examples? Are we wasting the lessons of this telestial world and these horrific examples, and just blithely going along making the same mistakes that almost every generation and every people makes, because we think we are chosen and special and cannot be led astray or fall as a people?  And that we should always follow our leaders?

We could play dueling quotes here now. People could put up a quote from a President or Apostle in the LDS Church saying that the leaders will never lead us astray, and then I could put up a quote from the same level of “authority” saying the opposite, and we could go on all day doing that. The quotes are all out there; you can Google them all and read them (unless you first read quotes about fearing reading information on the Internet, and therefore decide doing a search, or getting more information, is too dangerous because you might run up against something that goes against your beliefs or something false. Yes, it is a dangerous world, and much information is false. But the restriction of freedom of thought and information is another tactic of scary cults, and I can show you dueling quotes about all truth being part of Mormonism, too, and how we must seek and search out truth.)

The fact is, we are cautioned repeatedly in the scriptures not to trust in the arm of flesh, and that God is no respecter of persons.  Yes, the Lord uses prophets, messengers, servants, teachers, etc., to get His messages to the world.  But we must be very discerning of those messages, and above all, never give our agency away to another arm of flesh!  And as a leader, we must never use our position to coerce or even force someone to follow us or believe us.  That is Satan’s plan. (You key holders, don’t jangle your keys at people! And what does having keys even really mean anyway?  Another topic to maybe explore another time.)

Acts 10:3¶Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons

D&C 38:2For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?

27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

2 Nephi 4:3O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

2 Nephi 28:31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And again:

D&C 1:9 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh-

10 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world

It requires a large paradigm shift to realize we are even doing this, trusting in the arm of flesh.  We don’t mean to do this. We believe that we can follow the men called into positions where we give them the title of Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, and that that is the same thing as following the Lord.  Because it is believed that they are called by the Lord Himself, and therefore what they say is the Lord’s word and safe to follow.

But we are on dangerous ground with that. We are on a razor’s edge.  And that paradigm is a strong one and hard for the Lord to shift us out of.

I have realized this starkly when friends whom I love have thought that I was following Denver Snuffer and/or a friend of mine named Dan who has also seen the Lord, because they imagine that if I am not following someone whom they consider to be a prophet, that I must have just shifted and be following some other person, because not following anyone is not really part of the paradigm. (As an aside, here is a link to Dan’s web site where he describes his experience.  This web site will only be up until early November 2015, unless the Lord tells him differently, so this link will probably not work after that: http://thesecondcomforter.com/

I realized that because of a miraculous moment where the Lord changed my paradigm, I think so differently about this now than I used to, that it is hard for me to realize how people are going to take some of the things I say or write about.  It is my very profound weakness at communicating my thoughts that causes misunderstanding.  And it is also the very different paradigms that some of my friends are coming from that add to the misunderstandings.  I am sorry about that.  All I can do is rely upon the Lord to make things clear for those who truly want to know the truth, and who can put aside the fear and anger (and I believe the anger stems from the fear that if I could go so far off the rails, so could they) long enough to ask the Lord about the truth, with a sincere heart, with real intent. It is very hard to get an answer when you already are sure you know the answer. Then you usually get the answer you expect.  An open mind and heart is so important.  We have to soften our hard hearts and bend our stiff necks.  We have to be brave and want the truth above all else.

Anyway, I am a bit stunned when anyone thinks I follow Denver and/or Dan.  I will admit, the old habits and traditions and false beliefs and unbeliefs die hard.  I am a part of the gentile group warned about these things in the Book of Mormon.  I have been as susceptible to putting my trust in the arm of flesh as the rest of us.  But the shifting of my paradigm by the Lord has helped me greatly in that, although I always have to be on guard and continue to learn and grow in this understanding.

But I have to say that I felt to almost laugh once when accused of following these men.  No offense to them!  Because I have a great love for them and a gratitude to them for doing the hard thing of saying and doing what the Lord wants them to say and do in the face of pretty yucky persecution and hardship (What should really be used is persuasion and gentleness and meekness and love unfeigned when trying to save a soul you think has gone astray, not the persecution I have seen so many of my friends and acquaintances suffer.  Of course, that goes for people on all sides of the issue!) And I do believe they have seen the Lord as they say.  And I do believe that they were told to give the messages they have given from the Lord.  I believe the message because of the message, not because of where it comes from.  I believe the message because the Holy Ghost within me confirms to me that the message is true.  The particular arm of flesh chosen to deliver the message is actually inconsequential.  The Lord likes to use the weak things of the world to bring to pass His purposes.

I don’t know Denver personally, but I have a very personal relationship with Dan.  I consider him a super good friend.  We, along with a group of other friends who are very dear to me, have shared many things about our lives with each other, including some of our spiritual experiences and revelations to us.  The thing is, Dan is just one of us.  He has been asked by the Lord to share some things, and he has done that in his web site I linked to above.  But in this group of friends we have all learned so much from each other, from everyone, and there is no leader, no one to sit in the chief seat and be revered, just friends who try to serve and love each other, and become one, and move towards making sure there are no poor among us.  Dan and the rest of us are all arms of flesh.  I don’t follow any of them, and they don’t follow me.  But I surely do love them.  And if Denver wanted to come join us, that would be great.  And I hope and pray we would overcome our foolish nature to follow and just become fellow members of the family of God who all serve and care for and enjoy each other.

Now, back to the story in the Old Testament.  Back to the crazy thing I said earlier about not even following something a true prophet says if it goes against what the Lord has told you personally to do.  How can that be?  Well, there are certainly examples of that in our scriptures.  We know there have been times when people have been commanded personally to do things that go against commandments of the Lord spoken by true prophets.  Things like Abraham sacrificing Isaac and Nephi killing Laban.  I believe extreme things like that are extremely rare, but it happens.  I do believe the scriptures and the words of the Lord spoken by true messengers are given for our benefit, and those things should be followed, but I think it is clear the Lord wants us to follow the personal commandments He gives us above all.

So that is scary, because some truly insane individual might think the Lord has told them to do some heinous act.  And sadly that happens.  But at least it is one individual who is insane on their own, not a large group who is following a leader and drinks poison and gives it to their children on the leader’s say-so, or a huge group who manages to kill 8 million or so Jews and others on a leader’s say-so.  Or even just a generally kind and well-meaning and devoted group who gets carefully led down to hell because the flaxen cord of the sound of “All is Well” ringing in their ears deafens and blinds them to the truth of their awful situation.

I hope it pretty much goes without saying that everything we think the Lord has told us to do must be verified.  If it seems to be something wrong, we had better be sure!  But we cannot give up our agency to another arm of flesh because we are afraid of being wrong.  Any other arm of flesh is as likely to be wrong as we are!

Instead of repeating the whole Old Testament story and commenting on it myself, I am going to link to another blog post about it.  It is excellent.  Please read it before you go on. Here it is:

http://restorationinterrupted.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-lion-old-prophet-and-man-of-god.html

So, this all leaves us with quite a dilemma!  How do we ever know what to do??!!  If we can’t trust the arm of flesh, if we don’t know just by their position in a hierarchy that someone is a prophet, if someone we know personally who is just a guy or a girl (a prophet is without honor in their own country, isn’t that a truism?) says they have a message from God, then how will we ever figure out what is right to do or believe??!!

The only answer I know of is to go back to the scriptures:

Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

We have to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ about the truth of it.  And then we have to trust the Holy Ghost within us to manifest the truth of it to us.

Because there is no other choice.  Everything and everyone else can fail us.

To me, it looks like the Lord has set up this whole marvelous, complex telestial experience for us, to get us to actually do this: to ask Him and to trust our answer from Him that is given to us through the Holy Ghost.  It forces us to turn to Him, which is what He has always wanted anyway, to have us turn our hearts to Him, to come back to Him, to become His children, part of His family, again.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment