Friday, December 24, 2021
Sunday, December 12, 2021
Thursday, December 9, 2021
I don't have time or ability to put together a lesson on The Family Proclamation right now, but here are some great lessons that are vaguely related to it.
The Family Proclamation gives us the ideals for family life. But...what if your family is dysfunctional? Is there hope for you? Well, there was for Vaughan J. Featherstone and Abraham the Prophet.
And I just really love sharing this story from Church history of a family man who turned his life over to God, helped many families, and promoted family values among all his employees: Jesse Knight
Monday, December 6, 2021
OFFICIAL DECLARATION 1: “THE MANIFESTO”
After living the law of plural marriage for several decades, it was shock to members of the Church in Utah to have the practice halted by President Woodruff. They had sacrificed so much to live this law!
“It was just a coincidence that the doctrine of polygamy was abandoned on my birthday,” writes polygamous wife Annie Clark Tanner. “My first birthday was an event made possible by it [having been born the child of a polygamous union]; my whole life had been shaped according to it; and my faith that it was Divine and everlasting was so strong that I compare it with the faith of the three Hebrews who were to be cast into a fiery furnace for their convictions.
“But now I was beginning to wonder: Is God ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever?’
“I can remember so well the relief that I felt when I first realized that the Church had decided to abandon its position. For all of my earlier convictions [that polygamy was necessary for highest exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom] a great relief came over me. At that moment I compared my feelings of relief with the experience one has when the first crack of dawn comes after a night of careful vigilance over a sick patient. At such a time daylight is never more welcome; and now the dawn was breaking for the Church. I suppose its leaders may have realized, at last, that if our Church had anything worthwhile for mankind, they had better work with the government of our country rather than against it” (Annie Clark Tanner, A Mormon Mother: An Autobiography, Tanner Trust Fund, Salt Lake City, Utah: 1991, 129-130).
Annie Clark Tanner
(“Come,Follow Me” has links to many excellent, frank, scholarly essays on the topics of both polygamy and the Manifesto. It is well worth reading every one of them.)
From our vantage point 130 years in their future, we have no difficulty accepting the Manifesto—instead, we have difficulty accepting the practice of polygamy to begin with. Some of us would like to forget it ever happened.
Later in life, Sister Tanner explains to her posterity why so many members entered into plural marriages:
“If one can picture the sociological conditions in Utah Territory when the principle of polygamy was openly endorsed by the Church in 1852, one can better understand the reason for its development. Hundreds of young women came from the overcrowded section in the old country. They were thoroughly converted to the Gospel. To be the wife of a fine leader in Israel was the height of their ambition. Perhaps too, the effect of the increase in numbers it furnished to the Church was considered of some advantage.
“It must be remembered that the western immigration movement brought to Utah all kinds of people. Concerning some of the men folks, girls comparing their chances for matrimony, often said of a Mormon leader, ‘I’d rather have his little finger than the whole of a man outside the Church...’
“Many of the finest characters in Utah and surrounding states owe their existence to this doctrine of the Mormon Church. It is often remarked that all the headaches and heartaches caused by polygamy have, in some measure, been compensated by the fine…results [in the children].
"The women of the Church living this principle felt themselves greatly favored above nonmember women of other parts of our country. They felt it a great privilege to have a husband of their choice, a home, and a family" (Tanner, 23-24).
Sister Tanner noted that leadership and success was generally observed in the children of a polygamist’s family. And as those practicing polygamy were highly religious, “religious training was the rule in a polygamous home” (Tanner, 25).
THE ABRAHAMIC SACRIFICE OF PLURAL MARRIAGE
Although she boldly asserted (and evidence of the day agrees) that “No one could make the women of Utah feel that they had an inferior position,” she also acknowledged the extreme difficulties of living in polygamy.
“I am sure that women would never have accepted polygamy had it not been for their religion. No woman ever consented to its practice without a great sacrifice on her part” (Tanner, 132).
I’m not sure we will ever be able to understand why God commanded the practice of polygamy among the Latter-day Saints in this life, but the best thoughts I have found on it are offered by the extremely bright mind of former BYU professor, Valerie Hudson Cassler:
“God is not indifferent concerning how his children marry. He actively and severely restricts the practice of polygamy, while leaving monogamy unrestricted. One can be ‘destroyed’ for practicing polygamy without God’s sanction, becoming ‘angels to the devil’ and ‘bring[ing] your children unto destruction, and their sins heaped upon your heads at the last day,’ but no such punishment attends the practice of monogamy (Jacob 2:33; 3:5-6, 10-12)…
“Joseph Smith restored marriage for ‘time and all eternity’ (D&C 132:18), which we now colloquially call ‘temple marriage.’ In restoring the principle of temple marriage, Joseph Smith restored both the general law of marriage and the lawful exception [of polygamous temple marriage] as elucidated by Jacob centuries before...
“No matter what the human inventory of emotions toward polygamy--joy, sorrow, or joy and sorrow mixed--the most mature and most knowledgeable viewpoint is that of the Lord, who appears to be stating that he views it as an Abrahamic sacrifice.” https://www.squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPolygamy.html
For more on what an Abrahamic sacrifice is, please go to the link to read the rest of the article; it is too dense with scriptures for me to justly write an overview of it, but it is the best explanation I’ve ever read and was a great comfort to my mind.
OFFICIAL DECLARATION 2: THE REVELATION ON THE PRIESTHOOD
Please see my previous post on Blacks and the Priesthood here: https://gospeldoctrineplus.blogspot.com/2009/11/lesson-42-continuing-revelation.html
Sadly, there was much persecution, abuse, and racism in the United States during the now 191 history of the Restoration, including among the highly-imperfect members of the Church. Although some of the few Latter-day Saints who were slaveholders were "kind," (if such a thing cane be said of someone who is a slaveholder), some were not. But, acknowledging this, I would like to face forward in this blog post and focus on how we can be united. I hope the day comes that we don’t even use the word “race” in referring to different colors of skin and different ethnic backgrounds. We are all one race, the human race. For the solution to the problem labeled "racism," there is no better source than Elder Ahmad Corbitt, Philadelphia native, convert to the Church along with his parents and 9 siblings, former trial attorney, past director of the New York Office of Public and International Affairs for the Church, and presently First Counselor in the Young Men's General Presidency.
Speaking on a podcast posted this week Elder Corbitt said, “I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…is the most empowered and best positioned to bring to pass racial unity and harmony throughout the family of God, among all the international organizations in the world.” [Firstly,] our apostles and prophets have the power and the keys to unify all of God’s children throughout the world of whatever background to become one in Christ. Secondly…the Church is…authorized, empowered, and positioned to effect [the] gathering [of Israel]…from all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.” (See D&C 45:69,71.)
“If we, together, look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, ‘having our hearts knit together in unity and love one toward another,’ we…can create a culture of total unity and inclusivity in the Lord’s church in preparation for the Second Coming…[See Mosiah 18:21.] Look forward with an eye of faith and see it! It’s prophesied and it’s promised!…Then do the things that lead to that kind of outcome…
"Be careful of a lot of online stuff which can be very strident and bitter and purport to be…carrying the banner of unity and racial harmony but kind of go about it in the world’s way rather than in the Savior’s way…Unity among God’s children (think of 4th Nephi, think of Moses 7, and the City of Enoch and so on)—that’s God’s work!”
Elder Corbitt points out that the Book of Mormon is the one book of scripture in which God tells one group of people “to reach across a color barrier” to another group of people. The sons of Mosiah reached across the barrier to the Lamanites to bring them to Christ, and the prophet Samuel reached across the barrier back to the Nephites to do the same. They always referred to those “others” as their “brothers.”
“So a telltale sign of a truly converted person who really is seeking the mind of Christ is that they will see people of different backgrounds, different appearances as their brothers and sisters and they will refer to them as such.” (Ahmad Corbitt, with Hank Smith and John Bytheway, “Follow Him: A Come Follow Me Podcast,” Episode 50, Part II, available to watch on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNwlz5uqK3Q&t=20s or listen to it on any podcast app.) Conversely, f you catch yourself calling another political, cultural, religious, or ethnic group "them" and feeling at enmity with "them," you have some changing to do in order to build Zion.
(You may also want to check out "Making Sense of the Church's History on Race," by W. Paul Reeve.)
GOD IS THE SAME TODAY, TOMORROW, AND FOREVER, EVEN IF THE CHURCH IS NOT
Revelations will change the Church, alter our belief systems, implement new policies and remove old ones as we are ready for more light and knowledge and as circumstances in the world change. Of course, they will! We would have no need of a prophet otherwise. But the doctrine of Christ is solid (2 Nephi 31) and His love is sure (Romans 8:35-39). If we pray to be strive to obey to the best of our ability, and if we seek to be filled with His love, we will be blessed.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Wherever we find ourselves in life and in the history of the House of Israel and the Restoration of the Church, whatever color our skin or whatever principles and practices are in force during our lives, we will be blessed if we keep the commandments to our best ability. (See Galatians 3:26-29.) Any sacrifices we make will be compensated so that we can feel satisfaction in our efforts in the things that mattered most. As Annie Clark Tanner wrote:
"It is but a small part that the average person contributes to improve mankind. My life has been simple, full of love, devotion, and service for my family. I might have thought mine a hard row to hoe had not the plants I cultivated responded so magnificently to the culture I gave them" (http://www.byhigh.org/Alumni_A_to_E/Clark-Tanner/Annie.html).