‘Personal Prophetic Epistles’

I recently read a striking blog post written by a member of the Church who wrote about her experiences with same-gender attraction. I thought the content of the article itself was notable in part because I think that the discussion of same-gender attraction in the Church is often dominated by the male perspective and it was great to hear from a female member. Ultimately, this individual married someone of the opposite sex and is now happily married to her husband. Although this is absolutely not the course for everyone, I really appreciated her perspective. I’d recommend reading her article in full.

However, I don’t really want this article to be about same-gender attraction or same-sex marriage or anything else of the sort. Continue reading

Learning in the Light of the Gospel and BYU Law School

Robert P. George spoke at the BYU Commencement Ceremony this week where he was given an honorary degree as a doctor of law and moral values. You can watch the whole ceremony here, and read the text here.

George is a well-known conservative author who has written prolifically about religion, morality, and the institution of marriage. He is a powerful voice in favor of a continued role of religion in the public sphere. At his remarks today at BYU, he focused on a message that I thought was both prescient and powerful. He specifically spoke about the purpose of religious institutions of higher education such as BYU and the unique function they serve. While universities more broadly were once focused on teaching and communicating values, today even once nominally religious universities have fully embraced the secular ethos.

George identified four purposes for a university: Continue reading

The Family – The Fourth Pillar of Eternity

During Conference there were a lot of talks about marriage and family. While the talks briefly mentioned current events such as same-sex marriage, they mostly focused on something somewhat different. Elders Christofferson and Perry in particular had very similarly titled talks which focused on the doctrine or the why of family (“Why marriage, why family” and “Why Marriage and Family Matters” respectfully). President Packer likewise talked about “The Plan of Happiness” and in doing so focused heavily on the doctrine of the family.

Twenty years ago, the Family a Proclamation the World declared powerfully to the world our unique theology and doctrine of family. In the interceding years, that vision has only become more and more essential. Yet, we often focus on the details of the proclamation such as teachings about the roles of men and women and lose sight of what this inspired doctrine taught about the nature of significance of the Family in God’s plan.

What I believe we are witnessing today is a great clarification and sharpening of the doctrine of the family brought about by current events and the global effort to redefine marriage. These challenges have led our leaders to ponder and reflect on the true meaning of the family. These challenges have deeply enriched our understanding of the gospel as a familial matter. Much more so than twenty years ago, our leaders today teach not merely what families should be like, but why this is so essential.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie famously taught of the three pillars of eternity as being the creation, the fall, and the atonement. Today, instead of three pillars Elder Christofferson put forward four things essential for realizing God’s plan of happiness. The first three were the same as Elder McConkie’s pillars—creation, fall, and redemption, but the fourth of these pillars is the Family “the setting for physical birth and subsequent spiritual rebirth in God’s kingdom.” Elder Christofferson explained that this is essential, because in marriage we are able to create “in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him.” It is in marriage that we become co-creators with God and therefore enter the path towards exaltation.

President Packer also discussed this theme in his remarks. He emphasized that “The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness; it is the key to happiness.” It is through this power, that “we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fullness of joy, even Godhood.” Being able to responsibly use our power of procreation responsible is the great test of mortality.
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Commandments not a few, and revelations in their time

One doubt that I frequently encounter among those who have lost faith that this Church is being led by Christ through continuing revelation Is that we have not received a canonized revelation in several decades and that the Prophets after Joseph Smith have on the whole received very few revelations. I came across a very interesting quote in a talk given by Bruce R. McConkie to the Sperry Symposium which sheds some light on why this is so. The quote is lengthy, but I am going to quote it in full and then I will address some of the insights it provides. Continue reading

The Point of Sharing the Gospel

I was really disappointed by a recent article on Mormon Mentality entitled “The Missionary Work I Didn’t Do.” The author details speaking to a neighbor who expressly told her that she was dissatisfied with her Church. Because she feels that the Church is sexist, she concluded that it would have nothing to offer her neighbor and failed to invite the missionaries or pass along a Book of Mormon.

The think this, unfortunately, completely misses the point of missionary work. We do not simply offer a social club, moving services, or opportunities for fellowship. There are lots of great places one can go to get all of those things. Instead, we offer individuals something that they can get nowhere else. We offer ordinances necessary for salvation and exaltation performed with proper priesthood authority. There is no greater blessing that we can offer our friends and neighbors.

As Elder Oaks explained: Continue reading