Having established that families are the most important organization in the Eternities, the next step is to discuss how the Lord has delegated responsibilities. Any research or psychology demonstrating men or women are better for or equal to tasks is besides the point. What the Scriptures and prophets have to say will be the baseline. There surprisingly is a lot of very specific information and guidance. Despite modern sensibilities, men are commanded to be the leaders and protectors.
What we know about gender roles starts with Adam and Eve. The first creation was a male. Eve comes out, in a non-charitable reading, almost as an afterthought to help him as a sort of servant. Other readings are that she was created to harmonize and complete what he lacks. Regardless of what viewpoint, Adam is given the duties directly of tending the garden and naming the animals. Eve comes later when eating the fruit and bringing mortality.
Mormon beliefs about Eve split from traditional theology with the fortunate fall, but that will come later. We learn after the apple incident that men are cursed where they once had been blessed. The easy pickings of paradise have been replaced by hard work in bad conditions. It is here that the first and a primary role of men is given by the Lord. We learn in Genesis 3:17–19 the curse:
“17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Satan has a worse fate because he will be eating the dirt that plants grow from, symbolizing a completely worthless existence. The woman Eve has her own curse, but for the moment it is important to recognize this specific message. Bringing food to the table will be a constant struggle. The work requirement is not left to Adam only, but repeated for any male who will some day form a family. Continue reading
The topic continues to come up what is the roles of men and women in the Church. It is a subject that many feel passionately about one way or another. Since the family is the basic unit then discussion should start there. Generally both genders are commanded to get married and have children as shared responsibilities. It is the first role of any Church member to form and participate in a family structure.
Some years ago President Monson talked about the rights and responsibilities of the Priesthood. He listed concerns he had that men were not living up to the full stewardship of their callings. Among the problems he saw was a reluctance to do the most important duty of our mortality; to get married. He acknowledged marriage wasn’t always an easy choice, but they still needed to seek a companion:
“Now, I have thought a lot lately about you young men who are of an age to marry but who have not yet felt to do so. I see lovely young ladies who desire to be married and to raise families, and yet their opportunities are limited because so many young men are postponing marriage . . .
Perhaps you are having a little too much fun being single, taking extravagant vacations, buying expensive cars and toys, and just generally enjoying the carefree life with your friends. I’ve encountered groups of you running around together, and I admit that I’ve wondered why you aren’t out with the young ladies.
Brethren, there is a point at which it’s time to think seriously about marriage and to seek a companion with whom you want to spend eternity. If you choose wisely and if you are committed to the success of your marriage, there is nothing in this life which will bring you greater happiness.”
The institution of marriage is more than finding a friend or gratifying physical desires that are natural to life. It is a commandment of God. Salvation to the highest degree of Glory depends on two committed people coming together and forming a bond. This is not just any bond, but a relationship between a man and a woman greater than mere acquaintance. It is of eternal significance and therefore must be carefully sought and cultivated. Continue reading
One of the unique doctrines of the LDS Church is the existence of a Mother in Heaven. It is more than a trivial speculative idea, but part of the foundational teachings associated with Exaltation. Although particulars are not available, the doctrine is enshrined in one of the most beloved hymns “Oh My Father” by Eliza R. Snow. It states, “in the heavens, are parents single?” and replies, “no . . . truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.” President Wilford Woodruff proclaimed the hymn a revelation. To add to that, it is impossible to fully comprehend the doctrines of eternal families without accepting the implications.
Yet, some are troubled by the lack of particulars. Usually those who would like women to have a greater role in the LDS Church. The refrain for why not more is known has been “the subject is too sacred,” or more forcefully, “God doesn’t want His wife mocked and ridiculed by the World as He lovers Her too much.” There is truth in this, but it doesn’t really answer the question of near silence. The Scriptures don’t even hint this. Prophets have not explained why the subject isn’t talked about, although they have made similar statements about discussing Temple ordinances. There are some answers, but not ones that will either close off discussion or be comforting to the critics of continued minimal knowledge.
What we know about our Heavenly Mother is perhaps more than realized, but less than concrete. This is because most Mormons, both “progressive” and “traditional” are looking for things overly transcendent. The “easy to understand” is seen as less worthy of respect then something that can be forever argued and dissected. Perhaps worse for some is that the conclusion of Her nature casts a shadow on certain mortal aspirations. Continue reading
Lets be honest. I am getting older and the music tastes of the times have changed. Each aging generation tells the new one how horrible and untalented the new artists sound. Those who grew up in the 60s lamented the overuse of electronics, those in the 80s wondered where upbeat lyrics and dancing tunes went, and the 90s generation seemed to scream until in the end they went silent. Almost everyone was glad the 70s was a flash in the pan. Without giving my age, almost all of this was experienced for myself. I would like to think I am a good judge of good music from any generation.
That isn’t to say I am a musical person. Piano lessons were a chore that lasted long enough to have learned chopsticks. One year of band with a musical instrument that didn’t inspire came and went. My voice has been described as more than passable, but singing in church makes me bored. No one has offered me a lead vocal in a band that would be the only way to change my tune. I have always daydreamed of joining one and writing the lyrics to some rockin’ jams. So far there hasn’t been any offers.
With all of the above in mind, the turn of the century had me in a musical slump. For the first time in my life I felt popular music had gone down the drain. Never before had I *not* found something to like on the radio. Even the 70s had heart and talent if rather shallow and forgettable. My only hope was nostalgia bands that carried over from the previous decade.
When all was lost and Britney Spears or Kid Rock represented the future, a band with an unlikely singer came out of nowhere. That isn’t completely true. They came out of the UK. Well, that isn’t completely true either. What is true for me is the internet talk filled with stories of this Mormon singer leading a famous band. Curiosity peaked my interest, but listening to a few songs made me a fan. Continue reading
This series has been cross posted from Straight and Narrow Blog
Book IV: Beyond Personality: Or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity
Mormons will get the least out of the final section of C.S. Lewis’s classic on Christian beliefs. As the name “Beyond Personality: Or First Steps In the Doctrine of the Trinity” implies, it is a defense of the Trinitarian concept. Although he might say one or two phrases that Mormons could recognize, the others are completely at odds of each faith. It is for this reason that I will only touch on his main themes rather than a longer review. To do otherwise is to not say much good and therefore end up sounding more hostile than intended.
To start with, he should have taken up the advice of those who said, “the ordinary reader does not want theology,” because he ends up alienating most people he intends to educate. He still holds Christianity as a supreme religion while offering flimsy proof. This is especially the case when he states, “We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact” (pg. 165). Such a bold statement is hard to believe considering most of his arguments are, by his own admission, philosophic theories. Not to mention there are very few simple religions without a degree of stereotyping creating that impression. Some religions are numerically larger and existed longer than the upstart Christianity he is so fond of defending.
Most of his theory in this section breaks down into two parts. He calls the first Bios, or the physical and the second Zoe or the eternal spiritual. Like Greek philosophy the physical is seen as simply a false “statue” of the super-reality living spiritual world. He breaks the difference between humans and Jesus Christ as “making” and “Begetting”. Something is made that is not oneself and another thing is begotten that is born near identical. He completely rejects the Mormon teaching that humans had a spirit born of God before mortality even as there was a physical creation. To C.S. Lewis, humans are compared to slugs or crabs.
As was said, his main defense is the doctrine of what he calls “The Three-Personal God” of Trinitarians. To help his readers understand the concept he compares it to a Two Dimensional person trying to understand a Three Dimensional world. From a limited perspective a cube looks like a square (pg. 162). The Trinity is compared to a group of people that form a corporate behavior, yet rejects any individuality in the relationship. Jesus existed eternally with God so that God could have someone to Love (a very important attribute to His nature), and yet Jesus is part of God. It ends up sounding like a shallow self Love of a split personality. He concludes his description of the Trinity by saying God could be considered in front of you if noticed, Jesus as beside you helping, and the Holy Ghost within or behind you. Although he talks of them as super-personalities, they are far from actual people. For Christians, compared to all other religions, “God is not a static thing – not even a person – but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama” (pg. 175). It is that old oxymoron of God as more real that reality, but yet more of a concept than a thing. It is at this point that a full review becomes difficult. If Mormonism is compared to “Science-Fiction” than it is only right to compare most other religions as “Fantasy” with the convoluted explanations.