How is Ministering Going for You and In Your Ward?

Last year Pres. Nelson introduced the ministering program to the church. At the same time the old programs of Home and Visiting Teaching were retired. There was an audible gasp as he made these announcements.  Online the prevailing sentiment I observed was, “Oh I’m so glad! Now I don’t have go visit anymore!”

Then there was me,  I was really, really discouraged at the thought of not having a monthly visit.  I liked to have my visiting teachers come to visit me.  We sometimes had a gospel discussion.  Most of the time we didn’t (moment of truth: I never liked the visiting teaching message in the Ensign, ever, and I would never share that).  We just talked to each other.  We listened to each other.  We got to know each other.  And to borrow a phrase from the old purple missionary guide, we “built relationships of trust” with each other, so that in times of trial or need, we could depend on each other.  This was not always the case with my visiting teachers, but it was the case for the last seven or eight years.   I have to be honest, I miss those monthly visits…. A LOT.  I kinda miss the relationships I had with my visiting teachers, because I feel like that has disappeared  with ministering.  Anyone else? Continue reading

Taking seriously the law of chastity

This is a guest post by Michael Davidson

I recently exchanged some correspondence with a good man regarding the law of chastity, and felt like some of what I said may be of interest more generally.  The context of the discussion was related to whether or not same gender dating was harmless exploration and discovery or a violation of the law of chastity.  We disagreed on this. I argued that we need to be concerned with the letter and the spirit of the law, and that the spirit of the law was much stricter that who put whose hands where.

First, it is not only what we do physically that can constitute sin.  The law of chastity can be violated without ever touching another person. We are taught that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”[1]and “our thoughts will also condemn us.”[2]  The guidelines released recently regarding missionary worthiness included teachings that “to be chaste, you must be morally clean in your thoughts, words, and actions,” importantly not just your actions.  Homosexual activity is also called out as a serious sin, because, at least in part, “it distorts loving relationships and prevents people from receiving the blessings that can be found in family life and the saving ordinances of the gospel.”[3]

Second, “dating” is not a term that is equivalent to “going out socially.” Dating, as it is understood colloquially, is always a precursor to more.  This is why we teach the youth to put it off until they are older.  This is why we teach the youth to go on group dates, and to not date the same person exclusively before they are ready and prepared to make eternal commitments.[4]  The purpose for dating, in the structure of the gospel, is to prepare for the highest ordinances of the temple, and commitments made between God, one man, and one woman, and to create family units in which a man and a woman can keep the very first commandment given to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth.[5]  This commandment that is still in force,[6]and represents something that is impossible in a homosexual union.

The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet takes it as a given that a date is between a young man and a young woman, and states that explicitly.[7]  Dating someone of the same sex is a counterfeit that we have been warned about by the prophets and apostles, and most directly by Elder Perry a few years back.[8]

It bears asking, within the structure of the gospel, what exactly does a young woman or a young man productively discover and explore while pursuing a dating relationship with a young man or a young woman of the same sex?  How does spending time, thought and emotional energy on something such as that prepare a young man or a young woman to be sealed in the temple? How does such an exercise prepare a young man or a young woman for a life lived in accordance with the laws and expectations set forth in the structure of the gospel?  How does such an exercise prepare one to serve a mission, where they will be expected to teach the law of chastity as defined? 

Third, this is where we need to start considering the spirit of the law of chastity.  The law of chastity, like all gospel commandments is aspirational while also being prohibitive.  The aspirational part is the most important.  It teaches us to be pure in preparation for marriage as it is defined by God.  There are things we are told will defile us in action and thought, but avoiding those things is only meant to add strength and glory to fulfilling the goal of an eternal family.  One cannot take his or her sights off of that goal and remain on the covenant path.  Merely keeping one’s hands to oneself until a proper marriage, along with fidelity therein, fulfills the letter of the law. Worthily and chastely entering into a marriage sealed under proper authority, where covenants are kept and cherished, fulfills the spirit of the law.  Anything short of that violates it.

In any dating relationship, there is an aspect of flirting with the future.  When a young man takes a young woman on a date, done properly, they are flirting with a future marriage and all that entails.  The maxim that “we marry who we date” is apropos. Ideally, they are imagining what a future would involve, and they are flirting with an outcome that could result in exaltation for them both and their children.  What is a young man dating another young man flirting with?  What does that future hold in the structure of the gospel?

Yes, there is no sin in being attracted to somebody, but there is sin in mentally flirting with sin. There is sin in imagining and pining over sin.  There is sin in pursuing a relationship, even if no touching is involved, that “prevents people from receiving the blessings that can be found in family life and the saving ordinances of the gospel.”  It is a mistake to wink at homosexual dating as being harmless so long as they keep their hands to themselves.  To come to that conclusion one must look only to (a part) of the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of the law.  Pursing a homosexual relationship is inconsistent with the aspiration of the law of chastity, it is inconsistent with the spirit of the law. To say homosexual dating is innocent, even when keeping their hands to themselves, is to deny God’s word and His purpose for us.  It is a mockery.

My good friend has not replied to this, but I hope it has given him, and now you, some food for thought.

[1]  Matthew 5:28

[2]  Alma 12:14

[3]  Standard Interview Questions for Prospective Missionaries

[4]  For the Strength of Youth

[5]  Genesis 1:28

[6]  The Family: A Proclamation to the World

[7]  For the Strength of Youth

[8]  Why Marriage and Family Matter – Everywhere in the World, by L. Tom Perry, April 2015 General Conference

Church opposes the Equality Act

The Church issued a statement today on the Equality Act, a House bill that promotes LGBTQ issues while not protecting religious freedom.

The Equality Act now before Congress is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all. While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom. It would instead repeal long-standing religious rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities and impose secular standards on religious activities and properties. The Church joins other religious organizations that also strongly oppose the Equality Act as unbalanced, fundamentally unfair and a path to further conflict.

Here is the Church’s entire statement on this issue.