Pres Packer’s Parable

With all the questions regarding marriage and priesthood lately, we should not be surprised to see that the Church has given us insight on such things so many years prior to things coming to a head, as they seem to be doing in the USA now.

Along with the 20 year old Proclamation on the Family, we have this classic parable from President Boyd K Packer from 1993:


Once a man received as his inheritance two keys. The first key, he was told, would open a vault which he must protect at all cost. The second key was to a safe within the vault which contained a priceless treasure. He was to open this safe and freely use the precious things which were stored therein. He was warned that many would seek to rob him of his inheritance. He was promised that if he used the treasure worthily, it would be replenished and never be diminished, not in all eternity. He would be tested. If he used it to benefit others, his own blessings and joy would increase.

The man went alone to the vault. His first key opened the door. He tried to unlock the treasure with the other key, but he could not, for there were two locks on the safe. His key alone would not open it. No matter how he tried, he could not open it. He was puzzled. He had been given the keys. He knew the treasure was rightfully his. He had obeyed instructions, but he could not open the safe.

In due time, there came a woman into the vault. She, too, held a key. It was noticeably different from the key he held. Her key fit the other lock. It humbled him to learn that he could not obtain his rightful inheritance without her.

They made a covenant that together they would open the treasure and, as instructed, he would watch over the vault and protect it; she would watch over the treasure. She was not concerned that, as guardian of the vault, he held two keys, for his full purpose was to see that she was safe as she watched over that which was most precious to them both. Together they opened the safe and partook of their inheritance. They rejoiced for, as promised, it replenished itself.

With great joy they found that they could pass the treasure on to their children; each could receive a full measure, undiminished to the last generation.

Perhaps some few of their posterity would not find a companion who possessed the complementary key, or one worthy and willing to keep the covenants relating to the treasure. Nevertheless, if they kept the commandments, they would not be denied even the smallest blessing.

Because some tempted them to misuse their treasure, they were careful to teach their children about keys and covenants.

There came, in due time, among their posterity some few who were deceived or jealous or selfish because one was given two keys and another only one. “Why,” the selfish ones reasoned, “cannot the treasure be mine alone to use as I desire?”

Some tried to reshape the key they had been given to resemble the other key. Perhaps, they thought, it would then fit both locks. And so it was that the safe was closed to them. Their reshaped keys were useless, and their inheritance was lost.

Those who received the treasure with gratitude and obeyed the laws concerning it knew joy without bounds through time and all eternity.

I bear witness of our Father’s plan for happiness, and bear testimony in the name of Him who wrought the Atonement, that it might be, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. (Boyd K Packer, “For Time and All Eternity”, Ensign,  Nov 1993)

There are very important roles that God would have each of us serve in. When we focus on the Lord and serving others, He makes our lives fulfilling, though challenging.  When we focus inwards, we then risk becoming jealous of the things we do not have, We waste the precious little time we have on things that do not amount to much in the eternal scheme of things.

I cannot fully understand the trials others go through. I can only begin to understand my own problems, and then often fall short. However, I know one thing that applies to all people: Christ’s eternal love extends to all of us and embraces and envelopes all of our fears, worries, concerns, jealousies, struggles, and pains.  In following Christ, we leave our own problems behind and focus on eternal things that will lead to true happiness and accomplishment.

Why are things the way they are? President Packer also answers that in his talk: “it simply works best that way.”

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

23 thoughts on “Pres Packer’s Parable

  1. Lately, my testimony of the seership of our prophets and apostles has grown as I’ve studied past talks and messages. They really do SEE into the future and give us council to follow. I’m so thankful for that.

  2. I don’t remember reading this parable back in 1993. I had been married 10 years by then, and was probably juggling kids around. I like the parable, but the first thing a Mofem is going to say: Why doesn’t the parable start with a woman (Eve) being given an inheritance? Like many archaic inheritance laws of old that excluded women or daughters from inheriting, where is the fairness of the man (Adam) inheriting two keys? In the parable, no explanation is given as to how the woman (Eve) ended up with the possession of her key — was it given to her by a man (her husband Adam)? Was it inherited, and if so, inherited from a man (Heavenly Father) or a woman (Heavenly Mother) or both? The parable has the woman looking after the treasure (motherhood) – was the man not going to look after the treasure, too? (fatherhood) Or was his role to simply guard the vault and the woman as she watched over the treasure? Ultimately, a woman could ask: Why is my safe sitting in some man’s vault? Why don’t I have my own vault? Anyway, no parable is perfect. The key to all concerns is the the willingness of both the man and woman to consider what is in the safe as treasure. The rest of it – the vault, the keys, and so forth, don’t really matter if they don’t have the treasure as their ultimate priority.

  3. IDIAT,
    I do not see any problem with the parable. The issue is with how each of us wishes to consider it. We can accept it as the guidance from an apostle, or we can reject it as old-fashioned teachings from an old coot with misogynist leanings.

    The same can be said of Jesus’ parables. We can dissect each one of them and find some social problem. The Parable of the Sower shows that God does not love all of his children enough to cause the seed to fruitfully grow even in harsh conditions. After all, fembots (not all feminists are fembots, nor are all fembots female) want to force everyone else to purchase their contraceptives and emasculate mankind. Such would insist that any kind of ground be sufficient for the seed to grow.

    In the parable of the fishes, where the fish are divided between the good and the bad, there will be many that insist that there are no bad fish, only evil judges among men. The same goes with the parable of the sheep and goats. All goats should have a spot on the right hand of God, along with the sheep.

    The problem with parables is that those with spiritual-deficit disorder cannot understand nor accept the message.

    If you read President Packer’s full talk, you will see that he talks about marriage only between a man and a woman, and explains that homosexual relationships are not in God’s game plan. He also speaks about women and priesthood ordination. This will seem hurtful to some. Then again, Nephi told his brothers that the truth is hard to bear for those unwilling to submit to God’s teachings.

    Scriptures and parables do not have to be perfect for them to be valuable to us. Apostles do not need to be perfect in order to guide us towards Christ. And I think that is a major point. Can we follow imperfect people, having enough faith in Christ that he has chosen these few to guide us? Or must we doubt everything, basing our beliefs on pride and the teachings of the world?

    And where would John Dehlin or Kate Kelly draw the line? If women and priesthood or homosexual marriage should be accepted simply because it is how they and the world see things, how about expanding that? Why not just have mass relationships of as many men and women (and children? animals? household appliances?) as one wishes? Should we see such as normal as in “Brave New World” (Huxley), where the little children run around naked and sexualizing one another? There are groups that support such things. They just haven’t become acceptable. Yet. What should be acceptable, and why?

    Why would the line that they (Kelly, Dehlin, etc) would draw be any better than one drawn by God through his prophets?

  4. I have nothing critical to add about Elder Packer’s talk. But I wanted to say I am encouraged by this blog and the constructive ideas I find here. Most of the rest of the popular “Bloggernacle” has become largely irrelevant, but ya’ll seem to have a better grasp of what matters most. Please keep up the good work. Thanks!

  5. “That reads to me more like a fable than a parable.”

    Splitting hairs here, I know, but a fable would be a short tale with animals or inanimate objects as characters, which this is clearly not. Rather, it’s a allegorical story (parable) designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson, which this clearly is.

    Thanks, Rame, for reminding us that Packer’s precious parables are positively priceless and ponderous.

  6. The dichotomy between the Church and the world is that the Church believes that God is right. The world believes that right is a mutable construct that ultimately can be changed to fit the desires of the population.

    God can change His policies as He sees fit. But He almost never sees fit to make changes just because a majority of the population declares change is required.

    Dallin Oaks and Marvin Hill describe this clash of alternate world views very well in Carthage Conspiracy. The world killed Joseph Smith because it could not accept the possibility of a God that was unwilling to compromise to their desires.

  7. A fable does not have to have talking animals or inanimate objects. A parable, on the other hand, involves a realistic (often mundane) story that has allegorical meanings. This tale is clearly more mythical than realistic in tone.

    But, as said, this is splitting hairs. My comment wasn’t entirely serious.

  8. There are times I wish this site had the ability to up-vote articles and comments. M* has become a daily must-read. Thank you.

  9. I linked to this through LDS Living. I thought the parable was thought provoking. Unfortunately, I found the comments disturbing. Talk of sexualized children and relationships with household appliances? This “fembot” threw up a little in her mouth. Not the type of talk I expect on a respected LDS blog, linked through an LDS affiliated site.

  10. newbie, we’re all adults here and expect to be able to discuss adult topics. The talk of sexualized children and relationships with household appliances was not gratuitous. I know you don’t hear this kind of thing in Gospel Doctrine but this is not Sunday School. Please come prepared to participate.

  11. Oh, one more thing, newbie. If you find this blog troubling I suggest you stay away from By Common Consent, Times & Seasons, Wheat and Tares, and a whole host of others. This one is the best as far as faith promotion and reasonable, God fearing conversation goes. If your ready for it, feel free to participate but if this one makes you throw up a little in your mouth you may not be ready for this type of adult conversation. LDS Living or Meridian Magazine this ain’t.

  12. Book, I didn’t know that Faust was an avid aficionado of alliterative aphorisms (as I also am, apparently…). : )

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