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Elder Holland Is At It Again

Elder Holland Is At It Again

We’ve written about some of the weird stories that missionaries have posted online regarding Jeffrey Holland’s mission trips (see here, here, and here).  Some of the stories included him getting heated, lunging at missionaries, grabbing and shaking a sister missionary’s hair, telling missionaries he will hunt them down if they leave the church, and that he hasn’t “devoted [his] life to a Fairy Tale.”

Well, he’s at it again.

Elder Holland recently visited the Peru Cusco Mission and some repeats of his visit are coming in.

Elder Brandon Neilson wrote (emphasis mine):

President informed us that Elder Holland received specific information about some missionaries who were being less than obedient, he received specific names that he then proceeded to give to President Harbertson. Insane right hahah. President had interviews with all those missionaries after the conference. (dont worry i wasnt one of them) And yes Elder Holland did literally smack some people in the face and strangle them during the whole mission meeting. It was super cool!

Elder Holland is report specific missionary names to the mission president because somehow he knows they are “less than obedient.” And, more importantly, he “literally” smacked and strangled a missionary and everyone thought it was “super cool”? If he can get away with that then he can probably get away with about anything.

Another missionary corroborates that Elder Holland is a snitch:

Yes, as Dad said in his email, our Mission President interviewed people that were not doing well according to Elder Holland, but luckily I wasn’t one of em :)

How did Elder Holland know who were the disobedient missionaries? He interviewed them, of course! Two missionaries describe these “interview.” Here is the first:

At 10 o clock we were seated in the chapel waiting for Elder Holland. Wow. I don`t think I can express everything that was mentioned or everything that I felt. He arrived at 12 (is plane was late) and he shook each one of our hands. He said he did it each to give us a interview and see if we were okay. Then he talked. He walked around the room as he talked. It was a classic Elder Holland talk. He talked a lot about the obedience and the reality of who the missionaries are.

Here is the second:

In the beginning, he shook all of our hands and looked us in the eyes as we told him our names and where we were from. It was amazing. He spoke about obedience.

Here is the third:

We got to shake his hand, and he said he did that so he could have a mini personal interview with us, and that through just looking into our eyes he could tell if we were okay or not. Talk about having the spirit!

Here Are Some of the New Area Plans from Around the World

Here Are Some of the New Area Plans from Around the World

 

Philippines Area Plan (link):

1. Obey
2.covenant
3. establish.
As we show out love for the lord by obeying all his commandments we can make covenants with this through baptism and in the temple that will help us establish families strong in the gospel.

 

Europe Area Plan (Link):

To Bring Us to Him–Him being Jesus Christ
Omni 1:26  “I would that ye should come unto Christ…and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption.”

Three Simple Steps:
1.  Bring a friend.
2.  Become spiritually and temporally self-reliant.
3.  Find an Ancestor.

Ward Goals for 2016
1.  Increase average attendance by 20 through missionary work, reactivation and retention.
2.  Increase the number of endowed Temple Recommend holders by 14.
3.  Achieve 95 submissions to the temple using support and encouragement.

Relief Society Goals for 2016
1.  Support all of the above.
2.  Take upon ourselves the attributes of Jesus Christ.

The Europe Area Presidency gave this message:  “We hope for all to come unto Christ.  As we apply the three priorities, our faith will increase and we will have a greater sense of peace and security.  We will see people living joyfully, delighting in the Sabbath, preparing to go to the temple, and receiving ordinances and making covenants necessary for the exaltation of their families.

 

Africa Southeast Area Plan (Link, Link):

  1. Increasing faith in God and Jesus Christ
  2. Loving and serving one another
  3. Building members’ ability to build self-reliance in both spiritual and temporal matters

 

Africa West Area Plan (Link):

The objectives of the 2016 Plan are:

  • Build faith in Christ
  • Focus on Ordinances
  • Encourage and Strengthen the Rising Generation

To achieve this vision leaders and members of the Church need to focus on the following goals:

  • Increased tithing faithfulness of adult members
  • Increase sacrament meeting attendance
  • Increase temporal self-reliance
  • Increase in convert baptisms
  • Increase age appropriate holders of the priesthood
  • Increase the number of members attending the temple
  • Increase the number of young members serving or having served missions

 

Pacific Area Plan (LinkLink):

Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”  With that in mind the  Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has asked Church members for focus on four key objectives as part of their vision in 2016 to “strengthen families and individuals by increasing faith and trust in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ and His Atonement”. The objectives are:

1. Honour the Sabbath day at home and at Church
2. Increase Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance
3. Hasten the Work of Salvation
4. Seek the blessings of the temple.

 

Mexico Area Plan (describe here):

“The Area Presidency puts a lot of focus on the self sufficiency so that the missionaries have less responsibility and the members can do more. A lot of people are just so young in the church so they still dont really understand how the church works yet but with time it will get better.

“The new area plan came out for 2016. I felt a little weird because i remember when the plan of 2015 came out. It is a similiar plan and its perfect to help strengthen the church for us. It focuses a lot on the daily prayer and scripture study, paying tithing, keeping the day of rest, doing temple work, and simple things like that so that the members become more converted and receive more blessings in their life.”

 

We blogged about the 2015 Mexico Area Plan here:

1. Fast with faith, pay a generous fast offering and a full tithe
2. Everyday help someone to receive the teachings and ordinances of the gospel that will help them return to our Heavenly Father
3. Find names of your own ancestors and provide the ordinances for them in the temple.

Returned Missionary Commitment–Signature Required

Returned Missionary Commitment--Signature Required

New Worldwide Theme for Missionary Work for 2016

New Worldwide Theme for Missionary Work for 2016

Last May we posted an article in which we described that missionaries were being told what a new emphasis in the Church was going to be: “Sabbath Day Observance”. Our reporting was spot on. There have been multiple Sabbath Day Trainings at every level of the Church, such as this one.

We now are ready to report what one missionary is calling (emphasis mine in all quotes on this page) “some super big changes, worldwide; for one, there is a new them for missionary work, direct from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: what they want us to focus on is to ‘Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts.’ Five simple words, specifically chosen and ordered.” Another missionary specifically says “it comes from Elder Dallin H. Oaks and the mission department.” Reportedly, there is a worldwide meeting to be held tomorrow Jan. 20th. I assume this new theme, as well as changes to how transfers will happen (see below), will be presented and discussed then.

The mission president of the California Fresno Mission explains how this is supposed to help with large attrition rate of recent converts:

“Too often RCs fall away quickly from activity in the Church because they don’t know how to repent.  They experienced a remission of their sins as part of their baptism but when they return to sin, something we all do, they may not understand how to repent and then deem themselves unworthy to be in, or even come to the Church.”

In other words, converts stop attending church because they sin and remain in sin.

I recently googled the new missionary work phrase “teach repentance and baptize converts” and received less than 20 results (all written since the beginning of this year and all written by LDS missionaries). So, this does indeed appear the new worldwide theme for missionary work in the Church. Below are a collection of missionary comments about this new theme.

  • Sister Samantha Haacke, Taiwain Taipei, posted Jan. 4, 2016: “There will also be a worldwide Broadcast for all missionaries around the world on January 20th from Salt Lake so that will be really cool.  The new theme from the Brethren is to Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts. In MLC, we focused mostly on the importance of teaching repentance and how essential this is to the retention of keeping converts. It made me really excited because this is an area in my missionary work that I could really improve on. Sister Jergensen gave a great training on Repentance and used a parable John 2 that I will share at the end of my email. Overall, a great day!” (LINK)
  • Sister Tara Facer, Taiwain Taipei Mission, posted Jan. 11, 2016: “We also had surprise interviews with President Jergensen this week! I love that man so much.  He’s just so loving and makes you want to be better. He basically told me to set a goal of how many people I want to see baptized before I go home, and make it happen.  Also, my mission vision is now nothing but “teach repentance and baptize converts”.  To go along with that, I had Mosiah 26:30 for my ponderize scripture this week.  Haha sorry I’ve been forgetting to include that! It basically says as many times as you repent, I’ll forgive you.  That’s so great, right? I think I’ll try to share it on the street this week” (LINK)
  • Elder Sequoia Ploeg, Taiwan Taipei Mission, posted Jan. 10,2016: “There’s been some super big changes, worldwide; for one, there is a new them for missionary work, direct from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: what they want us to focus on is to “Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts.” Five simple words, specifically chosen and ordered. Missionaries are to focus on helping people truly repent, and be actually prepared for baptism (way too often are people baptized and immediately thereafter stop coming to church). Baptizing converts is focusing on people who have already been converted and baptism is the outward expression of such a commitment, as opposed to the process of being baptized as a formality and then continuing to try to attain conversion. I think it’s a really cool sentence, and we’ve been applying it a lot more in missionary work. // Another really big change is that from now on, the missions (worldwide) will not hold transfer meetings, but instead, when we’re transferring, we’ll receive a phone call giving us our new companion, new area, and a phone number, and then we’ll simply get on a train or a bus and travel there alone to meet our new companion. So there will be occasions where we won’t have a companion. That’s going to be super strange feeling. But, they want us to have more time in our areas, less distractions,  more hard work. So that’s fun.” (LINK)
  • Sister Cecily Roberts, Taiwan Taipei Mission, posted Jan. 11, 2016: “We had zone meeting. Which was good but they decided to do it all in Chinese so I didn’t really get much from it even though I had a couple sisters translating for me. But they are really emphasizing “teach repentance and baptize converts” in the mission field right now. And it’s great because repentance is what will help people be converted for the rest of their lives. Repentance allows you to have a personal interaction with the Savior and His atonement. And it changes you. That’s exactly what repentance is. awesome.” (LINK)
  • Sister Rebecca Cardon, New Mexico Farmington Mission, posted Jan. 4, 2016: “I also went to my first normal Missionary Leadership Council (MLC)!  That was pretty exciting!  We came up with the phrase “In the New Mexico Farmington Mission we represent Jesus Christ as we find, teach repentance, and baptize converts” which is now our culture phrase in the mission.  I’m looking forward to the day when every missionary has this has the single intent in their missionary work.  As all the missionaries here have that focus we’re going to be accomplishing miracles! 😀  Unified missionaries are much better than not.” (LINK)
  • Elder Christian Hall, Texas San Antonio Mission, posted Jan. 11, 2016: “What else should I talk about? Oh, President Slaughter visited our district meeting with his wife. I’d never had a visit from him to a district meeting. He taught us about our responsibility to teach repentance, and baptize converts. We’ll be receiving a telecasted mission training in a week or so, and we are preparing for that.” (LINK)
  • Elder Alex Horrocks, California Fresno Mission, posted Jan. 13, 2016: “Oh by the way I don’t know if you watch video’s or if I’ve sent you videos but “In the CFM We Baptize” has changed.  It is now “In the CFM We Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts” and that just has a greater significance to it because before we were just kind of baptizing people just to baptized people, but now it’s going to more of the future perspective.  We’re going to start with the end in mind.  These people are going to go through the temple and do other great things but the only way that’s going to happen is to find them through the members.  That’s when real converts go and progress and they have a friend next to them.  I saw some numbers and we had ten or twelve thousand member presence last year and this year (I could be wrong) but I think it was twenty thousands member presence.  That’s a HUGE difference!  That’s 8,000 more times using the the members.” (LINK)
  • Elder Tyrel Munro, Texas San Antonio Mission, posted Jan. 4, 2016: “As well as this scripture, our mission got a new Missionary Purpose Statement that really focuses on the importance and sacredness of our calling: ‘I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, called of Him through prophecy and revelation, and assigned to serve in the Texas San Antonio Mission.  I have been sent to teach repentance and baptize converts.  This is who I am and this is why I am here! I invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. My decision has been made. I’ve put my hand to the plough. I’ve crossed the line.  So as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every Sister, every Elder, all in!’ ” (LINK)
  • Elder Richard Hall, Texas San Antonio Mission, posted Jan. 11, 2016: “I have been sent to teach repentance and baptize converts.” (LINK)
  • Elder Zachary Gehring, Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission, posted Jan.11, 2016: “This week we adapted a new slogan for the mission. It comes from Elder Dallin H. Oaks and the mission department. ”In our mission we teach repentance and baptize converts” In Mosiah 18:20 we learn that they were sent to teach nothing save repentance to the people. They were all baptized. Thats our goal! ” (LINK)
  • Elder Garrett Krauss, New Mexico Farmington, posted Jan. 4, 2016: “MLC for most of the day at President’s home. We got the opportunity to find out what the Lord wants the culture of the mission to be for the next couple of years. We settled on: In the New Mexico Farmington Mission we represent Jesus Christ as we find, teach repentance, and baptize converts. It’s simple, it provides a clear directive, and it enables missionaries, members, and nonmembers alike to grow and progress and become more like Christ in the process of coming unto Him. I love it.” (LINK)
  • Sister McKenna Wright, Taiwan Taipei Mission, posted Jan. 5, 2016: “I hope you all take some time to make some resolutions, some goal that will help you progress as an individual and help bring you CLOSER TO JESUS CHRIST. I love it:) My current goal: teach repentance and baptize converts” (LINK)
  • Elder Cody Crandall, California Bakersfield Mission, posted Jan. 11, 2016: “As a Bakersfield Mission We Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts!” (LINK)
  • Sister Megan Dean, Texas San Antonio Mission, posted Jan. 4, 2016: ” President Slaughter sent the new one in his email today. It helps us see our purpose as missionaries even more clearly. ‘I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, called of Him through prophecy and revelation, and assigned to serve in the Texas San Antonio Mission. I have been sent to teach repentance and baptize converts…’ ” (LINK)
  • Sister Abbie Waite, Texas San Antonio Mission, posted Jan. 4, 2016: “This week we had a wonderful Mission Leadership Council (where the leaders of the mission-zone leaders, sister training leaders, etc. gather to discuss the needs of the mission). One of the main topics was our missionary purpose. President Slaughter pointed out that the scriptures tell us of a strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. In order to get onto that path, one must enter through the gate. The gate is repentance and baptism (see 2 Nephi 31:17). Thus, our “laser-focused objective”, as he called it, is to teach repentance and baptize converts. 
    Coming out of MLC I had two goals. Number one: Floss every day. (The goals you make when your mission president also happens to be a dentist. Don’t worry! I’m doing a lot better! Someone tell Dr. Platt! Haha!) Number two, the most important: TEACH REPENTANCE AND BAPTIZE CONVERTS. 
    That night we had a lesson with a woman named Patricia. As we taught her the wonderful message of the Restoration, all I could think the whole time was: “Am I teaching repentance so that we can baptize a convert?” As we taught, there were several moments of silence as we allowed Patricia to ponder. We asked her how she felt after hearing of Joseph Smith’s experience in the Sacred Grove, and she took a long time to think about it. She finally answered that she could not imagine having that happen to her. It was then that we were able to testify to her that although Christ Himself was not visible in the room, we were His representatives. We invited her to be baptized and she said: “I cannot deny an invitation from my Savior.” All was sailing smoothly, until we invited her to church. She told us that she worked only on Saturday andSunday in order to provide for her family and would not be able to worship with us. Immediately, my missionary purpose came to mind: “TEACH REPENTANCE AND BAPTIZE CONVERTS!!
    We, as a mission, know what we are to do: TEACH REPENTANCE AND BAPTIZE CONVERTS. Now, as we continue to do so, we must discover who we are and who we can and need to become. We can say that we teach repentance and baptize converts, but until we get to the point that we are actually to believe and internalize that as our purpose, nothing will happen. We must catch the vision of what a disciple of Christ truly is. This is not a temporary calling; this is eternal. ” (LINK)

 

Elder Holland, Missionaries, and “Fairy Tales”

Elder Holland, Missionaries, and Fairy Tales

Elder Holland has said some interesting things recently during mission tours (i.e. that he would “hunt you down” if you left the church and he had some “heated” discussion accompanying “slapping”).

Well, once again one missionary serving in Arizona wrote an interesting quote from Elder Holland (emphasis of quote is mine):

I learned a lot of things in that training session with Elder Holland. But the biggest thing a took away from that is, “I didn’t devote my life to a Fairy Tale. I’m Not Stupid.” This is real. Nothing that I know about the Gospel is false. It is absolutely true. Without a doubt. And nothing can change my mind.

Of course saying “I’m not stupid” echoes language he used in his BBC interview when he said “I’m not an idiot. I’ve read a couple books and been to a pretty good school. And I have chosen to be in this church because of the faith that I feel and the inspiration that comes…And I’d like to think that your respect for me would be enough to know that this man doesn’t seem like a dodo.”

But I’m also curious why he felt the need to say that he hasn’t devoted his “life to a Fairy Tale”.

Greg Prince May Be Right (And Now I Feel Sick)

natural man is enemy to god

Yesterday Greg Prince wrote out some of his thoughts about the new LDS Church Exclusion Policy in the form of an exchange with a  friend. One point he made seems to be getting the most pushback (in my estimation):

Yet, while science has pointed the way to biology, the LDS hierarchy has persisted in believing that homosexuality is simply behavioral. (The closest they have come to real movement is to concede that biology may be a factor, but then to say, “But that’s irrelevant, because you are still responsible for your behavior.” It’s like saying to an African-American, “You may not have chosen your skin color, but if you act on it you are a sinner.”)

With that in mind, I just ran across the blog of “Wyoming Doc”, a “grandfather of 35 grandchildren and a retired pediatrician”. In his blogpost from Jan. 4, 2015 titled “The Natural Man”, we demonstrates the mindset described by Greg Prince above perfectly. And now I feel sick reading this from someone I share a church with.

Here are some highlights:

  • He says that “[the phrase]  ‘That is the way I am.’ is a rationalization or excuse for unacceptable behavior and it is to a certain extent true”
  • He likens homosexuality to liking (or not liking) asparagus or tennis
  • He says that responding to “homosexual exposures” is similar to being a “chronic liar, the thief, the adulterer, the murderer, and any other person who is at odds with the commandments of God.”

Below is the entirety of his blogpost with my emphases added.

—————————————————————————————

Background for this Blog post:

Some years ago my daughter was concerned because one of the missionaries from her mission committed suicide.  He found he was attracted to persons of the same sex.

There has been a lot in the news recently about same sex marriage and gay rights.  I wrote this as an answer to her question.  Since that time I have made some additions and corrections.  In this world we are given agency.  We can keep the commandments or we can disregard them and be much like the three-year old child and say, “Me do it my own way.” There are only two ways in this world, the right way or the Lord’s way and the wrong way.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it this way; the commandments are given to us to keep us from hurting ourselves and other people. He also said, “Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel.”

Just because we have allowed people to sin by entering into homosexual relationships does not make it right in the eyes of our creator.  There are dire consequences to this behavior, which cannot be avoided in this life and in the life to come.

I sensed that the suicide of one of the elders from your mission who was having an identity problem may have troubled you and I have tried to write down some of my thoughts about this with perhaps a different sort of approach that is usually taken.

We were over in the Czech republic visiting with the mission president and his wife and the subject somehow turned to a mutual acquaintance who also happened to be a physician.  He had recently been to visit the mission president and had told the sad story of how he decided that he was gay and couldn’t help it.  He lost his family and membership in the church and although he had been a stake president, he failed to understand fully the plan of the Lord and the simple truths taught in the Book of Mormon.  The mission president was also a bit confused and upset about the state of his friend.

There are two scriptures in the Book of Mormon that come to mind that are worthwhile examining in depth.  The first is found in Mosiah and is well known and quoted often.

|v18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
|v19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
|v20 And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of the Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
|v21 And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.
(Book of Mormon: Mosiah 3:18-21)

I have some thoughts on the scripture a natural man is an enemy to God.  The main points are that since the fall of Adam a change came over man and he will be cut off unless he putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint and yield to the enticings of the spirit.  He will be estranged from God.

The combination of mortality and a spirit allow men to be able to experience and then to choose.  In 2 Nephi, Lehi explains that in order to be able to choose that we must be enticed by the one or the other.

Mortal bodies are not all the same.  Some are more responsive to certain stimuli than others.  Examples of the differences in response to stimuli are; pain tolerance, ticklishness and hunger.  There are also different tastes and different appetites.  Some like asparagus and some cannot abide it.  The human nervous system is made to respond to stimuli.  Therefore some are pleased and enjoy tennis and some do not find it enjoyable at all.  Each one is different in his response to that which is enticing.

The statement that some people make “That is the way I am.” is a rationalization or excuse for unacceptable behavior and it is to a certain extent true.  The natural man or mortal man is carnal, sensual and inclined to do evil.  He must learn to rely on the Lord for instruction and guidance.  Those are His commandments, which will point man the way to happiness.  (Man is that he might have joy).  If left to his own desires without the guidance by the spirit from God, man will seek to satisfy the mortal body and its urges and desires.  Thus we have all manner of transgressors of the law who yield not to the enticings of the spirit, but to their own mortal nature and desires.  They become confused because they seek the answer to their problems outside the framework of the gospel and its principles.  They fail to ponder and thus are as Laman and Lemuel and say, “The Lord revealeth no such things unto us.”

They then cannot understand their own natures or the nature of the atonement. They, as a consequence, become disillusioned with life and with their state.  They cannot understand that without the strength given by the Lord they remain a captive or in a bondage state or in other words in the bondage of sin.  Captivity seems to be a theme in the scriptures. Thus the numerous references to the captivity in Egypt and also the various times the Nephites were held captive.   Without the Lord and the atonement we remain held captive and it is only the Lord that can break those bonds.  It is only the Lord who can plant in us the desire never to do evil and to look upon sin with abhorrence. We are not able to do it alone.

There are many ways to sin.  The scriptures tell us that we cannot tell how many ways there are.  The reason for this is that man and his weaknesses are so varied.  Let us here mention a few that come immediately to my mind. The following are things that all play upon the stimulation of the sensations of the mortal body and have been proscribed by the Lord; the word of wisdom (alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea), drugs, pornography, adultery, fornication, violence (including murder), masturbation, and homosexuality.  We are to learn to control these feelings and to make our body responsive to the spirit who takes its strength and guidance from the Lord.  For some people these may not even be a temptation, but they have other weaknesses. We all have weaknesses and are in a mortal and fallen state.

The following scripture is interesting in that it tells us first what kind of sins and transgressions there are in the world and then uses the same word enticings to relate the fact that not only can the Lord through his spirit entice us to do good, Satan can also entice us to do evil and prey on the weakness of the flesh.

|v23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
|v24 And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.
|v25 Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.
|v26 For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.
|v27 But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!
|v28 O that cunning plan of the evil one!  O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men!  When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.  And they shall perish.
|v29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.
|v30 But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world.  For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their God.  And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.
|v31 And wo unto the deaf that will not hear; for they shall perish.
|v32 Wo unto the blind that will not see; for they shall perish also.
|v33 Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day.
|v34 Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.
|v35 Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die.
|v36 Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell.
|v37 Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.
|v38 And, in fine, wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.
|v39 O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one.  Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.
|v40 O, my beloved brethren, give ear to my words.  Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel.  Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker.  I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.
|v41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One.  Remember that his paths are righteous.  Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.
|v42 And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches–yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.
|v43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever–yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.
(Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 9:23-43)

The Lord gives men weaknesses:

We really should understand that we came into this world mortal and we will go out mortal.  The Lord has so decreed it, but we were commanded to come unto him so that our mortality could put on immortality and in addition eternal life.

|v27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
|v28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me–the fountain of all righteousness.
(Book of Mormon: Ether 12:27-28)

We often look at this scripture as an explanation of our minor imperfections and to give us a hope that the Lord will strengthen us and nothing more.  It means much much more.  It is an explanation of the basic doctrine set forth in Mosiah.  We are imperfect (mortal) and were meant to be after the fall.  We have to understand that a combination of a mortal body and an immortal spirit requires a refinement, which can only be accomplished by the Lord.  We can try, but we cannot succeed without the atonement of Christ.  Too often we leave this important element out of the equation.

Why do some respond to homosexual exposures and others not.  The sexual desire is one of the strongest in man.  Not everyone has the same level of sexual desire, just as some have larger physical frames than others.  Like any appetite, it can be stimulated by reinforcement.  If the repetitive reinforcement is not there then it will be dormant and diminish.  We could use the same argument to explain the chronic liar, the thief, the adulterer, the murderer, and any other person who is at odds with the commandments of God.  At first we are given light and truth and we have the words of the prophets.  Then when we disobey.  Satan commeth and taketh away the light and truth through disobedience (D&C 93).  We are then left to respond to the enticings, which come over our mortal body.  We can respond to the enticings of the spirit, who leads us to the Lord through the atonement, or we can respond to the enticings of the devil and respond to the mortal body and its desire for stimulation and deny the atonement.  There is no middle ground in this battle.  A Lamanite king who was responsible for the murders of many of his servants and perhaps many other people put it better than I can express it.  “I will give up all my sins to know thee.”  And the great thing was, that it happened.  He did give up all his sins and he knew the Lord. We also have to give up our sins.  When we teach in the church all the wonderful doctrine and the history and try to convince people to live in a certain way, if we do not teach them that without the cleansing power of the atonement we cannot overcome mortality and its attendant tendency to make us less than we would like to be, then we have failed and people like your missionary lose hope and do not see a way out of their dilemma.  And thus he (Satan) binds them with his awful chains and leads them carefully down to hell.

The model, which is portrayed by the children of Israel out in the wilderness, is a type and shadow of our relationship with the Father.  Jehovah came down and offered to be their God and to sustain them in a spiritual sense.  As it were, they would have died in the wilderness had he not provided nourishment (Manna) and water.  That many people out in the Sinai desert without food or water was a travesty.  The Lord provided for them and they had to rely totally upon Him.

We are also, as it were, in a desert.  The Lord provides us living water and the bread of life.  We have to learn to put our total trust in Him and listen to his counsel..  The manna that he gives to us is the gospel to nourish our souls.  Without that we die spiritually because we are enticed to do evil rather than good.

So my grandchildren keep the commandments and know that without them we are left to our appetites and ourselves and we will not avoid the consequences of our behavior. Also be acquainted with the scriptures.  They will never lead you astray.

Love,

Grandpa

How the Exclusion Policy Came to Be Revelation

How the Exclusion Policy Came to Be Revelation

Greg Prince Reflects on The Exclusion Policy’s Status as Revelation

Greg Prince Reflects on The Exclusion Policy's Status as Revelation

Greg Prince shared the following insightful exchange on his Facebook page regarding the exclusion policy. Please read and share.

I had the following email exchange over the past two days, initiated by a friend who is concerned about Russell M. Nelson’s announcement on Sunday night that the recently introduced LDS Church policy on gay couples and their children has been elevated to the status of revelation:

[Friend] I am really struggling with this new exclusion policy. And now that Pres. Nelson has declared that the policy was direct revelation from God to his prophet, I’m kind of at my wit’s end. I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your thoughts, if you have any, on how to remain in this church with good conscience while having real doubts about the veracity of the claim that this policy came from God. And what do I do? Can I really sustain the church leaders now? Can I pay tithing to an institution that I feel is harming people? Is it even possible for me to remain a member in good standing?

My husband and I are lifelong members and we are both returned missionaries. We have raised our children in the church. My oldest daughter, age 18 is also really upset by this new policy. I have been struggling and wrestling with my doubts about many historical issues, sexism and racism in the church for many years but more intensely the past couple of years. I have stayed in the church because it has been my whole life and I want to continue to have a spiritual home. I want God in my life and I have faith in Jesus Christ. But now I’m really struggling with this policy and I’m no longer certain that this church is the right place to be. But where would I go? It’s so interesting to me how so many people in my local ward have no problem with the policy whatsoever and have said, “of course it’s of God.” When my daughter brought up her concerns in her Laurel class, her advisor immediately shut down the conversation and said she supported the policy 100 percent. It leaves me wondering why I feel so differently. Have I been overcome by the adversary like so many would have me believe?

[My response] I suspect there are many people in this church who either have written or wish to write the kind of letter you sent me. Let me drop straight to the bottom line: the reason LGBT issues are splitting the LDS Church is that its leadership still clings to the belief—and some leaders cling to it with the tenacity of a death-grip—that homosexuality is a matter of choice, and that having made the bad choice at an earlier time, someone with “same-sex attraction” (a euphemism that I detest) can simply choose to be straight. All of our LGBT-related policies and doctrines are built on this foundation.

In earlier decades, the LDS position on homosexuality was consistent with that of most churches and most of society (and is still consistent with that of evangelicals, among others). The problem with that position is that science has increasingly had the say on what the basis of homosexuality is, and in a word it is this: BIOLOGY. The early “hunt for the gay gene” was a futile effort that sidetracked everyone and allowed some to declare victory over biology; but anyone who understood then the complexity of homosexuality—particularly the fact that there are many, many different flavors and they are not simply points along a line—should have known that its biological underpinnings would be equally complex. This is turning out to be the case, where the biology involves the interaction of genes (plural), epigenetics (the manner in which gene expression is regulated), and other environmental factors that are not yet completely understood, with the result being a biological imprinting that cannot be changed, no matter how violent and extreme the attempts. Yet, while science has pointed the way to biology, the LDS hierarchy has persisted in believing that homosexuality is simply behavioral. (The closest they have come to real movement is to concede that biology may be a factor, but then to say, “But that’s irrelevant, because you are still responsible for your behavior.” It’s like saying to an African-American, “You may not have chosen your skin color, but if you act on it you are a sinner.”)

I have never heard anything to substantiate this, but I suspect that deep within the psyche of some of the leaders resides this belief: LDS afterlife theology (at least as currently constituted) cannot accommodate gay. Period. If that is the endpoint of your worldview, then anything backtracking from there can’t allow homosexuality to be biological—that is, an imprinted, essential feature of one’s makeup. (One gay, LDS friend told me, “If it were only about sex, it would be easy. My homosexuality informs every aspect of my interaction with the world around me.”)

Although many or most of the senior church leaders are still of the Behavioral School, there are some who have come to accept the Biological School, and hence the mixed messages that continue to emanate from Salt Lake: Proposition 8 in 2008 (regressive); the Salt Lake City nondiscrimination ordinance in 2009 (progressive); Boyd Packer’s 2010 General Conference talk in which he attempted to canonize the LGBT-hostile Proclamation on the Family (regressive); Dieter Uchtdorf’s conciliatory speech two weeks thereafter (progressive); the Church’s silence in the face of same-sex marriage ballot measures in four states in 2012 (progressive when compared to its stance towards Prop 8); the January 2015 press conference announcing qualified church support for statewide Utah nondiscrimination legislation (mostly progressive); the March 2015 passage of SB296, a statewide nondiscrimination law in Utah (progressive, albeit with a large carve-out for the Church); the November 2015 announcement of The Policy (regressive); and now President Nelson’s proclamation (doubled-down regressive).

When you consider President Nelson’s options, it isn’t surprising that his tone is so forceful. Consider that any church has only two cards to play: truth claims, and moral authority. The Church largely lost moral authority on LGBT issues with the announcement of The Policy last November, so only the truth-claims card remains. President Nelson has played it with force, invoking apocalyptic imagery. Most of the church membership likely will accept his pronouncement without question, but others—and this is already apparent as one looks at the blogosphere—will not accept either it or the “Nuremberg Defense”: “I was just doing what my commanding officers ordered me to do.” I think there is still room in the Church for those who question, although not as much as in times past. Members stay for reasons beyond the men at the top, and those reasons continue to be adequate.

What lies ahead? I don’t know, but I can imagine two scenarios. One is that President Nelson will succeed in canonizing the policy, and then proceed to use it as a litmus test of fidelity—perhaps even inviting those who cannot accept it to leave. The other is that his colleagues will begin the lengthy and painful process of walking the policy back and getting the Church to a kinder, gentler place.

Nobody ever told me it would be easy to be a Mormon, but I had no idea how difficult it could become.

[Friend] I never expected being a Mormon to be easy either but I always expected that being Mormon would mean standing up for what’s right amid voices outside the church telling me otherwise. And even though that would be difficult it would be worth it because I would know inside that what I was standing for was right. I never dreamed that I would be in the church standing up for what I felt was right amid the voices in the church telling me that I am wrong.

“Very Deep and Penetrating Interviews” with the Youth

"Very Deep and Penetrating Interviews" with the Youth

This past weekend the St. George East Stake had a stake conference during which John R. Center, mission president of the Utah St. George mission, advised the audience on how to help the youth prepare for mission service.

Reportedly, “a big part of his talk”, in the context of “especially pornography, or any sexually related problems”, was for “youth leaders to…have very deep and penetrating interviews [with the youth]”. This is disturbing. I do appreciate him normalizing professional counseling and saying “medication is okay” depression and other psychological concerns.

Below is a larger section for the entire context (emphasis mine). You can read the entire post here.

Elder Center, the Mission President, especially encouraged parents and bishops to help young prospective missionaries be able to totally confess and repent of any disobedience to Gospel principles, especially pornography, or any sexually related problems.  Also to those who have been known to be depressed or have anxiety, they should be helped and receive counseling before they come out.  To be on medication is okay, as long as it is under control.

He said there are many who have committed sins, and then repented privately of them, and think that is enough.  Then when they get on their missions, they can’t live and teach by the Spirit, if they haven’t been honest with their bishop before their mission.  He has received phone calls which say “President, I need to talk to you!” and he usually knows that is the problem — something they should have taken care of before they came out on their missions.  So that was a big part of his talk — as parents, and youth leaders, to first of all teach them what they should, and should not do, and then have very deep and penetrating interviews.  Some missionaries can repent in the mission field, but others need to be sent home.  That is always very hard!  But he said that even if they had to be sent home, and repent of something, that is better than if they hadn’t come at all — as they may never have repented on their own, and carried that burden all their lives.

Russell M. Nelson: “Follow the prophets with exactness”

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