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Friday, May 27, 2016

Why The Mormon Church Does Not Support Gay Marriage

Recently a friend expressed to me, “What is the big deal? Why can’t The Church support gay marriage? Live and let live is a kinder approach to life, anyway, isn’t it?”

I have given this a lot of thought and here is my response to my friend and anyone else who may ask the same question.

There are three basic doctrines central to Mormonism, and in order to understand the Church’s position on any political or social issue, it is critical to understand these three doctrines, as they will always guide any decision made.

1.     At the very core of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is the belief that we are literal spiritual offspring of Heavenly Parents, (a mother and a father), and our highest purpose on this earth is to prove ourselves worthy to become like Them.  “Like Them” means having a marriage that lasts throughout eternity where husband and wife become like God, have their own spirit children and help those children become as their parents are.  That is God’s work. It is His purpose. It is His glory. (See Moses 1:39)

2.     Jesus Christ is our literal spirit brother and the Only Begotten of God the Father in the flesh. Christ’s Atonement is so vast, so powerful, and so complete that it allows every single person who has ever lived on this earth to literally be resurrected. And for those who prove themselves worthy, it also provides the way for them to obtain the power, knowledge, wisdom and perfection necessary to become like our Heavenly Parents.

3.     The vast power of the Atonement is available through sacred ordinances and covenants with Jesus Christ. The authority to administer those ordinances and validate those covenants was given to Joseph Smith through angelic ministers. Joseph Smith, as in days of old, was called by God to be His prophet, and the authority to govern Christ’s church has been passed down from Joseph Smith until Thomas S. Monson today.

So now to specifically answer the question . . .

Since Eternal Marriage and Eternal Parenthood are our highest goals, any practice or belief that hinders or prevents a person from reaching that goal can never be supported by the Mormon Church. The Church will never support something that is in direct opposition to its most core doctrine.

Based on that doctrine, the most fundamental reason to not support gay marriage is simply because two people of the same gender cannot procreate. Without the power of procreation, God’s purpose (that of helping His children progress), identity (that of a father) and glory (His glory increases as He helps his children obtain what He has) would cease to exist. (Moses 1:39)

Please take a minute and think about that. 

But if you still don't believe, then perhaps your next question will be, “Isn’t that doctrine discriminatory and hateful?”

If it were only gay marriage then perhaps that might be true. But remember the Church will not support any belief or practice that prevents a person from reaching their full potential. Gay marriage is only one of many practices that stop people from progressing toward Godhood.

An Invitation to Everyone . . .
The gospel of Jesus Christ is an open invitation to all mankind everywhere to “Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.” (Moroni 10:32) For it is in becoming perfected, in other words, becoming like our Heavenly Parents, that true joy and happiness will be found. Inviting people everywhere to come and partake of that joy, is not hateful. It is God’s plan for His children.

The invitation also does not discriminate.  It does not matter your color, your creed, body shape, social position, marital status, or gender preference.  It does not matter what sins you have or crimes you may have committed. The invitation is an invitation to everyone to come and worship together. We are all God’s children and He loves us all! And he invites us to come to Him just as we are.

This invitation is so vast, and taken so seriously that each year thousands of young men and women, and senior couples, at their own expense, leave the comfort of their homes to journey to other towns and far away lands to extend the invitation to any who will listen.

The invitation is so inclusive that every person who dies without having received a personal invitation to follow Christ and become as He and our Heavenly Parents are, will be given that invitation in the next life. And through proxy ordinances done in temples across the world, those people will have the opportunity to accept or reject the work done in their behalf.

But remember, the invitation is to Come Unto Christ and be perfected in Him. God never intended us to remain just as we are. He always intended us to change. He always intended us to become perfect—to become as He is. 

So come now. Come just as you are. But come ready to change, because in perfection we receive our greatest happiness and in Godhood we receive our deepest joy. And that happiness and joy is what our Heavenly Father wants to give all of us.

Now to those who may reject the invitation and the doctrine, I ask you this,
Is there a better plan out there?

Is there a plan that places a greater value on mankind? Is there a plan that gives us greater potential than Godhood? Is there a plan that offers more hope and more peace than eternal families?

If you can believe just a little, your next question might be, “If it is all true, then why am I like I am?”

The answer lies in the words of Christ Himself. “. . . 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.” (Ether 12:27)

Every one of us falls much short of perfection. But imperfections, weaknesses, and challenges are some of the ways God has given us to help us realize our need for the Savior. And as we turn our hearts toward Christ, and apply His Atonement in our lives through covenant, we can receive the power to overcome.

Some of you may now ask, “But what if I don’t want an eternal family?”

Then you don’t have to have one. Agency has always been a guiding principle of the gospel. Those who reject the invitation to change their life, enter into sacred covenants and become like their Heavenly Parents, will not be forced to do so.  But the full blessings of the gospel and the fullness of joy are reserved for those who are willing to do all that God asks them to do. And the purpose of the Church is to help each of us be obedient to God.  

Because . . .

That is God’s plan for happiness. That is God’s plan of love.

Lori Wagner
One Mormon Voice

If you want to read more about Mormon belief on life after this life or same sex attraction, you can do so by clicking on the links below.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What The Priesthood Isn't And Three Awesome Things It Is

Today, May 15, we celebrate the 187th anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, near Harmony, Pennsylvania. All over the Church,  boys and their fathers commemorate the restoration of this Priesthood each year with a Fathers and Sons outing.

In honor of this event, (and the subsequent restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood) I want to share one thing the priesthood isn’t and three things the priesthood is.

What the priesthood is not:

“The Priesthood is not a group of men.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard)
I am fairly confident that a single week has not passed in the last 10 months (which is the amount of time I have purposely paid attention to this) that someone at church has not made a comment similar to, “We have asked the priesthood to put away the chairs.” Or—on Mother’s Day . . . “The Priesthood will be teaching the primary so all the women can go to Relief Society.” Or probably the most incorrect of all, “We would like to excuse the priesthood to go to their respective quorums.”

Although these comments are prolific and culturally accepted, they are also misleading and incorrect. Elder Dallin H. Oaks also commented, “Some of our abbreviated expressions, like “the women and the priesthood,” convey an erroneous idea. Men are not “the priesthood.” (October Conference 2005)

So if the priesthood isn’t a group of men, what then is it?

There are many official (and therefore all very similar) definitions of what the Priesthood is, but my favorite is in the missionary manual, “Preach My Gospel”.  It states that the priesthood is:  “the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children” (Preach My Gospel, p. 83). 

With that definition in mind, here are three principles to help us better understand what the priesthood is.

1. Priesthood power and authority is directed by those who hold priesthood keys.
Elder Oaks explained, “Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood [holders] to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth. Every act or ordinance performed in the Church is done under the direct or indirect authorization of one holding the keys for that function.”

Although a father has the authority to give a father’s blessing to his child, he does not have the authority to baptize his child without authorization from the person in the ward who holds the keys for baptism, that person being the bishop. Likewise a father does not have the right to ordain his child, or anyone else, to an office in the priesthood without authorization from the person who holds the keys for that ordination—usually either the bishop or the stake president.

Similarly a woman does not have the authority to preside in a Relief Society organization, or any other Church organization, without the authorization of the person who holds the keys to direct the teaching in the ward or stake. Church callings for both men and women, priesthood ordinations and the entering into priesthood covenants are all directed and authorized by those who hold priesthood keys. 

Therefore . . . 
2. The Priesthood is the authority and power by which we receive and fulfill our Church callings
Elder Oaks also stated “ ‘all authorities [and] offices in the church are appendages to this [Melchizedek] priesthood’  (D&C 107:5), all that is done under the direction of those priesthood keys is done with priesthood authority.” Very simply stated, when as members of the Church, we are officially participating in the work of salvation in any way, we are doing so with priesthood authority, and priesthood authority gives us the power to accomplish our responsibility. This applies equally to both men and women.

Elder Oaks went on to say, “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.”

#3. The Priesthood is the authority and the power by which we both make and keep our covenants.
In the baptismal covenant we promise to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. Or in other words, we covenant to love and serve God and our fellowman. Endowed members of the Church receive authority to be called as missionaries, and to perform proxy temple ordinances for those who have passed on,  (endowment and sealing).  When we enter into the priesthood covenant of eternal marriage, both the man and the woman receive priesthood authority and the responsibility to create a family unit, become parents through the bringing of God’s spirit children into this world, and the opportunity—if we keep our covenants—to have an eternal family.

And as we obey God’s will, we also receive God’s power, priesthood power, to accomplish, or keep our covenants.  Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained, “In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high.  This “power of godliness” comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. . . . The gifts of the Holy Spirit are testimony, faith, knowledge, wisdom, revelations, miracles, healing, and charity, to name but a few (see D&C 46:13–26). . . . It is also the Holy Ghost, in His character as the Holy Spirit of Promise, that confirms the validity and efficacy of your covenants and seals God’s promises upon you."

He goes on to say that as we are exact in keeping our covenants we can “ . . . ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand to you, saying, ‘Here am I.’”

So simply put, under the direction of priesthood keys, we receive authority and power to hold and fulfill Church callings, enter into priesthood covenants, receive the authority to participate in covenant activities and the power and ability to do whatever is necessary for us to keep our covenants and accomplish our tasks, including our responsibilities as parents.

Wow!!! And all of these blessings, power and authority are available to each of us, male and female alike, simply because God restored His priesthood power to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery!!

What a wonderful day to celebrate!!

Lori Wagner
One Mormon Voice

BONUS QUESTION: Do you know when the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored? Click Here to find out! 

The majority of the quotes from Elder Oaks are from his April, 2014 Conference Talk, "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood"

Elder Christofferson's full talk can be found at The Power of Covenants