Saturday, May 24, 2014

Priestess and Queen (part 3)

photographed in the RLDS temple in Independence, MO
 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Let me be clear on what I think about women and authority:

Women should be involved in any church leadership role, and any level of administration, that they show a propensity and capacity for. I do not agree that a woman's place is in the home. A woman's place is anywhere that she can put her feet on the ground and walk the walk.

When you look at the institution and see sexist inequality, you are seeing things clearly. But it is imperative that your response to that quandary be godly and not political. Godly power is always a matter of revelation, and it is always a matter of the Tree of Life. To conflate revelation and politics is erroneous, and the results disastrous. You simply cannot obtain godly power through political means.

I do not fear women in leadership positions. I respect them and I expect vision, success, skill, weakness, and failure from them in the execution of their leadership just as I expect these things from men. From a woman who claims to follow Christ, I expect her to be poor in spirit as Jesus describes those who inherit His kingdom, just as I expect from men. If they do not conduct themselves thus, then I know them by their fruits.

How often we forget the kingdom of heaven in the midst of our perpetual power grab here in mortality. The kingdom is power, and thrones, and dominions, but who actually wants those things from God? Who actually thinks about those things at church? We are satisfied with ordinances, with lines of authority, and with possession of the scriptures. So were the Scribes and Pharisees of Christ's time, and look how he responded to them:

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel; who make yourselves appear unto men that ye would not commit the least sin, and yet ye yourselves, transgress the whole law.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Clean on the outside. Dead and rotten on the inside. This is a profound critique by the Savior. Could it possibly apply to the Latter-Day-Saints? Control, anger, force, and polemics suggest a leader (woman or man) that will attempt to rule by fear. Compassion, belonging, freedom, and tolerance suggest a person that is striving to follow Jesus.

Joseph Smith gave the women of his time an organization that was all their own. If you will take the time to read the original minutes book from when the Relief Society first started in Nauvoo, you will discover an organization that gave women freedom and belonging within this organization. You will also discover a RS that is far different from the current auxiliary; one that described a group of women that Joseph Smith intended would walk with God as Enoch did.

This auxiliary was taken from their granddaughters fifty years ago when the Correlation department rewrote the organization of the mainstream institution. The decision making and leadership of the organization was handed over to the Twelve and their male committees. Harold B. Lee pushed hard for David O. McKay's signature on Correlation when the guy was so old that he barely knew his left foot from his right foot anymore. Call that sort of corporate bull work "revelation" if you must, but I will not pretend with you.

I have spent years loving the institution and I wish this alteration of Joseph's original vision for women wasn't so, but it is. You can read about it in the book David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Gregory Prince. But that power grab by Lee was merely symptomatic of a larger issue that has plagued the church for 170 years since Joseph's death. Failure to give more leadership opportunities to capable women at all levels of leadership and administration is the result of a widespread lack of vision and understanding of precisely what administration is and what priesthood power is supposed to do.

If you can fathom the notion of a man washing the feet of his inferiors before he is marched off to his death, and then look over at an "elder" fiddling with his smart phone during the sacrament, then you can envision just how far our execution of the Melchizedek Priesthood has fallen since Joseph died. Much more time has been spent lauding our own heritage and boasting of our possession of divine rights and authorized ordinances than allowing ourselves to be brought beneath the dust and grime of our brothers' feet. Instead of inheriting authentic humility, we learned to toe the line and submit to honorable men of the earth who have prophesied, seen, and revealed relatively little since the Smiths were shot dead in Carthage jail.

But despite the foibles of imperfect leaders, Christ's words about who inherits his kingdom haven't changed. To be poor in spirit is to be humble and submissive. It is the god-like response that Christ took with those who condemned and murdered him... the response that allows others to hang themselves here in mortality if they insist on doing so.

Women belong on disciplinary councils, they belong in bishoprics, and they belong in stake and regional-level leadership. They belong among the ranks of actual prophets, seers, and revelators if they indeed have those gifts from God and are to be called into those positions by revelation. But the fact that those things haven't happened already should be enough to awaken you to the fact that we are not on the path to Zion.

The MoFem answer to this problem is ordination by the men behind Oz' curtain. That is the "veil" that they choose to engage. But ordination doesn't make sense. If they need no ordination to enter temples and work within them, then why pretend that they suddenly need ordination to call the shots in meetings, or to counsel someone in need of repentance?

This is the danger that Oak's talk last month portends; that the organization will attempt to do something that is God's right alone. God gives power through his voice, as He did with Melchizedek in the JST of Genesis 14:

26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
 27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
 28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
 29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.

You'll notice the suggestion in verse 28 of an order that comes by mother. The Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God is not that order, and it's not just handed to men with an earthly ordination, either. This calling comes directly from God, and specifically by his voice. Which means that refining the lie so that it is more egalitarian does not fix the problem, it compounds and magnifies it.

Do you want real power, or institutional power? I ask because when Nephi was given the sealing power in Helaman 10, it didn't exactly resemble what we see today in the institution:

 4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
 5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
 6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
 7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
 8 And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.
 9 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.
 10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.

Is this sealing power you want? Or do you want to be on the centerfold of the Ensign? If you are going to claim that what we see today in the institution resembles the description above from the Book of Mormon, then I think you are caught up in a cultural fantasy. If you are going to solve the problem of women and authority by merely allowing women in the church to participate in the same illusion, and then call it a "revelation", then I think you don't really care about the scriptures, Christ, or Zion at all. You remain stuck at the first tree of the garden of Eden, consumed with the accumulation of knowledge of good and evil as it pertains to your fall in this Telestial world.

The other tree is an unspeakable mystery to you that you don't want to think about. I talked about Calling and Election in my last post, about meeting Christ face to face, and the crowd goes silent. Not a peep from the MoFems who otherwise beg for dialogue from the obviously flawed institution and want to rewrite the temple ceremony for the umpteenth time, and not a whisper from the "true blue, through and through"s who are as unfamiliar with the Doctrine of Christ described in 2 Ne 32 as they are with the Book of Enoch discovered in Ethiopia.

Joseph Smith talked about Calling and Election in a letter he wrote to the church while in Liberty Jail in 1839:

"This principle ought to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor know ye the Lord for all shall know him from the least to the greatest, How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power & the other comforter spoken of which will be manifest by Revelation." 

That's right. "Even the least saint" should be taught about this principle. Every new convert, every wayward sinner, every little snot-nosed kid with bubble gum on their shoe. They are to be taught about the Second Comforter.

But who is going to believe Joseph Smith in 2014? Why pay attention to his words when you can gossip about his polygamy? Who needs that guy when we have "modern prophets"?

When it really comes down to acquiring the actual power of God, the legit, authentic, angelic visitation/fire from on high, it would appear that nobody cares. Enoch is at the center of this discussion, at the center of anything related to Zion, yet he is an anathema to most of the people on both sides of this issue.

My family, whom I have discussed the Gospel with for years, can no longer stomach talking with me about the scriptures. I'm still welcome for dinner, so long as I stick to talking about NBA basketball or the weather, but Jesus and the Baptism of Fire & the Holy Ghost are now off limits. No more talk of miracles and revelations and prophecies that don't allow for the institution to be well on the path to Zion. It reminds me of Mormon Ch 9:

 9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?
 10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.
 11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.
***
 15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
 16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
 17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?
 18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
 19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
 20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
 21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

Or Moroni 7:

 35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
 36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
 37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
 38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.

 Am I still invited to dinner? I doubt any of them will read this far. But regardless of what they choose to do, or what the institution chooses to do with me, I will not abandon Christ and his words just so that I will be welcome with those who profess to be saints, yet cannot stand talking about Christ's most beautiful doctrines. I stand by Him and his beautiful homage to motherhood (the Atonement). I have not received my calling and election, but I have been blessed in recent years with an understanding of the scriptures that surpasses anything I could ever have hoped for. I believe Him and seek to follow Him only, regardless of the cost.

5 comments:

  1. Rocky, Diana told me I needed to read this. I'm glad I did. Brilliant? perhaps. profound? perhaps. In tune with the truth of the gospel? Absolutely! the state of the church truly saddens me, but I remain loyal. It is still His church. How much can we learn about the nature of God by observing and understanding His dealings with the church - how much he allows it to proceed? I liken it to the way He deals with us as individuals. I don't know why it would be any different.

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    1. Scott, thank-you for your comment. Is it really still His church? I think it stopped being his church the moment they voted in the Twelve over Sidney Rigdon. Not that Rigdon was the correct choice, mind you. More that revelation was the correct choice, and they never sought it.

      Brigham Young wondered out loud if Joseph had taken the priesthood keys with him when he was martyred. This fact can be read about in the Millennial Star #26, which just so happens to have been printed on June 4th, 1864. These are simply not the words of a prophet who converses with the Almighty. They are the words of a manager who is wondering which direction to take the corporation in next. And all of the presidents since have followed suit.

      I will never be convinced that Christ has anything to do with decisions regarding a lavish shopping mall. And the truth is that the institution built that mall. Nevertheless, I consider the scriptures to be sacred. The institution is fortunate to have them. They are the thing that makes it so that there is no other earthly church to join. I will stay as long as they will have me, and I will not join any other faith if I am excommunicated. In the long run, it matters very little. This church is merely an invitation to the Church of the Firstborn, and that is the thing that the scriptures actually point to, and that is actually worth pursuing.

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  2. Thank you very much for the three posts on this subject that you made. May God bless you for seeking Him.

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  3. I am learning so much.Thank you for this series. Will there be a part 4? I'm reviewing the upcoming RS lessons (#11 & #12) on the Priesthood. As the Lord has been teaching me through studying the scriptures, dreams, pondering, through others like you I am realizing how little I actually know. Now as I am looking through and studying the lesson manuals I find myself writing down scriptures, marking out different statements and correcting information. I just wanted to let you know that your blog is much appreciated. Thank you for sharing what Father has been teaching you with others like me.

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  4. Thanks Sally. The more you study the scriptures, the more you will realize that the Lord wants Zion to be on the earth again. But it is not built through business or accumulating wealth. It is built one soul at a time as we take responsibility for our own salvation and seek Christ. Seek his face, just like verse 2 of hymn 142 says. Don't settle for an institution or the words of others as "proof" of anything. Acquire your own proof, and your own priesthood, from God only.

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