Why Covenants?

Nauvoo

Related Posts: Mormon temple garments; Justification; Grace; Election; Faith and Charity; Justification and Salvation

Why do we make covenants to do things we are already commanded to do? For example, in the temple we make a covenant to obey the law of chastity. That is, no sexual relations outside marriage. We also make covenants to do things like obey God and to follow the Gospel. But these things are already commandments. So why are we making covenants to do things we are already obligated to do? That is the question I shall explore.

See also:“A closer look at the Draper Temple,” Mormon Times.

A covenant people

The Navoo Temple

The Navoo Temple

President Ezra Taft Benson once said,

We are a covenant-making people. The temple is one of the holy places in which the Savior commanded the faithful to stand. It is a holy place because it is a house of covenants (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 250). Continue reading

More on gay marriage

Related Posts: Gay Marriage Again; Gay Marriage; Gay Marriage: The Iowa Supreme Court; Idaho Test Oath; Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act (1862); Edmunds Act (1882); Edmunds-Tucker Act (1887); Blacks and the Priesthood

I would like to add a few more thoughts on the gay marriage issue.

One of the claims I made in my previous two posts is that many people see gay marriage as a civil rights issue, consequently they will have to go all the way with it, even to the point of threatening religious organizations fighting to preserve traditional marriage.

Most gay marriage activists are adamant that gay marriage won’t force the Mormon church, or any church, to recognize, solemnize or perform homosexual marriages. Many on the religious right don’t have faith in those assurances—neither do I. (For several examples of the tactics being used see this article by William A. Jacobson, Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, NY.) In a debate on gay marriage, Lorrie L. Jean, attorney of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, made this chilling comment,

The real danger to religious freedom lies not in treating everyone equally under the law, but allowing any one religious belief to be imposed on everyone else. Thousands of religious leaders, churches and synagogues oppose Proposition 8 — and they would never do so if their own religious freedom was endangered. (A gay-marriage Pandora’s box?, Los Angles Times.)

Continue reading

Gay Marriage, Again

Civil_marriage_is_a_civil_right

Related Posts: Gay Marriage; More on gay marriage; Gay Marriage: The Iowa Supreme Court

I am very pleased that Proposition 8 passed. But the debate is far from over. The far left will continue to criticize the Church and the Latter-day Saints. On Americablog John Aravosis accused the Mormon church of “promote[ing] legislative gay-bashing,” writing,

At some point the Mormon Church needs to learn that they’re not the only people with the right to free speech. They have the right to bankroll bigotry and we have the right to publicly call them on it. And we finally are.

Because of the Churches involvement in getting Proposition 8 passed, and because most of Utah’s population is Mormon, and because the Mormon Church is based here, some have decided to unleash their fury on Utah. Aravosis was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “We’re going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state,” “At a fundamental level, the Utah Mormons crossed the line on this one…They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards…You don’t do that and get away with it” (“Thousands protest LDS stance on same-sex marriage,” Salt Lake Tribune; “Utah faces boycott after Mormon work for Prop 8,” AP). One website even called for the Mormon Church to be stripped “of its status as a religious organization” so as to “stop taxpayer subsidies of intolerance.” Continue reading

Gay Marriage

Related Posts: Gay Marriage Again; More on gay marriage; Gay Marriage: The Iowa Supreme Court

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently released this press statement.

At the request of the Protect Marriage Coalition, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making arrangements for them to call friends, family and fellow citizens in California to urge support of the effort to defend traditional marriage. The coalition has asked members of the many participating churches and organizations to contribute in whatever way they can to the effort to pass Proposition 8, including by phoning. (Church Readies Members on Proposition 8, 8 October, 2008)

See also Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why We Do Some of the Things We Do,” Ensign, Nov 1999 and California and Same-Sex Marriage from LDS Newsroom; “Californication” by Jeremy Gayed.

With the upcoming vote in California on Proposition 8 I thought I would weigh in on the gay marriage debate. Because I’m not gay I’ll never be able to understand fully the homosexual perspective on this issue. As a devout Mormon my belief is strongly influenced by my religion. It’s a truism that each person is a captive of his culture, whatever that culture might be, so it should be no surprise that I’m conservative in politics and religion. What can I say? I’m not open to having my mind changed on this issue. So I can only tell it as I see it. Continue reading

Angels

Related Posts: The Premortal Life; The Spirit World; Adam-god Theory

See also Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (Apostle), The Ministry of Angels.

According to Mormon beliefs angels are children of God sent to perform tasks, minister, and deliver messages. For example, Gabriel visited Zechariah and also Mary the mother of Jesus (
Luke 1:19, 26); Joseph Smith was visited by the ancient prophet Moroni (JS-H 1:29-47); an angel comforted Jesus in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43; Matt. 4:11); and Israel was led to the promise land (Ex. 23:20; 32:34; compare Mal. 3:1). It was an angel who carried Lazarus’ spirit to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22) and at the last day angels will separate the righteous from the wicked (Matt. 13:41, 49). These angels are premortal, mortal, postmortal, and resurrected children of Heavenly Father.

In addition to performing tasks angels can also serve as witnesses before God: “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8); “He that overcometh…I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5); “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” (Helaman 10:6). Continue reading

The Premortal Life

Related Posts: Election; Blacks and the Priesthood; Who is Jesus?–to a Mormon; Are Satan and Jesus Brothers?; Angels; Doctrine of Agency

Summary: When a Mormon speaks of premortal life he is referring to the belief that each person existed before their birth, that the spirit preexists conception and that we all had lives, thoughts, friends, and beliefs during that time.You, me, Jesus, Lucifer, and everyone else who has been, are now, or will be living on the earth are all children of God.

The term preexistence refers to a time before the creation of the earth when we all existed and during which several important events occurred. One of those events was the war in heaven. Eventually, everyone chose one of two camps: followers of Jesus and followers of Lucifer. The war led to the expulsion of Lucifer and his followers. It is believed by Mormons that 1/3 of the preexistent spirits followed Lucifer. The remaining 2/3 followed Jesus and were born to earth, or will be born to earth. Lucifer and his followers will never have that privilege.

Everyone born to this earth was at one time a follower of Jesus. Though, some of them were more valiant than others. Continue reading

Mormons and Caffeinated Soft Drinks

Related Posts: The Word of Wisdom

Summary: The Mormon code of health is called the Word of Wisdom. It states that we should abstain from “hot drinks,” tobacco, and alcohol; that we should enjoy wholesome foods and eat meat sparingly.

Hot drinks are taken to mean caffeinated coffee and tea. But then, why would coffee and tea be prohibited? It is usually posited that it is their caffeine content. But if they are prohibited because of caffeine then shouldn’t other caffeinated drinks also be avoided? such as Coke and Pepsi? Many Mormons believe so. Others not.

Officially, caffeinated coffee and tea are prohibited. As for Caffeinated sports drinks and colas, some Mormons will tell you the Word of Wisdom prohibits them, others will say not. Your answer will vary from person to person, but officially they are not.

In this post I shall explore the caffeinated soft drinks issue and go a little into its history.

(For a discussion about the caffeine issue see Gregory Smith, “The Word of Wisdom in a Caffeinated World,” at Mormon Times; and “Teas” by Kaimi Wenger at Times & Seasons; and “Health Practices” from LDS Newsroom.) Continue reading

The Word of Wisdom

Related Posts: Mormons and Caffeinated Soft Drinks

This post will discuss the Mormon code of health, often referred to as the Word of Wisdom. The historical context in which this code of health came about will be discussed as well as its history from the time it was written to the time it became a requirement for Latter-day Saints, on up to the present time. There is also a strong cultural prohibition against caffeinated soft drinks, but no formal prohibition against them. I will discuss the caffeine issue in a separate post.

What it says

The revelation called the Word of Wisdom was, according to the section heading, revealed at Kirtland, Ohio on February 27, 1833. The revelation states that we ought to abstain from “hot drinks,” eat meat sparingly, and that we should avoid tobacco and alcohol products. (For the entire revelation see D&C 89:1-21.) Those who adhere to this code are promised “health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures”; they shall “run and not be weary…walk and not faint.” The Lord then promises, “the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:18-21). Continue reading

The Godhead: God or Gods?

Related Posts: The Nature of Christ; Whom do we Worship?; The Trinity; Is Mormonism Christian?; The First Vision; Whence God? Talking about God

In this post I will explore the LDS concept of the Godhead and God, and give a justification for our use of monotheistic language.

Tritheism

Our first article of faith says, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (AoF 1:1). These persons constitute the Godhead. Along with our Christian cousins we believe Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct from each other. Where we differ is in how we constitute the persons of the Godhead, both individually and as God. The orthodox Godhead consists of one divine essence; the persons of the Trinity are of this essence; thus each is God. It would thus be inappropriate to think of the Godhead as a tripartite counsel: for there is only one God. In the Mormon view the Godhead is definitely tritheistic—it consist of three beings who is each a God. Joseph Smith taught,

[An] everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth…[they] are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the witness or Testator. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 190)

Continue reading

Fall of Man: Defense of the Doctrine

Related Posts: The Fall of Man: The Doctrine; Creation Ex Nihilo; Omniscience; Election; Doctrine of Agency

Defense of the Doctrine

As I mentioned at the end of my previous post (The Fall of Man: The Doctrine), our doctrine of the fall of man presents a dilemma for the believing Mormon. We believe that the following state of affairs existed in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given the two commandments (1) don’t eat the forbidden fruit and (2) multiply and replenish the earth, and that (2) couldn’t have been done without breaking (1). To most people this would seem contradictory; in fact many Mormons refer to the “conflicting commandments” given in Eden. But then, how could God give a commandment to Adam and Eve and want them to break it? Did God want them to sin? It appears that the LDS belief about the state of affairs in Eden lacks coherence. What is needed is an explication of the coherence of that state of affairs. Continue reading