Monday, June 06, 2016

Divine Division of Labor: Freedom in Divine Submission

Why do only men in the Church hold the priesthood and why Christian scriptures seemed to have a bias towards men and prejudice against women? Why does 1 Cor 11 instruct women to generally keep long hair? Why did prophets in the Old Teatament and early LDS Church practice polygamy? Why do scriptures say women must submit to a man (father, husband, bishop) to have a personal relationship with God.  Shouldn't women be free and independent?

1. In the Old Testament before Moses, the responsibility of the priesthood was given to the oldest male child. In addition to receiving a double portion of inheritance from the father, the oldest child had the responsibility to care for his fathers dependents (wife, unmarried daughters) in his absence or after his death. This priesthood policy generated considerable envy and jealousy from the beginning resulting in Cain slaying Abel, Ham in Egypt counterfeiting Shem's authority, and Joseph later being sold into Egypt by his brothers.

After Moses, the priesthood was given to the sons of Levi and Aaron.  Moses was immediately challenged on this policy. Accordingly, Moses then had all the tribes of Israel post a staff in the courtyard of the tabernacle to prove that it was God who determinied that only the tribe of Levi should hold the priesthood. The next morning the whole congregation witnessed that Aaron's staff had not only  budded, but had blossomed and born fruit (almonds). 

Aaron's staff resides in the Ark of the Covenant. Only Levites were permitted to touch the Ark.  One day the Ark was tipped and could have fallen to the ground and a non-Levite Uzzah put forth his hand to "steady the ark".  God was displeased and lightning immediately struck Uzzah dead for the infraction notwithstanding his good intent. 

In the New Testament, the gospel first went to the Jew and then Gentile, and now in the Last Days, all worthy men can be authorized to hold this authority.  In heaven, the divine authority to create and enjoy eternal increase will be open to all who are willing to receive, but here in this world, we are to submit to Gods will and God's temporary policies.  God declares that he is no respector of persons and all are alike unto God: black, white, bond, free, male, female, Jew and Gentile.

2. Elder Bendar came to speak to the Augusta Ward several months ago and my daughter remembers him liken the atonement of Christ to an umbrella and the priesthood to a the shaft that holds the umbrella up.  The atonement of Christ shields us from death and sin like the umbrella shields us from rain and snow. 

The holders of the priesthood are authorized to administer the ordinances of the gospel which grant us access to the atonement. According to our analogy, righteous men are authorized to hold up the umbrella for others.  Although, making the atonement effective in our lives is an individual matter.  We may be invited to stand under the shelter of the umbrella, but our getting wet or staying dry depends on where we choose to stand. 

Ultimately, Elder Bednar said that he didn't know why men were authorized to hold the priesthood.  In my mind, even if a secretly unrighteous man was holding the umbrella, that doesn't mean the umbrella wouldn't shelter from the storm even if held by an unrighteous umbrella holder.  Unfortunately, that umbrella holder would likely be rather ineffectual in inviting others to shield themselves under its protective canopy, and he himself would be soaking wet. 

3. The things we do in life are not about what we want necessarily.  Christ made the point that he came to Earth exclusively to "do the will of the Father in all thing" and that nothing he did of His own will but only that which He had "seen His father do". When it came to the great atonement, Christ prayed, "not as I will, but as Thou wilt". This life is a test to see if we will submit our will to God in all things. 

Ultimately the priesthood is about serving and helping others and not ourselves. With the world attacking fatherhood, and the traditional family, men are benefitted by the priesthood which gives them purpose by providing extra duties and responsibility. Men find opportunities while administering (paperwork and taking out garbage) to minister (bring people to Christ). Women minister more naturally as a part of their more divine nature. In my opinion, I do not think it would be respectful to women's talents to waste their time doing paperwork when they need to be applying those talents to ministering to the Church and each other outside the home and ministering to their children within the home.

Polygamy in the Old Teatament and Early Church was not about exploiting women. The people who administered it did not wish it. They did it as they were commanded and called by God.  Abraham was given Hagar by Sarah for to purpose of raising a righteous seed.  This wasn't Abraham's idea.  Jacob was rather tricked into a marriage with Leah because Laban was concerned Leah would never marry. Later, Rachel gave Jacob her handmaiden because she believed she could not bare him children. And Jacob fully provided for and protected his whole house. In the early LDS period, polygamy served as a necessary welfare system in the dry and barren frontier of the Utah Territory. LDS couples who were called into polygamy supported several households. 

4. Power to make a positive difference is what we want, not necessarily authority.  Authority comes with responsibility.  But, you can exercise just as much or more  power through righteous influence than authority. Kings, pharoah and presidents have been controlled by their magicians, advisors and handlers for millennia.  I have exerted great influence over a ward with lesser callings such as missionary in a spanish branch (25 active to 100+), ward mission leader in an inner-city ward (100+ baptisms/yr) or activities committee chair in a BYU singles ward (30+ marriages). My wife has exercised great influence as visiting teaching coordinator (she will take over by knowing everything about everyone). 

5. You cannot separate your love and discipleship of God with His Church and His servants.  God has said, "whether by mine own mouth, or by the mouth of my servants, it is the same". You cannot seperate your love of God without submitting to the atonement of Jesus Christ.  You cannot enjoy a personal relationship with God through prayer and personal revelation, and despise His Church which He established, His ordinances which He has given, His servants who He called and authorized, and the family which He has ordained as the the divine foundation of society. 

In life we are to learn three lessons: 1. Love God above all else. 2. Control our bodies, 3. Submit to God's priesthood authority. Many people claim they habe learned lesson 1. but deny the need to learn 2, and 3. 

6. No women in the history of the Earth have been more blessed and enjoyed more freedom and independence than Christian women. It is only the modern feminist movement that causes many women to feel disattisfied and unappreciated. The LDS Church doesn't have professional preachers that teach all the lessons and give all the sermons. LDS women preach the sermons and teach Sunday School along side the men.

Women are married and endowed in temples of God.  There women like men enter unto sacred covenants.  As they fufill those covenants they are acting with priesthood authority.  

Women are given many callings and assignments and responsibilities in Gods kingdom all the way to the top. All women who accept these callings are set appart and given priesthood authority to fulfill their callings wherher it is a Nursery Leader, Sunday School teacher, Gospel Doctrine Instructor, Relief Society Priesident, Missionary, Service Missionary, Stake Young Women's Priesident, Temple Matron, General Primary President, Visiting Teacher, or Mother and Wife in Zion.  All these callings and responsibilities are performed by the authority rights privileges and blessings of the priesthood. 

Yes, there is a division of labor in Gods Church like there is in the family. But the division focuses each member on the tasks that best align with theur God-given talents and abilities. The divine divisiin of labor is a blessing that increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the work of God. 

7. The call by God for wives to "submit" to their husbands is not a command for them to be subservient to them.  Instead, the meaning is the exact opposite. The call is for women to allow their husbands to serve and provide for them. Women demonstrate all the time that they can make it and raise and provide for a family on their own. God is calling for women to allow their husbands to lead out in spiritual matters, in providing and protecting so that they feel needed, feel important, and have purpose.

Women were not created to be a slave or servant to their husbands but to be a devine enabling help (ezer) like Christ. Paul taught that "man is not without the woman nor woman without the man in the Lord".  Man could not be perfected without the influence of their wives. I could not and would not be where I am today without my eternal sweetheart.  My wife truly has been a divine blessing to me sent from God. 

In the Church or body of Christ, no part is more important than the other. The head is not to exalt itself over the feet and visa versa. In God's kingdom, those who seek to be greatest of all must be servant of all.  In God's system, the school janitor with all the keys who cleans the toilets would have greater authority than the principal. 

8. Women have access to every blessings and benefit of the priesthood without necessarily all the busywork of the kingdom.  Women do however have great responsibility to serve and minister in the home, community and kingdom.

9. Same is not equal. Women and men are different.  We have been given different physical abilitiess, talents, spiritual gifts.  Accordingly, men and women are given different roles within the family and husbands and wives are to work together as equal partners.  Rebelling against reality and truth is not independence or freedom but just misguided.  When God freed Israel from bondage in Egypt the first thing He did was give them the 10 commandmemts for the porposes that they could govern themselves and preserve their freedom.  There is no freedom and no independemce apart from acknowledging our dependance upon God. 

10. For 6 thousand years Satan has ruled upon the Earth.  God is intently invested in finally ruling over his creation for the benefit and blessing of all people.  Look at the suffering and inequality in the world.  This suffering is not a witness as the atheists claim against God but a witness against Satan who is the author of injustice from the beginning.  Those responsible for the suffering and inequality use their controlled media to point the finger at God. On the other hand, God has a perfect system called the United Order and it alone holds the answers to the problems and suffering that perplex the world. We need more people that can exhibit some faith in God and His plan, His system, and His Kingdom to finally bring it to pass. 

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