Friday, July 27, 2007

Temple Worship

Matt. 27: 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Many Christians interpret this verse to indicate that the worship of God and Christ in the temple ended with the death of Jesus Christ. Temple worship somehow became obsolete together with animal sacrifice. However, Isaiah prophesies that the temple would be restored in the Last Days (Isa. 2: 2-3). Isaiah isn't talking about at the time of Christ. Those weren't the Last Days. Today is the Last Days.
There are many more scriptures which prophesy about the temple in the Last Days. Ezekiel was mourning over the scattering and loss of the tribes of Israel. Because of the envy of Ephraim toward Judah (Isa. 11: 13), Ephraim divided Israel into a Northern and Southern kingdom after which the Assyrians destroyed and scattered the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom. Years later, the Southern Kingdom of Judah was conqured and destoyed by Babylon. But, a remnant of Judah returned to Israel and rebuilt the temple. But the Northern 10 tribes remained lost. Except for the Samaritans who claimed to be a remnant of the original 10 tribes and who built their own apostate temple at Mt. Gerezim. The Samaritans and the Jews were never one. The Jews hated and dispised the Samaritans.

Ezekiel prophesies that in the Last Days (Ezek. 37: 15-28), that the tribes of the Northern Kingdom represented by Joseph and Ephraim, and the tribes of the Southern Kingdom represented by Judah would be restored. And that when Joseph and Judah are restored that their scripture would come together in one as well. The stick of Judah is the Bible. The stick of Joseph is the Book of Mormon.

God says that he will gather the blood of Israel from among all the nations of the heathen. And in that day Israel will no longer be divided but will be one nation. Now, lets not make the same mistake that the Jews did and interpret this to be speaking politically. The day of literal fulfullment will come. But I think that this revelation is first speaking of a spiritual and religious unity and a restoration of the Kingdom of God.

And at the time of the fulfilling of Ezekiel's prophecy, God says that he will make a new and "everlasting covenant" with Israel. Why is it new, because the covenant was restored to the Earth after being lost. But, then how could it be everlasting? The covenant is everlasting because it is the same covenant that God has sought to make with all his people. It's the same everlasting covenant that God made with Noah (Gen. 9: 11) and with Abraham (Gen. 17: 2-7). This is the same covenant which God tried to establish with Moses and Israel but they refused (Ex. 20: 19) and a lesser and preparatory law was given to them. This same everlasting covenant was made with the Meridian-day Saints who, through obedience to the covenant, had their calling and election to eternal life made sure (2 Pet. 1: 10).

Then Ezekiel tells us where this everlasting covenant would be made. Earlier this covenant was made on mountain tops (2 Pet. 1: 18-19). But in the Last Days, this new and everlasting covenant would be made in the "mountain of the LORD's house" or the temple. Ezekiel prophesies that God would build his sanctuary or tabernacle among spiritual Israel in the last days. And that temple would never be destroyed but would exist forever.

The Meridian-day Christian Saints continued to consider temple worship as central to their belief and devotion to God and Christ. Several examples of the apostles worshiping in the temple include: Peter and John taught and healed a man at the Temple (Acts 3: 1-3, 8, 10); Paul purified himself and taught in the Temple (Acts 21: 26-30).
And on the day of Pentecost, John records that after the believers were "pricked in their hearts" and asked "what shall we do?" John decribes the nature of true Christian worship. Those who believed in Christ repented, were baptized with water and fire by recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then:

"they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2: 37-47).

Clearly, worship in the house which Christ himself referred to as His and as "the house of prayer" (Matt. 21: 13); remained a central part of true Christian worship. And through the prophet Joseph Smith, temples and the new and everlasting covenant have been restored to the Earth. And all true believers in Christ are invited to first repent and then worship God in the LORD's house "in spirit and in truth" (John 4: 23-24).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Family Roles

Human needs fall into 4 major categories: temporal, spiritual, emotional, and social. The traditional family is the most efficent vehicle for meeting these needs. There isn't a social organization that can outperform the family in terms of effectiveness, or efficency with regard to taking care of people. Unfortunately, the family us under seige and people are suffering the effects of unmet need: drug addiction, overeating, promescuity, consumer debt. The destruction of the traditional family is the #1 contributer to poverty and crime in this country.

When it comes to traditional men and women's roles the LDS church teaches that families do better when fathers (generally speaking) focus on their family's temporal and spiritual needs while the mother focus on the emotional and social needs. When I say better, I mean the family as a whole does better. If our roles were reversed, my wife could likely earn more money and establish a more spiritual family environment than I do. But she can't outperform what both of us can do together with me focusing on some needs and her focusing on others. Fortunately, the most skilled parent (my wife) is assigned to the more critical task of nurturing the children.

I have a friend who studied to become a CPA and wanted a simple 9-5 job so he could stay home more with his family and do more of the fun social and emotional stuff. Well, turned out that as a CPA he could only get a job that earned 24-36,000 a year and the financial stress almost tore his marriage and family appart. Finally, he recognized that an extra sacrifice needed to made and that it was his primary role to "bring home the bacon." So, instead of asking his wife to get a job, he started working longer hours, traveling, and getting more training. Now, he brings home $80,000 and his marriage and family is doing great. He still spends plenty of time with his wife and kids. But when an extra sacrifice needed to be made, he knew he was the one who needed to make it.

Did the kids miss their Dad? Sure. But, all that time they had a stay-at-home mom who was their to do care for their social and emotional needs. Consequently, they are all very intelligent, motivated, straight-A, straight-arrow kids (and they have had serious issues they've needed to work through). If mom had decided to work instead of Dad working harder, things likely wouldn't have worked out as well. Having 2 people doing the same job is too inefficient. Division of labor is the most efficent way to get things done.

Sociologist have loads of evidence to support my argument. If mom wanted to work also, consider how much it cost to pay for her wardrob, transportation, and childcare expenses. determined that a stay-at-home mother might be paid as much as $134,121 for her contributions as a housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, janitor and CEO, among other functions. So, unless mom is bringing home that kind of cash, she is more valuable at home. But then that still leaves the kids without emotional support for which you would have to factor the cost of the drug rehab or other counciling everyone will need because noone was there for them emotionally when they needed it.
The reason why God makes generalized commandments is because he is looking out for the good of the many. Most rules work this way. Generally speaking, families do better if the most skilled parent is home doing the nurturing (usually the mother). There are exceptions to this. But, God makes rules like this because he understands that majority of people will have successful families if they stick to the rule. And even if you were the exception, God would still likely expect you to obey the rule because the rules are easier to keep if they become generally socially acceptable and traditional. But there are always exceptions and if both parents must work or the wife works and the husband stays at home, it's not the ideal, but then you do the best you can.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

LDS Patriarchy

Men and women are consider to be of equal status in the LDS church. The reason mormon women do not preside in LDS congregations is a matter of role and not status. [women weekly preach sermons, give prayers, teach sunday school, and hold presidency positions over local, stake and church-wide general primary, young women, relief society organizations]. Being the same is not being equal.

Because childbirth and child-rearing tends to be spiritually sanctifying endevers for women, the priestood assigns men spiritual duties that they would not normally take on themselves. So, by priesthood assignment, the father is supposed to “lead out” in getting the family together to read scriptures, have family prayer, and family home evening. They are also supposed to call family councils and conduct family priesthood interviews and give father’s blessings. These are all spiritually-minded tasks that help fathers be more spiritually minded to off-set their primarily temporal role as breadwinner outside the home.

How does this presiding business affect decision-making? Not much. When my wife and I make a decision, we make it together. I would never just tell my wife, “I am the deciderer.” The patriarch is the presiderer, not the deciderer. Therefore, we pray about decisions together and do not act until we both feel like we know that the Lord is accepting of our joint decision. Church council should operate the same way.

Then when things get tough, we dont look at each other and say , “good going, this is all your fault, I never thought this was a good idea in the first place.” Instead, we say, “hey, we both felt good about this, that the Lord was okay with it. So, lets be patient and faithful and things will work out in the end.”

In conclusion, God has given that men preside because of our lack of spiritual fitness. We need the exercize. Church leadership is not a status symbol. The Bible teaches us that leaders in the church should be the servants of all. God gave his church leaders like Peter keys to suggest that his status was more like a janitor than a king. And many Apostles reminded the Saints that they were the least in heaven. There is nothing about a calling itself that will get you into heaven any sooner or in front of anyone else. Callings do not save. But the spiritually-minded service that men have the opportunity to perform can help draw us closer to Christ who is the only and true Savior.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Joseph Smith is quoted in several places as saying "I do not govern the people. I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." (Erastus Snow, June 24, 1883 Parowan, UT)

Karl G. Maeser said, "I have been asked what I mean by word of honor. I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls-- walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground-- there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No. Never! I'd die first.

Integrity is more than being honest. Integrity is all about acting according to internal moral principles as opposed to mearly keeping outward rules and requirements. It's the difference between keeping the letter and the spirit of the law. Now most people talk about the spirit of the law in terms of justifying why there should be an exception made for their not living up to the letter of the law. But in reality, living the true spirit of the law more often goes beyond the letter. I do recognize that there are exceptions to every rule, however, I believe that "it should only be the exception when I am the exception."

Even thought the Pharisees were criticized for creating a bulky hedge around the law, Christ taught that although the law forbids adultry, "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 5: 28). However, A man who lets "virtue garnish his thoughts unceasingly" doesn't need to worry about committing adultry; he has caught the vision and power of the principle which is the foundation of the commandment.

Zion, the city of God, will be filled with people who aren't trying to take advantage of all the loopholes in the rules in order to get ahead of their neighbors. They will govern themselves according to moral prinicples. They will be great neighbors who are dependable and predictable. Just imagine what spiritual and temperal growth such a cooperative society would enjoy. Unfortuanately, because of rampant dishonesty, our current society is bogged down by complex laws, beurocracies, and red tape to prevent those who would seek to take advantage of their neighbor under the pretense; "I didn't break the law."

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;" (D&C 58: 26)