Sunday, August 28, 2011

George Albert Smith, the Old Testament, and the United States Constitution

The story was once told told in a blog comment of a Church leader being asked, "When are you going to do something about the Constitution?" to which came the reply, "Of which country?"

This story has at least two problems. First, the Elders of Israel are supposed to help save the Constitution, not the Church (click here). Second, the reply belittles the U.S. Constitution.

According to modern scripture, God himself "established the Constitution of [the United States], by the hands of wise men whom [He, God,] raised up unto this very purpose.” (D&C 101:80.) Scripture further emphasizes that the U.S. Constitution “belongs to all mankind,... should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh [and should] be established forever." (D&C 98:5, 101:77, 109:54; italics added.)

First witness

At the dedication of the Idaho Falls Temple, George Albert Smith said the coming forth of the United States Constitution fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that "out of Zion shall go forth the law." (Era, Oct. 1945, 564.)

Second witness

Harold B. Lee is a second witness to George Albert Smith's interpretation of Isaiah. When Harold B. Lee spoke during the first Area Conference of the Church in Manchester, England, in August 1971, he said:

“I have often wondered what the expression meant, that out of Zion shall go forth the law. Years ago I went with the brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition of the meaning of the term ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law.’ Note what they said: ‘We thank thee that thou has revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document [the Constitution of the United States—see D&C 101:80] …

“‘We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfil the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that “out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”’” (Ensign, Nov. 1971, 15; First Presidency quotation from Era, Oct. 1945, 564; as quoted in Ensign, Sept. 1987, 12.)

Third witness

Ezra Taft Benson is a third witness to George Albert Smith's interpretation of Isaiah. When Ezra Taft Benson spoke to the students at BYU in September 1987, he was President of the Church and he quoted George Albert Smith:

“The coming forth of the Constitution is of such transcendent importance in the Lord's plan that ancient prophets foresaw this event and prophesied of it. In the dedicatory prayer for the Idaho Falls Temple, President George Albert Smith indicated that the Constitution fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law’ (Isaiah 2:3). He said:

“‘We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were wise men in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document [the Constitution of the United States]….’” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 595.)

The President of the Church gives authoritative interpretations of scripture. George Albert Smith was President of the Church when he dedicated the Idaho Falls Temple. In that dedicatory prayer, he gave an authoritative interpretation of the Old Testament expression that "out of Zion shall go forth the law." Two subsequent Church Presidents have indicated their agreement with George Albert Smith's interpretation of Isaiah 2:3.

The Constitution of which country? The scriptures and the living prophets are very clear: The Constitution of the United States of America.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

On the origin of physical and spiritual death

Over at LDS Science Review, Jared* asks: "What? If Adam was not real then I don't need the resurrection or forgiveness of sin? Nonsense. Death, sin, and separation from God exist independent of however we explain their origin."

His point of view completely disregards LDS teachings about Creation, Fall, and Atonement being three pillars of eternity, inseparably woven together. Here are links to a few examples of that teaching as found at LDS.org:

Alexander B. Morrison, here.

Bruce R. McConkie, here and here.

Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, here.

D. Todd Christofferson, here.

Russell M. Nelson, here, here, and here.

Boyd K. Packer, here and here.

Harold B. Lee, here.

Ezra Taft Benson, here.

Boyd K. Packer has also pointed out (in the same talk Jared* quotes in his post) that "fundamental doctrines on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement ... cannot co-exist with a belief that man evolved from lower forms of life." He further declared that "if the theory of evolution applies to man, there was no Fall and therefore no need for an atonement." ("The Law and the Light,” The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, to Learn with Joy, BYU Religious Studies Center, 1990, 7,22; emphasis added.)

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

A prophet only when acting as such, part 2: Proper Use of Titles

I own a copy of the Style Guide for Publications of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1972 (second edition 1978). Section 13 gives instructions on "Proper Use of Latter-day Saint Titles." Regarding the title "President," the Guide says:

13.1 "Members of the First Presidency of the Church and President (and Acting President) of the Council of the Twelve are addressed as 'President.' "

Regarding retroactive application of titles, the Guide says:

13.11 "When a General Authority is quoted or mentioned in a story, he should be referred to by the title he held at the time of the statement or event."

Accordingly, in the 1978 edition of Gospel Principles Chapter 39 on Chastity, Spencer W. Kimball was referred to as "Elder Kimball" even though he was, at the time, Church President.

By contrast, the 2009 edition of Gospel Principles suggests there has been a policy change regarding retroactive application of titles for Church Presidents. The 2009 Chapter 39 now says "President Kimball" even though the quoted material was published in 1969 when he was still properly addressed as "Elder Kimball."

The same policy change was apparently in place for the 2007 MP/RS manual where more than 80 quotations from his 1969 book are published by the Church as Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball.

The book Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley includes the following paragraph (twice):

"The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, called and ordained to hold the keys of the priesthood, have the authority and responsibility to govern the Church, to administer its ordinances, to expound its doctrine, and to establish and maintain its practices. Each man who is ordained an Apostle and sustained a member of the Council of the Twelve is sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator." (77, 84.)

Apparently, the difference between what is taught by the Church President as President and what was taught the previous year by the same man is not as significant as some have assumed. In the examples cited above, Spencer W. Kimball's teachings are all President Kimball's teachings whether published before or after he became "President."

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Gospel Principles Ch.39, '78 and '09 compared

[Blue removed and green added in 2009. Otherwise both the same.]

A Note to Parents

This chapter includes some parts that are beyond the maturity of young children. It is best to wait until children are old enough to understand sexual relations and procreation before teaching them these parts of the chapter. Our Church leaders have told us that parents are responsible to teach their children about procreation (the process of conceiving and bearing children). Parents must also teach them the law of chastity. , which is explained in this chapter.

Parents can begin teaching children to have proper attitudes toward their bodies when children are very young. Talking to children frankly but reverently and using the correct names for the parts and functions of their bodies will help them grow up without unnecessary embarrassment about their bodies.

Children are naturally curious. They want to know how their bodies work. They want to know where babies come from. If parents answer all such questions immediately and clearly so children can understand, children will continue to take their questions to their parents. However, if parents answer questions so that children feel embarrassed, rejected, or dissatisfied, they will probably go to someone else with their questions and perhaps get incorrect ideas and improper attitudes.

It is not wise or necessary, however, to tell children everything at once. Parents need only give them the information they have asked for and can understand. While answering these questions, parents can teach children the importance of respecting their bodies and the bodies of others. Parents should teach children to dress modestly. They should correct the false ideas and vulgar language that children learn from others.

By the time children reach maturity, parents should have frankly discussed procreation with them. Children should understand that these powers are good and were given to us by the Lord. He expects us to use them within the bounds he He has given us.

Little children come to earth pure and innocent from Heavenly Father. As parents pray for guidance, the Lord will inspire them to teach children at the right time and in the right way.

The Power of Procreation

• Why should parents teach their children about procreation and chastity? How can they appropriately do this?

After the Creation, God commanded each living thing to reproduce after its own kind (see Genesis 1:22). Reproduction was part of his His plan so that all forms of life could continue to exist upon the earth.

Then he He placed Adam and Eve on the earth. They were different from his His other creations because they were his His spirit children. God married Adam and Eve in In the Garden of Eden, He brought Adam and Eve together in marriage and commanded them to multiply and replenish the earth (see Genesis 1:28). However, their lives were to be governed by moral laws rather than by instinct.

God wanted his His spirit children to be born into families so they could be properly cared for and taught. We, like Adam and Eve, are to provide physical bodies for these spirit children. through sexual reproduction.

The powers of procreation are sacred. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have stated, “We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). God has commanded us that only in marriage between a man and a woman are we to have sexual relations. This commandment is called the law of chastity.


• What are some important purposes of the marriage relationship?

The Law of Chastity

What Is the Law of Chastity?

We are to have sexual relations only with our spouse to whom we are legally married. No one, male or female, is to have sexual relations before marriage. After marriage, sexual relations are permitted only with our spouse.

To the Israelites the Lord said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Those Israelites who broke this commandment were put to death (see Leviticus 20:10). subject to severe penalties. The Lord has repeated this commandment to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the latter days (see D&C 42:24).

We have been taught that the law of chastity encompasses more than sexual intercourse. Elder Spencer W. Kimball The First Presidency warned young people of other sexual sins:

“Among the most common sexual sins our young people commit are necking and petting. Not only do these improper relations often lead to fornication, [unwed] pregnancy, and abortions—all ugly sins—but in and of themselves they are pernicious evils, and it is often difficult for youth to distinguish where one ends and another begins. They awaken lust and stir evil thoughts and sex desires. They are but parts of the whole family of related sins and indiscretions” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 65).


• What is the law of chastity?

• How can we be chaste?

“Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body” (For the Strength of Youth [pamphlet, 2001], 27).

Like other violations of the law of chastity, homosexual behavior is a serious sin. Latter-day prophets have spoken about the dangers of homosexual behavior and about the Church’s concern for people who may have such inclinations. President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“In the first place, we believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We believe that marriage may be eternal through exercise of the power of the everlasting priesthood in the house of the Lord.

“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

“We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

Satan Wants Us to Break the Law of Chastity

• What are some ways Satan tempts people to break the law of chastity?

Satan’s plan is to deceive as many of us as he can to prevent us from returning to live with our Heavenly Father. One of the most damaging things he can do is entice us to break the law of chastity. He is cunning and powerful. He would like us to believe it is no sin to break this law. Many people have been deceived. We must guard ourselves against evil influences.

Satan attacks the standards of modesty. He wants us to believe that because the human body is beautiful, it should be seen and appreciated. is something to flaunt and expose. Our Heavenly Father wants us to keep our bodies covered so that we do not put encourage improper thoughts into in the minds of others.

Satan not only encourages us to dress immodestly, but he also encourages us to think immoral or improper thoughts. He does this with pictures, movies, stories, jokes, music, and dances that suggest immoral acts. The law of chastity requires that our thoughts as well as our actions be pure. The prophet Alma taught that when we are judged by God, “our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God” (Alma 12:14).

Jesus taught, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28).

President Gordon B. Hinckley warned: “You live in a world of terrible temptations. Pornography, with its sleazy filth, sweeps over the earth like a horrible, engulfing tide. It is poison. Do not watch it or read it. It will destroy you if you do. It will take from you your self-respect. It will rob you of a sense of the beauties of life. It will tear you down and pull you into a slough of evil thoughts and possibly of evil actions. Stay away from it. Shun it as you would a foul disease, for it is just as deadly. Be virtuous in thought and in deed. God has planted in you, for a purpose, a divine urge which may be easily subverted to evil and destructive ends. When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating. When you reach an age where you think of marriage, then is the time to become so involved. But you boys who are in high school don’t need this, and neither do the girls” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 71–72; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 51).

Satan sometimes tempts us through our emotions. He knows when we are lonely, confused, or depressed. He chooses this time of weakness to tempt us to break the law of chastity. Our Heavenly Father can give us the strength to pass through these trials unharmed.

The scriptures tell about a righteous young man named Joseph who was greatly trusted by his master, Potiphar. Potiphar had given Joseph command over everything he had. Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph and tempted him to commit adultery with her. But Joseph resisted her and fled from her. (See Genesis 39:1–18.)

Our Heavenly Father has promised, Paul taught, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Alma emphasized that we will “not be tempted above that which [we] can bear” as we “humble [ourselves] before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually” (Alma 13:28).

For teachers: For help with questions about modesty and chastity, you may want to refer to the pamphlet titled For the Strength of Youth (item number 36550), which is available at distribution centers and at LDS.org and which may be available at your meetinghouse library.


• What are some ways Satan tempts us to break the law of chastity?

• How are modesty and chastity related? How can parents teach their children to be modest in dress, language, and behavior?

• How can we fight the spread and influence of pornography?

• What promise promises has the Lord given us to help us overcome Satan’s temptations?

Breaking the Law of Chastity Is Extremely Serious

The prophet Alma grieved because one of his sons had broken the law of chastity. Alma said to his son Corianton, “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5). Unchastity is next to murder in seriousness.

If a child is conceived by those who a man and a woman break the law of chastity and conceive a child, they may be tempted to commit another abominable sin: abortion. There is seldom any excuse justifiable reason for abortion. “The only exceptions are when—

“1. Pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape;

“2. The life or health of the woman is in jeopardy in the opinion of competent medical authority; or

“3. The fetus is known, by competent medical authority, to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

“Even in these cases the couple should consider an abortion only after consulting with each other and their bishop [or branch president] and receiving divine confirmation through prayer” (General Handbook of Instructions [30943], p. 11-4).

It is extremely important to our Heavenly Father that his children obey the law of chastity. Members of the Church who break this law may be disfellowshipped or excommunicated (see D&C 42:22–26, 80–81). All those who do not repent after committing adultery will not be able to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ but will live in the telestial kingdom (see D&C 76:81–86, 103–5; see also chapter 46, “The Last Judgment”).

Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.

“When a man and woman conceive a child out of wedlock, every effort should be made to encourage them to marry. When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, unwed parents should be counseled to place the child for adoption through LDS Family Services to ensure that the baby will be sealed to temple-worthy parents” (First Presidency letter, June 26, 2002, and July 19, 2002).

It is extremely important to our Heavenly Father that His children obey the law of chastity. Members of the Church who break this law or influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.


• Why is breaking the law of chastity such a serious transgression?

• What blessings do people lose if they break the law of chastity?

Those Who Break the Law of Chastity Can Be Forgiven

Peace can come to those who have broken the law of chastity. The Lord tells us, “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, . . . all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him” (Ezekiel 18:21–22). Peace comes only through forgiveness. But forgiveness has a high price.

Elder President Kimball said: “To every forgiveness there is a condition. . . . The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin. There must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit. . . . There must be tears and genuine change of heart. There must be conviction of the sin, abandonment of the evil, confession of the error to properly constituted authorities of the Lord” (The Miracle of Forgiveness (1969), p. 353).

For many people, confession is the most difficult part of repentance. We must confess not only to the Lord but also to the person we have offended, such as a husband or wife, and to the proper priesthood authority. The priesthood leader (bishop or stake president) will judge our standing in the Church. The Lord told Alma, “Whosoever transgresseth against me . . . if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him ye shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also” (Mosiah 26:29).

But Elder President Kimball warns: warned: “Even though forgiveness is so abundantly promised, there is no promise nor indication of forgiveness to any soul who does not totally repent. . . . We can hardly be too forceful in reminding people that they cannot sin and be forgiven and then sin again and again and expect repeated forgiveness” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 353, 360). Those who receive forgiveness and then repeat the sin are held accountable for their former sins (see D&C 82:7; Ether 2:15).

Those Who Keep the Law of Chastity Are Greatly Blessed

• What blessings do we receive as we keep the law of chastity?

When we obey the law of chastity, we can live without guilt or shame. Our lives and our children’s lives are blessed when we keep ourselves pure and spotless before the Lord. Children can look to our example and follow in our footsteps.


• Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:58–60. How will those who keep all of God’s commandments, including the law of chastity, be blessed?

Additional Scriptures

• Matthew 19:5–9; Genesis 2:24 (marriage relationship is sacred)

• Titus 2:4–12 (instructions for chastity)

• Proverbs 6:25–32; Leviticus 19:29; 20:13, 15–16 (perversion condemned)

• 1 Corinthians 7:2–5; Ephesians 5:28 (loyalty to spouse)

• Revelation 14:4–5 (blessings for obedience to the law of chastity)

• Proverbs 31:10 (virtue praised)

• Alma 39:9 (do not go after the lusts of your eyes)

• D&C 121:45 (let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly)

• Alma 42:16 (repentance does not come without punishment)

• Alma 42:30 (do not excuse yourself for sinning)

• D&C 58:42–43 (the repentant confess and forsake their sins)

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