Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Living Among the Dead

Easter Sunday is tomorrow. Honestly I haven't done much to prepare. I blame it on the fact that I have been constantly nursing and sleeping (what else can you do with a newborn baby?). I should be better about studying the gospel when I am nursing, instead of wasting time on Facebook (did I actually just admit to that?) but I have been having a hard time studying the gospel lately. I told my husband that I feel like I am constantly in "input" mode, and rarely in "output" mode. That is, I feel like I am absorbing all sorts of information, but I am never actually putting that information to use in changing my behavior, or actually doing something. It's like my brain is one big pinterest board - you know, full of really awesome ideas that you will probably never actually do.

I need to focus more on creating. Especially creating things with my family, specifically my children. I don't know when I got distracted from that important task, but it was easy to feel like all of my studying was important.

Many years ago at an EFY (Especially For Youth) summer camp, one of the instructors told us not to write down what we hear him say, but rather to write down what we are going to do because of what we heard.

I think that in all my studying of the gospel and other truths I have been too focused on the information and not focused enough on what I am going to do because of the information I am absorbing and the insight I am gaining.

I have been thinking about the question posed by the angel at the tomb, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" I want to make sure that I am actually living. I want to live the things I read, the things I learn. It's as if I have been seeking life by reading and studying. Not that reading and studying is bad, but all of this knowledge is dead without action. Reminds me of that scripture - "Faith without works is dead."

So, first off, I am going to actually go and talk with my children about Easter. We're going to talk about the Savior and the purpose of His life and death and resurrection. Then we're going to do something about it. In order to really drive home the idea that Christ gave His life for us, I think we will each decide an act of service to do for each member of our family, and then we'll spend time today doing those acts of service - giving of ourselves to our family members.

I don't think I have ever been so excited to shut the computer down and spend time with my family! I think it is refreshing to be in "output" mode. Why learn things if you aren't going to use them, right?

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Stumbling Block of Revelation

One of the key doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that of continuing revelation. This has been a great blessing in our fast changing world and society, allowing us to receive revelation and guidance directly from our Father in Heaven, specifically concerning issues and situations we find ourselves in today.

Unfortunately, this doctrine of continuing revelation can sometimes be a stumbling block for our testimonies.

Why a stumbling block?

Let's have a little history lesson.

Prior to 1978, the priesthood was restricted to men not of African descent. I won't go into specifics, because they aren't relevant to this post - but just know it was a complicated and strange policy, and many people didn't understand it. Even today, the best explanation we have (officially) is this statement from the Church:
“The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”
 In 1978, the Church issued an official declaration, based on revelation, extending the priesthood to all worthy male members of the Church.

Recently I have been hearing members of the Church say that they hope that the Church will eventually embrace same-sex marriage because, after all, the Church was "wrong" once (referring to the priesthood ban). They seem to be viewing the 1978 revelation as a sort of apologetic "Whoops, we were wrong, we're sorry" admission.

Honestly, it's hard not to see it that way, especially given all the personal statements and opinions that were offered as explanations for the priesthood ban, most of which were abhorrent, even in the early and mid 1900s when they were originally offered.

If so many apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders could be so misguided and racist, then might not our Church leaders today be bigots and homophobs? It isn't a completely illogical leap.

Except for one small principle which might help us sort out this whole issue.

At General Conference in April 2012, Elder Christofferson taught:

…it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church.
While any number of racist sounding explanations for the priesthood ban can be readily produced by any proficient Googler, I think you would be hard pressed to find any of these comments listed in proclamation format, signed by all fifteen living apostles at the time of the statement's utterance, and good luck finding teachings by every single apostle since quoting the statements. In fact, most of the apostles either said nothing about the subject of the ban, and few quoted the misguided (in my opinion) statements of their brethren. We must always remember that prophets are still just men. Moses, arguably one of the greatest prophets, was scolded by God Himself. Even Joseph Smith had issues, admitting his youthful indiscretions and at times failing to be content with God's answers to his prayers and requests.

On the other hand, The Family: A Proclamation to the World is a document affirming the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and testifying that gender is an eternal characteristic. This document was signed by every one of the fifteen apostles of Jesus Christ living when it was written, and it has been quoted by every newly called apostle since. I think it is safe to consider the document, and its call to "responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society" as being "official [and] binding for the whole Church".

It can definitely be hard to recognize what is revelation and what isn't, what is scripture, and what are the philosophies of man. Again, we can go back to our fundamental belief in revelation - not just continuing revelation through prophets and apostles, but personal revelation. Each and every one of us is entitled to receive our own revelation - as Levar Burton says "But you don't have to take my word for it."

More reading about revelation:
Becoming a False Prophet to Ourselves

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Thoughts

This is me timidly dipping my toes back in the water of blog-world. I really should be sleeping as my little bundle of amazing babyness sleeps next to me in his bassinet.

I haven't been taking time to ponder and meditate lately. I think I am a little afraid of the spirit lately. It's almost as if I don't want to receive instruction and revelation, because I don't want to follow it. I make up all sorts of excuses. I'm too busy, I have three children who take up my time, I'm too tired, etc. But the real reason is that it is hard. Living the gospel is hard. And sometimes it can be very lonely.

I don't like being lonely.

But then, Christ was lonely. I am sure He felt alone a lot.

I am sure my loneliness doesn't even compare. But you know, if I truly believe in the atonement (and I do) then I should believe that the Savior knows my heart. He knows how lonely I feel, and because He felt it too, he will "know ... how to succor [me] according to [my] infirmities". 

This weekend is Easter weekend. The great atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection are remembered this weekend in homes and hearts around the world. I wish that I remembered those sacred events more often.

This dipping my toes feels really good.

Maybe I am back?

I am definitely back to pondering. I will do this more often. Much more often.
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