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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mormon Theology no. 13 - The Word of Wisdom

Those who have met Mormons know, or soon come to a knowledge, that they do not smoke, drink coffee or tea, or use harmful drugs.  The basis and history behind this will be discussed in this essay.

Speaking of the Newel K. Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio in the early days of the Church in 1833, Brigham Young recalled,

When [the brethren] assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom. … Often when the Prophet entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor [from chewing tobacco], made the Prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry. (Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Feb. 25, 1868, p. 2).

The Word of Wisdom was received on 27 February 1833.  In it the Lord states, "That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father (D&C 89:5)".  Later, it states, "And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly (D&C 89:9).  The term "hot drinks" was defined both by President Joseph Smith, and his brother Assistant President Hyrum Smith.  President Joseph Smith said, "Tea and Coffee . . . are what the Lord meant when He said 'hot drinks'" (Voice from the Mountains [Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1881], p. 12.). Assistant President Hyrum Smith said, "There are many who wonder what this can mean. . . . I say it does refer to tea and coffee" (Times and Seasons, 1 June 1842, p. 800).

The Word of Wisdom is a true principle.  I know the voice of the Lord is in it.  I have heard people say God gave no "why" in the Word of Wisdom (or other revelations).  True followers of the Savior need no "why", because just as Joseph Smith once said, when the Lord commands, do it! (History of the Church, 2:170)  This is my testimony, set in order to clarify misconceptions.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mormon Theology no. 12 - Homosexuality and the LDS Church

Sean P. Means recently wrote an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about a documentary made by an ex-now-turned-anti-Mormon about the LDS Church's stance on Proposition 8, which Proposition banned gay marriage in California in the summer of 2008.  The film maker's name is Reed Cowan.  The article states: "It may be the friendliest audience Reed Cowan will get in Utah.  Cowan received two sustained standing ovations Sunday for his documentary '8: The Mormon Proposition,' which harshly criticizes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its campaigning for California's ban on same-sex marriage."

Notwithstanding the fact that same sex marriage is condemned by the LDS Church, it is nevertheless also condemned by God and by both ancient and modern prophets.  We will discuss the LDS Church's stance on this issue, and persuade those erring in doctrine as well as in practice to come to repentance and back into the Sheepfold.

When Elohim created the earth, He said to Jehovah His Son, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:18).  The Holy Bible continues, "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man" (Gen. 2:21-22).  Here we see that God gave to the first man a woman, showing that the union of man and woman (whether physical, spiritual, or emotional) is ordained of Him, and no other type of union.

To illustrate this face further, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone from Heaven on account of their sexual deviance, including, but not limited to, homosexual activity, which is seen when the men of the city said to Lot concerning the Angels, "bring them out unto us, that we may know them" (Gen 19:5).  The Biblical term "know" speaks of sexual relations, such as when the Holy Bible states that Adam knew Eve and she had a son from that union.

Homosexual activity was also condemned with the death penalty by ancient Israel: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Lev. 18:22), and also Lev. 20:13, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Well did Paul the Apostle say that the Roman "women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet" (Romans 1:27).  His fellow brother in the Quorum of the Twelve, namely Jude, says, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 1:7).

We have seen herein, insofar as we have traveled this road of scripture, that the Bible clearly condemns acts of homosexuality.  Likewise also does the Book of Mormon, with clearer words.  Hear the words of the Lord through our beloved Brother Jacob: "Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts" (Jacob 2:27-28).

The Doctrine Set Forth
Notwithstanding the fact that the LDS Church is hounded by accusations of hating gays, the word of the Lord through Joseph Smith the Prophet has this to say on all matters regarding sin: "Thou shalt live together in love" (D&C 42:45).  Also the Lord in the Book of Mormon says, "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away" (3 Nephi 11:29-30).  Our beloved Brother Paul admonishes us, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal. 6:1).  Homosexual activity of any kind whatsoever is wrong and against the commandments of God.  In a letter dated 14 November 1991, the First Presidency said, "There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior.  However, such thoughts and feelings, regardless of their causes, can and should be overcome and sinful behavior should be eliminated" ("Office of the First Presidency, letter to all members of the Church", Eternal Marriage Student Manual).  However, the Lord also does not condone gay-bashing.  The people of the Church are to love all people and to persuade them to come unto Christ and resist sin, no matter what it is.

Hope in the Hope of Israel
Notwithstanding the hardness of the doctrine, there is hope, coupled with knowledge revealed to a living Prophet and Apostles.  Like Nephi of old, the LDS Church knows that "[God] loveth His children; nevertheless, [we] do not know the meaning of all things" (1 Nephi 11:17).  However, Elder Lance B. Wickman of the Seventy has taught that "same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life.  It is a circumstance that for whatever reason or reasons seems to apply right now in mortality, in this nano-second of our eternal existence" ("Same-Gender Attraction",2006, Interview between LDS Public Affairs, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Lance B. Wickman of the First Quorum of the Seventy).  I boldly bear witness to this truth.  The temptation to be attracted to the same gender will go away in the next life.  We just need to keep the commandments.  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful.  By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it" (History of the Church, 5:361–62).

I know this is true.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.