Tuesday, October 22, 2013

LDS Church Little Inconsistencies and Repetitions

I've been contemplating a lot about church history lately, being prompted by people on all sides to look more in depth at my own personal beliefs.  My friend did our Sunday School lesson this week and began with this quote:

"The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today's instructions from God to us today. God's revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering which you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord's mouthpiece." Ezra Taft Bensen

It struck me quickly and close to home because a lot of the arguments it seems people have come from getting caught up in the little inconsistencies presented throughout the history of the church.  Because God is unchangeable, people think this should not be happening in his one true church.

However, the church is being run by imperfect people on this earth.  Mistakes are made.  Even by apostles and prophets.  They are good men, but they are still men, and imperfect.  They act as God's mouthpiece and lead the church to the best of their abilities.  But as Elder Holland recently said

"Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.10 Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving."

 Recently, I began reading a manual I've had since college institute classes on eternal marriage.  I was reading in the preface and didn't expect to be taught about this subject by a manual on marriage, but here's the quote that pertains to the subject:

"One of the keys to recognizing council to warn us from sin and sorrow is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in these general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third...The Apostle Paul wrote that 'in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established' 2 Cor. 13:1. One of the ways we know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of the prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time." Eternal Marriage Student Manual, preface, viii

I couldn't count how many times I've heard complaints about hearing the same old thing over and over at church, and this includes myself.  Some people may feel their eyes glaze as they think, "Well, I've heard this before.  I already know what this guy is talking about."  But according to this, repetition should get our attention even more and fill us with more urgency about whatever the subject is being repeated.  Especially if it's coming from a general authority during conference weekend again.

Anyone else notice a repetition in this past conference?  I'm sure there were many more, but the one that stuck out most to me was a quote I'd heard before many times and it first (as far as I can see) appeared in this talk in 2000 entitled The Joy of Womanhood, and then again quoted in this past 2013 conference talk entitled The Moral Force of Women:

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

I think this is becoming more and more needed in our world, as social culture moves more and more into this worldly definition of a woman.   The world tells us to be tough, coarse, rude, famous, greedy, vain, and popular.  I see it more and more, and it often makes women in Hollywood do desperate things to gain that image.  But this image in no way give happiness to that woman seeking it.  A happy woman seeks to be tender, kind, refined, faithful, good, virtuous, and pure.  This is the way to true happiness.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Does Baptism Mean?

Last Saturday, the General Relief Society Conference was held and I felt I learned a lot about how to better teach my kids about baptismal covenants and what they mean, as well as how to remember my own promises and keep them.  Service is such a big part of that covenant and I never realized that's what it's about.  I always just thought of it as remember Christ and trying to be like him...but in what better way are we trying to be like him then when we serve others?  This is what the baptismal covenant is all about!  Service.  Love.

Being baptized means I'm promising to love and serve others.

It is so simple, and yet being explained this way completely transforms the way I feel about my membership in the church.  I know following the Savior is all about love.  Baptism is about being a member of the church and having my records there.  But combining them?  Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints means I am supposed to love and serve others as Christ did and does.

It's a beautiful way to live.

On Sunday in Relief Society, the lesson was on service and sacrifice too, and I was struck by the word SECRET.  Keeping service a secret isn't a new idea, but somehow I understood this differently then before.

Now, let me just make things clear, I am horrible at keeping my own secrets!  Someone else has a secret?  I keep it to myself.  But my own secrets I'd blab to everyone and their neighbors.  I think it's some completely pathetically sad attempt I make to have friends or get close to other people, but it only succeeds in making me look like a desperate crazy person I think.  But it's SO hard for me to stop telling the world about my darkest secrets.  It's tragic.

But, keeping service a secret is a precious thing, I've realized.  Not only does it save your ego from getting bloated with the big announcement of "Look what I just did for you!" but it also erases selfishness in many other forms.

For about a week, I made a silent resolution to myself to serve my husband by doing EVERYTHING he wanted all week long.  (I had to limit it to a week so it seemed doable.)  I did it, and it felt so good!  I felt more affection and love for him as I silently served him just because I loved him and made little sacrifices for him.  It was HARD to keep it to myself!  It was sort of an inside joke with myself at one point as he asked me what I wanted to do and I said, "Whatever you want, really." and snickered to myself, trying not to tell him.  I got SO close to spilling my beans at that point but I didn't.

Then on Saturday I told him.  Biggest mistake EVER because immediately things changed!  Now, instead of this wonderful loving feeling I had from serving him, I would get resentful the moment he asked me to do anything because I would think, "You know I'm only doing this because I am putting you first right now, so why are you making me do it?"  It became selfish to the point of stubbornness and nothing was enjoyable anymore.  SAD!

So keeping service a secret is a good idea.  I really DO need to put my spouse first more often.  I really DO need to be more respectful toward him and be kind with my words and clean the house with my family in mind because when I do these things, I am serving my family.  Yes, it's quietly, and yes they may not even notice.  But that's better then announcing it to the world and expecting things back that won't come.  It feels so much better to just love other people.

And that's keeping my baptismal covenants.  That is trying to be like Jesus.