Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Scripture of the Day

Ephesians 5:5

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Music and the Spoken Word

This past Sunday found us in Salt Lake City. We wanted to find one of our church meetings to attend, and had heard that Temple Square had one, so we headed there early Sunday morning. As we were walking past the conference center, we were told that the Mormon Tabernacle choir was getting ready to broadcast their weekly, "Music and the Spoken Word". We happily went in and found a seat to enjoy the broadcast. I've heard the choir sing many times, but it was wonderful to hear them with the full orchestra in the conference center where the acoustics are amazing. I was very impressed by the organist, who I'm sure must have a history as a concert organist because he gave us a wonderful solo performance. If you are ever in Salt Lake City on Thursday night, or Sunday morning, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the free concert to hear them practice Thursday night, or broadcast Sunday morning. You can find more information about the choir by clicking this link.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Go Ye Into All The World

Recently I ran across some internet comments criticizing churches such as ours that send out missionaries. While I understand their hesitance to talk with missionaries who come to their door, I think that it would be helpful for them to understand why we proselyte.

When Jesus Christ was on the Earth, several times He commanded the apostles to go out and teach the Gospel

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" Matt. 28:19

"After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come." Luke 10:1

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. " Matt. 24:14

Some people think that our goal is to get "numbers". If we were after numbers, we would need to cave in to public opinion and ease up on the commandments and doctrine. I served as a missionary when I was single. I can tell you that the desire of my heart, and the desire of every other missionary I worked with was to help people come unto Christ. We looked at the things that we believed and wanted more than anything else to help other people come to a similar understanding. Our own testimonies that burned in our hearts led us to want to share the gospel with others. What we were taught as missionaries was that we were ambassadors for the Lord, and that we should always act consistent with that calling. If someone did not want to discuss with us, we would thank them for their time, and continue on to find someone who might be interested in hearing what we had to say. If the missionaries ever knock on your door, I invite you to listen with an open mind to what they have to say, and pray to God for guidance to know if what they teach is true.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Organized Religion

I have recently run across a group of bloggers who are all questioning the need for an organized church. I admire their desire to focus more on their personal relationship with God than on an organization. I think if I had been part of some of the experiences they have had in attending church, I would probably feel the same way. These, my spiritual brothers and sisters, strive to communicate with God in a personal way, rather than as part of a group. I understand their hesitance to join any church, and I understand their concern that sometimes in the midst of formally organized churches, God can be lost. But recently, as I have thought about this issue, and have thought about my own church membership, I have come more fully to see why the church organization is important for me. I would like to outline the blessings that come to me because of that membership.

1. Mutual Nourishment:

"And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith." Moroni 6:4
By being "fellow citizens" of the church, we enter a new sort of family unit where we all help and encourage each other. In our church we have a program of monthly visiting. Each of us has a group of other members that we visit so that we can be in a position to see needs, and to share the gospel so that we can be a strength to those people. The organization of the church allows us the foundation so that we can respond quickly in organizing when others need help. It is very common that when there is a natural disaster, our church is one of the few groups allowed to help immediately because we are already organized to respond.

2. Protection:
As I thought upon this subject today, I was also reminded of the analogy of a shepherd leading his sheep. The Savior used this symbolism much in His teaching. For any animal that is exposed to predators, there is safety in numbers. It is the lone sheep that goes off on it's own, that is in most danger from it's enemy. When the sheep are gathered together, the shepherd is more able to keep track and protect the herd from wolves. The Savior often likened Himself to a shepherd, and was called the "Good Shepherd". But we also have other "shepherds" in our lives that watch over us. In our church, one of those shepherds is our Bishop who is given responsibility over our congregation. He is not paid for his service. He serves out of love for the Savior, and for us his brothers and sisters. When one goes astray, he does what he can to bring them back in to the fold.

3. Baptism
The Savior went to John the Baptist to receive the ordinance of baptism. The word Baptism is from a Greek word meaning to dip or immerse. Baptism is symbolic of washing, and of rebirth. When we are baptized, we are washed from our sins. The Savior was without sin, but he still was baptized. "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him." John 3:13-15 Why did Jesus go to John the Baptist? John was of the tribe of Levi which held the Levitical Priesthood by birthright. John was the one who had the authority to baptize. Today there are many churches that baptize, but the question should be asked whether or not they have the authority to do so. We believe that the Priesthood was lost after the death of the original twelve apostles, and that an apostasy occurred. That Priesthood power was restored again to the Earth through Joseph Smith. Baptism is an essential ordinance wherein we covenant with God. In addition, through baptism, we become members of His church.

If you have had a bad experience with organized religion before, I invite you to come to our church. Come and see why it is different, and why I feel blessed to be a member.

Meeting Schedule

I posted about this on my regular blog, but decided I would include a modified version here.

Here is the schedule for our church meetings:

First Hour: Sacrament Meeting

During this hour, the Priesthood blesses the sacrament and administers it to the congregation. We then have speakers from the congregation give talks on gospel subjects. On the first Sunday of the month we have what is called "Testimony meeting". During the talk portion of the meeting, instead of assigned speakers, any members who desire are allowed to come to the pulpit and express their testimony about the Gospel. We also have hymns, or special musical numbers, all of which are asked to be ones that promote a reverent feeling.

Second Hour: Sunday School

This is the hour that I teach the adult Sunday school class, and the youth and children go to their own classes. Each year we focus on a different book of scripture. This year we are studying the Book of Mormon.

Third Hour: Priesthood/ Relief Society

During this hour, the men and women split up. The men attend "Priesthood meeting" where they take care of any Priesthood business, and they also are taught a lesson.

The women attend Relief Society where we also talk about any Relief Society business and are taught a lesson. The lessons for men and women are the same, and currently we are studying the lives of the Prophets. This year we are studying about the life and teachings of Joseph Smith.

Our services are a bit more relaxed than some of the more formal services of other churches. Sometimes we have crying babies, or fussy children among us, but we feel it is important that they be there too. We might seem a little bland when compared to the Charismatics, but we strive for a peaceful, reverent environment. Ultimately, our purpose in going to our Sacrament meeting is to renew our baptismal covenants by taking the Sacrament. The Sacrament is the focus of all of our meetings, but the worship is an internal process.

Once, when the disciples asked Jesus where He lived, His response was, "Come and see". For those who wonder what our worship services are like, I would respond similarly, "Come and see". You will find a link to the left for a meeetinghouse locator.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Family History

Those who are familiar with our religion already know that we put great emphasis on geneology. It was very common in times of old, in many different cultures, to memorize the family line and repeat it often. In our church we feel very strongly that we need to search out our ancestors and keep a record of them. If you are interested in getting started, the church has a website to help you. You can click here or go to
Many people who have begun doing their geneology say that they feel a strong urge to do their geneology. So don't be surprised if you get started and can't stop! :)