The Baptism of Fire


The following is my current understanding of the baptism of fire.

One baptism in three parts

The gospel of Jesus Christ has one, tripartite baptism consisting of the baptism of water, the baptism of fire and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The purpose of baptism is to witness that there exists a covenant between God and the man being baptized. Unless all three witnesses have occurred, the covenant between him and God is not binding.

The doctrine of re-baptism applies equally to all three

Anyone who enters into an agreement with another is free to witness or affirm the fact of the agreement by attestation for as many times as desired. There is no law of man or God against this. In fact, under the law of God, we are to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” that we may be in, even until death. So, the principle of witnessing and re-witnessing is a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The manner in which man witnesses of his covenant to serve God is through water baptism. This means that in order to re-witness his covenant, he must be re-baptized. Therefore, he may receive the baptism of water whenever and as many times as he desires and must, per his covenant, be ever ready to be re-baptized at all times and in all places, to re-attest of the validity of his covenant. This is the doctrine or principle of re-baptism and it applies equally to both water, fire and Holy Ghost baptisms.

Order: fire and Spirit, then water, then fire and Spirit, etc.

Re-baptism being a principle of the gospel, the order in which these baptisms are received is not all that important. The only necessary thing is that each one is received, for these are really three parts of one baptism. Nevertheless, the scriptural, ideal order is first the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 20: 37), followed by the baptism of water, followed by another baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and thereafter, any part may be repeated multiple times throughout one’s life.

Another thing that the gospel states is that after a baptism of water, the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost is supposed to follow on its heels, either right after coming out of the water, or right after confirmation by the laying on of hands.

To demonstrate these principles, Joseph Smith received a baptism of fire during the First Vision, then a baptism of fire during each of Moroni’s visits and during the visit of John the Baptist, then a water baptism by the hand of Oliver Cowdery, followed by a baptism of the Holy Ghost after he came out of the water. Later he received other baptisms of fire with the visits of Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, etc. He also received another water baptism after the church was legally organized, etc.

Simultaneity

A baptism of fire is always accompanied with a baptism of the Holy Ghost, but a person may be baptized with the Holy Ghost without an accompanying baptism of fire. This is why the baptism of fire is always called the baptism (singular) of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and not the baptisms (plural) of fire and of the Holy Ghost. These two parts of the tripartite baptism occur simultaneously as a single baptismal event whenever there is a baptism of fire.

Jesus alone performs the baptism of fire

Unlike the baptism of water, which can be performed by the hand of a mortal man under priesthood power and authority, the baptism of fire is reserved for Deity alone to accomplish and is based upon the state of a man’s heart and his faith in Him. (See 3 Ne. 12: 1-2; 3 Ne. 9: 20; Matt. 3: 11; Luke 3: 16; JST Mark 1: 6; JST John 1: 28.)

Confirmation is not the baptism of fire

The scriptures say that elders are “to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying of of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.” This is the ordinance of confirmation. Laying hands on someone’s head for the baptism of fire does not baptize anyone with fire. Only the Lord can do that.

When the scriptures say that this ordinance is “for” the baptism of fire, it is using that word “for” to mean “indicating the end with reference to which anything is, acts, serves or is done.” Specifically, the word “for” in that sentence means “as a preparation for” or “with the object of.” So, elders lay hands as a preparation for the baptism of fire, or they lay hands with the object of the baptism of fire.

The ordinance of confirmation, then, is a preparatory ordinance, which precedes an actual baptism of fire. This ordinance is called confirmation because it is intended to confirm the believers’ faith, both that of the one being confirmed and that of those doing the confirming. This is because true priesthood is “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven,” so when true priesthood is exercised as an ordinance of the gospel, there will be a corresponding manifestation of heavenly power. So, after the ordinance of confirmation, there is supposed to be a baptism of fire that occurs, showing that the covenant of the newly baptized person is accepted of God, as well as the priesthood of the one who is doing the confirming.

Binding and accepted covenants

The baptism of fire serves to witness to the new member, to the priesthood holder(s) confirming, and to the church that is present, that the covenant that the man has entered into with his God, witnessed by his water baptism, is accepted by God and is now in force. In other words, that it is binding, both upon the man and his God.

To put another way, water baptism is man’s way of witnessing to God that he has entered into a covenant to serve Him, whereas fire baptism is God’s way of witnessing to man that He has accepted that covenantal relationship.

(Jesus said, “Whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record (witness) of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” See 3 Ne. 11: 35.)

Plasma is the medium

To serve as a witness to all these people, the baptism of fire must be a visual sign. The medium used is not the fire of a gas stove or match, but discharging plasma in appearance as fire. Depending upon where one is located in relation to the plasma display, it may look like the flame of fire, like a palpable or living light, like lightning, or just as immense glory or brightness.

Specifically, the baptism of fire consists of twin plasma filaments, rapidly rotating around a central axis, creating a plasma tube or sheath, or plasma column, in other words, a cylindrical shape around the person being baptized. When viewed from the outside, it appears to be “a pillar of fire.” When viewed from within the tube, the fire aspects may or may not be discerned, but its bright light or glory is apparent. Thus we have the various accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, which was a baptism of fire, using the words “fire,” “flame,” “light,” “brightness” and “glory” to describe the discharging plasma he was witnessing.

Sometimes the twin filaments themselves can be discerned, and so we get a description of “cloven tongues of fire,” meaning twin tongues (or filaments) of plasma flame. Other descriptions are of fire “encircling” the persons being baptized, showing that the filaments rotate around the person.

All of these scriptural accounts are describing the same plasma manifestation observed from different spatial perspectives, and so accounts vary. But even with everything before a person, sometimes details can still be missed, as in 1 Ne. 15: 27.

Other aspects

Fire baptism is by complete, or cellular, immersion. Plasma both surrounds and enters the man, so that he becomes “filled with fire.” The fire can be seen and felt. To the one immersed in it, it initially feels like he is burning to death, in an incomprehensibly complete and rapid manner, as every part of the body seems to have caught on fire. Great fear instantly comes upon the man as he fully believes he is about to die. But in the next instant his mind realizes that death has not occurred, that there is no pain and that there is no apparent cellular damage or harm. The fear leaves just as suddenly as it comes, only to be replaced with a feeling of awe and gratitude as the mind realizes that this same destroying fire, which should have instantly atomized the body, is somehow keeping the body protected from its own destructive power.

The divine plasma has the effect of cleansing the heart of man, purifying it of all dross (sinful desires), so that he no longer desires to sin, but instead abhors it. In this swept clean condition, the Holy Ghost then unexpectedly and suddenly enters the man and causes the individual bits of his soul to shout for joy, because of the presence of Deity.

Fire baptism allows other heavenly manifestations to occur

The baptism of fire purifies a person’s heart and Jesus said that all the pure in heart shall see God. So, whenever a person receives a baptism of fire, chances are real good that they will also see either an angel, vision or God Himself. At the very least some revelation or prophecy will occur along with the baptism of fire, or some other manifestation of one of the gifts of the Spirit.

Fire remits sin

Whenever a person receives a baptism of fire, his sins are automatically remitted. In other words, he becomes justified, or guiltless, before the Lord. Nephi said, “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”

Fire brings forth a new tongue

Nephi also said that when a man receives the baptism of fire he then can speak with a new tongue, even the tongue of angels, and that “angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.”

There are only two, definitive, scriptural examples

There are plenty of scriptural verses that mention the doctrine of baptism of fire, but there are only two accounts in our current standard works in which it is definitively stated that actual baptisms of fire occurred. Of those two accounts, only one applies to us in the latter days. They are:

Adam’s baptism of fire
After Adam was baptized by the Spirit of the Lord, as recorded in Moses 6: 64-68, he heard a voice saying, “Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost.” Nevertheless, there is no mention of any manifestation of fire in the account. Although quite interesting, this experience was, apparently, Adam specific and is not the template for the baptism of fire among the modern masses.

The Lamanites’ baptism of fire
When the Nephite missionaries Nephi and Lehi preached among the Lamanites and were imprisoned, about 300 souls received a baptism of fire, as recorded in Hel. 5: 20-49. This is the scriptural template of a baptism of fire for all mankind. We know this because the voice of Jesus Christ said so:

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (3 Ne. 9: 20)

So, the Lord categorically states in the above scripture that the experience of the 300 souls was a baptism of fire. Additionally, He states that all baptisms of fire that He performs will be “even as the Lamanites… were baptized with fire.” The Lamanites’ baptism of fire, then, is the standard, the rule, and NOT the exception. It is the event that the Lord points to for us to determine whether a baptism of fire has occurred.

(The word “even” in the phrase “even as the Lamanites” means “in or to such (indicated) degree or kind.”)

What the baptism of fire consists of

Based upon the Lamanites’ experience, there are six characteristics of any baptism of fire. They are:

1. Fire encircling an individual, forming a cylindrical shape, such as a column or “pillar of fire” or plasma tube. This would be twin Birkeland currents (plasma cables or filaments) rotating rapidly around a central axis, in appearance like a fire tornado. This is the visual sign to all those witnessing the baptism.

2. The presence and ministration of angels.

3. Justification, meaning a remission of sins.

4. Purification, by fire entering the heart.

5. Sanctification, by becoming filled with (baptized in) the Holy Ghost.

6. Speaking with a new tongue (the tongue of angels, meaning speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost.)

Two more scriptural examples

Using the six characteristics above, we find two more scriptural examples of baptisms of fire which exactly match that of the Lamanites, although the text does not specifically say that they were fire baptisms. They are:

The Nephite little children’s baptism of fire
Jesus baptized little children with fire, as recorded in 3 Ne. 17: 21-25 and as witnessed by 2500 people. These children were encircled by fire, had angels minister to them and spoke in new tongues (see 3 Ne. 26: 14, 16.) Also, we know that they were justified, purified and sanctified, for they were little children and all little children are alive in Christ.

The 12 disciples’ baptism of fire
The fire baptism of these men is recorded in 3 Ne. 19: 11-15. They were encircled about by fire, filled with fire, had angels minister to them and prayed by the power of the Holy Ghost. From the text it is clear that they were justified, purified and sanctified.

Other intimated baptisms of fire

Joseph Smith’s baptisms of fire
As mentioned above, each of Joseph’s angelic ministrations was attended by a baptism of fire (plasma), including the First Vision.

For example, one First Vision account says, “A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with un-speakable joy. A personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed…I saw many angels in this vision.”

Another First Vision account says, “while in [the] attitude of calling upon the Lord [in the 16th* year of my age] a pillar of {fire} lightabove the brightness of the Sun at noon day come down fromabove and rested upon me and I was filld with the Spirit of God”. In this account Joseph couldn’t decide whether what he saw was fire or light. He finally decided on light and crossed out fire. The reason for his confusion was that he was witnessing discharging plasma.

I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the plasma nature of the angel Moroni’s visit (see The plasma aspects of the First Vision and Moroni’s visit) was typical of all angelic ministrations to Joseph, and thus all such events in his life were likely baptisms of fire.

Moses’ vision of God
In Moses chapter 1 it says that “the glory of God was upon Moses.” That sounds to me like a plasma event and that he received a baptism of fire.

Lehi’s pillar of fire
1 Ne. 1: 6 mentions Lehi seeing a pillar of fire. It is obviously a super-duper abridgment of all that occurred, but it sounds like a baptism of fire.

Nephi’s visit from the Lord
Nephi mentions in 1 Ne. 2: 16 that he was visited by the Lord. He doesn’t elaborate but my guess is that this was Nephi’s first baptism of fire. Jesus states in 3 Ne. 11: 35 that when the Father visits people, He visits them with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

Cloven tongues on day of Pentecost
As recorded in Acts chapter 2, there appeared “cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” They were filled with the Spirit, spoke other tongues and spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost. It’s not an exact match of the Lamanite experience (angels are missing), but pretty darn close.

Gentile cloven tongues
In Acts 11: 15 we read Peter’s words about how the Gentiles also received the Holy Ghost. He said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” That, to me, seems to be saying that the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles in the same way that the Holy Ghost fell on the Jews, namely, with accompanying manifestation of cloven tongues like as of fire. This could explain the astonishment of the Jews who witnessed the manifestation of tongues among the Gentiles. (See Acts 10: 44-47.)

Downgrading the baptism of fire

Now, when you compare the scriptural accounts of the baptism of fire to our modern, LDS definitions, it becomes obvious that we have downgraded the sudden, rapid changes effectuated by the marvelous, visual, power displays of the real deal to something gradual, drawn out, imperceptible and nondescript. For example:

While one definition of this expression (the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost) refers to a cleansing by the Holy Spirit as if by fire, still the scriptures and the writings of the prophets indicate there is something more.

The new convert who has accepted the gift of the Holy Ghost with the right spirit will experience not only a cleansing but a feeling that will give him a new heart and make of him a new person. Sometimes this is immediate, and sometimes it happens over a period of time.

The scriptures, and even our church history, record miraculous instances when visible flames encircled the humble followers of Christ—literal manifestations of fire and the Holy Ghost—but more often this fire works quietly and unseen in the hearts of those who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The witness, the change, the cleansing that comes gradually is no less powerful to the person with the right heart, and he or she is impelled to action whether the experience was a sudden, miraculous manifestation or the quiet workings of the Spirit.

(Fire and the Holy Ghost, Loren C. Dunn, Ensign, June 1995)

We have taken away the majesty of the Father’s witness and replaced it with something that goes entirely against nature. Nature is cyclic, cycling between periods of rest and periods of activity. All things work on this principle, including spiritual things. Baptism (all three parts) are designed to be moments of spiritual intensity. You cannot perform a baptism of water over a period of time, or gradually, quietly and unseen. No, you are outside of the water (which can be visually discerned), then you are immersed, and then you come out of the water. There is nothing gradual about it. A single water baptism cannot be performed over days and years. In like manner, the baptism of fire is a punctuated, spiritually intense event.

No one’s spirituality is designed to grow gradually. Gradual spiritual growth is the same as no spiritual growth. There is no such animal as gradual spiritual growth. You either have intense spiritual experiences from time to time or you are spiritually dying. This is why we are commanded to come together often, to intensify the Spirit so as to be capable of growing spiritually.

Joseph Smith’s life was meant to be an example to us. He had multiple, very intense spiritual experiences. It began with a baptism of fire, it continued with more baptisms of fire and it ended in a volley of gun fire. John Taylor said that Joseph lived for glory, died for glory and glory is his eternal reward. Glory = plasma = the baptism of fire. Joseph did, indeed, live for those fire baptism experiences. He had a lot of them, he saw a lot of angels and who knows how many visions, and he wanted to have more of the same. And he tried ceaselessly to get the saints to experience what he was experiencing. So did Moses and all true prophets.

You are either immersed in plasma or you are not. You are either in an intensity phase or in a rest phase of the cycle. There is no such thing as non-cyclic gradualness. If you think you are growing spiritually for the past ten years without any intense spiritual experiences, you are kidding yourself. It means that you have been in a spiritual rest phase of the cycle during this time. No one can remain at spiritual rest for any extended period of time before spirituality begins to decay. It is an impossibility. So, the LDS concept of a gradual, life-long, imperceptible baptism of fire is patently false and leads to spiritual death.

Everyone will receive a baptism of fire

It is not a question of if, but when and how. If a man humbles himself before the Lord and enters into a covenant to serve Him, he’ll receive a baptism of fire in this life, one that will purify and justify him. But there are other baptisms of fire that can be received. For example, one is the baptism of fire that the earth and all those that do wickedly upon her will receive at the Second Coming. Another is the baptism of fire that occurs when the sons of perdition are immersed in the lake of fire and brimstone. One way or another, we are all eventually going to have to go through some type of baptismal fire.

And they knew it not

In closing, let me address one other thing. Jesus said that the Lamanites “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” Some have taken that to mean that the Lamanites experienced a change upon their hearts which they did not perceive, because it happened gradually, over time. In other words, that the Lord meant that there was no great manifestation during the Lamanites’ fire and Holy Ghost baptism. And also that the Lord was not referring to the 300 Lamanites who were in prison with Nephi and Lehi, but was referring instead to other Lamanite converts.

This is an incorrect interpretation.

The real meaning of the Lord’s words is that the Lamanites (the 300 souls in that prison) had a magnificent, visual baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, but did not know what it was. That is all that the Lord meant by what He said.

Any time someone experiences a baptism of fire without first being taught about it, they go through the experience without knowing what it is. Joseph’s First Vision fire baptism was performed on him while he was still a boy totally ignorant of such a thing as a baptism of fire. In my own life, I remember that the first time that I had a baptism of fire (prior to my water baptism) I was blown away and didn’t know what it was. The missionaries that had taught me the gospel had not explained this doctrine, so it came as a complete surprise to me and it was only years later, as I studied and learned more of the gospel on my own, that I was able to determine what the hell it was. Prior to that time, it was always an anomaly to me and when talking to others about the various spiritual experiences I had had over the years, I would always set it apart by saying something like, “The second time the Holy Ghost manifested itself to me was quite different than the other times. It was, well, a really big manifestation with a lot of power and I thought I was going to die, or I did die and came back to life. I’m not really sure what happened. All I know is I was consumed in fire but somehow survived unharmed.” Such were my ignorant descriptions. But of course it was a different manifestation than the others. It was a baptism of fire, for crying out loud! But I knew it not.

And in the same manner, neither did the Lamanites.

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Punishment


The goal of punishment is to inflict something unpleasant on a person – whether physical [e.g., corporal striking, physical confinement, monetary penalties] or emotional [e.g., shaming, time-outs, or making a public example] – for the purpose of discouraging the repeat of a certain behavior.

As with all things satanic, the focus is on the external – i.e., how to control behavior – rather than on the internal – i.e., how to affect the right-brain-heart.  Heart-level change does not result from punishment.  Worthiness will not result from the struggle to conform one’s behavior to this or that standard.

Any church that bases itself on the works of men will place its focus on the outside being “good” – assuming that a “good” inside will, of necessity, follow.  However, God says that it is our hearts that matter most, and it is often the sins that we can’t see that are the most dangerous.

The external metrics of “worthiness” are never an issue with the Lord for there is no one worthy.  It is those with hard-hearts who are obsessed with worthiness.  You can do all the church service and works of man until you have wasted your strength and you will still be unworthy to receive anything from God – an unprofitable servant.  Nothing in the gospel is based upon our merits.  We are to rely solely on the merits of Christ.  He is the only worthy one among us.

Further, it is only by entering into a covenant relationship with Him that the nature [or heart] of a person can be sanctified.  It will not come after a life-long process of struggling to sanctify our behavior.

Punishment belongs to God:

The word of God, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword – is the only thing that may execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people.  Truly we say that to the Lord alone belongeth judgment:  “For it is mine and I will repay.”

The inflicting of punishment is reserved by God the Father.  The only punishment which can be justly inflicted is the removal of a soul to hell [rather hell on this earth for a time or to outer darkness for eternity].  This punishment belongs to the Father alone because it is based on the hardness/softness of the right-brain-heart, which no man can ascertain.

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. [1 Samuel 16:7]

Humans are not to judge:

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: [Luke 6:37]

This is the principle on which the atonement of Jesus Christ forgives sin.  Sin is not forgiven and punishment withheld because God effectively beat it out of Jesus.  Justice is not satisfied by the punishment of an innocent.

[The Compassionate Empathy Model of the Atonement and How the atonement of Jesus Christ solves the “victim” problem]

The gospel teaches us that Christ can satisfy the demands of justice on the behalf of those who repent and believe in Him.  In other words, Jesus satisfies those seeking justice [judging/condemning] thereby putting an end to their demands.  He can remove all accusers as demonstrated in John 8: 10-11.

The visual imagery of Jesus being:

filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; [Mosiah 15:9]

is that for a person to obtain or “get to” justice — they would first have to go through Jesus.  And He is there to present His atonement as evidence in your behalf so that justice will pause from making its demands long enough for Christ to make his own demands of mercy.

Where there is no condemnation [meaning we do not accuse or judge], there can be no punishment:

where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; [2 Nephi 9:25]

Thus, saints who have been commanded not to judge, accuse, or condemn are thereby prohibited from punishing other people.

Further, even assuming that a temporal punishment [rather inflicted by circumstance or by the State] is just and comes from God, gives a person,

a great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. [Mosiah 4:17-18]

Problems with human punishment, in general:

When humans inflict punishment on others, it encourages them to hide their feelings rather than express them honestly and truthfully.  This can begin in childhood and can have a myriad of negative consequences well into adulthood — negatively affecting a person’s relationship with spouses, children, and friends.

When parents punish, children are not taught appropriate ways to deal with anger, instead they learn that expressions of anger will result in a spanking or time-out.  They are taught that crying will result in being given “something to cry about”.  They are taught that happy is the only acceptable emotion.

Punishment increases deceitful behavior in children.  Afraid to own up to mistakes — children learn to become secretive, lie, and hide their errors.   In addition, no motive to obey [other than by threat of punishment] has been generated — when the threat of punishment is removed, true desires and character will be manifest.

In criminal punishment, offenders are judged as the ultimate source of their socially deviant behavior — and then they are deemed deserving of punishment on the grounds that they could have overcome their environmental and biological circumstances, but simply chose not to do so.  Thus, incarcerations and executions are valued over rehabilitation, retribution to victims, and deterrence.

Those in favor of punishment [rather a parent-to-child or the State-to-criminal] will refer especially to the “rod” verses in the Old Testament:

He that spareth his rod hateth his son [Proverbs 13:24]

As though this evidences that physical punishment is mandated by scripture, if not at least permitted.

Many may even feel that a child’s salvation depends on a parent punishing them. Punishment is considered the method of paying for their sin and removing their guilt.

However, the message of the gospel is that all sins, including those of children, have already been suffered for by Christ.  If the message that Christ has taken the burden of sin for us all [especially little children] tells us anything at all, it tells us that as saints — we are:

to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; [Isaiah 61:1-2]

Spanking, in particular:

Spanking is a bit of a controversial topic among parents.  Like the decision to homeschool, I have found that most will retort with:  “Well, I was spanked and I turned out fine.”  Not only does that assume that a person is capable of diagnosing their self as “fine” — but it ignores the very real fact many people who were spanked did not turn out “fine”.  Many of them are still, as adults, dealing with the results of their well-intentioned parents’ choice to punish.  Being “fine” in spite of something is not evidence that the thing is proper or necessary.

Further, the practice of spanking on the buttocks comes from the Victorian era — not from biblical times as is often assumed.  Spanking began under domestic discipline [a husband spanking his wife for not properly obeying him] and the history of the practice is sexual — both of which were enough reason for my family to refrain from spanking our children.

Besides, the physical punishment today rarely looks like the literal interpretation of the “rod” verses in the Old Testament.  The rod or shebet [which Proverbs tells us we are not to spare] was an implement that could kill a grown adult when being used to punish.  To be biblically-spanking [using the “rod” according to the original meaning] I would have to strike my children on the back with a shepherd’s staff large enough that I could conceivably kill them with it.

However, there is also another way to read the shebet that we are not to withhold.  As the staff of a shepherd, it would be used to guide [rather than strike].  As the scepter of a king, it would be

an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

As a measuring rod, it would be the standard works [or the word of God] by which all human behavior ought to be governed by.

Further, the Lord — in addition to proclaiming liberty to captives and opening prisons to those bound:

hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, [Isaiah 9:4]

Moved with compassion:

Because human punishment only teaches a person to obey — rather than why to obey or how to think for themselves — people have become more vulnerable to peer-pressure.  Already geared to be a people-pleaser, a child who is raised through fear of punishments will not have developed the necessary skills to be self-governing and say “no” — and will likely act out of fear of the negative consequences the group can inflict, as they learned in the home.

The punishments that humans inflict will not save a child, nor will it save a criminal.  That work is only wrought by Jesus Christ.  You cannot beat a person into salvation.  A child is not saved by a parent [nor a criminal by the State] who punishes him/her in order to “atone for his sin” or that he may learn how to “be good”.

No one is even saved by “being good” anyway.  A person is saved through a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ — nothing more, nothing less.

Instead of helping people, punishment presents a distorted view of God.  God raises His children with compassion and mercy, not with punishment.  We cannot constantly beg at His throne for mercy and patience — while accusing and condemning our fellow-humans here on earth.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying:  “Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.”  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying:  “Pay me that thou owest.”

And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.”  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.  Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?”  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

By this you may know my disciples:

The unsanctified believer in Christ will always focus on verses intended for others.  In this case, many may refer to Ephesians 6:1

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

and yet ignore the following verse directed towards the parents:

ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

It is not the place of a steward to make the concerns of their stewardship obey them [rather we are talking about husband-wife, parent-child, or State-citizen].  Rather, it is only the steward’s duty to govern:

by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile — Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

One is only brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” by discipline [meaning the way of disciple-making] — not punishment.

The root of our word for both disciple [and therefore “discipline”] is that of a student or follower.  It is a relational word — just as the Savior spent His time with His disciples, teaching them by word and by deeds.  Discipleship is what we do with others when we

sittest in [our] house, and when [we] walkest by the way, and when [we] liest down, and when [we] risest up. [Deuteronomy 6:7]

with them.

Discipleship is how humans learn by sight.  In our pre-mortal life, we walked by sight — meaning we were discipled.  As we saw, so we did — imitating the beings around us, learning by copying what we saw them do.

Upon entering mortality as children, we bring this capacity to imitate others with us.  We imitate or emulate our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends and associates, the celebrities of the day, etc.  Eventually we assimilate into whatever society we are born into.

Disciplining [in the sense of how to make a disciple] comes as a steward acts as the servant that he or she is.  A servant is one who goes “through the dust” with another.  Only example and repetition will effectively:

Train up a child in the way he should go [Proverbs 22:6]

Using punishment does not discipline [or teach] a person.  When we punish, we act as if human society has no other means of bringing weaker members up to a standard of conduct — except for waiting until a person does something non-sanctioned, and then punishing them [legally or morally] for it.

The family has complete jurisdiction over a person during the entire childhood period.  The whole period up to maturity can be used to it teach a person to be capable of rational conduct in life.

Parents who disciple in the home will teach their children diligently and freely to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands – before the age of eight.  Then shall their children be baptized for the remission of sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.  They will also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.  They will teach their children to read and write, having a language which is pure and undefiled.  They will engage in continual tribal rituals to strengthen the common morphic field that exists among disciples of Jesus Christ.

If you love God sincerely, then you will naturally gravitate to becoming as He is and gathering with others who do too.  You cannot not, by adhering outwardly according to a law or standard, come to love God.  Thinking that our behavior can affect our standing with God is what leads people to falsely conclude that we should punish — because “it’s worth it”.

When we pass from mortal life and realize that all the laws and traditions of human convention no longer exist — then the true nature [state of the right-brain-heart] will manifest and those who have not learned to be as God [even though they still managed obedience] will find themselves removed from God because of their new-found freedom.

Our Father’s kingdom is tribal anarchy because it is for people who already know how to be.  He wants to know what people want to be — not what they can be punished into acting like.

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The doctrine of destruction


Question: when does destruction come from the Lord?

Answer: only when a people has rejected every word of God.

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it. (1 Nephi 17: 35)

Why the Lamanites were never destroyed

The Lamanites, despite their many years of wickedness, never rejected every word of God. There was always some commandment that they obeyed and it was for this reason, and this reason alone, that they were continually spared, although they were cursed for their disobedience to the commandments of God. Said Jacob:

Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.

Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator? (Jacob 3: 5-7)

Even at the end of the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations, when both had turned from their righteousness and rejected the gospel, the Lamanites were not ripe to destruction, like the Nephites, because they still obeyed something that had been given to them by the Lord.

Lehi prophesied to the sons and daughters of Laman and Lemuel the following:

But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.

Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.

Wherefore, because of my blessing the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, he will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever.

And it came to pass that after my father had made an end of speaking to the sons and daughters of Laman, he caused the sons and daughters of Lemuel to be brought before him.

And he spake unto them, saying: Behold, my sons and my daughters, who are the sons and the daughters of my second son; behold I leave unto you the same blessing which I left unto the sons and daughters of Laman; wherefore, thou shalt not utterly be destroyed; but in the end thy seed shall be blessed. (2 Nephi 4: 5-9)

Once the Lamanites were all converted to the Lord, they never fully departed from it. There was always some part of it they kept. As a result, we have the descendents of the Lamanites with us to this very day.

Why the Nephites were destroyed

Whenever the Nephites rejected the word of God, they tended to reject the whole of it. At the end of their civilization, they had broken every commandment except one. The first three chapters of the book of Mormon explain that the Nephites were an exceedingly wicked and damned people, full of abominations, yet the Lord still preserved them. It was only when they broke the last remaining commandment of God, namely, to not invade the Lamanites, that the Lord allowed the Lamanites to wipe them off the face of the land.

When the Gentiles will be destroyed

But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come. (D&C 84: 41)

The Nephites and the abridged history we have been given of them were to serve as a lesson to both the Lamanites and the Gentiles of the latter-day. The Lamanites, of course, would remain cursed right up to the moment they received the gospel from the Gentiles and then they would blossom as the rose and never turn from it. But the Gentiles would receive the gospel and, like the Nephites, eventually turn altogether from it. This is why is it prophesied that the Gentiles will be destroyed at some future day.

And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them,

Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them? Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me. I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken. And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.) Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof. (JST Matt. 21: 50-56)

The apostate Mormon Gentile church and the doctrine of destruction

There are many among us today who recognize that many things are not right in the Mormon church. There are some that believe that the church went into apostasy during the times of Joseph Smith, for failing to build the Nauvoo temple in the appointed time. Others believe it became apostate after Joseph’s death. Others, after plural marriage was phased out. Others, during the administration of this or that church president. Still others, when the blacks were given access to the priesthood. And even fairly recently, others see the temple changes of 1990 to be an indication of the apostate nature of the church.

Because of these many perceived apostasies, there are those among us who are patiently waiting for the Lord to clean out His house and for destruction to come upon the latter-day saints. Some have left the church already, thinking its doom is near and all is lost.

Like the ancient Nephites and Lamanites, the Mormon Gentile church has been in a state of apostasy pretty much since its inception. Nevertheless, just as the Lord preserved the Nephites and Lamanites until they had rejected every one of His words, so the Lord will preserve the Mormon Gentile church as long as they continue to obey even one single commandment that He has given them.

The Nephites and the Lamanites, even in their times of wickedness, were still the Lord’s people. He never altogether rejected them until they altogether rejected Him. The same principle applies to the Mormon Gentile church. It is still the church of God, even in its condemned (or damned) state. The church of God has not been rejected, not during the time of Joseph Smith nor any time since, up to and including today. Nor will it be rejected at any time after today, until the church altogether turns from the Lord.

This is why the Lord says:

Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; and if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.

But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. (3 Nephi 27: 9-11)

The church of God can be built upon the gospel of Christ, and if so, the Father will show forth his own works in it; or, the church of God can be built upon the works of men; or, the church of God can be built upon the works of the devil. All three scenarios are still talking about the church of God. The church does not cease to be the church of God because it is built upon the works of men or upon the works of the devil. It is still considered God’s church, just as the Nephites and Lamanites were considered God’s people even in their states of wickedness. As long as the church of God is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, and does not reject every word of God, it will still have joy in its works for a season. Rejection and destruction of the church will only come to it when it has altogether turned from the Lord, rejecting every word of God.

We, the church of God, are still in the mercy phase and the Spirit is still striving with us. Yes, it is true that we are in a state of apostasy, but we are still not ripe in iniquity and have not, yet, been altogether rejected, although we have been cursed (or condemned). This means that we have not, as yet, broken every single commandment we have received.

May I suggest a sin that signals impending destruction?

The day may come that Mormon Gentiles are routinely or systematically breaking nine of the Ten Commandments. The day may come that no Mormon worships the Lord God Almighty anymore, but instead lifts up men called prophets, seers, revelators, apostles, general authorities, bishops, stake presidents, and other leaders. The day may come that no Mormon keeps the sabbath day holy, or honors his father and mother, or refrains from killing. The day may come that all Mormons take the name of the Lord in vain and commit adultery and steal and lie and covet all that is their neighbor’s. But if and when that day comes and all these nine commandments are broken by the whole of the Mormon people, it will still be a day a mercy for them and the Lord will still preserve them and not reject them as a church, nor bring upon them destruction, as long as they refrain from breaking the tenth.

But the moment they break the tenth commandment, even if the others have not yet been broken, that will be the day that destruction will loom over them. For there is one commandment that when broken leads to the breaking of all commandments: the making of graven images and bowing down to them.

Idolatry, the sin of destruction

Now, some may take issue with me and claim that the Mormon Gentiles already practice idolatry. To answer this charge, let’s look at the first two commandments.

The first commandment is: thou shalt have no other gods before me. When we put anyone or anything before God, we break the first commandment, not the second. Breaking the first one consists of devoting ourselves to people (leaders, celebrities, etc.) or things (material possessions, money, etc.) or pleasurable activities (sports, sex, drug use) or ideas and concepts (politics, science, fame, etc.) more than we devote ourselves to God. There is a tendency to label this devotion as idolatry. For example, we say that the celebrity is our idol, or we idolize our leaders, or money is his idol, etc. But this is all just figurative expression. Such behavior doesn’t literally break the second commandment, though it does literally break the first one.

The second commandment is: thou shalt not make any graven image and bow down and serve it. This is literal or real idolatry, or the worship of an idol, meaning a graven image. This commandment is kept to this very day by the Mormon Gentiles. And as long as it is kept, the Mormon Gentiles will not be destroyed.

It is idolatry (the real kind) that brings destruction. (See Alma 50: 21 and Ether 7: 23.) It is the gateway sin, that facilitates and brings about the commission of all other sins. Every civilization that has been destroyed by the Lord has practiced idolatry.

Real idolatry is coming back

At some point this sin will be introduced among the Mormon Gentiles, as well as among the Gentiles at large. When the Lord sends the Lamanites forth against the wicked Gentiles, He will send them among a people whose land is full of graven images (see 2 Nephi 12: 8).

Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots; and I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds; and I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers; thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands; and I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities. (3 Nephi 21: 14-18)

In the preface to the Book of Commandments, the Lord prophesied of a day to come in which idolatry would be widespread:

Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear:

Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; and the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.

And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; for they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; they seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (D&C 1: 11-16)

LDS typically interpret the above verses as referring to the non-members of the time of Joseph Smith, but this is a prophecy of the future, which is why the Lord starts it by saying, “Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come” and “the arm of the Lord shall be revealed” and “the day cometh …that they..shall be cut off from among the people,” etc. These are all future references, or references to a future day. When the Lord says “for they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant,” He is not speaking of the people who lived in 1831, when the revelation was received, but of the people who would be living during that future day of the fulfillment of the prophecy.

The people that the Lord is talking about is a people that will have received the ordinances of the gospel and then will have strayed from them, and will have entered into the everlasting covenant and then will have broken it. In other words, this prophecy is pointing to the Mormon Gentiles of a future day, a day way past 1831. Of particular note is that this wicked people will be practicing idolatry. Not figurative or symbolic idolatry, which is the charge often laid to the church today, but actual or real idolatry, meaning that they will bow down and serve graven images made with their own hands. The people living during the time of Joseph Smith did not do this.

It is for this reason (idolatry and all the sins it introduces) that this future people of the Lord (having received the ordinances of salvation and the everlasting covenant) will be cut off.

Because the Lord knew that the Gentile Mormons would one day begin practicing idolatry, He gave commandments to the elders so that this sin of destruction would not be found among them.

Let the residue of the elders watch over the churches, and declare the word in the regions round about them; and let them labor with their own hands that there be no idolatry nor wickedness practised. (D&C 52: 39)

The instinct to worship

Mankind has a natural tendency or instinct to worship. This instinct appears to be tied to what happens in the heavens, among the planets. When the planets are active, all mankind feels the urge to worship something, anything, in fanatical devotion. This urge is basic or fundamental, as basic as the sexual urge. It is a part of our natural state of existence.

In all ages of the world in which the heavens were active, it has ever been the devil’s strategy to take the urge to worship and lead it in the wrong direction by introducing idolatry. However, the current age we live in is different. This is the scientific age, the age of reason, the day of the intellectual man. And the skies are asleep. As a result, the instinct to worship does not pull on us as greatly and so the devil has changed strategies. Now, instead of diverting our urge to worship towards idols, he uses his influence to suppress it altogether.

The devil’s new strategy has resulted in what we see today: atheists, agnostics, intellectuals, left-brain dominant society, etc. The suppression of this basic urge has many people breaking the first commandment, but not the second. The breaking of the first commandment never, ever reaches the level of devotion that occurs with idol worship. No one literally prays to the celebrity or leader they “idolize.” No one literally bows down before their money and worships it. No one literally treats any of the people, things, concepts or causes they devote their time, thoughts and energy to as real gods. This is because the devil inspires modern man to suppress our worship instinct.

At some point the heavens will begin to wake up again, and when that happens, our instinctual urge to worship will also begin to wake up and pull strongly on us. At that day, there will be no more atheists, agnostics, etc. All will be believers in some form of god and will have a desire to worship something. This is because human brain cycles are tied to the cycles of the heavenly bodies (planets, sun, comets, etc.) The devil, then, will no longer inspire men to suppress their instinctual urge to worship, because he will have no power to do so, for the urge will be too strong to suppress, and so he will go back to his old strategy and re-introduce among the people of the world the sin of idolatry. At that point graven and standing images will be had everywhere, for there will be a real market for them. Idols, in those days, will be the biggest selling items around, to fill the need that people will have to worship something.

Worship is not what we do

Worship entails a level of devotion that is just not had among our modern society. The Lord defined worship best:

Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. (D&C 4: 2)

The instinct to worship is the urge to bow down before something and serve it “with all your heart, might, mind and strength.” It is total and complete devotion to something. Such level of devotion, when directed towards God, pleases Him. This is the very reason why we have been given this instinct. When it is suppressed, God is offended and withholds the abundances of the manifestations of the Spirit. The sin we are guilty of, then, is in not using the instinct God gave us. But when it is not suppressed but instead is directed towards dumb idols, God becomes jealous and His anger is kindled, unsheathing the sword of destruction. Now our sin is in perverting the use of a God-given instinct.

The urge to worship is so very strong (when the planets are awake), that man will go to almost any length to please and gain favor of the object of his worship. So, on the one hand we have righteous men and women willing to die instead of denying the one true God, and on the other hand we have wicked men and women sacrificing their own children to dumb idols. It is because of the extremely strong pull that the worship instinct has upon mankind that idolatry becomes the gateway sin to all other sins. People will lie, steal, cheat, covet, commit adultery, kill and commit every other form of wickedness to gain favor of their idols.

Don’t be deceived

The Lord will not outright destroy this church without first sending messengers to preach repentance to it. If we start hearing a message of “repent or be destroyed” from any quarter, as long as the church is not engaged in idolatry you can know of a surety that the messenger is not sent from God. It is only when His people are ripening in iniquity, meaning that they are beginning to break every commandment, that He will begin threatening them with destruction. However, even if no messengers are sent, if you start to see real idolatry among the church, know that destruction looms on the horizon and that the Lord will soon be sending messengers to threaten the people. All of this is according to the principle and doctrine of destruction, as I understand it.

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The conditions of this law


Clint, in a comment on the Marriage without a marriage license is ordained of God post, quoted D&C 132: 7 and raised the issue that, among other things:

So the problem to me is that we have a doctrine that is very clear in stating that in order to get to God we MUST do certain things, and then makes it almost impossible after the growth of the church for them to be done in a literal way and even at its doctrinal inception as far as I know this principle was not followed.

I attempted to write an exposition on that verse and the issues Clint raised in a comment.  However, it grew to be too long for just a comment and so I have decided to publish my response as a post.  This way, Clint’s comments can be read by a broader audience than those who follow the comments regularly — and also others can weigh in on the subject.

D&C 132:7

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

The conditions of this law:

All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations […] are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

The default state of all things is to have an end when humans die.  All binding arrangements [including even expectations] are assumed to be in a state where they will come to an end upon mortal death.

To tie this back to LDSA’s original post, he wrote:

When two people come together and make love, the love demonstrated and generated is intended by God to continue on forever.  It is supposed to remain.  The marriage bonds keep people connected (and gathered) so that they continue to nurture and grow the love generated between them.  God is love, so the scriptures say, therefore, He is all-loving and never stops loving.  To come together and make love and then leave (separate from one another) is akin to stop loving (stop becoming one).  God wants us to continue to manifest our love for one another, through the marital covenants.  In this way we learn to become like Him, all-loving and continually loving.

Because God does not want all things to end when humans die, it is possible that the above-delineated binding arrangements may be:

[…] made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power […]

So, to avoid the default state of a binding arrangement ending upon mortal death, it must meet certain conditions:

  • Made by the Holy Spirit of promise
  • Entered into by the Holy Spirit of promise
  • Sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise
  • By one who is anointed
  • For the stated duration of both time and all eternity
  • In a most holy manner — by revelation and commandment through the medium of the one who is anointed [for this anointed one holds the keys to this power].

In addition to those six conditions, there is the paraenthetical phrase,

(and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred)

which adds a seventh condition:

  • Joseph Smith was the “one who is anointed” mentioned above at the time the revelation was given.  Further, only one person on the earth at a time will act in this position of the “one who is anointed“.

Parenthetical Phrases:

Scribal additions often come by way of parenthetical phrases.  These attempt to clarify or expand on what was written in the original text.  Though there is not necessarily anything nefarious about, for example, adding that:

And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.

to clarify that Ai was still in a state of desolation at the time the scribe was writing that text.

Or in adding:

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

to explain what, “In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water,” meant to the people there at the time — who would have known what it meant.

However, as I have read all 66 verses D&C 132, that parenthetical phrase strikes me as internally inconsistent with the rest of the section.  For example, the Law of Sarah says:

And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.

In this portion of the revelations that make up section 132, the Lord says that it is the wives who hold the keys of this power — the keys that the parenthetical phrase says that only Joseph held at the time the revelation was given.  However, verse 64-65 tells me that if it was anybody — it was Emma who held them at that time.

Further, because of my understanding that God honors the consent of free-agents and that He would not favor either androcracy or gynocracy over the other — I can say that the law of Sarah is applicable to both men and women.

The revelation was spoken to Joseph in regards to his wife — therefore it is addressed in “she then becomes the transgressor” language.  However, what makes any person a transgressor according to the law of Sarah, is forbidding to administer the keys of the power of consent to a marriage covenant [this is according to D&C 49:15 as well].

Keys of Consent [or Power]:

Just as priesthood keys are given as a test to priesthood holders [in judging how they use them] — so to are church keys [keys of consent] intended to prove all church members. The test demonstrates if the person will consent only to righteousness — while always condemning or voting down wickedness.

In a tribal setting, a woman sins when she do not obey her righteous husband[s], meaning she refuses to submit her consent [power] to him — with “righteous” meaning there is an associated qualifier that her husband[s] do not exercise unrighteous dominion — this is because she is not giving honor where honor is due and is removing power from the priesthood.

A man sins when he does not love his wife[ves], meaning he refuses to be motivated by charity towards her — there is no associated qualifier as was the case with women.

Woman with righteous husband:

A woman is married to a man who does not exercise unrighteous dominion with her. This man, acting out of charity, desires and feels called to bring another wife into the marriage.  The woman has two choices:

  • She can grant her consent, making her ordained of God, because her husband is acting righteously and she is not swayed by feelings of inadequacy or jealousy.
  • She can withhold her consent, making her not ordained of God, because she is withholding power [for that is what her consent is] for charity to be manifest.

Woman with unrighteous husband:

A woman is married to a man who treats her with force and control and/or refuses to act out of charity towards her.  This man, acting out of a selfish desire, wants to have a new wife at the expense of the first.  The woman has two choices:

  • She can grant her consent, in which case she would be ordained of God, because she is not forbidding to marry.  However, no one is under any obligation to submit in iniquity — therefore,
  • She can withhold her consent, in which case she would still be ordained of God, because she is using her God-given power of consent [the keys of the church/tribe] to stop unrighteous dominion — she is not consenting to evil.

What the righteous husband can do:

In the first example [with the righteous husband] — if the woman gives her consent, then he is free to take the second wife into their tribe and thus it grows horizontally.  If the woman withholds her consent, then he is ordained of God only in using persuasion, long-suffering, etc. in dealing with the issue.

Should he go out and marry the second wife anyway — then he would not be ordained of God because he is ignoring the keys of consent that God has placed in charge of him. The servants [priesthood holders, husbands] must hearken to the voice of their masters [church members, wives] in all things.

For all we know — the woman may have a reason for why she requires exclusivity [like Starfoxy in comments #24, 30, 42, and 46 found here], and the righteous husband may be moved with compassion for her and instead choose to submit himself to monogamous vows rather than press the issue of polygamy. This is according to his free-will and choice in dealing with his wife.

What the unrighteous husband can do:

If the woman submits her consent to his selfish desire for a new wife, then the unrighteous husband’s true nature will manifest.  His love will not multiply, but will instead transfer from the woman to the new wife — this causes him to break his marriage covenant with her because he vowed to love her without qualifier and makes him not ordained of God.

However, his true nature may manifest in the other direction.  In seeing what his selfish desires for a “new” wife [instead of a second wife] has done to his first love — he may be moved towards repentance and the woman has done him a favor.

Since she was likewise free to withhold consent [given that the husband is acting with unrighteous dominion], the husband’s true nature could again manifest.  Will he respond to her refusal with anger and control — taking a new wife anyway without her say-so?  Or will he reflect inwardly on why she withheld consent, speak with her about it, and repent of his unrighteous behavior — possibly opening up the woman’s heart to another wife?  This will be according to his free-will and choice.

Men and women are judged by the Lord according to how they use their individual sets of keys and how they treat each other:

Is a person seeking after a second spouse because he or she is “tired” of the first spouse — or because he or she desires to take further covenant obligations, express charity, and expand the tribe?

Is a person withholding consent because he or she is uncomfortable with the idea of another spouse, is selfish/stingy, etc. — or is the person withholding consent because unrighteous dominion is being used?

D&C 132:7, 64 — Combined and Clarified:

So, to re-word the original verses with what I expounded on above taken into consideration — it reads:

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these:  All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations,

that are not (1) made and (2) entered into and (3) sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, (4) of him who is anointed [the one holding authorized priesthood keys], (5) both as well for time and for all eternity, and (6) that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power,

(7) (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred),

are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead […]

[…]And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power [which are the keys of consent that authorize the priesthood], and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood [meaning he uses persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, etc.], as pertaining to these things,

then shall she believe and administer unto him [give her consent], or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

So, the conditions of the law are that all binding arrangements must be administered by one who is holding authorized priesthood keys.  And by what power are priesthood keys authorized [rather for the church or the tribe]?  They are authorized by the vote of consent.

Conclusion:

D&C 132 divides Mormons into three groups:

  • those that believe all 66 verses are a revelation from God,
  • those that believe none of them are a revelation from God — or that all of them are a revelation from the devil,
  • those that pick-and-choose to believe only some of them.

By virtue of my own experience and revelations, I operate under the assumption that D&C 132 is true.  It is only once unity over whether the revelation is entirely true, entirely false, or partially true and false [with agreement over what parts are true and what parts are false] — between people can discussions on the section be fruitful.

Only if we approach it as the word of God and desire to discuss what the principles and doctrines proposed therein actually consist of, and would actually look like when implemented in the real world — will discussions have a real benefit.

Most of the issue that was raised against D&C 132 is based on the inclusion of the parenthetical phrase:

(and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred)

I would conclude that if this portion was given at the same time of the revelation and written down by Joseph, it would, first off, not even be in parenthesis — but in addition to that, it would read:

and I have appointed unto you, my servant Joseph, to hold this power […]

much like is written in verse 45:

For I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood […]

Thus, I see that parenthetical phrase as a later addition by the Utah saints in an attempt to put the doctrine of plural marriages under their control [the One True Successors to Joseph].

But besides that, for me — it is the inclusion of polyandry that must be explained away prior to labeling the revelation misogynistic, endorsing only Brigham’s polygyny, etc.

If we are going to discuss things assuming that D&C 132 is a true revelation, then we must read it in light of what we know about God,

[that He does not regard anyone as more or less by virtue of their genitalia, that He honors the agency of His children, that He does not concentrate power in the hands of the few, etc.]

instead of in light of what we know about the Church™ and the way Brigham, et al have interpreted, implemented, or tampered with the revelation.

Only when viewed as a true revelation [all 66 verses], can its spiritual meaning and application be discussed.  If it is the word of God, then there is real benefit assigned to it.

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