Going From “You Owe Me” to “Money”


The history of money:

Standard economic theory is that once upon a time all transactions were exclusively barter:  e.g., 20 chickens for your cow, a basket of corn for your basket of wheat, 3 animal furs for your spear.  Then inconveniences arose when your neighbor didn’t need that many chickens right now but you still needed his cow – so then money was invented as an arbitrary medium of exchange that you both could agree had value.

However, anthropologists have never found places where everyday transactions look like Adam Smith’s theory of the exclusive barter system – the place where everybody in the community does business via on-the-spot trades.  What anthropologists do observe among primitive communities is an exchange system more like:  “Take the cow and now you owe me one.”  If these communities are tribal [e.g., Native Americans], there is often no exchange at all – rather things are shared commonly or allocated by a tribal council, etc.

In other words – the story doesn’t go:

barter –> money –> debt

rather, it goes the other way:

debt –> money –> barter

There was never a community of on-the-spot traders that sought out a medium of exchange, that then became money.  There was a “Just take it and now you owe me one” system of tribal-sharing that turned into a system of measured obligation [called debt – where money is the unit of measure].  And then on-the-spot trading and bartering systems only appear among people in money-based systems where the currency has collapsed.

The role of the state:

What made the “Just take it and now you own me one” turn into a system of measured obligation and money?  For millions of years humans organized themselves according to their tribe and their tribe’s land – and nothing else.

Advancements such as monoculture and city-states created large groups of largely unrelated persons living together – humans began “bonding” through commerce or business or information.  While civilization has undoubtedly caused great benefits for the human species, having larger communities bound by principles other than kinship created a greater potential for war [leading to plunder and slaves to be divided up] and a greater interest in taxation.

We observe complex financial systems of measured credit and debt at the beginning of recorded history.  Meaning, by the time historical records began to be written, humans had already come to a point past the tribal-sharing model, and were full-swing into a monetary-based system such as:  “just compensation shall be 20 heifers of the finest quality, if not he shall be put to death.”

In Egypt, a strong centralized state excised taxes from everyone else.  In Mesopotamia, the state emerged rather unevenly – beginning first with large temple-districts [e.g., Gobekli Tepe], and then later palace-complexes.  In any event, the state is where money begins as a unit of measure – used to allocate resources within these new systems of human organization.

Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

There three ways to understand this scripture:

  • Nothing belongs to Caesar because all things are God’s.  So render nothing.
  • Some things do belong to Caesar, but the United States is not under a “Caesar”, but is a representative democracy.  “We the People” are “Caesar”.  So you don’t have to render, but you can/should.
  • Money belongs entirely to Caesar and God has nothing to do with it.  Render it all.

Now show me some tribute money — and what is the image and superscription you find?  All money pertains to Caesar.  There aren’t legitimate parts of the state that have claim on some of our money and illegitimate parts that do not.  Legal tender belongs to the state alone and those who want to be free of its control can’t be half in Caesar’s game and half out.

Meaning you can’t charge money for your labor, spend money to buy the fruits of another’s labor, and lay-up your money for a rainy day, etc. — and not expect to fall under the jurisdiction of Caesar who wants his due rendered to him.  Caesar’s is a money-based community.  God’s is a money-free community.

Once you convert something of real value [e.g., your time or your labor] into something of no value [like dollars] – it is lost forever.  The only way to retain the value is to stay in Caesar’s game.  Find someone else who plays and trade with them.

Dollars are like inches. They are only a unit of measure [dollars = value, inches = length].  We know we don’t carry around inches in our pocket – yet many actually believe dollars to be something.  And money falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state.  As such, once you work for dollars, the thing of value disappears and is replaced by the thing of no-value.  The only way to get back value is to find someone who plays the same game and do a value-for-no-value trade with them – perpetuating the whole thing.

The role of the gospel:

Jesus’ ministry cost very little – a couple taxes paid via miraculous means.  God finances His operation in His own way.  However, the Gentile LDS church has not been able to recreate this.  We instead maintain a significant financial operation – making it obvious to any outside observers that it’s the power of money [not of the priesthood] that carries the work forward in these latter-days.  We have sufficient for our needs and invest the difference.

To be poor and join the church — one will be immediately confronted with the image of a wealthy group with certain expectations.  It is a wealthy church with a self-perpetuating financial arm that is able to use interest profited off of tithing contributions to fund for-profit ventures that “fund the work of the Lord”.

While it could be argued that, practically-speaking, currency is just simply required to “spread the gospel” and that leaders are just being “good stewards” — I don’t think anything about the gospel reads as being “practically-minded”.

The corporation that carries the trademarked name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, like any other business, dependent on money.  It must play Caesar’s game.  No operation playing that game can sustain itself without engaging in at least a bit of for-profit venturing, shrewd investing, and fund-raising here-and-there.  And I would not expect them too.  I do not fault that corporation for it’s handling of and dealings with money – I find fault for the claim that it is the same organization that existed in the primitive church, but not doing it.

One can never be free while still playing Caesar’s game:

Jesus and the kingdom have no use for money.  Jesus taught His disciples to live contrary to the principles of surplus economics and instead rely alone on God to provide [not self-reliance and provident living].

There is a reason Jesus sent missionaries out without purse or scrip – commanding them to take no thought for food, drink, or clothing – to freely give miraculous works to any who receive them – to rely on the mercies of the world to provide for their needs.  It is because only the poor are intended to teach and preach the gospel.

And only the poor [who are meek] will inherit the abundance of spiritual manifestations and the Earth.  Zion is to be a money-free community where all members live together and have all things common – where all mine are thine and we are glorified together.

When humans lived in the Edenic state of multihusband-multiwife tribes – money did not exist.  The idea of “having any money” was foreign to Adam, who only kept the tokens associated with his priesthood.  Any return to such a paradisaical lifestyle will only be associated with complimentary return to the manner of connectedness and cooperation humans shared before statism, monogamous family-units, and monetary-based systems of exchange.

Want to start a real revolution this new year?  It takes a revelation…give it a try

Next Article by Justin:  Falling to the Earth as a Sign of Conversion

Previous Article by Justin:  The Adultery of Mary

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“…and the labor which they had to perform was to look…”


And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Num. 21:4-9)

And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished. (1 Ne. 17:41)

And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel. (1 Ne. 19:10)

And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved. (2 Ne. 25:20)

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?… I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? (Alma 5:14,19)

And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. (Alma 32:40)

But behold, this is not all; these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning the Son of God. Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live. But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them. O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish? If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works. (Alma 33:18-22)

Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. (Alma 37:36)

O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever. And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell. (Alma 37:46-47)

And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you… And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you. (3 Ne. 18:7,11)

And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—and for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. (3 Ne. 27:14-15)

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen. (D&C 6:36-37)

What all of this means

Abinadi said to the priests of Noah:

I know if ye keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved; yea, if ye keep the commandments which the Lord delivered unto Moses in the mount of Sinai, saying:

I am the Lord thy God, who hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other God before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing in heaven above, or things which are in the earth beneath.

Now Abinadi said unto them, Have ye done all this? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not. And have ye taught this people that they should do all these things? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not. (Mosiah 12:33-37)

If you take a bunch of planets (gods) and line them up, putting one of the largest (Jehovah) out in front and all the others behind it, none of the other planets will be seen, only the one right in front of you. If the first planet is exceedingly close to the point of observation, it will fill up a large portion of the sky, so that it will always be visible, no matter in which direction you are looking. Even when not directly looking at it, our peripheral vision will always have the planet in sight. Only by turning our eyes downward towards the ground (towards hell), will the planet’s image no longer be in sight.

Man is designed to operate with God in our sight. Obviously, we can no longer do that. God cannot be seen with our physical eyes and the planets have all moved so that the heavenly God is no longer in our view, filling up the sky, nor the other gods. But that is okay since we are here to walk by faith, meaning that we are now to imagine God in our heads and to keep the image of God always with us.

The ancients were commanded not to make physical images of God or gods. Instead, they were to use the imagination capacity of their right-brain-heart to create a spiritual image of God which they were to keep always before them in all that they saw. When one converted to Christ, that image now became the image of Christ, which one was to continually look at.

And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness! (1 Ne. 2:9)

Alma taught that there was a two-step process to planting the word, which was the atonement, in one’s heart. You had to create the image of the Son of God in your heart, keeping it there before your sight continually, and you also had to believe in the Son of God. (See Alma 33: 22 above.) All of Christianity understands the part about believing in the Son of God, but we all have misunderstood the part about seeing His image.

Christ on the cross is the image

Jesus Christ upon the cross is the image we are to imagine. This image appeals to both sides of our brains. It is concrete, appealing to the right-brain-heart and it is symbolic, appealing to the left-brain-mind. It represents the atonement, the broken heart and the contrite spirit. It also represents godly sorrow for sin. It contains the body of Christ, which is remembered during the bread portion of the sacrament, and the blood of Christ, which is remembered during the wine portion. It contains the wounds in His side and the prints of the nails in His hands and His feet, per D&C 6:37. It is a lifted up Christ, causing one to look up at Him, putting the one creating the image below Christ, in a position of humility. Also, being raised up, it is an ensign, calling attention, or drawing the attention of men to it.

Physical images are not good enough

Carrying crucifixes and hanging crosses around, as well as other physical images of Christ on the cross, does not have power to generate faith. Faith being a spiritual principle, it requires a spiritual image and effort (or labor) to generate it. The human brain was designed with the capacity to create imaginary images and super-impose them upon all that we see for this very reason, that mankind could have a way to walk by faith on earth, as we walked by sight in the heavens, even with the image of God always, or continually, or continuously before us.

Making God number one

Always remembering Christ on the cross puts God as the number one priority in a person’s life. That simple spiritual labor on our part, combined with belief on the Son of God, another spiritual labor, causes the Holy Spirit to come upon us and work upon our hearts, softening them and creating the broken heart and contrite spirit, giving us sorrow for sin and the accompanying weeping, and allowing us to pray in the Spirit (see D&C 46:28-32.)

Without the image of God continually before us, other images, even physical ones, become the priority. In other words, although physical idolatry may not be committed, spiritual idolatry occurs if other images come before the image of God, so that when we look we do not see God. This is how almost the entire world lives: without seeing God in the world.

The corrective is to begin to “awake and arouse your faculties” (Alma 32:27) and to look “forward with an eye of faith” (Alma 32:40), creating the image of God, even that of Jesus Christ the Son of God hanging upon the cross, through your imagination, and to keep that image always super-imposed on all that you see.

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

The Adultery of Mary


Mary was an adulterous woman:

By definition of the law, that is.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child…

The meaning of the Hebrew naaph was “a woman who breaks wedlock.  For Mary to show pregnant after her betrothal [where she vowed to be wedded to Joseph] but prior to cohabitating with him and consummating the vow would have been unequivocally adulterous.   Open and shut case.

If she was in wedlock to Joseph and pregnant without having had relations with him – then could be no doubt that the wedlock was broken – making her an adulterous woman.

Having the spirit of prophecy and revelation:

To someone without the eye of faith, adultery would have been the only possible explanation for Mary turning up pregnant.

While [Joseph] thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

Joseph was a righteous man who received visions and angelic visitations.  He was able to work with the spirit of prophecy and revelation.  Because of that fact alone, Mary was saved from what would have been the just demands of the law executed on her for being found with child outside of the wedlock.

Members of their community in Nazareth who lacked the spirit of prophecy and revelation would have no doubt mocked Joseph.  Speaking without the spirit of prophecy and revelation, the matter was easily settled.  Surely we all know how women get pregnant – right?  Surely Joseph’s “vision” of an angel was really just the result of his frenzied mind trying to come up with an excuse for that which he was unwilling to accept.  I’d bet those gossipy busybodies of Nazareth thought they knew better.

Joseph expressed compassionate empathy:

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

[…]

and [so he] took unto him [Mary, to be] his wife:  And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

God’s “Justice” is typically characterized as His “meanness” – as opposed to His “Mercy”, which is His “niceness”.  However, “just” in the scriptural sense means nothing of gavel-banging and hellfire-scorching.  What is just is what is:

  • reasonable
  • equitable
  • proper
  • as it ought to be

We should hope that God is just and deals with us according to the principle of justice – that He gives us what is reasonable, proper, and best-suited for our particular circumstances.  I wouldn’t want what is unreasonable, improper, and ill-suited for me.  I trust fully in His justice.

Joseph is described as a “just man”, yet we see that he did not “demand justice” be executed.  In fact, he demonstrated what would later characterize the method by which the atonement of his son operates – i.e. compassionate empathy.

Even before his angelic vision that informed him that Mary’s child was not of another man, but was of the Holy Ghost – Joseph felt in his heart that it was best to not put Mary into open shame, making her a public example by bringing an accusation against her.  The demands of the law are always just.  If he would have decided to “press charges”, then it would have been reasonable, equitable, and proper for the community to stone her.  Those where the demands of the law that God had given, and they were just.

However, he likely had doubts — being a “just man”, he wanted to render what was proper and appropriate given the circumstances.  He didn’t want to make a public accusation against her, but he wanted to render that which was just also.  This is why God sent the angel to him in a vision — because once enlightened by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, Joseph chose to receive Mary as his wife – not bringing an accusation against her.  He received information that would have been impossible to know by any means other than faith, i.e. that Mary’s child was of the Holy Ghost, not the result of her having sex with anyone.  Because of Joseph’s compassionate empathy for Mary [knowing the unique and difficult circumstance she was placed in by being pregnant], the demands of justice were satisfied and Mary was “encircled in the arms of safety.”

 Next Article by Justin:  Going From “You Owe Me” to “Money”

Previous Article by Justin: Community, Intimacy, and Connection

Lehi’s Trek to China and North America


Note: to see how this idea popped into my head and began to develop, read all the comments on the Selections from the Book of Laman post, beginning with this one.

Jerusalem to Lemuel

600 years before the coming of Jesus Christ, the prophet Lehi, who “dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days” (1 Ne. 1:4) left the land and “departed into the wilderness” (1 Ne. 2:4), coming “down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea” and “traveling in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea” (1 Ne. 2:5.) He “traveled three days in the wilderness,” pitching “his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water” (1 Ne. 2:6.) He called the valley Lemuel and the river Laman.1

Two trips back to Jerusalem

While in Lemuel, Lehi sent his four sons back to Jerusalem twice. The first time they came back with the plates of brass and the servant of Laban, whose name was Zoram. The second time they came back with Ishmael, his wife, his daughters, and his two sons, as well as the wives (Lehi’s daughters)2 and children of his two sons.

The Liahona appears

One night, after Ishmael’s family had arrived in Lemuel, the Lord commanded Lehi “that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:9.) The very next morning, Lehi found the Liahona upon the ground, which was “a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither [they] should go into the wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:10.) From this point on, the group followed the direction in which the Liahona pointed.

Lemuel to Shazer

From Lemuel (called after the son of Lehi), they “traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction” (1 Ne. 16:13) and camped at a spot they called Shazer (possibly the name of a son of Ishmael.)3

Shazer to the place where Nephi’s bow broke (Camp #3)

From Shazer they “did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way” (1 Ne. 16:15) and followed “the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea” (1 Ne. 16:14) until they stopped at the place where Nephi broke his bow. This was their third mentioned camping spot, or Camp #3. They had been traveling, up to this point, nearly a south-southeast direction.

It was at this place that the party learned the principles under which the Liahona both operated and ceased to function, which knowledge caused those who were murmuring against the Lord to “fear and tremble exceedingly” (1 Ne. 16:27.) When the camp had received food and in their joy had humbled themselves and given thanks to the Lord, they began again their journey, and this is what Nephi wrote:

Camp #3 to Camp #4 (somewhere close to the land of Jerusalem)

And it came to pass that we did again take our journey, traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning; and after we had traveled for the space of many days we did pitch our tents again, that we might tarry for the space of a time. (1 Ne. 16:33)

The words “traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning” do not mean “traveling nearly the same direction as in the beginning,” as it is typically interpreted, but they mean “traveling nearly the same path as in the beginning,” or, to be plainer, it means they retraced their steps. In other words, they first traveled nearly a south-southeast direction for the space of many days along the banks of the Red Sea, all the way down until they came to the place where Nephi broke his bow, and then they traveled nearly a north-northwest direction for the space of many days, retracing nearly the very same path that they had traveled downward, following the Red Sea up, until they came close to where they had first left the land of Jerusalem.

Ishmael’s death at Camp #4

Nephi wrote, “And it came to pass that Ishmael died” (1 Ne. 16:34.) It was here, at the camp that was close to the land of Jerusalem, that Ishmael died.

Ishmael’s burial at Nahom and the return to Jerusalem

“And it came to pass that Ishmael…was buried in the place which was called Nahom” (1 Ne. 16:34.) Ishmael was buried at an already existing place called Nahom, which was either in the land of Jerusalem or in the regions round about. If Nahom was in the land of Jerusalem, then after going to Nahom the party returned to their camp. But if Nahom was not in the land of Jerusalem, then after the party went to Nahom they also went to the land of Jerusalem and then back to their camp. Regardless of where Nahom was located, we know for a fact that the group returned to the land of Jerusalem after Ishmael’s death, because of what Nephi wrote.

Nevertheless, Nahom was likely the Ishmael family cemetery located somewhere in the land of Jerusalem. So, the entire camp (including Lehi) took Ishmael’s body back to the land of Jerusalem, to Nahom, and buried him there, and then possibly also obtained additional supplies for the next, very lengthy segment of their journey. For example, Nephi’s bow needed to be replaced, as well as the bows of his brothers, etc. After doing what they needed to do in Jerusalem, including dedicating Ishmael’s grave at Nahom, etc., which would have been the duty and privilege of Lehi to do, Lehi brought them all out of the land of Jerusalem and they came down into the wilderness to their camp.

Lehi brought the daughters of Ishmael out

Undoubtedly, Lehi revealed at this time, or by this time, the new plans, namely, that they were going nearly eastward of this point into a strange wilderness (into all the countries that were to the east, all the way to China.) Nephi then makes five statements of fact:

And it came to pass that [Statement of Fact #1] the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, [#2] because of the loss of their father, [#3] and because of their afflictions in the wilderness; [#4] and they did murmur against my father, [#5] because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem… (1 Ne. 16:35)

Notice that Nephi categorically states that “he [Lehi] had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 16:35.) Keep in mind that this is Nephi’s statement of fact, not Ishmael’s daughters’ opinion. It is not, as many believe, Nephi’s observation of these girls blaming Lehi for his sons’ actions. If the daughters of Ishmael were merely playing the blame game, assigning fault to Lehi, Nephi would have worded it in a way that would have indicated that, for example: “they did murmur against my father, because they said that he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem,” in other words, he would have worded it as if it were not a literal fact. But Nephi does not state it from the girls’ perspective, but instead he states it as a literal fact, from his own perspective.

Question: Who brought the daughters of Ishmael out of the land of Jerusalem the first time? Was it Lehi?

Answer: No, it was the sons of Lehi. Lehi was at the camp of Lemuel when Nephi and his brothers brought the daughters of Ishmael out of the land of Jerusalem. Yet, here we find Nephi stating that Lehi brought the daughters of Ishmael out of the land of Jerusalem!

Question: Then when did Lehi bring the daughters of Lehi out of the land of Jerusalem?

The obvious answer: is that Nahom was a burial place in the land of Jerusalem and that after the burial, Lehi led the party back to their camp in the wilderness, so that Nephi’s statement is a literal occurrence, Lehi literally, not figuratively, having led them out of the land.

We must perish in the wilderness with hunger

Ishmael’s daughters complained that “after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger” (1 Ne. 16:35.) There was definitely food in Jerusalem, but the act of coming back down to camp in the wilderness meant having to resume hunting food again. Up until Ishmael’s death, they had had success hunting, although at the place where Nephi broke his bow, they came close to starving.

Why were they once again concerned with hunger? There were probably two reasons, one dealing with their current situation (see the Blessed again with food section below) and one dealing with the future. Regarding the future, it may have been that Lehi had already revealed to the family that, although they were now close to Jerusalem, they were not going to return to Jerusalem but were going to travel “nearly eastward” into a strange wilderness, one that no one was familiar with. Now hunger is back in their minds, for who knows how to obtain food in unknown parts?

The desire to return again to Jerusalem

Nephi wrote that the daughters of Ishmael “were desirous to return again to Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 16:36), which indicates that they must have returned to Jerusalem once before. In other words, they were led out of Jerusalem by the sons of Lehi, arriving in Lemuel, and then they returned to Jerusalem and were led out of the land of Jerusalem by Lehi, arriving in Camp #4, and finally they expressed a desire to return again to Jerusalem.

This shows that Nahom and Camp #4 were most definitely near Jerusalem, which means they retraced their steps back up the banks of the Red Sea. Ishmael, then, must have died near Jerusalem, and then the party must have taken his body to Jerusalem (returning to Jerusalem), buried him with his people (in Nahom), and then come back down to the camp outside of Jerusalem. Nephi’s words, then, make sense when he says that Ishmael’s daughters complained against Lehi and Nephi and desired to return again to Jerusalem.

Let us slay our father, and also our brother

The camp’s close proximity to Jerusalem (and its influences) explains why Laman conspired with the others to kill his father and younger brother. They were close to Jerusalem, yet Lehi and Nephi were determined not to return again to it. As the party was no longer “lost in the wilderness” down in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula, nor at the mercy of Lehi and his Liahona to make sure they were safe, Laman and the others, finally knowing where they were and how to get to Jerusalem, could kill Lehi and Nephi and return to the land of their inheritance without problems.

If Camp #4 and Nahom were, instead, at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula, as many scholars think, Laman’s conspiracy to kill would not make any sense, for if he had succeeded, the Liahona would have ceased functioning and they would have been lost in the wilderness and unable to obtain food or find their way back to Jerusalem.

Some strange wilderness

At Camp #4, Laman complained that Nephi was “thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:38.) This is another indication that Laman and the rest of the camp were already aware of the new traveling directions, which were to be “nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1.) Going into the far east from the land of Jerusalem may have definitely been considered as some strange wilderness, or lands completely unknown to the Israelites.

Blessed again with food

Ishmael’s death and the need to bury him at Nahom, must have interrupted the normal day to day (hunting) activities, and may have had the result of them not obtaining any or sufficient food for the entire group. When they returned from Jerusalem, having buried Ishmael at Nahom, Ishmael’s daughters’ complaints that “we must perish in the wilderness with hunger” must have been because the camp was starving. All the subsequent murmuring (and subsequent conspiracy to kill) must also have exasperated the situation so that they could not obtain any food, whatsoever.

In such a situation, and being close to Jerusalem where they knew there was food, it was natural for the daughters to desire to return again to the land of Jerusalem. It also is understandable that Laman once again saw Lehi (and Nephi’s) leadership as deficient, for they were yet again in a state of starvation. Also, as they had returned to the land of Jerusalem and seen that it still had not been destroyed per Lehi’s words, this might have given Laman and the others “evidence” of the falsehood of Lehi’s prophecies, giving them justification in killing the two “false prophets.”

The situation at Camp #4 does not make any sense if it occurred at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula. If they were perishing with hunger down there, instead of close to Jerusalem, it makes no sense to desire to return again to Jerusalem. In other words, if Camp #4 and Nahom were down there, then it took “the space of many days” to get there, which means if they had decided to turn around and return again to Jerusalem, they still would have died of hunger, for it would take “the space of many days” to return to Jerusalem, much too long a trip to survive without food. The record only makes sense if Camp #4 and Nahom were locations close to Jerusalem.

At any rate, the “voice of the Lord” was with the camp and it “did chasten them exceedingly,” so that they “did repent of their sins” and “the Lord did bless [them] again with food, that [they] did not perish” (1 Ne. 16:39.)

The journey to the east begins

From this camp near the land of Jerusalem, after being blessed again with food, they “did take again [their] journey in the wilderness” and “did travel nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1.) Nephi also stated that they “did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 17:4.)

They needed to start their journey far enough south to no longer be within the land of Jerusalem, yet also far enough north to miss running into a large body of water coming in from the Persian Gulf. This would, of necessity, place their starting location a little north of 30 degrees North Latitude, which helps to narrow down the paths they possibly could have taken. The map above has the eastern leg of their journey beginning at 30º 47’ 1″ North Latitude and gives them a straight path to the eastern coast of China and also to North America, missing every island in the ocean.

the space of many days” vs. “the space of many years”

They wandered many days in the wilderness, even forty days did they wander. (Mosiah 7:4)

To a Nephite, 40 days was “many days”.

Nephi always referred to the walk from Shazer to Camp #3 as requiring “the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:17) and the walk from Camp #3 to Camp #4 as also requiring “the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:33.) He never referred to these trips as lasting “many years.” But after they left Camp #4, they completely changed direction and then they were spoken of as traveling “for the space of many years,” not days. This indicates that the distance they traveled nearly eastward of Camp #4 was significantly farther than the combined distances they traveled between Shazer and Camp #3 and between Camp #3 and Camp #4, which is consistent with a trip to China.

Eight years of travel

Traveling “nearly eastward from that time forth,” beginning at a place close to the land of Jerusalem (Camp #4), they would have traversed the entire Asian continent, passing through Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and finally arriving at the eastern coast of China, stopping somewhere around the area of Xiangshan, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, perhaps a little south of Bogushan Island. Using the standard 32 points of a compass, this means they were traveling either East by North4 (78.75º) or East by South (101.25º) or some other bearing even closer to East (90º) for eight years, without variation in direction, along a loxodromic line. The map above has a nearly eastward line with a bearing somewhere around 90.33º.

Eight years is 2920 days. The journey from Camp #4 to Bountiful was a little over 5000 miles, which averages to about 1.7 miles gained per day. Now, that might not sound like much distance covered, but when you consider the terrain they went through, the severe and rapidly changing weather conditions, and the fact that they couldn’t go around any obstacles, it starts to make sense. (Just take a look at the terrain of the path on the map above.)

On the other hand, eight years of travel does not make any sense for an Arabian Sea route. The eastward route that most scholars think Lehi took along the bottom of the Arabian peninsula would have taken most travelers “a matter of weeks, not years”.   To solve this apparent problem, it is assumed they spent an inordinate amount of time at one or more locations, one researcher even going so far as to suggest that the family must have been enslaved by other tribes for much of the eight years.

When you do the math for an Arabian Sea path, it just does not add up to what Nephi wrote. It is approximately 1200 miles from Jerusalem to the 19th parallel and another 800 to 1200 miles to the eastern shore of Arabia. If we add that together we get about 2400 miles. How many miles can a person walk in a single day? About 20 miles. So, traveling 20 miles a day it would take you 120 days to traverse the entire distance. Now, if it took them 8 years to do it, that would be 2920 days, of which 120 were spent walking and 2800 spent resting in camp! Now, does that sound to you like a grueling journey?

The daughters of Ishmael said, “We have wandered much in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:35.) Nephi described their wanderings in the wilderness as having “suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all” (1 Ne. 17:6.) Laman and Lemuel stated that “we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years” and that their women “suffered all things” (1 Ne. 17:20) and that “these many years we have suffered in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 17:21.) And many other descriptions such as these paint a picture of a lot of walking and suffering and very little rest, the exact opposite of what it should have been if they had been traveling to the Arabian Sea for eight years.

But if they were traveling to China, the need for 2920 days becomes apparent. Traveling to China, some days they might cover 20 miles, and other days, depending on the terrain, they might cover a whole lot less ground. Other days they would need to stop to rest, to obtain food, to wait for weather to clear, etc. The continent of Asia is so vast and varied and dangerous, the weather patterns so extreme and quick changing, that it makes perfect sense that it would take them eight years to traverse it.

Preaching and gathering converts along the way

During this eight year journey they undoubtedly preached the gospel to those with whom they came in contact and obtained converts who joined their journey to the promised land. Miracles attended them constantly, such as the miracle of the sweet meat as well as the miracle of the “light in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 17:13) that the Lord provided for them without fire. So, as they passed through these Gentile lands, word would have been spread by the inhabitants about the great magician Lehi and his “light without fire” and other miracles wrought by the party. Some would have fled the region, but others, out of curiosity would have sought the party out and perhaps have converted to the Lord.

By the time they reached Bountiful, on the eastern coasts of China, they probably had quite a number of people who had been added to their party, including Chinese converts. This might explain how the Eskimos arrived in America. It is widely believed they walked over from the Bering Strait, but perhaps their original ancestors were converts of Lehi from China and surrounding regions.

When they built the ship to cross the large waters, they entered into it “every one according to his age” (1 Ne. 18:6.) That’s kind of a strange way to enter a ship unless the party was vastly more numerous than just the families of Lehi and Ishmael. Which means that this ship was probably much larger than anyone has previously thought, requiring a special divine design to sustain the entire party upon the waters for the duration of the trip. Thus, it was not built after the manner of men.

Lehi, in the promised land, prior to his death, prophesied that “the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Ne. 1:5.) This was both a future and present prophecy (“should” not “shall”), applying to the converts they had already gained from other countries, who were led by the hand of the Lord over the ocean in the boat, as well as to any future foreigners.

When this numerous company arrived in the promised land, after Lehi died, Laman conspired to kill Nephi and assume control of the group. Nephi was warned to flee out of the land and take all those who would go with him. The record indicates that they had gained converts on their journey. In other words, that it was not just the two families of Lehi and Ishmael that came over in the boat:

Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words. (2 Ne. 5:6)

Sherem, the anti-Christ, is said to have shown up on the scene in America. “There came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem” (Jacob 7:1.)  He is never referred to as a Nephite, nor as a Lamanite. The China passage with converts model may explain why that is so. He may have been the son of one of the Gentile converts on the ship, gone to live apart from the two main groups (Lamanites and Nephites) and then, when Sherem was a man of age, he returned to the Nephite group preaching his message of lies. He had a knowledge of their language and their religion, so he must have had ties to someone that was on that ship.

Laman and Lemuel and the Liahona

In the trek eastward, there is no mention of any more murmurings from Laman and Lemuel. Even the women stopped murmuring because the Lord miraculously made them “strong, yea, even like unto the men” (1 Ne. 17:2), a necessity due to the tough terrain they were traversing. The whole party was entirely at the mercy of the Liahona. That device had to work in order for them to survive in the unknown wilderness in which they found themselves, so Nephi and Lehi were safe from the murderous intentions of Laman and Lemuel for the entire eight years of travel. Only at Bountiful, in its relative safety and as the camp settled into the beautiful surroundings and enjoyed the plentiful resources, did Laman again begin to oppose the plans of the prophets, because they did not need (nor want) to rely upon the Liahona for what they needed to survive.

In fact, at every location in which Laman and Lemuel threatened the life of one or both prophets, it was because they felt they could do without the Liahona. They tried to kill Lehi at Lemuel, which was three days’ walking distance from Jerusalem. They tried to kill Nephi on the trip down to the wilderness from Ishmael’s house. And they tried to kill both of them at Camp #4. At each of these locations, Jerusalem was within easy walking distance and they knew where they were. In other words, they did not need the Liahona to survive in those places. But at Shazer, at the place where Nephi broke his bow, and on the entire journey to China, they never attempted to kill them, because their very lives depended on the device working. Even upon the waters, in which they were in their wrath, they did not kill Nephi, only choosing to bind him. Why? Because if Nephi died, the Liahona would cease functioning and they would also die. Finally, at the promised land, with no more need for reliance upon the Liahona for survival, the way was cleared to finally kill Nephi.

Laman and Lemuel had a love/hate relationship with the Liahona. Although it kept them alive, which they loved, they hated having to rely upon it. They wanted to rely upon their own arm of flesh, and not upon the Liahona, which was a type of the word of God.

Bountiful, China

After eight years of travel, they came to the land of Bountiful and remained there “for the space of many days” (1 Ne. 17:7.) Some scholars, believing that Bountiful lies on the coast of Oman, on the Arabian peninsula, have created a list of characteristics of the area:

…the Book of Mormon goes further by specifying various characteristics of [Bountiful]:

1. Bountiful is “nearly eastward” from a place which was called Nahom (1 Nephi 17:1).

2. The text implies that the terrain and water sources from Nahom eastward permitted reasonable access from the interior deserts to the coast (1 Nephi 17:1-3).

3. Bountiful was a fertile region (1 Nephi 17:5-6).

4. It was a coastal location (1 Nephi 17:5-6).

5. Fruit and wild honey and possibly other food sources were available (1 Nephi 17:5-6; 18:6).

6. The availability of natural fruit (1 Nephi 17:5-6; 18:6) and the bountiful nature of the region suggest the availability of fresh water at this location.

7. Timber was available that could be used to construct a ship (1 Nephi 18:1).

8. A mountain was nearby (1 Nephi 17:7; 18:3).

9. Substantial cliffs, from which Nephi’s brothers might attempt to throw him into the sea, are near the ocean (1 Nephi 17:48).

10. Sources of flint (1 Nephi 17:11) and ore (1 Nephi 17:9-10) were available in the region.

11. Suitable wind and ocean currents were available to carry the vessel out into the ocean (1 Nephi 18:8-9).

(Taken from here.)

China is a perfect match for Bountiful and I am not the only one who thinks so.  The location on the eastern coast of China marked on the map at the top of this post has (or likely had 2600 years ago) everything that the scholars say Bountiful was supposed to have.

For example, here is a topographical map of China that shows that there are several mountain peaks in the vicinity. To the west of the city of Hangzhou, there is an 1873 meter peak (Lianhua Feng – Lotus Peak – 30º07’30″N 118º10’00″E). Northwest of that is an 1774 meter peak (Baimaijian). To the west of Lotus Peak is an 1474 meter peak (Lu Shan). To the south of Lotus Peak is a 2157 meter peak (Wugang Shan). And south-southeast of Lotus Peak is a 1921 meter peak (Huangmaojian). These latter two peaks are close to the beach location marked on the map at top. Nephi may have gone to one of these peaks to receive instructions regarding the construction of the ship.

There also appears to be highly elevated land (cliffs, perhaps) at the sea shore. In short, the topography of this area fits the descriptions of the topography of Bountiful. Ore, timber and flint are all in local abundance. The only thing that needs to be verified is whether wild honey and fruit grew there 2600 years ago.

The sea voyage to the promised land

Sailing “nearly eastward” from China at around 30 degrees North Latitude and keeping a straight course, Lehi’s group would have landed in North America at the narrow neck of land we know as Baja California.  The eastward trek of the map at the top has a path that leads directly to Bahia de Tortugas, Baja California Sur, Mexico (29º 38’ 42″ North Latitude and 114º 51’ 22″ West Longitude).

Answering an objection

The following is an objection based upon a purported revelation:

There’s a revelation given to Joseph Smith that explains the path Lehi and his family took as being a predominantly south/southeast route. The revelation even goes on to give the latitude at which they landed on the west coast of the South American Continent. It’s in Fred Collier’s “Unpublished Revelations” Vol 1, around section 30.

The purported revelation is quoted in the following online document:

The matter of Lehi’s landing site has been the subject of much debate, for obviously, pin-pointing the actual site where Lehi’s colony landed would tend to isolate the regions he and his family came to occupy. Knowing how important such a discovery would be, several sites have been proposed over the years, but none more controversial than one made by Frederick G. Williams who claimed Lehi landed in Chile. Unfortunately that theory was based on very shaky grounds, and thus the cause of much contention. The original theory was based on a lone statement by Williams, who, sometime between 1836 and 1845, wrote down a comment about Lehi’s party landing at 30 degrees south latitude in Chile during his association with the Prophet. It went as follows:

The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south, south east direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North Latitude, then nearly east to the Sea of Arabia then sailed in a south east direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chili (sic.) thirty degrees south Latitude.[1]

(Taken from here.)

That doesn’t sound to me like a revelation given by the Prophet, but as mere speculation on the part of Williams. The same page continues:

We might be puzzled somewhat by the details contained in this statement which give it a certain air of believability, but we must remember that most of these directions were already given in the scriptures. For example, we learn of the direction Lehi and his family journeyed once they left Jerusalem in 1 Nephi 16:13, where we read they traveled in a south, southeast direction. (Continuing in that direction would have taken them to 19 degrees north latitude, another natural assumption.)

And that, I think, is the whole point. Everyone (including Williams) reads the Book of Mormon account, looks at a map, and assumes that they entered the water at the Arabian Sea. For more in depth analysis of Frederick William’s claim, please see the entire document.

A straight course

The Arabian Sea route does not work because if Lehi’s party turned eastward at a southern point on the east side of the Red Sea, and then traveled nearly eastward for eight years, they would end up zigzagging around. If they walked a straight course nearly eastward, it would not take them eight years to cross such a short distance.

Additionally, once they got to the Arabian Sea, built the ship and launched, they would not be able to travel in a straight course, but would have to navigate around India, Australia, etc., zigzagging around to get to the promised.

The Liahona was a type or shadow of the word of God, and it functioned in the same way as His word, bringing them in a straight course to the promised land. When they got the Liahona, it pointed south-southeast until they got to where Nephi broke his bow. Then it pointed in the opposite direction, towards Jerusalem. When they finally were ready to make the trip to the promised land, it pointed east, towards the promised land. Its course at this point, had to be a straight, not crooked, course or path, because it was a type of the word of God.

And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.

And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.

And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.

Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;

Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.

For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. (Alma 37:38-45)

Thus we see that the Arabian Sea route cannot have been the path taken by Lehi’s party, for when the Liahona began pointing to the promised land, it pointed to them a straight course. The course from their camp near Jerusalem to the eastern coast of China was straight, as straight as any arrow. And if you continue on that path into the sea, not deviating one bit, it points a straight course to North America, landing them in current day Mexico.

Now, we know that their path on the sea was straight, for Nephi states that “we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land” (1 Ne. 18:8.) And after Laman and Lemuel’s rebellion upon the waters, and the action of the storm driving them “back upon the waters for the space of four days” (1 Ne. 18:15), when the Liahona began working again, they “sailed again towards the promised land” (1 Ne. 18:22.) So, they sailed “nearly eastward” from the eastern coast of China in a straight course towards the promised land.

The Arabian Sea path would have had the ship sailing, at times, away from the promised land, or not towards it. Therefore, it cannot be the route they took, for such a route would invalidate the statements of the Book of Mormon itself, concerning how the Liahona worked.

With this understanding in mind, statements such as these make much more sense:

But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth. (Alma 7:9)

For I perceive that ye are in the paths of righteousness; I perceive that ye are in the path which leads to the kingdom of God; yea, I perceive that ye are making his paths straight. I perceive that it has been made known unto you, by the testimony of his word, that he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round. (Alma 7:19-20)

Yea, even he should go forth and cry in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. And much spake my father concerning this thing. (1 Ne. 10:8)

And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round. (Alma 37:12)

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. (2 Ne. 9:41)

O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy. (2 Ne. 4:33)

The journey of Lehi’s camp to the promised land from Jerusalem was a type of our journey back to God. There was no deviation in the course, except insofar as they disobeyed the commands of God and were driven back or did not go forward, tarrying in one location because the Liahona would not work while they were slothful. Everything that was in their way—and if you look at the map above and click the terrain button, you will see that much of the land they passed through before arriving in Bountiful, China was impassable—was to be cleared by the Lord, whether by removing it, climbing over it, or simply making it disappear. At no point were they to go around obstacles in their path. The trip was designed to demonstrate the power of God to them. It was to be an impossible trip made possible by the miracles of God.

Nephi’s prayer in 2 Ne. 4 also demonstrates an undeviating course. When he pleads with the Lord to not place stumbling blocks in his way, he speaks from experience, having passed through the mightiest stumbling blocks of all, the exceedingly high mountains of Asia. He never prays to be given a path around his obstacles. The objects in his way are to go around him, not he going around them. When he pleads with the Lord to clear his way before him and not hedge his way, he is again speaking from experience, having seen the power of God make the earth “pass away,” and “cause the rough places to be made smooth, and smooth places” (1 Ne. 17:46) to be broken up. Laman and Lemuel witnessed these miracles, too, which is why he said to them that “ye also know” (1 Ne. 17:46.)

All these things happened in their eight year trek across Asia, while following an undeviating, straight course to the promised land. Jacob said “that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea” (Jacob 4:6.) You can bet that such gifts came in handy as they plugged onward and eastward through the Asian continent. For, again, it was never the design of God that they go around obstacles, such as mountains, but to either go over them, or through them, or to use their faith to remove them from their path, that the course of the Lord would remain straight and that God could show forth His power to them, that they might glorify His name and that the whole journey would serve as a type.

How the Liahona worked

The Liahona contained two spindles, both of which operated in a miraculous manner. One spindle pointed to true north, differing from normal compasses, which point to magnetic north. Nevertheless, the Liahona was still called a compass despite its apparent violation of the laws of physics. The other spindle pointed the way the party was to go. When they were finally on the trip to the promised land, that spindle pointed nearly eastward, to an exact spot of land, the very place they were to land their ship on the western coast of North America. No matter which direction they turned the Liahona, each spindle always pointed to those two spots: one pointing to true north and the other pointing to the landing spot on the west coast of North America.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things. (1 Ne. 16:28-29)

Alma said, “[The Liahona] was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness” (Alma 37:39), not the direction. Lehi’s party had to do two things with the Liahona: first, they had to give “faith and diligence and heed” (1 Ne. 16: 28) to the pointers (spindles), and secondly, they had to give “faith and diligence” (1 Ne. 16:29) to the writing that appeared upon it from time to time.

How the Liahona worked

Obeying the spindles

One spindle pointed to them the course, while the other spindle (which pointed to true north) allowed them to know the direction, they were to travel. The difference between course and direction is significant. The course is the path they were expected to travel and there was just one such prescribed path. If they did not travel on that specific course, the Liahona stopped working. And they were expected to go along the path and in the direction that the spindle pointed, regardless of the obstacle that may have been in their path. If they tried to deviate to go around an obstacle, the Liahona stopped working. If they tried to go around an obstacle, so that they were now on the other side of the obstacle, but in the apparent path that the Liahona had previously pointed out (when it was working), it still did not begin working. Any deviation was a sin, because they did not give faith, diligence and heed to the pointer and the path it pointed out.

To cause the Liahona to begin working again, they had to return to the point at which it worked previously, and then resume following the spindle from that point onward, through the obstacle they had attempted to avoid. Thus, it was impossible for them to find the promised land except by following the precise path that the Liahona pointed out to them. There were no short cuts. The manner in which they got the Liahona working again was also to serve as a type, for the repentance process. When we repent, we “return” to the Lord. When they repented from their course deviation, they “returned” to the point prior to where they had deviated from the course.

Obeying the writing

In addition to following the precise course pointed out by the spindles, they also had to follow whatever other instructions were written upon the Liahona from day to day. The spindles and the writings were designed to both test and develop their faith and diligence. The writings developed faith by giving instructions in order to have miracles happen, that they would be able to find food, warmth, light, healing and have the obstacles in their way overcome. The whole thing was miraculous, through and through. In other words, none of the instructions were mundane, or of a non-miraculous nature. Whatever they were instructed to do by the writings, was, essentially, impossible to do. But they were expected to do it anyway. In this way, “they had…many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day” (Alma 37:40.)

The writing part of the Liahona is what both Nephi and Alma referred to as “small means.” The writings were similar to how Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy, who was instructed to dip himself seven times in the Jordan. The whole premise of being healed in this way is preposterous, yet the miracle occurred anyway. Such were all of the written instructions upon the Liahona. Great and marvelous and miraculous works were accomplished by the party when they had faith in the writings and were diligent in following them precisely, despite the rational mind’s natural rejection of them.

When they did not exercise faith to make the Liahona work, the spindles (both of them) no longer pointed to their two locations. (Perhaps they just spun around or dipped or joined together or did some other thing that alerted the party that the device no longer worked.) And the miraculous writings stopped appearing, “and then those marvelous works ceased” (Alma 37:41.)

Both spindles were fixed

The direction of the spindle that pointed to the promised land was always fixed. It did not point to them a series of directions to get to the promised land, such as east, then northeast, then southeast, then east again, so that they could go around obstacles in their path, but it simply pointed a straight course to the promised land, or it pointed to the exact spot at the promised land that the Lord was leading them to, as well as the course they were to travel. It did this whether over land or over sea.

The Liahona operated in a similar way for the first leg of the trip, pointing to a spot nearly south-southeast of Lemuel, somewhere down the eastern coast of the Red Sea. When they got to that spot, it pointed nearly north-northwest to a spot close to Lemuel, then it pointed to Camp #4, which was close to Jerusalem, so that the party “traveled nearly the same course as in the beginning”, or retraced nearly the same path they had already traveled. Finally, it pointed to some exact location in North America. In each of these occasions in which it pointed to different, but exact places, it was a straight course. There was no crooked wandering involved, only wandering in a straight course, because this is how it worked, after the manner of the Lord.

The voyage over sea was also straight

When Nephi stated, “and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1) everyone misinterprets him as referring only to that portion of their journey which was over land, and not to that portion which was over water. They assume that once upon the waters of the sea, the ship traveled a crooked path. But this assumption is taken only because everyone thinks they launched from the Arabian peninsula. The truth of the matter is that Nephi’s words apply to the entire journey, over land and sea, all the way to the promised land. They traveled “nearly eastward from that time forth” over both land and water.

The course of their travels.” (Nephi’s summary of 1 Nephi)

The Arabian Sea path theory is wrong because of the nature of Nephi’s account. Although the account is an abridgment, Nephi is giving us compass directions so that we know where they went. He tells us nearly south-southeast. Then he tells us they retraced their path, nearly to Jerusalem. Then he tells us that they visited Nahom (to bury Ishmael), an already existing place in Jerusalem, as if we ought to know where that place is. Then he tells us Lehi leads the party out of Jerusalem, to their camp. Then he tells us they went from that time forth nearly eastward. Nephi tells us these directions because it is enough information for us to figure out their path, both on the land and on the sea.

The Arabian Sea path theory, though, would have Nephi give us directions on the land only, and then when it comes to the sea path, well, then he does not tell us where they went, nor where they landed in America, because they zigzagged around on the water, supposedly. So, perhaps they landed in Chile, perhaps somewhere else. It is anyone’s guess.

In other words, the Arabian Sea path theory, which is false, defeats the purpose of Nephi in showing us the path they took.

Who cares that you launched from the Arabian peninsula, Nephi? We still don’t have enough information to know where you landed in the Americas!”

Of course, such is not case. We now know both the path taken by the party over land, over sea, and also the approximate spot they landed at the promised land. And the whole thing is consistent with the scriptures, without having to wrest what they have said about how the Liahona actually worked, etc.

Footnotes

1 The average daily walking distance for humans over level land is about 20 miles a day, however a loaded camel can traverse about 25 miles a day. This means that for the three days of travel, the family may have covered anywhere from 60 to 75 miles from the northern rim of the Red Sea. Owing that they were trying to escape an assassination attempt upon Lehi, they might have been in a rush to get as far away and as quickly from Jerusalem as possible, so their walk was very possibly quite brisk, which may have allowed them to cover more ground than average for each of these three days.

At the far end of possibilities, in terms of the distance they may have been able to cover in three days, lies Wadi Tayyib al-Ism, which is at the 75 mile mark, just about the right distance for loaded camel travel and which has all of the right characteristics for being the valley of Lemuel, as well as the “only observed continually running source of water in the entire region.” The stream technically empties into the Red Sea from underground, diving “beneath a gravel bed 600 or so yards from the shoreline,” though there is geological evidence that at one time in the past the water level of the Red Sea connected to the mouth of the river, so that it was actually observed to empty into it. This may be where Lehi made his first camp.

2 Charlotte wrote:

We know Nephi had sisters because they are mentioned in 2 Nephi 5:6 (“Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.”)

1 Nephi 2:5 lists the people that traveled in the wilderness with Lehi. (“And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.”)

I think it is commonly believed that the sisters of Nephi are not listed because they are female, and that answer satisfied me when I first asked the question as a young woman. However, that explanation is no longer satisfactory. I don’t think it makes sense when you consider that Sariah is a woman and she made it onto the list.

Some time ago, before I had really gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, I decided to read it again, and that verse (1 Nephi 2:5) stuck out to me. At the time, I believed that the sisters of Nephi should have been listed, and I confess it started to kind of bother me. At the time, I felt like I had two choices: I could believe this verse was a flaw; that Nephi made a mistake when he left his sisters off the list; I could criticize the best book ever written and one of the greatest prophets this world has ever known; I could let that verse put doubt into my mind about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Or I could have faith that there is a perfectly good explanation.

I chose faith.

We always have a choice between faith and doubt.

And God blessed me for it.

There came into my mind a perfectly good explanation: the sisters of Nephi were perhaps already married to the sons of Ishmael and weren’t part of the household of Lehi anymore. I felt at peace and I went back to re-read the narrative to confirm that the idea was in harmony with the scriptures.

I found that the theory does indeed fit the scriptures, and that it actually helps to explain some curious parts of the story.

It helps explain why Ishmael’s household was willing to follow Nephi into the wilderness. I can just imagine the sisters of Nephi wanting to go with their mother and helping to convince their husbands that it was a good idea. Also, Ishmael was not just a family friend but was actually related to Lehi by marriage. Ishmael and Lehi perhaps had grandchildren in common. My husband and I were the first ones in our families to get married, and our families have always been close. Our families still have an Epiphany party together every January, and my father-in-law often has dinner with my parents, even though my husband and I live too far away to attend. There are other examples as well of how our families are close. Because of this, it is easy for me to imagine the strong connection Ishmael and Lehi might have had.

It’s one thing for a theory to make sense, but it’s something more for there to be scriptures that support the theory. Besides the sisters not being listed in 1 Nephi 2:5 but showing up in the story later, I have found a few more scriptures that help to convince me that my theory is right.

1 Nephi 7:1 mentions the need for Lehi’s sons to get married, but doesn’t say anything about his daughters needing to get married: “AND now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.”

One of the strongest verses in support of my theory is this one. When Nephi and his brothers were leading Ishmael and his household into the wilderness, some of the party rebelled against Nephi. 1 Nephi 7:6: “And it came to pass that as we journeyed in the wilderness, behold Laman and Lemuel, and two of the daughters of Ishmael, and the two sons of Ishmael and their families, did rebel against us; yea, against me, Nephi, and Sam, and their father, Ishmael, and his wife, and his three other daughters.” Notice that this verse says “the two sons of Ishmael AND THEIR FAMILIES.” This is a clue that the sons of Ishmael were already married at this point.

1 Nephi 16:7 lists several marriages that took place in the wilderness, but it doesn’t mention the sons of Ishmael getting married. “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife.”

There is no mistaking the fact that the sons of Ishmael were married at some point. Several scriptures mention their wives or their families (see, for example, 1 Nephi 7:6; 1 Nephi 16:27; 1 Nephi 18:9). I suppose there might be another theory that allows the sons of Ishmael to be married to women other than Nephi’s sisters, but there is some additional evidence that they were indeed married to Nephi’s sisters: Lehi calls the sons of Ishmael his sons (2 Nephi 1:28: “And now my son, Laman, and also Lemuel and Sam, and also my sons who are the sons of Ishmael, behold, if ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi ye shall not perish. And if ye will hearken unto him I leave unto you a blessing, yea, even my first blessing.”), which makes the most sense if they were his sons-in-law. He does not call Zoram his son (2 Nephi 1:30: “And now, Zoram, I speak unto you: Behold, thou art the servant of Laban; nevertheless, thou hast been brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever.”) so I don’t think Lehi considered the sons of Ishmael to be his sons in a figurative sense.

If you believe Nephi’s sisters were married to the sons of Ishmael (no matter when they actually married them), you might notice that in 2 Nephi, when Lehi has died and the party separates into two groups, the story seems to imply that the sons of Ishmael go with Laman (2 Nephi 4:13: “And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.”) and the sisters of Nephi leave their husbands to go with Nephi (2 Nephi 5:6, quoted in full above).

All-in-all, I think the scriptures support my theory more than they support the idea that the sisters of Nephi traveled into the wilderness with Lehi from the beginning and married the sons of Ishmael later.

3 The average distance they could have traveled between Lemuel and Shazer would have been 80 miles walking and 100 miles with loaded camels. To recap: it took three days to get to the valley of Lemuel and four more days to get to Shazer. Shazer, then, was seven days’ walking distance (one week) from the land of Jerusalem, or between 140 (at 20 miles per day) and 175 (at 25 miles per day) miles away.

4 Using the Rule of Marteloio, for every 100 miles they traveled East by North (78.75º) or East by South (101.25º), it means that their position relative to East (90º) was as if they traveled 98 miles East and then traveled 20 miles either North or South. For a bearing of 91º or 89º, the Rule of Marteloio would put you 1 mile North or South for every 54.635 miles you travel East.

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Community, Intimacy, and Connection


The Mormon Archetype of Zion:

And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

The ever-present archetype in Mormon culture of the “City of Enoch” – of that first city of Zion that was taken up into heaven:

Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven.

and that is promised to return at a point when there is another city of Zion on the earth to meet them:

And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah; And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; […] and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.

And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.

This romantic archetype is played out in various historical instances throughout the scriptural record.

After Alma fled into the wilderness, the community of believers that joined with him:

were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.

And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.  And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.  Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.

And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.

And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.

[…]

And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.

And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.  And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.

And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the community of believers in Judea:

continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

After Jesus’ visitation with Lehi’s descendents in the Americas, the disciples of Jesus there:

had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.

And it came to pass […] the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.  And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

Joseph Smith’s Desire for Zion:

These “Zions” where there are no rich and no poor, where all impart of their substance freely with one another, having no contentions, and having all things common [not “in common”, I think there’s a difference] have been a big part of Mormon history and collective culture.

The passion for that kind of community is behind a lot of what Joseph Smith was doing while he was alive – trying to get a united order of unrelated believers in Christ bound together by covenant into a whole new people-group.  A tribal community bound by covenant, in an effort to get away from the traditional order of a “church” of unrelated believers in this-or-that set of creeds.

For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion — For a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto my church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven;

That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.  For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;

For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.  And now, verily thus saith the Lord, it is expedient that all things be done unto my glory, by you who are joined together in this order;

[…]

Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, to prepare and organize yourselves by a bond or everlasting covenant that cannot be broken.  And he who breaketh it shall lose his office and standing in the church, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption.

But history has shown the Gentile church of God to be a hard-hearted and faithless bunch.  They are content with having one man sit atop the power-pyramid and habitually obey what he says – they receive equal “experience quotient” from images and representations compared to what’s being imaged and represented.

They rejected this consecration and never really got around to plural marriage as a genuine priesthood order of joining groups of like-minded strangers into bona-fide tribes of Israel – but rather kept it only as a social convention.

Polygamy became required for polygamy’s sake alone.  Polyandry was also out-right rejected, without which polygamy does not build joint-stewardships – just enlarges any one man’s single stewardship.  And so:

behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.

Failed Attempts to Recapture Zion:

Mormon history is full of examples of believers going off to form “United Orders” – communal groups where they attempt to live the “higher law” of consecration, meaning to share all that they have with everyone else in the community.  These endeavors have always met failure, and it’s because of one common feature that connects them all – they have always attempted to do so while keeping many small, separate families.

If they are monogamous LDS, then they’ll keep many small, separate monogamous families – and if Mormon fundamentalists, then it’ll be many, small separate polygynous ones.  But the separate-family feature is always the same.

However, without a covenant-based structure in which I may bind myself as a joint-steward with another to share our all commonly with each other according to the principle of charity – such a celestial, “Zion” community will never happen.  It’ll all go well so long as the circumstances go well, but by-and-by the end cometh.

For less-radical LDS, a common goal is to stay where they are and try to get their local ward to be the vehicle that produces a celestial community, or Zion.  One may see sacrament meeting talks and lessons on using fast offerings to “impart of our surplus”, on reminding us that there is no prohibition from leadership against using Welfare Services to live the “higher law” of consecration at a time when we’re only required to live the “lesser law” of tithing, and on trying to come up with way to make our church experience a more open place and have more of a “Zion-like” atmosphere.

Zion requires great intimacy and connection among the members.  The church lacks this intimacy and connection because we are all still strangers.  The only way to achieve Zion, or even a Zion-like atmosphere at church, is for members to all be connected to each other through covenants.  As it stands, the church only connects us to Christ through covenants, but not to each other.  As long as we remain unfettered by covenant relationships with each other, we will never achieve Zion and our words and deeds at church will never approach the level of intimacy and sharing required of that ideal.

So we may arrive at the point where we are no longer:

strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

People desire this sense of community, connection, and intimacy – yet we are all still strangers.  I received this as a revelation last week, and I’m willing to state it here as a prophecy – and it’s that:

nothing we are currently doing with church will ever produce the kind of Zion-like community we read about in the scriptures.

The gathered body of believers is supposed to be the result of these feelings of community – it can never be the means we use to achieve it.

Why does he always end-up talking about polygamy?

The level of intimacy and connection required to have the kind of community where what’s mine is yours [and yours, mine], where we all deal with each other based on the principle of charity, having no contention, imparting of our substance freely one with another, etc. – is something only arising out of kinship [or family-bonds].

For example, my entire paycheck goes into one bank account that my wife is free to spend on whatever she feels will satisfy her needs and the needs of our children.  Her and I already share all things common, I impart of my substance [and my time, my attention, my affection, etc.] freely with her and our children, etc.  In other words,

The family is the basic unit of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the most important social unit in time and eternity…

meaning, living in such a Zion-like community starts the moment a man marries a woman.  The two are gathered in Christ’s name, there He will be in the midst of them [Matthew 18:20] – and the twain shall be one flesh [D&C 49:16].

This connectivity is the key.  However, if such a community starts with the basic-unit of a man marrying a woman – then how can we expect to grow the community on any different sets of principles [other than men and women marrying]?

So that– if I had two wives, then the second wife would receive just as free of access to my time, talents, resources, and love as my current wife does.  If my wife receives a second husband, then I expect his entire paycheck to go into that same account – and for him to devote that same level of intimacy to my wife and her children, as I do.  Because this is the covenant-obligation we place ourselves under in marriage.

While I don’t think plural marriages need to be a “hill-to-die-on” for this whole idea [I’m all for anarchy, local solutions to local problems, letting people tailor their situation to particular circumstances, etc.] – I can state declaratively that any group that would out-right and from the get-go forbid plural marriages will always be limited — will always approach but never arrive.

Admittedly, one does not just generate a new spouse out of thin-air.  So I can agree that it’s good to start [perhaps] with a focus on getting people getting unplugged from wires and satellites, on getting outside more, on getting together with real human-beings more, etc.  That’s approaching a real kind of community with people in a positive way – people, who can then come to know each other well enough to begin to desire courting and joining together as plural spouses.

If the church actually wanted Zion, then I think most would be surprised over the number of both LDS and non-LDS who would be ready to sign on for it — if it meant living for a higher purpose.  But they don’t.  Marching orders are to get as much education as you can, so you can make as much income as you can, so you can pay more in tithes and offerings.  It’s to just stay where you are and live out as normal of a life as you can — but with just a bit of Mormon flare to it [e.g., serve a two-year mission, civilly marry in a temple, pay 10% of your paycheck to the church, do your home and visiting teaching, keep a current temple recommend, etc.]

Eternity is NOW, and we can make a heaven of it or we can make a hell of it:

The “idea of Zion” [just wanting to talk about Zion] is keeping us separate.  We see a paradisaical, Zion community as this pie-in-the-sky utopia that we can just sit around, occupy our time, and wait for Jesus to return and have it all fall in our laps.  We think our separateness is just fine to settle for here-and-now because one day we will have Zion in which to be together.  Just having the “idea” of it all is what’s keeping us apart and wasting all the life that we could be living, right now.

When I think Jesus has been the one just waiting –waiting on us to get a culture of heaven established here on earth – to have things “on earth” as they are “in heaven” – so He doesn’t end-up killing us with such a culture shock.  One should learn to swim before being plopped out in the ocean.  It would be best to know how to drive before getting behind the wheel of a car.

Instead of thinking, “Oh, we’ll just get it all figured out after we die [or after Jesus returns, etc.]” – we’re supposed to be doing it all here, all now – otherwise we’ll drown when we’re immersed in Zion in the future.

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