The doctrine against dissent


I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine. (D&C 38:27)

Unity is required of the saints

We are commanded to “be one” (D&C 51:9) in Christ, even “as [Jesus is] one in the Father” (D&C 35:2), for the gospel principle of unity is patterned after the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, “which is one Eternal God” (Alma 11:44). The required oneness is to “be perfect” (2 Cor. 13:11), the saints being commanded to be “of one mind” (1 Pet. 3:8), “of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32), “of one accord” (Philip. 2:2), of “one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity” (Mosiah 18:21), as “one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5), being “united in all things” (2 Ne. 1:21) and “united in mighty prayer and fasting” (3 Ne. 27:1).

The “one body in Christ” refers to the church of God, meaning that the saints have a “duty to unite with the true church” (D&C 23:7), to worship as a group and “agree upon [God’s] word” (D&C 41:2). This is a physical gathering of saints in which they are to “meet together often” (D&C 20:55,75).

Just as the resurrection of the dead will dress the naked spirits again, restoring the body “unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy” (D&C 138:17), so the physically gathered church, or corporate body of the church, is designed to never be divided into schisms, so that it becomes “a whole and complete and perfect union” (D&C 128:18).

Such unity is only to be of like things, thus the saints have been taught by Paul “that a believer should not be united to an unbeliever” (D&C 74:5) and every man of the church has been commanded by the Lord to “be alike among this people, and receive alike” (D&C 51:9).

The commandment to be one makes dissenting behavior a sin

There are nine instances of the word dissent in the scriptures, all of which occur in the Book of Mormon. The word never appears as a noun, only as a verb. It is also always portrayed as a sin.

For the modern reader, using modern dictionaries, the idea of dissenting behavior being a sin makes no sense, whatsoever. A review of the modern definitions and the definitions at the time of the publication of the Book of Mormon (taken from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) will quickly show why there is so much confusion on this issue.

According to the modern definition of the intransitive verb to dissent, it means “to withhold assent” or “to differ in opinion.” (Assent means “an act of agreeing to something especially after thoughtful consideration : an act of assenting : acquiescence, agreement”.) The verb has no religious connotation, however if we look at the noun dissent, we find that although it can be used generally to mean a “difference of opinion”, it also can be used more specifically to mean either “religious nonconformity,” “a justice’s nonconcurrence with a decision of the majority,” or “political opposition to a government or its policies.”

The current religious meaning (“religious nonconformity”) is a nonspecific version of what the word used to mean during the times of Joseph Smith. In Joseph’s time, to religiously dissent specifically meant “to differ from an established church, in regard to doctrines, rites or government.”

So, for example, if all the men who attend my ward dress in white shirts and ties (not because of church doctrines, rites or government, but just because that is the customary attire) and I attend wearing a blue shirt with no tie, I am guilty of nonconformity (and some might call it religious nonconformity since it is nonconformity to a custom that occurs in a religious setting), but not guilty of differing from the established doctrines, rites or government of my ward, for none of that gives a dress code for attending the ward. Dissent in the modern sense could be any religious nonconformity, regardless of how insignificant it is, whereas dissenting behavior in Joseph’s time specifically meant nonconformity to the doctrines, rites or government of an established church.

No one can righteously dissent from the true church of God

The scriptures brought forth by Joseph Smith teach that dissenting behavior is a sin, but this must be understood by the definition used in Joseph’s time. Here are all nine instances in which the word dissent is used in the scriptures, all of which are found only in the Book of Mormon:

And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah. (Alma 43:13)

And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented even from the church; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous, notwithstanding their great victory which they had had over the Lamanites, and their great rejoicings which they had had because of their deliverance by the hand of the Lord. (Alma 46:7)

And now who knoweth but what the remnant of the seed of Joseph, which shall perish as his garment, are those who have dissented from us? Yea, and even it shall be ourselves if we do not stand fast in the faith of Christ.

And now it came to pass that when Moroni had said these words he went forth, and also sent forth in all the parts of the land where there were dissensions, and gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented, who were called Amalickiahites. (Alma 46:27-28)

Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of those who were once their brethren, yea, and had dissented from their church, and had left them and had gone to destroy them by joining the Lamanites. (Alma 48:24)

Behold, can you suppose that the Lord will spare you and come out in judgment against the Lamanites, when it is the tradition of their fathers that has caused their hatred, yea, and it has been redoubled by those who have dissented from us, while your iniquity is for the cause of your love of glory and the vain things of the world? (Alma 60:32)

And I write this epistle unto you, Lachoneus, and I hope that ye will deliver up your lands and your possessions, without the shedding of blood, that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government, and except ye do this, I will avenge their wrongs. I am Giddianhi.

And now it came to pass when Lachoneus received this epistle he was exceedingly astonished, because of the boldness of Giddianhi demanding the possession of the land of the Nephites, and also of threatening the people and avenging the wrongs of those that had received no wrong, save it were they had wronged themselves by dissenting away unto those wicked and abominable robbers. (3 Ne. 3:10-11)

Now there was one among them who was a Nephite by birth, who had once belonged to the church of God but had dissented from them. (Hel. 5:35)

All dissenters from the true church of God are sinners

According to our modern dictionaries, a dissenter is “one that dissents”, and since we know what it means to religiously dissent, that means that a religious dissenter is one that does not religiously conform. But in the time of Joseph Smith, a dissenter was “one who separates from the service and worship of any established church.”

The words dissent and dissenters, as found in the standard works, carry the meanings the words had during the time of Joseph Smith. So, when we read in the Book of Mormon that there were people in the church who dissented, it doesn’t mean that there was a difference of opinion or general religious nonconformity, but that those who dissented were advocating a change in the church’s doctrines, rites or government. And when we read of dissenters from the church in the same record, it does not mean that they were just people who had a difference of opinion, but that they were people who had separated from the church and had begun performing worship services that were different from those of the church.

Unbelief is the cause of dissenting behavior

Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers. They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.

And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God. (Mosiah 26:1-4)

Although the above scripture speaks of non-members who never ended up joining the church, the dissenting process is the same for members of God’s church. Any believing member who chooses to begin to doubt the word of God will begin to dissent in his heart, meaning that he will begin to desire that the doctrines, rites and/or government of the church of God be changed (in conformity with his new belief system). This state of heart, in which the man spiritually separates himself from those who choose to not doubt the word of God, can lead to contention and disputations, and if not resolved by a restoration of belief (through repentance), ultimately will end in the member becoming a dissenter, so that he now physically separates from the body of the church and engages in worship services of another church or belief system. The Zoramites present a prime example of this process:

And it came to pass that as he [Korihor] went forth among the people, yea, among a people who had separated themselves from the Nephites and called themselves Zoramites, being led by a man whose name was Zoram—and as he went forth amongst them, behold, he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead. (Alma 30:59)

Now it came to pass that after the end of Korihor, Alma having received tidings that the Zoramites were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols, his heart again began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people. (Alma 31:1)

Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them. But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses. Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation. Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them. (Alma 31:8-11)

We see from this that Zoramite dissenters had separated themselves from both the church of God and also the Nephite nation itself, creating a new religion which rejected the established doctrines, rites and government of God. This separation occurred because they stopped believing in the things of God, as taught and practiced by God’s church:

Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. (Alma 31:16)

All dissenters from the church of God make the same claim: that the church of God is apostate and thus its doctrines, rites or government must be modified in order to bring it back into God’s good graces. This claim may be made because the church does not sufficiently change with the times or it may be made because the church has made a change that the dissenters feel was not authorized by God. When the saints of God inevitably refuse to permit the dissenters from altering God’s current callings, laws and ordinances to conform to a more modern philosophy or to a more ancient or earlier practice, the dissenters separate and do their own thing, becoming a law unto themselves.

Now, from the perspective of the church body, to dissent is to advocate heresy and thus a dissenter is an apostate heretic (someone who advocates heresy and has separated from the church), whereas from the perspective of the dissenter, the church is too corrupt (apostate) to improve and thus must be abandoned and perhaps even actively criticized and fought.

We see from this that both sides make, essentially, the same claim: that the other party is in error and refuses to be corrected.

Unrepentant dissenters must be silenced and cut off

Unbelief is an infectious plague, that if left unchecked will affect the entire church body, causing both spiritual and temporal destruction to come upon the church. Spiritual destruction happens because unbelief and dissenting behavior are sins, thus subjecting the man to the devil’s power and captivation. And temporal destruction happens because the church body no longer qualifies for temporal deliverance from the Lord, which requires unity.

Because of these real dangers to the church, when a dissenting voice is heard among the church, it must be silenced as soon as possible. Thus we read,

And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes; and after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes (WoM 1:15-16)

False Christs, false prophets, false preachers and false teachers cause people to doubt the word of God, creating dissenting behavior, which could grow into church schisms, in which people become dissenters, separating from the church of God. There are three valid (authorized) ways that men of God use to silence dissenting voices.

And there were no contentions, save it were a few that began to preach, endeavoring to prove by the scriptures that it was no more expedient to observe the law of Moses. Now in this thing they did err, having not understood the scriptures. But it came to pass that they soon became converted, and were convinced of the error which they were in, for it was made known unto them that the law was not yet fulfilled, and that it must be fulfilled in every whit; yea, the word came unto them that it must be fulfilled; yea, that one jot or tittle should not pass away till it should all be fulfilled; therefore in this same year were they brought to a knowledge of their error and did confess their faults. (3 Nephi 1:24-25)

So, the first way to silence false ideas and teachings is to have the high priests correct the errors, showing them their faults, so that such people repent of their sins and turn from their errors and become, again, converted to the true faith and doctrines and rites and government of God, confessing their faults. This first step allows people who made honest, doctrinal mistakes to self-correct and remain in safety with the body of the saints.

If, however, the false teachers do not repent, but persist in their dissenting behavior, endeavoring to preach and teach the same errors (heresies) to other members of the church, the high priests are required to shut their mouths by cutting them off from the church. Although the now non-member is free to preach as he sees fit to the members, excommunication removes his legitimacy in the eyes of the body, so that they may more readily see that the false teacher is in error, and thus should not be listened to.

Repentance, disfellowship or excommunication

In the modern church of God, the saints have been give three ways to deal with dissenting behavior: the leadership can correct the errors and those who dissent can repent and be restored to full fellowship, or, if the dissenter needs more time to repent and come to a proper understanding of the word of God, he may be disfellowshipped, so that he is not permitted to teach false doctrine to the church, until such time as he fully repents and becomes, again, a believer in God’s word, understanding it by the Spirit. Disfellowship really is for those who are still confused over the word of God, but who desire to come to an understanding that allows them to remain with the church. The last way is excommunication, which is for dissenters who refuse to repent or even acknowledge that they have done anything wrong.

The door is left open to return to the flock

Jesus told His twelve disciples, concerning the member of the church that was unworthy of partaking of the sacrament, because of transgression,

But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth. (3 Nephi 18:31-33)

Excommunication, then, is a true principle of the gospel, one which must be performed on all those church members who do not repent of their sins after they have been admonished of them. Following this commandment keeps those who are in charge of regulating the church justified before the Lord, and also keeps the flock safer from the effects of false teachings and bad examples, which effects or fruit is spiritual and temporal destruction. The commandment to excommunicate unrepentant sinners was also given to the modern church, with the same promise of justification for the leadership if they obey the same.

And him that repenteth not of his sins, and confesseth them not, ye shall bring before the church, and do with him as the scripture saith unto you, either by commandment or by revelation. And this ye shall do that God may be glorified—not because ye forgive not, having not compassion, but that ye may be justified in the eyes of the law, that ye may not offend him who is your lawgiver—verily I say, for this cause ye shall do these things. (D&C 64:12-14)

So, even if the judges (who are charged to judge whether the sinner will remain in the church) forgive the man who refuses to repent of his sins, and would rather release him without any discipline applied, doing so would break the commandment given to the leadership, of excommunicating (cutting off) unrepentant sinners. The only way to remain justified before the Lord is to obey the commandment and cut off all those who refuse to repent, regardless of what the sin is.

Nevertheless, after being cut off, they (the leadership) must keep an open door policy, allowing the dissenters who repent of their sins to come back into the fold.

A difference of opinion does not constitute dissenting behavior

Scriptural dissenting behavior deals only with church doctrines, rites and government. Some people, though, cannot differentiate between scriptural dissenting behavior and the modern, generic definition of dissent, which merely means “a difference of opinion.” So any censuring they see, of any kind, is viewed as morally wrong, a violation of one’s right to free speech, as put down in the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The problem with that view, is that a church is not a public institution, but a private one, and like all private institutions, it has certain rules which its membership is expected to obey.

We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship. (D&C 134:10)

A case in point: Korihor

In December of 2011, I wrote on the Times and Seasons blog the following:

Korihor was not a religious freedom advocate battling an oppressive central government.

Korihor was a liar couching his lies under the guise of belief. He did this because liars were punished, it being against the law to lie (see Alma 1:16-17.) So, he pretended to preach according to his belief. Everyone who heard him preach, knew he was lying, for he told blatant lies (see Alma 30:35) but pretended it was merely his belief. He was repeatedly bound and taken before the authorities because it was obvious to everyone that he was breaking the law by lying, but no one knew what to do with him because of his stubbornness in always couching it in belief, for the law had no hold upon anyone for their belief. In other words, atheists had freedom in their society, but not pretended atheists, only people who truly believed that there was no God. Korihor, though, from his speech, revealed himself to be a liar and showed that his intention was to merely deceive the people.

Now the text clearly shows that this was Korihor’s crime: lies. Repeatedly when questioned by Alma, the topic of lies is brought up. He is on trial for lying, or intentionally deceiving people, which was a punishable crime among them. The people of Ammon, who first bound him, “were more wise” (Alma 30:20) than those at Zarahemla because they were more righteous. The Nephites at Zarahemla could see that he was a liar and deceiver, but they just let him go about breaking the law and deceiving the people. Not so with the Lamanite people of Ammon.

Again, Korihor was bound and sent up to the authorities with testimony of his lies, for there must be witnesses. Nevertheless, they couldn’t do anything to him because he pretended he was entitled to his own beliefs, therefore, he was, each time, set free, outside of the lands that he preached among, until he finally came to Alma, who, through the power of God, put a stop to his destructive work of lies.

I could have worded that a bit better than I did, but it’s good enough for the point I am trying to make, which is that once you break the laws of a society, whether it is a public society like the Nephites or a private society like the church of God, you become subject to whatever penalty is attached to that broken law. In the case of religious dissenting behavior and dissenters, freedom of speech or of the press is allowed only insofar as you do not transgress the laws of God by your speech or writings. Once you are found promoting wickedness or falsehoods by your spoken or written words, the church has jurisdiction over you and also a responsibility to censure you (to shut your mouth) in the prescribed, scriptural manner (correction and repentance, disfellowship or excommunication). In public society, freedom of speech or of the press does not grant you the right to commit slander or libel.

What saints do when unrepentant sinners are around

We are free, then, to use our agency to do good, but when we use it to commit evil by our speech and the words we write, we come under condemnation of God and it is every saint’s duty to denounce and resist all the evils that are observed by them. This is why the witnesses came forth during the first trial of the original Mormon church:

And now in the reign of Mosiah they [the unbelievers] were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous.

For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church.

And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and delivered up unto the priests by the teachers; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest.

Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church.

And it came to pass that Alma did not know concerning them; but there were many witnesses against them; yea, the people stood and testified of their iniquity in abundance. (Mosiah 26:5-9)

Now, I will unfold this saintly duty and peculiarity a little farther down in this post, as it cannot be overemphasized.

Pahoran wrote:

Therefore, my beloved brother, Moroni, let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God. (Alma 61:14)

But Jesus commanded:

But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also (3 Ne. 12:39)

Which instructions are the saints of God supposed to obey? Both. (I only mention this in case some commenter says, “But Jesus said to not resist evil! So Pahoran was wrong!”) I will not explain this seeming contradiction as that is not the topic of this post. Just suffice it to say that a saint typically does not shut his mouth at iniquity, unless the Holy Ghost constrains him not to speak.

The following instructions were given to saints:

And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.

And if he or she confess not thou shalt deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world.

And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many.

And if any one offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed. And if he or she confess not, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of God.

If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her.

And thus shall ye conduct in all things. (D&C 42:88-93)

Who does the chastening? Who does the rebuking? Who determines who has offended publicly or in secret? Who delivers the unrepentant sinners to the law of God? The saints do. More on this later.

Re: those who learn and obey the whats only if the whys suit them

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abr. 3:25)

Doing all things that the Lord commands includes bridling the tongue (see James 3), which means that the spoken and written word must likewise be put under gospel constraints. Intentionally false (heretical) teachings, then, break the commandments.

Some people in the church say that mortality is a school to learn the things of God, as if it were knowledge that saved us. They emphasize that we ought not to be blindly obedient, but ought to obey rationally, with understanding of why we are commanded to do whatever it is we are commanded to do. They are more concerned with the why than with the what.

Such people, if they cannot understand the reason behind a commandment or doctrine, may end up openly questioning its divinity. In other words, they may start to propose a theory that the doctrine or commandment has a non-divine source and begin to teach it among the people. If confronted by a saint and told that the alternate teaching is heretical, the proponent may do as Korihor and say it is merely a belief or a hypothesis which may or may not be true, and that there is no harm in questioning things which may be false. In other words, he or she will claim, like Korihor, that this is not a teaching, but just an interesting idea: to consider that a doctrine or commandment or teaching of the church is man-made and not divinely given.

Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true….And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ…I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe. (Alma 30:24,26,48)

Such heresies come from putting knowledge before faith and requiring that one know and understand something before one will believe it to be true.

Although it is true that man is here to learn, he is only here to learn obedience to God.

And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. (D&C 105:6)

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered (Heb. 5:8)

Separating goats from sheep is a gospel principle based on obedience

Obedience to the whats, not knowledge of the whys, is the deciding factor in determining where we go.

and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate (Abr. 3:26)

So God separates those who keep His commandments from those who don’t, and puts them into separate kingdoms. This is why the church is charged with excommunicating all those who do not repent of their sins. This separation, or division, is based upon the heavenly pattern. Just as there was a separation in heaven between the 1/3 and the 2/3, and the 1/3 were cast out, so here on earth more separation is commanded to occur, for those who transgress the law of God and do not repent.

But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted (Alma 42:22)

Once you break the law, the punishment is not immediately inflicted, but you are granted a space to repent, resulting in two sets of commandments. The first commandment is to keep the law, which, if you disobey, you then get a second commandment, which is to repent. Only when you refuse to take advantage of repentance and the atonement, does the law require that you be cut off from the church by excommunication.

Cutting off the people by excommunication furthers the work of division that the Savior spoke of.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10:34)

Jesus gathers his elect into one body and then uses his sword to divide the sheep from the goats, and the wheat from the tares, pruning the body from time to time as fruit withers upon the branch, showing its true nature. In other words, the gospel net draws all sorts of fish into the church, and then it gets sorted, according to what type of fish it shows itself to be. If a man appears to be a sheep, or wheat, or good fish or fruit, he is to remain with the saints, but if he shows himself as a goat, a tare, rotten fruit or spoiled fish, he is to be cast out. The test of goathood, or tarehood, or rottenness is two-fold: does the man obey the commandments? If yes, he stays. If no, does he repent of his sins? If yes, he stays. If no, he must be cast off.

Pruning (excommunication) is to take place on an as needed basis, in order that the gospel tree does not perish.

Church trials

Before anyone can be excommunicated in this church, they must first be tried for their membership. As everyone is considered innocent before being proven guilty, the Lord has given in His scriptures the divine pattern of church trials and courts.

There are three types of church courts or trials that the scriptures speak of, and six types of judges.  The pattern is designed around checks and balances, in order that power is not concentrated in the hands of any one person or group and so that everyone who is accused has a fair, balanced trial, in which everyone’s rights are upheld.

The six types of judges

The witnesses

Two or three (or more) church members in good standing become judges when they act as witnesses. This is the law of witnesses and it is based upon the righteousness and holiness of a saint. It is the saints who will judge the nations and all things pertaining to Zion, for they are sanctified (holy) and are duly qualified to determine whether someone has transgressed.

The bishop

The bishop judges the good standing of the membership, and thus the saints, because a bishop is to receive an accounting of everyone’s stewardship.

The two elders

The two elders judge the case laid before them by the two or three (or more) saintly witnesses, the bishop attesting to their good standing. If there are sufficient witnesses, the two elders judge whether the accused has confessed and repented. If the accused refuses, then the elders pass judgment upon the accused, as required by the scriptures.

The church congregation

After the two elders come to a guilty verdict, they must lay the case before the congregation, which then must take a vote to sustain the action or oppose it. If the majority agrees, the decision is ratified and valid and the accused is excommunicated. If the majority disagrees, no action is taken. The congregation, then, judges the decision of the two elders, and decides whether it was correct or not.

The stake president

The stake president, like the two elders, judges the case laid before him by the witnesses and makes a decision concerning which party is right or whether both are wrong.

The high council

The twelve high council members vote to ratify (make valid) the decision of the president. If a majority does not agree with his decision, it does not go through.

The three types of church courts or councils

Bishop’s court or council

The bishop is to receive an accounting of everyone’s stewardship and is to know who is consecrating properties and moneys, or donating funds as tithing or fast offerings, etc., to the Lord. This gives him a unique perspective into who is and is not a wise and just steward. Nevertheless, his judgment and jurisdiction are not independent but only activate with just testimony.

And whoso standeth in this mission is appointed to be a judge in Israel, like as it was in ancient days, to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children; and to judge his people by the testimony of the just, and by the assistance of his counselors, according to the laws of the kingdom which are given by the prophets of God. (D&C 58:17-18)

And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the bishop of my church, and after that he has received these testimonies concerning the consecration of the properties of my church (D&C 42:32)

And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors upon testimony as it shall be laid before him according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen or will choose among the elders of the church. (D&C 107:72)

Because of this, a sinner who confesses to a bishop cannot be tried by the bishop, nor his testimony used against him, because the testimony is of a sinner, not a saint. In other words, only the testimony of the just (someone who hasn’t broken the laws) can be used in trials. Nevertheless, with just testimony, the bishop and bishopric are authorized to judge only whether someone is in good standing or not, and is contributing to the upkeep of the poor and the kingdom. In other words, the bishop’s jurisdiction deals primarily in temporal matters.

Elder’s court or council

The elders’ jurisdiction to judge is activated by witnesses coming forth and testifying of the wickedness of some member. The bishop, if available, is required to be present that he may attest to the good standing of the witnesses. If two witnesses in good standing testify against a member, that is sufficient to condemn. If there is no confession and repentance afterward, the elders must lay it before the members, to ratify the excommunication. The elder’s council is designed to be used for matters of transgression only, to try a person for his or her membership.

High priests’ court or council

This court, known as a high council, is to settle difficult and important matters, and like the other courts, only receives jurisdiction when two or more saints testify as witnesses. For example, if there is a property dispute, one saying that his property line extends 15 feet down the hill and his neighbor saying that it only extends 10 feet, the high council can be used to address these matters, if there are sufficient witnesses.

Scriptural patterns are no longer followed

The above are the scriptural patterns, which are no longer precisely followed. For example, the elder’s council has been completely done away with. Instead, the high council now tries the men of the church who have had Melchizedek priesthood conferred on them, and the bishopric tries everyone else, for membership. Nothing outside of transgression is brought to trial anymore. You can’t take a property dispute to the church courts and receive a judgment. Instead, everyone is told to settle the matter amongst themselves, or to use the man-made court system.

The checks and balances that were present in the three-court pattern have been removed and power has been concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. Many of the rights guaranteed to all the members have been weakened or altogether removed. If we compare the scripturally revealed pattern of church courts with today’s current practice, it can plainly be seen that today’s practice and procedure makes the word of God, as written in the scriptures, of none effect, effectively removing the justice that was inherent in the original pattern. In other words, the current church court system is no longer based upon just principles, but is corrupt.

Church courts and the rights of a member

Disfellowship and excommunication is to occur in the church according to prescribed laws given of God in the scriptures. The procedure itself is divine and designed to preserve the rights of every accused member in the church, that justice prevail at all times. As I explained in another post, the Bill of Rights may be used in a church setting to protect one’s rights:

Because the Lord has approved of, or justified, the Bill of Rights, latter-day saints are fully authorized to include it as part of their scriptural canon. This is not to say that it is scripture, for it was not written by the power of the Holy Ghost, nor does it contain the revealed words of God, nevertheless, as an inspired and approved writing, it may be used to defend or safeguard one’s rights in a church setting.

The Fifth Amendment says,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The twelve high councilors are, essentially, a type of grand jury, charged with investigating the merits of any accusations, witnesses and evidence. Their duty is to judge whatever is presented to them according to the canonized word of God. Church courts, then, were intended by God to incorporate this principle.

An accused latter-day saint cannot be a witness against himself because according to the law of God, only church members in good standing can act as witnesses. A confession, then, is insufficient to convict. Church courts, as detailed in the scriptures, cannot use someone’s confessed testimony as evidence against them, yet that is exactly what is done today by the church bishops, and also for high councils (disciplinary councils), if the accused allows the testimony into evidence. Such practices are completely at odds with the word of God.

The Wikipedia says this about due process:

Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person. Typically, “Due process” means 1) NOTICE, generally written, but some courts have determined, in rare circumstances, other types of notice suffice. Notice should provide sufficient detail to fully inform the individual of the decision or activity that will have an effect on his/her rights or property or person. 2) right to GRIEVE (that being the right to complain or to disagree with the governmental actor/entity which has decision making authority) and 3) the right to APPEAL if not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance procedure. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.

The church court system is supposed to incorporate the principals of due process, requiring notice, granting a right to grieve and also to appeal. Current practice has kept these safeguards more or less intact. Now let’s turn to the Sixth Amendment.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

All of these principles are supposed to be incorporated into church courts. The trials are supposed to be speedy and are supposed to be public (when they are presented to the church congregation for a sustaining or opposing vote, which no longer happens). The jury, which is the 12 high councilors, are supposed to be impartial, which is often no longer the case. The accused is to be tried locally, in his branch, ward or stake, where the sins were allegedly committed. (Trials are still local, but accusations may come from outside of the branch, ward or stake, such as from Salt Lake.) The accused is to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. (This still happens.) The witnesses are to testify in front of the accused during the trial. (The law of witnesses, to my knowledge, has been almost completely phased out.) The accused has the right to call witnesses in his favor. (This is still allowed.) And lastly, one half of the high councilors that speak are to be the advocates of the accused. (This no longer happens.)

There is also the Seventh Amendment:

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

All high councils were designed to be, in fact, trials by jury, requiring a ratification vote by the high councilors to validate the president’s decision. This is no longer the case. In current practice, the stake president can convict regardless of what the other men say about the case. Therefore, the right to trial by jury has been denied to the saints. But this right is found in the scriptural pattern, like the others listed above.

So, we see from this that the church court system, as detailed in the revelations, incorporates many of the same principles found in the Bill of Rights.

D&C 42 and D&C 102

The patterns of the two main court (trial) systems, the elders’ council and the high council, are given in D&C 42 and 102.

D&C 42:78-93

Section 42 gives the pattern for the elders’ council, which dealt specifically with transgression, beginning with verse 78 through verse 93.

Verse 78 states that every church member must obey the church commandments and keep their church covenants.

And again, every person who belongeth to this church of Christ, shall observe to keep all the commandments and covenants of the church.  (D&C 42:78)

Now, that is the standard (obeying commandments and keeping covenants). But what does the church do if it transgresses? The previous section (41) said the following, but did not give the procedure for how one should be cast out or judged unworthy:

He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, and shall be cast out from among you; for it is not meet that the things which belong to the children of the kingdom should be given to them that are not worthy, or to dogs, or the pearls to be cast before swine. (D&C 41:5-6)

So, the rest of section 42 gives instructions on what the church should do when someone transgresses, or how to go about casting him or her off. We learn in verses 80-82 that when there is transgression in the church, the transgressors are to be tried in a church court trial before two elders of the church, and that if there are two church witnesses, that the accused shall be (not may be) condemned, and that after condemnation the congregation is to be informed of the case and of the decision and they are to vote on the matter by the raising of their hands, the Lord expecting them to uphold the decision and testimony of the witnesses:

And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, or more, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; but if there are more than two witnesses it is better. But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. And if it can be, it is necessary that the bishop be present also.  (D&C 42:80-82)

We also learn that the bishop needs to be present, if possible.

The next verse (83) basically says that verses 80-82 is the pattern for all church trials for membership.

And thus ye shall do in all cases which shall come before you.  (D&C 42:83)

Verses 79-87 give the pattern for dealing with transgression in the church as follows: if a man breaks a law of the land, he is to be delivered up unto the law of the land, and if he breaks the law of God, he is to be tried in a church court.

Verses 88-89 explain that no member is to be tried in a church court unless he has offended someone and been confronted and rebuked and has refused to confess, repent and be reconciled. Also, that the first part of the trial is to take place in a private meeting with the elders, so that the accused has an opportunity to confess, repent and seek reconciliation, avoiding any judgment and embarrassment in front of the congregation. The second part of the trial (in front of the congregation) only takes place if the accused refuses to repent.

Verses 90-92 explain that public or open offenses require public or open rebuking, while secret offenses require secret rebuking.

Lastly, verse 93 says that this is the pattern in all things for behavior concerning rebuking, chastisement, offenses, confession, repenting, reconciliation, and church trials.

And thus shall ye conduct in all things.  (D&C 42:93)

D&C 102

Trials for membership due to transgression were designed by the Lord to be the jurisdiction of the local elders and congregation, since they would have much more knowledge about the individuals involved (accused and accusers) than would the high councilors and stake president, who potentially could live elsewhere, in another part of the stake. On the other hand, trials about other matters, such as property disputes and other similar matters, were designed by the Lord to be the jurisdiction of the high council because they would not have intimate knowledge of the details of the local disputes, and therefore would be more likely to be impartial judges, the outcomes not affecting them one way or another.

That said, let’s examine section 102. The heading to Doctrine and Covenants section 102 reads:

Minutes of the organization of the first high council of the Church, at Kirtland, Ohio, February 17, 1834. The original minutes were recorded by Elders Oliver Cowdery and Orson Hyde. The Prophet revised the minutes the following day, and the next day the corrected minutes were unanimously accepted by the high council as “a form and constitution of the high council” of the Church. Verses 30 through 32, having to do with the Council of the Twelve Apostles, were added in 1835 under Joseph Smith’s direction when this section was prepared for publication in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Although D&C 102 is not a revelation, it contains the information on how the first high council was organized and operated, which organization came of revelation, and which operation was given by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. So, although we don’t have the pattern dictated directly by the Spirit, we do have a recording of the pattern (the minutes) as witnessed by two men who were present when the pattern was shown. The minutes were later corrected by Joseph, so we can be sure they are reliable.

As I said before, the modern procedures for how church disciplinary councils are operated render the word of God of none effect, making modern courts fundamentally unjust. The error comes from a misreading of section 102, which gives the “form and constitution of the high council”, to be followed by all high councils.

Okay, so let me unfold the errors.

Modern church disciplinary councils operate under color of law

The following document,

Church Disciplinary Councils

gives the current procedures used in these courts. Here are a couple of quotes which manifest the errors:

“In a stake disciplinary council, the stake president is assisted by twelve high councilors. Their role is easily misunderstood. Uninformed persons are tempted to liken the high council to a jury. In view of the not well understood instructions in section 102 of the Doctrine and Covenants, there is also a tendency to view individual high councilors as prosecutors or defenders. Neither of these comparisons is appropriate. Members of the high council are present to “stand up in behalf of the accused, and prevent insult and injustice’ (Doc. & Cov 102:17). In other words, they are to give added assurance that the evidence is examined in its true light and that the procedures and treatment of the accused are consistent with equity and justice. Their roles are illumination and persuasion, not advocacy or decision.” (Dallin H. Oaks)

“After hearing any additional comments from the high council, the stake presidency withdraws from the council room to confer in private. After consultation and prayer, the stake president makes the decision and invites his counselors to sustain it. The stake presidency then returns and announces the decision to the high council. The stake president asks the high councilors as a group to sustain his decision. The high council cannot veto the decision; it is binding even if it is not sustained unanimously.” (Church Handbook of Instructions)

Neither of these quotes is correct. Or, in other words, they are correct in that the modern church procedure operates as they state it does, but they are not correct in that the procedure they use is entirely at odds with the written word of God.

Here is what the section actually says,

Whenever a high council of the church of Christ is regularly organized, according to the foregoing pattern, it shall be the duty of the twelve councilors to cast lots by numbers, and thereby ascertain who of the twelve shall speak first, commencing with number one and so in succession to number twelve.

Whenever this council convenes to act upon any case, the twelve councilors shall consider whether it is a difficult one or not; if it is not, two only of the councilors shall speak upon it, according to the form above written.

But if it is thought to be difficult, four shall be appointed; and if more difficult, six; but in no case shall more than six be appointed to speak. (D&C 102:12-14)

So everybody picks a number out of a hat, from one to twelve. If the case is easy, just two men speak; if difficult, four men speak; and if really difficult, six speak. The rest do not speak, but just listen.

The accused, in all cases, has a right to one-half of the council, to prevent insult or injustice.

And the councilors appointed to speak before the council are to present the case, after the evidence is examined, in its true light before the council; and every man is to speak according to equity and justice.

Those councilors who draw even numbers, that is, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12, are the individuals who are to stand up in behalf of the accused, and prevent insult and injustice. (D&C 102:15-17)

In behalf of

Now, here is where brother Dallin gets it wrong (and shame on him!, since he’s supposed to be a lawyer). The expression “to stand up in behalf of the accused” means “to stand up as an advocate of the accused.”

BEHALF, n. behaf. [See Behoof.]

1. Favor; advantage; convenience, profit; support, defense, vindication. The advocate pleads in behalf of the prisoner. The patriot suffers in behalf of his country.
2. Part; side; noting substitution, or the act of taking the part of another; as, the agent appeared in behalf of his constituents, and entered a claim.

AD’VOCATE, n. [L. advocatus, from advoco, to call for, to plead for; of ad and voco, to call. See Vocal.]

1. Advocate, in its primary sense, signifies, one who pleads the cause of another in a court of civil law. Hence,
2. One who pleads the cause of another before any tribunal or judicial court, as a barrister in the English courts. We say, a man is a learned lawyer and an able advocate.
3. One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause, by argument; one who is friendly to; as, an advocate for peace, or for the oppressed.

AD’VOCATE, v.t. To plead in favor of; to defend by argument, before a tribunal; to support or vindicate.

All of that is from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, showing that this is the very meaning of the phrase, contrary to what brother Dallin would have us believe.

The reason why brother Dallin and the other church leaders feel the need to wrest this scripture into saying something it isn’t saying is because they have transfigured the high council into something it was never intended to be: a church court dealing with transgression and trials for church membership. So, they cannot conceive of a righteous man advocating the cause of someone who could be an unrepentant sinner, like the lawyers do. (Jesus is our advocate with the Father only if we are penitent, for the impenitent do not have Him as their advocate.)  The thought of advocating impenitence, then, is understandably repulsive to them, so they simply interpret the scripture another way, to make it work according to their procedure. But the very words themselves do not fit.

High councilors could advocate the cause of the accused because these were not meant to be matters dealing with transgression, but merely “important difficulties.” In other words, disputes over this and that private matter. In such cases, the accused may be right, or may be wrong. The high councilors who were chosen by lot to speak, could put themselves in the place of the accused, for they weren’t attempting to excuse sin, but to show a private matter from the perspective of the accused.

Veto power

The CHI says that the high council cannot veto the stake president’s decision, but that is flat out wrong.

After the evidences are heard, the councilors, accuser and accused have spoken, the president shall give a decision according to the understanding which he shall have of the case, and call upon the twelve councilors to sanction the same by their vote.

But should the remaining councilors, who have not spoken, or any one of them, after hearing the evidences and pleadings impartially, discover an error in the decision of the president, they can manifest it, and the case shall have a re-hearing.

And if, after a careful re-hearing, any additional light is shown upon the case, the decision shall be altered accordingly.

But in case no additional light is given, the first decision shall stand, the majority of the council having power to determine the same. (D&C 102:19-22)

Here is the meaning of the word sanction, from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

SANC’TION, v.t. To ratify; to confirm; to give validity or authority to.

Thus, the twelve high councilors vote to ratify, confirm, give validity or authority to the stake president’s decision. Without such validation, the president’s decision is non-binding. That is what ratification is all about.

Unanimity is not required for ratification, only a majority vote. In other words, the majority of the council has power to determine whether the first decision shall stand, as well as whether there is no additional light given. The reason for the re-hearing is not because some councilors disagree, or even that one councilor disagrees, with the president’s decision, but because one or more of them think there may have been an error, meaning that the stake president overlooked something. This is why the section talks about additional light.

Impartiality

But should the remaining councilors, who have not spoken, or any one of them, after hearing the evidences and pleadings impartially, discover an error in the decision of the president, they can manifest it, and the case shall have a re-hearing. (D&C 102:20)

IMP`ARTIAL, a. [in and partial, from part, L. pars.]

1. Not partial; not biased in favor of one party more than another; indifferent; unprejudiced; disinterested; as an impartial judge or arbitrator.
2. Not favoring one party more than another; equitable; just; as an impartial judgment or decision; an impartial opinion.

Current church practice in church courts creates a conflict of interest. The witnesses who present evidence or who make accusations and bear testimony, are biased, but the high council and stake presidency is supposed to be unbiased and impartial. That requires that none of them can act as witnesses, nor make accusations. Any church court that has any of the councilors or any of the stake presidency acting as a witness or making accusations, in any degree of bias, cannot be called impartial and thus is nothing but a farce.

Guilty until proven penitent is a bastardization of the law

Another practice in the church court system is the assumption of guilt upon the accused. In the Lord’s law, every saint is innocent until proven guilty, but the modern church court procedure assumes the accused is guilty and thus that the accused, in order to be in God’s good graces, must confess his sin and show penitence before the council, otherwise the council will see him as an impenitent sinner, instead of as a penitent sinner, and will have to apply the penalty the Lord’s law requires. This practice makes all those who say they are innocent of any charges appear impenitent, even if they really are innocent.

Evidence alone is not enough

It is called the law of witnesses for a reason. Evidence of wrongdoing, without an eyewitness testifying, is insufficient. The witnesses are the saints and it takes a saint to condemn anyone. Also, every word must be established by two or three witnesses. So if someone in the church, for example, publishes some literature or book, but none of the saints are offended by it or bring up accusations against the author, the high council has no jurisdiction to lay charges against the author, nor does the stake presidency, nor the bishopric. Charges or accusations can only come from a saint’s testimony and it requires two saints’ testimonies for any of these men to obtain jurisdiction to bring a judgment against a member. The Lord made it this way because it is the jurisdiction of His saints to have the first and final word, judging both the nations of the earth and also Zion.

Behold, I, the Lord, have made my church in these last days like unto a judge sitting on a hill, or in a high place, to judge the nations.

For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.

And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.

And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead. (D&C 64:37-40)

The saints are given free reign to judge all things, both inside and outside the church, including all the leaders from top (apostles and prophets) to the bottom (bishops). The word of two or more saints against any man, woman or child of age in this church condemns that person, regardless of his or her office.

Excommunication is supposed to be a congregational affair

Excommunication (cutting off a person from the church) is in similitude to the cutting off from the presence of the Lord which will happen to all the sons of perdition at the last day. Since that last act of cutting off is, in actuality, a spiritual death, even a second death, cutting off is representative of death. In other words, excommunication represents the death penalty, or capital punishment. Only those who do not repent receive this penalty.

The authority to inflict (the similitude of) death upon a sinner was never meant or designed by God to be in the hands of one man (a stake president) nor three men (the stake presidency), nor twelve men (the high council). The final decision was meant to be in the hands of the saints who make up the congregation.

But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. (D&C 42:81)

Without such congregational ratification, we end up with secret trials like those of the Gadianton robbers.

Now there were many of those who testified of the things pertaining to Christ who testified boldly, who were taken and put to death secretly by the judges, that the knowledge of their death came not unto the governor of the land until after their death. (3 Ne. 6:23)

Let the saints do their duty

It is the duty of a saint to lay charges, make accusations and bear witness against all wickedness they see. If they see (scripturally-defined) dissenting behavior, they will resist it and seek to silence it. They are the Lord’s anointed and the only ones authorized to condemn; not the bishop, or high council or stake presidency. (See Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed.)

And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of the church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ. (Moroni 6:7)

And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, or more, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; but if there are more than two witnesses it is better. But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. (D&C 42:80-81)

It is right and proper for them to prune the church and bear witness against unrepentant sinners. They would be remiss in their duty if they shut their mouths at the sight of wickedness. So do not harp on them or put obstacles in the way of their duty, otherwise they will end up condemning you.

The purpose of this post

I wrote this post to show that, according to the scriptural definition, there is no such thing as a sinless dissenter; that the church is commanded to be one; that dissenters should be silenced; and that excommunication is a divine principle. I never expected to get into the unrighteousness of current church court procedure. I never expected or intended to judge the courts and find them “wanting in the balance” (see Dan. 5:27). But I did and that’s that. Nevertheless, despite the courts being corrupt because they do not conform to the divine pattern, to dissent is still a sin, all dissenters still should be silenced, unrepentant sinners still must be cut off from the church and excommunication of unrepentant sinners is still a righteous thing to do.

The question that remains, then, is what do we do about the courts? How can they be reclaimed and made right and just again, according to God’s revealed pattern? What steps must be taken by saints, working in unison (as one in Christ) within the stakes and acting on the promptings of the Holy Ghost, to administer “judicial reform” and bring the courts back into conformity with God’s laws? I don’t, as yet, have an answer to these questions. But there is one thing that I am certain of: although the institutionalization of the current church court procedures, in defiance of the written word, poses an obstacle to change, God’s saints have power through faith to rebuke anything they deem offensive, and correct anything they deem incorrect, whether within or without the church, for it is their duty and prerogative to judge all things. So I guess it just comes down to this: will they also judge the church courts and find them wanting?

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THE MIRACLE OF FORGIVENESS & KIMBALL’S CADILLAC – Pt. 2


Later on Kimball’s spirit would continue the confession. When the following April rolled around, I felt Spencer’s presence return. He drew my mind to some pretty nasty dirt which had been swept under the rug. But the rug was lifted, revealing things from President Kimball’s past life that his higher self was not too pleased with. Apparently, in April of 1977, when Mike and I were both just free flying little orbs of light, not yet fully focused into twinkles in our dads’ eyes, there was some foul business afoot in Salt Lake City, Utah. Spencer W. Kimball found himself involved in a tangled triangle of Church, State, and Free Agents. A white man by the name of Douglas A. Wallace, who had acted on orders from the Holy Spirit to ordain Larry Lester, a non-LDS, black man to the Priesthood, now sought an audience with Kimball. He had been rather relentless in his attempts over the course of two General Conferences of the Church. After a year of legal actions and excommunication by the courts of the Church, this High Priest was just as determined as ever in his mission. The Church President gave counsel to his fears, likely listening to his brethren of little faith, who felt it best to enlist the protective services of the Salt Lake Police Department. The so-called General Authorities contacted “the authorities”, their joint feauxthority folding under paranoia in the presence of true authority. Brother Wallace made it publically known that he came in peace but was, nonetheless, placed under surveillance at the request of the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

In the early morning hours on Sunday, April 3rd, during the second day of the springtime Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in ’77, while on the stakeout, Detective David W. Olson, was accidentally but critically wounded when his partner’s weapon discharged and left Olson paralyzed from a single shot to the neck. Both the Church and the Police Department initially denied that the undercover officer had been keeping surveillance on the Mormon dissident. After a few days the P.D. eventually admitted the truth but the Church remained silent. Detective Olson was very distraught over the matter and would end up committing suicide in 1980. With bitter sarcasm and desperate depression in his voice he stated:

“I would also like to thank Spencer W. Kimball for his incorrect press release concerning the police involvement combined with the LDS church’s efforts to restrict Douglas A. Wallace from the temple grounds, specifically the Tabernacle, on April 3, 1977. “His denial of these actions is wrong. Any man who can take such actions and still call himself a prophet deserves more than I to be confined to this wheelchair.”

But again, I digress. Or should I say, converge? Everything is connected and ‘this’ always ties in with ‘that’. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you some ‘bad fruit’. All of this business with Priests and Police on the morning of April 3, 1977 came as an absolute shock to me when randomly running across the news articles precisely 35 years and 25 days after the fact. But even more shocking were the personal pre-existential memories that came into my heart and mind. There were six cops stationed around the vicinity of that house at 2177 Carriage Lane near 4600 South. We had targeted the big one. Mike and myself, as yet to be born angels, made sure that these occurrences, though swept behind a veil of forgetfulness in the minds of many, would not be completely covered up. In the momentous year of 2012, many are awakening. In my personal reconnecting with former versions of my self, I was shown the role I played in the events of that Salt Lake spring morning, 35 years and 25 days ago, but why?  Mike and I can not be questioned regarding our involvement by any court of the land. Can we? Habeas Corpus is a Latin phrase, which can be literally translated as “(we command) that you have the body”. At the time we did not have bodies. With the N.D.A.A having been enacted one has to be careful how one speaks about the government these days. But Obama promised not to use those abusive powers, only sign them into law. Right? So I guess I can rest easy, until Romney pulls them out to prosecute enemies of the Church & State. Was S.W.K. trying to warn us of Church disciplinary action? Was he trying to point to even shadier levels of conspiracy? At first I felt uneasy and thought I ought to be on guard. But now I know that God protects those whom He calls. Brother Wallace is apparently still kickin’ after all this time. Fear was what had embroiled Spencer in so much trouble. And it was fear that his ghost was advising against. As I resolved in my mind to not sweep this revelation aside as mere crazy thoughts, but to accept the past prophetic whisperings of this kind soul to soul communication, I felt my heart begin to beat like the brave Indian war drum. My heart slowly received witness as the sound built in my chest. I of course realized that Spencer’s soul did not need to get these things off of his chest with me. He had already done so with his maker. So, what was he trying to tell me and why now?

Well, if I said that Mike and I crossed paths in Orem, I was mistaken. To be specific, Orem is where our paths in this life merged. But they had intersected briefly before. After a year of association, Mike and I discovered that we had both been in attendance at the same Hip Hop concert, years before meeting, back in the winter of 2000 at the Bricks Club in Salt Lake City. This was realized as he recounted the anecdotal story of how Chris, his partner in rhyme in those days, had somehow managed to be picked from among those in the front area, to perform on the stage in an impromptu opening act. Chris looked around excitedly and talked into the mic to let Mike know of the situation so he could hop up on stage with him and take advantage of the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of a sizable crowd. But Mike was all the way in the back and up top on the balcony level with some girls and drinks in hand. This was the same area where I was watching the show from with some of my friends. As he described the way he tried in vain to reach his homey on the stage to share in the spotlight that had unexpectedly fallen on him, I suddenly remembered seeing this all play out and realizing that poor fellow up on the balcony with us saying, “Excuse me, let me through.” was the one who the dude on stage was shoutin’ out to. “That was you?!” I exclaimed. “I was like three feet away and off to your right.”

Now my mind was being allowed to discover an even earlier meeting between my brother and I – 35 years and 25 days earlier to be exact. If you take the coordinates for the club in Salt Lake where we came in close contact for the first time in this life and draw a straight line on a map, from there to a point where we came together before this life, nearby the home on Carriage Lane that was being unwarrantably watched. And if you establish the line between these two points as the base of a triangulation, using an angle of 35 degrees for the first and 25 for the second, you will find that the lateral sides converge on a neighborhood not far from the University of Utah campus. 2028 Laird Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah is the spot where stands the house that was home to Spencer W. Kimball from 1947 to 1979, spanning almost the entire time of his presidency, and where he was living at the time of those unfortunate events that brought us all together under such strange circumstances.

I see it as a three sided symbol of the connection between past, present, and future. If it is the past that has made the present what it is and the present will make the future, then the past will always be felt. This is a good thing for us when we speak of the good that we build over time. But there is also much of sorrow and pain in our past. We must let Jesus teach us how to be centered on the gift of the present. He is teaching us how it is only from the present that we may navigate and change for the better, not only our futures, but our past as well. Through the miracle of forgiveness, repentance becomes a personal time travel vehicle. So may our sight be endlessly set upon our dear savior, who on the cross, listened while many in the throng of onlookers and even one of the thieves who was hanged there at His right were hurling abuse at Him. They mocked Him in His present state and talked of His past in a snide way when they said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” To His left there hung another thief of time who spoke hopefully but unknowingly of the future, saying: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! But Christ speaks always firmly in the present tense when He says: “Truly I say to you, TODAY you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

The nature of authority: the Lord’s stewardship law


The word steward comes from stigweard, lit., a sty ward. Stigu means sty and weard means warden, guardian. A sty is a pen for swine and a ward is one who guards. A steward, then, is someone who guards or protects or is responsible for something that belongs to another or for someone that serves or pertains to another.

Originally, a steward in England, under feudal law, was “a household officer on a lord’s estate having charge of the cattle; later, a head manager in the administration of a manor or estate, presiding at the manorial courts, auditing accounts, conducting inquests and extents, and controlling the husbandry arrangements.” In general, a steward is “a man employed in a large family, or on a large estate, to manage the domestic concerns, supervise servants, collect rents or income, keep accounts, etc.”

Stewards are not owners

Stewards do not own the concerns which they manage nor are the servants which they supervise their own servants, but the servants of the steward’s lord. Thus, we find the Lord saying:

And if the properties are mine, then ye are stewards; otherwise ye are no stewards. (D&C 104: 56.)

Stewards and stewardships are for probation

Obviously, the Lord owns everything, so He tests His children by granting them a temporary stewardship and then seeing how they act in it.

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abraham 3: 25.)

Rendering an account of one’s stewardship

At some point, every steward must give an account of his or her stewardship, both here on Earth and later at the day of judgment.

And verily in this thing ye have done wisely, for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity. (D&C 73: 3.)

And an account of this stewardship will I require of them in the day of judgment. (D&C 70: 4.)

Good and bad stewards and their rewards

Depending upon what kind of steward we are here on Earth, so shall be our eternal reward. Those who are faithful, just and wise stewards get the top reward.

And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life. (D&C 51: 19.)

And he that is a faithful and wise steward shall inherit all things. Amen. (D&C 78: 22.)

While those who are wicked, unjust and unwise stewards don’t get so much.

And in his hot displeasure, and in his fierce anger, in his time, [the Lord] will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers; even in outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. (D&C 101: 90-91.)

Stewards possess authority

A stewardship (the office of a steward) comes with authority, or, in other words, a steward is given both authority and responsibility in order to manage the concerns of the stewardship. If you don’t have a stewardship, you don’t have authority. The authority of a steward is a set of keys, just as the original stigweard held the keys that opened the swine pens. These keys allow the steward to protect, guard, maintain and take care of the concerns in his or her care. Without such authority, a steward can do nothing.

In the case of a stewardship that supervises people, the authority of the steward is only valid as long as the people being cared for sustain him or her as their steward. In other words, there is a second set of keys held by the people who have claim on the steward as their steward and it is this second set of keys that allows the steward to operate in his or her office. Without the consent of these people, the steward cannot do anything in righteousness.

Parental stewardship

D&C 83 gives the order of parental stewardship as follows:

Verily, thus saith the Lord, in addition to the laws of the church concerning women and children, those who belong to the church, who have lost their husbands or fathers: Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken; and if they are not found transgressors they shall have fellowship in the church. And if they are not faithful they shall not have fellowship in the church; yet they may remain upon their inheritances according to the laws of the land. All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age. And after that, they have claim upon the church, or in other words upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to give them inheritances. And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor. Amen.

Whoever has claim upon another for his or her spiritual or temporal maintenance is the concerns of the stewardship and whoever is responsible for the maintenance is the steward. Therefore, according to this revelation, parents are the stewards of their children and husbands are the stewards of their wives.

This arrangement does not go both ways. Children are not the stewards of the parents because they are not responsible for providing spiritual or temporal maintenance for their parents. Nor is the wife the steward of the husband because she is not responsible for maintaining her husband in his spiritual or temporal needs. If stewardship could go both ways, husbands could have claim upon their wives and parents upon their children. Although there may be many husbands who might love to relinquish their family stewardship to their wives and allow her to support him and their children, under gospel law it doesn’t work like that.

Children are also given stewardships

When children are old enough to obtain some responsibility, they may receive a stewardship from their parents. Perhaps they must take care of their room, keeping it clean and tidy, or their clothes, making sure they are folded and put away, or some household chores, such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, doing dishes, or, perhaps they are given a temporary stewardship over their younger siblings, looking over them and watching out for them while their parents are engaged in some other aspect of their own stewardship.

Stewardships in the church

Every church calling is a stewardship with responsibility and authority, and may be of a temporal and/or spiritual nature. The steward uses that authority to manage the concerns of his or her stewardship, which may include supervising, teaching, and/or leading people. So, for example, a bishop is the steward of the ward and the entire ward is the concerns of his stewardship. An elder’s quorum president is the steward of the elders quorum, which are the concerns of his stewardship. A Relief Society president is a steward and the society members are the concerns of her stewardship. A visiting or home teacher is a steward and the families or sisters being visited are the concerns. Etc.

Stewards and concerns likewise judged

Just as every steward must render an account of his or her stewardship to the Judge of us all, so the concerns of a stewardship will have to render an account of how they acted toward the steward. The steward is the Lord’s representative, empowered to take care of the concerns of the stewardship. Any interference with a steward’s divinely appointed duties is treated by the Lord as if it was done to the Lord of the steward Himself.

As long as a steward is acting righteously, meaning that he or she is acting in the stewardship in the following way—

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of [a stewardship], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.  (D&C 121: 41-44, re-worded a little.)

—those who have claim on the steward are bound by the Lord to use their second set of keys to authorize the steward’s own set of keys (his or her authority). If the steward is not authorized by the people concerned with his or her stewardship, yet is acting in righteousness, these people stand condemned by the Lord.

The principle is this: respect all stewards and stewardships insofar as they act righteously.

It is wickedness

Thus, it is wickedness to do away with a steward and stewardship granted by the Lord because this is how He tests His children. For example, some in the world would do away with the stewardship of the parents by granting the State stewardship over the children. This is wickedness. Others would do away with the stewardship of the husband, claiming that this diminishes the role of the wife. This is also wickedness.

Another form of wickedness is the interference in the operations of a steward’s duties. For example, no one is to perform the duties of the steward, other than the steward himself. If you do this, you interfere with the test, for the Lord appoints stewards and then steps back to see what he (or she) will do. Even if you think you can do a much better job than the steward, you are to step back, like the Lord, and let the man or woman perform, or attempt to perform, the duty. Another way to interfere is to withhold your authorization from the steward, so that he cannot perform the duties of his office and calling because you (the concerns of his stewardship) do not authorize him.

Finally, those who are not a part of the concerns of a stewardship, when dealing with a steward, should respect his or her calling, and recognize both the authority and responsibility that the steward has in managing his or her concerns. It is disrespectful and offensive both to the steward and to the One who appointed the steward to not recognize the stewardship, authority and responsibility that was given to the individual by the Lord.

Stewardships and equality

Stewardships are, by design, not equal. The Lord places one steward to preserve, maintain and increase a small amount of property, while another steward is placed over ten times as much. A pair of parental stewards may care for three children while a different pair may watch over ten. It is the inequality of the stewardships that adds to the test, to see what the children of God will do, both the stewards and those they look after.

Nevertheless, the gospel provides means whereby the unequal stewardships may become equalized. This is done through covenants.

Therefore, verily I say unto you, that it is expedient for my servants Edward Partridge and Newel K. Whitney, A. Sidney Gilbert and Sidney Rigdon, and my servant Joseph Smith, and John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, and W. W. Phelps and Martin Harris to be bound together by a bond and covenant that cannot be broken by transgression, except judgment shall immediately follow, in your several stewardships—to manage the affairs of the poor, and all things pertaining to the bishopric both in the land of Zion and in the land of Kirtland; for I have consecrated the land of Kirtland in mine own due time for the benefit of the saints of the Most High, and for a stake to Zion.

For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord.

Behold, here is wisdom also in me for your good.

And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just—and all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God. (D&C 82: 11-19.)

So here we have the Lord telling these nine stewards to bind themselves to each other by bond and covenant in their several stewardships, so that they become equal in both earthly and heavenly things.

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. (D&C 78: 3-7.)

The equality spoken of in these verses is all-important, yet unobtainable except by voluntarily entering into covenants, including marriage covenants, with other stewards. The Lord then creates a perfect test by first giving out unequal stewardships and then explaining how to equalize everything, with attendant blessings should His children decide to use their agency to that end.

He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things; yea, even more abundantly, which abundance is multiplied unto them through the manifestations of the Spirit. Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. (D&C 70: 12-14.)

Stewardships are meant to be increased

Every steward is to maintain, preserve, care for, protect, guard and increase his or her stewardship. Thus, missionary work is based on the law of stewardships. And when we hear the phrase, “multiply and replenish the earth,” that is also the law of stewardships at work. And so, parents, if able, are expected to bring more children to Earth.

Keep this law in mind

It may be beneficial to keep the law of stewardships in mind when dealing with stewards, whether they are found in one’s family, in the church, or in the world at large. A proper understanding of this law may make it easier to accept the steward’s authority, and a corresponding proper action towards that steward may make it easier to live other parts of the gospel and to stay in the Lord’s favor.

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CHI #3 Whose marriage is this anyway?


Since the CHI deals with LDS church doctrine and in places draws from the scriptures there are many good things said in this handbook. The problem is that the way it is treated is as though it is the gospel. We are expected and many members and leaders do take it to be 100% authoritative as if it is the voice of the Lord to us.

So as I discuss these points if they run counter to the truth we know then they are wrong regardless of who signed the book.

3.5.1 under the subheading of special meeting for guests who do not have temple recommends the CHI explains a couple arrange with their bishop to have a special meeting for relatives and friends who do no have temple recommends. It can have a prayer and special music followed by a talk by a priesthood leader.
It says no ceremony is performed, and no vows are exchanged.

Then a short paragraph saying:

No other marriage ceremony should be performed following a temple marriage.

Well why does the CHI say that? In fact I think I violated this one without knowing it. You know your government sanctioned marriage may not be recognized in another country. What then? Since the church says you need a government issued license to be married then obviously if you don’t have one for the country you are living in you are not married there. You might think twice before having sex with who you think is your spouse while visiting a foreign country. I mean maybe you committed adultery without knowing it.  But on the other hand if you get a new marriage in the new country you are violating the church rules here stated.

How now brown cow? Please Mr. Church what do I do? How can I be subject to kings and rulers etc and still follow you? What do I do?

Hey stop whining the answer to that was given long ago and is right in the Doctrine and Covenants. Well at least part of it, the OF1. Don’t look at the rest of the Lord’s words as found in say section 98 or 101 or 42 where He says you should obey Him and His law above the laws of man. Just follow Wilford Woodruff’s example and his strong prophetic “advice” and put the law of God subservient to the law of the government.

Sure do it. It works every time. The church won’t bug you and this will muffle your conscience. Of course it may decrease your portion of the Holy Ghost but hey you will still have temple recommend which we all know is required to return to the presence of God. By this rational the soldiers who fought for Germany in world war 2 were all blessed even if they were working at a concentration camp turning on the gas, they were just obeying the law. Same as any God given right violating members serving in the military, FBI, CIA, IRS, or TSA. They are all following the law and just doing their jobs.

Now please as you read this don’t take an excerpt from the above two paragraphs and explain that it is wrong. Of course it is wrong. It is all sarcasm.

You may think this is all foolishness. I could not agree with you more. To think that a man and woman need to have permission from other people (with the exception of their spouse) to be married is total foolishness. Governments and churches are people. They both administer their ordinances. And when a church which has authority from Gd to perform ordinances which will be recognized by Him they had better be damn careful to not run afoul of His laws of agency in doing so.

The whole mess comes about when we start putting any law of man, governmental body or church body above the law of God. Only we ourselves personally can insure that we are not guilty of this. It should be obvious by the posts on the CHI that the present LDS church is not going to be of any help in this regard. The doctrine of the marriage covenant stated on this blog is correct. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. Why is that correct? Because it is what God said it.

So what pray tell does the CHI think it is doing in forbidding people to have other marriage ceremonies?

Maybe someone is afraid that members might awake to the realization that they never needed government approval or church approval to have a God recognized marriage in the first place.

I don’t really care what they think. I can see what it does. It places the corporate church as the dispenser and controller of God’s blessings to its members. It inserts said church between God and His children thereby depriving them of rights and freedoms which God has given them.

Mormon.org profiles: enhanced membership tracking?


Someone communicated to me that this past Sunday in their elders quorum, the elders quorum president said that next week (which would be tomorrow) there would be a digital camera ready to take everyone’s picture so that all the elders of his ward could have their own profile on Mormon.org. The elders quorum president said that each member of the quorum would need to fill out some paperwork and permission forms and that the camera and forms would be available over a period of weeks, so that those members who come less regularly could get their profile online when they showed up for church. I asked this person whether this was just for his ward or stake or for the entire church. He said he was under the impression that it was a church-wide program. He also stated that he saw a leadership list (he being in several callings and having access to certain leadership materials) in which the men listed had not only their name, telephone and address on it, but also their picture.

I knew, of course, of the Mormon.org profiles, in which any member can voluntarily participate by going to that web site. But this was the first time I’d heard of elders quorum members being approached in church and asked to submit profiles in such a direct way, with camera and forms ready and waiting. Can anyone confirm that this is a church-wide program?

This may be important because of a certain theory I have heard. It goes something like this: the church has been infiltrated by the Fabian Society (the wolves in sheep’s clothing).  As the priesthood of God is the only thing that can stand in the way of Satan, it may be necessary to take them out at some point. Currently, the strategy is to keep the priesthood “sleeping,” (a sleeping giant). But if it ever were to start to wake up and use its power, that would be an unacceptable situation and a danger to the devil, so the priesthood must be tracked. In this way, if it is necessary, the coercive forces at the devil’s fingertips (such as the powers of the state) can be brought to bear upon every male member of the church who holds the priesthood.

In my mind, if this is, indeed, a church-wide program, and the leaders are amassing a database of priesthood holders with images of the men, this might lend some credence to the above theory. However, maybe I got bad information. Maybe this is just a local program initiated by some overzealous bishop or stake president, with nothing, whatsoever, to do with the entire church.

If anybody has information on this, please speak up.

Previous Secret Combinations article: Opening old wounds

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The faith of God, part thirteen: How charity fits in


Continued from part twelve.

Charity on a series about faith?

On December 20, 2007, I wrote the following on this blog:

Mormon also talked about faith (and hope and charity) in Moroni 7. Like Ether and Helaman, quoted in the previous part, Mormon explains that faith precedes hope. (See Moroni 7: 41-42 “…ye shall have hope…because of your faith…” and “…without faith there cannot be any hope…”) In fact, the order of these three grand principles is always given as “faith, hope and charity” because faith precedes hope, or allows hope to be engendered and then faith and hope allow charity to be engendered. (This is a topic for a different post and will not be covered here. I mention it merely to show that faith is different than hope and charity and required in order to obtain the other two necessary principles.) (The faith of God, part three bold type added.)

I had originally intended to address charity in a post separate from the faith of God series, but as I’ve researched the topic, I see now that it belongs here.

Paul’s definition of charity

Paul gives the universal definition of charity, used by all the Christian world, including us, found in the entire 13th chapter of Corinthians:

Paul said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Cor. 13)

Mormon’s definition of charity

Mormon also gives his definition of charity, which is nearly identical to that of Paul, except that Mormon expounds upon the principle a bit more, taking up the entire chapter of Moroni 7:

Mormon said, “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moro. 7: 45-47; see also the entirety of chapter 7)

Charity encompasses all good things

All principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are found within charity. Using Paul and Mormon’s words, we find: patience (“suffereth long”), kindness (is kind), slowness to anger (“is not easily provoked”), joy in truth (“rejoiceth in the truth”), strength (“beareth all things”), belief (“believeth all things”), hope (“hopeth all things”), and endurance (“endureth all things”).

Charity has none of the evil gifts or principles. There is no envy (“envieth not”), boasting (“vaunteth not itself”), vanity and pride (“is not puffed up”), bad behavior (“does not behave itself unseemly”), stinginess (“seeketh not her own”), quick anger (“is not easily provoked”), evil thoughts (“thinketh no evil”) or joy in iniquity (“rejoiceth not in iniquity”).

In all cases, the principles encompassed by charity are in their fulness: “all things” not just some things. This means that charity is not given in portions (in one sense of that word), as are other gifts of the Spirit. You either have charity, or you don’t.

Charity is not the sum total

The gifts and principles of the gospel which are found within those who have charity do not equate to charity. In other words, merely possessing these gifts and principles in their fulness does not mean you automatically have charity. Charity, then, are these gifts plus something more. It is not the sum total of the gifts alone. This is why Paul says you can have a fulness of (name of principle or gift), but if you don’t have charity, you are nothing.

Mormon’s progression to charity

In chapter 7 of Moroni, Mormon gives a progression from faith to charity. He declares that “no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have” and then he lists 5 necessary principles: 1st, faith; 2nd, hope; 3rd, meekness and lowliness of heart; 4th, confession by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ; and 5th, charity. He demonstrates by his progression that it is impossible to have faith without the word of God, and that it is faith that allows one to lay hold on every good thing (see Moro. 7: 21-25; see also The faith of God, part four: the word of God), or, in other words, it is through faith (see the following note) that every good gift (which is “sent forth by the power and gift of Christ”—see Moro. 7: 16) is obtained from God, including the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is charity.

(Note: Mormon taught that the way to obtain charity is to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7: 48.) Christ said, “Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you” (Moroni 7: 26.) This shows that charity is obtained by the prayer of faith.)

Salvation = Charity and Charity = Salvation

Some may take issue with my statement that charity is the greatest of the gifts. They may bring up the following scripture:

The Lord said, “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6: 13)

For most LDS, the interpretation of the word “salvation” in this verse means “exaltation,” which all understand to be the greatest gift of all. Nevertheless, Mormon clearly states that charity “is the greatest of all.” (See Moro. 7: 46.) Paul also states the same in 1 Cor. 13: 13. There is no contradiction in these scriptures between Mormon, Paul and the Lord because charity and salvation are the same gift. I will explain why this is so later on.

Charity and Perfectness

Paul, Moroni and the Lord all aligned charity with perfectness:

Paul said, “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” (Col. 3: 14)

Moroni said, “And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.” (Moro. 8: 17)

The Lord said, “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” (D&C 88: 125)

These scriptures indicate that charity is not your average love.

No inheritance without charity

Ether chapter 12 also talks of charity. Moroni in this chapter said the following:

And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father. (Ether 12: 35)

Moroni makes it clear that charity is a prerequisite to salvation. No charity? No salvation. Have charity? Have salvation. This is why Mormon states in Moro. 7: 47 that “whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” In other words, if you possess charity at the day of judgment, you are guaranteed salvation because charity is all you need. You may possess anything else, in fact, you may possess all other things (gifts) possible to possess, but if you don’t possess charity, you don’t get saved. In other words, the possession of charity is the only thing that saves.

In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni reiterates this point:

And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God. (Moro. 10: 21)

The Nothing and things of naught

One of the more curious aspects of charity is that without it we are “nothing.” Paul said, “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13: 2). Mormon said, “If [a man] have not charity, he is nothing” (Moro. 7: 44). Nephi said, “Except [men] should have charity they were nothing” (2 Ne. 26: 30). The Lord said, “And if you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can do nothing” (D&C 18: 19).

Keep in mind that Lehi also spoke of “a thing of naught” which has no power, purpose or even existence. (See 2 Ne. 2: 11-13. This is a bit deeper doctrine than I will discuss here but if the reader wants more information, you can read the Deep Waters category articles, Lehi’s model of the universe and Creatio ex nihilo, creatio ex materia and creatio ex deo are all true doctrines.)

Weak things and strong things

Charity is associated with strength and makes weak things become strong or all-powerful. Said the Lord to Moroni:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness. (Ether 12: 27-28)

Moroni then goes on to explain that the Lord “hast prepared a place for man…among the mansions of [His] Father” and that the whole purpose of the Lord’s atonement and resurrection was “to prepare a place for the children of men” so that they could “inherit that place which [He] hast prepared in the mansions of [His] Father” through men having charity. (See Ether 12: 32-34.) Thus, those who possess charity stay in the kingdom of God (see Moro. 10: 21), become strong and inherit a prepared place, while those who do not possess charity “must go down to hell” (Moro. 8: 14). These latter people lose all power and become nothing.

The pure love of Christ

When asked, “What is charity?” LDS will typically quote Moroni 7: 47 and say, “Charity is the pure love of Christ.” Obviously, this is a correct and scriptural answer, but it doesn’t exactly explain what charity is. Yes, it is love. Yes, it is the type of love that Christ demonstrated and possessed. But what the heck is it? And why is it so all important that its possession makes us saved beings?

All are alike

Moroni, in the above quote, when explaining that he possessed charity, made a point to state that “all children are alike unto [him].” For most of us, love comes in degrees and is prioritized. We love our wives more than anyone. We love our wives and children more than our own brothers and their wives and children. We love our brothers and sisters more than our in-laws, and more than our friends. We love our friends more than our acquaintances. We love our neighbors more than strangers. We love our fellow citizen more than foreigners. In other words, “all are not alike” unto us. This demonstrates that most, if not all, of the love that we manifest is not charity.

The opposite of charity

If you look at past and present history, and review the brutal murders, genocides and other atrocities committed by mankind, you will find that one of the ways these men, women and even children justified their actions against their fellow men was to view their victims as aliens. They viewed them as less than human, as animals even, as vermin, as alien invaders to be fought and exterminated at all costs. In other words, they viewed them not as “alike unto them,” but as completely different and even opposite in all things. This hatred, inspired by Satan, is the opposite principle of charity. It views others as altogether different and seeks to destroy such different “things.” Charity, on the other hand, views all things as part of the family and creation of God, and alike unto ourselves, and seeks to edify, save and exalt all things.

Between charity and hatred

The prioritized love that we feel towards those whom we consider worthy of our love, known to us as our “loved ones,” is not exactly charity and not exactly hatred. It is a mix. It has conditions. “As long as you don’t hurt me, I’ll love you.” Etc. But the moment one of our loved ones hurts us real badly, then the love we feel evaporates to be replaced sometimes by hatred. So, when circumstances are going good, the love we feel can manifest great pleasure and happiness, but when times are tough or people around us are making agency choices that hurt us, often that same loving feeling can disappear in an instant and cause us great emotional pain and anger, even hate.

Satan, who knows that the principal of hate allows him to control people, also knows that it is okay for a person to possess love, as it can easily be turned into hate, by simply changing the circumstances of the person from good to bad. It is only charity—which remains constant, or perfect, regardless of the circumstances—which altogether removes Satan’s hold upon men.

What charity really is: the LDS Anarchist definition

Charity is an over-whelming desire and willingness to share all that you have with everyone else.

In the beginning

A visitor named Doug once asked me,

This brings up the point, why is God all powerful? It’s because the intelligences TRUST him, because he never lies. Trust + a healthy dose of smarts is the key to Godliness. The intelligences not only trust God, but they adore him and do whatever he asks.

To which I answered,

All you write here is very true, but there is another, prime reason that precedes these other reasons as to why all things trust and obey God. I’m currently writing another article on this other reason. I’ll link this comment to that future post (if I remember to do so.)

God is motivated by charity and charity alone.  In fact, our current scriptural translations go even farther by saying that God is love, (or God is charity.)  Charity is the divine motivation behind both the atonement and plan of salvation and also the creation of all things.  God desires to bring the nothing into existence (or creation) so that all the many created things can share in everything He has.  It’s like a rich man in a mansion, opening his doors and saying aloud to all in the streets,

“Come in, one and all, and partake of all these riches!  Sit with me, dine with me, walk with me, learn of me and enjoy all the wealth and pleasures I have!  What is mine is yours if you but come!”

Everything He does is to facilitate the gathering of all things around Him, into His mansions, so that they can share in His treasures with others.  This is charity.  God, therefore, is the personification of charity.  In other words, God literally is love.

Man is also motivated by charity, God’s charity.  In fact, all things obey God because God has charity.   We, in the beginning, being on the outside of the mansion, in the streets (in outer darkness), entered into the kingdom of God, or came into existence, because of the offer He made of sharing all He has with us.  Who in their right mind would turn down the offer to enter into a rich man’s mansion and live there in wealth and prosperity for the rest of eternity?  And not just living there, but partaking of all of the riches as if you were the rich man, meaning unbridled sharing of all there is, with no stinginess, whatsoever.  Who would turn such an offer down?  None of us did.  No one ever does.  It is not in our nature.

Charity brought us into existence

When God first gave us awareness of the inner sphere of light, it wasn’t His intelligence or His trustworthiness or any of His many other qualities that caused us to leave outer darkness and enter into our existence in the inner sphere of light (the kingdom of God). It was that noble offer of His, His charity, His desire and willingness to share all He had with us, that caused us to enter His created mansion.  This is how created things get created, or are brought into existence.  God has a two-fold mission, one directed at the already created things which exist within the bounds of the kingdom (sphere) of light and one directed at the nothing found in outer darkness.  To the created universe, He works to facilitate their obtainment of all that He has through the atonement and plan of salvation.  To the nothing, he extends the offer of entering His sphere of light and partaking of everything He has.

The creation is ongoing because the nothing cannot resist the charitable offer.  And so the Universe expands.

All things love God

Why?  Because God loves all things.  He demonstrates that love by desiring to, being willing to, offering to, and working to give us everything He has.  This is what God is all about.  Giving.  Not selling.  Not having things earned (a meritocracy.)  But an unearned gift.  This is charity.  He likes to give gifts to all that like to receive them.  As long as we enjoy receiving, He’ll keep on giving.  He is willing to give us everything there is, without any degree of selfishness.  Not giving us a replica of what He has, but the very things He has, we becoming joint-owners of His things, or as the scriptures say, joint-heirs.  This is the greatest love there is.  There is nothing greater than God’s love, called charity.  Thus, it is the most powerful motivator, in all cases.  It motivates God and it is designed, or it is His design that charity be our motivation, also.  For all the created Universe, it is also their motivation.  They obey Him in all things because they love Him for His love for them, which defies all comprehension, for once it is even remotely understood just how much God has and is willing to give to us, all things are humbled by the magnanimity of God and all things bow the knee and bend the head in humble reverence and worship of the divine Lover of all things.

There are no two ways about it

There is only one type of charity: God’s charity.  If you don’t have an overwhelming desire and willingness to share everything you have with everyone else, you don’t have charity.  (See the Deep Waters post,  How many wives?  How many husbands?, for how charity works in divine relationships).  Any degree of stinginess gets you kicked out of the kingdom.  The law of heaven is having all things common, or sharing all things with everyone else.

Sharing.  We learn this as children in the nuclear family.  Share your toys, our mothers teach us.  This is, in fact, a sure-fire way to make quick friends.  The more open and sharing you are with others, the more friends you’ll end up having.  The minute you say, “No, it’s mine!  I’m not sharing!” suddenly even close friends don’t want anything to do with you.

As adults, we learn to share with our spouses and children.  Parents provide for their children their necessities: food, clothing, shelter, nurture, protection, education.  We do this freely, as gifts.  The family is designed to be a gift society, so that we can better inculcate charity, which saves us.  The more generous and charitable we are, the more importance we put on people and the less we put on things.  Charity is the only lesson we need to learn here on earth.  Those who learn it qualify themselves for entering into the charitable society that exists in heaven.  They also prepare themselves to establish that society here on earth, otherwise known as Zion.

What charity is not

Charity is not giving of your surplus to a church, the poor or the needy.  It is not fast offerings or tithing.  Those things are important, but they are not what is charity.  We call them charitable donations because they mimic the work that charity does.  Nevertheless, unless a person has “an overwhelming desire and willingness to share everything” he or she has with everyone else, what they have is something less than charity.  The love of a mother or father for his or her children is close to charity.  A parent will give everything, even their own life, for their children, and will share all that they have with them.  But until they have the desire and are willing to do the same for everyone, they don’t possess charity.

In the absence of charity

Without charity, men go through various stages of selfishness and stinginess.  Babylon thrives in the absence of charity.  When charity enters the hearts of men, Babylon disappears and Zion becomes established.  In Zion’s absence, men have power to do all manner of wickedness and can be partially or totally controlled by the devil.  Once charity becomes the motivating impulse in men, Satan loses all power and God rules on earth in their hearts.  This is because charity is 100% divine.  It is not a human concept, principle or emotion.  It comes only from God.  As charity overwhelms with desire, its possession makes men relinquish all the less than perfect human emotions and allows them to embrace the divine nature.

Charity can only be obtained, as Mormon explained above, through faith, hope, meekness, etc.  So, as a strategy, the devil does all in his power to destroy faith, hope, etc.  Faith, in and of itself, is useless against Satan.  So is hope.  None of these principles can stop him. Only charity can.

“Let all men have faith, hope and the rest of the gifts of the Spirit,” says the evil one.  “As long as they possess no charity, these things are powerless to save them and can be a useful means of deception.”

The fastest way to obtain the gifts

As it is through faith that all other gifts are obtained, including charity, and as charity encompasses every other gift, it may be tempting to use one’s faith to seek all other gifts first and when one has fully developed them, to seek for charity. This is actually the slowest way to obtain the gifts because it puts the one seeking the gifts within Satan’s grasp.

It is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. (D&C 49: 20)

This principle applies equally to the gifts of God. When we possess more gifts of God than our fellowman, or gifts which we believe are better than the one’s our neighbor has, Satan can lead us to sin in our thoughts by tempting us to think we are the better, or more righteous, man. Such thoughts can lead to sinful behavior and attitudes, which will end up damning us, despite our gifts.

The antidote is to first seek for charity and then, once it is obtained, to seek for the other gifts. This nullifies the devil’s power and facilitates and expedites the receipt of all the other gifts, for the Lord readily bestows His gifts upon possessors of charity because He knows already that they will use them to bless His other children.

The rewards in heaven will be based upon how close we came to charity

Those who enter into their exaltation are those whose lives on earth were denoted by this divine desire and willingness to share everything with everyone.  These men and women who actually obtained the divine gift of charity will receive everything God possesses and will become gods and goddesses themselves.

All others will receive according to how close they came to charity.  In the day of judgment, we will be assessed only by charity or our lack thereof.  Did we possess the desire but not the willingness to carry out the desire?  When presented with the opportunity, did we share all, most, a lot, a little or none at all?  Did we play favorites, sharing with him, her and them but not with those?  Or were we totally selfish, sharing nothing with no one and with an unwillingness and no desire to bless those around us with the good things of life?  Did we discard charity altogether and seek for its opposite, desiring and willing that others receive nothing but evil from our own hands or the hands of others?

Locations in heaven will be based upon charity or its lack

Those who receive the reward of exaltation (the ones who possessed charity in mortality) will reside in the midst of all things, like God Himself, at the center of the sphere of light (the created Universe or the kingdom of God).  Like God, they will receive all power (agency) from all things and all things will look to them (the center) and obey them for they have the same desire, willingness and now power to share everything they possess (which is everything) with all.

Persons who were less charitable in mortality will receive inheritances in other mansions or kingdoms (planets) which are located more towards the edges of the sphere of light.  These will possess less power (agency) than those who reside more towards the center of the Universe.

Repentance brings salvation (charity)

Obviously, almost all mankind will be saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ, which means that just about everyone will eventually repent of their sins and go through Mormon’s steps, acquiring faith, hope, meekness, lowliness of heart and confessing by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ.  This means that they will finally obtain charity and become saved in the kingdom of God.  With this charity they will share all of what they have with everyone around them.  In the case of those exalted, “all of what they have” is everything there is to possess, even all that the Father has.  For everyone else, “all of what they have” is of a limited nature, but still everything that they were willing to receive, they not wanting or desiring to receive any more than the reward or gift which they obtained.

Only the sons of perdition lose out entirely, as they remain firm in their impenitence, refusing to receive charity, and being cast back into outer darkness.

Charity is not based upon a church

Baptism into a church is not what qualifies a person for the reception of the gift of charity.  It is one’s desires and willingness to share all with all.  Anyone who uproots the selfish spirit from their soul through Jesus’ words and the Holy Ghost’s actions, humbling him or herself before God, whether they are members of the baptized, covenant people of the Lord or not, can and will receive this gift and if so, they will receive the corresponding reward in heaven.  There will be many charitable “heathens” who will enter into greater rewards than uncharitable church members, regardless of how much tithing, fast offerings, service projects, temple work, meetings or callings they accept, attend or contribute.

The goal is charity

It may seem weird to bring up charity in the faith of God series, but I felt it was important to give an understanding of how charity fits in to God’s faith.  The faith of God is not the end of the matter.  It is merely a means to an end.  Through faith God obtains and maintains all things, granting Him possession of all things.  But possession is not the end all and be all.  The things possessed are to be used for a divine purpose.  Why get all if not to give all?  Underlying all that immense, godly power, knowledge and holiness is the divine motivation, which precedes both our own faith as well as God’s, for God works by faith in order to be able to share all that He has with everyone.  Charity, then, is God’s goal for both Himself and mankind.  Charity is both the first and the last principle.  It brought us into existence, it keeps us in existence, and using it, it can bring others into existence.  It is the reason for the happiness that is existence, the sharing of all things with all.  Charity is the Zion principle.

Everything that leads to charity is to be motivated by charity, thus, the Savior’s command of “freely ye have received, freely give” is according to the principle of charity and is to apply to all the gifts of God.  We are to use all that God gives us to benefit all His children and creations, freely, generously and openly, without reservation or respect to persons.  All are to be alike to us.

Next Faith of God article: The faith of God, part fourteen: God is a miracle worker, not a scientist

Previous Faith of God article: The faith of God, part twelve: Truth

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

Marriage without a marriage license is ordained of God


My text for this post is the following scripture:

And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man. (D&C 49: 15.)

Between a man and a woman

To start with, let’s make it clear that the words “marry” and “marriage” in this verse referred only to marriage between a man and a woman. This revelation was given in March/May 1831 and there was no concept of same-sex marriage back then, only marriage between the sexes.

Who forbids to marry?

And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man. (D&C 49: 15; italics added.)

Parents – Sometimes parents forbid to marry. If a young man or woman is underage, permission from the parents is needed in order for them to marry (with a valid state marriage license). In the high school I attended, there was a very pretty 16 year old girl in one of my classes who was legally married. She received permission from her parents and loved showing people her wedding ring. All the boys in the class (including myself) were kind of bummed that she was now off-limits. It was a strange situation because we all thought that parents normally would not give permission to one so young. She never had a teen pregnancy or anything. She just fell in love and wanted to get married and her folks said, “Okay.” But that doesn’t always happen.

The State – The State is the major perpetrator of forbidding to marry, with all the marriage laws and prohibitions on the books. For example, the State forbids a man from taking a second wife while his first wife is still alive. It also forbids a woman from doing the same thing. It introduces a monetary price on marriage, so that everyone must pay for the permission to get married. It places age restrictions on marriage, as well as health restrictions. Those who don’t meet the qualifications, can’t get married. In other words, they can’t get a marriage license. Additionally, it has cohabitation laws on many of the books so that anyone who tries to marry without a valid state marriage license and then live together can still be prosecuted and thrown into jail, effectively discouraging anyone who wishes to skirt around the State monopoly on marriage authorization.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – The Church is another major perpetrator of forbidding to marry. Although it has no power to stop anyone from getting married, by preaching a valid state marriage license requirement to its congregation, it supports the State’s restrictions and monopoly on marriage. Also, by excommunicating those who marry more than one living spouse (with or without a valid state marriage license, but most often without a license), it sets up its own restrictions with attendant judgments placed upon those who marry.

These three institutions, then, are not ordained of God when they forbid to marry.

But I must add one more:

A spouse – Every man who forbids his wife from marrying another man and every woman who forbids her husband from marrying another woman is also not ordained of God when they do this.

Everything that is in the world is valid in the eyes of God…for a limited time

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

And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God. (D&C 132: 7, 13.)

What this means is that God recognizes “all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations” that are made among men “both as well for time and for all eternity,” regardless of who or what entity or entities ordained them, “whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be,” as perfectly valid and binding only until “men are dead,” at which point such “contracts…have an end.” This applies only to contracts, oaths, etc., that are not made by the Lord or by His word.

Marriage is a covenant

Marriage is accompanied by a covenant between a man and a woman (the marriage vows), therefore, it comes under the above conditions of the law of the new and everlasting covenant. There are three types of marriage covenants covered by the conditions of this law.

Marriage covenant #1: “not by me nor by my word,” for time only

Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. (D&C 132: 15.)

Here we have a man and a woman entering a marriage covenant, in which the man covenants to be the woman’s husband and the woman covenants to be the man’s wife. The covenant has a stated duration of “’till death do they part.” The marriage is not performed by the Lord nor by His word, therefore it is valid in the eyes of the Lord only until one of them dies.

Marriage covenant #2: “not by me or by my word,” for time and all eternity

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God. (D&C 132: 18.)

Here we have a man and a woman entering a marriage covenant, in which the man covenants to be the woman’s husband and the woman covenants to be the man’s wife. The covenant has a stated duration of “’for time and all eternity.” The covenant is not performed by the Lord nor by His word, therefore it is valid in the eyes of the Lord only until one of them dies.

Marriage covenant #3: “by my word, which is my law,” “in time, and through all eternity”

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. (D&C 132: 19.)

Finally, we have a man and a woman entering the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, being married by the word of the Lord and having it sealed to them by the Holy Spirit of promise. He covenants to be her husband and she covenants to be his wife, for the duration of time and all eternity. This covenant is valid in the eyes of the Lord for as long as they abide in it.

All three marriage covenants are ordained of God

And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man. (D&C 49: 15; italics added.)

The first two marriage covenant scenarios, which operate under temporal power and authority, are ordained of God until death. The final marriage covenant scenario, which operates under eternal power and authority, is ordained of God through all eternity.

Marriage is ordained of God because it creates permanency

God is all about creating permanency: things that remain.

For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed. (D&C 132: 14.)

The only difference between fornication (unlawful sexual relations) and marriage (lawful sexual relations) is the idea of a permanent union. God wants men and women to come together and have sex (become one flesh), and He wants them to remain together, continuing to have sex. The marriage covenant is a covenant or contract to remain together permanently, as husband and wife, either until death or throughout all eternity. It is the fleeting, temporary nature of fornication that makes it wrong.

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

No mention of a State licensing requirement

In the scriptures, there is no mention of the need to have a valid state marriage license. All that is needed for a marriage to occur is that there be a marriage covenant between a man and a woman. That’s it. The marriage covenant can be written or verbal. It doesn’t matter. It can be ordained “by thrones, or principalities, or powers,” in other words, by the State, but it doesn’t have to be. It can simply be “ordained of men,” even the two people entering the covenant (the man and the woman), or even by “things of name, whatsoever they may be.”

This means that two people who enter into a marriage covenant with each other, without a State marriage license, without a religious or civil ceremony, the man agreeing to be the woman’s husband and the woman agreeing to be the man’s wife, who then begin living together and making love, presenting themselves publicly as husband and wife, are not living in sin. They are not fornicating. They have nothing to repent of for they have satisfied the conditions of the law of the new and everlasting covenant. Their marriage is ordained of God.

No mention of a wedding ceremony

The scriptures do not state that a wedding ceremony is necessary for a marriage to be valid. Typically, wedding ceremonies do occur, according to the customs of the culture the two people are from, but they are not necessary for a marriage to be valid in the eyes of God. Only the covenant is the necessary part.

No mention of witnesses

A third person can be present while the two make their marriage vows (the marriage covenant), but that is not required by the law of the new and everlasting covenant. They can enter their covenant in private, just the two of them and it’s still valid in the eyes of God.

Conflict between God and the Church

This brings up a conflict because a married couple that does not get State permission to be married is seen differently by God and the Church. In the eyes of God, they are married. In the eyes of the (modern) Church, they are not. (It was not always so.  There was a time when the Church recognized marriages as valid even without a marriage license.)  As the Church holds the keys of the priesthood, despite a couple being validly married in the eyes of God, they can be prohibited from receiving baptism, confirmation, priesthood and the temple sealing, all required ordinances for their salvation. The modern Church, then, in not recognizing a marriage as valid in the same way God does, becomes a stumbling block to their eternal progression.

Consent in marriage

Both before and after a man and a woman come together in holy matrimony (and since all marriage is ordained of God, including non-temple marriage, all matrimony is holy), the law of common consent applies. So, for example, if the couple enters marriage with vows of fidelity, meaning that they promise to abstain from loving (making love to) other people, they must keep their vows. It is the law of the Lord that all our vows and covenants and oaths be kept, for it is a sin to break a vow. Thus, a man must receive consent from his wife to marry a second wife and a woman must receive consent from her husband to marry another husband.

If they enter the marriage with no vows of abstinence and they decide they want more spouses and they receive consent from their current spouses, they may freely marry without sinning. If, on the other hand, they enter the marriage with vows of abstinence and they decide afterward that they want more spouses in their family, they can, with consent, release one another from their vows of abstinence and then consent to additional spouses. This also is not sin, for vows can be freely made and released, as long as the person to whom the vow was made is doing the releasing.

Sin in marriage

The sin of adultery occurs when a married woman is with a man who is not her spouse. Scripturally, all women who enter marriage apparently do so under a vow of abstinence (fidelity), whether they are married by the word of the Lord or not. Therefore, if she is with another man that is not her spouse, she commits adultery.

On the man’s part, it is only if he has taken a vow of abstinence (fidelity) and is with another woman who is not his wife that he commits adultery. If, on the other hand, he has not taken a vow of fidelity, (in other words, his wife gives him permission to sleep around), and is with an unmarried woman who is not his wife, he has committed the sin of fornication (sexual sin) but not adultery unless the other woman who is not his spouse is married to another man, in which case he has committed adultery (See D&C 132: 41-44 and The many definitions of adultery for more on these laws.)

(The above two paragraphs may seem confusing, but it all boils down to this: if you sleep with someone who is your spouse, there is no sin. On the other hand, if you sleep with someone who is not your spouse, you commit sin. So, to avoid sin, either don’t sleep with a person who is not your spouse or marry him or her before engaging in sexual intercourse.)

If a husband separates from his wife or a wife separates from her husband, so as to purposefully and permanently live apart from one another, this also is sin. There is only one scriptural justification for marital separation and that is if the one being left behind has committed unrepentant fornication (sexual sin). The purpose of the temporary separation is to help the sinner to repent of his or her sin. Once repentance occurs, the couple should come together again and be reconciled, forgiving one another.

Polygyny is not sin

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. (D&C 132: 61-62; italics added.)

If a woman gives consent to her husband to take additional wives, releasing him from any vows of fidelity he may have had, and giving him permission to marry this or that woman, he is justified in taking on the additional wives, for it is marriage with consent and marriage is ordained of God.

When taking on a second wife, the man needs the consent of the first wife. When taking on a third wife, the man needs the consent of the first two wives, and so on and so forth. As long as all give consent, there is no sin.

Polygyny, whether practiced in the new and everlasting covenant (the law of the priesthood), or practiced in a for-time, man-made covenant, is ordained of God as long as consent is given by the wife or wives of the man.

Polyandry is not sin

In the new and everlasting covenant, there are two ways in which a woman get can an additional husband. One way is that she is simply sealed to a second (or third, etc.) husband.

And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed. (D&C 132: 41; italics added.)

The second way is that her husband breaks his marriage vows and commits adultery, whereby she is taken and given (married) to another man. She remains married to the first husband, for the word ‘taken” doesn’t explicitly mean that she has received a divorce.

And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many. (D&C 132: 44; italics added.)

Outside of the new and everlasting covenant, a woman may obtain a second marriage through consent of her current husband or husbands, in the same way as discussed above for polygyny. Like polygyny, polyandry is ordained of God, as long as consent is given by all parties involved.

Objections to polyandry unfounded

LDS men may object to polyandry based upon the following scripture:

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. (D&C 132: 61-62; italics added.)

These verses only state that a man cannot commit adultery with a wife that belongs to him and to no one else. They do not state that a man commits adultery with a wife that belongs to both him and someone else. The gospel is all about joint-ownership, or becoming joint-heirs with Christ of all things that the Father has. There is no gospel law against a wife belonging to two or more husbands, or to a husband belonging to two or more wives. The scriptures do not prohibit such an arrangement. To make this assumption is to wrest them.

Not giving consent to marry is sin

When a man wishes to take an additional wife and his current wife or wives do not give their consent (the keys of this power), they sin because they are forbidding him from marrying, making them not ordained of God. Likewise, when a woman wishes to take an additional husband and her current husband or husbands do not give consent, the husbands become sinners in forbidding her from marrying.

The law of Sarah is applicable to both men and women:

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

Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife. (D&C 132: 64-65; italics added.)

The transgression consists in forbidding to marry, which makes the person doing the forbidding “not ordained of God.”

A secondary and third transgression

When consent is not given, because marriage is labeled sin, a second transgression occurs: calling that which is holy, or ordained of God, evil. Satan wants no one to be married. He would rather that everyone sleep around without entering into marriage covenants with each other. When monogamy is labeled holy matrimony but polygyny or polyandry is labeled sin, this works into his hands, for then he can tempt mankind to break their marriage vows and commit sin. Giving consent to marry more than one spouse keeps the law of chastity intact, stopping Satan in his tracks.

The third transgression comes from judging others as sinners, who have done no sin. All marriage between a man and woman, whether singly or in multiple spouse form, is ordained of God, but if the multiple spouse form is looked upon as sin, or if a marriage without a marriage license is looked upon as sin, then the people who engage in these righteous practices will be looked upon as sinners.

Plural marriage engenders charity

In particular, modern LDS need to stop painting plural marriage (the multiple-husband multiple-wife marriage system) as undesirable or evil. Under such a system, children have multiple fathers and multiple mothers (though only one biological mother). Any husband will look upon all children born to his wives as his children, regardless of whether they are his biological seed or not. This engenders charity, because all husbands/fathers will care for all the children, not just their own. In other words, all children will become alike to them:

And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation. (Moro. 8: 17.)

Plural marriage retains agency

Agency remains fully intact with plural marriage consent, allowing people to open up their hearts and love those around them in the most intimate manner possible, all the while remaining justified before the Lord. This more fully knits people’s hearts together in unity. Without such consent, love must be limited, even if the desire to love more fully exists, which also limits agency and causes distance between people.

Plural marriage creates Zion

And ye shall hereafter receive church covenants, such as shall be sufficient to establish you, both here and in the New Jerusalem. (D&C 42: 67.)

There are certain covenants given to the Gentile Mormons that are sufficient to establish them in Zion. One is the law of consecration, in which they freely share of their substance. Another is the United Order, in which they bind themselves by covenant to establish Zion. Yet another is the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (plural marriage) in which they freely give of their love and hearts in plural marriages, essentially sharing their spouses with other spouses.

Of the three covenants, though, plural marriage is probably the most powerful, for if one is able to give consent to freely share one’s spouse with other spouses, effectively eliminating all jealousy and envy, sharing everything else would be a snap.

Plural marriage corresponds to nature

As the research revealed in the book Sex at Dawn reveals, by nature mankind’s sexuality is a multiplemale-multiplefemale mating system. God has ordained marriage to exactly correspond to our natural sexual desires and nature, so that we may live out our lives free from guilt and shame, in joy, happiness and pleasure.

Plural marriage causes rapid formation of super-strong tribes

Because marriage bonds go in every direction, everyone becomes related to everyone else, in the most intimate way. The concept of distant relations becomes blurred, as all become intimate members of one’s immediate family through marriage. The group, being linked in this way, becomes and acts as a tribe, but also as an intimate family, everyone seeking the interest of his neighbor, for his neighbor is a close family relation.

Instead of tribes growing slowly as tribal members have children who grow up and marry and have children of themselves, plural marriage has the ability to rapidly infuse a tribe with large groups of people, while retaining the intimate relationship aspects of the immediate family. Child-birth is maximized, so that every woman who wants children can have as many as she desires, thus allowing the tribe to grow as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man. (D&C 49: 15.)

When taken at face value, the above scripture is plainly shown to be true. Marriage is a divine institution which has been given to us to maximize our happiness here on Earth, in accordance with the principles of nature, and in preparation for glory to be added in heaven. To remain on God’s side on this issue, men, women, parents, churches, the State and spouses need to follow and encourage others to follow this two-step rule:

1) Don’t forbid anyone from marrying (not even your own spouse) and 2) look upon all marriage between a man and a woman as ordained of God.

Inspiration behind this post

I had read the arguments that Christian polygamists make about not needing a valid state marriage license, but had never actually taken the time to do any research and come to any conclusion about it. It was Justin’s Tribal Relationships post that introduced me to the Sex at Dawn research, which, upon reviewing it, got me thinking about what exactly marriage is and what it is all about. This post is a result of my decision to take a look at the scriptures with the Sex at Dawn research in mind. If you still don’t know where I’m coming from, I encourage you to read the following posts, as this article is influenced by, and builds upon, them: Tribal worship services, Establishing the tribes of Israel: the real reason for plural marriage, The tribal nature of the gospel, The Return of Polygamy, The many definitions of adultery, Deep Waters: How many wives? How many husbands?, and An alternate view of the keys.

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