Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Majesty of the LDS Temple Concept

Yesterday I had the great joy of attending the wedding of my second son in the Washington, D.C. Temple. There is a distillation of truth and beauty that occurs within the walls of the Temple that can separate out all the confusion and bitterness of life and yield a potent hint of the majestic meaning of life and of the endless joy that the Gospel brings. The marriage ceremony itself is one of the simplest and most majestic ordinances of the Gospel. The joyous imprint of divinity can be so strong in the Temple, and the witness of the Spirit about the reality and sacred nature of eternal marriage was hard to ignore yesterday.

Whatever mistakes mortal men in the Church have made over the years, whatever human flaws have been combined with our worship and beliefs, however large the gap between human performance and the Lord's expectations, there is a divine core to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that is especially apparent within the Temple. It is a sacred place rich with revealed wisdom and means to bless and give meaning to human lives beyond anything else this planet offers. The power of the Temple experience is difficult to explain as a purely human work. The prevasive resonance with ancient religion and covenant making cannot be explained as the work of a 19th century con-man borrowing from Masonry or any other available source. The joy and spirit that can attend Temple worship speaks of more meaningful origins. It is a sacred place, and those who spend so much effort to mock it and the ordinances there - or the clothing that is associated with it - may have deep regrets one day when they learn Whose house it was and Whose work they mocked.

58 comments:

NM said...

Congratulations to your son and his new-found family!

I think it profoundly amazing that the reason marriage exists in humanity is to represent something of the relationship between Jesus and his church. Jesus' love for his bride is such that he died for her - to impute to her all the necessary righteousness; able to stand before a God opposed to sin.

NM

LdsNana said...

I share the same testimony with you, about the divinity of what occurs in Holy Temples. Truly, it surpasses the ordinary frailties that are so apparent, in the world.

Congratulations on "growing" your eternal family:-)

tDMg

Zera Pulsipher said...

I've always found that the eaisest and fastest way to bring the spirit of the lord into your heart is to discuss respectfully or ponder the temple whether within or without those most holy of places. Thank you for increasing the spirit in my life today Jeff, and thank you for your constant testimony.

Tony said...

Amen!
The one thing that gets me the most about the gospel, besides of course the atonement of Christ that makes it all possible, it is the reality of eternal families.

Now I am not sealed to my family. I am the only current member of the Church in all the generations of my family that I know of. But when I spend time with families in my ward that I know truly love each other and are sealed together, it is beyond words to describe how I feel when I am with them. Truly, part of me desires to be bound with them. And then I remember the fact that we can all be one eternal family of God's sons and daughters, and my heart fills even more.

Thank you for a sweet reminder of that, Brother Lindsay. I hope the day will come when I can make it a reality for my own family.

Nathan Coffey said...

I echo Zera Pulsipher's comment.

Your blog continues to be a source or daily (or frequent) inspiration Jeff. If only I could get mine to do the same, yet it would always pale in comparison to this wonderful site!

Steve Smoot said...

Having recently gone through the Temple as preparation for my leaving for my mission in September, I can only say amen to Brother Lindsay's words. There is a power and spirit that comes over me whenever I go through the Temple that surpass anything I have ever felt. Words truly can't describe the beauty, majesty and grace of the Temple experience.

Thanks for the wonderful post Jeff. Keep up the good work!

jayleenb said...

I live 2 1/2 hours from a Temple and am now disabled to the point that I doubt I could do Temple work, although I am seeing improvement and hope to do it again.

A couple of years ago I spent 6 months in San Diego and was able to attend the Temple several times a week and do several sessions a day, plus participate in sealings and other work. It was so wonderful, words can't begin to express.

I am SO PROFOUNDLY grateful for that time in my life. I want to get at least well enough to move somewhere close to a Temple and do Temple work for the remainder of my life. That would give me joy unspeakable.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning All,

I think my question will fit in here with the topic. Yesterday I was reading my bible, and came across the passage in Matthew whereby Jesus is being questioned by the Pharasees about the nature of marriage in heaven. The question posed is that if a man died, leaving his widow, and the widow marries each of the mans seven brothers, who each subsequently die, who's wife will she be in the afterlife. Jesus very clearly, and in unambiguious terms tells the people that there is no marriage in heaven. I'm paraphrasing a bit because I don't have my bible here with me, but it seems that this clearly contradicts the Mormon concept of eternal marriage. How does one resolve the two teachings? Just curious?

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Michael said...

Catholic Defender,

Jeff does an excellent job of answering that question on his website. Here is link with the answer to your question.

http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/love.shtml#heaven

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender,

I suppose you have already heard or read Mormon commentary on the issue, so nothing new and exciting to report there. I think both sides make decent arguments on most issues, this being one of them.

I'll just say that I love my wife and little boy more than anything, and I know we will be married in the after life. Through study and prayer I have found the family to be a part of our eternal happiness to come. Of course, this doesn't make a good argument =D , but I am very happy to have come to this knowledge.

Bret

gb said...

Catholic Defender,

It is obvious that the question from the Sadducees was intended to entrap the Savior.

My question is, "How could this question entrap the Savior, UNLESS He had been teaching Eternal Marriage?"

If He hadn't been teaching Eternal Marriage the question COULD NOT have entrapped the Savior in His words.

NM said...

gb

I don't know that what you say makes sense. The Sadducees were a sect who did not believe in the ressurection of the dead. The point here was that they were asking about something that they themselves didn't believe (which is about the ressurection of the dead). Although Jesus does clearly explain that there is no marriage in heaven, 'marriage', in my opinion, is not the thrust of Jesus' point.

NM

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

I think Christ's explaination was correct. What the Sadducees were discribing was not an "Eternal" marriage. A scripture that would better discribe the eternal nature of marriage would be:

"Nevertheless neither is the a man without the woman, neither the a woman without the man, in the Lord."

Aaron

Robert said...

My wife and I recently did some sealings, and she even noticed one of the blessings that we hadn't picked up on in the marriage ceremony before. It is definitely one of the most beautiful ordinances. I enjoy doing that and initiatories about as much as anything.

catholic defender said...

Hi Again,

Thanks for the comments and responses to my question. Here's what I see as problematic. Many of the passages in the Bible do lend themselves to different interpretations by each of the different denominations. This particular passage though does not. Nothing in the language used in the Bible could be interpreted to mean anything different; that is the words Christ uses can only be interpreted to mean there is no marriage in heaven.

GB assume that Christ was teaching about eternal marriage. Why then would he say there is no marriage in heaven. That doesn't make sense if there is eternal marriage; there's no reason to lie, and Christ was incapable of lying.

Go on further in the Bible to St. Paul's teachings. Paul counsels the disciples to the single and celibate life, not to marriage. Many of Paul's teachings, I think in Corinthians are praising those who forgo marriage in favour of giving one's whole life to Christ. Its only those who can not remain single, and not fall into sin that Paul counsels to get married, so as to avoid the sin. This would also tend to contradict the Mormon teachings on eternal marriage. So I am curious to know how one might reconcile the contradictions given that the terms used by Christ and Paul on these teachings are not ones that could be interpreted differently.

I've probably made it clear that for me I don't see any reason for eternal marriage since if we all are following Christ's teachings, we are all promised eternal life. To me the promise of eternal marriage seems an illusory promise, since the eternal aspect of that is still contingent upon our partner also following Christ's teachings. If they don't and we do, will they not be prohibitted from returning to the Celestial Kingdom under Mormon teachings. I'm not trying to be offensive, I'm just pointing out that I see this contradiction, and don't see how it can be resolved when what is said by Christ, really doesn't lend itself to different interpretation.


Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender said:

"Jesus very clearly, and in unambiguious terms tells the people that there is no marriage in heaven."

Respectfully, I suggest you might want to reread Matthew 22:30, including the key word "they", and investigate in the context of the question and answer who the "they" actually was.

You might also consult the following:
http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Brochures/EternalMarriage.pdf

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the link I posted was incomplete. The full link is http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Brochures/EternalMarriage.pdf

Append a ".pdf" to the link I initially posted to retrieve the document.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, it appears that blogger edits links posted to remove the .PDF extension (for security purposes, I assume).

The link is http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Brochures/EternalMarriage with a DOT PDF after it :)

gb said...

Catholic Defender,

If the Sadducees already knew that no one believed in marriage after death, their question would be silly and pointless. Don't you think.

What is clear is that no marriages are preformed in the resurrections not that there is no marriage.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Notice, it does not say matrimonial relationships do not exist in Heaven, but that no one marries in Heaven. Mormons do not believe that anyone actually marries in Heaven.

We believe marriage is an earthly ordinance and must be done here.

AND

The Apostle Paul ALSO taught that;
1 Cor. 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

gb said...

CD,

PS

Again, the Lord did not say there would be no people in the married state in the resurrection but that there would be no marriages made in the resurrection.

This isn't so much speculation as actual fact. The words in the Greek are verbs, not nouns-and the implication is that in the resurrection there will be no one making marriages, not that marriages made before the resurrection would not remain in full force.

Greg said...

As a reference, perhaps some would like to read What is an Endowment? which may help explain the majesty of the LDS temple.

Darion Alexander said...

Can I throw in my 2 cents and say that yes indeed no one is married in heaven, that's why we are married on earth and either for "death do you part" or "forever and ever" under the authority of the Priesthood. So yes, Christ is correct, that there is no marriage after death. Even vicariously, the couple is still not married in heaven, but in a Temple here on Earth. Just my 2 cents.

Jennifer 6 said...

(Note: I've posted a few times on this blog as Jennifer, but since there are so many of us Jens around, I'll be Jennifer 6 in honor--or in exasperation--of my 6 children.)

I so appreciate Jeff's unabashed testimony about the temple. The only way, I think, to really obtain such a vibrant testimony about the temple is to have made the sacrifices to be granted admission there. By sacrifices, I'm not referring to the extreme poverty that those like the early Saints who sacrificed all they had to build the Kirtland Temple and the Nauvoo Temple. I'm not talking about sacrificing one's property or even life like those who endured extreme persecutions in Missouri, Illinois, and other places because of what they believed.

What I am talking about is the sacrifice of the broken heart and the contrite spirit, accepting Jesus Christ as one's Savior, and moving forward with faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That faith requires action, and living one's life according to the standards for temple admission and then participating in the ordinances performed therein sometimes feels like the hard road, but it isn't, not really. It's the only road I want to be on; it's the only road that makes perfect sense to me concerning the eternities that stretch out before and after our lives here on earth.

Some of my kids and I attended my first temple open house last week and even that was something special. Although the building hasn't yet been dedicated to the Lord, being in a place so beautifully and lovingly crafted, and knowing its intended purpose, I couldn't help but feel the peace of the Spirit within its walls. I've never left a temple without thinking when I could next come back.

Bookslinger said...

CD and NM:

You're both saying there is no "marriage" in heaven, but that is not what the Bible says. In Mark, Luke, and Matthew, It uses the _verb_, not the _noun_:

"neither marry, nor are given in marriage".

"given in marriage" is also a verb, the key word being "given".

Therefore, it is the act of marryING that can't or won't occur in the Celestial Kingdom. It has to be worked out and the act of marrying _before_ then, either in this life, or by proxy in the spirit world.

However, once that ceremony is peformed BEFORE entering the celestial kingdom, (either in this life or in the spirit world by hgaving proxies on earth) the union can stay intact, and still fulfill the description given by the Lord.

"To marry" is a verb denoting the ceremony itself, not the state of being in a marriage.

Therefore the LDS interpretation fits right in with the literal description in the New Testament.

Another way of stating it that satisfies both the Lord's statements in the NT, and the LDS doctrine, if you enter the Celestial Kingdom single, you'll stay single. But if you enter having already been married (and sealed), then you stay married.

Your "no marriage in heaven" is not the literal meaning of that phrase in the NT.

Jennifer 6 said...

Doctrine and Covenants Section 132 verifies what Bookslinger has said regarding, particularly in verses 15-17. Interesting that I was studying this section just this morning--perhaps one of the most beautifully promising sections in the whole of that book.

In his book Jesus the Christ, Elder James E. Talmage says, "[I]n the resurrection there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; for all questions of marital status must be settled before that time, under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, whcih holds the power to seal in marriage for both time and eternity" (p. 548).

There's also an awesome article by President Kimball in the August 1974 Ensign called "Temples and Eternal Marriage," if you can find it online anywhere.

NM said...

Thanks BookSlinger.

I was always under the impression that 'marriage' for us on earth is a picture of something bigger. i.e. the reason marriage exists today is a parable that points to an event in the future; and with everything else we find in Scripture: it's all about Him - the bridegroom. He will one day be joined with His bride - the church.

NM

catholic defender said...

HI Bookslinger,

I'll go with your comment for the moment, but want to pose this question to you. Assume that one can only get married on this side of the afterlife. What about all those virtuous, single mormon women, who never marry? Is there no hope for them to return to the celestial kingdom? Does that really make sense that a kind and merciful God would not plan for them? I really don't believe that God is cruel like that.

Because my wife is Mormon, I travel in some Mormon circles. She has several, older, single Mormon lady friends. These are good people, they are just single. Some will never marry in this lifetime. Most believe that if they don't marry in this lifetime, then they will find their eternal family and spouse in the next. Does this belief not contradict what you are saying about only being able to marry in this lifetime? It would seem that it does.

I do disagree with your interpretation. That's based on my own beliefs and the things I've learned through faith. My faith teaches me that we all will be reunited with our families after death, so long as we live our lives as Christ taught us to, and so long as our family members do the same. There's no doubt in my mind or heart that those family members who've gone before me have returned to God, and that I'll see them again when I die. None of those folks ever went through a temple ceremony, or married as LDS. Its hard to put into words what it is that I've come to believe, but from what my faith tells me, there's something more profound after we go that makes marriage unnecessary...not that it doesn't exist in the afterlife, just that it isn't so important because we are with God, and we are all reunified with him. Maybe its a change in priorities, because we've grown in faith to the point that the temporal things such as marriage have no real meaning. Not the best explanation of what I mean, like I said, hard to put in words. I just believe that God will look out for all of us regardless of the human concept of marriage and family.

Jennifer 6, Section 132 of the D & C says a number of things. Some of them are the very things that create controversy between your church and mainstream christianity. I'll stay away from any further discussion of that section because I do have very strong feelings about it, and am biased. I'd just point out that use of section 132 to explain what you believe, will create a controversy with a non-mormon who is familiar with that section.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender said, in reference to Bookslinger's comment:
"I do disagree with your interpretation."

Catholic Defender, please explain how you can disagree with the actual words of the New Testament in the original Greek. You are free to look them up yourself.

Are you saying the words in the original text of Matthew 22:30, namely "gamousin" and "gamizontai" have the same meaning as "gamesas" in Greek? If so, it appears that your interpretation is the one on doctrinally shaky ground.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender also said: "These are good people, they are just single. Some will never marry in this lifetime. Most believe that if they don't marry in this lifetime, then they will find their eternal family and spouse in the next. Does this belief not contradict what you are saying about only being able to marry in this lifetime? It would seem that it does."

One thing Bookslinger may have omitted from his explanation, because it may almost seem to obvious as to be inherent, is that if/when these faithful women receive the blessing of an eternal marriage - if they receive it after they have passed on - they will receive it in connection with a proxy ordinance being performed on their behalf by mortal beings in an LDS temple. As with baptisms for the dead, other ordinances for the benefit of those who have passed on are performed in mortality here on earth. There is no contradiction, but rather perfect consistency and opportunity for all, coupled with the opportunity for God's children to serve each other, as befitting the perfect plan of a loving God.

catholic defender said...

Hi Anonymous,

I won't pretend to know Greek....its all Greek to me :-) I said I do disagree with Bookslinger's interpretation. Not because I disagree with the language used, but because my faith and everything I've learned about God tells me different. Is not the reason there is so much contention between your church and mainstream Christianity that we all are interpreting the Bible differently. If that's the case, then we have to fall back on the solid ground of our own faith. And my faith tells me that Bookslinger's interpretation is not the correct one. Your faith likely tells you otherwise. I do believe we can both be right, since we are both in different places spiritually.

As to the marriage by proxy idea, that seems suspiciously convenient. It seems that you're saying there's no marriage in heaven, except if you get married before you die, or someone goes through the ceremony by proxy. This to me seems a contradiction to me. Its like saying you can have your cake, and eat it too. Maybe you don't see it that way.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

If you accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ, then you accept the concept of a proxy ordinance on behalf of another.

How "suspiciously convenient" was that act for all of us? ;)

bomgolf said...

The nature of these arguments always baffle me. I think it all comes down to the fact that we (LDS) believe in modern revelation. We view the Bible through the lens of modern revelation. Yes, that will trouble some people; but it is still the truth. We believe that Joseph Smith received revelation that a man and a woman are to marry in view of eternity. We believe such marriages or unions are performed in sacred temples. Hence, when we read the Saviour's statement about marriage in the resurrection, we understand it within the context of the revelation given to Joseph.

Will that seem blasphemous to some? Yes, of course. However, when we step away from modern revelation, then we rely on modern interpretation -- and as is always the case, we deliberate back and forth (not that doing so is necessarily bad), and never come to any solid consensus.

catholic defender said...

HI Anonymous,

I do accept the concept that Jesus died for our sins. Is that death by proxy, well yes, I would tend to agree that it is. But, I don't see how you can say that there's no marriage in heaven after death, and then say that someone can be married for you by proxy after you die, and not have that seen as a contradiction. It is a contradiction. Maybe it is the case that this can occur; I don't believe it to be, but maybe it is. But from this vantage point, someone who finds the BOM to be untrue, this doctrine that allows for someone to be married by proxy seems a rather convenient way to get around the contradiction. I recognize that most here won't agree with me, and that's okay.

Bomgolf, I understand that your teachings about marriage by proxy come from your understanding of revelations given to Joseph Smith. For some reason Mormons seem to think they have an exclusive on continuing revelation. I assure you that you do not.

Catholics also believe in modern day revelation, though they do not call it that. We believe the Pope communicates with God, and to the best of his ability acts as God's agent here on earth. We also recognize modern revelations given by Mary at various times throughout the history of Catholocism. Most protestants don't agree with us about those teachings, but I can assure you that Mormons don't have an exclusive on the teachings of continuing revelation. It really becomes a question of what does your faith tell you is actually revelation from God. This is in and of itself a form of revelation from God.

As far as the original question I posed, I do see contradictions in Mormon teachings regarding marriage. Paul does counsel us toward the single life very strongly in Romans. He goes on at great lengths about the virtues of remaining single because to do so allows us to devote our lifes to the single pursuit of following Christ. I don't see how JS's teachings on the subject of marriage can be reconciled with Paul's teachings...and Paul was much closer timewise to Christ's original message than JS. Maybe something was lost along the way in the translation, except that when you compare the various Bibles out there, including the one recognized by your church, the substance of Paul's teachings remain the same...counsel toward the single life. That counsel seems to be consistent with Christ's teachings in Matthew that there is no marriage in heaven. So I come back to how does one really reconcile the contradiction with the BOM and JS's teachings. In my opinion, which is based on my own faith on the subject, I can't. I realize many of you can. That's okay.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

bomgolf said...

CD,

You must understand that you are somewhat difficult to follow, although you seem to think things through well. For example, you said:

"Bomgolf, I understand that your teachings about marriage by proxy come from your understanding of revelations given to Joseph Smith. For some reason Mormons seem to think they have an exclusive on continuing revelation. I assure you that you do not."

By this statement you introduce a tangent, that although worthy of discussion, distracts us from your original point. This seems to be a trend in your posts, and so I find it quite difficult attempting to determine just what I should say, because then in your follow-up you will introduce another tangent that causes distraction.

I hope that doesn't come across as an attack, because it's not; it's simply an observation.

I really can't see how there is a contradiction between what Joseph taught and what is contained in the Book of Mormon.

Cheers.

catholic defender said...

Hi Bomgolf,

I do tend to be tangential at times. It isn't intentional, I just get thinking and sometimes get ahead of myself. I was only pointing out that continuing revelation isn't an exclusive to LDS. I didn't intend to divert the topic. I realize you don't see the contradiction in the teachings. However, I do see the contradiction; let me explain.

I attend my wife's services weekly; she's LDS. In those meetings there's this strong guidance toward marriage. Young men and women are taught the virtues of temple marriage, and how that's what is required of them to return to God. I've never once heard anyone discuss the fact that St. Paul counsels us to remain single so that we can be of one sole purpose of devoting ourselves to God. No one has ever even posed the question. But Paul does say this, he was an apostle and great credence is given to his teachings by all the christian faiths, including yours. Except there seems to be a glossing over of this particular teaching. It isn't discussed in any form that I've ever seen.

What I find troubling is that when I pose the question...the answer I get is that Joseph Smith restored the gospel, and recieved additional revelation about temple marriage and how its necessary to return to the celestial kingdom. That's fine, except that Joseph's teaching on the subject is in conflict with Paul's teaching on the matter. Joseph didn't change the Bible's teachings on the subject. The KJ Bible still counsels toward the single life. Presumably you believe that the KJ Bible is the version that is translated correctly. Is that not what's taught in Sunday School to the kids? If that's the case then, those portions of the KJ Bible that your church recognizes as scripture are those portions that are translated correctly. That being the case then Paul's teachings on the subject must be correct. Those teachings and Joseph Smith's teaching do not reconcile each other...one says marry the other says not to. It is a contradiction. My question is how does one possibly reconcile the two. I don't see a way that you can.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

bomgolf said...

Ok, I see what you're saying now. I'm not an expert on the topic that Paul speaks of, but I can do some searching and get back to you. I know I've read about it in the past, but have never made serious study of it.

Cheers.

Darion Alexander said...

This seems we are going to go round robin on this one, since it is the same Paul that says in Corinthians that man is neither without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
Which is he suggesting is better? To be celibate and devote one's life to God or to marry and still devote one's life to God and family? Then why go to all trouble of the creation and to setting the pattern of male and female union? "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:...So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them."
We could go on and on with this debate. Why then CD are you married? Especially, since it seems to me, with no offense intended, just as an observation, that you are trying to convince others of celibacy? And why go to such lengths as to try and convince us that our "forever and ever" doctrine is "incorrect" because we are on, different levels of spirituality as you put it.

When nonmembers are married "til death do you part", what does that mean? Does that mean those adherents to their own faiths who feel that their marriage should be eternal and that the priest, minister, etc are liars? That the marriage will last forever? That they can change the laws of God and the everlasting covenant because they feel like it? I am not trying to poke, I know it seems that way, but I am not as eloquent a writer or speaker as others in this blog and I prefer a more direct method of communication.

bomgolf said...

Darion makes a good point. After reading 1 Cor 7, it is clear that anyone could read Paul's reading and come to the conclusion that Paul contradicts himself.

I don't really feel that he does. Regarding some of his teachings on marriage, clearly they were directed to a specific group of people, i.e., the people of Corinth. Do we have all of the context of his teachings? I'm not sure that we do.

Bruce R. McConkie makes a very valid point:

"[The Corinthians] had asked [Paul] to comment on several specific and difficult problems involving members of their congregation. And -- unfortunately -- we do not know what those problems were. In other words, we have some guarded and carefully phrased answers, with various express exceptions, but we do not know the questions presented nor the situations involved."

Quoting Brother McConkie may seem to be a cop-out, but I don't think it is a trivial task to come to any sort of consensus based on Paul's teachings alone. Perhaps Paul made some assumptions regarding their understanding of marriage -- and so, in our day, we are simply missing some of the context because of that.

We could quote scriptures back-and-forth, e.g., "A bishop then must be ... the husband of one wife." But doing so will not likely help us to come to common ground. The kicker for me is that I am grateful that a modern prophet was called who has restored the true understanding and nature of marriage to the earth, namely, that we should marry in view of eternity.

Kind regards.

catholic defender said...

Hi Darion Alexander,

I'm going to try to explain myself, though I may not do a good job with it, and hopefully I'll not offend anyone along the way. I am not counseling toward the single life. I am married because I believe that that is the state of life to which I have been called. The passages in Corinthians are great lessons for us to learn because Paul talks at length about the gifts we are given and the various states of life to which we are called. Not all of us are given the same gifts and not all us are called to the same state of life. Some of us will be called to marry, some of us will be called to be single and celibate. We have to pray, and listen to know to which state we are called. I believe very strongly I was called to marry.

I do not see Paul as contradicting himself in the passage you are referring to. It may be a matter of context, but Paul is right, man can not exist without woman, woman can not exist without man. In the Lord we exist together as equal partners. This does not mean that we are all being called to marry. It means that we are all being called upon to work together for the single purpose of serving the Lord with the gifts he has given us, and by following the path he has laid before us in the state of life that we have...whether that be as married folks, or as single folks. Man and woman must work together as equals to serve the Lord.

The same sections of Romans, and it was Romans I was incorrect earlier, that talk about be single so that we can serve the Lord; also talk about marrying as well. In that section one could say Paul is also contradicting himself, but he is not. Single life for the sole purpose of serving the Lord is considered a higher purpose, but those who can not do that, and not fall into sin, are called upon to marry.

The point I am making is that your church focuses so heavily on everyone being married and getting sealed in the temple, that it seems to ignore the teachings that marriage is important, but serving the lord in the manner and state to which he has called us is more important. Paul's teachings on these subjects were directed toward those peoples of the times...absolutely. But they were also written down so that the peoples of our times would have them available to them as well. Isn't that what your church teaches about the BOM. We have Paul's teachings as counsel for our time too, and his teachings remain as valid now as they did to the Corinthians or the Romans or the other places he traveled. This is because they are not his teachings, but they are the counsel given to him through his faith and relationship with God.

I actually am not trying to convince you that your doctrine is incorrect. Admittedly I don't believe your doctrine to be correct, but I am not trying to convince you that it is not. We are free to believe whatever doctrine our faith tells us we should. What I am trying to do, and maybe not doing such a good job at it, is get you to understand that there are significant inconsistencies in the doctrine that you follow. And I'd like to know how one can possibly reconcile what seem to be glaring inconsistencies. Maybe they can not be reconciled, but I see that as problematic for your church. I'm really just trying to get folks thinking about what it is they believe, and why?

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender said : "What I am trying to do, and maybe not doing such a good job at it, is get you to understand that there are significant inconsistencies in the doctrine that you follow."

Respectfully, I find no inconsistency whatsoever. My assessment is that the supposed inconsistencies you percieve are likely due to your limited understanding of the actual doctrine involved. You would likely feel the same if one of us were to assert that we better understood a particular Catholic doctrine than you did.

bomgolf said...

I think the last comment by Anon has truth to it. At the same time, I would agree that many LDS to not understand the doctrine completely, which is perhaps why we cannot respond to CD's question satisfactorily.

However, this does not trouble me. Like CD mentions earlier, the time comes when we must have faith, no matter what we believe (I even feel this way about atheism). Hence, due to the testimony that I have received, the doctrine of celestial marriage is of God. Do I understand it perfectly? No! And perhaps I need to do a better job of teaching and understanding that we serve God with all of our hearts, might, mind and strength -- first! Meaning, that it is the first and great commandment. And so, in our excitement regarding the doctrine of celestial marriage we may no express ourselves perfectly, leading some to believe that there are great inconsistencies in the doctrine.

As Gene R. Cook once said, whenever he seems to find an inconsistency with scripture, he simply gives it time. Then, he learns (in time) that the inconsistency was with him, not the scripture. This is the approach I try to take.

bomgolf said...

sorry for the typos...

Bookslinger said...

CD: "Assume that one can only get married on this side of the afterlife. What about all those virtuous, single mormon women, who never marry?"

You're confusing two things. It's not "afterlife" that is the dividing line in this matter, it is _ressurection_, as stated by the Lord in the NT about the matter of the woman marrying seven brothers.

Apparently, one can't get/become (the verb, not the adjected) married on the other side of the _ressurection_.

Therefore, the door is still open for marriages for dead people who have NOT been resurrected yet, in that state and time _between_ death and resurrection, that LDS call the Spirit World.

So, virtuous people who died before marriage, which would include not just virtuous adults who didn't have an opportunity for marriage, but also the billions of people who have died in infancy or childhood since Adam and Eve, still have their window of opportunity.

We don't know _exactly_ how it will work. But the door is not closed on them.

Bookslinger said...

CD: I wasn't aware that you married an LDS woman. When did that happen?

If you're going to LDS services on a regular basis, you'll eventually pick up on the LDS doctrine which will answer many of your questions.

If I may suggest, be sure to get your own copy of "Gospel Principles", the sunday school manual, and read all the chapters. After you go to that sunday school class for a year (sometimes called "Investigator's class" or "Gospel Essentials"), and have gone through all 47 lessons, then you'll have the basics down and be ready to attend the "Gospel Doctrine" sunday school class.

You're coming along nicely, since I first met you on this blog. I can feel some of your frustration, because we can't answer all your deep questions in sound-bite sized blog comments.

Often-times, mature members, or a gospel doctrine teacher, or a CES Institute teacher, or seasoned temple-workers can answer some of your more complicated questions.

Your questions here have already shown that you're ready for more than just the basics, but you need to finish up those 47 chapters in "Gospel Principles" book if you haven't done so already.

And congrats on marrying a Mormon gal!

Another good text-book on marriage in the LDS church is the CES Institute manual called "Eternal Marriage Student Manual (Religion 234-235)" It's only $9.50,and you can order it online at that link.

Whether you fully accept the doctrines or not, the marriage advice in it is excellent.

Bookslinger said...

Okay, now I see your confusion CD. I said that marriages can't be performed in the CELESTIAL KINGDOM. And people only go into the CELESTIAL KINGDOM _after_ the resurrection. Not immediately when they die.

That stuff is explained in both the Missionary discussions, and in the "Gospel Principles" manual.

Celestial Kingdom is _not_ the same place as the Spirit World where people (either "good" or "bad", believers or non-believers, or however you want to classify) wait for their resurrection.

The Celestial Kingdom doesn't exist yet. It is not where God lives right now. The Celestial Kingdom will be this planet, the Earth, after it goes through a transformation and it's baptism of fire, and is transformed into something like a sea of glass, as per Revelation, and Section 76.

So you can see, I never said people can't enter into marriage in the afterlife. I said people can't enter into marriage (become married) _once inside the Celestial Kingdom_, or "post resurrection".

They STAY married, if they are married and sealed before going to the Celestial Kingdom, but they can't enter into a marriage after going there. At least that's my understanding of the LDS doctrine.

Another point, according to The Revelation of St John (Bible), and Section 76 (D&C), the Celestial Kingdom doesn't start until the _end_ of the Millennium.

You really need to study Gospel Principles. Here's the link to the online Gospel Principles. The difference between the Spirit World and the Celestial Kingdom is explained there.

Lars said...

I for one have found the explanation of "the Sadducees aren't gonna be there anyway" to be rather unsatisfying, like getting off on a technicality. The obvious follow-up question would be "OK, suppose they're not Sadducees. What then?"

I am no source of official doctrine, so take this with a huge grain of salt, but it is more satisfying to me to consider Jesus' entire answer, which includes the previous verse: "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." The rest of his answer, therefore, seems to depend on some scripture to which he refers. What scripture is he talking about? I'm not aware of anything in the Old Testament that might come close to addressing this-- the (admittedly Mormon-slanted) answer seems to be that it is one of those "lost scriptures." Could this "lost scripture" have something to do with the ceremony of Levirate marriage, where each subsequent brother is married to the widow in a different ceremony that is not of force after death? Or perhaps a scripture regarding the removal of Melchizedek Priesthood blessings, including temple ordinances such as marriage, as suggested in Doc & Cov 84:25?

Assuming he is indeed referring to a lost scripture, we find the doctrine from this lost scripture restored in Doc & Cov 132, which also contains the "neither marry nor are given in marriage" phrase. In which case, of course, the answer to the Sadducees' question is: the first brother, who was the only one who married the woman "for time and all eternity." Or, none of the brothers, if the ordinance of celestial marriage was not at that time available.

Catholic Defender, I realize that you might think this answer is too much of a stretch, and I'm certainly not going to make any guarantees about the validity of it. But given your familiarity with Mormonism, I'm sure you're at least familiar with the concept of lost scriptures so even if you think I'm way off-base, it might at least give you a little more understanding as to how we reconcile the apparent contradiction.

As for the apostle Paul's statements about not marrying, perhaps a partial answer might be to point out that full-time Mormon missionaries are indeed required to remain celibate "for the sole purpose of serving the Lord," to quote you. And if a prospective missionary has already had a child, (s)he is not allowed to serve a full-time mission. Obviously this is not a lifetime commitment, as seems to be suggested by Paul, and I'm also aware that most of the early missionaries in our church's history were in fact married (possibly because the need for missionaries, celibate or not, was greater at the time). Like I said, it's only a partial answer, at best. More information about what the questions were that Paul was answering might be helpful, unfortunately the questions are gone and all we have left are the answers.

catholic defender said...

Hi Bookslinger,

Perhaps you haven't read some of my earlier posts, or may have forgotten, but I married that fine mormon woman about 7 years ago. I made a promise to her on our wedding day that I would support her in all her beliefs, even if I didn't share her beliefs. Hence the attendence at her services.

I actually do have a copy of the Gospel Principles, as well as many of the priesthood manuals that are used in the high priest meetings. I listen to much of the teachings, and participate in some of the Sunday School discussions. What I don't do is share your theology. I don't mean this to be offensive, but I do find Joseph Smith to be a charlatan. Everything about him and his teachings, to me feels false. That's after many years of attending church services with my wife, sitting in your gospel doctrines classes, sunday school classes, and High Priest meetings on a weekly basis for the past 7 years. That's after taking the discussions on 4 occasions, and praying earnestly about what the missionaries have taught. At this point I'm less open to being converted than my appearances on this blog might suggest. I also don't support bashing you guys as being a cult or some non-christian church. I've seen too much in your members that indicate christianity to say that you're not christian. Its your theology that's problematic for me, not your values.

I've asked some of the questions here about Paul's teachings because that is where I see great conflicts in what Joseph Smith has taught. Joe and Paul are not on the same page, and I put far more stock in what Paul has taught because I know it to be true.

Lars, I am familiar with the idea of lost scriptures. But that assumes that one believes the scriptures were lost in the first place. If one does not believe them to have been lost, then one would also believe there is nothing to restore, which is the vantage point I pose the questions from. That's the inherent problem with the way the contradiction I see gets resolved in Mormon theology. Its too easy to say that the teachings on marriage were lost in biblical times and Joseph Smith restored them. That answer seems too pat, and lacks real substance to me. Hopefully that makes sense.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Lars said...

CD, it does make sense, and I see where you're coming from. There are indeed many doctrines we espouse that do require a "too easy" answer that a doctrine was lost but is now restored. It truly does boil down to the question of whether Joseph Smith was a prophet, or not. You say no, we say yes.

However, in all fairness, your question was not formulated as "explain (using the Bible only) why Jesus was not saying there would be no marriage in heaven," but (your words) "how one might reconcile the contradictions given that the terms used by Christ and Paul on these teachings are not ones that could be interpreted differently." I'm offering a possibility of how they might be interpreted differently-- I mean, Jesus did say something about a scripture that seems to have existed in his time, and unless I'm missing something (and I'm certainly open to suggestions), that scripture is not to be found currently. To me, that seems to be the very definition of "lost scripture," whether you accept my explanation or not (and of course anyone coming from a viewpoint other than the Mormon viewpoint won't accept it, I'm well aware of that). It's the difference between "believe what I'm saying" vs "understand my reasoning." Does that make sense to you?

Bookslinger said...

CD, Yeah, I totally spaced on you having married an LDS girl. I must have missed that comment.

I'm not trying to convert you with suggesting you read Gospel Principles, but rather, to increase your understanding (not acceptance) of what current LDS teachings are.

You say you have gone to Gospel Doctrine sunday school class, but have you gone to the year-long Gospel Essentials (Investigators') class a some point in your 7 year association with the church? That's where the 47 chapters of the Gospel Principles book are covered in more depth than the missionary presentations.

A couple of your recent comments make me think that you've forgotten some of the things that are taught in that class.

I know there's a difference between accepting a doctrine as true, and understanding a doctrine while not accepting it as true. I keep getting the impression you still haven't understood some of the basic LDS doctrines.

Bookslinger said...

CD, other examples of lost scripture might be the many apostolic letters and documents that never made it into the cannon. The Roman Catholic Church (and probably the Orthodox Church too) has many documents from the 1st Century (or ancient copies of such documents) that purport to be from the apostles or transcriptions of their teachings that never made it into the cannonized Bible.

Also, there are many writings by "Early Church Fathers" up through the 3rd Century that have doctrines that are not currently held by Catholics or Protestants, but are kind of close to LDS beliefs, such as theosis/divinization ("exaltation" to LDS) and baptism for the dead. So those are candidates for "lost doctrines" that Joseph Smith restored.

Here's a link for the Early Church Fathers, and a comparison of them to LDS beliefs.

Here's a link to the Orthodox church's belief on theosis/divinization/exaltation.

Here's a link to collection of writings of "Early Church Fathers" down to 325 AD.

bomgolf said...

CD wrote:

"I've asked some of the questions here about Paul's teachings because that is where I see great conflicts in what Joseph Smith has taught. Joe and Paul are not on the same page, and I put far more stock in what Paul has taught because I know it to be true."


Ok, it is now very obvious to me that we're just spinning our wheels at this point. No attempt has been made to understand how others have attempted to respond to this. We just keep going off on other tangents. My feeling is that the statement "Joseph and Paul are not on the same page" has as much weight to it as "Paul and Paul are not on the same page," since taken out of context seems to be the case.

catholic defender said...

Hi Bomgolf,

Yes we are likely spinning our wheels here. I am trying to understand your perspective, but I have to tell you that its troubling to me that when a question is posed to an LDS member on a topic such as a percieved conflict between what Joseph Smith teaches and what Paul teaches, the answer I often recieve is one of Joseph Smith restored the gospel, or Paul's doctrine isn't translated correctly. These may be the correct answer, but they are not substantive answers, at least to me they are not. I am human and often prone to tangential thinking even though I try not to be. Its great that you believe in your church's teachings so strongly...that's wonderful. But any church's teachings are prone to contradiction because of the human element involved in the espousing of those teachings.

Lars, I do understand your reasoning. As you've pointed out, I do not agree with you. Going back to my original point, Jesus did say that there is no marriage in heaven. None of us seem to dispute the fact that he said that, but each of us understand that to mean something different. I understand that to mean that there is no need for marriage in heaven, because something more profound and important awaits us there. I love my wife and children dearly, there's no doubt in my mind that I will see them and be with them again on the otherside. I believe that not because we are married and sealed in the temple, but because everything I know to be true about God tells me that he is a merciful and kind God, and that he will not separate us, if we follow the path his son laid our for us, just because we say our prayers in different places. I know this to be true. So from my perspective, the temple would have no meaning to me. That's often a point of contention between mormons and non-mormons, and its why non-mormons have trouble believing your doctrines. We see no need for the temple, because all that we know to be true, tells us that something far more important awaits us. Does that make sense?

Bookslinger, to answer your question, yes I used to attend the Gospel Essentials class. I found it fairly unhealthy for me to do so, because often times I found people maligning my own church, or another protestant denomination. This just made me angry so it was far better not to attend, than to sit in the class. The other reason, was that I found the discussions in the class on LDS doctrine to be preposterous. I did try in earnest to listen with an open mind, but much of what I heard was so contradictory to what I know to be true about God, that I just could not sit in the Gospel Essentials class. I felt to do so was putting me in a position where I was going to be unable to keep my promise to my wife because I was developing ill feelings toward your church. I do still hear disparaging comments about my church as well as other protestant churches from time to time, sometimes from the pulpit. In most cases, I'm not sure the people making them even realize they are being disparaging or offensive. This does make it hard for me to support your church. You posed the question as to whether I've misunderstood the teachings. I don't think that I have, and that is likely why I find myself not believing them. Because in my heart, I know God to be something very different from what you believe. Doesn't mean either of us are wrong, its just a matter of faith. Does that make sense?

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Bookslinger said...

CD, Something still just isn't clicking in our communications. We're still getting some crossed-wires here, that I think might have roots in cultural misunderstandings. Did you grow up outside of the USA/Canada?

I'm also starting to suspect that you don't fully understand the necessary basics of LDS doctrine, otherwise you wouldn't be misinterpretting the references to LDS doctrine that others and I have made.

We, everyone, often take short-cuts in our writing/speaking because we assume the reader/listener is already familiar with a topic, so we write/speak the _name_ or _label_ of the topic, and we assume the reader/listener fills in the fuller meaning in their mind. However, you're not picking up the fuller meaning when we use LDS labels for things. So that's why I think you still haven't picked up all the basic LDS things that are taught in the Gospel Essentials class.

Some of the things we're trying to cover here are so basic, they aren't taught in "Gospel Doctrine" sunday school class. In "Gospel Doctrine" sunday school class, it is assumed the class-members got the basics in "Gospel Essentials" sunday school class. So I can see how you've missed them, but you assumed you got them all in the higher class.

Have you really read all 47 chapters in "Gospel Principles" ?

I have to admit though, that Gospel Principles seems to be written more towards readers with a Protestant background as opposed to a Catholic background. I think it is harder for Catholics to grasp LDS doctrines than it is for Protestants.

And for both Protestants and Catholics, it can be hard to understand how Joseph Smith really undoes 1700 years of man's spin or interpretation of the Bible.

Most modern non-LDS Christians (unless they're theology historians) honestly don't realize that much of "modern" or "mainstream" Christian (Catholic and Protestant) interpretation of the Bible is human interpretation done post 300-AD. From about 250 AD to 325 AD, interpretation of the Apostolic writings (before the actual canon was closed even) underwent a radical change. Some of the "Early Christian Fathers" were declared heretics, and for some others, some of their beliefs became heretical.

catholic defender said...

HI Bookslinger,

I want to respond to your posting, but I do think I may stray from the original topic in so doing. I'll be as brief as I can. I grew up on the east coast of the US, in one of the original 13 colonies, in a predominantly Catholic state. Culturally, there are regional differences because of where I grew up and when.

You probably don't realize how correct you are in your observation that Catholics will have a harder time accepting Mormon teachings than Protestants. For the record, eveyone who isn't Catholic, is Protestant to me...that's just how I categorize christianity, its not necessarily how everyone else might. Anyway, in my opinion the reason that a Protestant may grasp LDS teachings more quickly and easily, is that a Catholic, is that most protestant faiths are missing essential elements of Christian doctrine. Because they have left the fold so to speak, Protestants have lost much of the organization, and don't have much of the doctrine that has been passed down. They join your church because they are searching for the rest. For Catholics, we have many teachings that are similar, or the same, as Mormon teachings, we just may not call it the same thing. Therefore Catholics are not likely searching for answers, because we already have them.

For example, you have a prophet, we have a Pope. Both sit at the head of the church and recieve revelation from God on how to lead the followers. You have apostles, we have the Apostlate...both sit directly under the Prophet or Pope and carry out the revelations given. You have the spirit world, we have purgatory. The point is, that Catholics don't grasp LDS teachings as easily because we don't see a need for them. We already have those teachings as part of what we believe, therefore, why accept Mormon doctrine. All that you have to offer us is Joseph Smith, we already have everything else. That's not meant to be offensive, its just a factual statement.

So when it comes to the Majesty of the LDS Temple concept, it truly is lost on a Catholic. We see everyplace that we go as God's temple, because he is omnipotent and omnipresent. Everywhere is a place where God dwells, not just the physical building. Does that make sense to you?

I confess that I have not read all 47 chapters of the Gospel Essentials manual. I have tried to, but frankly, I haven't found much substance there. As a matter of prayer and faith, in praying about what's in your gospel essentials manual, I have found it to be incorrect in the doctrine it espouses to teach. It isn't that I don't understand what is being taught in the essentials class, its more than it felt so wrong to me when I prayed about it, that I found it unhealthy to sit in that class. You may not be able to understand what I mean, because you haven't walked in my shoes. The closest I can come to describing the feelings I was having is this: imagine you are the only black man sitting in a white bar...you'd feel out of place and uncomfortable. That's what I felt everytime I picked up the Gospel Essentials manual or sat in that class. That's why I stopped going, and instead go to the gospel doctrine class instead. I still don't feel I fit in, but in that class at least there are some basic christian principles upon which I can agree. This was bit longer answer than I intended.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

NM said...

CD,

I'm really interested with hearing more similarities between Catholicism and Mormonism. If you have time, would you be able to give us a few more?

NM

Darion Alexander said...

I would also like to see some of these "similarities" coming from a Catholic home and being raised in the Catholic church for much of my childhood. As I see it, those mentioned by CD are the similarities, there are as well many differences, as to Prayers to the Saints, to Mary, no modern revelations, ie a Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants type of revelations, burning of "heretics", control of most of Old Europe, destruction of the Byzantine Empire, the History of the Catholic Church itself should also point out the many similarities. I am not trying to be sarcastic of offensive, though I know I come out that way, but maybe a few similarities, but there are many differences. But, you know, as one Priest told me, "we've been around for about 2000 years, so we can't be completely wrong."

catholic defender said...

HI NM,

I would be willing to share more similarities, at least what I believe are similarities, but I don't think this blog is the appropriate place to do so. If you'd like, you can email me at arialflyer@hotmail.com.

Mr. Alexander, I don't disagree that there are many differences as well, but from the tenor of your comment, it would appear that there are some things you didn't understand or have misinterpreted. I won't go into that here though. I try to focus on the similarities as much as possible. Its easy to criticize, it much harder to find things upon which both faiths agree. In those things though is where one will find the peace and reconciliation that we are called to show to each other.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender