Throughout my many travels I'm frequently asked by persons who don't know much about Mormons, Are Mormons Christians? With a smile I always give the same answer, "Yes we are, very much so."

Mormons quite often are referred to as Latter-Day Saint Christians due to the official name of the church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But it's more than just a name, Latter-Day Saints strive daily to live the life of Christ and abide by his teachings and those of his apostles.

The Bible tells us the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26) The word Christian means “a follower of Christ" but the word disciple means “student” or “pupil.” Hence a true Christian is not someone who simply says they believe in Christ but rather someone who ardently follows and studies the Savior their entire lives. Mormons do exactly that, therefore we are very much Christian in the truest sense of the word.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Quit Acting Like Christ Was Accepting of Everyone and Everything

http://www.gregtrimble.com/quit-acting-like-christ-was-accepting-of-everyone-and-everything/

(by Greg Trimble gregtrimble.com 6-20-14)

Too many people are neglecting what is in the scriptures and trying to “customize Christ”. You can’t do that…seriously.

Too often we read a few scriptures that make us feel good and then omit everything else that we know about Jesus that might make us feel bad. Some have bowed down to modern trends and allowed themselves to be manipulated by the media and false teachers. Too many people are looking for a religion that is easy. In the world, we are offered instant salvation and taught about a Christ that accepts everyone just the way they are. There is no difference between our day and Isaiah’s time when the people asked him to “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things” (Isaiah 30:10) Instead of looking for a Church that teaches truth, many are on a quest to find a church that can satisfy their innate desire to worship God, and yet at the same time, live the lifestyle that they want to live regardless of how ungodly it really is. Some consider it a great feat to find a church that allows them to live how they want to live, and still feel like they are worshipping God.

I don’t care whether you’re Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, or any other type of Christian…one thing is for certain. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a ‘buffet’ that you can compile your perfect plate from. There is no salvation in building your own religion or customizing Christ to suit your needs and wants. The popular trend is to determine how you’d like to live your life and then to conform Christ to that lifestyle. It is done by appealing to Christ’s infinite love and mercy. But you can’t just go around rehearsing that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8) and then be done with it. John 3:16 is awesome…but it’s just one verse! God wouldn’t have given you all of those other verses if he didn’t want you to read them and apply them. The “customize Christ” movement is in full swing.

At the base of this movement is the feeling that Christ was so loving and accepting of everyone, that He would never stand for any kind of exclusion or discrimination. This could not be farther from the truth. Yes… it is true that Christ loves everyone and yes it is true that we should practice the doctrine of inclusion, but Christ was far from accepting behaviors that were not in accordance with the commandments. He didn’t come to this earth and just “accept people” and let them act however they wanted to act.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” he said in Matthew 10 verse 34. He continues, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” In another place in the New Testament He even says, “I never knew you” as he spoke about people that were unwilling to repent and live the commandments. How and why will “a man’s foes be they of his own household?” Because Christ asks you to take a stand. He asks you which side of the line you’re going to be on…and you prove which side you are on by “keeping the faith”. Everyone and everything is not “ok” or “accepted” by Jesus Christ. All are loved by Him, but our behaviors have the power to leave us standing at a door in which He will not open. 

Does that sound all-inclusive?

If Christ were walking the earth today preaching the same things He was preaching back in His day, people would be flying off the handle. He’d teach hard things. Draw a line in the sand. Tell people He loves them. Ask them to repent. Maybe even get mad and turn over some tables. (Matt 21:12-13) Then they’d call Him a bigot. Self-righteous. Un-accepting of others and their way of life. They would “go away” and start their own form of religion like so many of them did while he was preaching in Israel. The question you have to ask yourself is the same question He asked His apostles. “Will ye also go away”? (John 6:67)

People get mad at the LDS Church, it’s leaders, and Mormons across the world for trying to defend some of the basic commandments. I am amazed at the sort of heat the LDS Church gets for its stance on homosexuality. Christians inside and outside of the Church label Mormon doctrine as old and outdated, and in the same breath say that Mormons don’t believe in the Bible. Nothing in the Book of Mormon says anything about homosexuality.

But guess where it is visibly forbidden?

Paul tells the Romans, in the Bible, that “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1:26-27) In the Old Testament homosexuality was one of the primary reasons for the downfall of Soddom and Gomorrah. And again, Paul states that it is a man that should be with the woman “in the Lord”. (1 Cor 11:11). That was Biblical doctrine before it was ever something that needed to be addressed by the modern Church. Consider the woman taken in adultery in John 8. The Savior did not condemn her… but he also didn’t condone what she did. He loved her and He forgave her, but He also meant what He said when He told her to “go and sin no more.” The forgiveness of Christ should not be misinterpreted for acceptance. 

Mormons aren’t trying to be exclusive or discriminatory toward anyone. If they are…then they are not living their religion. Elder Quentin L. Cook stated, “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”

We should be “loving and compassionate” but we should never allow ourselves to believe that Christ just accepts us how we are. That was never in the program. He’s always asked us to change, to repent, to get better, and to overcome the things that we struggle with. When we quit trying to align our wills with God, and start trying to get God to align His will with ours…that is when we start to lose our way.

Many people are taking the equality and fairness argument to the extreme, assuming that Jesus is accepting of everyone and everything. It’s just not true according to the scriptures.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Seer Stones and Treasure Digging-- Fair Mormon Podcast


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4nxSX7_W64

Critics cite the Church as intentionally creating a simple sanitized view of the translation of the Book of Mormon. But what really happened? Here is one believer's personal take on the translation process when all of the historical record is taken into account. Did the Church intentionally hide information? What are we to make of Joseph's "Treasure Digging"? What did the witnesses say? We discuss this and much much more.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

32th Sperry Symposium: Robert L. Millet


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WvRhk8v4cQ

32nd Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium
"The Fullness of the Gospel: Foundational Teachings from the Book of Mormon"
Robert L. Millet - Department Ancient Scripture, BYU

Friday, June 26, 2015

Where were the Twelve Apostles when Joseph and Hyrum Smith rode to Carthage?

(by Susan McCloud deseretnews.com 6-25-15)

Joseph and Hyrum were in the jail at Carthage, Illinois, in June 1844. It was different this time. This time, they had come to their deaths, and the brothers knew it.

"I am going like a lamb to the slaughter," the Prophet Joseph Smith had stated when he left his beloved Nauvoo, Illinois, that morning, in the company of 25 of his faithful brethren of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see Doctrine and Covenants 135:4). "I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward all men. I shall die an innocent man … and it shall be said of me, 'He was murdered in cold blood'" (see "Joseph Smith: A Photobiography," by Susan Evans McCloud).

One by one, Joseph’s friends were sent out on important errands, being eyes and ears of the imprisoned prophet. The Welsh Mormon convert Dan Jones was the last to go on the morning of June 27, 1844, with a letter to the Prophet’s lawyer O. H. Browning; Jones was not allowed to return. Thus only the brothers Joseph and Hyrum Smith remained with two of the apostles, who had been with them from the start, John Taylor and Willard Richards.

Where were the rest of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?

• John E. Page had been in Pittsburgh, editing and publishing “The Gospel Light” since June 1843, and he was most probably still in the Pittsburgh area.

• Amasa Lyman was ordained an apostle and was released when Orson Pratt was re-instated, but he was then appointed as an additional counselor in the First Presidency by Joseph, though not yet officially sustained. Lyman was in Cincinnati, though he may have been traveling when he heard of their deaths and hence headed straight to Nauvoo.

• George A. Smith, cousin to Joseph and Hyrum, was staying with LDS Church members in the area of Jacksonburg, Michigan. He would later serve as first counselor to Brigham Young in the Salt Lake Valley following the death of Heber C. Kimball. George A. Smith was so valiant in his colonizing efforts in Southern Utah — at Brother Brigham’s behest — that St. George was named in honor of him.

• Orson Hyde had been sent to carry a petition, written by the Prophet, to the nation’s authorities in Washington, D.C., and was present at the conference in Boston at the end of June, along with several others of the Twelve. Three years earlier, he had served the unique mission for which he is most remembered — traveling to Israel, where on Oct. 21, 1841, he solemnly dedicated the sacred land to the return of the Jewish people.

• William Smith, brother of the Prophet, was also in the East, where the severely poor health of his wife kept him from travel. He had been an apostle since the Kirtland, Ohio, days but was inconsistent in his activity and dedication. He did not go West with the body of the Saints, yet he did not affiliate himself with the reorganized church until 1878.

• Heber C. Kimball and Lyman Wight had been in Philadelphia and were traveling to New York before continuing on to the conference in Boston. Young and Wilford Woodruff were in Boston. Brother Woodruff recorded their state when the rumors of Joseph’s assassination reached them:

“Elder Brigham Young arrived in Boston this morning. I walked with him to 57 Temple Street, and called upon Sister Vose. Brother Young took the bed and gave vent to his feelings in tears. I took the big chair, and veiled my face, and for the first time gave vent to my grief and mourning for the Prophet” (see "A Comprehsive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," 7:195).
Some of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles experienced premonitions of the tragedy before knowing of its reality. Many felt a spirit of darkness and overwhelming sorrow.

On the actual day of the martyrdom, Thursday, June 27, 1844, Young wrote in his journal: “I felt a heavy depression of Spirit, and so melancholy I could not converse with any degree of pleasure. Not knowing anything concerning the tragedy enacting at the time in Carthage jail, I could not assign my reasons for my peculiar feelings” (see "The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith," by N.B. Lundwall, as quoted in "Brigham Young: An Inspiring Personal Biography," by Susan Evans McCloud).

• Orson Pratt was in New York, according to his journal, but probably journeyed to Boston, for he “returned with several other of the Twelve to Nauvoo” (see orsonprattbrown.com/Angela/AaronBrown/orson-pratt.html). As the first group of pioneers headed West, Pratt and William Clayton ingeniously designed an odometer to measure the distance traveled daily, counting and noting each revolution of the wagon’s wheel. Pratt had the distinction of being the very first Saint to stand on the ground where Salt Lake City would emerge.

• Parley P. Pratt, Orson’s older brother, was traveling with another brother, William, on a canal boat near Utica, New York, and was “constrained by the Spirit to start prematurely for home.” He records: “As we conversed together on the deck, a strange and solemn awe came over me, as if the powers of hell were let loose. I was so overwhelmed with sorrow I could hardly speak.”

He urged his brother to stay still and take care concerning any mention of the gospel: “Let us observe an entire and solemn silence, for this is a dark day, and the hour of triumph for the powers of darkness,” as recorded in the "Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt.". This overwhelming experience took place at nearly “the same hour that the Carthage mob were shedding the blood of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, near one thousand miles distant,” according to his autobiography.

John Taylor survived the severe wounds he received at Carthage and went on to become the third president of the LDS Church. Willard Richards, a large man, fulfilled Joseph’s prophecy that “the time would come when the balls would fly around him like hail, and he should see his friends fall on the right and on the left, but that there should not be a hole in his garment,” according to "Joseph Smith: A Photobiography." He brought the bodies of the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum, the patriarch, back to Nauvoo and their sorrowing people. With the power of the Spirit to sustain him, Richards urged the Saints to trust to God to avenge them, and to keep the peace.

The majority of the members of the Twelve, arrived in time to attend the great meeting called by Sidney Rigdon, surprising him with their presence. Several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle presented assurances on the order of the kingdom, as received through Brother Joseph. The Saints' confidence in the Twelve was reinforced when hundreds heard and saw the embodiment of Joseph in Brigham Young as he stood and spoke. During one of his presentations, Young said, “Brother Joseph laid the foundation for a great work, and we will build upon it. … The Twelve have the power now — the seventies, the elders, and all of you have power to go and build up the kingdom in the name of Israel’s God” (Minutes of Special Meeting in Nauvoo, Brigham Young Papers, as quoted in "Brigham Young: An Inspiring Personal Biography").

The work went forward as had ordained it through God's prophet. The Twelve were not apostles of Joseph Smith; they were apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew this well, and the knowledge was magnified time and time again within their lives.

But they owed much to the faithfulness and worthiness of their beloved Prophet Joseph. “I used to think, while Joseph was living,” Young told the Saints, “that his life compared well with the history of the Saviour” (see "Journal of Discourses," Vol. 5).

Sources: "Journal of Discourses," Vol. 5; "A Comprehsive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Vol. 7; "Brigham Young: A Personal Biography," by Susan Evans McCloud, Covenant Communications; "The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo," by B. H. Roberts, Bookcraft; "They Knew the Prophet," by Hyrum and Helen Mae Andrus, Bookcraft; "Joseph Smith: A Photobiography," by Susan Evans McCloud, Aspen; "Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith," by N. B. Lundwall, Deseret Book; "Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt," Deseret Book; "The Twelve to Bear Off the Kingdom," Ch. 23 in "Church History in the Fulness of Times," student manual; historyofmormonism.com; mormonwiki.com/Orson_Hyde; "Joseph Smith's Brothers: Nauvoo and After," by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Ensign, September 1979; "Orson Hyde’s 1841 Mission to the Holy Land," by David B. Galbraith, Ensign, October 1991; historypreserved.com/orson_hyde.htm; orsonprattbrown.com/Angela/AaronBrown/orson-pratt.html

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865631370/Where-were-the-Twelve-Apostles-when-Joseph-and-Hyrum-Smith-rode-to-Carthage.html?pg=1

'From Darkness unto Light' takes a fresh look at recovery, publication of the Book of Mormon

(by Dan Peterson deseretnews.com 6-25-15)

In their new book “From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon” (BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, $24.99), historians Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit Dirkmaat take a fresh look, enabled by their work with the ongoing Joseph Smith Papers Project, at a story that most active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already know fairly well. Some readers may therefore imagine there’s nothing new to be learned about the familiar narratives of the early Restoration, covering the years 1827-1830.

However, I think they’ll be surprised. I was.

E. B. Grandin, for example, who printed the first edition of the Book of Mormon, emerges as both more hostile to the project than I’d realized and, frankly, more greedy. And the sheet supposedly suspended between the Prophet and his scribes while he dictated turns out to have little support in the sources.

The authors also provide fascinating details about the breastplate given to Joseph Smith, as well as about the “spectacles” that aided in the translation process. (They proved so cumbersome that Joseph eventually replaced them with a single seerstone.) The complex relationship between Lucy and Martin Harris, and between both of them and the Book of Mormon, is also depicted more fully than I’ve seen before.

Moreover, the motivation for Martin Harris’ trip to New York City, during which he famously met with Professor Charles Anthon, is substantially transformed: Pointing out that Joseph likely didn’t yet know about “reformed Egyptian,” the authors persuasively argue that Joseph sought expertise not on Egyptian or Hebrew but on Native American languages; that, because of his expertise, Samuel Mitchell rather than Anthon was the crucial person in the original story, and that — as I independently but privately surmised a few years ago — Joseph at first wanted someone else to translate the plates, unaware that he himself was to be the translator.

The book also offers new information about the stone box in the Hill Cumorah that had once contained the plates and what subsequently happened to it. Many in the area, it seems, knew of the box or at least of the hole in which it had once rested.

“Ironically,” the authors comment, “while the detractors of Joseph Smith spent the remainder of his life claiming that he had never found any gold plates, had any visitations from angels, or received any visions, Joseph’s initial problems with his enemies in 1827 were precisely because they were certain that he had in fact obtained some golden treasure from the hill, and therefore they wanted to take it from him, forcibly if they had no other choice. Those who were most acquainted with Joseph Smith in Palmyra did not doubt he had received the plates but instead took steps to obtain them for themselves or at the very least find remnants of the buried treasure possibly still lying in the hill.”

Numerous statements from multiple sources support the literal materiality of the contents of that box.

“Most of Joseph’s closest friends and family,” write MacKay and Dirkmaat, “testified to touching, hefting, or seeing the plates.”

Another significant step forward is the authors’ entirely unembarrassed description of a translation process for which Joseph Smith used a stone placed at the bottom of a hat. Related to this is an appendix by Anthony Sweat, who teaches LDS Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University and who, equipped with a degree in art, contributed the book’s illustrations. He offers a helpful perspective on the fact that artwork illustrating events in LDS Church (and other) history is often historically inaccurate. Some critics have used such artistic inaccuracies as weapons against the church and the confidence of the Saints. I’ve actually argued, though, that Joseph’s use of the rock in the hat, properly understood, is strongly faith-affirming (see the column "Joseph, the stone and the hat: Why it all matters," published March 26).

For me, the most surprising piece of new information in the book involves Josiah Stowell (or “Stoal”; see Joseph Smith-History 1:56-58). He was apparently “the first person other than Joseph to feel and heft the plates.” Later, though, Stowell actually “testified under oath that he saw the plates the day Joseph first brought them home. As Joseph passed them through the window, Stowell caught a glimpse of the plates as a portion of the linen was pulled back. Stowell gave the court the dimensions of the plates and explained that they consisted of gold leaves with characters written on each sheet.”
Thus, Josiah Stowell can now be included with the other eyewitnesses to the Book of Mormon plates.

--------------------

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865631371/From-Darkness-unto-Light-takes-a-fresh-look-at-recovery-publication-of-the-Book-of-Mormon.html

Supreme Court Decision Will Not Alter Doctrine on Marriage

SALT LAKE CITY — 
                          
The Church issued the following statement Friday:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today's ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice."

The Church has outlined its doctrine and position on marriage in the document The Divine Institution of Marriage.

--------------------

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/supreme-court-decision-will-not-alter-doctrine-on-marriage

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Book of Mormon Critical Text Project and Mary Whitmer Witness to the Gold Plates


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8v3f3fEtVo

A Fairmormon interview of Royal Skousen about the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project as well as new information about Mary Whitmer and the visitation she received from the angel Moroni.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Heavenly songs from classical music's unlikely rock stars


This is a very nice story. Plus the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is mentioned a couple of minutes into the report.
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Po5LZpGSN-k

CBS Sunday Morning story

Published on Apr 20, 2014
 
The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, a secluded group of nuns living in the farmlands north of Kansas City, have become the unlikely rock stars of traditional classical music. Tracy Smith takes us on a first-ever look inside the place where it all happens.

 

'From Darkness unto Light' explores little-known facts of translation, publication of Book of Mormon

 
(by Ben Tullis deseretnews.com 6-8-15)
 
Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, both of whom work as historians and editors of the Joseph Smith Papers project, explore some of the little-known facts that have been recently discovered that offer new insight surrounding the Prophet Joseph Smith's translation and the subsequent publication of the Book of Mormon in the book "From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith's Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon."
 
MacKay and Dirkmaat bring readers up to date on new perspectives that challenge some of the misconceptions surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon that have become popular throughout the years, including new findings that suggest that Joseph did not even look at the plates for much of the translation, in "From Darkness unto Light."

They also answers questions that some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have been curious about, including how much profit E.B. Grandin made in publishing the Book of Mormon and why Joseph Smith and Martin Harris chose Charles Anthon to look at copies of some of the characters from the plates.

The 12 chapters of the book are neatly organized with the historical record, starting with Joseph retrieving the plates — with a short background of Joseph's First Vision and the appearance of the Angel Moroni — to the actual publication of the Book of Mormon once the translation was complete.

They also include an appendix by Anthony Sweat, an assistant professor of LDS Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University and a part-time professionally trained artist, that discusses the different artistic renderings of the translation throughout the years and how the art Sweat provided for the book reflects the newest findings of how Joseph translated.

Their presentation of facts that have been generally well known with historians but which most Latter-day Saints may not be familiar with — and which may startle some who come across them for the first time — are handled in a straightforward way that is not threatening but rather provides greater insight into the miracle of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

---------------

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865630336/Whats-new-From-Darkness-unto-Light-explores-little-known-facts-of-translation-publication-of.html

36th Sperry Symposium: Robert L. Millet


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eN8WXOJNNE&index=7&list=PLc5yYrpPFm2ssUeVIdhRkWin7FhV7sBCv

36th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium
"Living the Book of Mormon: Abiding by It's Precepts"
Robert L. Millet - Department of Ancient Scripture, BYU

Thursday, June 11, 2015

'If any man shall add unto these things ...'


(by Daniel Peterson deseretnews.com 6-11-15)

There are probably few, if any, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who haven’t encountered the argument, usually advanced by evangelical Protestants, that the Book of Mormon and the other revelations given through Joseph Smith are illegitimate because the Bible forbids post-biblical scripture.

The proof-text upon which this argument is based occurs at the very end of the Bible, in Revelation 22:18-19:

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

There are also probably few missionaries who haven’t countered that argument by observing that those two verses almost certainly refer only to the book of Revelation itself and not to the Bible as a whole. In this context, it’s always useful, as well, to point out that parallel warnings occur at Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32.

This missionary response is entirely sound. To the best of my knowledge, for example, absolutely nobody believes that those two passages in Deuteronomy, the Bible’s fifth book, invalidate the rest of the volume (including the entire New Testament). Here, though, I would like to provide some additional background.

Modern scripture readers need to keep the fact in mind that the first Christians didn’t have our modern bound Bibles. In fact, “books” as we know them — the appropriate term for the earliest ancient books is “codices,” or, in the singular, “codex” — were only beginning to come into fashion at the very end of the New Testament period.

For example, all of the documents recovered from the Nag Hammadi Christian library in Egypt — which was hidden in approximately A.D. 390 — were codices. It’s in Egypt that the earliest surviving codex fragments have been discovered. Some have been tentatively dated to the first half of the second century. A very few may date to the close of the first century. (Notable among these is Rylands Library Papyrus P52, containing a portion of the gospel of John, which may come from A.D. 125-160.) By contrast, every text found in the library of the Villa of the Papyri, located near Naples in ancient Herculaneum, is in the form of a scroll. (This library was buried in A.D. 79 by the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii.)

The texts of the New Testament probably began to be written around A.D. 51, though. Dates suggested for the book of Revelation range from A.D. 68 to A.D. 96.

Unless, therefore, the book of Revelation was among the very earliest texts not only recorded but also composed in codex form, it seems likely that the Greek word “biblion,” rendered in the King James Bible and most other English translations as “book,” doesn't mean “book” in our modern sense. In fact, the Common English Bible and the evangelical New International Version actually render “biblion” as “scroll,” and the very conservative Apologetics Study Bible note on Revelation 22 agrees.

It’s also improbable that a scroll would have contained the whole New Testament, let alone the entire Bible. Codices replaced scrolls largely because the latter were so unwieldy.

Moreover, the 66-book Protestant biblical canon — with Genesis at the beginning and Revelation at the end — didn’t instantly flare into existence upon the completion of the book of Revelation.

Irenaeus knew a four-gospel canon by about A.D. 180. Shortly thereafter, by A.D. 200 — which is at least a century after the composition of the Revelation of John — something like today’s 27-book Protestant New Testament seems to have been recognized as canonical in certain circles. But there were still hefty disputes on the subject, and, in any case, the books circulated separately. (Our word “Bible,” as a matter of fact, comes from the Greek “ta biblia,” “the books.” The modern Bible is a collection or anthology of texts that were written by different authors at widely different times.)

“It is doubtful,” says the Apologetics Study Bible note on Revelation 22:18-19, “the wording here refers to closing the canon of the Bible.” Rather, it says, with concurrence from the relevant NIV note, “the warning relates specifically to the book of Revelation.”

Accordingly, it cannot count against claims of post-biblical revelation.

--------------------

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865630493/If-any-man-shall-add-unto-these-things-.html

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Homosexuality and the Gospel: A Scriptural Refutation of Modern Propaganda

http://www.mormonchronicle.com/homosexuality-and-the-gospel-a-scriptural-refutation-of-modern-propaganda/

(by D. Rolling Kearney mormonchronicle.com 1-28-14)

[Author’s note: A friend of mine runs a popular LDS-related blog. After I had most of this article written, it was brought to my knowledge that he had also written a blog post about homosexuality. Our views on this subject are polar opposites, so I have not named him here. I have, however, addressed some of the issues he raised.]

The modern world is filled with wonders previously unknown, not the least of which is our modern ability to communicate at lightning speeds. This has enabled a great many other wonders, such as instant access to thousands of years worth of literature; photos and videos of biological, chemical, and mechanical marvels; and the ability to have interpersonal commerce without leaving our homes.
 
Unfortunately, it has also brought us things like Twitter and Facebook, with minute-to-minute updates on what people are eating, where they are shopping, and how much longer they just can’t wait for the next Dr. Who episode. We live in an age where we can know practically everything about our neighbors. The problem lies in the fact that our lightning communications have also enabled the rapid spread of false and misleading information, and it quickly becomes obvious which lies our neighbors are buying into if we pay attention to the pages they “Like” and the memes they share.
 
One of Satan’s most popular and most powerful tools today is the issue of homosexuality. Studies (conducted mostly by homosexual researchers) are twisted out of context and subsequent false conclusions are championed by society, and the media, at large. One great lie is that people are born homosexual, an assumption supposedly based on the aforementioned studies but denied even by the homosexual authors of the studies themselves. This leads to the even greater lie that God intends for some of His children to have and embrace these attractions, which has led to the belief that such relationships should be viewed as normal, and that homosexual marriages should be sanctioned by society. Unfortunately, the lies that Satan is peddling are persuasive, and under the false pretenses of compassion, tolerance, and liberty, a large number of Latter-day Saints are buying them wholesale. (For a scriptural precedent, see Heleman 6:38.)
 
Lucky for us, and despite claims to the contrary, the scriptures clearly set forth God’s view of human sexuality, and a pattern of heterosexuality is established; homosexuality is also addressed specifically. In this article, it will be shown how “plain and simple” these things are, and that truly, “the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19)
 
God sent us here to prove our obedience.
 
To gain a clear view of things and establish a proper foundation, we must go all the way back to the beginning, to the preexistence where each one of us lived in the presence of God. The book of Abraham explains that the earth was formed for us to live out a probationary existence:
 
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” (Abraham 3:24–25)
 
This is common knowledge among Latter-day Saints, but what may be less well-understood is the complete lack of physical desires we had as spirits, desires which were not a part of our identities then, and which we only experience now as part of our tenure here in imperfect bodies on an imperfect earth:
 
“In reference to our test of mortality, Elder Bruce R. McConkie states that “we would be subject to the ills of the flesh, and there would be passions, appetites, and desires planted in the mortal body that were not there when we were in the preexistent sphere… Down here we’re on probation as mortals, where appetites control our bodies, where we have lusts, and where we’re subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, disease, sexual appetites, and all the rest.” (Address delivered at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 10 Jan. 1982; emphasis added. As quoted in Erin Eldridge, Born That Way? A True Story of Overcoming Same-Sex Attraction with Insights for Friends, Families, and Leaders [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 35. Emphasis added.)
 
It is unknown whether Elder McConkie ever qualified his use of the term “planted,” and the current rage surrounding the issue of homosexuality centers in many ways on the question of whether or not these desires were planted there by God. The question is answered for us, however, by taking into account a number of other things: 1) Elder McConkie referred to sexual appetites among a list of things that must be controlled. We control them according to the laws and directions of God, and do not allow the appetites to control us; 2) The Lord has said “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble.” (Ether 12:27) Whether or not this includes “planting” homosexual desires in one’s body is, therefore, really a moot point. When we humble ourselves because of our weakness we give ourselves up to His will, and His will on this issue is outlined in the words of the prophets both ancient and modern, as the remainder of this article will demonstrate.
 
There are some who claim to have received personal revelation from God via the Holy Ghost that they should embrace their homosexual appetites. No man has the right to define another man’s interpretation of a spiritual prompting, but all men would do well to consider that the Holy Ghost will not tell the prophets and apostles one thing, and then tell others the opposite. God’s house is a house of order and He does not give contradictory revelations. “Every house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matt. 12:25) Satan, it should be remembered, can give false manifestations. John Whitmer once wrote about such an occasion, and then said, “Thus the devil blinded the eyes of some good and honest disciples. I write these things to show… how easy mankind is led astray, notwithstanding the things of God that are written concerning his kingdom.” (Section 50 “That Which Doth Not Edify Is Not of God,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, (2002)) Often, the Lord does not give personal revelation on subjects that He has addressed fully in other places like the scriptures, and He expects us to turn there for answers.
 
God commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth, and to leave our parents and become one with a spouse of the opposite sex.
 
Once the earth was established for us to prove ourselves, man was placed on its face and God proceeded to lay out the standards by which men should live their lives. A standard is a guide or pattern intended for us to measure our level of obedience against. One of the first of these standards was the pattern of heterosexuality. God brought a woman to Adam, presented her to him as his wife, and Adam gave verbal recognition that a pattern was being established:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
 
This simple sentence, containing a mere twenty-two words, is loaded with meaning; we will discuss much of it later in this article. For now, it is sufficient to note simply that this statement would have been unnecessary had the man/woman relationship only been intended for Adam and Eve, who were without parents.
 
All of the prophets were obedient to this commandment and set a perpetual example for us.
 
As a crucial part of God’s pattern of leading by example, all of the prophets were – and are – heterosexual. See, for example, Genesis 5:1–32, 8:18, 10:1-32; 1 Nephi 7:1, 16:7; and Abraham 2:22, which specifically discuss the wives and children of the prophets.
 
It is often suggested that homosexuality is insinuated in the Genesis account where Jacob “wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day,” and this unnamed person “touched the hollow of his thigh.” This is an incorrect assumption for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we learn a mere five verses later that the person was God Himself, and that this was the incident where Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, the name by which God and all of the prophets refer to him ever after. Whatever happened between God and Jacob, it was most emphatically not a homosexual encounter.
 
We must procreate within the bonds of matrimony in order to create bodies for those yet to come.
 
One of the purposes of heterosexuality is to create bodies for our Heavenly Father’s children to come to earth. This is only appropriately done when the man and woman are married, as attested to by a modern Apostle:
 
“[M]arriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality.” (David A. Bednar, We Believe in Being Chaste, April 2013 General Conference)
 
There are many reasons that marriage – between a man and a woman – is a requirement for legitimate relationships in God’s eyes. One, of course, is that God’s house is a house of order, as previously mentioned:
 
“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” (D&C 132:8)
 
Modern society is an attestation to the confusion that results when children do not know their fathers or mothers, turning instead to pseudo-family groups, which are usually devoted to activities such as violence and deviant sexuality, in their search for a sense of belonging. This situation also causes great difficulties for those seeking to “redeem the dead,” part of the Threefold Mission of the Church, which necessarily requires traceable family history. Whenever we seek to do things our own way, instead of the Lord’s way, the work of the Lord is hindered, which work is, ultimately, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
 
The righteous must procreate in order to bring God’s children into families with the Gospel, and give them a better chance of learning and living God’s laws in this life.
 
If, however, righteous heterosexual couples are engaged in their responsibility to bring God’s children into the world, these children will be given the best possible start in life. They will have many things that other children do not, including parents they know and who love them, a family unit to which they belong, a functioning model of heterosexual parents living in obedience to God’s established pattern, and, above all else, an opportunity to learn and live the Gospel right from the start.
 
No one is perfect, of course, and divorce and other marital dysfunctions are always raised when this subject gets discussed, but the ideal is to live the way God wants us to. Anyone, homosexual or heterosexual or anything else, has need to repent if they are not.
 
“I give unto you a commandment… that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.” (D&C 98:11)
 
“[T]hat which is more or less than this cometh of evil…” (D&C 124:120)
 
We are God’s children, and gender is an important part of our divine existence.
 
One of the most important messages contained in the Gospel is that we are the literal children of God:
 
“[W]e are the offspring of God…” (Acts 17:29)
 
As His offspring, it is our divine destiny to become like Him, and we do this by obeying His commandments and following His example:
 
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:16–17)
 
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philippians 2:5–6)
 
“Beloved, now are we the the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him… And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself…” (1 John 3:2–3)
 
Aside from telling us that we are God’s children, the scriptures also tell us that God created us as men and women, and not an amalgamation of the two:
 
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)
 
The modern world argues that people can sometimes be born the wrong gender, or that it is acceptable to change gender. Modern prophets, on the other hand, have clarified that we each had a specific gender before this earth life even began, with eternal destinies as such:
 
“All human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose.” (First Presidency, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995.)1
 
While mankind may reject the gender which they have been assigned by God, and reassign themselves to a gender of their own choosing, they will be disappointed in the eternities when they find themselves once again the gender they were assigned and created as originally by God. They will also be disappointed when they discover the unfulfilled roles in God’s plan that they abandoned:
 
“Women are endowed with special traits and attributes that come trailing down through eternity from a divine mother… Theirs is a sacred, God-given role, and the traits they received from heavenly mother are equally as important as those given to the young men.
 
“Sometimes misguided women or men direct our youth away from their divinely appointed role… There are serious consequences when either motherhood or priesthood is abused or laid aside.” (Vaughn J. Featherstone, A Champion of Youth, October 1987 General Conference)
 
Being in an eternal unit, consisting of righteous heterosexual couples, is a requirement to become like God
 
As mentioned previously, it is our destiny, and God’s plan, to become like Him if we are obedient:
 
“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
 
“And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (D&C 14: 7)
 
To receive eternal life is to be allowed to return to live in God’s presence, and there are specific requirements to do so, including a righteous heterosexual temple marriage:
 
“[I]f 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… and if ye abide in my covenant… they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things… Then shall they be gods…” (D&C 132: 19–20)
 
On the other hand, any other marriage or relationship that is not ordained and sanctified by God will be dissolved at death and nullified in the eternities:
 
“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.
 
“Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
 
“For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.” (D&C 132:15–17)
 
Notice that the Lord fails to mention same-sex marriages. What a disappointment it will be to many who have spent their lives developing an affinity for another person, only to find in the eternities that their relationship is forbidden by God and must end since they did not follow God’s established pattern! It is foolish to think that God will allow such relationships to continue after death when He did not approve of them in the first place.
 
Growing up in a home with homosexual parents influences children to abandon important God-given gender traits and to commit sin.
 
While we may not choose the temptations or attractions we feel, we do choose our actions, including who we have sex with. Children who grow up in homes with homosexual parents are negatively affected by the behaviors they see modeled by their parents, and often choose actions in line with their parents’ behavior, as exemplified by the following findings from a study whose authors are affirming of homosexuality. The context of the article shows that these findings are intended by the authors to be seen as positive. This study is a review of the findings of twenty-one previous studies by other authors:
 
“The new study by two University of Southern California sociologists says children with lesbian or gay parents… are less confined by gender stereotypes, and are probably more likely to explore homosexual activity themselves…
 
“Among the findings cited by the authors:
 
“1. Compared to the daughters of heterosexual mothers, the daughters of lesbians more frequently dress, play and behave in ways that do not conform to sex-typed cultural norms. They show greater interest in activities with both masculine and feminine qualities…
 
“2. In terms of aggression and play, sons of lesbians behave in less traditionally masculine ways…
 
“3. One study examined by the researchers indicated that a significantly greater proportion of young adult children raised by lesbians had engaged in a same-sex relationship…
 
“4. Those raised by lesbian mothers were also more likely to consider a homosexual relationship.
 
“5. Teen-age and young adult girls raised by lesbian mothers appear to be more sexually adventurous and less chaste than girls raised by heterosexual mothers…”
 
(Source: The Los Angeles Times, “Professors Take Issue With Gay-Parenting Research,” April 27, 2001, and “Report: Kids of Gays More Empathetic,” by David Crary, National Writer, Associated Press, as quoted at http://www.narth.org/docs/does.html)
 
The introduction of homosexuality has been shown, then, to androgynize youth, and to make them less chaste. It also causes them to lack necessary inhibitions to homosexual actions, whether or not they feel inclined to identify as homosexual. This means that merely seeing and experiencing homosexual relationships affects the actions of the children, causing some to imitate those actions even when the children themselves do not feel attracted to members of the same sex.
 
Pleasure is an added bonus of sex, but it should not be the focus of our relationships or existence. To reject God and seek physical pleasures is to follow Satan.
 
Human sexuality is accompanied by physical pleasure, which makes it an enjoyable experience. This is part of God’s design for strengthening marriage relationships. On the other hand, there are those who make the pleasure of sexuality the focus of their lives, and therefore abuse its purpose.
 
Many who practice homosexuality do so simply for the physical pleasure associated with it. Although the mass media serves to keep such things hidden from the general public view, organizations like Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (www.aftah.org) are committed to bringing this aspect of homosexual culture to light, which includes public nudity, public sex, and many other perverted and degrading practices, even in the presence of children. If this seems like a sensational accusation, you are invited to visit AFTAH’s website and view their coverage of the annual Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. Warning: If you choose to view the AFTAH articles, you will see photographic evidence of everything mentioned, including deviant sexual acts being performed in front of children.
 
This obsession with sexuality is, of course, not limited to homosexuals, but deviant heterosexuality has not brought us things like “Pride” parades, and other events like the street fair mentioned above, which openly defy public decency laws and flaunt immorality. “Lust,” Elder Jefrey R. Holland tells us, “…celebrates self-indulgence.” (Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul, April 2010 General Conference) The scriptures also make it clear that no matter who is doing it, this attitude is the result of following Satan:
 
“And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God… and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.” (Moses 5:13)
 
Notice that Satan’s argument was that he was also a son of God. He was arguing that God loved him despite his actions, which is one of the arguments used today to defend homosexuality. What was the result of this attitude? What were the actions they were trying to excuse? Actions that were “carnal, sensual, and devilish.” To be carnal is to be “of the flesh,” and to be sensual is to seek the pleasure of the physical senses. While this can obviously include indulgent eating and other activities, it typically relates to sexual activities. The modern world would have us believe that since physical pleasure is a natural desire we should entertain it in whatever way we choose, without limitation, especially when it comes to the so-called “human rights” of those who practice sexual deviancy. The Lord says differently:
 
“Many insist homosexual feelings and behaviors are “natural.” That may be precisely the right word for it. “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man… and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love.” (Mosiah 3:19)
 
“People who struggle with homosexual desires aren’t the only ones asked to overcome inborn tendencies to sin. We are all born with a natural self whose inclination is to sin. Genetic and environmental factors create predispositions toward a variety of sins. Different people confront different factors; hence, we each struggle with our own unique set of challenges...
 
“Many genetic factors contribute to who we are and how we feel, whether the result is sin or positive behavior. Heavenly Father asks us to overcome the sinful desires and foster the desires to do good, no matter how much our natural self fights back.
 
“We are morally obliged to conform our behavior to certain guidelines—even when genetics are factored in. For instance, sound scientific evidence shows that some people are genetically predisposed toward alcoholism—born with those tendencies. Genetics has made the charge to obey the Word of Wisdom a more difficult one for them, yet they are still asked to obey…
 
“Research concerning the causes of same-sex attraction is not yet conclusive. Contributing factors may begin after conception, at birth, during early childhood, during adolescence, or later. Nevertheless, that does not mean homosexual desires are a premortal or a permanent condition or that God approves of acting on them…
 
“Satan uses the message the media sends out—”homosexuals are born that way”—to promote the “logical” conclusions that “God has made them that way” and changing their sexual orientation would “go against nature.” We must be careful not to let the media, or Satan, or anyone else distract us from eternal principles and cause us to ignore or rationalize what Heavenly Father has already revealed.
 
“The natural self is a condition of mortality. Our test here on earth is to put off the carnal, natural self and become “as a child,” born of God. Heavenly Father has not cheated anyone out of the opportunity to overcome sin and live a fulfilling life within the boundaries He has set. For those “born of God, [are] changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters.” (Mosiah 27:25.)” (Erin Eldridge, Born That Way? A True Story of Overcoming Same-Sex Attraction with Insights for Friends, Families, and Leaders [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 34-35.)
 
The Book of Mormon clarifies the situation further, in Mosiah 16:5, 12:
 
“But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God… Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them… they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them…
 
Louisa May Alcott summed it up in her 19th century text, Little Women, when she had the ever-humble Mrs. March expound to one of her daughters the Christian virtues of repentance and enduring to the end:
 
“[W]e all have our temptations… and it often takes us all our lives to conquer them.”
 
Oftentimes, though, it does not take a lifetime, and there are many former homosexuals today who can attest to the possibility and reality of change. Organizations like NARTH (The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, www.narth.org), PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, www.pfox.org), and People Can Change (www.peoplecanchange.com), their members and the people they have served can also testify.
 
Lust and love are different things.
 
Often, advocates of homosexuality claim that their actions are an expression of love. It must be stated unequivocally, however, that lust and love are separate things, and that it is entirely possible – in fact, necessary – to love people without performing sexual acts with them, especially when those acts violate God’s laws.
 
If we love our brothers and sisters of the world, we want the best for them, now and forever.
 
Many Latter-day Saints have been unsure about taking a stance against homosexual mariages, and/or in favor of laws protecting the traditional definition of marriage. The reason we must do so is simple.
 
“And again, when they thought of their brethren who had been slain by the Lamanites they were filled with sorrow, and even shed many tears of sorrow… And again, when they thought upon the Lamanites, who were their brethren, of their sinful and polluted state, they were filled with pain and anguish for the welfare of their souls.” (Mosiah 25:9,11)
 
At this point in the Book of Mormon, many of the Nephites had been killed by the Lamanites. When the Nephites thought about it, they wept for their dead. However, what did they do next? They were “filled with pain and anguish” over the “sinful and polluted state” of the Lamanites. Why? Because they saw them as God does, as eternal beings with eternal destinies, and (here is the key) they knew it was their duty to tell them what was right.
 
We are responsible for teaching correct principles to the world.
 
When we become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we inherit the responsibility for the Threefold Mission of the Church, one of the missions being to proclaim the Gospel. This means that once we have received the Gospel, it is our responsibiity to carry the Gospel to the rest of the world:
 
“My name is Jehovah… And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations.
“And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father…
 
“[A]nd in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” (Abraham 2:8–11)
 
This has been the responsibility and duty of all who receive the Gospel, from the beginning of time down to our own time:
 
“Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” (D&C 88: 81)
 
So, what are we warning people about? We are warning them that God is real and that He has given us rules to follow, for which we will each be held accountable. Why are we concerned about what other people are doing with their lives? Because we care about them, and when we truly love people, we do not support them in incorrect behaviors.
 
“[T]hey were sorry to be the means of sending so many out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God.” (Alma 48:23)
 
“[God] will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil…” (Romans 2:6–9)
 
If we do our part, however, and help people see the error of their ways and mend them, then we will rejoice together forever:
 
“And [Christ] hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me in the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18:12–16)
 
Toleration vs. legislation
 
The world claims that the behavior of individuals does not have any effect on society as a whole. Is this true? In fact, this claim is not true. Societal effects ordinarily take a long time to manifest themselves. For instance, the decision to place homosexuals in television programs was made several decades ago. The desired effect, according to the gay activism book, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s (Kirk and Madsen, Plume, 1990), was to make people accept homosexuality and see it as normal behavior. They knew this would take time, and in places like California, the number of people who view homosexuality in a positive light has gradually increased over the years to a very large percentage. This is known as gradualism, and is Satan’s counterfeit of God’s line-upon-line principle. The effectiveness of gradualism is illustrated in the famous poem from Alexander Pope:
 
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
 
This, of course, was the plan outlined in the book mentioned above. 1) Put homosexuality on display at all times and in all places, so that the public becomes familiar with homosexuals and homosexuality; 2) the public will resist, and then tolerate it; 3) the public will take pity on homosexuals and their unique trials (think AIDS, and the sensational news stories about attacks on gays, many of which turned out to be false); 4) finally, society will embrace homosexuality.
 
Here we are today.
 
Currently, we are beginning to realize the long-term effects of abortion, homosexuality, and other deviant sexual behaviors as almost all nations of the earth are now near or below the fertility rate needed to sustain their populations. This means that there is now no way for any of these nations to keep their populations from declining as the years progress; they are in an unrecoverable population freefall. For more information on this topic, please see the films Demographic Bomb (available at www.demographicbomb.com) and Demographic Winter (available online at www.byutv.org).
 
Those who are agitating for homosexual marriage seem to be unwilling to wait for its gradual acceptance and are using legal means to force its instant acceptance on a generally resistant population. The ramifications of this are socially unproven at this point, but redefining marriage to include homosexuals and other sexual deviants destroys the very family unit as it has been traditionally understood for thousands of years, and, above all, as it was originally established by God. Modern prophets have said:
 
“We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
 
We must differentiate between tolerance and legalization of behaviors. Tolerance is about not forcing one’s own behaviors on another person: “I don’t agree with it, but I can tolerate others doing it.” This does not necessarily entail acceptance of a practice, in fact it allows opportunity for the transgressor to repent. Legalization, on the other hand, is societal codification of behavior, and puts the force of government (police, prisons, fines) behind forced acceptance of behavior. God does not force people to do things, Satan does.
 
What about polygamy?
 
At this point, the discussion almost always turns to polygamy. Aren’t Mormons hypocrites for rejecting one sexual behavior seen as deviant by society at large, while previously embracing another? The silliness of this argument becomes apparent with the facts. To begin with, this is comparing proverbial apples to oranges. As outlined already in this article, heterosexuality was established and endorsed by God, whereas homosexuality has been specifically forbidden. Historically, polygamy has been practiced by some cultures for thousands of years whereas homosexuality has generally only been tolerated for short periods of time, among societies who ceased to exist shortly thereafter.
 
Polygamy is back on the table, as its modern proponents seek to use the legalization of homosexuality as a means for legalization. In fact, this recently occurred in Utah. (Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 14, 2013) How should Latter-day Saints react to this turn of events? Once again, the Book of Mormon has the answer:
 
” [T]here shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none… Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” (Jacob 2:27, 29–30)
 
According to the Lord, then, if He chooses to command His people to do otherwise, then He may do so, but no one is to practice polygamy otherwise. Period.
 
We are commanded to judge righteously, but we are to judge actions, not people.
 
So, we see people around us who are practicing homosexuals. Aren’t we passing judgment on them by criticizing and resisting their behavior? The answer to this lies in a proper understanding of the word judge, and its scriptural use. Every homosexual sympathizer seems to be familiar with Matthew 7:1, which appears to admonish us to “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” This is frequently seen on signs and websites defending homosexuality. Astute Latter-day Saints are aware, however, that the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 7:1–2 corrects this to read, “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” This is in harmony with other Biblical passages that, in the KJV at least, have not been mistranslated, such as:
 
“[I]n righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.” (Lev. 19:15, emphasis added)
 
“Judge not according to the appearance (the JST uses “your traditions” here, in place of “the appearance”), but judge righteous judgement.” (John 7:24, emphasis added)
 
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Corinthians 6:2)
 
Apparently, we are to judge, but we are to do so righteously, meaning according to the laws and commandments of God, not appearances or traditions or the trends of the day. The scriptures inform us that “God is norespecter of persons” (Acts 10:34, D&C 1:35), so what are we judging? As discussed earlier, this earth was created for mankind to be tested to see if we would obey God’s commandments. This specifically identifies choices and actions as the sum total and purpose of our existence. This is supported by the following passages:
 
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad… wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation.” (2 Nephi 2:11–12)
 
What we are given opposition for? So that we can choose between holiness and wickedness.
“[T]he children of men… have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given… And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil…” (2 Nephi 2:26–27)
 
The freedom we are given by God, as illustrated by the prophet Jacob, is not the commonly-claimed freedom to “do whatever we want,” but the freedom to choose whether we will follow Christ or Satan! In fact, many people who reject God live by the dictum, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
 
It has become popular lately to berate the attitude of “loving the sinner and hating the sin.” This, however, is the only proper Christian attitude. The world would have us identify people by their actions, but that is the false attitude. We are commanded to love everyone, of course, as in Mathew 19:19, but everywhere else throughout the scriptures it is the actions of men that are condemned, and these are what we are commanded to judge!
 
Christ raised the bar
 
In the Old Testament, God specifically mandated death as the punishment for homosexuality:
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death…” (Lev. 20:13)
 
As might be expected, this also frequently comes up in discussions concerning homosexuality in our own day. Proponents of homosexuality often claim that opponents want to bring these punishments back into fashion, or they question why Christians do not  seek to stone homosexuals any more if they believe in the Bible. These arguments are chosen both because they are inflammatory and because they require more than a simple answer. Homosexual activists generally frame their words in a manner that evokes emotional response, which does not put the participant in a state where they will listen to explanations. You can see Satan’s hand in such a method.
 
What these people fail to understand is that Jesus raised the bar on the laws that were previously given to mankind. He explained the principle during the Sermon on the Mount. For instance, Matthew 5:21–22 says:
 
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”
 
This new attitude does not eliminate the old one, but simply raises the bar. Not only are we to refrain from killing, but we are not even supposed to be angry! The Joseph Smith Translation of this passage eliminates the phrase “without a cause,” thereby raising the bar even further. Other examples include equating lust with the actual commission of adultery (verses 27-28), removing all but one acceptable reason for divorce (verses 31-32), and the admonition to love our enemies (verses 43-47). Notice that the raised bar focuses on the causes that lead up to the thing that was previously the focus of the ban. If we are never angry, we will never kill; if we never lust, we will never commit adultery, etc. By extension, then, if we love God, we will obey his commandments including those not to commit homosexual acts, and if we love our neighbor we will have no desire to abuse their bodies in ways that “pervert the right ways of the Lord.” (Acts 13:10)
 
“[B]eing good citizens includes being good, such as in knowing the clear difference between lusting after a neighbor and loving one’s neighbor! Matthew Arnold wisely observed that while “Nature cares nothing [for] chastity, … human nature … cares about it a great deal” To which I add: divine nature cares infinitely more!” (Neal A. Maxwell, The Seventh Commandment: A Shield, Oct. 2001 General Conference)
 
Prior to Christ’s sojourn on the earth, the Jews were under a lesser law due to their disobedience and hard-heartedness. The Lord found it necessary to dictate the way they lived their lives, and because they had such strict direction to follow, there were strict punishents provided for their transgression. The new, higher law that Christ ushered in, removed the focus from the outward acts, like sacrifices and stoning, which were policed by their fellow men, and placed the focus on the inner man, now requiring “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20), and establishing spiritual punishments, all overseen by the Lord Himself. We, therefore, no longer judge people based on their actions, and send them out of the world in a sinful state, but we judge theactions themselves, and steer the perpetrator to repentance so that when they leave this world they will be prepared to meet their Maker.
 
Denial or ignorance of the law
 
Some claim that homosexuals have nothing to repent of, since they do not accept the traditional interpretations of scriptures that refer to homosexuality. They claim it is simply not addressed. As we have shown, this is not true, and this same argument was used by youth to defend drug use during the Sixties. “It’s not in the Bible!” Unfortunately for them, though, the Bible is not about specifics so much as it is about principles! Even if homosexuality were not specified in scripture, we have still been given enough principles to figure out for ourselves that it is not acceptable to God.
 
The Book of Mormon prophet, King Benjamin, informs us that there is no way we could be given a list of everything offensive to God:
 
“And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.” (Mosiah 4:29)
 
The Lord also told us, Himself, that we are expected to figure things out ourselves sometimes:
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things…” (D&C 58:26)
 
On this issue, He has provided us with so many other clues to guide us, we simply have no excuse.
 
The sin of Sodom
 
Another favorite defense of homosexuality today is to claim that Sodom and Gommorah were destroyed for reasons other than homosexuality. Ezekiel 16:49–50 tells us:
 
“Behold, this was the iniquity of… Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me…”
 
The abomination they committed was homosexuality, as evidenced by the footnote in the LDS edition of the KJV, which cross-references the Topical Guide entry for Homosexual Behavior. While it is true, then, that homosexuality was not the sole reason given for their destruction, it was one of the reasons. Of course, it must have been a prominent reason, or else later generations would not have referred to homosexuals as sodomites. (See 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7) It is also interesting to note that pride accompanied homosexuality in the days of Sodom, even as it does today.
 
The nature of rights
 
Today, the whole issue of homosexuality has come to be presented under the umbrella of “civil rights.” The modern philosophy of “human rights” is based on the ever-changing philosophies, ideas, and hypotheses of men. What you may feel is a right today may be taken from you tomorrow if the so-called “experts” can sell it to the masses or force it on them. If our rights come from men, then nothing is certain and nothing is sacred. Historically, this has always led to tyranny and slavery.
 
True rights, however, are eternal and come from God. They can neither be taken away nor changed. The Bill of Rights refers to them as “inalienable rights” “endowed” on us “by our Creator.” The word inalienable means that they cannot rightfully be taken away from us, except by the One who granted them.
 
“Gay rights” is merely a subset of “human rights” but it is truly fulfilling prophecy by causing a great division among, and persecution of, the church. Many in the church seek the acceptance of the world, and are either persuaded by it, or afraid to take a stand against it, evidently unaware of the position in which they place themselves:
 
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15–16)
 
In other words, choose a side! Do you stand with God in the eternities or with the worldly here on earth? The “rights” argument is always framed as one of having compassion for a downtrodden segment of the population, but is this really the case? One very astute apostle, Ezra Taft Benson, advised a 1967 General Conference that the civil rights movement was a tool to destabilize America. In true Satanic fashion, they sought what all “rights” movements seek: to bring about a societal change through the use of force, both legal and physical. Then, Elder Benson explained the underlying tool of deception:
 
“The world largely ignores the first and great commandment – to love God – but talks a lot about loving their brother. They worship at the altar of man… When we fail to put the love of God first, we are easily decieved by crafty men, who profess a great love of humanity, while advocating programs that are not of the Lord.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception, General Conference address, Sept. 29, 1967. )
 
Are Latter-day Saints guilty of this behavior? Well, on Sunday, June 2, 2013, “Tens of thousands of people lined six blocks of downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday for the annual Utah Pride Festival parade, celebrating Utah’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.” Among them were many members of the LDS Church including members of an organization called Mormons Building Bridges, “a group consisting mostly of members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marching in support of the LGBT community.”
 
Said Chelsi Archibald, who marched with Mormons Building Bridges: “Most of what I’ve been taught by the (LDS Church) is to love one another and embrace people and to have Christ-like love… So when I think of my [homosexual] friends and wanting them to be accepted, especially in the state of Utah, I just feel like we should give them the same rights as everyone else and love them like everyone else.” (Loud applause follows Mormons Building Bridges along Utah Pride Parade route, Deseret News, June 2, 2013)
 
Recall that this is a parade that has the sole purpose of instilling pride in homosexuals – pride in their practices, lifestyle, and community! What do the scriptures say about pride?
 
“[B]ecause of pride they are puffed up.” (2 Nephi 28:12)
 
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
 
We are also told that pride ties people up like a chain (Psalms 73:6), and causes them to be “ripe for destruction.” (Helaman 11:37) Are these things we support? Or, are we simply seeking the approval of the world?
 
Helaman 13:27 is particularly relevant:
 
“But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.”
 
“Be proud of who you are! God loves you no matter what you do!” Everybody loves the guy who says that! But what happens to those who speak against unholy behaviors, and preach repentance?
 
“[I]f a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.” (Helaman 13:26)
 
We don’t want people to be full of pride! We want them to repent and come unto Christ! In advocating homosexuality, many Latter-day Saints are worshiping at the altar of man, placing the supposed love of their fellow man above the commandments and ways of the Lord.
 
Which brings us full circle. Remember why the Lord created this earth in the first place? “[T]o see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us].” In modern times, the Lord issued to us a reminder of what should be our sole concern:
 
“And now I give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” (D&C 84:43–44)
 
So, where do you stand? On whose side of the fence, the Lord’s or the world’s? Fence-sitting is no longer allowed. It never was, really. You’ve just been fooling yourself. So, make a choice. Take action. And remember:
 
“[F]or all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.” (1 Nephi 10:19–20)
 
And, just so you are not inclined to shoot the messenger, you should recall that this has been a scriptural discussion. The message comes from Someone Else.
 
“O, my beloved brethren, give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.” (2 Nephi 9:40)
 
FOOTNOTES
 
1 In other discussions on homosexuality, the authority of The Family: A Proclamation to the World has been called into question. It has been quoted in this article, so the question must be asked: Is this scripture? Chapter 10 of the Gospel Principles manual (2011), entitled ‘Scriptures,’ has the following to say:
 
In addition to these four books of scripture, the inspired words of our living prophets become scripture to us. Their words come to us through conferences, the Liahona or Ensign magazine, and instructions to local priesthood leaders.” (Emphasis added.)
 
The Proclamation itself informs us of its origin:
 
“This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.”
 
“General Relief Society Meetings” fall into the category of “conferences,” which are listed as sources of scripture. But, conference or not, this document is still scripture. Why? Read on.
 
“What about the law of “common consent,” you ask?  Well, section 26 of the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2002), entitled ‘The Law of Common Consent,’ informs us that “Church officers [are] sustained by common consent.” That’s right, when you raise your right hand to sustain church officers, you are giving your consent to their service in those callings, including the right to “speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” which words then become “scripture… the will of the Lord… the mind of the Lord… the word of the Lord… the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (D&C 68:3–4)
 
 Are we bound by this document? We are.