Friday, 13 November 2015

Follow the Prophets

Well, this last week has been quite a rollercoaster of a ride, not with just the policy announcements but with the reactions of people surrounding these policy announcements. Lots of people have been left licking wounds and I have to admit I am one of them, though my wounds have not come from the policy changes but from peoples reactions to them and some of those have left me extremely battered. So much so that when friends have reached out to me to help me find resolution I have felt attacked when there was no attack there, only love and concern, but I have felt very tender at times. So I'm writing this blog post not only in response to certain things that have been posted on the internet but also to clear my mind & get things off my chest in an attempt to move on.

There have been posts that have called into question those of us that have had issues/problems. There have been claims that we are apostates for struggling to come to terms with these policy changes, or for disagreeing with them. That everything that issues forth from the governing authorities is inspired revelation and they cannot make mistakes and we should just fall into line & quit our whinging or leave the church.

I'm going to tackle the last comment first and relate a story involving Brigham Young and a Salt Lake bishop called Edwin Woolley that I recently read about in
"Brigham Young; an American Moses" by Leonard J Arrington. In this Pres Young & Bishop Woolley have had a stand up row over some policy Pres Young wanted to implement and at the end of the row Pres Young retorts to Woolley "Well I guess you're now going to go off and apostatise". Bishop Woolley responded with "Well if this was your church President Young I probably would, but this church is as much mine as it is yours and why should I apostatise from my own church". So I echo that statement, this is my church as much as anyone else's, and I ain't going anywhere. My Heavenly Father made it abundantly clear to me that this is where He wants me & this is where I'll be. Irrespective of the opinion of any member of the church!

So what about struggling to come to terms with new pronouncements from church headquarters, wether they be doctrine or principle? Well, once again I am going to refer back to Brigham Young on this one who when he was first taught the principle of plural marriage said he would rather die. We also know the Joseph Smith also struggled to come to terms with plural marriage and was threatened with destruction if he did not comply. It is also well
documented that Emma also struggled with, and disagreed with, the principle and continued to do so all her life; well past Joseph's death. Let's look at the great example, our Saviour, even He struggled with what he had to do. In the garden of Gethsemane as the full weight of taking upon him all our sins bared down on him he cried out "Father if thou be willing remove this cup from me." He didn't say this because this was easy for him, he was struggling, really struggling, and he wanted out! But it's the "but not my will but thine" that makes the difference. It's OK to struggle and even disagree with pronouncements that come out of church headquarters, as long as it's accompanied with "but not my will but thine."

So then we come to the last point that everything that comes from the brethren is inspired, comes from God & cannot be wrong; or in other words they cannot make mistakes regarding church policy. Well, anyone who says this seriously doesn't know their church history because there have been many instances where they have been. This has even been canonised in D&C 3 where Joseph Smith is rebuked by The Lord for his mistakes regarding the lost 116 pages. Then we have the case of the Kirtland Safety Society which President Smith set up in Kirtland as a banking system for church members & issued it's own bank notes (which was quite standard in the 19thC for american banks to do). The
bank failed and many members, including members of the 12, lost their investments and Joseph was accused of fraudulently running an illegal bank. The failure of the bank was so shattering that later Heber C Kimball would say that  "there were not 20 persons that would say Joseph Smith was a prophet of God." We also have the ban on those of African lineage from holding the priesthood, a ban which those of my generation and older will remember being believed as doctrine by the church. We were taught that this ban was brought upon by the curse of Cain, I could even argue this point scripturally, and there were those who believed & taught that those born into this ban must've been less valiant in the pre-existence. Today the church admits that the ban was more based upon social beliefs of the time than any divine mandate [in fact believing the African peoples were descended from Cain was a normal 19thC North American christian belief]. If you still disbelieve that church leaders in the past have made mistakes then take it from President Dieter F Uchtdorf who said in his October 13 Genral Conference talk Come Join With Us "And to be perfectly frank there have been times when members or leaders in the church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine." So we can see that in our history our church leaders have made mistakes, some costly, and it would be the height of hubris to think it could not happen today or in the future.

So we can see that it is not an apostate act to struggle with HQ announcements, and that our leaders can make mistakes regarding policy, so why should we follow them? Because their entire agenda is to get souls back to Christ, and while every now and again they make wrong decision that causes the good ship LDS to head into a storm, they will keep us in the right direction. They will get us to our destination. You see when we turn to others for our answers we become subject to their whims, their agendas & their discontent. We become subject to their vanities and their pride. While in Utah I had the privilege of spending some time with an apostle of the Lord and I could feel of his love for us, all of us. As I spent time with his family & saw their values, that he had instilled in them, I could see this was a family with Christ at the centre of their lives. A family that judges people by the content of their heart, not by their actions. Yes, the brethren may make mistakes at times, but the desire of their heart is to get us home.

While I was studying the Book of Mormon the other night I was reading about Lehi's dream of the iron rod, along with a Book of Mormon study guide and in it the author points out that the great & spacious building is lifted above the ground, so how do the people get into it? They are lifted up with the pride of their hearts and their vain & foolish vanities, the righteous when they get to the Tree of Life fall to the floor in humility. So while it is OK to struggle with policy decisions made by the brethren, to disagree with some of their decisions, to be hurt & feel pain, and to express that hurt & seek comfort we must be careful not
to let that that lift us up in pride. Why is there an Iron Rod on the straight and narrow path unless the Lord knew that the journey may get rough at times and we would need to hold onto something? But we must keep ourselves humble before the Lord and seek His guidance in our lives in how we can use that pain to fuel ourselves forward, to seek the atonement to heal our pain & to forgive those that hurt us. So the next time the good ship LDS hits a storm maybe the true test of discipleship isn't to blindly follow like robots, but as some of our shipmates are tossed about when their safety straps break loose is to wrap our arms around them to help keep them safe rather than grumble and complain because they're not sitting in their seats.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Suffer The Little Children

So this week has seen an announcement from the church in relation to a policy change to same-sex couples and their children. This announcement has rocked the Mormon world and it's reverberations are still being felt and will continue to be felt for a long time. News was leaked about this change before the church was able to present it in the most diplomatic fashion, which hasn't helped in the reception, and left almost every gay mormon man, wherever they fall on the spectrum, struggling to get their heads around this one. I'm still struggling to get my head around it myself at the moment, despite many conversations with many friends over the last couple of days. Intellectually it's easy to see that this is just an extension of the church's policy regarding polygamous families, but there are differences, some minor & some not so, that doesn't make this such a clear cut case as polygamy. 

First I think the church adapting the handbook to officially declare anyone who enters into a gay marriage to be in 'apostasy' expected if not welcome, it had to make lay leaders clear where the lines are so that there could be no misunderstanding; i.e. some local leaders excommunicating gay married couples and some not. There needed to be consistency. It's the new policy that the children of gay couples will have to wait until they're 18, left home & dis-a-vow gay marriages that is causing a whole shit storm in the LDS community. At first on the surface this seems to be clear cut, it's the same policy as for the children of polygamous families and is set up to protect those children from contention between church beliefs and their home life, but there're differences that aren't being considered. It's pretty much a standard that poly families don't attend LDS congregations, and will usually attend their own churches and raise those children within that church, whereas there are many gay couples who love the church, attend church weekly & have a testimony of the restored gospel that will want to have their children go through all the landmark stages that we go through growing up in the church that will have to sit there & watch their children denied those moments and blessings. Who will have to explain to their child the reason as to why all their friends in primary are getting baptised but they can't, having to explain to their son why he can't be ordained to the priesthood and pass the sacrament. Knowing all the difficulties that will be awaiting them as they grow up but not having received the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide them through it

But even then that's not the end of the differences. What about the man who followed the church's council of the 70's & 80's to marry the gay away and now have a divorce behind them and joint custody of the kids? They're now in a relationship with a man and are happy for their wife to raise their child within the church, but now because they have joint custody that child's baptism has to be cancelled due to new church policy? [true story by the way] How are these children being protected? They still go to church every Sunday and hear the same lessons & talks regarding the Plan of Salvation & the centrality of marriage between man & a woman, will go to their gay parents home's knowing the church teaches against it, but will be denied all the blessings of church membership, including the gift of the Holy Ghost, to help them through it. They won't understand that the church is trying to protect them from conflict, they will just see the church denying them & keeping them on the outside.

I have no doubt that this policy has come about with the best of intentions but I find it difficult to accept that every possible scenario has been contemplated. By labelling gay parents as apostates we are automatically assuming that they are anti the church when that just isn't always the case.

I have shared with many of you my struggles of my teenage years, how I was suicidal through most of my teens and often cried myself to sleep praying that Heavenly Father would take me. My story is not a unique story & is pretty much basic for a gay mormon teen, well the news this week has pushed some of those teens off their cliff. So while some are sitting there patting themselves on the back for following the prophet can we at least be mindful of the gay youth sobbing into their parents chests as they see this as their church not loving them, for those who have attempted suicide these past few days, for those parents getting texts from their children saying they never want to see their parent again because the prophet has spoken. While some are crowing how this is sorting the wheat from the tares, can we remember that good people who love their Saviour have had their world rocked by the announcements this weekend. As my newsfeed rolls through all these stories, and countless like them, of the pain and suffering of this weekend I really am having a hard time rejoicing in the good of this change.

And to the arsehole who leaked this information before the church had a chance to present these changes in a more diplomatic fashion, I hope you appreciate that in your eagerness to attack the church your methods have added to the pain and suffering that this announcement has caused.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Christ the Rabbi

I quite often watch a programme called the Hour of Power, Sky 1 at 6am or +1 at 7am Sunday mornings, which is presented by an American TV Evangelist called Robert Schuller. He's a good man and has many interesting things to say & I like his take on the gospel. I have shared with some of you some of the things I heard and I think he'd make a great Mormon. He's sincere in his beliefs and understands the scriptures well & this morning he was discussing Christ the rabbi. We know that Christ was a rabbi (Mark 9:5, 11:21 John 3:1-2) and it was quite an honoured position to be a rabbi, they taught people the Law, interpreted the holy writings and gave people the word of God. Many families would send their sons to established rabbis in the hopes that he would pick their son and train him up in the rabbinic tradition. These rabbis would only pick the best, the best looking, the most intelligent, the best speaker, best memory. Not only to ensure their legacy was carried on by the best but for the prestige that came with have only the best as students. Rev Schuller then goes on to discuss how Rabbi Jesus was criticised by his peers for dining with prostitutes, publicans & tax collectors. He described how the tax collector was the lowest of the low, how in the Zionistic culture the tax collectors had sided with Rome and were considered traitors. They weren't even allowed to worship in the synagogues, and yet here was a man who claimed to be Messiah but instead of teaching the elect of jewish society he was socialising with the 'scum' and we quite often comment on that in our classes and is a common christian theme. 

But something gave me pause & I looked at this from a different angle, that of choosing his disciples. Here is a rabbi and where other rabbis are waiting for the elect of jewish society to come to them, and having the prestige of sending
most of them away for failing to meet their high standards, Jesus went looking for His disciples. He went not among the elect most educated, but amongst the lowest uneducated. He went to Galilee, considered a backwater that nothing good ever came from, and found fishermen and even a vile tax collector. Think about that! Not only did he go and teach the lowest of the low, but he called them to be his inner circle! He called them to be the leaders of the early church, to be his confidents, his friends and his most trusted. 

And if you look through the history of God's dealing with man this as always been so. It wasn't the mighty Sumerians or Egyptians that God made his chosen people but a lowly family of desert nomads were sent into slavery & raised into a mighty nation. David, a shepherd boy, was sent against a mighty giant, won a war & his line was chosen to be the Royal line through which Israel would be ruled & the Messiah born. It was to a barely literate farm boy in a frontier town of the USA that the Father & Son would appear and bring about the restoration of Israel & the modern kingdom.

So the next time you look into the mirror and are swamped by your inadequacies, just look into your eyes and remind're the exact kind of person Christ has always relied on!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Rainbow & the Dove

Well, I guess this is the purpose of my blog, to hear my thoughts on things, and I can't really have this blog & not comment on events this week. Well my thoughts are a bit jumbled and over the place so enjoy the ride.

Well, first I guess I really don't get the whole big deal about the US legalising gay marriage. The whole of social media seems to be alight with the news, with peoples Facebook pages being rainbowed up like a major world shift has occurred when in fact they're hardly the first country to do so. In fact they're the 21st country to do so, so not even making it in to the top 20. I get why it wasn't such a big deal in the UK when we legalised gay marriage a couple of years ago, we had had Civil Partnerships since 2004 which gave gay couples full legal recognition under the law, so when gay marriage was legalised over here it was just really a matter of semantics; and allowing the ceremony to be performed in churches. I'm guessing that in the US the polar divides on this issue have been on such extreme ends of the spectrum and the swing to & fro of various States has fuelled a Big Brother style reality circus. 

I think a couple of misconceptions need to be addressed. A lot of people have expressed concerns over values of the conservative religious right. [In this blog entry whenever I refer to 'religion' I am being non-denominational, if I am specifically referring to the LDS church I will do so.] I fully support any religious leaders right AND obligation to speak out on what they perceive to be moral issues according to the light and knowledge as they have received it, but I think some people have confused the system of government that we operate in the West. Most western countries operate under a democracy not a theocracy, and defines democracy as this:

government by the people; a form of government in which the
supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their agents under a free electoral system.

So we can see here that a democracy is about the will of the people and unfortunately there is no obligation for the people under such a system to choose that which is moral. It is assumed that the collective conscious of the population will keep the laws moral, but that isn't necessarily the case. Also let us also remember that the concept of morality is a subjective state according to the light & knowledge that you have received and will change depending upon the philosophy/background/upbringing of the individual. Now as members of the LDS church we accept that we are led by a Prophet, and his counsellors, and a quorum of 12 apostles, and as such are a great moral compass for us today, especially when the sands are shifting so much. But we do have to accept that sometimes in a democracy that we're not going to get what we want, nor what we consider to be right.

Now I know some of you are diving to your scriptures right now to D&C 134:1 which says:
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

And absolutely  I agree that this is any form of governments primary responsibility, but before we start slinging fire & brimstone at those governments that pass laws that we disagree with let's turn to D&C 137:9

For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

and also  3 Nephi 14:1-2

 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Now from this I do not believe that a just and fair God will condemn any government body for enacting laws that they believe extend love, justice & mercy according to the light & knowledge that they have received. As Brigham Young teaches us in Discourses of Brigham Young 

So far as mortality is concerned, millions of the inhabitants of the earth live according to the best light they have—according to the best knowledge they possess. I have told you frequently that they will receive according to their works; and all, who live according to the
best principles in their possession, or that they can understand, will receive peace, glory, comfort, joy and a crown that will be far beyond what they are anticipating. They will not be lost (DBY, 384).

So let us judge not those who pass our laws, especially those who are not members of the church, but let us celebrate that there are people out there today who are celebrating the right to be united in their love under civil authority. Which is another interesting point, God's church has every obligation to follow God's revealed word regarding the sanctity of marriage and should only perform those marriages which Heavenly Father has approved of, but our civil authorities have every right to unite those that they see fit;  a secular government has the right the right to recognise whatsoever it wishes under its secular authority. Now remember that I live in a country that does not have separation between church & state. We have a state religion and it's only a Church of England minister that may marry a couple, every other denomination in the UK must have a government registrar present to legalise the proceedings. Our Head of State HM Queen Elizabeth II is also head of the Church of England, but even under this authority I do not recognise the Church of England's authority to overrule the will of the people on defining who may get married. Even more so under a system that separates completely church & state, each government has the right to circumscribe what it recognises or does not recognise.

And this is the one thing that concerns me is all the judging and condemnation being thrown about on both sides, let us remember that all the people involved are acting according to the light & knowledge they have received. Now I have no doubt that there are hate-mongers stirring the pot on both sides but there are many many more acting and talking within the bounds of their conscience. The phrase "according to their light and knowledge" is a phrase
that I have used again and again during this posting and quite deliberately too, because I am a firm believer that there is still much more to be revealed upon this subject by our Heavenly Father and I urge caution to those who stand in the extremes on either side. Be careful that what you say won't leave you regretting your words, because I believe that when that revelation comes many people on both sides are going to be shocked. It reminds me of a previous issue that when the revelation did come Elder Bruce R McConkie made this statement.
...and people write me letters and say, 'You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?' All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. [Horne, Dennis B. Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights From His Life & Teachings Eborn Books]

So let us go forward with this caution sounding in our ears from Matthew 25:31-46

31 ¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

An interesting point here is that Christ includes visiting the prisoner in jail with the hungry, naked & sick. The message is clear it is not just our mercy toward the innocent but to the guilty too. And let us learn from this that it is not our condemnation of the sinner that shall save us but our love and charity to those in need, and let us remember that along with the rainbow should be the dove of peace.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Creationism vs Science...Does There Need to be a War?

In this modern world we quite often see the argument between creationism and what science has learnt about how this world was created. So often it seems that the two are mutually exclusive, and it has become a battle as to who is right, but can they both be right? I believe they can and in this post will endeavour to show that both science & Moses say exactly the same thing, just in different ways. Before we start I am just a layman explaining my thoughts in layman's words. I am no scientist and got all my information watching Nat Geo style documentaries. Naturally all of this is going to be very simplistic and any expert will point out that I probably could've explained things better, this isn't supposed to be a scientific treatise but just some thoughts verbalised to show how in principle science and creationism can go hand in hand.

The first thing we need to do is dismiss this fallacy about the use of "day" in the Genesis account. In the original Hebrew the word is "Yom"  and while this is translated correctly as day it also has other meaning such age, eon, period of time epoch etc. So we can see that the traditional view that the earth was created in seven 24hr periods can also be viewed as seven eons or stages, which gives us a much more realistic time frame for the creation.

So let's start dissecting the first couple of chapters of Genesis and see what we can make of it. We'll start with Genesis 1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
So here we have the initial scene of creation. The thing we must remember here is that this isn't the story of the creation of the universe but of this earth only. What is the first thing we learn about the earth? That it was without form & void. What does science say about this? Well they agree. They tell us that before this solar system existed there was a massive field of stellar debris, this debris is what would form the earth and other planets, and so it is literally the earth but without form, or void.

God then commands "let there be light" then He divided the light from the day. Well science teaches us that as the sun ignited it created a gravity well that the debris field started to rotated around and this debris field eventually coalesced at various points into the planets, which started to rotate in their orbits and creates night & day on their respective surfaces.

So we can see that so far Moses and science agree.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
So what's happening here? The language can be quite confusing but we're talking about the creation of the atmosphere around the planet. First the firmament is surrounding the planet and divides the "waters", if we take these waters to be atmospheres then we have the firmament dividing the atmosphere under it from the atmosphere above it, so the atmosphere of the earth from the atmosphere of outer space. Once again science teaches us that as the earth cooled an atmosphere did very much form around the planet...once again Moses & science tells the same thing.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Well here we have God commanding the water and the land to separate, the land into one place and the seas into another. So why would Moses who had been raised as an Egyptian prince and know full well that there were separate lands and continents say that once there had been only one land mass? Because it was true. And modern day scientists call that super-continent Pangea.

Next God brings forth the world's vegetation and once again science would agree. Science teaches us that the first forms of plant life formed in the oceans which produced oxygen to create the atmosphere we have today. Within this oxygen rich atmosphere vegetation then spreads to dry land.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Now I will hold my hand up admit this event is a little bit harder to fit into the scientific account but we know that this solar system is fairly old in the life of the universe and it would have taken many thousands of light years for the light from newly created suns to reach earth and become visible in the night sky, so it is very feasible that in the early stages of the Earth's life that the sky would've been fairly dark. As to why Moses only now mentions the sun & moon I have no idea but I do feel safe in saying it was because of perception rather than these elements only appearing at this time because we can see back in the first verses the creation of the sun in the phrase "let there be light".

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

In these verses we can see the beginnings of life being created on the planet. Moses tells us that the first life came forth from the seas, and once again science agrees totally with this. We can possibly tease this out a bit more, we see God creating large whales that were brought forth from the oceans, could Moses here be describing in his limited way the advent of the dinosaurs? Obviously this is highly speculative, and while fun to ponder, doesn't change that Moses correctly teaches us that life formed in the seas first.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Now here we see that on the fifth day God has 2 creative episodes. First we see that God creates life on
the land, or specifically cattle & beasts of the field, and we know from science that the rise of mammalian life is what paved the way for man's appearance. Next God creates man himself after his own image and gives them their first commands. Here God commands them "I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat". And what is this command? It sounds like to me that they are being commanded to be hunter gatherers, to eat the fruits of the tress & beasts of the field, and we know that the first men were indeed hunter gatherers!

This ends the first chapter of Genesis and so we move onto chapter 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And thus we hit the seventh day and God rests. Forests rise and fall, continents move. Fossils are formed, coal veins and oil fields from dead forests are created and the earth is prepared for the rise of civilisation. And in these verses we note that 'there was no man to till the ground', in other words there was no farming. Now every anthropologist/historian will tell you that it was the advent of farming that is the key to the rise of civilisation. It was with farming that we learnt to alter our environment around us and the scholars will tell us that
every invention, every advance in the modern world comes from the advent of farming. In the last verses we see that a mist rises up and waters the whole face of the ground...I speculate that this is Moses account of the last great ice-age, which ended approximately 10,000 years ago, and it was after this event that man really took off, and it's after this event that God creates Adam & Eve. The whole Garden of Eden events occur & Adam & Eve are cast out and told "Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Here Adam is told by God that he will need to farm the land to be able to survive, and that he would now die & return to the earth, and it is from Adam that all civilisation descends.

Now I have no doubt that someone who is well versed in the science of these events would be able to spot many over simplifications and errors in my account, but I hope we can see that if we give Moses a bit of slack then we can see that in regards to the principles of creation that he got it pretty spot on. Moses while being prophet was still a man of his time and when shown in vision the creation of this earth may very well not have understood the scientific process he was witnessing, and even if he did he had to explain it to a superstitious people who had no concept of science. I think if we give him this slack and accept that he's trying to explain in abstract difficult & complicated processes he actually gets it pretty spot on!

Just because scientists today are able to explain the process and remove the sparkle of the miracle it doesn't negate the hand of the Creator, the architect who designed it all, the one whose voice commanded the events. We have to allow the ancient prophets to be men of their time, just as we today are men of our time and allow each to teach according to their understanding.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

My Personal Statement

I posted this in an online forum for gay mormons awhile back, I like it and I think it expresses me. I have shared it a few time since with a few people and it seems to speak to people so I thought I would share it here too. The group that I posted it in had had a group Fast and Temple day. We would all meet at our local temples in worship and fast for help for our gay brothers & sisters. This was originally posted January 2015

While at the temple this morning something hit me during the creation scenes when it says something along the lines of all living things were created to live to the fulness of their creation and have joy, and how sad it is that some of our gay brethren aren't living to that potential. I know I spent most of my teenage years crying out to God to either take away the gay or kill me in my sleep. I did not want to live being gay, I felt that I had failed my mortal probation and there was no point going on. In the end I fell away from the church believing God didn't give a crap about me, how could he? Surely a loving Father wouldn't ignore the cries of one of his children who desperately didn't want to be evil. So that must mean he didn't love me. I fell away for 20 years and I had a great time! Pompeii had nothing on the life I lived and it was great! But there was always that niggling in the back of my mind. 
One day after watching another tragedy on the news I was lying in bed and I heard His voice say "It's time to come home""No" I said"It's time to come home now""No, I will not. You was not there for me then I will not be here for you now...fuck off!!""It's time to come home now! Time is running out!""NO! I will not...tell you what?! You want me back you do all the work. I'm doing NOTHING! You was nowhere when I need you back then, I did all the it's up to you! You do it!!" 
And I have no doubt that our Father looked across the Atlantic into a young 16 year old boy who was struggling with his own issues and said to himself "I have just the man for the job!" And 18months ago I ran into that young man, fresh out of the MTC, on the street, and invited him into my home, and in April it will be a year since I got my temple recommend back.
Today I do know my Father loves me! And I know that the reason he never answered my prayer back then is because I am EXACTLY as I am meant to be! There was NOTHING to take away, he made me this way for a reason. I am his creation and I should live to the fulness of that creation & be joyful. I will obey the Law of Chastity and not have sexual relations outside of marriage, but I am proud of who I am, who He made me to be, a gay mormon man! I will flirt, I will offend, I will be outrageous and I will be amazing! I will be the creation He made me to be I WILL have joy in that! For that is His intention for every one of His creations! I do not know why He made me like this, what my plan is, but I do know He made me this way for a reason and if the saviour stood before me now and offered to turn me straight he couldn't run fast enough to catch up with me. I would not change a single thing about me nor who I am. I stand clean before him, washed in His Son's blood, and I am perfect.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Other End of the Stick.

So at the gym today I was thinking about the Plan of Salvation and our reaction to it, and some thoughts came to my mind that I'd like to share. We so often think when we're taught about the PoS about the joy we felt as we prepared to come to earth. Of all the experiences we could have in our bodies born in our comfortable 1st world lives. Sure we might have a father who's an alcoholic, we might be born into poverty. We might even have to face the horrific reality of rape or sexual abuse at the hands of a predator, but for most of us there will be avenues of escape from these lives open to us, and in no way do I mean to minimise the tragedy and hardships that these trials bring, but for most of us the in the 1st world there will be a way, a recovery. An opportunity to turn our lives around and use these events to become stronger. But what about the other end of the stick?

Let's go on a little journey. You are in the pre-existence and the teacher that is preparing you to come down into mortality tells you your time is close, your family and place of birth have been chosen, it's time to prepare you for your entry into that world, and yes he can show you where you'll be going. The teacher waves his hand over a pool of crystal clear water and a scene shimmers into existence. [Let's give your teacher a name...Steve.] Steve points and says "this will be your home", and as you look you see you're going to be born in Delhi (phew good weather there) and you see a beautiful house. Very large, lot's of bedrooms and a swimming pool in the garden (essential with that heat!). You see a woman in beautiful clothes kissing a handsome man as he gets in his car to go to work, you see from the gleam in her eyes that she loves him very much, he must be a good man! Your heart skips a beat, how blessed you are to be born into such a family! "Really?! This is my home? How wonderful!"

"No" says Steve "you misunderstand. Look here, behind that house, that is your home."
You look to where Steve is pointing and you see a sheet of corrugated iron resting on tinder blocks, with old sheets hanging from it making a valiant attempt to be walls. "That's not a home!" you cry "that's not even a shed! Who are my parents?"

The scene changes and you see a drunk old man lying in the gutter in a puddle of his urine. You see a woman carrying a dirty bucket from the well & you hear her conversation with another woman as they discuss their hopes that the gangs didn't urinate too much into it last night. You realise these are your parents. 

Your father comes stumbling home for the paltry dinner of boiled rice (that your mother picked up off the street in the market) with the carcass of a pigeon that your brother found and brought home. As he sees this vile offering he slaps your mother around the face "you must work harder woman, I am fed up of eating this shit!" Of course if he didn't take all the money she earns working in the sweatshop for alcohol their food would be much better. After eating this meagre fair he heads off into the streets to meet up and drink with his friends.

Later that night he comes home drunk and crawls into your sisters room, she's crying because she knows what's going to happen next. She tries not to cry out as her father climbs on top of her, she might wake up her brother and it would scare him.

The next morning you see your future mother is sat crying with your future brother in her lap. You see her explain to your sister that he is ill, very ill. "Can't we make him better?' Your sister asks.
"We can, but the medicines are very expensive and we have no money"
Your sister knows of some girls that make money, and she could save her brother if she did the same. At 10 years old she must decide wether to sell her body to the dirty old men for pennies, or do nothing and watch her brother die.

"You must be joking!" you tell Steve "there has been some mistake". These people have no lives, no hope, they don't even have the gospel in their lives to comfort them. Their entire purpose appears to be to scrabble in the dirt to scrape together the meagre existence to survive to the next day. There is no hope, no future, no love. This is going to be your journey into the second estate, how you get that glorious body that your Heavenly Parents have.

Your time has come and you look into that pool. You see your father beating your mother as he drunkenly mounts her. Your conception is not an act of love but of brutality, a preface for the tone of your life...

How would I have reacted if I had been shown this in my preparations for entry into this life? I probably would've decided not to come down. "You can stick that! No, I don't want a body! Not that badly" How much would my heart of sunk, what feelings of despair would have coursed through me. What would my Father say to me to get me to accept this as my life?

As I travel the inter web quite often I hear my gay brothers & sisters bemoaning their lives, how awful & terrible they are, the hardships they have to face. And yes there are many out there who are suffering, who are being bullied by their ward leaders, ridiculed in their schools, and tormented by their quorum members. My heart breaks that so many gay LDS youth are living lives of misery not because of enemies of the church but because of members of the church. Mormons hating mormons is an abomination that should not exist in the Lord's church, but this post isn't addressing that issue. This post goes out to those who are living lives of misery because they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. They are the authors of their own difficulty because they are refusing to accept their lot in life and wanting something different from what they have. When all it will take to step out of that misery is to accept who you are, a glorious creation of our Heavenly Father. 

I have been told by several friends that they admire me, that I have a hard path to walk, and the strength it must take to walk that path. I truly do not understand nor believe that I deserve that admiration. Yes there are times when it is hard, and the loneliness bites. When I feel empty inside. But then I look around me, at the friends that I have that pray and cheer for me daily. Family that love me. I have the gospel in my life and a relationship with my Heavenly Father that is as close as the relationship with my earthly father. I have friends that find joy in me and when I feel down & alone will make that pain their own, and will send me tokens of their love for me. I have discovered joy in being a gay mormon man. I can celebrate that gayness and keep my covenants, and my Father has sent me a whole army of friends to lift and support me. Maybe if I was doing this on my own I would deserve that admiration, but with all that my Father has sent me to help me I do not do this on my own.

And when I am feeling down...I just think of that other end of the stick...