Inheriting all the Father hath = becoming His family?

34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

Maybe I should hear verse 39 as saying that there is a covenant which makes you part of a family, one who inherits something, or joins in with something. Those that receive the Father are those who are adopted into the family line. So this stretch from v 34 to 39 might be read as listing new families you belong to, or could possibly belong to (if you magnify what you’ve been given).

Priesthood does not equal leadership!

I was thinking about how when I study priesthood in scripture, I find all sorts of grand and surprising facts about the work done by the priesthood power and the promises given to those who do that. But when I see conversations about priesthood, most of those conversations revolve around the day-to-day visible work those with priesthood do nowadays.

I don’t think that priesthood power is meant to be equated with “right to rule in Church positions.” I think it’s something like the Nephites appointing those with the spirit of prophecy to be their war generals. It was just smart. I don’t think that every position that now requires a priesthood holder necessarily would need to, but it made sense to. It was sort of a “why not?” question. Why not have the ward mission leader be a person with the priesthood? (And ideally, everyone with the priesthood understands what that means and seeks the Spirit and so forth.) And same with coorelation. Why not have all the auxillaries work under the direction of the priesthood, especially the highest presidency of the Church?

But remember that in ancient days, the Aaronic priesthood took care of daily sacrifice and so on, and the Melchizedek priesthood usually showed up as a prophet outside of the Church institution. I don’t think that we should ever equate priesthood with leadership.

When we say that the priesthood is the “power and authority” of God, let us not hear “authority” as only a right to have a position in an institutional hierarchy. That is such a reduction of what the priesthood is. Those with the priesthood might also take on callings in the Church, but let us never assume that exhausts the role of the priesthood!

The promise I want to give Women In the Church

I’m still a bit overwhelmed at the lack of vision in Women At Church. Writing helps me, though. Whenever I read a review of it, I’m reminded of why I was looking forward to reading it. It is a peacemaking effort to combine the desires of women to add their work to the work of God with the current opportunities in our Church structure. Great! Perfect! But she spends so much time in the book affirming society’s models or the felt needs of women. Really, those are desires, not needs, and she leaves that unexamined. My need, or my desire, if I have one that stands out, is to know that what we are doing at Church is according to the Spirit and the eternal nature of the work of God. That is my need, my desire. I felt like, coming out of reading that book, that my need would be one of a thousand, a drop in a pond of many other drops. Are all needs and desires really equal? We are all equal individuals, but does that mean every desire is equal? I think that is one thing that our current culture does actually believe. And I think she believes it and presents is as self-evident. But don’t believe it. I think we are placed here on earth to be, like Joseph Smith called himself, a “rough stone rolling.” We are going to have our desires changed and chipped a way. We are going to sacrifice and be challenged. We are going to be weak, and put in weak positions. All of this is to force us to realize we rely on Christ, and that is isn’t about our work but about God’s work. That sounds negative but it’s actually a huge relief. Whenever I sense that this is God’s work and not mine, I finally relax. I’m not anxious or upset. Sometimes I can see the great thrill it is that God is in charge and actually wants me to come along for the ride. That sense of being His servant is incredible! I don’t know how to describe it beyond the fact that is relieves all stress yet gets me fully to work. It’s a joy to be involved in that kind of work.

And so I think her book is missing something grand. Something I cherish that I found only through prayer, scripture study, grace, consecration, and so forth. Looking at my desires and needs made me miserable, but seeing God’s work unfold before me in clearer ways all the time made me relieved and happy. That this is possible is the promise I want to give Women In the Church.

Relief Society magazine: Mothers In Israel

All the time, I realize there are resources out there for increasing my knowledge of the scriptures and the gospel. This morning I found out that the old Relief Society magazine published an article called “Mothers in Israel.” I would love to understand that phrase better! (It appears that maybe there is a whole series dedicated just to that? I’m still figuring that out.) While searching for it online I also found an old Relief Society manual lesson that quotes a lot from that magazine article. That lesson is what I’ve read so far this morning. It talks a lot about Heavenly Mother. I really appreciate things said by Sis. Holland about how Eve had the title of mother before she ever bore children. That the point of the Abrahamic Covenant is that we can become like Abraham and Sarah, which means the promise of being a father eternally and a mother eternally. Those promises come ahead of the realization of bearing children, just like Eve’s promise did. Anyway, there are some good things to think about in here:



Ah ha! Found this database through BYU’s library, where I just read Joseph Fielding Smith’s article called Mothers in Israel:

“Bringing Up Children in Light and Truth” from The Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith (Chapter 16)

I’ve been really impressed by this lesson this morning. I’ve read it through several times before but for some reason things in almost every paragraph were sticking out to me. I wish I had thought of a better way to transfer my notes in a share-able form, but here are the things I underlined:

From the Life of Joseph Fielding Smith:

the hours I have spent by his side discussing

She used to teach me and put in my hands, when I was old enough to read, things that I could understand.

I had a mother who saw to it that I did read, and I loved to read

encouraged us to learn on our own

The suspense I felt wondering if Pharaoh’s soldiers would find the gold cup in Benjamin’s sack of grain is real even today.

If Father had time to walk to school with us, the stories continued

He taught us by the things he prayed for in our family prayers

Section 1: 

The importance of family unity—love and consideration for one another in the family—cannot be overemphasized. Spiritual solidarity…

Only the gospel of Jesus Christ applied in family relationships will thwart this devilish destructiveness

There are many great and real dangers to be reckoned with, and those which concern us more than all others combined have to do with our children.

Our children will have to be taught to discern between good and evil, otherwise in many respects they will not be able to understand (this reminds me of Chapter 14, where he talks about how if we don’t learn to listen to the Spirit we will miss out on the understanding and light it gives us, and we won’t be able to discern correctly. In some ways, this whole lesson about bringing up our children in light and truth could be connected to that lesson on the Spirit, which gives light and truth. Could we say that if we follow the directions for being companions with the Spirit, and we teach our children to be companions with the Spirit, the result will be that our children will be brought up in light and truth?)

bring our children up in light and truth. Where this spirit exists, disharmony,disobedience, and neglect of sacred duties will not, cannot, succeed.

Section 2

parents…that teach them not to understand the doctrine of…

the sin be upon the heads of the parents (like Priests in Book of Mormon)

example and by precept.

sin will be upon the children (If parents do teach, which is also like Priests in Book of Mormon)

Section 3

The chief responsibility…rests with each individual…The next responsibility for our salvation rests with our families…The Church and its agencies constitute in effect a service organization to help the family and the individual.

Section 4

The gaining and the keeping of testimonies should be a family project. Do not neglect anything that will help to strengthen the testimony of any member of your family.

shelter [children] from the sins and evils of the world (But we also must teach them right from wrong. So, does shelter here mean that they don’t experience them, even though they are taught about them? Don’t lie to your kids? Don’t let others lie to them? Let nothing unholy be a part of your home, but teach that unholiness exists and the consequences of it? Is this sort of like Jaredite plates – the Nephites were supposed to teach about the wickedness and consequences for the Jaredites but not get into details about how they did it?)

Set a righteous example

It is impossible for you to be an example of what you are not (and yet, you are responsible to set that example? So, repent?)

Teach children to pray

spirit of prayer

Introduce children to the scriptures

read and study the principles of the gospel for themselves (also from above quotations, I think it’s clear that we also have the great chance to discuss scripture together. Not just read it together, but think about it together. But we can’t have a real conversation unless each side is thinking for themselves)

Hold family home evenings

family home evenings, where love and unity abound 

Well-planned family home evenings can be a source of long-lasting joy and influence. These evenings are times for group activity, for organizing, for the expressions of love, for the bearing of testimony, for learning gospel principles, for family fun and recreation, and of all things, for family unity and solidarity. 

Fathers and mothers who faithfully hold family home evenings and who build family unity in every way possible, fulfill with honor the greatest of all responsibilities—that of parenthood.

Fathers can provide no greater leadership in the kingdom of God than to lead their families in holding family home evenings.

there builds up a unity and family respect which influence each person toward increased righteousness and happiness (this reminds me of Elder Scott’s talk from April 2014 about trust, love and respect leading to righteous choices)

Parents who ignore the great help of this program [family home evening] are gambling with the future of their children.

Teach virtue, chastity, morality

counsel with their children in all such things

We believe in their fundamental goodness and expect them to become pillars of righteousness and to carry on the work of the Church with increasing faith and effectiveness

Prepare children to be witnesses of the truth and to serve missions

the Lord needs valiant servants to carry on his great latter-day work

Help children to prepare to have eternal families of their own

Are you teaching them so that they will want to receive the great endowment which the Lord has in store for them?

Have you impressed upon them the fact that they can be sealed as husbands and wives and have bestowed upon them every gift and every blessing that pertains to the celestial kingdom?

We must so guide and lead [children] that they will choose proper companions and marry in the house of the Lord and thus become inheritors of all the great blessings of which we have been talking (not just happy little families that last forever but all the blessings of God! Do my kids know that?)

keep them under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord (That’s not an easy task. You can’t be assured a child will be under the influence of the Spirit by telling them what they can or can’t do, or where they can and can’t go. In order for a child to be under the influence of the Spirit, they need to be humble, know how to listen to the Spirit, be worthy of it, and so forth. And then to help “keep” them under the Spirit’s influence seems to mean watching their concerns, emotions, questions, selfish tendencies, etc. to see when they need guidance to be humble again. That’s a big job but I really like the picture it’s giving me. Being a parent isn’t 1) controlling or 2) just giving them information and walking away. It’s some other way of doing things where we are attentively helping them be attentive to something besides us.)

What’s wrong with this logic?

It is being suggested that we begin to counter gender inequality by increasing women’s visibility and representation. This sounds something like lessons on marriage:

Teacher: “Studies show that in successful marriages, where both spouses are happy and love each other, spouses say ‘I love you’ at least 5 times a day. So, to improve your marriage, it is important to say ‘I love you’ at least five times a day.”

I think the same flaw is in both suggestions. 

More thoughts on Women At Church

Just some notes from our reading last night:

  • Historical details are spotty, which creates a feeling about the past without either 1) justifying that feeling with details or 2) explaining why those feelings are there even though there are other ways to explain the history
  • Does a bishop need to give half of the weight to 3 women in his ward council? Do they represent half of the ward in that way? For one, this should be a united effort. Two, everyone should be seen as equal, not representing halves. Three, do the men see themselves as representing half of the ward? What about sharing details about whole families? Four, haven’t we heard lately that a ward council is not just a place to report about your organization but a place to counsel, where everyone can speak up according to the Spirit on any issue?
  • She likes to point out how in America, women have increased in visibility and equality from 1960’s to today. Is leadership the only way to be equal? What about valuing the work in the family? What about things like maternity leave or nursing breaks? Aren’t there other ways to affirm equal value besides visibility in leadership?
  • What about the family, though? I feel like my work as a homeschooling mom is actually very valued and is the sort of thing that ought to be considered as well.
  • “Not wrong, just hard” rhetoric works in a way, but not in others. I know she wants to distance herself from being a critic of the Church. But it’s hard to empathize in the way she wants us to. She builds up a big case using Church history details or secular practices and then says the Church is different “but not wrong!”. It either comes across as disingenuous (she really does think something is wrong) or that we should pity those who think it’s wrong (rather than empathize). Joe felt like she could scrap the whole first half, start with the little bit at the end of the first half, and maybe just include one person’s story as the way to empathize. Anyway…
  • She really plays up the representative need over and over again. Also she does that by pointing to the secular world, which will alienate many of her readers who don’t think we should build ourselves on what the world does.
  • “some people…” is another way she keeps herself safe. But what about “other people…?” When she leaves it unbalanced, it’s easy to assume she agrees with every one of those statements
  • If we just use numbers (in General Conference, and so on) to show that there are more men participating or visible than women, then isn’t she equating men with priesthood in a way that we are trying to get away from? They aren’t more visible because they are men, but because of their priesthood office. How many men speak in conference that aren’t in the First Presidency or Quorum of the 12 Apostles? Those might be interesting statistics to look at.
  • Again “It’s hard not to measure…” “It’s hard…” It’s overused.
  • What about unequal time with children as parents? The mother is way more visible in the home. Is that a gender inequality that we should fix? My children are way more influenced by me, if we just go by visibility. I think they are also strongly influenced by my husband too, though. But anyway, why aren’t we pointing to that visibility? Is it because we don’t value children?
  • By page 58, we’re wondering if she assumes everyone is in the business world. Not everyone works in a place where promotion is the only way to compliment or to provide equality. Joe’s academic world doesn’t work that way, he points out.
  • “No other secular option” she says. It’s a bit to authoritative. It seems to justify that we should change things in the Church because people can’t see any other options. Is that good justification? Is it true?
  • In general, I don’t like the “for many women” way of handling things. It isn’t defended, she doesn’t explain answers to their problems, etc. It’s not academic enough to really handle her frame. She assumes too much of society’s current values and they come across as self-evident. There may be reasons to take them seriously, but she never analyzes them and so doesn’t justify that.
  • Also, her discussion of sister missionaries has a line in it that suggests that the purpose (or one of purposes) of having younger and therefore more sister missionaries was visibility of women. That’s a bit strong, I think. Not saving souls, and so forth…
  • She also suggests that having more sister missionaries automatically fixes the problem of half our young population being held back. Weren’t there other ways for them to serve?
  • Will growth demand more use of women leaders? YES. (and that will be for the right reasons, I would think. Sorry if that sounds harsh)
  • Joe: “their own identities” whatever THAT means :)
  • “these are people issues” not women’s issues.  Can men on a ward council be seen in the same way??
  • But her final framing is the right one: We all have access to the priesthood, but are we living up to what Oaks/Ballard are teaching?


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