Adam and Eve — first parents

I am looking through the scriptures for references to parents this morning. I know that’s only kind of a successful way to see what the scriptures might teach me about mothering. But, I did have this question come into my mind: What’s the purpose, or benefit, of describing Adam and Eve as “our first parents” rather than “the first people on earth?”

For example, when Alma is teaching his son in Alma chapter 42, he says,

“For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken…”

And Antionah in Alma 12,

“…lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever?”

And 2 Nephi 2:15

“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air…”

So seriously, why would they refer to Adam and Eve as the first parents, even “our” first parents, rather than other terms like first man and woman or first people, and so on?

Maybe it’s a Book of Mormon thing:

Mosiah 16:3

“yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents…”

Helaman 16,

“but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—”

2 Nephi 9:9,

“like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents…”

1 Nephi 5:11

“and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents…”

Ether 8,

“even that same liar who beguiled our first parents…”

Yep, that’s a Book of Mormon thing. Interesting.

They also refer to Lehi & Sariah as their first parents from Jerusalem, and when learning about the Jaredites, the first parents who came from the tower.

There’s also a bit of debate about how parents’ actions affect children. Lehi asks God that if Laman & Lemuel don’t teach their children about the gospel, that future sins of the kids will be answered on the heads of the parents (2 Nephi 4). Later missionaries to the Lamanites say that the state of the Lamanites is because of the tradition of their fathers (for example, their hatred towards the Nephites). But, of course, they can learn and change and repent. Ideally, this notion would mean that the Lamanites were innocent, while also being in a fallen, God-less state. One of the Nephites-turned-Lamanites argues that this attitude implies that these descendants are guilty, and this is wrong because no child is guilty because of the works of a parent (Alma 30).

So back to my original question, what effect does it have to refer to Adam and Eve as our first parents? Is it because of this question of guilt and tradition? Is it because that is simply how they thought about humanity? They also refer to the first people to leave the tower as parents and the first people to leave Jerusalem as parents. Should this teach us something about how they saw their ancestry — of a male and female, not just of a male? Yet, later accounts of lineage don’t focus on mothers at all (“pure descendant of Nephi,” for example). What can we learn from this language?


President Kimball on testimonies

“I know it is true.” Because those few words have been said a billion times by millions of people does not make it trite. It will never be worn out. I feel sorry for people who try to couch it in other words, because there are no words like “I know.” There are no words which express the deep feelings which can come from the human heart like “I know.”
Some of our good people get so terrified at triteness that they try to steer around and away from their testimonies by getting out on the fringes. Don’t you ever worry about triteness in testimony. When the President of the Church bears his testimony, he says, “I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, a divine representative. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” You see, the same thing every one of you says. That is a testimony. It never gets old, never gets old! Tell the Lord frequently how much you love him.
A testimony is not an exhortation; a testimony is not a sermon (none of you are there to exhort the rest); it is not a travelogue. You are there to bear your own witness. It is amazing what you can say in 60 seconds by way of testimony, or 120, or 240, or whatever time you are given, if you confine yourselves to testimony. We’d like to know how you feel. Do you love the work, really? Are you happy in your work? Do you love the Lord? Are you glad that you are a member of the Church?
Just tell how you feel inside. That is the testimony. The moment you begin preaching to others, your testimony ended. Just tell us how you feel, what your mind and heart and every fiber of your body tells you.


Too sad to title

Helaman 7:5 Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—

Helaman 7:21 But behold, Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the Nephites, insomuch that they did unite with those bands of robbers, and did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed, that they should not suffer for their murders, and their plunderings, and their stealings.

Trump: “She was married. I moved on her like a ***, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony *** and everything. She’s totally changed her look. I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” 😦 😦

Mosiah 11:2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.

Nephite relationship with Jews

Question: In the Book of Mormon, I know there are many places where “Jew” is used to mean any and all in the House of Israel. My question is are there places where Nephites don’t use the word that way, but rather in a way that allows them to distinguish themselves as Josephites?


1) The first place I went to look was when the people of Mosiah meet up with the people of Zarahemla. If they are from the tribe of Judah, then we already have a coming together of Judah and Joseph as mentioned in Isaiah, etc. Is this celebrated in the text?

I found these verses that talk about the ancestry of the people of Zarahemla, but none seem to celebrate a reconciliation of Judah and Joseph. Also, I doubled checked on the lineage of Mulek–>Zedekiah–>Josiah–>etc. Josiah was a descendant of Judah, and Zedekiah was a descendant of Josiah. So then these descendants of Mulek should indeed be Jews.

Omni 1:15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.

Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.

Helaman 8:21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?

2) I also looked at how Nephi talked about the record of the Jews (brass plates). By the time Nephi is telling the story of how they got the bras plates, Nephi knows that his family is from Joseph. He also says that Laban was from Joseph and therefore he had and kept the record. What else does Nephi say about the record in relation to Joseph and Judah?

I Nephi 3:3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.

1 Nephi 5:16 And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.

3) What else does Nephi say about their relationship to Jerusalem, besides just that they lived there and left it?

1 Nephi 1:2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

1 Nephi 1:4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

2 Nephi 30:4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.


D&C 105 — dealing with contention

I woke up late and I have a very hungry 4 year old sitting next to me, so this will be quicker than I intended —

As we were reading 101, 103, and 105 in Sunday School this week, I thought a lot about how their situation related loosely to today’s political situation. In their times, they were seen as politically dangerous. They voted as a group often enough, they believed in a prophet-leader, they invited free blacks to live with them (in Missouri!), etc. The advice given in D&C 105 is to be kind and calm, rather than brash and bold. There are those who are called to preach repentance, but the general rule here is to allow the neighbors to get to know the saints as friends. When they are convinced the saints are not enemies, then their neighbors will see how they are being mistreated and actually defend them! Here are the words in D&C 105 that seem to say this to me:

23 And let all my people who dwell in the regions round about be very faithful, and prayerful, and humble before me, and reveal not the things which I have revealed unto them, until it is wisdom in me that they should be revealed.

24 Talk not of judgments, neither boast of faith nor of mighty works, but carefully gather together, as much in one region as can be, consistently with the feelings of the people;

25 And behold, I will give unto you favor and grace in their eyes, that you may rest in peace and safety, while you are saying unto the people: Execute judgment and justice for us according to law, and redress us of our wrongs.”

It made me think about Joe’s experience at UNM. The faculty and students all became aware that Joe was LDS, but he never brought it up himself. After he had been there 2 years, many of them began to ask questions. By the end of his time there, he had lengthy conversations about the way LDS people saw certain things, such as the fall or the nature of God (he has a body?!). If his fellow students found out that someone had made fun of Joe, they were appalled and apologized to Joe for their fellow-student’s behavior. Some of these students even came to our ward when Joe gave a talk on Easter. None of them joined the church — but they were supportive of Joe as their friend, and they were willing to stand up for him and other members of the Church when the situation arose.

The question this answered for me is how to handle facebook conversations. I think that there is a lot going on culturally and politically that is dangerous and unthinking. But I’m never sure if my role is to proclaim and be bold and shout that’s not right! Or if my role is to be a kind person who talks about her kids and the pretty sunsets. But the truth I think is somewhere in between. By just being myself, I will inevitably show that I have certain convictions and principles. And by being myself, I will create friendships. But what I don’t need to do, unless called or prompted to do, is to announce or proclaim or call out. There are those who do that, but then there are many many who don’t speak of judgments or boast of mighty works.

I still have a lot to think about as to how I can still share my convictions in the right way, but this was a helpful starting place.

A recent conference talk really got me thinking about this — he said that we usually say that people should “practice what they preach.” But nowadays, we also need people who are willing to “preach what they practice.” He was referring to experts on family and society, but still I wonder how that applies to me.

Anyway, I need to go now, but I wanted to start a post on the idea anyway in case I can come back to it later.

D&C 112 thoughts

Here are a few thoughts after the D&C 112 lesson yesterday:

  1. I need to read the Revelations In Context chapter for this!
  2. Thomas Marsh was the head of the quorum of the 12 apostles because he was the oldest. That sounds so strange to us — we should pick who ever is the best, right? Most spiritual? Or whoever God manifests to us should be the head? And so forth. Obviously, God had a hand in picking out the whole quorum, and may very well have arranged it so that the oldest was someone he wanted to be the head. But another way of seeing the situation is that once the 12 were called, it didn’t really matter who was the head and who wasn’t. The structure of a head/council did matter — the existence of that hierarchy that then allows for revelation to come in a certain way did matter, but really, it didn’t matter who was at the head and who were the rest of the council. The structure doesn’t really work unless 1, we see the “head” as an arbitrary choice and trust the structure as such to work, or 2, there is some, somewhat logical reason why someone will be the head, so we can relax about it and let the process do its thing. So picking the oldest was maybe a way to do that. In our family there are times where Emma has more privilege or responsibility, or where Micah gets the extra cookie, or whatever, because everyone recognizes that the oldest and the youngest are somewhat different in their relation to the family. I can see how ordering the 12 by age was a good way to handle that. Also, Brigham was next, and when Thomas Marsh left we had Brigham there to get the Saints across the plains and settling new land. We look back on that and say “Only Brigham could have done that!” But we really don’t know that. It probably would have worked out fine, just done in a different way.
  3. The story of the Kirtland Bank is such a sad one! Instead of relieving debt it caused something like three times more debt. So many were affected, so many were angry, so many were in more desperate circumstances than they were before. But, this was a common problem throughout the US. It wasn’t just a Kirtland thing. Their small safety society was an attempt to avoid the problems that were going on. It didn’t work, but all that means is that they didn’t avoid something that was already going on. Should the prophet be blamed for this? I see how so many felt like he should have foreseen and protected them. He tried! As I’m reading the Book of Mormon I’m reminded how often wars happen when the people are being proud etc. So maybe the interpretation could have been that Joseph did what he could but the people weren’t righteous enough to avoid it? Or that God chastens his people and they could have been strengthened to endure it?
  4. Another lesson for me from the Kirtland banking story is that the Saints’ and prophets’ lives are always in the context of history, including the economic and political pushes and pulls of the nations. What happened in Kirtland was related to what was happening throughout the country they were living in. It affected the problem, it affected the idea Joseph had for fixing it, and it affected how people responded. All of this was in a context. That makes me think of so many things that have happened throughout the history of the Church. For example, the reason that the Relief Society started was because there were many women getting together to start charitable organizations. When a group got together to start one in Nauvoo, Joseph decided to make it something bigger and ordained by the priesthood. But it was originially started because women looked at what was going on around them, saw good in it, and started to follow suit. Things like correlation, teaching styles, Church-dress clothing styles, missionary approaches, and so on, are all products of or reactions do what is going on in the general culture. And that ought to be considered a lot more, I think. (In positive, charitable ways.)
  5. Love the words “feel after” in verse 13
  6. V. 20 sounds like D&C 84 and I want to think about that more
  7. Verses 20-21 remind me of Elder Oaks’ talk about priesthood and how women are authorized under the priesthood to do what they do. Right now I can imagine the Relief Society (as an abstract “object”) having hands laid on its “head” and being ordained.
  8.  v. 32 sounds like Abraham (he has the record that has come down from the fathers, he seeks after the blessings of the priesthood which came down from the fathers, even the first father…)

Receiveth in D&C 84

Yesterday in Sunday School Joe taught about D&C 84 and priesthood, so today I’m back to looking at some of my favorite mysterious verses in scripture!

Here’s what I’ve learned this time.

Verses 36 and 37 are a quotation or paraphrase of John 13:20:

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Also, interestingly, in John the next verses go on to tell the story of Judas leaving the last supper dinner to betray Jesus. D&C 84: 40 talks about severe consequences for breaking oath and covenant received. Maybe a connection, maybe not.

While sometimes it says “obtain” priesthood and sometimes “receive” priesthood, today I think it means the same thing.

At times I’ve wondered if receive priesthood could mean receiving those individuals with priesthood who offer knowledge and ordinances. The reason I wondered this is because verse 33 talks about “obtaining” priesthood. It’s only 2 verses later that we read the words “receive this priesthood.” I checked Webster’s 1828 dictionary, and it emphasized a difference between the two words — obtain means some sort of effort was required, but receive could go either way.

I did some more looking around scripture, and realized that “receive” the priesthood is the language throughout the genealogy of priesthood lineage earlier in this section, as well as throughout scripture. So I settled on the idea that v. 35 and v.40, etc., are talking about receiving the priesthood itself, as in, being ordained.

So what is point of vs. 35-40?

Perhaps this is how to read these verses:

All those who receive the priesthood become the “sons of Moses” “sons of Aaron,” and “seed of Abraham” mentioned in scripture. But not only that, they receive me. Do they see me? Well, not necessarily. Remember he that receiveth my servants (such as Joseph and Oliver), receive me.

And also, remember that all that receive me, receive my Father too — just like I said in John 13:20.

And those who receive the Father receive all he has. This is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

That is, it is possible to receive this oath and covenant because once you receive him, you can receive the oath and covenant of the Father

Further question

I still don’t know what to make of the words “according to” and “belongeth to.” I’ve spent many a study and blog post coming up with possible meanings. Today, I just don’t know. 🙂 I could see it meaning that receiving the Father is what the priesthood promises. This is in accordance with vs. 22-25.