Friday, March 27, 2009

Wherein SilverRain Gives You an Opportunity to Chastise Her

(But doesn't promise to take all criticism to heart.)

And for those of you who have no idea where this is coming from, I'll direct you back to this post and the comments thereof.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Temple Questions

There is a very interesting conversation over at Zelophehad's Daughters which I found worth linking here, in light of having no feelings towards posting something of my own.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Polygamy: Count Me as One Who Believes

An unrelated topic at T&S spun into an argument about polygamy. Quite a bit of vitriol was spit out at the concept of polygamy and those women who defend it. Although comments were closed shortly thereafter, and despite the probability of being attacked therefore, I still feel a need to testify to the divine origin of polygamy. Polygamy is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and confusing topics in the Gospel. It is also, unfortunately, one that many people get hung up on. The first disclaimer: This post contains my own feelings and opinions and understanding, and is not the doctrine of the Church. As such, I could be completely off-base. For Church doctrine, please visit:

As another disclaimer, I will say that I am not a polygamist, nor do I have any expectation of becoming one in this life. I do not agree with the current practice of polygamy, and believe that if I were to live that law right now, I would sin. I am not affiliated with any religion or group that practices polygamy, nor do I even know or discourse with those who are. I believe in the eternal law of polygamy, not in the manner in which it is currently practiced.

Also as a preface, I will say that there were many problems with the practice of polygamy in the past history of the Church. Lines were not cleanly drawn, and the practice of polygamy then was probably not perfectly done. Like many of the doctrines of the Church (baptism for the dead being an obvious example), polygamy had its moments of misunderstanding and imperfect practice. The Lord in His infinite wisdom does not seem to concern himself with the foibles and honest mistakes of those who follow him in this matter as He does not in others, and I do not see fit to do other than follow His lead.

Certain aspects of my testimony are sacred, and I will not share them here, in a public forum. Discussion of such things is better suited to a face-to-face conversation, where the Spirit can attend and testify. Like so many other spiritual things, polygamy cannot be understood out of the context of the Spirit. I don't make a big deal about my testimony regarding polygamy, because it really doesn't apply to our current lives on this earth. But I do want to take the chance now to stand up and say that polygamy is neither evil nor degrading. Rather, it is uplifting and spiritual despite the difficulties inherent in living it.

Unlike many in and out of the Church, I never felt that the doctrine of polygamy was hidden from me. Although I did not learn about it until later in my childhood, I can't really point to a specific time I did learn of it. I still have yet to know everything about polygamy, though I know a good deal more than some. Like with anything else in the Church, upon learning of this principle, I did as I was taught to do: while researching the question, I asked God continually whether or not it was a true and eternal principle.

My answer did not come all at once, in a blinding flash of Spiritual enlightenment. Rather, it came gradually as I gradually learned the pieces of the doctrine. Reading the historical context brought understanding. Examining individual circumstances brought empathy for those who were presented this choice. I often asked myself how I would choose, were I presented with the same choice.

Eventually, I came to realize both before and after my actual marriage that I was prepared to live this principle, should I be asked to do so. Interestingly, it was always with the feeling of how I would accept my husband's theoretical subsequent wives. My conviction grew under no illusions of the difficulty of actually following it. Would it hurt if the Lord asked me to give up the exclusivity of my marriage with my husband? Undoubtedly. Would I be willing to do it? Without question.

Along with my conviction and my reading of history also grew the understanding that, although this is an eternal principle, it is not necessarily a universal one. Not every man would necessarily be asked or required to marry more than one wife. Not every woman would be asked to sacrifice the exclusivity of her relationship with her husband. But I knew that should I be one, I could do so with peace in my heart. It was—and is—an empowering realization.

It wasn't until later that I began to understand some small part of the beauty and the power of this principle. As I have come to face the possibility that I will not be in an eternal relationship while on this earth, I have come to see what a mercy it is to know that my exaltation will not be dependent on anything but my own, personal worthiness. There is plenty of opportunity to form such a bond in eternity, should I not be so blessed while here.

Exaltation is impossible for anyone alone. Not only is it necessary for Christ to redeem us, it is necessary that we be welded to another. We are not whole, alone. This does not mean our agency will ever be removed. We will never be forced to marry someone we do not choose to marry. Like any other law of heaven, we will only need follow those laws we choose to follow, and we will be blessed according to those laws we follow. We will also not be forced to allow our husband to marry another against our will. It will be discerned by God according to His laws and covenants, and His counsel and judgments will be true, right and comfortable for each of his children.

Despite the many voices raised against polygamy, I know it is a true and living principle, although I may not entirely understand it. It is a principle of mercy, compassion and Godly love. I recognize that not all will understand polygamy as I do, but this I have come to know: that it is of God, and as such, it is glorious and beautiful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blah, Blah: "Big Love", Mormons and Temples

I'll bite on this topic simply because I don't think there are enough people who don't think it's a big deal. You get some people smugly sitting back, watching other people react with outrage or disgust. You get others perplexed by the whole thing. My reaction is "eh."

The temple ordinances are sacred, not secret, as has been said many times before. They have been available for reading in their entirety for a very long time. The Church has not to my knowledge been overly concerned with temple security. Anyone with cunning, patience and will could sneak in. Additionally, anyone (member or not) who is curious about the temple can attend an open house before it is dedicated and have a great many questions answered without resorting to subterfuge. In fact, in some countries (such as Germany), the temple and its grounds can be annexed and used by the government at any time.

None of it matters to me. No amount of discussion or verbatim quotation can come close to touching on the actual ceremony. A surprising amount of the temple ceremony can be shared and discussed without breaking covenants (per Boyd K. Packers The Holy Temple) and there are very few parts that are not discussed therein. Much of the temple ceremony can be found in scripture, if you know what to look for. True, I have made covenants not to share certain aspects of the temple ceremony outside of certain areas of the temple itself, and it matters to me not in the least that others have broken their covenants to do so.

Likewise, it matters to me not in the least that some members are part of the cast, and intend to be next year. That is their issue with God, and I am no judge of it, even if I wanted to be.

So, I don't really care what other people do with things I hold sacred. They cannot tarnish my experiences in the temple no matter how they try. They can't even understand them, should they recite the ceremonies in their entirety. That is good enough for me.

I know what I have experienced in the temple. I know how I have been able to draw closer to God, better understand His love for me, and my role in life. No other place has been a sanctuary for me in the way the temple has. It is simply a natural yet infinitely beautiful part of my progression towards God. In the temple, I have drunk deeply of the Spirit. I have worshiped and been befriended by my God. What can compare?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Choosing Bitterness

I would like to briefly share a few things I have learned over the last few years, and particularly the last few months of my life. Everyone in this life is presented with choices to make. Perhaps one of the most difficult is to choose joy in the midst of affliction over bitterness.

The scriptures are rich with examples of the difference in reactions between people presented with much the same choice. The most obvious one is between Nephi, Sam, Laman and Lemuel. They were all given the choice to follow their father into the wilderness. Although all followed, they did not all follow the same way. Laman and Lemuel chose to complain, eventually succumbing to bitterness that shaped a nation's wars for the next six hundred years. Nephi and Sam chose to obey willingly.

Interestingly, Nephi, Sam and their descendants suffered equal sorrow from the choices made by Laman and Lemuel as their cousins.

This tells me that we cannot choose whether or not we will suffer sorrow in this life, but we can choose whether or not to turn to the Savior for healing. He has not been spared bitterness Himself, but He has promised that through repentance we need not suffer. For those sufferings we endure which are not the cause of our own sin, God has promised "beauty for ashes" and "joy for mourning".

We cannot enjoy the fruits of the Atonement without understanding it. It is Christ who has given us the chance to learn to distinguish between good and evil, bitter and sweet. Nor can we always make restitution for the things we do wrong. There is a point where we must humble ourselves, realize that we cannot do it, and turn it over to God. This can be even more painful when others in our lives continue to expect us to make things better which are out of our power. But Christ is the only one who can truly heal, and we must trust Him.

We must trust Him.

Beauty for Ashes, by Elder Bruce C. Hafen

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