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Is there a disconnect for single people in the LDS church?

November 13, 2009

Increasingly more and more people are waiting longer to marry.  The age of people at their first marriage has continued to steadily rise in the U.S.  And although there are greater numbers of single people in our society, some sectors have remained impenetrable to change.  It is not always easy to be a single person in the church environment.  But while I may occasionally grumble about the church’s seeming over-emphasis on family, I know that I really have nothing to complain about.

The LDS teachings on celestial marriage put my little gripes into perspective.  And the results of their doctrine are evident in the population statistics.  In 2008, the median age at first marriage for men and women in Utah was 26 and 24 respectively compared to 28 and 26 for the rest of the country.

Marriage is a high priority for the LDS church members.  And with the doctrine of celestial marriage, it is no secret why.  Russell Nelson puts its priority in no uncertain terms, “Celestial marriage is a pivotal part of preparation for eternal life. It requires one to be married to the right person, in the right place, by the right authority, and to obey that sacred covenant faithfully. Then one may be assured of exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Getting married is the standard and “normal” thing to do.  Spencer Kimball helpfully points out that, “Honorable, happy, and successful marriage is surely the principal goal of every normal person.”

Just in case you are single and feeling abnormal, Kimball implies that perhaps people are unmarried because they don’t desire a family.

It is disturbing to note how easily many people disregard this responsibility of marriage. Numerous people these days, as recorded in the magazines and newspapers, have sworn never to marry. They have found it much simpler and easier to live alone and have no responsibilities. That is why they will not ever grow big enough to become gods in eternity.

But these are not the reasons that people I know give for not being married.  Most single people that I know do want to get married, they just simply haven’t met the “right one” yet.  Eleanor Knowles has found that there are much more disturbing reasons for people remaining single.  In her 1971 Ensign article, Knowles quotes a BYU professor addressing the problem of single people in the church.

“There are prospective mates around,” declares Dr. Elwood R. Peterson, assistant professor of educational psychology at Brigham Young University. “Those who really want to marry but don’t perhaps haven’t faced their problems realistically.Generally, such a person has a hangup—something that causes it not to happen. The problem is to find out what this hangup is—to become aware of why you aren’t married—and to work on overcoming it. Let’s face it, regardless of who you are and what your age, there are always people your age and with your problems who are getting married.”

Knowles writes from the perspective of almost forty years ago.  Perhaps things have changed.  I can’t imagine how I would feel to read that I was single because of a “hangup” that was not addressed, or because I disregarded the responsibility of marriage.  Yet, there seems to be little improvement in Mormon teaching.  In a 1988 Ensign article President Ezra Taft Benson wrote,

We want you to know that the position of the Church has never changed regarding the importance of celestial marriage. It is a commandment of God. The Lord’s declaration in Genesis is still true: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18).

To obtain a fulness of glory and exaltation in the celestial kingdom, one must enter into this holiest of ordinances.

Without marriage, the purposes of the Lord would be frustrated. Choice spirits would be withheld from the experience of mortality. And postponing marriage unduly often means limiting your posterity, and the time will come, brethren, when you will feel and know that loss.

If you aren’t feeling a bit pressured yet, considered the stern words of President Kimball.

Recently I met a young returned missionary who is 35 years old. He had been home from his mission for 14 years and yet he was little concerned about his bachelorhood, and laughed about it.

I shall feel sorry for this young man when the day comes that he faces the Great Judge at the throne and when the Lord asks this boy: “Where is your wife?” All of his excuses which he gave to his fellows on earth will seem very light and senseless when he answers the Judge. “I was very busy,” or “I felt I should get my education first,” or “I did not find the right girl”—such answers will be hollow and of little avail. He knew he was commanded to find a wife and marry her and make her happy. He knew it was his duty to become the father of children and provide a rich, full life for them as they grew up. He knew all this, yet postponed his responsibility. So we say to all youth regardless of what country is your home, and regardless of the customs in your country,your Heavenly Father expects you to marry for eternity and rear a good, strong family.

And the failure to marry has a heavy consequence.  Kimball states,

We may be angels, if we are righteous enough. Even unmarried, we may reach the celestial kingdom, but we will be ministering angels only.

After reading through these LDS materials it gives me comfort that the New Testament offers no such warnings towards unmarried people.  The God of All Comfort doesn’t admonish overly picky people for being slow to rush into matrimony.  In fact, the Apostle Paul encouraged the believers of his day by proclaiming, “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Cor. 7:8-9).  If marriage were such a divine command that one’s eternal destiny was involved, why would Paul end the chapter with this commentary?

So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better (v. 38).

Where does the Bible speak of Jesus and His wife and children?  Surely, if He was the divine example of how to live a righteous life, He would have made sure that everyone knew about His own posterity.  The weight placed on marriage in the LDS church is without Biblical merit and is damaging to single members who desire to marry but have not found a mate.

As an outsider, I can only say that this teaching does not appear to be in line with the gospel of grace as taught in the New Testament.  The letter to the Corinthians indicates a great amount of latitude offered to individuals without a judgment cast upon their choice except in saying that the choice to remain unmarried was “better.”  How do LDS reconcile the very specific words of Paul’s message to the Corinthians (I Cor. 7) with the seemingly opposing doctrine taught by the LDS church?

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136 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2009 4:30 am

    Stephanie,

    What a relief it is to know that my standing before the Lord is not in any way tied to my relationship with my husband!! Can I just say, what a relief that is to me???????? Before, when I was a practicing mormon I worried about whether my husband I would truly “make it” or be “worthy” to have a celestial marriage. Honestly, I was a nagging wife, who was after her husband all the time to get him to do his “priesthood duties”…..

    How awful I was! I am not proud of who I was.. but I do emphasize the ” I was” part because I am no longer a nag, praise God! God has changed that, and I believe it’s because I no longer worry about a ‘celestial’ marriage and making sure my husband & I stay “worthy” to make it to the CK.

    On a different note, my husband was single until he was 32 yrs old. He served a full time mission for the LDS faith, and was active in the LDS church all those years after his mission. He has remarked to me that he was “razzed” from time to time, about being single… and felt pressured to “settle down” and have an eternal family. I am 8 yrs his junior, so he has always said he was “waiting for me to grow up so he could marry”…..

    So, I would agree there is some pressure in the LDS church to marry, given the great emphasis placed on eternal marriage, the family, etc.

    It is such a huge relief to know that my eternal salvation is not based upon my marriage or who I am married to, or where I was married…. my eternal soul and destiny is based on the work of Christ on Calvary. Can I just say, what a relief that is?!! I no longer am the nagging wife that I used to be, and I have since apologized to my husband for my awful behavior for so many years. What I thought was “helping my husband to fulfill his duties” was really nothing short of being a nagging wife.

    I am teaching my daughters that marriage & motherhood are wonderful — but God may call them to do something else….. whose to say that the Lord may not call them to plant a church in Zimbawe….or move to Cambodia to open an orphanage? Marriage may not be in their future and that is ok. The key is being “open” to what God leads… I am so thrilled my girls will not have the pressure to marry … and that their eternal destiny is not determined by ‘who’ they marry…. but in the Lord Jesus Christ! How wonderful that is for them to have that knowledge!

    God is good,
    gloria

  2. November 13, 2009 4:34 am

    P.S. I also love the passage from Isaiah ……

    ” For your maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is His name….” Is.54:5NIV

    How wonderful it is indeed to know that our Lord is our everything…. our provider, our maker, our God, our savior, our protector, our shield our buckler……. yes, even our husband!!!

    So for those Christians who are single, take heart in knowing that Jesus can be everything ,and singlehood is not something to eschew but to embrace!

    God bless,
    Gloria

  3. Stephanie permalink
    November 13, 2009 4:45 am

    ” For your maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is His name….” Is.54:5NIV

    That is a beautiful verse.

    I think the thing that would be really hard for me if I was single and LDS would be the issue of not having the priesthood in my home. I know single LDS women talk about this and the impression I get is that they feel vulnerable or without any sense of authority in their home. And that is sad to me. It shouldn’t have to be that way for single women.

    Stephanie

  4. November 13, 2009 7:04 am

    It is a wonderful blessing and a relief to know that my salvation is tied inextricably with the salvation of my fellow beloved brothers and sisters – including my wife.

    I have no use for a universe that’s all about just “me and God.” If others are not involved, it’s pointless to me.

    As for Kimball, half the objection to him is that people just don’t like being criticized.

    But that doesn’t make him wrong.

  5. November 13, 2009 7:28 am

    Easy for you to say, Seth. You’re BIC and you have a wife in an apparently stable marriage.

    Guess the people who are converts, can’t find a spouse, or were ditched by deadbeat spouses are SOL.

  6. November 13, 2009 7:52 am

    It’s not just my wife.

    As for singles getting left-out. I am sorry about it and sympathize. But I’m not going to sugar-coat it.

    Our theology is what it is. You don’t gain exaltation on your own. You cannot become truly one with God without a male-female union. It’s a definitional and foundational problem – and unfortunately non-negotiable.

  7. November 13, 2009 7:54 am

    We do believe however, that there will be opportunity for those who had no chance of gaining these relationships to gain them later – most Mormons view “the Millenium” as a period of a lot of “sorting things out.”

  8. Stephanie permalink
    November 13, 2009 1:59 pm

    Our theology is what it is. You don’t gain exaltation on your own. You cannot become truly one with God without a male-female union. It’s a definitional and foundational problem – and unfortunately non-negotiable.

    What do you do about the fact that there are unequal numbers of men and women in the world? It is not always 100% feasible for every person to be married–no matter how much they would desire to do so. Furthermore, you did not address the fact that this doctrine does not fall in line with NT teaching on the subject.

  9. November 13, 2009 2:15 pm

    I know it’s not just your wife. I assume you’re referring to being sealed to your parents, brothers, sisters, children, etc. But being sealed to your children is part of the package of being sealed to your wife, and the reason you’re sealed to your extended family is because you’re part of a tiny, TINY, very privileged portion of humanity that was born into those sealings. Most people are stuck waiting for some future date to get them.

    So I think it’s very easy for you to say that you prefer a religion that requires other human relationships. If you were a 34 year-old convert who was still single, maybe you’d feel differently.

    And yes, I know that the idea exists that perhaps God will sort out all of those messy sealings resulting from death and divorce and give valiant singles a shot at exaltation in spite of being losers who couldn’t find spouses in this life. Seems to me that if that possibility exists though, it’s probably a bad idea to harangue the poor singles in this life.

    Personally, I think the Mormon God is going to offer exaltation to all the singles who are the owners of adorable cats. But that’s just me.

  10. psychochemiker permalink
    November 13, 2009 2:16 pm

    The cultural accouterments that exclude singles are not of God. There is a way to faithfully reconcile LDS theology about the importance of marriage (read necessity) and the singleness of some of the most faithful people you can meet on this earth, but Seth certainly hasn’t been writing it.

    Quite frankly, Stephanie, I feel the reasoning behind your post was inspired by the devil, because it made me start going down the same path inspired by married Mormons like Seth. Quite frankly, Seth, you are not better than someone just because you are married. You have not earned your exaltation. No mortal earns their exaltation, and certainly people who think they are better people because they are married will be kept out of heaven until they repent of that arrogant viewpoint.

  11. Stephanie permalink
    November 13, 2009 2:28 pm

    Quite frankly, Stephanie, I feel the reasoning behind your post was inspired by the devil

    PC,

    The nice thing about you is that you don’t hold back. 🙂

    I don’t know what parts of my post were satanically inspired. but I don’t mind you pointing them out! I think that there is nothing the matter with marriage. It is an institution created by God in the Garden of Eden and it is natural for men and women to want to be in a marriage relationship. However, there is no NT teaching that requires marriage. Quite the opposite in fact. And for people to assume that they are better for being married is wrong because Paul taught that it was better to remain single!

    The promise of glorification is for the justified. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). Note that in the entire book of Romans (a treatise on salvation) there is no mention of the necessity of marriage.

  12. November 13, 2009 3:03 pm

    “Seth, you are not better than someone just because you are married. You have not earned your exaltation. No mortal earns their exaltation, and certainly people who think they are better people because they are married will be kept out of heaven until they repent of that arrogant viewpoint.”

    Sorry if I implied that.

    If all you needed to be morally superior was a marriage license, it would be an odd universe indeed. I agree with the main thrust of your point. You can’t substitute form for substance – even in a religion that thrives on symbolism. The symbols are are only meant to point to higher truths.

    The marriage covenant is meant to be a symbol of the unifying love experienced by God (male and female). But simply participating in a symbol does not ensure that you are somehow closer to realizing that love than others. There are plenty of marriages that have grown cold and devoid of affection, or full of indifference. It’s ridiculous to think that a husband who leads of life of emotional withdrawal, neglecting wife and children, etc is somehow closer to realizing the divine love of God than a single guy who has filled his life with other rich relationships with others.

    Faith, hope and charity are always the main event. All symbols are supposed to be representing those things and pointing to them. And various people will always have differing quantities of those things – regardless of how many rituals they are participating in.

    The participatory nature of the divine love will not be denied to any who truly seek it. But that participation will be premised on the higher virtues, not the symbols that merely point to those higher virtues.

  13. November 13, 2009 4:18 pm

    Seth,

    It is inaccurate to caricature salvation to simply “me and God”. While regeneration, justification, sanctification et al are commonly and properly represented as works of God directed at individual believers, to focus only on personal aspects of redemption to the exclusion of corporate or organic salvation is to miss the majesty of our union with Christ. There is no salvation apart from this mystical union. Union with Christ is always personal while it transcends the individual and our earth bound family relationships, uniting us to the body of Christ with all believers past, present, future, to the once for all accomplished work of Christ.

  14. November 13, 2009 5:06 pm

    Part of the problem Gundeck is that Evangelicals, when talking to Mormons, sometimes make their theology more extremely individualistic than it really is – solely to prove that they are different than what they have caricatured as “Mormon doctrine.”

    So the Mormon winds up with a very selfish paradigm of heaven presided over by “therapy Jesus.”

    Mormons do the same thing. We make our God more strict and formalistic than he really is – as a counter-reaction to these notions of “therapy Jesus.” And the ugly spiral downward continues.

  15. November 13, 2009 6:34 pm

    Seth,

    I do not disagree with you in the least bit. I can’t speak to the LDS but part of the problem is that for some in broader evangelicalism salvation is “extremely individualistic” and the catholic nature of the Church as the body and bride of Christ is not the emphasis, that our union with Christ unites us to all believers is lost.

    Loss of this vital portion of Protestant theology affects us in many ways. I was in the home of a friend for dinner, in blessing the meal he prayed for the nation of Israel, I asked him when the last time was he prayed for Palestinian Christians?

  16. Stephanie permalink
    November 13, 2009 11:00 pm

    Loss of this vital portion of Protestant theology affects us in many ways. I was in the home of a friend for dinner, in blessing the meal he prayed for the nation of Israel, I asked him when the last time was he prayed for Palestinian Christians?

    Very good point, Gundek.

  17. shematwater permalink
    November 14, 2009 1:03 am

    Personally I think people don’t put enough thought into what they read in the Bible. The whole “this is not biblical” appraoch is rediculous as it is all subject to interpretation.

    However, a few comments from the New Testiment:

    1 Corinthians 11: 11 “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”
    In this chapter Paul is explaining why the man is the head of the family, and why the woman defers to him. But than he makes this statement to show that the Man cannot be saved without the woman, even though he is the head.
    Ephesians 5: 31 “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be aone flesh.”
    This is a little aside that Paul puts in the middle of his discourse on Christ’s relation with the Church. He discusses how the church should be as one, and than says this is the reason why a man and woman are treated as one when they are married.
    1 Peter 3: 7 “as being eheirs together of the grace of life”
    Peter is expounding on the marriage relation, and how husbands and wives are to treat each other. His reason is that it is together that they inherit the grace of God, and thus they must keep the marriage covenant.

    Now, when it comes to 1 Corinthians 7, there is a very simple explanation. Paul was not giving the will of God, but his own opinion. We know this because he says so. In verse 6 “But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.” Now, when he addresses the married he states that it is from God (verse 10 “yet not I, but the Lord”) but than again goes to his own opinion in verse 12 “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord.” Thus this councel is not of God, but from a man.
    Now, the reason for this counsel seems to be in response to a question asked, as this topic is opened with “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me” (verse 1). As we do not know the exact situation that Paul was addressing, we do not know the reason he gave this counsel. It likely had a good reason for it, but since it is in the same epistle he states that the man cannot be saved without the woman (chapter 11: 11) it seems it was meant only for the Corinthians and not for the general body of the church.
    (And the whole thing of ending the chapter mentioned, this just sounded silly. Paul did not make the chapter divisions. He simply wrote a letter. It was many centuries later that it was devided into chapters.)

    As to Christ being married, I really don’t want to get into the debate. However, it would make perfect sense that they are not mentioned in the scriptures. First, the New Testiment was not written by Christ. It may contain his biography, but not his autobiography. Second, the Jewish leaders had already killed Christ, and were persecuting the saints. Why would they advertise that Christ had children? His heir would have been seen as a threat to the rulers, being next in line to inherit David’s throne. Thus it would be prudant for them to be hidden.
    There has been those who say that such was prophecied of by Isaiah. In chapter 53 of that prophets writings, verse 8 “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” Thus, no one will reveal his seed, because of the nature of his death.

    Just saying.

  18. shematwater permalink
    November 14, 2009 1:11 am

    Also, I think people misunderstand the words of the prophets. In general they speak to those who avoid marriage, not to those who are actively seeking marriage.
    The one guy from BYU was simply saying that if you are actively searching you shouldn’t ahve any difficulty finding. Thus if you have difficulty maybe it is because of something you are doing.
    There have been single people of great faith who are just fine in terms of Exaltation, because they have followed the spirit of God and it has not yet led them to marriage.
    The messages you site are for those who excuse themselves from marriage for verious reasons. Even the excuse of “I haven’t found the right one” is not a valid excuse. The only reason to remain sinlge is if the Spirit of God has led you to remain single.
    (Just a thought-I like the one short movie I saw a while ago about a girl trying to find the “right man” to marry. The ending line was simply profound. She said “Instead of trying to find the right one, I will try and be the right one.” A thought that all sinlge people need to consider.)

  19. November 14, 2009 1:15 am

    Do Mormons ever quote any part of 1 Corinthians 11 other than verse 11?

  20. shematwater permalink
    November 14, 2009 2:18 am

    Bridget

    In regards to the subject of this thread there is no other verse appropriate, even though I did give a brief sumary of what the first half of the chapter is speaking about.

    However, if you are interested:
    Verses 14-15 are used to teach men to have short, well trimmed hair, and woman to have long hair.
    Verses 18-19 are used as evidence that the Apostacy of the early church had already begun.
    Verse 20-34 are used to show the great importance of the Sacremant (bread and water) and the need to be worthy of it.

    It is simply that, in general, these particular topics (except the apostacy, which has many other references to use for it) are not often discussed outside the church, and thus those outside would not often see them.

  21. November 14, 2009 4:22 am

    Of course this is a matter of interpretation, but being a matter of interpretation does not mean that all interpretations are equally valid or that a particular interpretation is in any way justifiable.

    You claim that 1 Corinthians 11:11 means that “Man cannot be saved without the woman” but you fail to show us where salvation is addressed in this passage. Try as I might, I cannot find the instruction to marry or the necessity for marriage. This passage does have much to teach, as the beginning of an entire section of 1 Corinthians concerning corporate worship (1 Cor 11:2-14:40) culminating in the instruction to “Let all things be done decently and in order.” J. Gresham Machen comments that Paul in this latter part of 1 Corinthians is showing that “Dignity was to be preserved, moreover, not merely in the ordering of the service itself, but also in the dress and behavior of those who took part” explaining the corporate worship theme in these chapters. Calvin notes that verse 11 shows that men and woman “ought to be connected together by mutual benevolence, for the one cannot do without the other. If they be separated, they are like the mutilated members of a mangled body. Let them, therefore, be connected with each other by the bond of mutual duty.”

    If you let the Bible interpret the Bible, your belief that marriage is mandatory also runs into the teachings of Jesus regarding marriage and divorce, particularly in Matthew 19:1-12. Stephanie has already pointed to 1 Cor 7 and that it also conflicts with you view of 1 Cor 11:11. Neither 1 Cor 7:6 nor 1 Cor 7:12 shows that Paul is only giving his opinion or that his opinion would lacks authority of an apostle of Jesus Christ. First verse 6 “But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment” is referring to permission for a couple to “not deprive one another” of sexual relations from the preceding verse 5. This may be difficult to see in the AV because they used “Defraud ye not one the other” that misses the mark.

    Paul explains in 1 Cor 7:10 that his instruction is a directly from Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry “yet not I, but the Lord…” Refer to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 and Mark 10:12. In 1 Cor 7:12 Paul explains that this teaching is coming from him and is not a quote from Jesus,” I, not the Lord…” This does not in any way mean that Paul’s instructions in verse 12 lack the authority of an apostle.

    When we look at 1 Cor 7:6, 10, and 12 we see that they are addressing 3 different subjects of Paul’s teaching regarding marriage, verse 6 the denial of marital relations “with permission”, verse 10 divorce where the wife leaves the husband, and verse 12 an unbelieving wife. None of these passages cover a requirement for marriage.

    1 Cor 7:10 and 12 do play prominent role in source criticism.

    You can always claim that this is just a matter of my interpretation but that is not a method for excluding the context of a passage or ignoring the clear teaching on a subject in another part of the Bible.

  22. November 14, 2009 5:01 am

    shematwater ~ Verses 14-15 are used to teach men to have short, well trimmed hair, and woman to have long hair.

    The LDS church teaches that women ought to have long hair? I’ve never heard that. All three members of the current Relief Society General Presidency have fairly short hair.

    Anyways, my comment was more of an off-handed one. I very often hear LDS people quoting 1 Corinthians 11:11 in support of eternal marriage or to try and insist that women are important even if they don’t hold the priesthood. Most of the time they shy away from the earlier verses which appear to teach male headship (you seem to be fine with it though). They avoid the verses about head coverings altogether or believe that part is fulfilled by having women wear veils in the temple (but this passage is about public worship). And like I said, I’ve never heard the LDS church teach that women must have long hair. Men short hair, yes, but not women long hair. I often come away feeling like verse 11 is being ripped from its context and abused (I’m not trying to accuse you of doing that).

    It’s a difficult passage for most parties regardless of one’s stance on gender roles, and other Christians are certainly full of inconsistencies when interpreting the passage, so I’m always fascinated by how different parties explain it. It also happens to be a rather confusing passage in Greek.

    I do agree with Gundek though. I think the passage is all about proper conduct in worship. It has nothing to do with salvation. Of course, Mormons believe in modern-day revelation and revelation does not have to follow proper exegesis, but other Christians don’t have to agree with the resulting eisegesis.

  23. November 14, 2009 5:40 am

    Stephanie,

    While traveling a few years ago I attended an OPC congregation for a few weeks that prior to the call to worship prayed for a particular congregation in the suffering persecution.

    An elder would read a brief report of work being done in the mission field followed by a example of current persecution of Christians abroad. He would then lead the congregation in prayer for the congregations, denominations and all Christian missionaries then he would pray for the particular persecuted congregation and all Christians suffering oppression. This practice radically changed my view of the Christian Church and where I stand in it. I have been able to worship all over the world with other Christians in many denominations all united to the body of Christ.

  24. Stephanie permalink
    November 14, 2009 6:46 pm

    Hi Shem!

    I hope that your new job is going well. 🙂 I wanted to respond to some of the things that you said.

    As to Christ being married, I really don’t want to get into the debate. However, it would make perfect sense that they are not mentioned in the scriptures.

    I’m really hoping that the “they” here means wife and children and not multiple wives. I think you should really reconsider this statement because there is no biblical or historical evidence to support the claim that Christ was married.

    And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke 9:58)

    This doesn’t sound like a man with a wife(s) and kids at home waiting for him.

    Also, I think people misunderstand the words of the prophets. In general they speak to those who avoid marriage, not to those who are actively seeking marriage.

    And this is a big problem to me. I know lots and lots of single people. I don’t know anyone “avoiding marriage.” Avoiding marriage implies that you have found a suitable, compatible mate but are resisting marriage. That is complete nonsense. Do you know any single person in such a situation? I don’t. In my opinion, the #1 reason people don’t get married is because they haven’t found the right one yet. And so it seems extremely insensitive to pre-judge people as being disobedient in someway that they simply have no control over.

    The one guy from BYU was simply saying that if you are actively searching you shouldn’t ahve any difficulty finding.

    Maybe. But its also possible that this article is completely out of touch with reality. If it were “so easy” to find a mate then why are there any single people in the LDS church or in any church? Furthermore, there are more single women in the LDS church than men (or so I’m told). How is that supposed to work for them- -even if they are “actively seeking?”

    Thus if you have difficulty maybe it is because of something you are doing.

    Maybe. But that implies that single people have more “problems” than married people. It is quite common for single women to gripe, “I can’t believe she is married and I’m not!” Now, granted, this is also a very judgmental statement. But are you really saying that married people have fewer issues than single people? Some of the most dysfunctional people I know are married. I know one married woman who can’t handle not being in a relationship. So, naturally it works best for her issues to be married. Does that mean that if a stable, happy person is single that they have more “issues” than a married person?

    The messages you site are for those who excuse themselves from marriage for verious reasons. Even the excuse of “I haven’t found the right one” is not a valid excuse. The only reason to remain sinlge is if the Spirit of God has led you to remain single.

    How can the Spirit of God lead you to remain single if it is “necessary” for exaltation? Again, I think it is very small minded to think that single people are looking for “excuses” to stay single. I have to say that I don’t know of any single people like this. And I certainly don’t know any LDS singles that have this perspective. Quite the opposite.

  25. November 14, 2009 7:57 pm

    Stephanie ~ You said:

    Furthermore, there are more single women in the LDS church than men (or so I’m told). How is that supposed to work for them- -even if they are “actively seeking?”

    There are more women than men in the LDS church—in fact, the church has one of the most imbalanced male-female ratios in the United States (among Christian traditions) with 56% women and 44% men. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses and historically black churches have worse ratios (40% men – 60% women for both groups).

    For this reason, I’ve been told by numerous LDS friends that the onus for finding a spouse rests mainly on men. You’ll notice that several of the quotes from your blog post are directed at the male sex exclusively.

    This also lines up with the fact that the church has allowed two single women to serve in the General Relief Society presidencies in recent years (Sheri Dew and Barbara Thompson), but I haven’t heard of any single men serving in auxiliary presidencies, let alone as GAs.

    I would say there’s a strong cultural teaching, with some light institutional backing, that single women are to be tolerated because they might not be able to help their status, but single men are doing something wrong.

    Not fair on the men in my book. Besides, everyone knows that all of the really sexy women are evangelical Christians. 😉

    How can the Spirit of God lead you to remain single if it is “necessary” for exaltation?

    Some of my LDS friends have said that God can call for the celibacy of prophets in special circumstances. Paul wasn’t married and Jeremiah was commanded not to marry due to the times and natures of their ministries. Presumably God will have them sealed to someone in the millennium.

    Other Mormons squirm and insist that Paul and Jeremiah must have gotten married at later dates. You just never know what you’re going to get.

  26. November 14, 2009 9:35 pm

    “This doesn’t sound like a man with a wife(s) and kids at home waiting for him.”

    Actually it does sound like a LOT of men who have to balance family with an important cause.

  27. November 14, 2009 9:36 pm

    As far as gender imbalances in the afterlife go, I figure polygamy pretty-much solves the problem.

  28. Stephanie permalink
    November 14, 2009 10:19 pm

    Actually it does sound like a LOT of men who have to balance family with an important cause.

    What kind of grand conspiracy scheme would have prompted the apostles to keep Jesus’ family a secret? They were with Him for 3 years. We hear about his mother on more than one occasion as well as his siblings. When Jesus was dying on the cross He asked John to care for her. Why not ask John to care for His wife and children? Because He didn’t have any!

    If you want to promote this view you really need to have more support than the hypothesis that everybody is supposed to be married, therefore Jesus was married.

    Stephanie

  29. November 14, 2009 11:39 pm

    As far as gender imbalances in the afterlife go, I figure polygamy pretty-much solves the problem.

    You hear that? Fear not, female Mormon singles: Seth will be on hand waiting to add you to his 30 virgins when you reach the CK. Everything is going to be okay!

    (Sorry Seth… I love to tease.)

  30. November 15, 2009 12:31 am

    And I’ll even have all my hair back!

  31. November 15, 2009 12:33 am

    Assuming I don’t get “terrestrialized” and end up playing checkers with Darrell.

  32. shematwater permalink
    November 16, 2009 4:36 pm

    Gundeck

    Your explanation of 1 Corinthians 7 is interesting, but no more valid than what I said. In verse six and verse twelve he is not making a reference to relationships, but to his words. He is saying that in response to their questions he has no direct command to give, and so he has been given permission to give his opinion. Is it valid and binding? Of Course it is. But only for the people for whom it was intended, in the circumstances for which it was given.
    Even in verse 25 he makes a similar statement by saying he has no command from God for virgins, but gives his own counsel.
    I understand what you say, but what I say is just as plausible, and thus to claim that it is not biblical is rediculous.
    As to 1 Corinthians 11: 11, all you say is interesting, however, this verse is more of an aside than part of what was being said. Paul is explaining the reasons that Men are the head of the family, but he is giving a little caution. He is letting men know that without the woman they cannot be saved, and so do not abuse the power that God has given to you.
    Again, just as plausible as anything you have given, and thus just as biblical.
    (And as to Salvation, the phrase “In the Lord” would seem to imply such.)

    Stephanie
    Let me see if I can explain things a little better.

    Remember my reference to the movie, and about being the right one instead of finding the right one. People who are searching for mister right in general have a very specific list of qualifications, and in general there is no person who can meet those qualificaiton. Thus, to say you are looking for the right one is to basically say that there is no one out there good enough for you, and so you are going to remain single. This is not always the case, i grant you, but it frequently is and is not good.
    It is also true that it is mainly the men who are pressured into getting married, for the reasons stated above. When the milenium opens and all the laws of God are followed in their fulness we will once again live the laws of Plural Marriage, which will provide for the woman who were unalbe to find a husband in this life.
    Now, as to people being Guided by the Holy Spirit not to marry, I was thinking more along the lines that the person they are menat to marry is not around yet. My eldest sister is thirteen years yonger than her husband, and so he remained single into his thirties because she was not old enough until then. There is also the story of Parley P. Pratt, whose wife was ten years older than him. Thus she remained single into her thirties, waiting for him to grow up and marry her (which he promised he would do when he was, like, 16). It is also believed that many chose their spouse as spirits before they were ever born. Thus, there may be a woman or man whose intended spouse was born in a different generation, and they are permitted to wait until the Milenium to be sealed.
    In any case, it is by following the Spirit that we are justified, for we cannot sin in doing what God commands. If we are commanded to remain single we are to remain single until that command it changed.

    (Personally, I do think that Paul was married, for a very simple reason. According to jewish law he could not have been part of the ministry -working for the chief priests- in the way he did unless he was married. However, it seems to me that he was married before he was converted and his wife did not convert and would not join him. Thus he followed his own counsel of leaving her for the ministry, but not remarrying (1 Cor. 7: 12-15).

  33. November 16, 2009 6:49 pm

    Personally, I do think that Paul was married, for a very simple reason. According to jewish law he could not have been part of the ministry -working for the chief priests- in the way he did unless he was married.

    This isn’t true. Rabbinic law allowed for exceptions who insisted on remaining unmarried so that they could be more fully devoted to God. This data was covered in this article by Glenn Miller on whether or not Jesus could have been single. The same data would apply to Paul.

    A thought on polygyny in the afterlife. There may be more Mormon women than Mormon men at this time, but the birth rate for human males has always been higher—nature’s way of compensating for the fact that men are actually more susceptible to death by illness or disease, especially in infancy—therefore human history has seen a higher number of infant and childhood deaths among males than it has among females. For Mormon theology, that means there’s a whole lot of male spirits with automatic tickets to the CK who are going to need to be sealed to female spirits in order to obtain exaltation.

    Is there actually going to be a surplus of righteous single women after all those infant death cases are married off? I rather doubt it. In fact, you might just have to turn to polyandry to marry everyone off.

    Horrors.

  34. November 16, 2009 7:44 pm

    Seth,
    I appreciate your comments you shared here. It really helped me to understand what my husband may be going thru since my resignation from the LDS faith. He has had a time of it, and after reading thru your comments, it helped me to understand “where” he is coming from. To him, eternity was absolutely tied with “me” as part of it…..and he is devastated as a result of my leaving. He simply can not accept and move on.

    Just one of those “ah ha” moments,
    gloria

  35. November 16, 2009 8:05 pm

    Have you formally resigned from the church, Gloria?

    Or are you still technically sealed to your husband?

  36. November 16, 2009 8:10 pm

    Shematwater,

    1 Corinthians 11:11 does not address why “Men are the head of the family” does it? The entire passage speaks to why women Corinthian Christians should wear a head covering (ἐξουσία exousia; translated symbol of authority) in worship. Your reference to “in the lord” meaning salvation is much the same language as in Galatians 3:28 “…there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” to claim that this is a distinction now being made that marriage is required for salvation goes beyond the scope of the text. On top of that, if 11:11 means what you say it does it would conflict directly with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19:1-12 regarding marriage and divorce.

    I find it instructive that when looking at the New Testament you want to ensure it remains in its first century contexts but when we discuss the Book of Mormon you insist that it must be understood in a 19th-21st century Mormon context. I agree that in 1 Cor 7:25-31 is an example of Paul giving his “opinion” or “judgment” for the present circumstances in Corinth as he clearly states. But this is not the same language used in 7:6, 10, or 12 is it? In light of Christ’s teaching on divorce, I do not see how 7:12 can be seen as anything but binding apostolic teaching. Regardless of the object being referenced in 7:6 (I think it is 7:4-5, I assume you think 7:7) you cannot get around the fact that Paul counseled people to remain in an unmarried state (7:7), something he presumably would not have done if marriage is required for salvation, even if it was just his opinion. This position becomes a little silly when you claim that Paul in 7:7 is only giving his opinion that runs contrary to his teaching a couple of paragraphs latter in 11:11.

    I am not saying that your argument is “ridiculous”, I am only saying that in order to come to the conclusions that you have you need to read things into the text that are not present while ignoring the conflicts that you impose on the text. Because if 1 Corinthians means what you say it does it conflicts with at least 1 Cor 7:7 and Matt 19:1-12.

  37. November 16, 2009 8:57 pm

    gloria, I’m glad to help in understanding.

    It is a tough thing to figure out.

  38. November 16, 2009 9:07 pm

    Jack,

    Yes, I have formally resigned. ( resignation letter sent and cancellation of ordinances/blessings ) . So yes, the temple sealing is now void.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  39. November 16, 2009 9:09 pm

    Shematwater,

    Unless you are aware of material that I have not seen it is also only speculation that Paul was married. First and most importantly we do not know what his actual position was prior to his conversion so it is only speculation that assigns him to a role that required marriage. Second the Mishnah, the source for our understanding of the rules governing membership in the Sanhedrin or being a Rabbi, dates from 70-200 AD, making it impossible to know what the exact rules were in 33/34 AD when Paul was converted. Third if we accept the Mishnah Paul would have had to be 40 to be a member of the Sanhedrin assuming his death in 65 AD that means he would have been at least 71, a ripe old age for missionary work in the first century.

    This isn’t to say Paul wasn’t married ever, I tend to think he was, but I don’t have to base my theology on it.

  40. November 16, 2009 10:02 pm

    Gloria ~ Thanks for sharing. That is rough on your husband having his sealing dissolved—not that I’m sorry that you’ve left the church, just that I do have compassion for his viewpoint. I’ve always felt that it must be rather rough on my own husband not having his wife and child(ren) sealed to him, but he at least chose that. It’d be harder to marry in the covenant and then have your spouse leave the church.

    Major props to your husband for sticking with you though. I have all kinds of quotes from Mormons on blogs and discussion forums saying that they think divorce is justified if a spouse who was married in the covenant leaves the church, and it makes me sick.

    Gundek ~ I actually have heard one theory about Paul being married, either before or after he wrote 1 Corinthians. It stems from Philippians 4:2-3 with Paul’s plea to Euodia and Syntyche:

    I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (NRSV)

    Some speculate that this “companion” (literally σύζυγε, “yokefellow”) whom Paul pleaded with to help these women was his wife.

    I think it’s an interesting theory if nothing else.

  41. November 16, 2009 10:58 pm

    BJM,

    The most convincing argument I have heard (only speculation) is based on the totality of Paul’s care for the widows especially in 1 Tim and looking at his efforts for collecting for the needy. I think there is room for those who believe either way.

  42. shematwater permalink
    November 17, 2009 4:26 pm

    Gundeck

    I never said it was fact that Paul was married, only that I believe it. I also know that Joseph Fielding Smith stated that he was. However, my faith and theology is not dependant on it.

    As to the wording of 1 Corinthians, I see no conflict with what Christ taught and what I say Paul meant.
    As regards to 11: 11, I never said this particular verse spoke to why men are the head of the family. I said that the verses leading up to it talk of this. Read them: (7-10) “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”
    The man is the glory of God, and woman is the glory of man, because she was created for him. Then, in verse 11, “Nevertheless [making this a side note] neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”
    Thus, while the woman was created for the man, and is his glory, the man cannot be in the Lord (or saved) without the woman.

    Compare this to what Christ says in Matthew (just a few phrases):
    Verse 6 -“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
    They are one flesh, and as one flesh they would be saved as one flesh.
    Verse 8 -“Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”
    From the beginning divorce was not allowed, except in the case of fornication. Thus, marriage was meant to last.
    Verse 11 -“All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.”
    Verse 12 -“He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
    Here Christ himself says that not all people will be able to abide this law, and thus it is given only to those who can abide it. Even in the LDS church we do not live this law in its fulness because the Saints in general are not able to.

    It really seems to me that Paul, because of the specific cercumstances of the Corinthians, gave them this counsel. These were Greeks, for one thing, and it is very possible, because of the whole religious air of the time, many woman wanted to remain single for the ministry (as many did for the Greek gods). I really don’t know the cituation, but I can think of many possibilities that would make all this very logical for Paul to teach, having permission from Christ as given in verses 11-12 of Matthew 19.

    As to chapter seven, I think verse six should be applied to 1-9, verse ten to 10-11, and verse twelve to 12-24. The People had asked Paul if it was good for a man to not touch a woman. he is answering this in the affirmative, but than saying that marrying is better than sinning. In verse six and verse 12 he is telling them that this is only his opinion, how he believes the situation should be handled. Again, we do not know the actual situation, and thus we cannot fully judge why he gave this counsel. However, chapter seven, though a great chapter, is dedicated to this one situation, and this one question. In the beginning of chapter eight he changes his focus, and later on he changes it again, until he comes to chapter 11. Without knowing the exact situation this chapter can be taken separate from the rest of the epistle, because the rest is general instruction, and not specific answers.

  43. shematwater permalink
    November 17, 2009 4:36 pm

    Gundeck

    As to the different perspectives in reading the scriptures (Corinthians from 1st century and Book of Mormon from Modern) you really don’t understand the way it all works.

    We are the audience of the Book of Mormon. When Mormon abridged the record he knew that no one in his time would be reading it, and even commanded his son to hide it when he was finished. He knew that it was our day that would receive it. We are his audience, and thus we must consider what he wanted to tell us.
    Paul, in writing to the Corinthians did not have us in mind as his audience. when he wrote this his audience was the saints in Corinth. Thus we must consider not what he was telling us, but what he was telling them.
    What I want is for people to consider who the intended audience was and consider what the message meant in that context.
    It is just like the book of Revelation. The first few chapters are directed towards the seven churches of Asia Minor, and not the general body of the saints. However the rest of the vision is meant for the world, and more specifically for those who would be alive at the that it would be fulfilled. thus, these chapters should be considered with us as the audience, as should John’s Gospel, for it was also written to us.
    This is what I want when people are seeking interpretations. This is why I interpret the 7th chapter of Corinthians as I do. Because I am considering the words as given to the Corinthians (their intended audience), and not as given to me.

  44. November 17, 2009 8:42 pm

    Shematwater,

    You have made the claim that 1 Corinthians 11:11 means that “Man cannot be saved without the woman, even though he is the head.” In Matthew 19:12 Jesus says “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” in response to the disciples question if it is better not to marry. If it is better for a man to live, voluntarily, the life of a eunuch than for a man to risk divorce then a man can be saved without a woman.

    When we look at who is addressed in 1 Corinthians 11:11 we find the men and women that Paul is referencing are already married (cf. 1 Cor 11:6) the union has already been made. There is no direction to get married to be “in the Lord”. Paul is simply clarifying his instruction that even when married there is nothing that decreases of the importance of a woman. I hate to have to point out that you are reading your patriarchy into the text.

    No matter where you apply 1 Corinthians 7:6 Paul still “recommends” that people remain in an unmarried state (1 Cor 7:7) as does Jesus (Matt 19:12), this conflicts with your reading of 1 Corinthians 11:11.

    Paul is addressing Christ’s Church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians and unless there is a reason to believe that the instructions are only relevant to that particular situation, such as head coverings as a sign of modesty (1 Cor 11:5) in the Corinthian culture or short hair on a woman being a sign of shame (1 Cor 11:6) in Corinth, we must understand the Scriptures to be binding on us today. Of course the culture of the Corinthians is important for our understanding of Paul’s letter, without them all Christian women would be wearing head coverings not just conservative Presbyterians, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics. I say that command to be faithful in our marriages, to steer clear of divorce, and to abstain from sexual relations outside of marriage is not only relevant to the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:1-24).

  45. shematwater permalink
    November 18, 2009 4:17 pm

    Gundeck

    I was going to give a response to this, but it would simply bring in a lot more debate, which I wish to avoid.

    I will simply say this: The counsel of Christ was to teach this law only to those who were are to live it. Due to circumstances of the time it was a difficult law for many to follow, and remains so even today. Thus, we do not give laws to people who cannot live them.
    Christ never recommended that people stay in a single state, but that they be allowed to if their circumstances made such easier.

    As to applying the epistle only to the Corinthians, when did I ever suggest such. I said that chapter seven should be seen this way, but not the rest of the epistle. My reasons for saying this are simple. Paul is answering a specific question that had been asked (as seen in verse 1). We do not know the exact question or why it was asked. We do not know the situation in Corinth that prompted the question. As such we do not have a full understanding of the reasons why Paul gave the counsel he did. We do know that it was his counsel, and not the Lords, for he tells us this, but that is all we know. Until we know more we cannot say why he said what he did, or how it was to apply to their lives and thus to ours.

    This seems very clear to me from the text.

    Now, I am fine with disagreeing. The only reason I posted to this thread is because I do see the doctrine of salvation being dependant on marriage in the Bible. My only real complaint about the way most general Christians speak is they claim “Biblical Authority” when it is all a matter of interpretation. To say that you do not see it in the Bible is one thing, but to say it is not there is quite another. Even to say you do not believe that it is the right interpretation is fine. I simply wish people would understand the difference.

  46. November 18, 2009 6:31 pm

    Shematwater,

    As I have said before, of course this is a matter of interpretation, but just because this is a matter of interpretation does not mean we give up on Biblical authority. Instead we should struggle to interpret the Bible humbly and correctly. I am not claiming to have all the answers or even that all the answers are possible. When I see an inconsistency or a contradiction introduced by way of an interpretation I must conclude that the contradiction is in the interpretation and not the text.

    I understand that you think that 1 Corinthians 7 only applies to the Corinthians because we don’t know the circumstances that it was given. That is why I only summarized relevant teaching from 1 Corinthians 7:1-24 the command to be faithful in our marriages, to steer clear of divorce, and to abstain from sexual relations outside of marriage. I frankly don’t see how these instructions can be any more relevant today. I think that if more Christians followed this we would not be all that worried about a gay marriage debate.

    I must admit that I have no idea what you are talking about when you say “The counsel of Christ was to teach this law only to those who were are to live it. Due to circumstances of the time it was a difficult law for many to follow, and remains so even today. Thus, we do not give laws to people who cannot live them.” especially in the context of Matthew 19:1-12 about divorce and adultery.

    Correct me if my interpretation is mistaken, but in this passage Christ is asked when divorce is allowed, probably in reference to Deut 24:1 and the two opposing rabbinical interpretations Shammai (divorce only allowed for infidelity) and Hillel (divorce allowed for almost any reason a man can think up). When Jesus come down clearly on the side of Shammai His disciples ask “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry”? To which Christ explains that it is better to voluntarily live the life of a eunuch than to divorce for a reason other than infidelity. Exactly what law is Christ telling us we don’t have to live because it is too hard? Adultery? Divorce?

    I don’t see the doctrine of salvation being dependent on marriage in the Bible. Don’t take this the wrong way but you have not made a case that it is. You have said that 1 Corinthians 11:11 shows it when there is no command to marry. You have explained that we should ignore 1 Cor 7 because it is only Paul’s opinion without showing why we would want to ignore the opinion of an apostle no matter the circumstances. You have made a claim that Christ only gives us laws we can live, something else I don’t see in the Bible, and confused probably the clearest teaching we have on marriage in the Bible. If you want to make a case that salvation is dependent on marriage where else in the Bible can we find it?

    If you don’t want to debate, fine. I am not taking this personally and I hope you aren’t either. We can disagree on 1 Corinthians 11:11.

  47. shematwater permalink
    November 19, 2009 12:37 am

    GUNDECK

    When it comes to your summary of the relevant points of 1 Corinthians 7 I notice that you do not include the counsel to remain single. All that you say in this last post concerning this chapter I agree with. I also agree that there is an apparent contradiction between his advise in chapter seven and what is said in 11: 11. This is why I pointed out that the circumstances are not known. If there was no contradiction it would not matter. However, since the contradiction is there we must find a way to understand it. As we do not have all the information required for such an understanding we must simply accept that Paul had good reason for the counsel and leave it at that.

    As to the command to marry, I did list other references in my first post. I very rarely give only one reference in support of what I am saying.
    Ephesians 5: 31 “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
    Here it does not say he can if he wants to, but he shall, indicating that this is what he is to do.
    Now, this is also taught by Christ in Matthew 19, as well as Mark 10. In Matthew 19: 4-6 “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

    I also gave 1 Peter 3: 7, in being heirs together of salvation.

    Of course the greatest reference to show a command to marry is in the very beginning, when Adam and Eve were first created. Genesis 1: 28 “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Repeated again to Noah (Genesis 9: 1). Couple this great command (the very first ever given) with the command not to engage in sexual conduct outside of marriage and you have the command to marry.
    I will agree that in 1 Corinthians 11: 11 there is no command to marry, and that is why I gave three different references in my first post. I also only gave references from the New Testiment, as it was stated that it could not be found in that volume. Here I give some in the Old Testiment as well.

    As to what I said about the words of Christ in Matthew 19:
    Verse 12: “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
    Christ states here, quite plainly, to teach this law only to those able to recieve it. This is what I meant. As to what law he is talking about, he is talking about the law of Marriage and divorce. He is talking about man and wife being one flesh (the command to marry) and about the laws of permissable divorce. In verses 5-6 he is basically saying that God created us Male and Female so that we would marry, and from the beginning this marriage was only to be broken in the case of adultery. All of this is the law to which he speaks when he talks about the eunichs and those unable to abide the law. There are some who have remained celebate to avoid divorce, or to devote more time to the ministry. There are others who cannot have children and so do not marry. Christ is saying that for those who cannot abide the entire law that he has just taught should not be taught the law.
    As to the idea of not teaching those unable to abide the law, look at 1 Corinthians 10: 13 “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be btempted above that ye are able.”
    If you cannot abide the law than teaching it to you would create a temptation you are not able to withstand, and is thus contrary to this teaching.

  48. Stephanie permalink
    November 19, 2009 12:50 am

    Shem,

    I’ve been reading you and Gundek’s discussion and have a question for you. You seem to be making two separate claims. (1) God commands marriage and (2) marriage is essential for salvation. On your first point you have cited several passages which speak of marriage yet do not COMMAND marriage. You haven’t provided evidence that Christ was married and the reasons for Paul being married are conjecture at best. But on the second point you have provided ZERO evidence for marriage being necessary for salvation. I would challenge you to present a biblical case for your viewpoint. Evidently the Roman believers were somewhat confused about salvation for Paul found that he needed to write them an entire book. Nowhere in this epistle will you find the indication that marriage is in anyway tied to salvation. Quite the contrary. Justification salvation is by faith. Also, the entire book of John (written that men might believe) never once lists this as a requirement for salvation. Look at the church fathers. Do any of them teach the necessity of marriage for salvation? No they do not.

    I can understand if you have a different viewpoint on marriage. If you want to have your own opinion on the matter you are certainly entitled to that. But it is not a biblically founded opinion.

    Stephanie

  49. November 19, 2009 12:37 pm

    Shematwater,

    Thank you for recognizing my point concerning 1 Cor 7. You have no problem with the teachings of Paul that you agree with them, but question the relevance of something that conflicts with your beliefs.

    Look at the setting of 1 Matt 19:1-12. What law is Christ not teaching? What law is it OK to ignore because it is hard? From my perspective he is only saying that it is better to voluntarily live the life of a eunuch than to divorce for a reason other than infidelity. Show me where Christ says we only have to live the law we are able to keep (cf. Matthew 5:48).

    For the rest I think that Stephanie summed it up better than I can. In none of the verses you point to is there a command to marry. In none of the verses (Ephesians 5: 31, Matthew 19: 4-6, 1 Peter 3: 7, Genesis 1: 28, Genesis 9:1) you point to is salvation made dependent on marriage. We can look at each one in turn.

    1 Peter 3: 7 Husbands honor you wife. This is very egalitarian but missing is a command to marry or a relationship to marriage and salvation. Besides Peter is addressing husbands already married and he does not say “Husbands honor your wife because salvation is dependent on our marital status”

    Matthew 19: 4-6 We have already seen that Christ says to voluntarily live the life of a eunuch than to divorce for a reason other than infidelity a few verses latter so you are introducing a contradiction with your interpretation.

    Ephesians 5: 31 Husbands love your wives because God has joined you together just like you are joined to Christ. Just like Peter, Paul is addressing husbands already married, he does not command anybody to get married, and he does not link salvation to a marital status.

    When you refer to the “be fruitful and multiply passages” in the Old Testament do you mean to say that salvation only comes to those who are married and have children? What about married couples who cannot have children? No soup for them?

  50. November 19, 2009 4:06 pm

    Gundeck,

    You might be interested in this entry on the subject of marriage, whether Paul was married, and whether Jesus repudiated it as a heavenly matter:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Marriage/As_a_requirement_for_exaltation

  51. shematwater permalink
    November 19, 2009 5:30 pm

    GUNDECK

    All you have done is shown that you see the verse meaning something different than what I say, but give no actual evidence that what you say is any more logical.

    The command to marry was the first command ever given to man, before the Fall. Adma and Eve were married by God while in the Garden. this command was again given to Noah when the Earth began again (so to speak). It being required for salvation is in 1 Cor. 11: 11, as well as in 1 Peter 3: 7. In Corinthians Paul states that the Man can not be without the woman in the Lord. Peter states that the reason men are to honor their wives is because it is together that they become heirs.

    This is all evidence that is a great support of the doctrine. The only problem is that you don’t want it to be. You don’t want there to be any chance of support from the Bible for this doctrine, and so you will simple say that my interpretation is less plausible, with giving any reason for that statement.
    I have given my reasons for my interpretation. I do not deny that yours is just as logical, but it is no more so.
    (And there is no contradiction with my interpretation of Matthew 19, you just want there to be.)

  52. November 19, 2009 5:53 pm

    The FAIR article has serious problems.

    1 Cor. 7:1 is indeed a verse where Paul is quoting what people at the church in Corinth has asked. There’s nothing controversial about that; several modern translations (TNIV, ESV, NRSV) all take it that way. It’s just perfectly beside the point.

    It’s 1 Corinthians 7:8 where Paul clearly states that he is currently unmarried, and the FAIR article completely ignores that verse. Giving Philippians 4:3, Eusebius and the σύζυγε theory precedence over Paul’s own words on the matter in v. 8 strikes me as rather disingenuous. I really hope the author of that Wiki article was just being careless.

    As Gundek and I covered earlier, it wasn’t mandated that Jewish men absolutely had to be married, as the FAIR article claims. We have examples of first century Jewish men who insisted on remaining unmarried in order to be devoted to their religious studies. It was rare but possible.

    I’m open to the possibility that Paul was widowed or divorced at the time he wrote 1 Corinthians 7:8 or that he got married at a later date—in fact, I find the σύζυγε theory rather appealing. I just don’t like seeing people assert that Paul must have been married.

    This isn’t accurate either:

    The Greek gnêsie syzyge, the words translated “true yokefellow,” are feminine and represent a way of referring to a wife.

    σύζυγε could be masculine or feminine, but γνήσιε (“true”) is masculine, which means Paul is almost certainly addressing a male person. It’s the one problem I’ve always had with the σύζυγε=Paul’s wife theory.

    My friend Eric Huntsman from the religion department at BYU talks about this here. He thinks the most likely possibility is that Paul was married prior to conversion, but his wife left him when he became a Christian, which would add interesting context to Paul’s recommendation that the believer allow an unbelieving spouse to depart.

  53. November 20, 2009 1:17 am

    Seth,

    My position is not dependent on 1 Cor 7:1, in fact like Jack mentions most of the translations that I regularly use has “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” inside of quotes. Matt 22:23-33 doesn’t play into my calculation either, the fundamental question has to do with the existence of an afterlife and resurrection.

    I think that Jack answered the rest of the claims better that I would have.

    The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Co 7:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  54. November 20, 2009 1:59 am

    Shematwater,
    I provided a brief objection to why a connection to salvation cannot be connected to marriage in any of the passage you mentioned. If you don’t want to acknowledge these objections, fine, but saying they are not there is not going to make them go away.

    First there is no command to marry before the fall. The command is to “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.” (Gen 1:28) My questions to you are first if being “Being fruitful, and multiplying” is necessary for salvation what about people who are unable to have children? Second why do you assume that this command came prior to marriage? In your own theology you claim that Adam was unable to fulfill this commandment prior to that fall forcing him to “transgress” in order to fulfill the greater good.

    While I object to your view on 1 Corinthians 11:11, Ephesians 5: 311, and Peter 3: 7 for many reasons the easiest to explain is that the people being addressed in each of these passages are already married. You have provided a good many passages on how to live in marriage you have not shown a single example where unmarried people are commanded to marry in order to gain salvation. Pointing to instructions on how to live after you are married misses the mark. I think that we are all agreed that adultery and divorce are sinful.

    Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Ge 1:28). Bellingham WA

  55. November 20, 2009 10:38 pm

    Thanks Jack.

    I’ll pass your concerns along.

  56. shematwater permalink
    November 21, 2009 11:34 pm

    Gundeck

    I have no problem with you having objections, and I think I whould have been addressing some of those comments to stephanie, and she claimed I gave no evidence, when I did. However, even if you want to voice objections, can you deny that what I say is a possible interpretation.

    As to the command, I gave that evidence in more places than just in Genesis. However, speaking of this particular story, I never said the command came before they were married. It really doesn’t matter to me which happened first. The command was given, and there is no record of it ever being taken away. Thus it is still in effect. As the relations required to be fruitful are forbidden outside of marriage, the implied command is to marry. Whether and Adam and Eve were married before the command was given or not does not matter, for their children would not have been married yet, and nor were we.
    As to those unable to have children, God will provide. The command is given to all those able to keep it, and those unable will be given the chance in the Milenium. As long as they desire children, this is all that matters.

    As to other evidence, I explained that I saw the command in Matthew 19. Let us refresh. (4-5) “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”
    This, of course, is in part quoting Adam when he said this same thing in Genesis 2: 24. God created them male and female, and because of this the man is to leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife. Christ has taught the original law, that all men are to be married, as it was ordained from the beginning. I say this outlines a command because the word “shall” does not indicate that this is an option, but that it is expected.

  57. Stephanie permalink
    November 22, 2009 2:59 am

    Shem,

    and I think I whould have been addressing some of those comments to stephanie, and she claimed I gave no evidence, when I did.

    I have to stand by what I said, Shem. Your biblical evidence shows that people do marry, but not that they are commanded to marry. It is very clear that when the Bible mentions two concepts (the command to be fruitful and multiply to Adam and Eve and the encouragement to remain single to the Corinthians) that a cut-and-dried conclusion is not possible. God does not command marriage.

    Regardless of your belief on that matter, the second issue is vastly more important. Teaching that marriage is essential for salvation is completely unfounded. This doctrine is exceptionally damaging to single believers who desire to marry but have not found a mate. Again, I question why the Apostle Paul does not include this key doctrine in his epistle to the Romans? If this doctrine were so clear biblically why has the Catholic Church mandated celibacy for the clergy? They probably took the 1 Cor. 7 passage a little too far. I believe that the New Testament provides freedom to marry and to not marry.

    Matthew 19:4-5 is not a command at all! It is part of the subject of divorce. The pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful for them to put away their wife for “every cause.” They were trying to trap Jesus. In His response, Jesus quoted Geneses 2:24. The key verse in this passage is verse 6.

    Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    .
    It is evident that the context of the passage is not the command to marry but rather the instruction to not divorce. It is obvious that divorce is the subject of this passage because the Pharisees asked a follow-up question in verse 7.

    They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

    When the disciples heard this teaching they were shocked! They had lived under the notion that a man could divorce his wife on any whim. The teaching of Christ was that a married man and woman were bound to one another. Naturally this would have struck fear in their hearts. Marriage was not something to be taken lightly. Receiving this teaching caused them to reconsider the idea of marriage altogether.

    His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry (v. 10)

    If there was ever a time for Jesus to quell this heresy, now was it. But did He? Of course not! He makes no command to marry in this passage. He also makes to command to remain celibate. His response was very similar to the Apostle Paul’s.

    But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (vv. 11-12)

    Note the honor to which Jesus speaks of the unmarried. Not like some disobedient outcasts, but as people who, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, found it necessary to remain single.

    Stephanie

  58. shematwater permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:13 pm

    Stephanie

    Just because you disagree with the interpretation does not mean that it is not possible, or any less logical, and thus is good evidence. Concerning 1 Corinthians 7 I gave a very clear and detailed explanation, as did the article sited by Seth. It is all possible, and not all that unlikely.
    the Catholic church deffinitely takes this chapter too far, but actually goes in support of what Seth’s article said, that it is good to remian single while in the ministry.

    As to Matthew 19, my pointis that in order to teach the true doctrine of Divorce Christ first explained the true Doctrine of Marriage. With your interpretation there is little logic. If marriage is not required, and just an optional thing people can do, why is it to be so binding? The strictness of Divorce only really makes sense if the narriage is required. Thus, in response to the idea of Divorcing on a whim Christ is lecturing the people. Why do you wish divorce when you need to be married? This is what he is saying to them. When they then use Moses in defense of their desires he explains the true doctrine of divorce. Marriage is required, and because of the great importance that it carries with it one cannot terminate this covenant except in the case of it being violted by the other partner (adultery).

    I really don’t care if you have a different way of interpreting these verses. This is a very reasonable, and just as valid interpretation. As such, one can claim with just as much credibility that the command to marry is in the New Testiment, and that the LDS church is perfectly justified in teaching such as a requirement. It is only those who have not real understanding of LDS doctrine that will claim this is damaging to those who are single.
    No one can, nor should they try, to take one doctrine and base their faith on it. It is only by connecting all the doctrine of the church that one can truly learn the greatness of the true Gospel. You have separated this doctrine from the rest of the LDS teachings, and as such it becomes a burden. But taken with the doctrines of mercy and grace, as well as the milenial reign of Christ, as the burden is lifted.

  59. November 23, 2009 6:42 pm

    Shematwater,

    A differing interpretation is not a way to ignore relevant but inconvenient parts of a passage. Interpretations are not a path for adding principals that are missing from a passage. For instance in Matt 19:1-12 you presuppose that the “strictness” of divorce mandates an unmentioned marriage requirement for salvation ignoring that absent from this passage is any reference to salvation, nor is salvation the topic at hand. At the same time you continue to ignore the end of this passage that speaks about a voluntary life of celibacy “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”. Until you can engage with the entirety of the passages you are quoting without either adding content or ignoring the inconvenient sections your interpretation will not be practicable much less reasonable or valid.

  60. Stephanie permalink
    November 23, 2009 11:12 pm

    Shem,

    I do hear your repeated claim that your interpretation of this passage is equally valid. I think what I’m hearing is, “You see it this way. I see it the other way.” You seem to be approaching this in a literature class style and concluding with a judge’s verdict. Let me explain. In literature we might pick apart a piece and each reader would come to a different conclusion. For example, I might interpret the fissure in Edgar Allen Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher as a dark, incestuous relationship between the brother and sister. You might read it and think something just the opposite. On the other hand, your conclusion is one of finality and authority: GOD COMMANDS MARRIAGE. This is not an “interpretation” but an out-and-out law. Rulings are not decided by justices kicking back and reading Poe for the fun of it. It is serious study, intense discussion, and knowledgeable understanding of precedents and law. [Now watch Seth rip into me for my poor understanding of his field. 🙂 ] What you have done is combined these two disciplines and have come out with a completely fallacious “command.” It is very easy to find “commands” in Scripture because they are usually prefaced with “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not.”

    As Gundek already pointed out, the Matthew passage does not end where your interpretation does. It ends with the words of Jesus, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (vv. 11-12)” From your interpretation marriage is required for exhalation. But here Jesus says that some people remain single for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. How can these two concepts co-exist?

    Stephanie

  61. shematwater permalink
    November 24, 2009 4:47 pm

    Gundeck and Stephanie

    And as I pointed out earlier, the verses you speak of concerning the Eunechs are separate from the rest. I am not adding anything.

    Commands are worded “thou shalt.” Fine.
    Matt 19: 5 “For this cause SHALL a man leave father and mother, and SHALL cleave to his wife: and they twain SHALL be one flesh?”
    The command is given. As it is a command from God it pertains to Salvation.

    As to verses 10-12, notice first that this is a different paragraph. Then let us read the passage.
    His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, ALL MEN CANNOT RECEIVE THIS SAYING, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. HE THAT IS ABLE TO RECEIVE IT, LET HIM RECEIVE IT.”
    (emphasis added)
    Christ is not saying that it is okay not to marry. What he is saying is that there are some who are not able to live the high law of marriage which he has just taught, and thus they are not to be taught the doctrine.

    The meassage of the first nine verses is unchanged. However, since God will not tempt men beyond that which they are able (1Corinthians 10: 13) Christ is telling the Apostles not to teach the higher law to those unable to abide in it.

    I have put nothing into the text that is not there.

    As to interpreting this from a liturary point of view, that is exactly what I am doing, as this is a litterary work. This is not a book of Law like Leviticus, or Deuteronomy. It is a narrative of the life of Christ. As such it cannot be read like a book of Law as you seem to want me to do. It must be read as what it is, not as what you want it to be.

  62. November 24, 2009 5:55 pm

    Shematwater,

    There is a difference between the word “shall” and “shalt” isn’t there? I also think that you may want to look at the Greek before making the claim that the presence of the word “shall” helps your case. The “shall”, or “will” in modern translations, is a “Future See” not an imperative of “kataleipo” or “leave”. In order to see this as an imperative an indicator of the imperative tense would need to be present. Basicaly “kataleipo” is the wrong tense to be a command in this passage.

    You cannot separate verses 10-12 because you think this is a new paragraph the subject remains the same. The object has changed, we are no longer concerned with the pharisees but with the reaction of the disciples. No matter who Jesus is addressing he is still expounding on the the original intent of Deut 24:1 and only divorcing because of infidelity.

    While this is not a book of the Law, an argument that only serves to diminish your point, this is a narrative of Jesus’ exposition of the Law (Deut 24:1) and should be read as such.

  63. Stephanie permalink
    November 25, 2009 2:32 am

    Shem,

    You said:
    Christ is not saying that it is okay not to marry. What he is saying is that there are some who are not able to live the high law of marriage which he has just taught, and thus they are not to be taught the doctrine.

    The meassage of the first nine verses is unchanged. However, since God will not tempt men beyond that which they are able (1Corinthians 10: 13) Christ is telling the Apostles not to teach the higher law to those unable to abide in it.

    But when you compare this passage to the 1 Corinthians passage you find that the higher law is not marriage, but remaining unmarried. Paul tells the widows to marry if they are unable to abstain but if they can remain unmarried it is better if they do so. I don’t understand how this makes marriage a “higher law.” In 1 Cor 7:2 Paul tells the believers to marry to “avoid fornication.” And then in verse 9, “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” This hardly sounds like a “higher law” to me.

    Regarding Matthew 19:12 the meaning is clear. I will post several translations so that you can understand its meaning.

    ~For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others have been made eunuchs; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it. (TNIV)

    ~Some people are unable to marry because of birth defects or because of what someone has done to their bodies. Others stay single for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who can accept this teaching should do so. (CEV)

    ~For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (ASV)

    We can discuss what this means “he that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” But the first part of the verse is clear. Some do not marry because of the kingdom of heaven’s sake. Just as there are passages that state that people marry, there are also passages that point to people being unmarried. Does that mean that God commands us to remain unmarried? No, of course not. What is the “it” that we should receive if we can receive it? Is it marriage? Singleness? Or is it the teaching against divorce? From the context of the passage it is clear that the “it” is the celibate life. I find it extremely hard to believe that you would call marriage a “higher law.” Celibacy is widely known for being much, much more demanding and difficult. This is one of the accusations against the Catholic church. People want to marry.

    If the issue was not single versus married but was Caucasian versus African American I think we might have a much different conversation. Imagine that you were teaching that only Caucasians will be exalted. If I said this wasn’t fair you would come back and say that in the resurrection African Americans will have the opportunity to become Caucasian, thus making it possible for them to be exalted. Singleness is not always a voluntary condition. Believe me, the vast majority of people who are single would like to be married. It is no comfort to embrace the LDS teaching that, “its okay, you can get married in the afterlife.” What that essentially means is that I’m not good enough now, in my single state. If this were an issue of race and not marital status I would have to call you out for discrimination. However, since the issue is marriage some people think that it is open season on singles.

    The Bible makes it very clear that some remain single for the Kingdom’s sake. It is outrageous to condemn people for being single when God has pronounced it honorable! There is no NT teaching of marriage being a higher law- -that is LDS teaching!

    As to interpreting this from a liturary point of view, that is exactly what I am doing, as this is a litterary work. This is not a book of Law like Leviticus, or Deuteronomy. It is a narrative of the life of Christ. As such it cannot be read like a book of Law as you seem to want me to do. It must be read as what it is, not as what you want it to be.

    I agree. But when you suggest that it is a “literary” work you must acknowledge that no command can be found here. There is no such command in Scripture anywhere.

    Stephanie

    P.S. I will be leaving for Thanksgiving so may not be able to post again until next week. I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  64. shematwater permalink
    November 25, 2009 5:01 pm

    It is really very interesting how both Gundeck and Stephanie seem to ignore everything that I say.

    First, Shall and Shalt are the same word, carrying the same basic meaning. shall is simply the past or present tense, while Shalt is generally used for future tense. Thus, “thou shalt not” means to not do it any time in the furture. It does not imply past actions, or even current actions, but future actions. “Thou shalt” means that at some future time you are to do the action. Again, it does not take into account the past or the present. This is important, as it shows that once you give yourself over to God he does not consider your past actions.
    However, when it is written “He shall” it is in the present tense (as you cannot command a person to do something in the past) and thus is to be done now. Thus, when Christ says “Shall he leave his Father and Mother and shall cleave unto his wife” he is saying that the man is to act right now. Does it mean he has to get married this second, no. But it does mean that he must be actively searching, actively trying to get married.
    Notice also that it does not say the woman, but the man. Even today it is the men who are pressured more than the woman as it is their responsibility to find a wife.

    Now, to show you how this all works let me give you the dictionary diffinition of the word shall:
    1. plan to, intend to, or expect to: I shall go later.
    2. will have to, is determined to, or definitely will: You shall do it. He shall do it.
    3. (in laws, directives, etc.) must; is or are obliged to: The meetings of the council shall be public.
    4. (used interrogatively in questions, often in invitations): Shall we go?

    Thus, when I read the passage in Matthew 19 I see a command.

    Now, as to the burden, again, it is only a burden if you do not understand the doctrine. Getting married in the Milenium does not mean you were not good enough now, but simply that the time was not right. It is very possible that the one you were supposed to marry was not around. As I said before, as long as a person is honestly desiring marriage, and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, there should be no burden, no feeling of unworthyness. This is all that is required.

    As to Corinthians 7, have you not read anything I said? Have you read the article sited by Seth. I think that Article did a great job of explaining things. There is no contradiction between this and what I say Christ was teaching in Matthew 19.
    Let us go over it again.
    1. We do not know the exact circumstances that are being addressed in 1 Cor. 7, and thus we cannot truly understand why Paul gave this counsel.
    2. Paul tells us that this is his counsel, not God’s. Thus it is not a command from God, nor is it even advocated by God. It is merely allowed by God because of the circumstances (which we don’t know).

    With these two very crucail points we see that there is no problem between the two. From the article Seth sited we see a compelling argument that Paul was counselling people to remain single while they worked in the missionary efforts of the Church. However, since few people even then really made this a life persuit it doesn’t seem that his counsel was meant to be for life, but for the short time they would be in the ministry.

    I think I am done posting here. The evidence is there, but you two are doing such a supperb job of ignoring it that it would be a pity to try mess up such artistic wording with the truth. As I said, for the purpose of this thread I couldn’t care less if you agree with the doctrine, but the claim that it cannot be found in the New Testiment (and especially not in the Bible) is rediculous.

  65. shematwater permalink
    November 25, 2009 5:02 pm

    Sorry for the insults.

  66. November 25, 2009 6:12 pm

    Shematwater,

    I think you misunderstood my post the word Shall is not present in the Greek and is rendered in the English to show that the word rendered “leave” originally “kataleipo” is an indicative not an imperative. in order for this to be a command the verb rendered “leave” must be an imperative. With this said no matter what the modern definition of “shall” is you cannot turn this into a command (imperative) the Greek grammar will not allow for that interpretation. I hope this helps.

  67. shematwater permalink
    November 30, 2009 7:02 pm

    I know I said I was done posting, but I wanted to correct something I said earlier concerning the word “shall.”

    Shall is a more modern word which is conjugated with I, you, or he/she. Thus I shall, you shall, or he/she shall. However, when using the pronoun thou shall is altered to shalt. Thus it is Thou shalt, and not thou shall.

    As to what you say Gundeck, it really doesn’t matter. The wording still makes it a command, but one stated in a voice of reasoning, not in a voice of request. Christ is reasoning with them that since they are to marry why would they want to get a divorce.
    You can use the Greek all you want, but the King James scholars also new Greek, and they felt the best translation of this passage was in the form of a command.

    Now, the real question is, who do I trust in their translation of this verse: You, or about fifty scholars?

    Now, the NIV, which people love to use, uses the word “will” instead of “shall.” However, the word “will” as an auxiliary verb is also used very frequently to show a command, and not a option. As in “he will do this.” Thus, even in this version of the scriptures (as much as I don’t like using it) the command can still be seen.

  68. November 30, 2009 9:02 pm

    Shematwater,

    There I had always thought the different uses of shall and shalt had more to do with the archaic use of shall and shalt but if you say thou is the word that makes the difference.

    By all means don’t trust me. Look it up for yourself. But don’t continue to make the same mistake by quoting the NIV. I hoped you would understand that I was not questioning the translation Matt 19:5 in the AV. I am only saying that you have incorrectly parsed the mood of the verb shall and leave in the AV and that this is without question because of the Greek syntax. This is beyond debate.

    An indicative verb is used for a “statement of fact” or “an actual occurrence” not a directive or a command. You don’t have to take my word for it there are plenty of New Testament Greek lexicons freely available online. Consult as many as you like. They will all say the same thing “καταλειψει” is a future active indicative – third person singular ” for the word “kataleipo”

    You may find it helpful to start with the NET Bible http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Mat&chapter=19&verse=5

    One last thing, nothing I say matters. You have determined what the bible must say to support your doctrine, Greek grammar and syntax not withstanding. I recommend that you personally try looking seriously at the Greek and not just for Matt 19:5.

  69. Stephanie permalink
    November 30, 2009 9:38 pm

    Shem,

    I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. I want to apologize if you felt that I hadn’t been reading your responses carefully and you were finding that you had to repeat yourself. I certainly was reading your answers. I also want to say that I really appreciate being able to dialogue with you. I’m sorry for causing any offense. I really do think that it is possible for us to be able to see one another’s perspective.

    I think Gundek has done a much better job of explaining the word “shall” than I would. I have a hard enough time with English, let alone Greek or Hebrew. 🙂 You said
    You can use the Greek all you want, but the King James scholars also new Greek, and they felt the best translation of this passage was in the form of a command.

    You copied a dictionary earlier for the English definition of the word “shall.”
    1. plan to, intend to, or expect to: I shall go later.
    2. will have to, is determined to, or definitely will: You shall do it. He shall do it.
    3. (in laws, directives, etc.) must; is or are obliged to: The meetings of the council shall be public.
    4. (used interrogatively in questions, often in invitations): Shall we go?

    If the first definition was meant by the King James translators the meaning would be this:
    –Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man plans to leave his father and his mother, and intends to cleave unto his wife: and they intend to be one flesh.
    If the second definition was meant the verse would read this way
    –Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man will definitely leave his father and his mother, and will definitely cleave unto his wife: and they will definitely be one flesh.
    If the third meaning is to be understood the verse will read this way
    –Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man must leave his father and his mother, and must cleave unto his wife: and they must be one flesh.
    The fourth definition doesn’t apply to this verse because it is used in a question format.

    Although none of the definitions that you listed for “shall” are a “command,” the third is the closest to your interpretation. The other two indicate what men do. And it is obvious this is what occurs in the world. People do get married! God’s statement about what people do is not an indication of His command. Especially since Jesus further clarified that celibacy would be practiced by those who could accept this state and would be used to further His Kingdom (Matt 19:12). Certainly He would not command men to be married in the same breath that He would say that some people would remain single.

    You said
    Now, the real question is, who do I trust in their translation of this verse: You, or about fifty scholars?

    Do you mind clarifying which verse you are referring to here? If I’ve gone out on a limb and have completely misinterpreted a passage out of line with the majority of biblical scholars I will reexamine my perspective.

    Stephanie

  70. shematwater permalink
    December 1, 2009 5:53 pm

    GUNDECK

    I really don’t care about the Greek or what earthly scholars say for the simple reason that it does not effect my faith.
    Even in the Greek this can be seen as a command. It would not be a direct command, but a reasoning. What is the purpose of Christ’s saying that men marry in answer to a question on divorce? And why did the Pharisees try to justify themselves afterwards.
    The question was asked, “Can a man divorce his wife for any reason?” What kind of an answer is “Don’t you know that men and women marry because they are of the opposite sex.” Where is the logic? In all truth the idea leaves the mind in a stupor trying to think of the significance.
    However, when the same question is answered with “Don’t you know that from the beginning men and women were commanded to marry. Why destroy that which is required of you?”
    This is the reason I say it means what it does. No, Christ does not give the command to marry, but he reasons that since the command has been given why would a man seek a divorce. It is because of this that the Pharisees saught to justify themselves by appealing to Moses, and why Christ explained the true law governing divorce. It is the only interpretation that connects the verses in reasonable way. Thus, even with the greek meaning you give, I will hold that this verse shows a command to marry.

    As to the Greek, why don’t you explain the Hebrew of the verse in Genesis, from which this verse is quoting. (Genesis 2: 24)

    STEPHANIE

    I honestly cannot remember who it was that seemed to ignore what I said. It was not hurtful, just annoying, as it seemed like picking only parts of what I said so that a contradiction could be seen when there was really one in my words.

    Now, as to the word shall. If you want to be nit-picky about it you could say the same about every command in the Bible. How would it be if we were not to intend to covet, or not to intend to kill.
    It was you who said that commands are given in the Bible as “Thou Shalt” or “Thou Shalt Not.” I simply pointed out that with this idea the command to marry was very plainly given in Matthew 19, which you denied. If you want to change what constitutes a command, that is fine, but apply the same rules to all the commands.

    As to the word indicating a command, the word must would make it a requirement, and thus a command. In the first you left out the third idea of expected, which would indicate that God wants us all to be married (and thus would contradict verses 10-12, as well as 1 Corinthians 7). The second is weak.
    However, even with this, can you say that my interpretation of it being a command (a must-or required) and yours that it is not. This is my only point. I am not really trying to convince you that it is a command, only that it is just as logically seen as a command as not.
    The only reason that I even started arguing this point is because you made the definitive statement that such a command could not be found in the New Testiment. Now, if you were to say that as you read it the command is not there I would most likely have said nothing about. It was the claim that there is no way to see the command in the text that I am arguing against.

    (And the verse I refered to specificly was Matt 19: 5, but I would say the same of any verse in the scriptures. The only people I trust more than the King James scholars are the current prophets, Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit.)

  71. shematwater permalink
    December 1, 2009 6:00 pm

    I will say that many times people misunderstand my intention and purpose on these threads. I think it is assumed that since I am posting here I am trying to convince people that the LDS church is right. This is not true. I am smart enough to know that such is so unlikely as to make it practically impossible through this medium of communication.

    On occasion I do have the intent to correct errors in regards to the church, but that does not mean I am trying to convince anyone that we are right. I means I think you have some misconseptions, or just plain errors, and I want you to have a correct understanding of things.

    Other times, like on this thread, I am simply trying to get people to think a little more creatively and constructively. Whether you agree with what I believe you should be able to see what I see.

    Now, I can do a simple interpretation of scripture, without adding in any LDS theology, or any other theology. I do not do this very often. In general people accuse me and the other LDS of adding meaning to the scriptures that is not really there, but they don’t really like it when I show them how they are adding to the text. (As they say “Reading into the text” instead of “Reading out of the text.”)

    I hope this clarifies my intention, allowing people to more easily discuss with me the veryious ideas on these threads.

  72. Stephanie permalink
    December 1, 2009 10:35 pm

    Hi Shem, 🙂

    You said:
    I really don’t care about the Greek or what earthly scholars say for the simple reason that it does not effect my faith.

    Yikes! I’m not sure this is a very smart way to approach the Scriptures. The New Testament was written in Greek and a proper understanding of that language helps us to better interpret the Scripture. Furthermore, you state here that “earthly scholars” don’t impact your faith; earlier you had stated that the 50 King James translators purposely used the word “shall” to denote a command to Matthew 19:5. Do only some “earthly scholars” impact your view? Gundek has already explained, more than once, that the word “shall” is not in the original Greek. Other LDS scholars are interested in knowing the biblical languages. Joseph Smith undertook the task of translating the Bible. You shouldn’t be afraid of what the Greek says. It is what it is. And “shall” isn’t in the original text.

    To play the devils advocate, however, let’s say that the King James translators used the word “shall” specifically to show that a command was meant by Jesus in Matthew 19:5. If this were the case we should find that the KJV translators were all married. But of the ten who translated the gospels I can only find evidence that three were married. Why wouldn’t they respond to the message of this verse if it were indeed a command?

    I’ve looked in all my commentaries and have found no commentator so far who interprets this verse as a command. These are the commentaries I’ve looked at:
    1. Bible Believer’s Commentary (William MacDonald)
    2. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord & Zuck)
    3. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament
    4. William Burkitt’s Expository Notes
    5. Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
    6. Jamison, Faucett, and Brown Commentary
    7. The People’s New Testament Commentary
    8. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

    Matthew Henry, ever the sermonizer, goes on to comment on verse 11 of the same passage saying that the single person will be,

    [l]ess encumbered with the cares of this life, and having a greater vacancy of thought and time to mind better things. The increase of grace is better than the increase of the family, and fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ is to be preferred before any other fellowship (p. 1710).

    I offer you the challenge to find any non-LDS biblical scholar who supports Matthew 19:5 as a command. I suggest to you that you are profoundly influenced by your LDS presuppositions. It is an unmistakable command in LDS teaching that people should marry. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is also the teaching of the Bible.

    Stephanie

  73. December 2, 2009 12:06 am

    Shematwater,

    First I am sorry for going on so long in this post but when I get digging into a verse this way I end up going overboard.

    What is Christ saying if He is not commanding marriage for salvation? If you remember my comment earlier the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus by asking Him one of the difficult theological questions of their day. Was divorce only allowed for infidelity only (Shammai rabbinical school of thought) or is divorce allowed for any reason a man can think up simply by declaration (Hillel school of thought). This debate predated Jesus by only about 20 years. The Pharisees have carefully laid a trap that they thought would cause Christ to alienate one rabbinical school of thought or the other. Bypassing the trap laid for Him, Christ explains that marriage is a divinely instituted union from our creation and that the resulting relationship between a man and a wife is joined by God. Just as God created man and woman He created marriage.

    By quoting from Gen 2:24 He is not saying, as you suggested, that humans are just male and female so they marry, but Christ is following a typical rabbinical argument style of using an indisputable fact from one section of Scripture to reinforce or drive home his interpretation of the Law (Deut 24:1). In fact Rabbi Eleazar and Philo both used Gen 1:27 to make the same argument after. The more ancient the source of Christ’s argument is also a key to seeing the rabbinic nature of the argument.

    Christ’s point is that marriage is not a human contract, it is a divine union God created for us prior to the fall. No command (imperative) is present or necessary for this argument because, it is a simple statement of fact (indicative) taken from Scripture. This interpretation matches the Hebrew in Gen 2:24 where Hebrew phrase “עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken, “therefore” or “that is why”)”, signifies that this is an etiology or explanation of why marriage exists not a command to marry. It also coincides with the Greek used in the LXX for the same passage.

    In its logical simplicity and knowledge of the Law, Christ is able to leave the Pharisees with little recourse except to point out that Moses allowed for a “writing of divorcement”. By not commanding and giving a simple statement against Hillel or his particular hermeneutic of Deut 24:1 and particularly his understanding of the word “indecent (עֶרְוָה)”, but by showing the divine connection between creation (Gen2:24) and the Law on marriage and divorce (Deut 24:1) Christ has sidestepped the Pharisees trap using their own style of argumentation.

    I should say that I can see where you are coming from, your theology mandates marriage for salvation, you believe that in the millennium the unmarried will be able to marry, so logically references to marriage are connected to salvation and in this case (Matt 19:5) you associate the word “shall” with a command, I imagine because of its relationship with the 10 Words (Ex 20) as translated in the AV. My point is only that the language used in both Matt 19:5 and Gen 2:24 are not imperatives in either the Greek or the Hebrew and to “think a little more creatively and constructively” is to go further than the text allows. I do have to thank you because I have read these verses, commentaries, and lexicons on these verses closer that I ever would have without your input. It has given me a renewed appreciation for marriage.

  74. shematwater permalink
    December 2, 2009 4:28 pm

    GUNDECK

    You really did nothing to contradict what I said. If Christ was using this point to drive home the idea he was teaching he would have said it all at once. He would have said that from the beginning marriage was ordained of God and thus divorce whould only be in this circumstance. However, he does not do this. Taking your interpretation his only response to the question of divorce is that Marriage has been from the beginning. He does not address divorce until the pharisees ask another question.
    There is still no logic in it. Why did not Christ simply say “From the beginning God has ordained married, so don’t divorce except in the case of adultery.” Why did he only say the first half of the thought. Without the rest it makes no sense. It does not drive home any point, but leaves the other person wondering what your point was.
    I think you are taking out verse 7 when you come up with your interpretation. You are claiming that all that Christ said was one thought. This is what I disagree with in the basic level of interpretation. There is a break, thus there are two thoughts. As there are two separate thoughts the meaning you give to the first makes no sense by itself. This is what I am saying.

    STEPHANIE

    I would love to learn Greek and Hebrew and read the Bible in its original language. However, I also understand that we have very few of the actual original documents. Most of what we ahve of the Old Testiment are copies made after Christ, with a small number going back to a few centuries before Christ. With the New Testiment, most of what we have are copies made a few centuries after the Apostles were gone. With this, to base my faith on these documents would be putting my faith in men and not God.
    Now, I do trust some earthly scholars more than others, which is why I trust the King James Scholars more than the rest. However, I trust the prophets more than them, and I trust God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit even more. Thus, when the prophet tells me that the King James Scholars are in error, I will take their word above the KJV. When any member of the Godhead tells me that the prophet is in error I will take their word above the prophet. However, when it comes to other earthly scholars I take none above the King James Scholars, partly because the prophets have stated that their are none that have done a better job of Translating the Bible.

    As to Non-LDS seeing this verse as a command, I really am not surprised that there aren’t any. However, show me a Christian church outside the Seventh Day Adventists that worship on Saturday. Show me a Christian church outside the Jahovah’s Witnesses that believe only 144,000 are going to be in the presence of God. Just because only one sect has the doctrine and shows an interpretation of a verse does not mean it is not a possible translation.
    It really seems that you are still arguing what interpretation is right, which I never was doing (as I explained).

    Stephanie / Gundeck

    Put aside the question of “Which interpretation is right?” and the question “Which interpretation is most likely.” Instead answer the question “Can both Interpretations be seen in the verse when the text is looked at through different perspectives?”

    I am not interested at this time in the answer to the first two question I give, which are the questions you seem to be trying to answer and argue. I am interested in the third. In answer to the third I say “Yes, both interpretations can be seen in the text.”

  75. Stephanie permalink
    December 3, 2009 12:38 am

    Dear Shem,

    I’ve really enjoyed discussing this conversation with you. I have a few responses to your statements.

    However, I also understand that we have very few of the actual original documents. Most of what we ahve of the Old Testiment are copies made after Christ, with a small number going back to a few centuries before Christ.

    The dead sea scrolls date are generally believed to pre-date Christ by about 100 years. There were about 900 scrolls found in the caves in Qumran. All of the Old Testament books (with the exception of Esther) are found in either fragment form or in their entirety. Much work has been done researching and translating these scrolls.

    With the New Testiment, most of what we have are copies made a few centuries after the Apostles were gone. With this, to base my faith on these documents would be putting my faith in men and not God.

    I’m not asking you to base your faith on manuscripts. 🙂 However as a historical document it has remained remarkably pure as a whole. Scholars might differ on translations and interpretations but the message has remained the same. It isn’t as though the first century copies stated that Jesus was a captain of the high seas and cannibal king and that His character evolved in the texts over time until He later became seen as the Son of God and Son of Man. Some New Testament fragments date to the first century CE and are legible. You would trust that the the Odyssey or the Iliad were historical documents- -even though the actual historical manuscripts supporting them are vastly fewer in number than the New Testament. Is it possible that the New Testament is correct in so far as it agrees with your doctrine?

    When any member of the Godhead tells me that the prophet is in error I will take their word above the prophet.

    This is a very interesting statement and has given me much to ponder over. I wonder what kind of scenario you might envision that would cause you to disagree with the current or former prophets. Do you consider there to be error among past prophets of the LDS church?

    However, show me a Christian church outside the Seventh Day Adventists that worship on Saturday.

    Actually there are quite a number: Church of God Seventh Day, Seventh Day Baptists, and Seventh Day Church of Christ, certain groups of Messianic Jews, splinter groups and home churches. Also there are many people who practice observation of the Sabbath on Sunday. They won’t go to the store, won’t eat out, won’t mow their lawn or do laundry etc. This is kind of a combination of OT law and NT Christian practice. I’ve heard their arguments before and don’t find them unfounded. The observation of the Sabbath is widely talked about in Scripture. However I don’t believe the position is supportable from NT evidence. The believers are said to have gathered on the first of the week.

    Show me a Christian church outside the Jahovah’s Witnesses that believe only 144,000 are going to be in the presence of God. Just because only one sect has the doctrine and shows an interpretation of a verse does not mean it is not a possible translation.

    White Supremacists use the Bible. Therefore racism is a possible translation.

    Here is the way I see it. God doesn’t communicate two opposing viewpoints. He is telling us something and one or the other of us isn’t listening. This is much, much more than an “interpretation issue.”

    Stephanie

  76. December 3, 2009 3:07 am

    Shematwater,

    I think that there is a clear distinction in our interpretations of this passage. You find a command to marry and claim that salvation is contingent on obedience to this command. I have been unable to find any reference to this command in any of the commentaries or the writings of the Church Fathers that I have access to. I see marriage as a divine union and an institution that predates the fall. I am able to find this view in numerous commentaries and Church Fathers from Tertullian on. While the details of interpretation may differ, some scholars (such as your own Talmage) see a reference to Herod’s second wife in the Pharisees question, the catholic view of this passage does not see a command.

    I am sorry that I was not clearer in my references but I think you will find that I did address Matt 19:7. Looking at it closer you will note that the Pharisees lamely responded to Christ’s argument that “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement” (AV) as if Moses commanded divorce. Christ responds that it is because of the “hardness of YOUR hearts” that divorce was even allowed. He goes on to define this hardness as “fornication” or sexual immorality. The simplicity of Christ’s argument in verse 5 didn’t require a fuller explanation, the Pharisees well understood his point, and when the Pharisees stumbled in verse 7 by illogically implying that Moses commanded divorce they opened themselves up, allowing Christ to point to and apply the “hardness of heart” directly to them. Christ ties this condemnation back into his original declaration of marriage and creation when he explains, “but from the beginning it was not so”.

    Before you declare an argument illogical you need to remember that Christ is engaging Pharisees these men did not need to have Gen 2:24 explained to them they were more than familiar with the Torah. When they tried again in verse 7 to trap Jesus they expose themselves to a public rebuke as well as a reiteration of the original argument. To be honest I find an unassuming brilliance in the argument, rebuke, argument that Jesus uses in this passage. To put it bluntly it was a smack down.

    Finally when you ask “Can both Interpretations be seen in the verse when the text is looked at through different perspectives?” If a different perspective is to remain faithful to the text then the answer can only be no. The text does not allow it, because the grammar does not allow it. If a different perspective chooses to ignore the grammar and the latch onto the archaic language of the AV then it really doesn’t matter what the text actually says.

  77. shematwater permalink
    December 3, 2009 6:42 pm

    STEPHENIE

    In response:

    I do not claim that the original documents would have such changes as you suggest. However, such simple changes as recorded in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible seem very possible.

    As an example take John 4: 24. From the documents we have it is generally translated something like this “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
    Joseph Smith corrected this to read “For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    Now, while the change in doctrine is profound, the change in wording is not that big. A few words left out, whether purposefully or not, can alter the meaning significantly. With the difficulty that arises in translating one language to another, and the tediousnous of making copies so long ago, can you say there is no possible way that such an error could have occured?

    Now, adding to the fact that we really don’t have the originals, there are many books and epistles referenced in the Bible that we don’t have (and many we do have that are not in the Bible). Is it not possible that such doctrines as Marriage being required (and even Christ’s marriage) could be recorded in these books that we do not have?

    My only point is that to base your faith on the Bible, and the Bible alone is just as foolish as placing your faith in anything that is not God in person.

    As to not believing the Prophets, there are many things they ahve said that I do not believe. In some cases they have astually stated later that they were in error. Even Joseph Smith had to correct his ideas when God revealed the truth. Brigham Young did say at one time that he Believed Adam was a God before he came to this Earth. I do not agree, and I have had no witness from any member of the Godhead that I need to agree, and so I am good.

    GUNDECK

    What you are really saying is that unless someone agrees with you they cannot have a different interpretation. I know you will deny this, but it is the basic meaning.

  78. December 3, 2009 8:41 pm

    Shematwater,

    No, in this case all I am saying is that your particular interpretation is precluded by the language that is used in the text. As I have mentioned there are other interpretations for this passage that do not take into account either the Shammai or Hillel school, instead they think that the reference is to Harrod and his wife, with the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus in the same way that John the Baptist was. I think that this is probably valid because it has both a connection to the historical period and does not change the meaning of the language. Other commentators do not see this as a rabbinical style argument and insist that if it was Jesus would have uses Gen 1:24 because it is an argument that contemporary Jewish scholars used. I have seen one commenter who sees a chiasmus in Christs argument but I’ll have to look closer at that.

    Any interpretation that turns an indicative into an imperative fails to remain true to the language and grammar of the text and is beyond the content of the passage.

  79. December 3, 2009 9:05 pm

    shematwater,

    Keep in mind that only the KJV uses the wording “God is a spirit.”

    All other translations use the more accurate “God is spirit.”

  80. Stephanie permalink
    December 4, 2009 12:28 am

    Hi Shem,

    I noticed that you didn’t specifically respond to this statment that I made. Here is the way I see it. God doesn’t communicate two opposing viewpoints. He is telling us something and one or the other of us isn’t listening. This is much, much more than an “interpretation issue.”

    Why would God command marriage and not command marriage. This makes no sense! You keep defending your right to an interpretation but yet you don’t acknowledge the imposibility of both facts being true. Either he does or he doesn’t command marriage. How is it possible for Jesus to command marriage in one statement and yet honor the choice of singleness several breaths later?

    I don’t mind discussing the issue of God has a body or God is a spirit, but neither relate to your continued assertion that God commands marriage.

    Is it not possible that such doctrines as Marriage being required (and even Christ’s marriage) could be recorded in these books that we do not have?

    Yes I suppose it is possible that the early church had documents that commanded marriage. It is also possible that early church documents declared the great and transcendent truth that brunettes really are smarter than blondes. Speculation is fine but it remains simply that. Can you provide proof that early church documents contradicted the Bible by commanding marriage?

    Even Joseph Smith had to correct his ideas when God revealed the truth. Would you also agree that Joseph Smith was wrong when his teachings on celestial marriage contradicted the biblical command on marriage that the bishop should be the husband of just one wife?

    Stephanie

  81. shematwater permalink
    December 5, 2009 11:07 pm

    GUNDECK

    This example you give is not a different interpretation of Christ’s message, but of the circumstances under which the Pharisees saught to trap him.

    The language does not need to be an imparritive to communicate an imparrative (forgive my spelling). It is the reasoning that is being used that suggests a command.

    Never did I say that Christ is giving a command in this passage. What I said is that by his words one can see that the command had been given and that Christ was using it to explain things to the Pharisees. In this way it does not need to be an imparritive to communicate the idea of a command.

    STEPHANIE
    My mention of God being a spirit and the John reference was simply to show how easily errors could have crept into the Bible, not to bring a discussion on the subject.

    As to the quote I didn’t respond to, I felt no need to. I agree with it, but right now, as I said, I am not concerned with which one of us is wrong, but whether there is a chance for each of us to be right.

    You Said “Why would God command marriage and not command marriage. This makes no sense! You keep defending your right to an interpretation but yet you don’t acknowledge the imposibility of both facts being true. Either he does or he doesn’t command marriage. How is it possible for Jesus to command marriage in one statement and yet honor the choice of singleness several breaths later?”

    What I am saying is that there is a standing command to get married. The command was given to all men to be fruitful and multiply, and has never been taken away. As we are not to engage in such actions outside of marriage the standing command requires us to marry to fulfill it. This is a command to the general populace.
    However, there are some who are prevented from living this command. There are some who, due to defects of birth, cannot engage in a sexual relation. There are others who, due to the actions of men, cannot. These people, due to their circumstances, are excused from this law until their bodied are made whole. Then there are those who remain celibate for the sake of the ministry. This is not to be a permanent thing, but is honorable.
    No where does Christ commend people for remaining single. What he says is that some people are unable to live this law, and thus they are not held to it.
    He is not commanding that we do not marry. He is commanding that we do, but at the same time recognizing that for some the marriage relation is not possible, and thus exuses them. It is like the law of Fasting. All men are commanded to fast, but there are some (such as women who are pregnant, or people with various health issues) that are excused from the command because of their circumstances.

    Now, regarding the possibility of the various doctrines being found in what are now lost scripture, my point is not to speculate at all. I simply wanted to point out that claiming a doctrine false and not taught at the time of the Apostles is not a wise thing, as there are documents we do not have. Unless it is directly sated in the scriptures it should not be assumed, either in the negative or the possitive. In other words, just because you can’t see a command to do it, unless you see a command not to do it, do not assume anything.

    As to Joseph Smith, I do not think he was wrong. The circumstances must be a factor in understand the words of scripture. In the time of the New Testiment Rome was the political power, and with this power they had outlawed Plural Marriage in many areas and discouraged it in the rest. Before they conquored most every group of people practiced Plural Marriage. Thus, when the command is given in the Bible for Bishops to have only one wife, it is a command to obey the civil laws. For those who lived where such was legal this was a command to unify the church.
    However, when Joseph Smith gave his commands it was not illegal civilly, and all members (granted it began with the leaders) could live it. When it became illegal civilly the command was eventually withdrawn. However, it was withdrawn in the United States only at first, until the church spread enough in the rest of the world that to unify the members in practice and faith it was withdrawn through-out the world.

  82. Stephanie permalink
    December 7, 2009 12:05 am

    What I am saying is that there is a standing command to get married.

    Shem, we’ve been over this and over this. You just can’t get this from the Bible alone. You must come to the text with this presupposition. You must come to the text with additional revelation. This additional revelation is found in the Doctrine and Covenants section 132. It is here that we find the information that man cannot become exalted (i.e., become a god) without marriage and sealing. It is pounded by the leadership, “Any young man who carelessly neglects this great commandment to marry, or who does not marry because of a selfish desire to avoid the responsibilities which married life will bring, is taking a course which is displeasing in the sight of God. Exaltation means responsibility. There can be no exaltation without it.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:74). It is the reason many single LDS feel disenfranchised from the church. It’s fine to offer them the encouragement that they can get married in the millennium but that offers no reassurance for the here and now!

    Here is my question. How can you accept certain portions of D&C 132 as relevant for today and yet disavow other portions? Plurality of wives is taught in D&C 132 but the LDS church reversed their position on this. How do we know that they shouldn’t have reversed their position on “exaltation for married couples only?” Dare I suggest that polygamy can land you in jail but doctrinal discrimination towards singles is entirely legal? Is this the reason why only certain parts of D&C 132 apply today?

    Then there are those who remain celibate for the sake of the ministry. This is not to be a permanent thing, but is honorable.

    Where in the text does it mention “This is not to be a permanent thing?” My Bible doesn’t have that.

    No where does Christ commend people for remaining single. What he says is that some people are unable to live this law, and thus they are not held to it.

    What “law?” Matthew 19:11 says, “But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.” What saying is that? Read on to the next verse.

    For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

    .

    Anytime a verse begins with for or therefore you should always look at the previous verse and see what it is there for. The “saying” that Jesus is referring to is in response to the disciples question about whether they too should remain single. He answers that not all men can receive this (singleness) except those to whom it is given. Some are born unable to have children, some have been disabled by man and some make the decision to remain single for the sake of the kingdom. He that is able to receive this message on singleness should receive it. Unless my Bible (a KJV) is missing parts I don’t see anything about this condition of singleness being temporary. I absolutely see this as Jesus’ commendation of the single state. He is placing honor upon people who would choose, for the Kingdom’s sake, to remain single and serve Him better.

    Thus, when the command is given in the Bible for Bishops to have only one wife, it is a command to obey the civil laws.

    But civil laws permit drinking alcohol. Why were the Bishops instructed to be sober? To not be “given to much wine?”

    However, when Joseph Smith gave his commands it was not illegal civilly, and all members (granted it began with the leaders) could live it. When it became illegal civilly the command was eventually withdrawn.

    Polygamy was illegal in Illinois when Joseph Smith was practicing it. Please see the law below quoted from UTLM.

    Sec 121. Bigamy consists in the having of two wives or two husbands at one and the same time, knowing that the former husband or wife is still alive. If any person or persons within this State, being married, or who shall hereafter marry, do at any time marry any person or persons, the former husband or wife being alive, the person so offending shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisoned in the penitentiary, not exceeding two years. It shall not be necessary to prove either of the said marriages by the register or certificate thereof, or other record evidence; but the same may be proved by such evidence as is admissible to prove a marriage in other cases, and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy, and the trial in such case may take place in the county where such cohabitation shall have occurred. (Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, p.198-99)

    I’m not sure why some LDS continue to make the assertion that “it was legal at the time.” That is just not true.

  83. shematwater permalink
    December 7, 2009 3:15 pm

    STEPHANIE

    You do not seem to be trying to understand what I am saying.

    From the Bible alone you can get the idea of Marriage being required. This is shown in the command to Multiply and replenish the Earth, the very first command ever given. Read what I said and see the reasoning behind it.
    In Matthew 19 Christ is quoting part of this law as given to Adam.
    When the Disciples asked if it was better not to marry Christ answered with the simple yes, for there are some who cannot live the law of marriage as I have explained it.
    The difference is that you think verse 11-12 are refering back to verse 10, but I see them as refering back to the discussion with the Pharisees. This is why we get the different interpretations. If he was refering to the apostles question I would agree with what you say, but I think he was refering back to what he had just taught to the pharisees, for that is the subject on which the apostles were questioning.

    Thus, the interpretation is possible using only the Bible. We are commanded to have children, but only in marriage, and thus we must get married. The apostles were asking about it being better to be single (a funny question when you realize that Peter was already married) and Christ was saying, yes, for some it is better, but for the rest it is required they marry.
    I have brought my own belief with me, as have you (anyone who denies this is dishonest with themselves, others, and God), but I have used only the words in the Bible to show that belief, and done so in a very simple and logical manner.

    As to Plural Marriage, you seem to refuse to actually think about things. Your words are geared towards trapping me, and not towards an actual discussion, but I will answer them anyways.

    Plural Marriage is not a requirement for exaltation, and never has been (except in individual cases-not as a standing command). Thus, to not practice it does not damage the chance for salvation of any person. So, when the civil law bans it God can allow the saints to not practice it and have no effect on their eternal salvation.

    As to civil laws, in general just because something is legal civilly does not mean it is good, and the fact that you would argue such is rather sad. We follow the law, meaning we do not do those things which are illegal, such as taking plural wives. However, this does not mean we engage in all things that are legal, such as drinking alcohol. God’s Law is above the laws of men, and we will follow that law without regards to what the laws of men say. However, the law of God is such that it can be altered in certain ways to conform to the laws of men (such as with plural marriage) in order to allow us to live in world as peacable citizens. I garuntee that if it was made manditory that all men drink alcohol we would not obey that law.

    As to the law of Illinois, technically this law was unconstitutional in the first place, and second, when I say it wasn’t illegal, I meant on the Federal level.
    I say the Illinois Law is unconstitutional for this reason: It states that
    “and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy”

    This is in violation of the Federal Constitution which states
    “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”

    Thus, if a second marriage is legal in another state the state of Illinois must give full faith to that marriage, and thus could not legally arrest such for bigamy. (an argument used to frequently to push the idea of Homosexual marriage to the federal level instead of the state level). The law was unconstitutional.

    Besides this, have you ever read the charter fot the city of Nauvoo. Joseph Smith got great power for the city, even making it illegal for any citizen of the city to be arrested by outside authority (including the state) without the concent of the City counsel. This was also a law in Illinois. Thus, Nauvoo was very much it’s own little City State within the state of Illinois.

    As to section 132, we still believe every word said. However, the only requiredment given is to be married under the power of God. There was never a general command to take plural wives, only a permission to do so. Thus, having that permission withdrawn is no change in the doctrine that is taught. (Oh, and we still believe in the Doctrine, as PLural Marriage will be practice again in the future, just so you know.)

    As to people being “disenfranchised,” I think this is more due to their personal habits and mind set than to the doctrine of the church. I know many single people who have no such feelings in this church. It is all a matter of priority and understanding.

  84. December 8, 2009 3:38 am

    Shematwater,

    In your post on 19 November you pointed to Matt 19:4-6 as a command to marry, but you are correct about the different interpretations for Matt 19:1-12, I am simply unable to find a commentator that comports with your reading of this passage.

    Correct me if I am wrong by you see the existence of an implied command not an explicit command, and it just so happens that this implied command went unnoticed for 1800 years. You continue to go back to Gen 1:28 and claiming this as your overarching command for marriage but you ignore the opening of this verse, “And God blessed them…” God shows time and again that he providentially controls who is fruitful and who multiplies. I have asked you before do you condemn the childless couple for their failure to obey along with those whose “personal habits” you disapprove?

    Can you explain why in response to the disciples question in Matt 19:10 “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” (AV) Christ would not answer this question but would go back to talking about material already covered, simply ignoring the question? Can you explain why it would matter if Christ was “refering [sic] back to the discussion with the Pharisees”? This is a false exegetical expedient that honestly solves nothing for you. Of course Christ in Matt 19:11, 12 is responding to the question in Matt 19:10. Of course the question in verse 10 was prompted by the exchange with the Pharisees? And this is your problem Matt 19:11 and 12 directly teach the opposite of what you are claiming, and no interpretive back flip can get you around this.

    Combined with your enlightening explanation of John 4:24, I think that you have perfectly summed up your argument “The language does not need to be an imparritive to communicate an imparrative (forgive my spelling). It is the reasoning that is being used that suggests a command.”

  85. Stephanie permalink
    December 8, 2009 5:05 am

    Hi Shem,

    As to Plural Marriage, you seem to refuse to actually think about things. Your words are geared towards trapping me, and not towards an actual discussion, but I will answer them anyways.

    I’m very sorry that you feel I’m trying to trap you. I’m not trying to trap you at all. I actively think about your comments, research materials to assess whether or not what you are saying makes sense, evaluate what I believe the Bible says, read commentaries, read LDS sources, etc. If it seems that I’m challenging your viewpoint I guess I probably am. I would really like to see you engage in this discussion and actively use your full mind.

    Plural Marriage is not a requirement for exaltation, and never has been (except in individual cases-not as a standing command).

    Brigham Young taught that it was.

    The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.

    Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, p.268 – p.269, Brigham Young, August 19, 1866

    There are reasons that FLDS still practice polygamy today. They aren’t total blockheads. 🙂 They see the commands for polygamy as being more important than the civil laws of this country. Polygamy was illegal when the LDS practiced it in the 19th century but it wasn’t until stiff federal prosecutions were going to shut down the church that the practice became annulled.

    As to civil laws, in general just because something is legal civilly does not mean it is good, and the fact that you would argue such is rather sad.

    I think you must have misunderstood me. I was saying the opposite of this. When you argued that the Bible commands monogamy for church leadership only because polygamy was banned at the time (BTW, do you have research supporting this assertion?) I was pointing out that the Bible also commands sobriety, yet there were no laws commanding sobriety. The commands of the Bible are far superior to civil laws. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for those who spitefully use us. That is certainly not written into the codes of our laws today. You can’t say that the Bible was only reflecting the current laws of the time because that argument isn’t supportable by the data. The reason that the Bible even mentions the bishop being the husband of one wife indicates that plural marriage was being practiced and was not illegal.

    As to the law of Illinois, technically this law was unconstitutional in the first place, and second, when I say it wasn’t illegal, I meant on the Federal level.
    I say the Illinois Law is unconstitutional for this reason: It states that
    “and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy”

    In 1862 the U.S. congress (not just the state of Illinois) passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law. This made polygamy illegal in all the the U.S. territories. This law was ignored by Utah. By 1882 congress amended this law with the Edmunds Act. This meant that Mormons practicing polygamy in Utah were in deeper water. If convicted, they would no longer be considered American citizens, be allowed to vote, serve on a jury etc. In 1890 a critical point was reached in the history of polygamy. Congress ruled that the church could be dissolved in the practice continued. That was the tipping point that “ended” polygamy. [Polygamy didn’t really end at this point because many of the church leadership still have multiple wives. But officially it was no longer church doctrine. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/lds_poly.htm)

    How do any of these facts make polygamy “federally legal?” It was illegal in the state of Illinois (one of the reasons they suffered so much persecution and were forced to move west). It was illegal when they were practicing it in Utah.

    As to people being “disenfranchised,” I think this is more due to their personal habits and mind set than to the doctrine of the church. I know many single people who have no such feelings in this church.

    I’m glad of that. I happen to know that this is a huge issue for single LDS people that I know of- -especially women. The culture of Mormonism seems to be “marry and marry early.” If you don’t do that you are outside of the norm and the doctrine is against you. I can see why people quit going to church. All their friends have done the “correct” thing and they haven’t found themselves a mate yet and, thus, are not as good as those who have. I don’t care how many times people say that it doesn’t matter if you can’t find a spouse in this life because you’ll get one in the next. It just doesn’t cut the mustard for me. Honestly, that is like telling people its okay they aren’t good enough for God now but later they’ll have that opportunity.

  86. December 8, 2009 7:50 am

    Stephanie, counter-cult ministries flourish in the fast-and-loose use of sources. You can never be satisfied with a quote pulled directly from an anti-Mormon source. Here’s the actual quote in full context:

    “We wish to obtain all that father Abraham obtained. I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us…It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, YOU WILL BE POLYGAMISTS AT LEAST IN YOUR FAITH, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: “We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character and office, etc,”—the man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.” (emphasis mine)

    Brigham Young, “Remarks by President Brigham Young, in the Bowery, in G.S.L. City,” (19 August 1866) Journal of Discourses 11:268-269.

    Turns out you don’t actually have to practice polygamy to get into the Celestial Kingdom, according to Young. Simply supporting the principle and not opposing it are sufficient.

    More quotes:

    “I attended the school of the prophets. Brother John Holeman made a long speech upon the subject of Poligamy. He Contended that no person Could have a Celestial glory unless He had a plurality of wives. Speeches were made By L. E. Harrington O Pratt Erastus Snow, D Evans J. F. Smith Lorenzo Young. Presidet Young said there would be men saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God with one wife with Many wives & with No wife at all.”

    Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 6:527; journal entry dated 12 February 1870.

    “Then Presidt Young spoke 58 Minuts. He said a Man may Embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart & not take the Second wife & be justified before the Lord.”

    Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 7:31; journal entry dated 24 September 1871.

  87. December 8, 2009 12:53 pm

    I’m pretty sure it was taught in many other places that polygamy was required for exaltation prior to 1890. That was what one of my history teachers at BYU taught us, and he is a very well-known pro-Mormon historian.

    Polygamy was always illegal, in every time and place that Mormons practiced it. Even Brigham Young admitted that his marriages to his plural wives were not legal, civil marriages:

    . . . Ann Eliza Webb filed for “divorce” from Brigham Young and sued him for alimony in 1877. Young successfully argued that their relationship was “an ecclesiastical affair, not a legal one,” and the judge rightly ruled that since there was never any legal marriage, Webb could not file for divorce nor seek alimony.

    Since Young himself admitted that his own “plural marriages” were not legal marriages, that means that no other Mormon “plural marriage” at any time was a legal marriage either. No legal marriage licenses were ever applied for nor granted, and every single child born of Mormon “plural marriages” was illegitimate – i.e. not born in a legal marriage.

    Whether or not the anti-polygamy laws were unjust so that Mormons were justified in practicing civil disobedience by marrying polygamously is another question, but on the issue of whether or not polygamy was ever legal, there’s no question about it. Polygamy was illegal, always, everywhere that Mormons practiced it.

  88. December 8, 2009 12:54 pm

    Quote from here

  89. December 8, 2009 4:16 pm

    Anyone who has read the early history of the Mormons knows exactly how much honor and respect to give mid-1800s America’s laws and lawmakers.

    Not much.

  90. December 8, 2009 5:45 pm

    Maybe.

    So whose bright idea was it to add “We believe . . . in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” to the Articles of Faith?

    Personally, I’m a huge fan of legislation that was passed in the 1800s. It’s marvelously entertaining.

  91. December 8, 2009 6:51 pm

    Yeah, yeah… I know Jack. “We believe in being subject to kings, dictators, military juntas, and basically anyone with a gun.”

    One of the better articles I’ve read on LDS civil disobedience in late 19th century Utah I’ve read:

    http://www.fairlds.org/Misc/Polygamy_Prophets_and_Prevarication.html

  92. Stephanie permalink
    December 8, 2009 7:03 pm

    Well, here is the way I see it. In the past LDS taught that polygamy was required for exaltation. Now they teach that marriage is required for exaltation. Perhaps in the future singles will be allowed into the celestial kingdom.

    We can always hope! 🙂

  93. December 8, 2009 7:50 pm

    Seth ~ We believe in being subject to kings, dictators, military juntas, and basically anyone with a gun.

    I take it you’re not a big fan of this aspect of your religion?

    And what have you got against people with guns? Ya hippie liberal.

    One of the better articles I’ve read on LDS civil disobedience in late 19th century Utah I’ve read:

    Yup, I have read that one.

    Stephanie ~ Perhaps in the future singles will be allowed into the celestial kingdom.

    And maybe they’ll give me both Zachary Levi and Jason Statham as husbands. *crosses fingers*

  94. shematwater permalink
    December 9, 2009 7:01 pm

    STEPHANIE

    You have just illustrated the problem with the vast majority of people who speak against the church. Seth showed you the truth, giving the same reference you used, but in its entirety. He also gave other references. All of it showed that what you assert is false, and yet you still say that you will not change what you think.

    The records of what the prophets said shows clearly that the actual taking of a second wife is not required, but the embracing of the doctrine. This is proven fact. Yet you, along with 90% of others against the church, will continue to argue that it was required to take a second wife. You refuse to understand what is actual taught, prefering to believe the false ideas that assist you in putting the church in a bad light.

    As to the legal argument, it was still not illegal when it was first practiced by Joseph Smith, but was made illegal in 1862 (and JACK what was the purpose of this law if it was already illegal). At this time I would argue the validity of the Law, whether or not it violated the first amendment right to freedom of religion. However, it really doesn’t matter. It was not illegal federally when it was started, thus any marriage performed before 1862 would have been uneffected by this law, but people were still arrested for them. As such, the civil disobedience is just as justifiable as any other in the History of the nation.

    As you your comment about Civil laws and how there was no civil law commanding sobriety, you are still (however unintentionally) trying to trap me with words. God gives commands, and we must follow them. If God had not withdrawn the permission to live plural marriage I think we would still be living it today. If he commands we follow. However, when he does not command we obey the law of the land. The command, or permission, to allow plural marriage was withdrawn, and thus we obey the laws of the nation. The same thing is true of the apostles time.

    As to being disinfranchised, the people who feel that way are not thinking strait. I am trying to find the quote, but I know that Gordon B. Hinkley stated that woman are under no obligation to find a Husband. They are simply to make themselves attractive to men. It is the men who are under the obligation to seek out a wife. Thus, for women to feel “disenfranchised” is in truth silly. If they are making themselves attractive and desirable to the men but no man is purposing they are justified in not marrying, and it will be the men who will hold the blame. As Seth said earlier, it is the men more than the woman who are pressured into things.

    GUNDECK

    You still do not understand what I am saying. First, I really don’t care what commentators say about anything (unless they are prophets of God). They can be useful at times, but ones faith should not rest in commentators. thus, just because you can’t find any means nothing to me.
    Second, you still do not seem to understand my explanation of Matthew 19:1-12. I will translate.
    The pharisees asked “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason he wishes.”
    Christ replied “Do you not understand that from the beginning God made us so that we would marry? Why do you wish to undo that which God has decreed?
    In response to this the Pharisees say “But Moses commanded that if we wanted to we could give our wife a bill fo divorcement?”
    To which Christ said “Because you lacked the faith to live the full law of marriage, Moses allowed you to do so. However, it was not allowed in the beginning. From the beginning divorce was only permitted in the case of adultery.
    Having thus set the pharisees in their place Christ leaves them. However, the Apostles are a little confused and ask “If you can’t divorce a woman is it better to not marry?
    To which Christ says “Not all people can live the laws of marriage, and for them it is better to remain single. Those, who from birth cannot engage in the marriage relation (meaning sex), and those who cannot due to the acts of men. There are also those who have wilfully destroyed their ability to do so for the sake of their religion. These people, because they cannot engage in such a relation, are not required to.

    (Yes I altered this a little from what I said before. In the book “Mormon Doctrine” this is the explanation that Bruce R. McKonkie gives of verse 12, and I think I like it better than what I said. So there is one commentator.)
    Thus, he is refering back to the discussion with the pharisees to answer the question. “All men cannot receive this saying,” Christ says. What saying? It is what he had just taught the Pharisees, the saying that the Apostles question was concerning. The part about the eunechs is a direct answer to the question of the Apostles, telling them who is allowed to remain single, as they asked. But the reason for this allowance is that they are unable to live the law that he taught to the Pharisees.

    This is the meaning I see in these verse. I am not surprised that the implied command went unnoticed when the Earth had fallen into apostacy, especially considering that for hundreds of years only the priests were allowed to read the scriptures and they taught that all priests remain sinlge.

    Personally, I really don’t think you are going to listen to any of this, but I think it needed to be said.

  95. Stephanie permalink
    December 9, 2009 11:19 pm

    Shem,

    I deleted your duplicate comment. 🙂

    Seth’s clarification of the BY comment simply provides greater insight into LDS marriage. Like it or not, LDS still teach polygamy – although in future tense only. It is absolutely a requirement of exaltation. It would be impossible for one man and one woman to create the number of spirit babies to inhabit a world all alone. Thus, multiple wives are needed. Although I fail to understand how this will jive with Scripture (being “one flesh” with your spouse, for example) this is still the doctrine that is taught. I think if I was a married LDS woman and sealed to an LDS man I would just have to break down and bawl my eyes out. “Sharing” a husband is so contrary to the nature of marriage that it is incomprehensible. Place yourself for a moment in a woman’s shoes. How do you think that would feel? What if it was the opposite and women were going to be married to abundant numbers of gorgeous, youthful Adonises? I think you might feel differently about this doctrine if polyandry ruled the day and not polygamy. Can’t you see how this doctrine is only attractive to men (especially Tiger Woods)? How is this doctrine better for women if the beginning of it is just prolonged a little? Instead of having to practice it in mortality women have the opportunity to enjoy it for all of eternity. I’m not sure how much you have read on the topic of polygamy from a personal perspective, but there are many books on this subject. Escape by Carolyn Jessop, Daughter of the Saints by Dorothy Solomon, Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer, Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith by Newell and Avery, and Illegitimate by Brian Mackert are all books that describe the devastation of this practice.

    Can I ask you to be completely honest with me? Would you still fully support this doctrine if the complete opposite were taught? If women were the ones with multiple spouses and you would just be one of a host of other men in the harem?

    As to the legal argument, it was still not illegal when it was first practiced by Joseph Smith, but was made illegal in 1862

    Polygamy wasillegal in Illinois. But, let’s say for the sake of argument that state laws don’t apply. (I always try to tell the police this when they pull me over for speeding). Let’s say that the first law to ever apply to LDS polygamy was in 1862. Did polygamy stop in 1862? 1863? 1864? No. So, I don’t understand what your argument is. LDS were illegally practicing polygamy, by your own admission, for at least 28 years on paper and much more in practice. You seem to be arguing for “civil disobedience” but then why not be civilly disobedient now?

    If they are making themselves attractive and desirable to the men but no man is purposing they are justified in not marrying, and it will be the men who will hold the blame.

    Shem, I really don’t know how to respond to this comment. It is just impossibly sad. I can’t imagine the pressure of being an unmarried young man in the LDS church with this type of viewpoint. You had earlier agreed that Jesus allowed people to be single for the sake of the Kingdom. The people He was speaking to were men so I would think that applied to them. What if there are single men in your ward that have chosen to remain single for the sake of the Kingdom? Would you judge them or look down on them? Jesus gave them that choice! What if a man wants to be married but God just hasn’t provided that wife for Him yet? What if God never provides a wife? Is the man to blame for not visiting every ward and checking out all the women to see if they were “attractive and desirable” to him? Does he have to settle for second-best because church leaders will judge him for failing in his responsibility?

    The Bible has much to say to young men and none of it is judgmental. I’ve done a search of the entire Bible using Thompson’s Chain references and find no similar injunctions or condemnations commanding men to marry and “holding them responsible” if they don’t.

    Titus 2:6-8 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

    1 John 2:13-14 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

    Ps 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

    Ec 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

    1Ti 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

    Titus 2:6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

  96. December 10, 2009 4:00 am

    My wife say’s she’s OK with it.

  97. December 10, 2009 4:01 am

    Besides Stephanie, do you think you’re going to have your husband “all to yourself” in the Evangelical heaven?

    Not from what I’ve heard about your heaven.

  98. December 10, 2009 4:07 am

    “You seem to be arguing for “civil disobedience” but then why not be civilly disobedient now?”

    Just read the article I linked to Stephanie. There has never, EVER been such an intense and systematic persecution of a religious people in US history as what your government subjected us to in the late 1800s. We were literally facing annihilation if we didn’t back down. This wasn’t just a cheap bid to buy statehood (one of the more disgusting and abhorrent claims I’ve heard from anti-Mormons). We literally had no choice.

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

    As for the books you cite to… I think I could write similar books about monogamy in the 1800s and paint it as every bit as abusive, degrading, and ugly as these books paint polygamy. But I doubt you’d take that as evidence of the inherent ugliness of monogamy.

  99. December 10, 2009 4:07 am

    As to the legal argument, it was still not illegal when it was first practiced by Joseph Smith, but was made illegal in 1862 (and JACK what was the purpose of this law if it was already illegal).
    From the Article I linked to earlier:

    “The 1862 federal Morrill Act was not the first law which made bigamy illegal; it was merely the first law which specifically reinforced existing state anti-bigamy laws. It was enacted specifically to close the ‘loophole’ that the Mormons mistakenly believed they were operating under.”

    I’m no lawyer but I don’t understand your argument that the 1833 Illinois Anti-Bigamy act was unconstitutional. Which states were allowing legal polygamous marriages so that the question of polygamous marriages outside of the state of Illinois would have been an issue? Did a judge ever rule that it was unconstitutional?

    Open question: Do you think that polygamy (meaning both polygyny and polyandry) should be legal in our society today? Why or why not?

    I’m supposed to be on hiatus for finals, so I probably won’t return to this thread until next Friday evening.

  100. December 10, 2009 4:15 am

    Appeals to the wife are lame, Seth.

  101. Stephanie permalink
    December 10, 2009 4:24 am

    I didn’t think you were supposed to be posting, Jack! Bad girl! 😦

    Now go study, already!

  102. December 10, 2009 4:24 am

    Why Jack? Her opinion kind of matters to me. Stephanie tried to use her own opinion to appeal for a position in this debate. So I provided a counter opinion. Seems appropriate to me.

    Stephanie, you wrote:

    “It would be impossible for one man and one woman to create the number of spirit babies to inhabit a world all alone. Thus, multiple wives are needed.”

    An utterly bizarre claim Stephanie. Do you honestly think that producing a spirit child requires a 9 month gestation period with a vaginal delivery?

    And if so, could you point me to the supporting scripture citation?

    Otherwise I call “speculative making-stuff-up alert.”

    And no, I don’t mind my wife having other wonderful men in her life. Because I’ve never felt a need to be 100% a part of every cotton-picking thing she does in life.

    The thing is, I love my wife. So how could I not be OK with someone she truly and Celestially was bonded with. I accept him – as a part of who she is.

  103. Stephanie permalink
    December 10, 2009 4:35 am

    There has never, EVER been such an intense and systematic persecution of a religious people in US history as what your government subjected us to in the late 1800s. We were literally facing annihilation if we didn’t back down. This wasn’t just a cheap bid to buy statehood (one of the more disgusting and abhorrent claims I’ve heard from anti-Mormons). We literally had no choice.

    Hey! I wasn’t even alive back then! Besides, I’m a pacifist.

    Seriously though, I’m sorry for anything my ancestors did to your ancestors.

    As for the books you cite to… I think I could write similar books about monogamy in the 1800s and paint it as every bit as abusive, degrading, and ugly as these books paint polygamy. But I doubt you’d take that as evidence of the inherent ugliness of monogamy.

    Well. Because we live in a monogamous society I’m very familiar with that system. I have read many books on life from the 1800s. And, I agree, monogamous life was no piece of cake. Life was extremely hard then, especially for the pioneers. I really wasn’t directing my comments at you because I feel like you know pretty well the history of polygamy and have your own well-formed opinions. 🙂 I was directing that comment about the books toward Shem because I wasn’t sure how much he had read on the subject from the anti-polygamist perspective.

    Besides Stephanie, do you think you’re going to have your husband “all to yourself” in the Evangelical heaven?

    No. Thats not the way I picture heaven. From my perspective though, the “family unit” will not be existent in heaven in the same way that it is on earth. And so I was trying to express what seemed to me a problem with that viewpoint as it relates to polygamy. Sorry if I did a poor job of it.

  104. Stephanie permalink
    December 10, 2009 4:38 am

    An utterly bizarre claim Stephanie. Do you honestly think that producing a spirit child requires a 9 month gestation period with a vaginal delivery?

    And if so, could you point me to the supporting scripture citation?

    Otherwise I call “speculative making-stuff-up alert.”

    Sorry. Must be having a blonde moment. I thought that was LDS doctrine. I remember other LDS bloggers vehemently arguing for celestial sex so I just figured we were also talking about natural pregnancy. After all, what is the purpose of a glorified body if it doesn’t also have normally functioning reproductive organs? Could you please refresh me on orthodox LDS belief on the prorogation of spirit children and necessity of plural wives for this purpose?

  105. December 10, 2009 4:45 am

    Why is it lame?

    In eleven years of studying Mormonism, I’ve had to hear dozens and dozens of LDS men appealing to the “okay-ness” of their wives for situations where women seem to be at a disadvantage. Polygyny? She’s fine with it. Bra over garments? Not a problem. Being a homemaker-ish-not-priesthood-holding wonder? Doesn’t bother her.

    You know what I’ve never, ever, not once ever heard?

    An LDS woman say, “My husband’s okay with it.”

    You know why that is?

    Because absolutely nothing* in Mormonism disfavors men. Just the fact that the appeals are only happening in one direction is enough to tell me where the problem lies. People can’t appeal to reason so they haplessly point to the LDS women in their lives who have someone figured out how to be “okay” with it all and shrug.

    That’s why “appeal to the wife” is the #1 lamest argument in the Mopologetics arsenal.

    And no, I don’t mind my wife having other wonderful men in her life.

    And from the sound of it, as far as eternity is concerned, you’ll never have to worry about it. Lucky you.

    I’m out, for real, and I’m not falling off the wagon again.

    (*Okay, so maybe the mandatory missions at age 19 disfavor men. But that’s it.)

  106. December 10, 2009 4:45 am

    There isn’t an orthodox position.

    For all we know, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother made us all their spirit children via Vulcan mind-meld.

  107. Stephanie permalink
    December 10, 2009 4:47 am

    For all we know, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother made us all their spirit children via Vulcan mind-meld.

    Thats the answer I was looking for.

    Thanks. 🙂

  108. December 10, 2009 4:55 am

    “And from the sound of it, as far as eternity is concerned, you’ll never have to worry about it. Lucky you.”

    Not as far as “Sethism” is concerned.

    In my world, this multiple spouse thing is going to work both ways.

    The LDS Church just hasn’t come around to my way of thinking yet. But I’m sure they will – eventually.

    I also dispute that men are not disadvantaged in this Church. They aren’t disadvantaged in visible institutional ways. But they are disadvantaged. More on that later.

  109. shematwater permalink
    December 11, 2009 6:39 pm

    STEPHANIE

    First, the taking of a second wife is not required, and I really wish people would get that through there heads. Read the other quotes that Seth gave. Didn’t one mention that there would be men in heaven with two wives, some with one, and some with no wives at all. To claim that it is required is not only rediculous, its stupid.
    the only thing that is required is the embracing of the doctrine. Logic tells us that not all men will have multiple wives. Look at some of the men of history. Following LDS doctrine, David had 400 wives, and they have been give to another (D&C 132: 39). Notice the singularity of the man they were given to. Thus there are going to be some men in heaven with a few hundred wives. For us all to have multiple wives would mean there must be several hundred times the women as there are men. As there has been a basically eevn number of each born on this earth it is not logical to think this is going to be the case. As such some men will not be able to have more than one wife. Thus making it a requirement would be unjust. God cannot be unjust and so it cannot be required.
    See the logic here?

    As to the civil law, I never denied they were illegal later on. What I said is that when they started practicing it they were not illegal. After that they went into civil disobedience. As Seth stated, they were threatened with anialation. I do not think this the only reason, for God would have defended them personally if that was necessary. I do believe it was done inorder to attain statehood, under the inspiration of God, as the United States was a great nation for which God had great plans which would benefit the church.

    As to reproducing in heaven, unless you have been able to study the workings of an immortal Celestial body any statement as to how such works is speculative. All we know is that they do not have blood (as this is a mortal element) but everything else is there.

    Now, when it comes to polyandry, I would say this. God has decreed plural marriage because it is natural (which I firmly believe). He did not simply command it because he wanted too, but that is the natural order. With your hypothetical, the only way God would command woman to take multiple husbands is if it was the natural order, and as such I would embrace it just as much as I now embrace the doctrine of plural marriage.

    JACK

    A law does not have to be challenged to be unconstitutional. It has to be challenged to be changed. The law was against the Constitution not because other states allowed such marriage, but because it did not recognize the possibility. It was a law refusing to give the full faith and credit to other states as required by the federal constitution. No one needed to challenge the law because no one was arrested for violating it, and thus there was no standing.

  110. shematwater permalink
    December 11, 2009 6:53 pm

    JACK

    Also, the law was passed in 1862 to close the loophole that the LDS were correctly operating under. It is the same reason that gay marriage needs be done at the federal level. If done at the state level than it can be forced into other states by way of the Full Faith and Credit act in the constitution.

    And in answer to your question, I do believe that Polygamy should be legal in this country. Because of the way the constitution is written it should be allowed both ways. There are even groups who have recently formed promoting such changes in our laws.

    STEPHANIE

    As to plural marriage in the 1800’s, I find it funny that it was the men who had to be coaxed into the unions, and that in general the woman were perfectly willing and happy to be the second or third wife of a man. It was not uncommon for the leaders to urge men to “do your duty” towards the women.

    As to being disenfranchised, I think the men have it worse of than the women in general comparrison. The wonders you seem to reference are not a power of the priesthood, but a power of faith, and thus any woman is just as capable of performing them as any man. Men have the added responsibility to lead the church. We are the ones who will be held accountable for the well being of the church and how well the members were served who we preside over. People complain that women can’t have the priesthood, but at times I wish I couldn’t, for it just creates more ways for me to make mistakes.

    As to appealing to our wives, or mother or sister, this is not lame. It cannot be lame. If you provide the opion from a woman that polygamy, or not having the priesthood, or whatever is hurtful to women, than it is a woman’s opinion that is going to be the strongest against it. It is a sound tactic of debate.
    There are women, like Stephanie, who can’t see anything good in the doctrine and feel it is harmful to woman. Then there are women, like Seth’s with and my mother, who feel that much good can come from it and except it as a true doctrine, and even embrace the teaching. To show that there are women on both sides of the argument is perfectly justifiable.

    (oh, and my Mother is thankful she can’t have the priesthood, fo the reasons I gave.)

  111. December 11, 2009 8:14 pm

    Shem has a point Stephanie.

    I don’t know where you came up with the interpretation that polygamy is required for exaltation from the full Brigham Young quote I provided.

    He was, after all, pretty clearly stating it was NOT a requirement.

  112. December 11, 2009 9:06 pm

    I’m truly enjoying the back and forth on this thread. Laughing a lot. I especially appreciated “I’m sorry for whatever my ancestors did to your ancestors” and the Vulcan mind-meld joke.

    Open question: Do you think that polygamy (meaning both polygyny and polyandry) should be legal in our society today? Why or why not?

    Yes it should because it’s none of the government’s business who marries whom.

    FTR, I think polygamy is a horrible idea and that Joseph Smith made it up.

  113. December 11, 2009 9:07 pm

    Well, okay, JS didn’t *invent* polygamy, but I think he was probably mistaken when he implemented it.

  114. December 11, 2009 9:32 pm

    I think it’s just silly that our society doesn’t even bat an eye when Kobe Bryant decides to have one night stands with about a dozen women, but when some guy tries to marry three everyone falls to pieces.

    Sure, it should all be legal.

    I also don’t think it’s a very good idea in our present social context. Too much opportunity to mess things up and hurt people.

  115. December 11, 2009 10:20 pm

    I agree Seth, total double standard there. It’s definitely more honorable to try and be a good husband to three wives than a crappy husband to one … or one at a time.

  116. December 11, 2009 10:25 pm

    Yeah, I know, I’m bad at staying off teh Intarweb. I have been doing lots of studying and writing. Honest.

    shematwater ~ A law does not have to be challenged to be unconstitutional.

    Maybe not, but it has to be challenged and overturned by a judge before simpletons like me who consider the law to be something of a black box are going to listen to the arguments of LDS apologists with an agenda to defend polygamy. Otherwise the law is the law and illegal is illegal as far as I’m concerned.

    And I did say that whether or not these were just laws worth obeying was a consideration.

    And in answer to your question, I do believe that Polygamy should be legal in this country.

    I tend to fall into the malum in se camp on this. See this article in Christianity Today.

    As to plural marriage in the 1800’s, I find it funny that it was the men who had to be coaxed into the unions, and that in general the woman were perfectly willing and happy to be the second or third wife of a man.

    Emma Smith, Ann Eliza Young, and Fanny Stenhouse would have disagreed with you.

    Men have the added responsibility to lead the church. We are the ones who will be held accountable for the well being of the church and how well the members were served who we preside over. People complain that women can’t have the priesthood, but at times I wish I couldn’t, for it just creates more ways for me to make mistakes.

    This is a gilded cage argument, shem. That having the priesthood comes with a number of responsibilities and burdens which may act as detriments does not change the fact that it conveys power and prestige which are real benefits. Women may be barred from the former but they’re also barred from the latter. You can use the same reasoning to argue that women shouldn’t want to vote or become doctors, lawyers, college professors, politicians, etc—in fact, those who argue against women’s rights have always been quite fond of gilded cage arguments.

    But I really wasn’t trying to derail the thread into “women and the priesthood” so I’ll drop it there.

    As for appeals to wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and aunts, I do not care how any of them feel about discriminatory policies. I don’t care what your mother thinks, I don’t care what Seth’s wife thinks, I don’t care what Stephanie thinks, and I don’t expect anyone to care what I think. You will never catch me arguing for or against something based solely on how I personally feel about a situation (unless I’m responding to someone who’s arguing likewise. In this case Seth was, so I guess he’s off the hook).

    I care whether or not something is fair. And this polygyny thing misses the mark by a mile. There is absolutely no good reason why a young widow who was sealed in the temple before her husband died should be barred from getting sealed to her second husband and having her children be sealed to him and not the first husband.

    (oh, and my Mother is thankful she can’t have the priesthood, fo the reasons I gave.)

    “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard.” ~ Brave New World

    Final note: there are tons of quotes from LDS leaders teaching that polygamy is necessary for salvation in the 1800s. But it will have to wait for another day for me to post them.

  117. shematwater permalink
    December 15, 2009 6:20 pm

    JACK

    I have read all the quotes you speak of from the church leadership (or at least most of them) and all speak only to the accepting and embracing the doctrine, not to the actual practice of it.

    As to the law, it was illegal, and I will admit it. It was not illegal on the federal level until the 1860’s, but at that time it was. Thus, any plural marriage entered into after that point was illegal. Which is why many in the LDS church have a good laugh talking about the Mormon Outlaws (John Taylor, our third president, being one of them). I find it humorous that a religious belief concerning marriage was enough to rally the Federal Government into open conflict with the LDS church, even driving many into hiding. It was illegal. However, before 1862 it was not, and that is all I ever stated.
    Concerning the law in Illunois I will still argue it was unconstitutional, and if I was arrested under that law I would challenge it. To simply except a law without understanding it or how it relates to the constitution seems very silly to me. I will stay with this argument. However, since not a single arrest for Bigamy was made during the years at Nauvoo, I really don’t see the point in bringing up the law to begin with. You say that we shouldn’t consider the constitutionality of the law because no judge has ruled on it. Why consider the law at all when no man was charged with it?
    As to federally, before 1862 I will hold that it was not illegal. I will than argue that after 1862 the saints engaged in civil disobedience that was just as justifiable as any other such acts in this nations history.

    Now, about appealing to our wives or motehrs, etc. You say this is out of place except when arguing personal feelings. I would agree with you on that. However, I would contend that this entire thread was one set up on personal feelings. The original article speaks to singles being disenfranchised. I contend that this is a state of mind, or a personal opinion. Singles feel disenfranchised because of personal feelings. Thus, to use personal feelings of oneself, or of others they know, to show that singles are not disenfranchised is perfectly logical. This is the idea we were discussing.

    As to being fair, I really don’t think people understand the way the church works. Yes, men hold the priesthood. That does not mean great prestige in and of itself. It means prestige because we are coming out of a society and culture that is based on this concept. Because a man has a title he has prestige. I do not feel all that prestigeous myself. I am glad I have the priesthood, not because it increases my glory, but because it increases the glory of my family. The only real prestigeous thing I have ever felt in the church is being a successful husband and father. Holding the priesthood is just something that assist me in that.
    I do not mean to deny that many women feel the way you discribe, but that they fail to understand the way things truly are. You speak to things being unfair, but I have not seen it as unfair. While you do not like me using the women in my family, I will say that my mother will be the first to dfend the way the church works, and just how fair it really is. We all have our duty, those things which we are called to fulfill. The duty of each is just as great and important as the other. Why would a woman want to do the duty that has been given to a man when she has her own to fulfill?

    A to plural marriage in the 1800’s, I never said all women were happy with it. I said that in general more women supported it than man.

  118. December 15, 2009 8:50 pm

    Shematwater ~ Let me make something very, very clear. I have had 17 different female LDS roommates. Dozens of female LDS friends. Three of my four bridesmaids were LDS. Three LDS sisters-in-law, three LDS nieces, one LDS mother-in-law. I visit the LDS church once a month and I have visiting teachers who were assigned to me at my request.

    If you want to disagree with my assessment of the status of women in Mormonism, okay, but please don’t insult my experience and intelligence by telling me that women who aren’t okay with the system are just bumpkins who don’t understand. They understand perfectly and I find it extremely patronizing that you would claim otherwise.

    The duty of each is just as great and important as the other. Why would a woman want to do the duty that has been given to a man when she has her own to fulfill?

    Why would a man who’s been through medical school want to get a job as a doctor? It’s just as good for him to be a construction worker, since all jobs are equally important. He should be perfectly happy with that.

  119. shematwater permalink
    December 16, 2009 7:26 pm

    JACK

    If they believe it is unfair then they do not fully understand. They understand the words of the doctrine but not the spirit, or the reasons behind it. This is my point. If they do understand it, and are still opposed to it, than they are in opposition to God. It is simple as that.

    What I really meant was simply this: Any person who believes that the doctrine of the church is unfair does not understand it. The doctrine is fair and just. I do not claim that all the women in the church do understand it, nor do I claim that most women I know understand it. But there are those who do understand it, and they will tell you it is not unfair.

    Now, as to your last statement: A man trained in medicine should practice medicine (unless he is also trained in construction work). All jobs are equally important, but all people are equally able to fill them. Men are more able to fill the roles given to them, and women are more able to fill the roles given to them. Thus, for a woman to seek the calling of a man is like a doctor seeking to work in construction. While both are just as important they will do the most good in the profession for which they have the training.

  120. December 16, 2009 8:14 pm

    shematwater ~ If they believe it is unfair then they do not fully understand.

    Which is just another way of saying “anyone who disagrees with me is dumb and just doesn’t get it.” Nice one.

    Thus, for a woman to seek the calling of a man is like a doctor seeking to work in construction.

    Wrong. Let me explain.

    A man who goes through medical school does so presumably because he has a talent for medicine. Medicine is his gift. To force him to work in construction is to deny him the ability to use his innate gift.

    Now change the genders. Pretend it’s a woman who goes through medical school, and at the end of it all she’s told that it’s a “man’s role” to be a doctor, so she needs to settle for working construction. But she has a gift for working with medicine, and to restrict her from working with medicine is to deny her the chance to use her talents.

    The spiritual roles which the LDS church offers women are extremely limited. They’re barred from almost all leadership positions responsible for the spiritual welfare of both adult men and women (Sunday School Presidency, Bishopric, Stake Presidencies, Zone Leaders, Mission Presidents, Seventies, Apostles, etc.). They’re barred from all callings that have to do with managing ward finances. They’re barred from most secretarial and clerical callings. They’re barred from performing almost all ordinances. They’re barred from having any role in church discipline. They’re discouraged from doing missionary work. They’re virtually unable to exercise gifts of prophecy and healing. Most of the roles women are offered have to do with instructing children and other women.

    Any woman who has a talent for doing any of the things I just listed is going to find few (if any) callings in the LDS church to accommodate her talents. She’s like the woman who has gone through medical school and is told she must work construction because being a doctor is “a man’s role.” Yet we know that women have these talents because they fill these roles in other denominations just fine.

    This isn’t about women seeking men’s roles. It’s about women needing adequate outlets for expressing their talents. Men don’t have to worry about this in the LDS church because they have zero restrictions put on their potential callings. No matter what their spiritual gifts and talents are, they can find outlets for it.

    And that is one of the many reasons why the LDS gender system is unfair on women. Callings should be gift-based, not gender-based.

  121. December 16, 2009 9:26 pm

    Slight correction: I will never be Relief Society or Primary president Jack.

  122. December 16, 2009 9:48 pm

    Right, but you can be president over your own gender’s groups, Elder’s Quorum President or whatever the head of high priests is called. I’m not complaining that women can’t be in charge of men’s groups. That seems fair to me.

    I suppose Primary Presidency is about the closest thing to a restriction on men that there is, but you can still have other callings in Primary or Cub Scouts if working with children is your gift.

  123. December 16, 2009 10:23 pm

    I wonder if there is an actual reg restricting women from being Sunday School President…

    I know they can head up the activities committee.

    As for the financial clerk stuff, I think a main reason they wouldn’t put a woman in there is because the financial clerk usually ends up spending a couple hours after-hours in the office each Sunday alone with a member of the bishopric (it’s a safeguard to prevent someone from making off with the tithing and fast donations). They then are both required to take the deposit envelope to the bank deposit drop.

    The LDS Church almost always tends to discourage that kind of prolonged contact alone with a member of the opposite gender.

    This stuff would probably be a concern if you had any other gender mixing at the Bishopric level as well.

  124. December 16, 2009 10:34 pm

    Activities committee. What kind of moron would say “yes” to that job? 😛

    Women can also be Public Affairs Director; in fact, I’m told that calling is usually held by women because it’s one of the few callings that capable women who are good at directing both genders can have.

    I have heard quite a few anecdotal accounts of women being called as Sunday School presidents or counselors only to get word from Salt Lake that it’s supposed to be a priesthood calling. Last time we had a ward directory of about 10 wards in the area, I thumbed through it and checked. None of the SS presidents or counselors were women. I have heard that the Sunday School secretary can be a woman, but that’s it.

    IIRC, ward clerk and executive secretary didn’t officially become priesthood callings until the 1999 CHI. It was rare but it happened sometimes. Ardis Parshall posted a comment somewhere about her aunt in the mid-90s who was a ward clerk.

    I have heard such explanations about the gender dynamics and financial clerks before. It’s very odd to me though because the vast majority of Protestant churches have male pastors with female office staff, working long hours in the church building alone together, and they usually manage to avoid scandal.

  125. December 16, 2009 10:47 pm

    “What kind of moron would say “yes” to that job?”

    I’ve thought the same thing about a lot of the male-only callings in our church.

    “the vast majority of Protestant churches have male pastors with female office staff, working long hours in the church building alone together, and they usually manage to avoid scandal.”

    “Usually” being the key word here.

    Face it Jack, we’re just more “big-brother” than you guys. That’s how we roll.

  126. December 16, 2009 11:10 pm

    That was a joke… remember I was on the activities committee in one of my BYU wards?

    Protestants can actually be fairly uptight about mixing genders, just not when it comes to church office staff, apparently. The single women here on campus who don’t have cars have it rough because so many men don’t want to ride alone in cars with them, and the seminary is overwhelmingly male-dominated, so I wind up offering them rides when I can.

    I think it’s kind of dumb. My husband’s a dancer and I’m in academia, so we resolved as soon as we got engaged that most of his friends were going to be women and most of my friends were going to be men and we weren’t going to let that bother us.

  127. shematwater permalink
    December 17, 2009 5:19 pm

    I think Seth has a good point concerning the plolonged contact between men and women. Why even bother putting the temptation out there.

    Also, as to many of the wonderful roles that women are barred from, I think JACK thinks a little to much from a modern perspective, and not an eternal one.

    The calling I refer to are given by nature. I do not believe it was just the wim of God to make men the presiding authority. I do strongly believe it is a natural order, and one that has been from eternity to eternity. I do not believe that if God could give the Priesthood authority to woman that he wouldn’t. For all simplisity, the nature of men makes them (in general) more able to preside, while the nature for women makes them more able to nurture. Both roles are just as important, and for anyone to want to cross over is rediculous. The reason there are fewer leadership positions for women in the church is simply because there are fewer women born with that capacity. I do believe there are enough calling available in church for women to satisfy the talents of those few.
    However, it is not true that there are enough callings to satisfy the men. I have not had a calling for more than three years. I have felt very frustrated, but that is the way things work.

    Now, I don’t really care how you take all this. This is how I feel. I do not think it makes women any less than men, only different, for which I am continually thankful.

    The power women truly have in the church in considerable. They are only restricted by outward appearances.

  128. December 17, 2009 6:05 pm

    “The power women truly have in the church is considerable.”

    With this limited point, I tend to agree.

  129. December 17, 2009 6:14 pm

    I think we should still be practicing slavery. I think all of the slaves in the 1800s who complained about their lack of freedom were thinking a little too much about things from a modern perspective instead of an eternal perspective. I do not believe it was just on a wim that God made white people the presiding authorities. I do not believe that if God could grant freedom to black people that He wouldn’t. For all simplicity, the nature of the white man makes him (in general) more able to rule, while the nature of the black man makes him more able to serve. Both roles are just as important, and for anyone to want to cross over is ridiculous.

    Now, I don’t really care how you take all this. This is how I feel. I do not think it makes black people any less than white people, only different, for which I am continually thankful.

  130. shematwater permalink
    December 18, 2009 4:43 pm

    I am leaving for the Christmas break, and so I will not be replying again on this thread.

    I will say that the comparison to American Slavery is not accurate. That was instituted by man, not God. The actsof slavery at that time were unjust and evil, and I do not agree with them. As the founding fathers said “All men are created equal.”

    I am speaking of a natural order, one that the prophets have spoken about on many occassions. I do not say what I say simply because I think this, and it is definitely not because I think women to be any less than men. It is because this is the doctrine of the Church. It was set up in the days of Adam and Eve, was confirmed again in the New Testiment, and is followed today. I accept the church, in all doctrine. I have yet to read or learn a doctrine that was unjust, including this. No matter what people say I will always contend this, for it is true, and nothing is going to change this.

    (Now, if you are not a member, I really don’t care if you agree with this not.)

    It has been nice discussing with you.

  131. faithoffathers permalink
    December 18, 2009 5:21 pm

    My wife is the relief society president in our ward (I would not wish this upon any woman or her husband). I sincerely believe that at this point, she has more influence in our ward than any other individual. She honors and respects the priesthood leaders and their role and does not try to do their job. She does not feel diminished because she does not hold the priesthood.

    Men and women are different. Women have a power that transcends all those of men in creating life. Men need the priesthood. What comes naturally for women, and as a result of their role in birthing and nurturing children would be nearly impossible for men to develop without the duties associated with the priesthood. Men do not give themselves blessings, administer their own ordinances, etc. The priesthood is given to them to train them to serve others and become like Christ. Women have a biologic avenue for developing those attributes.

    But from the perspective of our worldly, authority seeking and abusing society, it seems unfair that one gender “gets” the priesthood- that they get to drive the bus. It is sad to me that femininity and womanhood are so discredited and looked down upon by the world- even by us religious folk at times. When it is all over, I believe we will see clearly the exalted role of women and see the wisdom in God’s plan.

    fof

  132. December 18, 2009 7:02 pm

    shematwater ~ Slavery is just as prominent in the Bible as anything that can be interpreted as gender hierarchy, both in the Old and the New Testaments. IMO, the biblical case for God-ordained slavery is much stronger than the biblical case for God-ordained gender hierarchy—and the slave holders of the 1800s thought so, too.

    So, sorry. You don’t get to say one is from God and the other is an evil man-made institution. It’s all or none.

    faithoffathers ~ I don’t believe anything I have said on this thread can be remotely construed as discrediting and looking down on femininity and womanhood. To me, it’s gender caste systems which try to center our existence on bearing children that discredit femininity and womanhood. Women are capable of so much more than that.

    In Luke 11:27-28, a woman in the crowd called out to Jesus. “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” Jesus corrected her, saying: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

    Jesus didn’t center women’s existence and spiritual gifts on childbearing, and I won’t either. I love being a mom and I love my daughter, but that is only one part of my spiritual existence. It isn’t what my discipleship revolves around.

  133. Stephanie permalink
    December 18, 2009 10:00 pm

    In Luke 11:27-28, a woman in the crowd called out to Jesus. “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” Jesus corrected her, saying: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

    Amen! Jack, I just love that verse.

  134. December 19, 2009 7:26 pm

    Glad you like it too, Stephanie.

    I’m gonna make one final (extremely long) comment on this topic, then let it go. Up until this point I haven’t said a word about how I personally feel on the matter. Let’s change that.

    From June 2008 to August 2009, I attended a tiny church plant located in Tacoma. I had found them in the bouts of my depression over my mother’s terminal cancer. They had maybe 30 people there when I first started going and they were meeting in an old yoga studio. They were close-knit and loving and they helped me get through my mother’s illness and death. They were a bit more casual than I would have liked in a church, but the preaching was great and they were understanding of my interfaith marriage situation. They never treated my husband with anything but respect.

    As I began to recover from my mother’s death, I started wanting to be more involved in the church. I let the pastor know everything I could do, that I could read several ancient languages, play guitar, had experience leading worship, loved to teach and loved to sing. He said he would let me know if they had anything for me. The only thing they ever had me do was help out in the nursery. I don’t feel like I’m particularly good with children, but I wanted to do something.

    Gradually, I began to notice the role of women in the church was extremely limited. Women were running the children’s ministry and assisting with (but never leading) worship. The regular speakers and guest speakers were all men. The Sunday school teachers were all men. They were too small to have a women’s ministry, so there weren’t even any women involved in ministering to other women. I almost never even saw women give announcements or prayer in church. No wonder they hadn’t had any room for my talents.

    It became very distracting to me, as I came to feel like every service I was attending was a proud display of male spirituality that ignored female spirituality, rather than a celebration of the community of all believers. It broke my heart. I was too afraid of confrontation to tell the pastor how much it bothered me, and I had come to love these people. I did not want to abandon them just over their treatment of women. Since I was moving across the country in August anyways, I decided to just tough it out until the move gave me a non-confrontational excuse to leave. I knew though that if I didn’t leave Tacoma, I would have to leave that church. It didn’t have what I needed to grow spiritually as a woman.

    I actually believe that the church I was attending had a more restrictive attitude towards women than the LDS church does. At least women in the LDS church get regular opportunities to speak from the pulpit and teach co-ed Sunday school. Still, when I visit my husband’s ward and walk through its halls, I see that the walls are decorated with paintings of scenes from the Bible and the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. Only two of them feature women: Gabriel appearing to Mary and the resurrected Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene. The rest of the paintings are all men. There’s a large display on one of the walls with pictures of each member of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. Haven’t seen pictures of any of the leaders of the women’s auxiliaries. There’s a display of plaques containing the names and pictures of members of the ward currently serving missions. They happen to all be men right now. Yeah yeah, I know: it’s a woman’s primary responsibility to get married and start having children, not serve missions. Funny, I can’t seem to locate the display of plaques for young mothers and their new babies. Mormons don’t celebrate the roles they assign women the way they celebrate the roles they assign men.

    I dropped my daughter off at the home of one of my visiting teachers yesterday so she could play with their kids. I don’t know what my visiting teacher’s husband does, but they have a huge, beautiful home—way nicer than anything I’ve ever lived in, probably nicer than anything I’m ever going to live in. I don’t think she’s very old (early 30s maybe) and they have five children, the youngest of whom was born six weeks ago. As I chatted with her in the kitchen while she made snacks for the kids, I was impressed by how easily she seemed to manage it all. I mentioned that I’m taking a class on the history of Christianity in China next semester and she said, “Yes, I served my mission there. Well, Taiwan.” I’ll admit, that surprised me. She hadn’t struck me as the female-RM type. I honestly admire LDS women like her. I just don’t see why the spiritual super-mom and homemaker has to be the ideal instead of just one valid option among many.

    This is a picture of the senior pastor of my current church. I daresay she looks perfectly feminine. Lovely, even. The staff of my church consists of the senior pastor (who preaches usually two sermons of the month), two men who are basically associate pastors and each preach one weekend every month, a male worship ministry leader (he’s the pastor’s brother), a female children’s ministry director and a female office manager. There’s a leadership team (basically a board of elders) consisting of people from both genders. There are always both men and women serving Communion, and both male and female staff members can baptize and assist with baptisms. And the funny thing is, they don’t make a big deal about it.

    I haven’t caught anyone cross-dressing yet. The men look like men and the women look like women, and the men haven’t quit attending and let the women do everything. There’s been no rebellion against having babies; most of the married couples have kids. We haven’t spun out into theological liberalism or started ordaining homosexuals. None of the concerns I keep hearing from male headship advocates on the evils that will come to pass if women are allowed to have the “men’s roles” have actually happened.

    This isn’t meant as a slam on the title of Jessica’s blog, but I don’t like telling Mormons that I love them. Love is a verb, not an emotion. If I truly love Mormons, they should be able to tell from the way that I treat them. I shouldn’t have to tell them that I love them. I feel like there are too many evangelicals out there (not necessarily Jessica) who have to regularly interject that they do love Mormons because their behavior otherwise is sending a very different message.

    I feel the same way about Mormons claiming that they value women. The reason you have to constantly re-assure women that you do value them is probably because your institutional policies are sending a different message.

    That’s how I feel about it. If you actually read this way-too-long comment, then I thank you for hearing me out, even if you disagree.

    Sorry for the thread-jack, Stephanie, but it seemed like the discussion on singles was done.

  135. faithoffathers permalink
    December 20, 2009 11:02 pm

    Jack,

    Sorry for the loss of your mom. I think those experiences change us forever. I am lucky enough to still have both parents around. Hope I don’t take them for granted.

    Once again, I am afraid I have been clumsy or you have taken offense where none was intended. When I spoke of the influences that diminish the value and role of women, I in no way intended to suggest such a thing of you, Stephanie, or anybody of this thread. It was a generalized statement about “the world” (i.e. Hollywood, politics, cultures, etc. etc.).

    I too did not intend to imply that women’s only gift is birthing or rearing children. My wife has more talents and natural abilities than I ever will- by far. Her talents run circles around mine.

    But I believe there is a very unique type of love that a woman expresses and develops when she selflessly gives her body, sleep, comfort, even her identity to some degree in giving life to a child and watching over that spirit. It comes closer to a truly Christ-like love than anything else. And men do not have that special biologic role and “built-in” way of developing that selflessness and love.

    It is not that women are only good at that one thing (which actually involves a million things). It is that being a good mom is the greatest work done on this earth. Unfortuantely, many of the planets inhabitants simply do not recognize that. In fact, women in our society are bombarded constantly with the subtle and not-so-subtle message that being a mom has little value. Motherhood may be paid token praise once in a while. But the real message for women is that achieving some high-power career or degree is more sophisticated and exalted than simply being a mom. And I would argue that the reason for the church’s reinforcement of the value of women is in response to that constant message from the world.

    In my opinion, the duties of men are similar to those of custodians from an eternal perspective. Creating and developing eternal beings is where it is at!

    Maybe some of our difference on this subject can be accounted for by our differences in how we view the longevity of the family structure? If a family could indeed continue for eternity as a family, would that add anything to the argument that the most priceless and longest lasting work done in this world is the baring and raising of kids? Would it make our position any more understandable?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    fof

  136. December 21, 2009 1:23 am

    faithoffathers ~ I wasn’t offended by anything you said.

    I don’t believe motherhood is the spiritual complement to priesthood for a litany of reasons. Here’s the big one: you say that women have a natural biological avenue for developing spirituality, and men need the priesthood in order to keep up with that. But only 5-6 million men on this planet hold the LDS priesthood, while almost any woman (regardless of religion) can become a mother. I have had some incredibly spiritual male friends, pastors, and professors in my time among non-LDS churches and my current seminary. I don’t believe for a second that I have an advantage over them spiritually because I can have babies and they lack the LDS priesthood.

    My own three year-old daughter is closer to my husband than she is to me, even though I was a full-time SAHP until August of this year. I don’t feel like I have any special connection with her just because we shared a body for nine months. She had a cleft palate and could not breastfeed, so even feeding her as an infant was a shared task between him and me.

    Anyways, I need to give this thread a rest. Take care.

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