Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It is Not Good For Men AND Women To Be Alone

Larry Barkdull, wrote an article for Meridian Magazine, called Why It Is Not Good For Man To Be Alone. He argues that only men (not women) are under the duty to not remain alone, or single because it his Priesthood duty to obey and fulfill the commandment to be married in the temple. The basis for his argument rests primarily on the passage in the Bible and the Pearl of Great Price that states that “it is not good that the man should be alone.”(Genesis 2:18, see also Moses 3: 18 and Abraham 5:14) The simple and major flaw of his article is that he believes that this scripture applies only to men.

The truth is that that scripture applies to BOTH men and women.

Whenever the word, “man” is used in the in the scriptures, it has always referred to both men and women. President Hinckley explained that the “word man and the word men are used in scripture without also mentioning the words woman and women. I emphasize that these terms are generic, including both sexes. They are so used in the scripture and have been used in other writings through the centuries of time." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 97) Thus, the idea that it is not good for males to be alone also applies to females. It is not good that either gender remain single.

The scriptures support President Hinckley's statement. The Bible is clear that the responsibility to avoid remaining single falls on both men and women’s shoulders because it teaches that we should “let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2). The Lord’s doctrine that men and women are to both be active players in finding a spouse is reinforced with the teaching that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:11-12)

It is clear that forming a bond of marriage requires both a man and a woman and that neither gender have a passive or active role to play in obtaining celestial marriage. Men and women are both needed to create a marriage. It is the responsibility of both genders to actively and aggressively work on creating that marriage since neither men or women can be without the other in the eyes of the Lord. This concept is affirmed by Prophet Howard W. Hunter, who explained that men and women cannot “fill the measure of their creation without the other.” (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 49)

Larry Barkdull cites D&C 132:4, D&C 132:5-6 and D&C 132:19-20 as support for his contention that ONLY men are under the obligation to avoid being single. That is not true. Those scriptures are clearly gender neutral and are applicable to men AND women.

For example, D&C 132:5-6 reads:

"For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God."

Note the use of the word "all." This clearly shows that the Lord had both men and women in mind concerning all who enter into the temple and are under the duty to abide by the Celestial law. The connection between Priesthood as being the power to act in God's name and the Priesthood holder’s duty to get married in the temple is extremely weak. He attempts to establish this link by citing D&C 132: 23:

"Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same."

Once again, Brother Barkdull misses the key word "all" which means that the revelation was given to both genders and that they are both under the obligation to obey the commandment to obtain the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. His interpretation would be correct had the passage said "all men." But it doesn't say that. It just says "all" which clearly is gender neutral and therefore applies to both men and women.

Brother Barkdull is clearly stretching the scriptures so that it fits nicely into his thesis. The problem is that upon closer scrutiny and careful reading of the scriptures, the passages won't comply with his erroneous interpretation. He correctly points out that the Priesthood is the authority, given by God to man, to perform ordinances in his name but then he makes a giant, unsubstantiated, leap into arguing that males are under a Priesthood covenant to be married in the temple. The link he's attempting to make is that the revelation of Celestial Marriage applies only to males and as he states that "once a man learns of the law, he must obey it or face serious consequences. "

What do the scriptures and the Prophets tell us about the Priesthood? What it tells us is that God delegated the power and authority to Man, which in turns, makes it possible for us to receive and perform the ordinances needed for salvation. Had God not delegated the Priesthood to Man, the existence, or possibility, of such saving ordinances would not occur on earth. In other words, had God withheld His power from us, there would be no baptism, sacrament, Priesthood blessings or temple. The saving ordinances wouldn't have come into existence unless God first delegated his authority to Man.

Brother Barkdull's article is a good example of a shoddy exegesis of the scriptures. He attempts to force the scriptures to fit his thesis and commits several major errors which makes his analysis of the scripture stating “it is not good that the man should be alone” extremely flawed.

The simple gospel truth is that BOTH men and women should not be alone.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Mormon Doctrine IS NOT Mormon Doctrine

Many people within the Church and outside the Church think that Bruce R. McConkie's book, Mormon Doctrine, is the official declaration of the LDS Church doctrine. Here are several reasons why Mormon Doctrine is NOT Mormon Doctrine:
  1. Mormon Doctrine was written when Brother McConkie was a member of the First Counsel of the Seventy (1946-1972), not when he was an member of the Quorum of the 12.
  2. The Prophet is the only individual who could put forth official doctrine of the Church (D&C 28:1) which makes Bruce R. McConkie's book in violation of D&C 28:1-3.
  3. Given that the Prophet is the only individual who can set forth the official doctrines of the Church, Bruce R. McConkie's book is in violation of Doctrine and Covenants 19:31 because all other individuals in the Church, except the Prophet, are in no position to declare what the "tenets" of the Church are but are allowed to simply declare "repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea , even the Holy Ghost."
  4. He did not submit it to the Church's Reading Council before publishing it.
  5. The Prophet, David O McKay objected to the fact that the book implied it was the official representation of official Church Doctrine.
  6. Two senior apostles, Mark E. Peterson and Marion G. Romney, at the request of David O. McKay, reviewed Mormon Doctrine and found that the first edition had 1,067 "corrections" that needed to be made.
  7. David O. McKay insisted that the book never be republished not even in corrected form.
  8. David O. McKay insisted that the book not be recognized as an authoritative source of Mormon Doctrine and that Bruce R. McConkie take full responsibility for his book.
  9. The book itself has the presumptuous title of Mormon Doctrine when the book really should have been called "Doctrine according to Bruce R. McConkie."
  10. Despite the fact that David O. McKay declared the book not be republished, Bruce R. McConkie published it anyway six years later when the Prophet was in poor health.
  11. If you look at subsequent editions of Mormon Doctrine, it now has the standard disclaimer that the book does not represent the official position on the doctrines of the LDS Church.
Despite the many reasons why the book is not an official declaration of Church doctrine, it still gets cited and quoted in General Conference and Church talks, lessons and articles. Thus, while the book does not represent the official statement of Church beliefs, such actions of using it in official Church meetings by General Authorities and members gives the book undeserved legitimacy and authority.

It is no wonder that opponents of the LDS Church attack the Church by citing from Mormon Doctrine. We deny the near canonical status of the book, yet, the book sales and use of it in Church tells the critics of the Church otherwise. 

UPDATE: The LDS Church announced that it would stop publishing Mormon Doctrine in May of 2010 and explained that it was due to low sales of the book even though it is still a wildly popular book. As a result of discontinuing the publication of this book, the LDS Church has also removed references to McConkie’s book in the new Gospel Principles manual that was reissued in that year for use in Priesthood and Relief Society classes. Given that much of the Bible Dictionary in our current editions of the LDS scriptures comes directly from Mormon Doctrine, will the LDS Church be coming out with a new edition of the Book of Mormon in which we will get a new Bible Dictionary that is free of material taken from Mormon Doctrine