Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Working woman in the scriptures?

“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor, yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favor is deceitful, an beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates." Proverbs 31:20-31 KJV

This woman is not defined solely by her homemaking, but she is praised for her work outside the home. She is a professional at her craft of making fine linen. She is active and involved in caring for the needy and poor and she is praised equally for her work in these disparate roles.

How many women in the history of the world have not done what they were capable of because they accepted the teaching of men that they were to only focus on their children and husband?

It is still an issue facing women today, one that is a hot button topic in the LDS Church which is where I am trying to make my way as a woman, mother, wife and person. With skills, talents, passion and abilities to do many things that are not limited by my biological capabilities.

I am finding the balance of loving and caring for my children, being united in love and purpose with my husband and using the skills, and talents I've been inspired to develop. And through it all, I feel the Spirit leading me to know what is right and to be successful in each are of my life. I enjoy a fullness that I didn't anticipate and I'm grateful for. I hope that all women in the church can enjoy the fullness that this woman from Proverbs achieved and that church policies will encourage and promote this possibility greater than they have in the past.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

If you could choose

Lay aside your current beliefs. Try to be open-minded. Think critically. Be fair. Try to think like God. If God were a loving God, how would the plan go? If you were God and wanted to make a world that was fair and good and right for all people in it, how would you do it?

1. God would be....
  • Male
  • Female
  • Neither, a spirit
  • Male and female, separate beings but one in equal partnership
  • Nothing, no god
2. The afterlife would be...
  • Nothing, just death
  • Heaven and Hell
  • Levels depending on a person's relative goodness
  • everyone all together, no separation from each other, like in life
  • everyone is "saved" and is happy
3. Marriage and families after death would be...
  • 'til death do you part, not with your spouse and children from the earth
  • forever, with your spouse and children from life if you chose to remain with him/her
  • can be forever if you have a shared affinity with each other
4. Ordinances/ sacraments (baptism, etc) are...
  • optional for salvation
  • required for salvation
  • not necessary for salvation
  • nice ceremonies and have nothing to do with salvation
5. Any ordinances...
  • must be done in this life
  • are not necessary in the life
  • can be done on behalf of a person if they were unable to obtain them in this life
6. God's church on the earth should be led by:
  • paid clergy who pursue church leadership as a career
  • a person or people who decide to start their own religion
  • apostles, prophets called by God
  • people elected from the church body
7. The purpose of life is...
  • a joke
  • meaningless
  • to be good to others and be happy and then we die
  • to worship God
  • to become like God
8. The effects of sin (wrongdoing)...
  • are limited to this life
  • demand justice so therefore cannot be forgiven
  • repentance is possible through one's own efforts
  • repentance requires an intermediary to take away the effects of sin
  • there is no sin
9. The end result of all this is...
  • a world that comes to its end through laws of nature
  • people who have lived on the earth obtain God's knowledge and power
  • people worship God forever as angels
  • people become one with God by their spirits combining
  • nothingness
10. Revelation and miracles...
  • are no longer necessary
  • are only for church leaders
  • are available to anyone who asks in faith
  • are only for God's chosen people
  • are not real
11. The best church to join is....
  • a source of community and a place to share spirituality
  • people's best attempt at recreating the church that Christ set up
  • whichever you feel most comfortable in
  • God's vehicle for communicating his will and organizing his kingdom on the earth
  • there's no such thing

12. Christ was/is...
  • a wise teacher
  • a heretic who claimed to be God
  • a false prophet
  • who he says he is
13. God is...
  • a general sense of goodness, love and beauty that permeates everything
  • angry and vengeful
  • the perfect parent
  • a benign presence in the universe
14. Christ's suffering and death was...
  • a blood sacrifice
  • the result of his delusions
  • vicarious suffering for the effects of our sins so we could be free of them
  • unimportant to the world and to us as individuals
15. People can act in God's name:
  • whenever they feels like it
  • when church leaders give them that authority
  • when God inspires them to act
  • when God confers that authority on them
If you chose:
  • God should be male and female
  • where a person goes in the afterlife depends on a person's relative goodness,
  • families can be together forever
  • God has instituted some essential ordinances for salvation but provides a way for them to be accomplished if they are not obtained in this life
  • God's church on the earth should be led by apostles and prophets
  • the purpose of life is to become like God
  • repentance from sin is possible with an intermediary
  • people who have lived on the earth gain God's knowledge and power (thereby becoming like God)
  • revelation and miracles are available to all those who ask in faith
  • the best church to join is led and directed by God
  • Christ is who he says he is and that his suffering and death was an act performed vicariously for each person on the earth to have the spiritual effects of his/her sins taken away
  • God is the perfect parent and gives people power to act in God's name like a parent who gives their child responsibility and they learn.
Then, you would probably be very interested to know that these doctrines are taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you have questions about the LDS Church answered at or by contacting the local LDS missionaries at LDS church buildings on Sundays.

I found that this set of doctrines and beliefs were unique to the LDS Church (often called Mormon) and was impressed at the fairness and completeness of their teachings. I felt like everyone was covered and if a person (like the many billions who have lived) had not learned and accepted the gospel, and had the correct ordinances performed, that they would not be lost or condemned to hell, not having had the chance to accept or reject it. To me, the LDS teachings are more logical and rational than what I had learned elsewhere; example: if God is our father and is male, don't we have a mother too?

When I was thinking about Christian churches, I felt that the right church for me had to possess certain beliefs that provided a means for salvation for all people. This list of questions is my attempt at summarizing the different views that are present in the world on the variety of topics I listed. It is by no means exhaustive. If you have want to add a topic to the list and have my suggest the various dominant world views on that topic, please suggest it to me in the comments.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Teaching children as the Lord teaches us

"Another scripture which has proved helpful many times is Abraham 4:18. I found this scripture while wondering how I could give instructions to my children and have them obey me. Just asking my 5-year-old and 3-year-old to go tidy up their room wasn’t working. “And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.” I realized that for children that young, I actually had to watch them obey, and encourage them along the way. That was a very helpful insight which led to one of my parenting hints (I keep a list for myself inside the cupboard): “Never make a request unless you are willing to help them follow through.” Sometimes children just cannot obey without a little help from a parent. Happily, this gets better as time goes on. I don’t need to watch my older girls clean up their room, but I do follow up with them, always." Rebecca Hendrickson

A valuable lesson for me as a parent. How much frustration is there when I tell my child to do something, expect to get it done and then ignore the process they go through to either do, or try to do it just to find that it didn't work?

It shows you care and you are supportive and available to grant assistance when it can be useful. It relates to how God when we do all we can do and then he steps in to make up our lack or give us the inspiration and spiritual teaching that we would not have gained if not for divine intervention (2 Nephi 25: 23).

I'm pretty good at it but this lesson helps me not doubt my intuition as a parent. Not only will learning this insight help me remember my duty to supervise and be available for assistance more than I am, it gives me a sense of confidence in what I've been doing--that I'm actually getting something right.

This lesson has also helped me in feeling better about how I've been relating to my mother recently. She has been struggling in learning to care for herself after a stroke that required her to relearn to walk. I have been helping and having me close by knowing that I'm aware of her challenges is accomplishing a task and nearby to provide assistance if needed is very comforting. I'm glad I can provide that comfort because I know how much I value having that assurance coming from the Spirit.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bearing Testimony (Everything can be fit into one testimony meeting)

I know that the Spirit communicates to me and it has taught me many truths of the gospel. I have been able to, in many circumstances from doctrinal questions, to personal conversion to life's trials and decisions, find answers to my prayers and knowledge that I could not get from any other source. Having grown up not knowing that the Spirit could lead me, I have such an appreciation for some of the ambiguity of life to be taken away from me and the existential despair that sometimes accompanied it.
A list of testimonies that I've received through personal revelation in the last 10 years since my conversion:
That God exists. This one was huge for me and I cannot deny the spiritual confirmation I received the first time I sincerely asked with faith.
That peoples' spirits live on after death.
That Christ knows my pain, suffering and sadness.
That Christ has carried me through hardship.
That the Book of Mormon fulfills prophecy of another record testifying of Christ, it teaches true doctrine.
That Joseph Smith was a prophet.
That the First Vision actually happened.
That there is a prophet on the earth today.
That my Father in Heaven hears my prayers.
That God is my Father. When I felt like I was fatherless, he reminded me that I have a perfect Father who will teach me and love me better than any earthly father could.
That I lived with God before I was born. There is something eternal about my spirit and it will continue to exist after my physical body dies. This is the reality of life. Its been obscured by the veil, by tradition and culture but it is the truest thing in the world and it is what this world is founded on.
That my little brother (stillborn at 38 weeks) lives and will be part of our family in the afterlife even though official church doctrine does not say one way or the other.
That people who have died can and do accept vicarious temple work that has been performed for them and I have felt that confirmation for family members personally.
That I will meet my ancestors one day.
That music is a form of communication with the divine.
That dance is another form.
That knowledge and truth can be found in a great diversity of places and God glories in it all.
That there is good to be found in people everywhere and that to a great degree their religion doesn't matter. He loves them and has a plan for them and it is not my duty to interfere with that plan. In my mother's case, it is not right for me to push her in the direction of baptism and its been hinted to me that it will be years before it occurs and that is the way Heavenly Father needs it to be for some reason.
That the church was established by God to carry out his work on the earth.
That one day all pain, suffering, sadness, sickness, poverty and injustice will end.
That Heavenly Father wanted me to marry my husband. He even told me the time and the place through the Spirit.
That Heavenly Father revealed to me when we were supposed to try to conceive our first child.
That years before I even knew I wanted to go to graduate school (and before I was baptized), I had a strong spiritual impression that I would go to school in Hawaii and when I was accepted into grad school there, I had it confirmed again. And then again and again throughout my program that I was supposed to be doing it even though it was the exception to the rule of Mormon culture.
That Heavenly Father intends me to be an exception to the rule when it comes to women's roles in the Church. I am supposed to continue my education, supposed to be involved in professional pursuits and that at some point, when it is revealed to me that the time is right, I will be expected to work outside the home.
That Heavenly Father is concerned about women's roles and duties in the church and that he supports and sustains the efforts of individual members to seek change in current policies and practices.
That I have the capability to become a creator of worlds like Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. (Therefore I know the Heavenly Mother is real too).
That someday all that is unclear, confusing, ambiguous, not revealed, lost or hidden will be made available to the understanding of Heavenly Father's spirits. There will be great learning that goes on in the afterlife.
That it doesn't matter so much who you are sealed to as long as you are sealed. And it doesn't so much matter if that sealing can't happen in this life because it can be worked out in the next.
That all will fall into place. All be will clear and known. There are going to be visions of history as it really was and the full weight of accountability will rest upon the shoulders of those who have hurt, damaged or dammed our progress.
That our bodies and minds will be made whole, complete and healthy after we die.
That we are given great treasures of knowledge on this earth to assist us in being healthy.
That science can teach and inspire us and when science is silent, God can reveal where to turn next. Science and the spirit work together in ways that are wonderful and only barely understood.
That God can tell a person what will happen in their future when asked what the outcome will be of a certain decision and in doing so can either confirm the rightness of that decision or lead you to the right decision.
That God can be near when He is needed.
That God will give space for people to learn and grow and decide for themselves and he will sometimes remain silent to "see what little squirt can do." As we become more spiritually mature, he expects us be more independent and take the initiative to figure things out for ourselves using the correct principles we've learned to guide us.
That he expects us to treat our bodies according to how our biology is designed, with few exceptions.
That God wants us to be empathetic, understanding, respectful and loving to all people and to help them according to their wants and needs in ways that will actually help them and in order to determine what that is, he expects us to be sensitive to the Spirit in being led to figure out what those wants and needs are.
That he wants us to find the balance between relying on ourselves, on external forces, influences, people and on him to be functioning, capable and competent souls.
That there is an oppositional force in this world that fights against all that is good and right and true and for whatever reason that force is necessary and the lessons we learn in thwarting that evil influence makes us stronger.
That the world is in a fallen state, separate from God and therefore not free from natural, random, chaotic failures in nature's processes. It is not God's will but natural laws that he is also subject to.

I know that's alot and some of it may appear cookie cutter, but please believe me that what I have learned have come through sacred spiritual experiences. It goes beyond "I know because I've been taught" but to "I know because I've felt in my body and spirit that its true" and "Because Heavenly Father clearly told me though the Spirit that it is true." I love the gospel. I love its richness, depth, universality. I love that we are not overwhelmed at one time with all the information/truth/knowledge about this world and I accept that the world has not been given as much information as some are ready and are yearning for. I am trying to patient to have my further questions answered knowing that in some cases the world and perhaps many in the church are not ready to know the truth. I have tremendous respect for our Father in Heaven who knows what we as individual and we as a collective spiritual family need and how he weighs that all out is amazing. I know I can trust him and that someday everything will be made right, and until then he wants us, in the ways we are able, work to make everything right for ourselves, our families and for others.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Monogamy as the Rule

From the Cassler article on Polygamy from Square Two:

" In verse 27 Jacob expounds the law of marriage--the rule or unrestricted form of marriage, if you will: “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none” (Jacob 2:27). The general law (or rule or unrestricted form) of the eternal principle of marriage is monogamy. That monogamy is the law or rule of the principle of marriage is found several places throughout the scriptures. To take but one example, the Lord says in Doctrine and Covenants 49:16 “Wherefore, it is lawful that he [man] should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation.” In the beginning, when the earth was empty and sorely needed replenishing, God gave Adam but one wife, Eve, that the pattern of his law of marriage might be set from the dawn of time in the very first human marriage on earth (see also Moses 5:3). [5] Joseph Smith said, “ I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.” [6] Bruce R. McConkie concurs: “According to the Lord’s law of marriage, it is lawful that a man have only one wife at a time, unless by revelation the Lord commands plurality of wives in the new and everlasting covenant.” [7] Of course, taking a plurality of wives outside of the new and everlasting covenant, outside of being commanded to do so by the Lord, is always a grievous sin. [8] "

From this I now see that my understanding of marriage in the eternities have been in slight error. In my envisioning of our Heavenly Parents' relationship, I thought it was highly likely that our Father God has more than one female consort and that the general rule of marriage was that Gods and people who have attained higher levels of spiritual development practiced polygamy in most cases.

Yet now I see that this not have to be the case and that perhaps, in general, most of the time, maybe almost all the time, that marriage partners will be monogamous in this life and in the eternities. I know that this would be a comforting thought to my husband who, in his endearing way, only want to love me for the rest of eternity and is bothered at the thought of having his time and involvement limited with me by sharing himself with other women. I have never faulted him for that and hope that this concept that I'm learning about will give him the assurance that, unless there is some special exception, that will not be asked of us.

My picture of the eternities is changed now. The possibility that Father in Heaven has one marriage partner, Mother in Heaven seems more likely to me, though I know that too could be incorrect, given some special circumstance he encountered before becoming creator of this world.

Many questions remain...

Lesson Learned

My children are not my own.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that he was a parent before you were parents and that he has not relinquished his parental rights or interest in these little ones."

"Though in mortality we may bear children with our bodies, and tend their bodies and spirits, the reality is that they are not our eternal increase--they are the Lord’s eternal increase." (Cassler-Square 2 article)

Duly noted.

And yet, through the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, I receive the promise of having "eternal increase" i.e "a continuation of the seeds forever and ever." (D&C 132:19) which is the promise that through becoming gods (vs 20), our children then become our own, not on loan to us through our Heavenly Parents but our own spiritual creation.

How sobering to learn that the children that have come forth from my body are more like my siblings--that's where that feeling as been coming from! Its not just because I'm an only child and never before had known what it was like for a young child to persistently need to interact and be near me. It will not be until I am a perfect being, a god, that my children will really be my own and it won't be the children who were born to me in this place. My Willem, my Belle will take their place next to me as equals as creators of their own worlds.

I may not really ever feel like my spiritually begotten children are entirely my own because like our heavenly parents have done with us and our earthly children, we would then give custody over to other parents who in reality are also our children.

Circle within circles. No human is ever really belonging to another person. Slavery, then cannot rightfully exist.

How then, if I reflect, do I feel like I really belong to my heavenly parents? Am I really theirs? Do they feel that I am really theirs since according to the pattern, they have granted my earthly parents the opportunity to tend to my development?

Does that lead me to feel that in a way, I am more equal and capable because I'm not eternally being viewed as a child, belonging to someone else? The mores of human and spiritual connection our there anchoring me to comfort and familiarity, but I stand independently as a spiritual entity, created and nurtured and buoyed up on many sides of existence as a spirit. Like my earthly children become equals to me, I become equal with God . They become equal with God.

We are all equals.