My friends are leaving the church, and it makes me sad

I just listened to a podcast of a friend of mine discussing some of her life in the LDS church. Towards the end, she mentioned that she stopped attending church. This on the heels of several other friends of mine cutting ties this year with the church.

And it makes me sad.

Continue reading My friends are leaving the church, and it makes me sad

Did Heavenly Mother introduce Jesus?

When Jesus was baptized, those present heard the following:

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)

A similar event occurred when Jesus appeared to the Nephites:

“Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.” (3 Ne. 11:7)

Typically, we assign the words to Heavenly Father, although in both cases the text doesn’t indicate who the speaker is. We can certainly infer that the speaker is a parent of Jesus, given the use of “my beloved Son”.

Even the most widespread First Vision account doesn’t mention specifically that it was God the Father introducing Jesus:

“When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS–H 1:17)

If the texts are silent on who the actual person was speaking, does that mean we are projecting our own biases onto the story?

What if it wasn’t God the Father who introduced Jesus on these 3 occasions? What if it was God the Mother instead? The texts certainly don’t preclude Heavenly Mother from being the speaker.

If Heavenly Mother did speak at Jesus’s baptism, if she did introduce him to the Nephites, if she did appear to Joseph Smith, how would that change our perception of her and the role she plays in the eternities?

The prohibition on praying to Heavenly Mother doesn’t make sense

I’ve been thinking about the female divine recently, although I can’t remember what prompted these thoughts.

In Mormonism, we often refer to the female divine as “Mother in Heaven” or “Heavenly Mother”. We know little about her, but we know that she is apparently equal to God. Well, except in one important way:

We don’t pray to Heavenly Mother. Continue reading The prohibition on praying to Heavenly Mother doesn’t make sense

Let your light so shine before men

A few weeks ago, I decided to start studying the Gospels for my scripture study, and earlier this week, I started the Sermon on the Mount. Then I came across Matt. 5:16:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This is a scripture I’ve commonly heard, particularly as a youth growing up in the church. I had always given it a superficial treatment. But when I was reading it this week, I gained a few insights I hadn’t considered before.

Take the phrase “so shine”, for example. That phrasing suggests that the way to let our light shine had been previously mentioned. Let’s look at the previous two verses:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

I believe the latter half of the quote indicates the method by which we let our light so shine: on a candlestick. We don’t hide the light we have; we bring it into the open and share it, or—more specifically—we give it away.

And why do we let our light so shine? So others may see our good works and glorify God. I find the connection to our works interesting. When we share our light with others, they will notice our good works. Maybe that means that the way we let our light shine is through our good works. As we do what is right, they will see that light within is.

For some reason, I thought the end of the verse—glorifying God—was something for us to do, but I realized during this reading that this is something done by those who see our good works. In other words, we are encouraged to have works so good that they encourage those who see them to glorify God.

Is it any wonder then why Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others. If we love others to the point that such love permeates our actions, speech, and even our thoughts, maybe it will prompt others to glorify God.

What do you think?

Someone isn’t taking the sacrament; do you judge or support?

I was recently listening to a A Thoughtful Faith podcast episode with Nathaniel Givens. Toward the end, Nathaniel discusses how the sacrament within the LDS church is an open experience, as we share it with one another. He explicitly mentions at one point that he was not encouraging others to watch for others not taking of the sacrament.

That idea of watching for others not taking the sacrament got me thinking.

It’s probably something each of us has seen: someone not taking the sacrament. Perhaps, even, we have been one of those who hadn’t taken it.

When we do notice someone not partaking of the sacrament, even if unintended, what is our first impulse? Do we start wondering to ourselves about what sin it might be that this brother or sister committed? Do we find ourselves judging them?

I wonder if, maybe, we should be mindful to taking another approach. One alternative, if we happen to notice someone not taking the sacrament, is to remind ourselves that perhaps this brother or sister is struggling with something. We should remind ourselves that they’re trying. We should ask ourselves what we can do to offer a hand of support without prying. We should take note of the covenant we’re making at that exact moment to take upon ourselves Jesus’s name and find a way to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

Remember, the energy we devote to judging others is energy taken away from being more like Christ.

Is the Book of Mormon really the keystone of Mormonism?

At the start of the year, one of our Gospel Doctrine lessons touched on the Book of Mormon introduction. Of course, significant discussion revolved around the following quote from the introduction:

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

Specifically, we discussed the idea of what a keystone is. If you haven’t seen a keystone before, here’s what one looks like (it’s at the centre of the arch):

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The usual discourse involves something like removing the keystone will make the entire arch fall. But that’s not quite accurate. After all, if you remove any stone, the arch will likely fall.

What the keystone actually does is turn the arch into a load-bearing structure. Because the keystone and each voussoir (the stones of the arch) are all wedge shaped, they each transfer the thrust of the stone above it until the thrust finally transfers to the vertical supports.

When Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon is the keystone of Mormonism, he wasn’t suggesting that the church would fall apart without it; he was suggesting that the Book of Mormon allows all the components of Mormonism to work together to support and sustain the religion.

Gender neutral bathrooms: a legal requirement, or will your church be exempt?

This is a guest post written by Holly Whitman and is American-centric. Holly is a freelance writer and journalist, originally from the UK but now based in Washington DC. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman and more of her writing on her blog, Only Slightly BiasedTo submit a guest post, email ourthoughts@gmail.com.

For the longest time, the most pressing issue about public restrooms was the mere fact that there often weren’t enough of them. This is especially true at concert and stadium venues, where the lines can stretch several hundred feet. Now, with the emergence of people identifying as transgender, the issue of restroom accommodation is taking on a whole new spin.

Will it become a legal requirement for a public building to require a men’s bathroom, a women’s bathroom and a non-gender-specific bathroom? And what about churches? Will they be required to expand their restroom facilities even if there is little chance of transgender members becoming a part of their community? Could this all be a case of political correctness run amuck? Clearly, there are a lot of factors to sort through when it comes to the bathroom question. Continue reading Gender neutral bathrooms: a legal requirement, or will your church be exempt?