Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chapter Seven: Righteous and Unrighteous Dominion

Chapter Seven

Righteous and Unrighteous Dominion

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (D&C 121:39).

According to scripture, there are basically two approaches to leading or presiding. One is evil and detrimental to the organization, the other is good and beneficial. There are shepherds and there are sheepherders. Hugh Nibley contrasted leadership with management in a classic treatise many years ago. (See “Leaders and Managers,” commencement address delivered August 19, 1983, republished in Classic Speeches, Volume 1, 1994, by Brigham Young University). We can call it “style,” or we can call it “philosophy,” but there are really only two ways to go. Nibley observes:

Leaders are movers and shakers, original, inventive, unpredictable, imaginative, full of surprises that discomfit the enemy in war and the main office in peace. For managers are safe, conservative, predictable, conforming organization men and team players, dedicated to the establishment.
The leader, for example, has a passion for equality. We think of great generals from David and Alexander on down, sharing their beans or maza with their men, calling them by their first names, marching along with them in the heat, sleeping on the ground, and first over the wall. A famous ode by a long-suffering Greek soldier, Archilochus, reminds us that the men in the ranks are not fooled for an instant by the executive type who thinks he is a leader.
For the manger, on the other hand, the idea of equality is repugnant and indeed counterproductive. Where promotion, perks, privilege, and power are the name of the game, awe and reverence for rank is everything, the inspiration and motivation of all good men. Where would management be without the inflexible paper processing, dress standards, attention to proper social, political, and religious affiliation, vigilant watch over habits and attitudes, and so forth, that gratify the stockholders and satisfy security?
“If you love me,” said the Greatest of all leaders, “you will keep my commandments.”  “If you know what is good for me,” says the manager, “you will keep my commandments, and not make waves. . .”
Managers do not promote individuals whose competence might threaten their own position; and so as the power of management spreads ever wider, the quality deteriorates, if that is possible. In short, while management shuns equality, it feeds on mediocrity.
On the other hand, leadership is an escape from mediocrity. All the great deposits of art, science, and literature from the past on which all civilization in nourished come to us from a mere handful of leaders. For the qualities of leadership are the same in all fields, the leader being simply the one who sets the highest example; and to do that and open the way to greater light and knowledge, the leader must break the mold. . .
True leaders are inspiring because they are inspired, caught up in a higher purpose, devoid of personal ambition, idealistic, and incorruptible.
. . . So vast is the discrepancy between management and leadership that only a blind man would get them backwards. Yet that is what we do. . . I am told of a meeting of very big businessmen in a distant place, who happened also to be the heads of stakes, where they addressed the problem of “how to stay awake in the temple.” For them what is done in the house of the Lord is mere quota-filling until they can get back to the real work of the world. (Ibid., italics in original).

Nibley continues, by precisely drawing the distinction between the things of this world we seem to value so highly with the things money cannot buy:

But what exactly are the things of the world? An easy and infallible test has been given us in the well-known maxim, “You can have anything in this world for money.” If a thing is of this world, you can have it for money; if you cannot have it for money, it does not belong to this world. That is what makes the whole thing manageable -- money is pure number; by converting all values to numbers, everything can be fed into the computer and handled with ease and efficiency. “How much?” becomes the only question we need to ask. The manager “knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing” (Oscar Wilde, Lady Windemere’s Fan, act 3), because for him the value is the price. (Ibid., italics in original).

The Apostle Paul said those in authority over their peers must “Feed the flock of God which among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; [thus respecting the moral agency of their brothers and sisters] not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; [with pure and unselfish motives] neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

The Savior said:

Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-44).

To the Nephites he said:

Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants. (3 Nephi 12:1).

These are incredibly insightful teachings. To feed the flock is to lovingly teach the principles of salvation from the word of God, to spiritually nurture and succor the downtrodden ones, to lift the hands that hang down and to inspire and motivate by the power of the spirit through gentle persuasion and long-suffering. To take the oversight thereof does not mean to despotically lord over, but rather to lovingly watch over and to serve.

In Babylon the people serve the king. In Zion the king serves the people.

Righteous Leadership

Righteous dominion should characterize the ministry of every called, ordained, anointed or set apart leader in the Church. These leaders are not stepping above their peers from their place of equality among their peers to a superior station as supposed by many. Instead, they are temporarily stepping down, humbling themselves to the point of voluntarily becoming the least and the servant of all those they are called to serve. They are not called to lord over, but rather to watch after. They are not appointed as an Orwellian “Big Brother,” a witch hunter or a hired sheepherder, but as a loving shepherd who cares deeply enough to give his life in time, energy and talent to serve and feed his sheep.

A righteous leader will never constrain, coerce or manipulate those for whom he has stewardship, but will always work and sacrifice to serve and bless, to persuade and guide, to feed and protect with kindness and love, those for whom he has oversight. Watching out for their welfare will be his mission. Contrast the stake high councilor who stands at the pulpit, angrily shaking his fist at the collective body of the priesthood in the stake with a rock solid 70% home teaching effort and shouts, “Those of you who don’t do your home teaching will never inherit the celestial kingdom!” with the humble bishop who is constantly setting an example by ministering quietly with his counselors among his people in their homes as the spirit directs him.

Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an equal with a right based upon the principles of righteousness to have full fellowship with the saints. However, in God’s house some must be called to preside.

Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head. . . (Ephesians 5:22-23).

Those set at the head in the Church to watch over the saints are called to be the least and the greatest servants of all. Paul draws the connection in the marriage relationship:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25).

President Marion G. Romney explains:

With the Lord, the man is not without the woman, nor is the woman without the man. Husbands and wives should never forget these basic truths. They should remember their relationship and the purpose of it
They should be one in harmony, respect, and mutual consideration. Neither should plan or follow an independent course of action. They should consult, pray, and decide together.
In the management of their homes and families, husbands and wives should counsel with each other in kindness, love, patience, and understanding. . .
Remember that neither the wife nor the husband is the slave of the other. Husbands and wives are equal partners, particularly Latter-day Saint husbands and wives. They should so consider themselves and so treat each other in this life, that they will do so throughout eternity. . .
The woman is not inferior to the man. It is true, of course, that the man holds the priesthood and in the righteous exercise thereof presides in the home. This he is to do, however, in the spirit with which Christ presides over his church. (“In the Image of God,” Ensign, March 1978, 2, 4).

The true doctrine of presiding is a principle of humility, a principle of service. All are commanded to love their neighbor as themselves. When one is called to preside in the Church, however, it is a call to serve and to put the interests of the flock ahead of his own. He is expected to emulate the shepherding skills of the Good Shepherd. These are nothing more than parenting and marriage partner principles at work outside the home in the Church setting.

In Babylon the children serve the parents. In Zion the parents serve the children.

In Babylon the mother works in the home so the father can succeed in the world. In Zion the father works in the world so the mother can succeed in the home. He will put her needs ahead of his own. They will put their children’s needs ahead of their own. Such is the presiding principle.

Presiding In The Home

In this true presiding principle what woman is going to envy the man being called to preside in her home? If a woman resents the husband being called to be the least and the servant of all in the home, it is for one of three reasons: 1) The true principle of presiding is misunderstood; 2) the true principle of presiding is not properly practiced; or 3) the woman is an aspiring spirit.

If this principle is not understood, it must be perceived this call to preside somehow makes the husband superior to the wife. We have seen this is not correct. They are equals. The man and the woman are full partners. He is in no way superior to her. His call to preside is merely a function of position.

We have had some sad experiences in our service in the Church as we have witnessed heavy-handed husbands who constantly keep their wives in an inferior subservient position. One extreme example was a handsome young fellow who demanded that his wife walk behind him whenever they were out in public. She never had access to the checkbook, he kept her on a strict budget and she retaliated with the only thing she had left -- she withheld her body from him to punish him. She could no longer give herself to such a tyrant.

As an orphan who joined the Church during his teen years he had simply never seen a husband-wife relationship modeled, and thought priesthood authority in the home meant he was the only, final, absolute lawgiver in the home. The story had a happy ending, as this young husband was able to see the folly of his ways and amended his views on presiding principles in the home, but not until after many tears were shed between them.

President Howard W. Hunter counseled the husbands on this wise:

Presiding in righteousness necessitates a shared responsibility between husband and wife; together you act with knowledge and participation in all family matters. For a man to operate independent of or without regard to the feelings and counsel of his wife in governing the family is to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Only through the new and everlasting covenant of marriage can they realize the fulness of eternal blessings (see D&C 131:1-4; 132:15-19). (Ensign, November 1994, 49-51).

Leading and following have nothing to do with the equality of people. Many people do not understand this fact, and therefore labor under some very serious misconceptions.

Positions and People

Leading and following have to do with positions not people. Positions in the outward Church are arrayed vertically. Some positions are higher on the organizational chart than others.  People in the kingdom are arrayed horizontally.

All are equal peers as sons and daughters of God, each having infinite individual worth. No child of God is higher than another so none are lower either. All are equal. As people in the Church and kingdom of God on the earth we are all horizontal peers. Nowhere is this more beautifully depicted than in sacred temple precincts. Regardless of title, position, rank, economic standing, race or political persuasion all are alike unto God.

We once attended a temple endowment session with President Benson and his wife. Though he was the highest ranking priesthood authority on the session he waited in line respectfully with Sister Benson, even when urged to go first because of his position in the Church. The higher they rise on the vertical organizational chart, it seems, the more deeply the General Authorities sense their positions as the servants of all. President Kimball was famous for his kisses and hugs. A handshake was never sufficient for him. 

President Thomas S. Monson was still ministering among the widows from his ward when he was a young bishop for many, many years after he had been released as their bishop.  Over eighty in number, he ministered lovingly to each of them until they died, then spoke at every single one of their funerals.  One of his most recent General Conference sermons amply demonstrated his encouragement for us to go and do likewise.  The greatest prophet leader among us today is not surprisingly the greatest example of the lovingkindness of a humble servant.

Because people are called to fill positions some get confused, thinking a higher or lower position makes a person higher or lower in stature before the Lord. This idea is completely wrong. Positions do not make people superior or inferior to each other.

President Spencer W. Kimball emphasizes:

Now, in some places in the world there are men who do not recognize their wives with full righteousness. The man and the wife are equals; one has to be in authority, and that is the man. That does not mean that he is superior. (In CR, Lima Peru Area Conference, 1977, 21).

Positions are merely assignments of duty, not price tags of personal worth.

Some people with aspiring spirits who do not understand true presiding principles seek for high positions in the Church. It caused no end of grief for Joseph Smith. Addressing the Relief Society on April 28, 1842, he spoke in part

. . . of the disposition of many men to consider the lower offices in the Church dishonorable, and to look with jealous eyes upon the standing of others who are called to preside over them; that it was the folly and nonsense of the human heart for a person to be aspiring to other stations than those to which they are appointed by God for them to occupy; that it was better for individuals to magnify their respective calling, and wait patiently till God shall say to them, “come up higher.”

President Smith continued by speaking of the difficulties he had to surmount ever since the commencement of the work, in consequence of aspiring men. “Great big Elders,” as he called them, who caused him much trouble; to whom he had taught the things of the kingdom in private councils, they would then go forth into the world and proclaim the things he had taught them, as their own revelations; said the same aspiring disposition will be in this Society, and must be guarded against; that every person should stand, and act in the place appointed, and thus sanctify the Society and get it pure. He said he had been trampled under foot by aspiring Elders, for all were infected with that spirit. (TPJS, 223, 225).

Satan has always been an aspiring spirit. He wants to be above others. He inspires the people of the lie to manufacture reasons to rise higher. He totally understands the human nature of fallen man and manipulates the true principle of presiding and tempts men that they may aspire to rise above others. We have seen this is all wrong. Righteous people have no desire to rise above one and other. The most unnatural act a bishop engages in is sitting in the judgment seat as required of his office, when he knows himself to be imperfect. Referring again to the basketball team analogy:

A basketball team consists of five important positions: One center, two forwards and two guards. The point guard position is assigned the duty of calling the plays, and the rest of the players must run the play he calls. The five players are individual people with individual personalities and abilities. If one of them has an aspiring spirit he will covet to be the point guard, falsely perceiving this position puts one person above the rest of the team. The person playing the position of point guard may have no such aspirations at all. He knows he calls the plays for one reason -- that is a duty of the position to which he is assigned. He might even be a personality who very honestly wishes the configuration of duties were different than it is, but he does his job because that is his responsibility. Another player with an aspiring spirit will always covet the point guard’s role, never seeing the truth that a position on the floor has nothing to do with the person playing the game.

The play-calling point guard does not think his duty makes him the best player or the best person on the team. When John Stockton of the Utah Jazz was inducted recently (2009) into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he taught this principle perfectly.  He told the audience in his acceptance speech that never once in over thirty years of competitive basketball had he ever been the best player on any of his teams.  He simply saw his role as a necessary duty that served the team in accomplishing its goals. He was never lifted up in pride by this duty. In fact, he was humbled by the responsibility, as he knew the team was counting on him to perform this function well for their mutual benefit. So humble was John Stockton that he said he never spent a nickel of his first year salary in the NBA because he figured he'd never be good enough to hang with the team for more than the first year.  An aspiring spirit would be lifted up and prideful in such a position and would look down on the others by virtue of his distorted perception of his role.  That was never John Stockton.


Aspiring spirits are sick. They are not right with God or man. They are affected by a distorted perception of truth and a selfish ambition perverting the way they approach life and interact with others. Righteous spirits see things correctly and approach life and their interaction with others with a righteous regard for the diversity of spirits with whom they labor. They do not seek to be above each other and they are happily content to be equals.

While God is no respecter of persons, his ecclesiastical organization of positions is very vertical in its orientation. Few are called to lead. Most are called to follow. All are called to do both, holding positions somewhere on the organization chart that place them ahead of some and behind some.

“Follow the leader” is a child’s game. It is also a fundamental principle in the kingdom we must never forget. In D&C 28:6 Oliver Cowdery is chastised and told by the Lord, “thou shalt not command him who is at thy head. . .,” referring to his file leader, Joseph Smith. Such is the order of the house of God. Joseph was constantly surrounded by more educated, wealthier, more sophisticated and more dynamic personalities. But he was chosen to lead.

We are also commanded to act in the office to which we are appointed (D&C 107:99), and we are admonished to “let every man esteem his brother as himself. . .” (D&C 38:24-25). Indeed, we are told we must be equal in both heavenly and earthly things (D&C 78:5-6), and if we are not one we are not his. (D&C 38:7).

These are not contradictory sayings. Once understood and accepted into practice by the saints they are perfectly harmonious. There will be vertical positions in the kingdom relatively higher and lower so there may be order in all things, but people are equals, brothers and sisters, all beloved children of God.

This is a grand key in our interpersonal relationships with each other as children of the kingdom. We must cherish our understanding of the difference between people and positions. Again, with people the interpersonal configuration is horizontal. With positions the interpersonal configuration is vertical.

When we get it wrong and start thinking positions make people more or less important or valuable, problems arise. These misunderstandings cause leaders to be puffed up and followers to envy. This is all wrong and only diminishes true respect and destroys effective interpersonal relationships. Positions do not, cannot, increase or decrease the value of people.

People need to understand the truth that positions are simply allocations of duties. Positions are not God’s appraised value of individual worth. Every soul is precious to our Heavenly Father as his beloved sons and daughters. People are the lambs of the Good Shepherd. People are peers.

Confused leaders who believe positions make people superior and inferior to each other are: 1) Puffed up; and 2) poor leaders, seeking their own, thinking evil and practicing unrighteous dominion. Confused followers who believe positions make people superior and inferior to each other are: 1) Envious; and 2) poor followers, being easily provoked (offended), thinking evil, and not being easily entreated. (See Alma 7:23). Poor leaders and poor followers do not make for good interpersonal relations, communication and effective teamwork within the Church.

Conversely, some people in the Church think all positions are evil and there should be no vertical designations of duty or lines of authority in the affairs of church and government. These are foolish notions. When it comes to positions and the allocation of duties, his kingdom is a very vertical priesthood organization and it works efficiently because leaders and followers are required to sustain and support each other.

Charitable People

It follows, then, there must be an order of vertical positions with leaders, followers and accountability, and people must be viewed and valued as equals. This true order of things requires charity, the pure love of Christ.

. . . none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (Moroni 7:44-45).

Only in charity will leaders cease to be puffed up and seek their own agendas, become respectful and kind, and come to genuinely see and treat followers with the kindness and respect proffered to equals. Only in charity will followers cease to envy, to be easily provoked, and to become easily entreated, by becoming respectfully cooperative with their leaders. Both leaders and followers will cease thinking and speaking evil of each other, and valuing each other as equal brothers and sisters, lovingly and respectfully cooperating with and supporting each other in their positions of duty.

By the way, we don’t just set a goal to become more charitable, kind and loving. We must seek this gift pf the Spirit earnestly and with real intent desiring to receive it. We love this magnificent scripture from Mormon’s writings in The Book of Mormon. He describes in perfect detail how to obtain this gift of love from God:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48).

Each who receives this gift of love will come to understand it is not the person they are submitting to as they obediently follow but the position. The person in the position comes and goes, personalities change, some are better, more beloved and revered, but reverence and gratitude for the position as a divine channel inspired of God to bless our lives will always be required. With the gift of charity as our personality filter we will come to know the position represents God’s authority. In submitting to the position we are honoring and obeying the God of us all who is represented therein.

Only in this way will we become Zion, become one, and esteem our brother as ourselves. Only then as charity purifies our hearts will we be prepared to redeem Zion and truly become the people of God.

Equal Worth as People

To say we are all equal is not to say we are all equal in every specific talent. Each of us has infinite worth with valuable abilities and talents (though different) to genuinely contribute to the welfare of all. We want and need everyone. We should learn to rejoice in the diversity of gifts God has given. Every righteous soul is a priceless asset of infinite worth to our whole society. Each merits equal status through lineage and intrinsic worth, and makes a valuable contribution as a peer in the community of saints.

When we begin to ignorantly weigh and measure personal worth or contribution because of position, we have slipped back into the confused state and need to reevaluate our erroneous and hazardous perception. Perhaps an example will help:

Someone in the confused state may believe the stake president is the most important person in the stake, because he holds the highest position in the stake. Such a confused person would likely aspire to that position. These selfish aspirations would obviously be unrighteous. If this same confused person were the stake president, he would be puffed up and probably be exercising unrighteous dominion. This confused person might also be inclined to perceive other people in positions beneath his, such as a Primary teacher, as a lowly person because they hold a lower position. “After all,” he would reason, “Primary teachers are a dime a dozen in comparison to the one and only stake president, and the ecclesiastical power and prestige of a ward Primary teacher pales in comparison to the much broader authority of the stake president.” Ironically, this same confused person would be feeling great envy as he observed other people serving in positions above his own like the position of a General Authority. Aspiring spirits are never content. They are always seeking a higher position.

Such a confused person who mixes up persons and positions will forever be struggling with major spiritual challenges. He will struggle with pride and envy, he will see things as they are not and therefore judge things as they are not. He will exercise unrighteous dominion and be easily provoked. Becoming Christlike will never be within his reach as long as he clings to his illusions.

He will never come to appreciate that serving as stake president is no more valuable, superior or of greater worth than serving in the position of Primary teacher. He will fail to truly appreciate the Primary teacher’s contribution as just as valid and important as the stake president’s. The kingdom needs both! If they will both do their work with humility in the spirit of love, the kingdom will be blessed. At the end of the day if the stake’s Primary teachers and mothers do not do their jobs, it won’t be long before the stake president has no stake to watch over.

To further illustrate, it helps to have seen a living example of these principles. One of the authors had the blessing of serving on a high council with a wonderful stake president. It was no surprise to learn some time after being released from his position on the high council that his former file leader was now a ward Primary teacher.

The next time he met the new Primary teacher he found himself feeling just as much love and respect for this person as when the Primary teacher had served as his stake president. The person was the same noble spirit, only his position of service to the kingdom had changed. This great man happily served in either position, for he had the charity to see all people as peers and the wisdom to recognize the importance of all callings regardless of where the positions appear on the vertical organization chart in the outward kingdom.

For the enlightened disciple of Christ every position in the Church is a call to serve others with selfless love in a meaningful way:

. . .the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the leaner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength. (Alma 1:26).

In Zion there are no poor or rich, but all are of one heart. There is no division between leaders and followers, teachers and students, for all are equal as people. They all dwell in love, even charity, the pure love of Christ.

The Pharisees (managers) of old prided themselves on their titles, their offices and positions in the hierarchies of Judaism. Theirs was a priesthood of outward forms and rituals as they lost sight of the true spiritual symbols and meanings in their worship. There are some alarming vestiges of these false traditions among us in the Church today. We believe where these realities exist it is not so much by intent, but as the result of innocently not knowing.

What follows in the next part of the book is our attempt to assist modern-day saints in putting away forever our false Pharisaic priesthood traditions.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

High Flight and the Battle of Britain

There is a wonderful passage of scripture that came into my heart and my mind today during the Sabbath services at our ward today.  None of the speakers or teachers uttered it.  I felt it deeply within my soul:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.  Amen.  (Moroni 7:48).

The Savior is the perfect example of persisting in love and patience.  Despite the destruction of much of the Nephite civilization prior to His appearance at the temple in the land Bountiful, the Savior spoke to the survivors -- the "more righteous part of the people who were saved:"

And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.  O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.  (3 Nephi 10:5-6).

I'm not certain when it occurred to me, but it was later in my life than I would like to admit.  The reality was gradually borne in upon my soul as I witnessed the carnage and wreckage in the lives of so many whom I have loved over the years.  In mortality we become unwilling witnesses to a lot of breakage.  Many, ignorant of the consequences of breaking the commandments, have willfully stampeded through the china shop carelessly crashing into fragile testimonies and the faithfulness of those around them who cry out in their souls that their loved ones might be spared the anguish of sin.  Parents and spouses suffer painfully and vicariously as innocent bystanders.  Sometimes the pain is so severe hope wanes then flickers out. 

The thought that came to me somewhere along the path of discipleship was this:  There is none who will inherit the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom except repentant sinners -- none.

It is for this reason alone, I believe, that Latter-day Saints are so optimistic.  Our hearts are routinely filled with hope in the anticipation that whatever tethers and binds us down today, the bounds and bonds of earth life can be transcended in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in His perfection and complete forgiveness as we seek repentance.

The poem, High Flight, has over the years become a mantra to pilots.  It could likewise become the mantra of faithful saints living in the latter days.  It is reproduced here as a tribute to, and in memory of not only pilots of all generations, but more importantly to parents of wayward children or the partners of wayward spouses who may have strayed for a season.  Even the prodigals and their parents and spouses all have claim upon the hope that they may soar to unimaginable heights in the hope that one day, someday, we shall all stand before the Savior not only to see Him but to become like Him.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee
No 412 Squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

The Battle of Britain

In the darkest hour for Britain of World War II, the combined squadrons of the RAF engaged the awesome air power of the mighty German Luftwaffe to defend the free world against the forces of tyranny arrayed against England.  The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces, and was the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign up until that date.  From July 1940, coastal shipping convoys and shipping centers, such as Portsmouth were the main targets.  One month later the Luftwaffe shifted its attacks to RAF airfields and infrastructure.  As the battle progressed the Luftwaffe also targeted aircraft factories and ground infrastructure.  Eventually the Luftwaffe resorted to attacking areas of political significance and using terror bombing tactics.

The failure of Germany to achieve its objectives of destroying Britain's air defenses, or forcing Britain to negotiate an armistice or an outright surrender is considered both its first major defeat and one of the crucial turning points in the war.  If Germany had gained air superiority, Adolf Hitler might have launched Operation Sealion, an amphibious and airborne invasion of Britain.

The lesson from history is clear.  Following the evacuation of British and French soldiers from Dunkirk and the French surrender on June 22, 1940, Hitler believed the Second World War was practically over.  He also badly "misunderestimated" the British resolve to oppose his evil designs.  He thought the British people would quickly come to terms.  

Although the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, and an element of British public and political sentiment favored a negotiated peace with an ascendant Germany, Winston Churchill, newly installed as Prime Minister, and a majority of his Cabinet refused to consider an armistice with Hitler.  Instead, Churchill used his skillful rhetoric to harden public opinion against capitulation, and to prepare the British for a long war.
It is a testament to the courage of the men in these bomber, reconnaissance and Coastal Command units that they continued to operate throughout these months with little respite and with little of the publicity accorded to Fighter Command.  In his famous August 20, 1940, speech about "The Few," praising Fighter Command, Churchill also made a point to mention Bomber Command's contribution, adding that bombers were even then striking back at Germany; this part of the speech is often overlooked.  The Battle of Britain Chapel in Westminster Abbey lists in a Roll of Honor 718 Bomber Command crew members, and 280 from Coastal Command who were killed between July 10 and October 31, 1940.
Fighter Command was so successful that the conclusion to Churchill's famous "Battle of Britain" speech made in the House of Commons on June 18, 1841, has come to refer solely to them:  ". . . if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"
The British triumph in the Battle of Britain was won at a heavy cost.  Total British civilian losses from July to December 1940, were 23,002 dead and 32,138 wounded.  One of the largest single raids on December 19, 1940, claimed lives of 3,000 civilians.

Winston Churchill summed up the effect of the battle and the contribution of Fighter Command with the words, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."  Pilots who fought in the Battle have been known as The Few ever since.  Battle of Britain Day is commemorated in the United Kingdom on September 15th each year.

At the conclusion of today's gospel doctrine lesson in our ward about temple work, Jim Clegg stated that his brother, Terry R. Clegg, now serving with his wife Melodee as the President of the MTC in Preston, England, had been instrumental in having the temple ordinances performed for those brave RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain who stood at the gates of hell and repelled the forces of evil during that summer of 1940.
When he told that story, I was filled with thoughts of the fates of the Luftwaffe pilots.  Who would see to it that their temple work was done?  I was immediately assured there can be little doubt about the eternal opportunities of those unmentioned Luftwaffe pilots.  One day, someday, if not already, the names of the German Luftwaffe pilots will also be taken through the temples of God on the earth by proxies.  Such will be the case for the Japanese Kamikaze pilots who later bombed Pearl Harbor and brought America into the extended war.  All the perpetrators of injustice, tyranny and oppression -- even all of them -- will have their chance in the spirit world to partake of the fruit of the tree of life.  It is an absolute certainty that God loves all His children and will indiscriminately bless them all with the chance to receive all the ordinances of salvation without exception.
For these and a billion more reasons unuttered in my heart, I believe in God our Heavenly Father, in the vast and boundless redemptive power of His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost who sheds the light of these truths throughout the earth today.  Heavenly Father never gives up on the redemption of His children, nor should we. 
Hope on, pray on, then stand by and observe the miracles God will yet bring to pass in the lives of your families.

Chapter Six: The Principle of "Order"

Chapter Six

The Principle of "Order"

The need for a head in the home is no different than any other viable social organization known to man. The presiding principle is the foundation of order, and order stands at the headwaters of life. God’s house is a house of order. (D&C 132:8).

All life is the result of order or organization. There are no exceptions. All order and organization are the result of law. Again, there are no exceptions. Without law there is no order. Without order there is no life.

Without the laws of biology our bodies would disintegrate. Without the laws of government our society would devolve to anarchy and self-destruction. Without the laws of physics our solar system would fly into chaos. Law preserves and perfects life because law preserves the order upon which all life is dependent. (D&C 88:34).

If the eternal system of law and order were destroyed all organization would end. Life in its present form would cease. Only eternal chaos and confusion would prevail. God’s house is not a house of confusion. He would never permit this to happen. He will always honor the demands of eternal law because confusion brings destruction, whereas order brings life. “For behold, this is my work and my glory -- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39).

When it comes to social order, every organization needs an order. Otherwise, chaos ensues. It doesn’t matter if the organization consists of 2,000,000, or 2,000, or 200, or 2. To have order, there must be an order (first, second, third, etc.), and the order must, by definition, have a first, or a head. The only alternative is to have no order. There are no other options. We either have order or chaos.

If we opt for order there must be an order. If there is an order there must be a head. If one were to say, “Our order is to have no head,” then a contradiction exists. What that really means is, “Our order is to have no order.” Calling chaos “order” does not make it so. Chaos is the absence of order.

Does every order require a head? Can we organize ourselves in a configuration requiring no head? The real question is, “Can we have order without having order?” Of course, the answer is, “No.”

Elder James E. Talmage said:

In every organization, however simple or complex, there must needs be a centralization of authority, in short, a head. [God has placed man at the head of the household, alongside his wife as full and faithful partner,] and God holds him accountable for his administration. That many men fail in their station, that some are weak and unfit, that in particular instances the wife may be the more capable and in divers ways the better of the pair, should not be considered as evidence. . . [of] unrighteousness in the established order.
Woman should be regarded, not in the sense of privilege but of right, as the associate of man in the. . . home, and they two should form the governing head of the family institution, while to each separately pertain duties and function which the other is less qualified to discharge. Weakness or inefficiency on the part of either in specified instances must not be taken to impugn the wisdom by which the organization of the home and of society has been planned [by God]. (“The Eternity of Sex,” Young Woman’s Journal, October 1914, 602, as cited by Patricia T. Holland in To Rejoice as Women, 107).

We have a friend who was employed by a company with seven directors. They were opposed to appointing a leader from among the seven directors, because none believed himself to be a better leader than any of the other seven. Their entire company organization chart was “flat,” following the latest trend in management styles. It was not to be a vertical hierarchical organization. Everyone was a competent professional, needing little direction. The employees of the firm were called “associates” so no one would be slighted by being called an employee.  The theory was everyone would have a stake in the success of the company and no one would feel inferior. No one assumed any leadership role for the decisions of the company. The teams of associates "sort of" reported to whichever director was available, then felt they had to contact at least four of the seven directors to achieve a majority consensus of the owners. As one can imagine, the result was chaos. The company folded after two years with no remaining cash to operate. They chose chaos when they chose no order.

In a group someone must always go first, be first, speak first or choose first. We can elect, appoint or the position can be taken by force, but it is the most natural tendency in human nature to want to organize. Have you ever attended the first meeting of a newly formed committee? Remember the urgent need was to appoint a leader or spokesperson? It is usually the first item on the agenda.

We know a small branch in the mission field where there weren’t enough members to fully staff every organization, so the branch president also served as the Sunday School president, the elders quorum president, the Relief Society president and the high priest group leader. He had the luxury of merely sitting down to think when he called a meeting. But in any organization with more than one person order must prevail.

A group needs organization, it needs a leader even if it is a merely discussion facilitator. Every group needs a head. Monarchies have a head, dictatorships have a head, theocracies have a head, democracies have a head, parliaments have a head, even tribes have a head. There are no organizations without heads. Without a head they are not organizations.

Is there one example of successfully organizing a group that worked without a head? Nothing in the history of the world comes to mind.

There are different kinds of heads -- permanent heads, temporary heads, revolving heads, full heads, partial heads, air heads, despotic heads, loving heads, heavy-handed heads, hands-off heads, and brainless heads without a clue -- but always there is a head to bring order out of chaos. There must be a line of responsibility. Someone has to be ultimately responsible.

Someone might say, “We will have no head. We will operate strictly on a majority vote.” That is what our friend’s company attempted to do. No one even felt enough authority to call for the vote, no one set the agenda for the items to be voted upon, everyone wondered when and how to present and discuss the issues and finally in the end one director was appointed “czar” with absolute authority and autonomy to lead. It was a desperate attempt to establish order after chaos had already prevailed.

Others would argue that being equals as saints means we should have no heads in our homes or in the Church to lead us or to appoint us to duties and stewardships. When we become perfected and sanctified, made holy and become equals as gods, they would assert, we certainly will have no heads, no order and no appointments then.

But those who would argue thus are mistaken. Even the Gods, exalted and sitting in celestial glory, dwell in order. Our God was appointed by the council of Gods, which was called by the head of the Gods.

The Prophet Joseph Smith first learned by revelation, and then taught:

In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. (TPJS, 349).

The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through – Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us. (TPJS, 372).

Even the Gods operate within an order, and dwell eternally in order. Priesthood, according to the Prophet Joseph, is an order, even the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God. It is an eternal order, not temporary in any way. (See D&C 107:3; JST Genesis 14:25-40; TPJS, 157, 158, 167).

God’s children will always be organized according to principles of law and order:

The organization of spiritual and heavenly worlds, and of spiritual and heavenly beings was agreeable to the most perfect order and harmony: Their limits were fixed irrevocably, and voluntarily subscribed to in their heavenly estate by themselves.  (TPJS, 325).

The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man and organized them. He (Adam) was the head, and was told to multiply. The keys were first given to him, and by him to others. He will have to give an account of his stewardship and they to him.  (TPJS, 158).

Those individuals who embrace the principles of authority and order, stewardships, laws and heads will come to comprehend God and His kingdom in its fullness.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chapter Five: The Presiding Principle

Section Two

The “Presiding” Question

Chapter Five
The Presiding Principle

As equally loved sons and daughters of God none of us has an inherent right to preside over another. The children of the kingdom are equals. People are peers. Therefore, we each have a very natural aversion to being coerced, manipulated, looked down on or talked down to by each other. Nothing is more offensive to the free spirit. Nothing elicits more righteous indignation than to be treated as an inferior. Within our souls we sense, believe and know our inalienable individual rights as peer children of God. There are simply no morally valid grounds for anyone arrogating to themselves the arbitrary control of others. This applies to conditions inside and outside the home.

Nevertheless, throughout the history of fallen man various individuals have risen above their peers to rule and reign. Usually, this domination is accomplished by means of one or more of the following attributes: 1) Greater physical strength; 2) greater intellectual acuity; 3) greater charismatic charm; or 4) greater financial wealth.

Unfortunately, these people customarily reign with blood and horror on the earth, using their talents to manipulate and coerce others to serve their own selfish ends. Even if they were to rule in love and unselfishness additional endowments of certain talents may give these people the power to rule over others, but never the right!

We repeat, no one has any inherent right to preside over another with this single and obvious exception: Parents have always had the inherent right and obligation to lovingly preside over their children. It has ever been so from the beginning. Children, small and inexperienced, need protection and nurturing, guidance and supervision. Without this care they would perish.

In the beginning there was only one order, the family order. There was only one family, the family of Adam and Eve. All other people dwelling on earth were their children, born and nurtured in their home, in their family. Adam and Eve as parents naturally ruled and reigned in their home. The record indicates they ruled in love and sought to bring up their children in the light and truth of the gospel, according to the obligatory command they were given by their parents the Eloheim.

The Eloheim passed on to their children, Adam and Eve, the divine family order of heaven, revealing and assigning the grand division of parental duties that devolve upon all parental partnerships. The man was to provide, earning his bread by the sweat of his brow, and the woman was to bring forth the children. This dichotomy of parental responsibility revealed from heavens in the beginning follows one general and simple demarcation principle: Both parents joined as equals in a full partnership are endowed with capacities to enable each to do many great things as they lovingly and jointly preside over their children, but one parent has primary responsibility for matters outside the home and the other has primary responsibility for matters within the home.

This divinely revealed and time-proven division of duties is both remarkably simple and extremely effective. As noted earlier it makes no sense for both the female and male parents to leave children and home, seeking to serve and save their external environments at the expense of their family. Nor can both always remain home with no thought for the provision and preservation of the home’s external environments. Either way the family loses.

It is feasible both sets of duties, those without and within the home, could be accomplished by either parent as each is endowed as offspring of deity with wonderful potentials of intellect, strength and nobility of character. However, there is wisdom in endowing each with natures especially suited for their specific areas of responsibility to enhance performance of their separate duties.

While both would need the godly attributes of patience and sensitivity, yet an extra endowment of these fruits of the spirit would be of great worth to the parent in the home charged with the incredibly important and demanding duty of working with their tender little ones day in and day out. While both would need the abilities to be soft and gentle at times, it would be prudent to especially endow the parent assigned to care for the delicate and easily hurt little ones in the home with these qualities. This parent would also need special provisions in their physical anatomy to feed and nurture the infants, and so forth.

On the other hand, the parent assigned to duties outside the home could benefit from a somewhat different nature. While both parents need great courage and good strength, the parent required to protect and provide in the environments outside the home could surely use an endowment of extra muscles for combat and backbreaking physical labor. A more aggressive temperament may be required of this partner to face and mitigate the forces at work in the world every day that would threaten the peace and welfare of the family.

The brute strength and relatively unemotional and aggressive nature of man that equips him to carry the burdens of the world outside the home, if not properly tempered and balanced by the tender sensitivity of the woman, could prove to be serious liabilities within the home where easily frightened little ones need to feel loved, safe and secure.

Our gender differences are divinely programmed endowments to enable us to better perform our roles, as they run deeper and broader than many have perhaps understood. Even our different communication styles appear to spring from the fountains of our unique natures.

Charles Pulvino and James Lee write:

Judy Cornelia Pearson (1985), Deborah Tannen (1990), Judy B. Rosener (1990), and Linda Carli (1991) provide insight into differences in male and female communicative styles. Pearson, Tannen, and Carli focus on the communicative process whereas Rosener examines communication in leadership. . .
Differences in communication between the sexes can be found in all channels of communication. In the verbal channel, for instance, there are a number of differences between how males and females communicate. Pearson highlights some of these differences. The first significant difference is in the formality of language. Females tend to use formal words and phrases, whereas males are more likely to use informal ones. For instance, a female might say, “I understand what you are trying to tell me,” while by contrast a male might say, “I get the picture.” Second, females appear to prefer the specificity that language can provide, while males appear to focus on the underlying principles or issues. . . One approach is neither better nor worse than the other, they are merely different. And the differences can often lead to misunderstanding and conflict.
Males often feel they are explaining a concept and find that females responding to their statements focus on the accuracy of the words being used rather than on the ideas being relayed. Males then may judge that the females do not understand or are being unnecessarily picky about the choice of words. . .
A third major difference can be found in the nature of the words or phrases used.  Males and females differ in their tendencies to use hostile words, profanity, or expletives. Males are considerably more likely to lace their conversation with words of this type than are females. In general, men tend to have a much more earthy quality to their language. Females, by contrast, use more precise descriptions and are less likely to reveal overt aggressiveness in their speech.
A fourth difference exists. According to Pearson, males are less likely to use hyper correction, intensifiers, fillers, qualifiers, or disclaimers than females. . .
Tannen, in You Just Don’t Understand, adds a slightly different perspective to our understanding of differences between male and female communication styles. Her emphasis is placed on the fundamental goals or purposes one has for communicating.  In general, she suggests that most male communication is aimed at achieving independence, whereas a significant portion of female communication is geared toward relationship development or maintenance. (Financial Counseling, A Strategic Approach, [Madison, Wisconsin: Instructional Enterprises, 1991], 45-48, emphasis ours).

Such are the dichotomous natures of the sons and daughters of God. While every generality has exceptions, and learned behavior clearly plays a role in our lives, it must be acknowledged by all honest people that anatomical and emotional gender differences emerge naturally and extremely early in the lives of our children as they instinctively begin favoring dolls or trucks.  These unique natures pertain to our divinely appointed roles, not only now but in eternity.

Once again, President Spencer W. Kimball:

We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us. . . Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences -- with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood. (TSWK, 315).

From the beginning, fathers have been not only assigned, but also prepared, to serve outside the home, and mothers have been not only assigned, but also prepared, to serve within the home. Neither role nor nature is superior or inferior to the other. Both are absolutely imperative for the blessing and progression of mankind.

As earlier observed, within the home and the context of the family the authority of parents to preside is inherent. It is not only their right but their duty. Parents naturally love and serve their children, and children naturally honor and submit to their parents in righteousness (to the extent they do not yield to the enticings of the flesh and the powers of the adversary).

Outside the home, however, there is no inherent right of any man to preside over another!  None!  For the fathers assigned to deal with the realities of the environments outside the home this poses a most significant problem. How is one family going to deal with another family? Possessed of inherent and inalienable equality, yet having no inherent authority, no order, we have chaos. As individual families vie for territory and other resources, anarchy, war and contention will redound upon the generations to follow. What is to be done?

As long as men and women were one big righteous and happy gospel-oriented family, the family order worked just fine. Parents would always be righteous and loving heads, and children would always be righteous in honoring their parents. No matter how many generations co-existed simultaneously there would be order and harmony, the oldest parents reigning supreme and each generation revering parents and grandparents in succession. This is the patriarchal priesthood order of heaven where all things are in their proper and rightful place.

In a vision at Council Bluffs, Joseph Smith taught Brigham Young about this great family order:

Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Our Father in Heaven organized the human family but they are all disorganized and in great confusion. (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, February 23, 1847, Church Historian’s Office).

What is to be done in this state of disorganization and “great confusion” wherein people are not living in the family order?  How are they going to co-exist in harmony with each other?  What order will there be to govern separate and distinct families as they vie for common resources, differ in opinions and seek to communicate? How will order come where there is no inherent right to preside, no inherent right to govern each other?

There has to be a valid authority outside the home, outside the immediate family. While it is not currently patriarchal in nature, it is still the priesthood. The fathers of the Church were given the ecclesiastical priesthood, a non-family-ordered extension of authority, so homes could still co-exist in harmony and order in the larger communities of the saints. Obviously, mothers would not need this authority, as their assignments within the homes already embody inherent authority in their motherhood.

How could the order of the priesthood work, either patriarchally or ecclesiastically, if fathers were not heads of the homes they represented in the greater community, if they could not legally and authoritatively speak for their entire marital partnerships? What if the mothers were not obliged to honor those external decisions and the priesthood order in the greater community? The division and contention jeopardizing the communities would continue.  Nothing would have been accomplished. One partner could not speak for the other. No agreements could be met and no binding accords could be consummated without all the mothers leaving home and children on a regular basis, as no one could rightfully and legally represent anyone else.

Either the home would be destroyed from without as no order could be brought to bear upon the external environments in which the home dwells, or the home would be destroyed from within as the children were left to themselves. Either scenario represents a losing proposition for the survival of home.

The equal female partners faithfully serving within the home were either going to have to voluntarily sustain their husbands in the priesthood order of the greater community outside the home, or order could never prevail and the peace and harmony of communities and homes could never be realized.

Someone might propose that fathers stay in the home and nurture the little ones, while mothers go out to handle all the ecclesiastical affairs, the warfare, the competitive business and combative political infighting. This arrangement of role reversal would accomplish nothing more than the first proposition.

First, the partnership would still be in the very same situation as before, requiring one partner to be governed and bound by the decisions and agreements entered into by the partner representing their partnership outside the home. Secondly, this arrangement would cause both partners to work extensively outside the home, or demand a complete reversal of the divinely appointed roles of the two partners, neither as well-suited to perform the other’s duties.

President Ezra Taft Benson:

In the beginning, God placed a woman in a companion role with the priesthood. The Gods counseled and said that “it was not good that the man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him.” (Moses 3:18). Why was it not good for man to be alone? If it were only man’s loneliness with which God was concerned, he might have provided other companionship. But he provided woman, for she was to be man’s helpmeet. She was to act in partnership with him.
In this pronouncement that it was not good for man to be alone, God declared a fundamental truth. The Lord gave woman a different personality and temperament than man. By nature woman is charitable and benevolent, man is striving and competitive. Man is at his best when complemented by a good woman’s natural influence. She tempers the home and marriage relationship with her compassionate and loving influence.
Yes, it is not good for man to be alone because a righteous woman complements what may be lacking in a man’s natural personality and disposition. Nowhere is this complementary association more ideally portrayed than in the eternal marriage of our first parents, Adam and Eve. (Woman, 69).

Imagine a society where men and women had become so one-sided everyone behaved like a man!  Who would opt for losing the principles of gentleness, sensitivity and kindness? We need both the nature of women and the nature of men.

Some may question the need of the male nature in the blessing and preservation of society, contending we should discard all aggressive tendencies in preference for gentleness. This presupposes a condition of evil being eradicated. However, the forces of evil will ever be at work in opposition to the forces of good in the universe. This opposition in all things is an eternal configuration. (See 2 Nephi 2:11). This being the case, passionate indignation, brute force and aggressive fervor to compete against the forces of evil will always be needed by the people of God.

President Joseph Fielding Smith:

Is there ever a time when war, or the taking up of arms is justified?
Yes, there are such times. There have been many instances when the Lord has justified the taking up of arms and has approved his people in their obedience to such action. When it becomes necessary for a righteous people to take arms against their enemies who are the aggressors, in protection of their lives and in defense of their possessions, the Lord has approved. If you will read the scriptures carefully, you will discover that the Lord commanded his chosen people to prepare for war and even to be the aggressors in the accomplishment of his purposes. (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 Vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-66], 3:50-51).

However, competition, justice, aggression, cold rationality and sheer power must always be tempered by cooperation, mercy, sensitivity, compassion and gentleness to bring about the righteous balance of these eternal principles to preserve and prosper life. Unchecked, one is too strong and the other too weak. One would consume us with its power and the other would leave us to be destroyed by our impotency. It is not good for either of these to stand alone. Only joined together in harmonious union do these principles bless and prosper. In the exalted couple we call God we see the perfect balance and union of these eternal traits and principles. In The Book of Mormon we learn God is perfectly just -- and merciful also. (See Alma 42:15). Justice is characterized as being male in gender, and mercy is typified as being female in gender:

For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus none but the truly penitent are saved. (Alma 42:24).

The unwise have debated throughout the centuries about justice vs. mercy. So also, unwise and inexperienced partners in marriage have tended to war with each other because of their contrasted natures. Some have adopted unilateral configurations where one spouse is dominant and one is subordinant, others have opted unisexual configurations where one or both seek to become the same as the other in every way --

. . . becoming a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. (2 Nephi 2:11-12).

Both of these configurations are wrong and will produce certain weaknesses and flaws in the marital relationship that will mitigate the effectiveness of the marriage and the happiness of the couple.

Wise and experienced partners, however, will use their unique influences to righteously temper and balance each other’s natures, but never to destroy them. They will learn to respect and treat each other as equals, yet value and capitalize on each other’s special strengths. Working as a team, they will become one synergistic whole, binding their diverse natures together in harmony, not unison, thereby becoming a greater and more complete man and woman.

These important gender differences emphasized in the sexes do not mean single males and females are completely bereft of each other’s qualities, nor do they mean males and females are inferior or superior to each other. If we believe in God and a conscious intelligent creation, it all simply means we are each intentionally designed to be wonderfully unique partners (parts). These key differences are calculated to bless us in ways we could not be benefited otherwise. Perhaps a simple analogy will be instructive:

Basketball teams play the shorter, quicker players as the outside guards and the bigger, taller players as the inside forwards and centers. There are no rules in basketball to dictate this arrangement, but every team is organized this way.

This structure has been demonstrated beyond doubt to be the most effective. The goal of the team is to be successful. Teams with short inside centers and forwards, and tall outside guards don’t succeed. They fail for obvious reasons.

In general, big players are not as adroit as smaller players in skillfully handling the ball outside, and shorter players are not going to score as many points and get as many rebounds inside as the taller players.

Occasionally, coaches play tall lineups and short lineups, but the only consistently successful teams play the big guys inside and the little guys outside. Even though the inside duties and the outside duties can generally be performed by both, if you want the greatest possible success in basketball you play to your strengths.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Elder John M. Madsen

Elder John M. Madsen was released as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at the most recent General Conference, and "graduated" to Emeritus status.  It's hard for us to imagine that he's turned 70 years old!  Seems like yesterday when we were all younger.

There are a few people in your life whose influence spans a lifetime.  Elder John M. Madsen of the Seventy is just such a person for Patsy and me.

When we were teenagers attending East High School in Salt Lake City, John Madsen was a newly-minted Seminary teacher.  We both took classes from him at the Seminary building, along with hundreds, later thousands, of Seminary students.  He was one of the faculty advisors to the Seminary Council while I was president of the Seminary.  We all loved him.  A fabulous athlete, he played wide receiver at Washington State in his undergraduate days -- when we tossed the football around his good hands were still in evidence.

It wasn't long before he was teaching Institute at the University of Utah, where we both hooked up again with him as college students and sat at his feet to drink from his overflowing well of gospel knowledge and wisdom.

My next encounter with Brother Madsen was in England.  He was introducing the home study Seminary program in Great Britain.  Shortly before I departed for home, he called me and asked if he could take me to dinner.  That night in Manchester we discussed the deplorable condition of the world in general and the penetrating wickedness of Salt Lake City in particular.  He had a sense, as I did, that wicked conditions would surely usher in the Second Coming in short order. 

The year was 1968 -- the end of the much-ballyhoed Sixties.  He wondered with me if I would even have time to get home, get married and establish a family before the end of the world might come.  Of course, it was fanciful thinking and little more than pure speculation on our part, but the ensuing years have proven one thing -- God's patience with His children seems nearly inexhaustible.

A few months after that we met at a crossroads somewhere near Birmingham, where the Madsens presented my Mother with a gift of a Nottingham lace tablecloth she treasured until the day she died.  My parents were in England to pick me up and then we toured through Europe before returning home.

Life unfolded after that.  I married, we began our family, and I continued to take classes from Brother Madsen, now adult CES "Know Your Religion" classes being taught in our stake center.  On occasion he joined us for dinner before the classes.  I was always edified and inspired by his teaching.  He could teach the most profound and sublime doctrine with a smile on his face.  He always lifted and blessed everyone he taught.

He opened my eyes to the scriptures.  One example:  While teaching us from Alma 32 one night, he asked, "What is the word -- the one word in this chapter -- that the whole chapter revolves around?"  We all responded quickly and with assurance, having heard this lesson many times before.  In a near unison we shouted out, "FAITH."  Patiently he told us to look deeper for the one word that stood as a symbol in this chapter, the one word that was likened to the seed.  Then I saw it for the first time -- the word, the one word was the WORDThe word of God is likened to the seed, not faith as I had supposed.  The keyword "word" appears 17 times in the chapter!  I have never forgotten his skillful way in letting me make that discovery (and so many more) for myself, not merely slamming it home.  He was a master teacher I have tried to emulate.

Long after my days as a student at the University of Utah, I returned frequently for some one-on-one face time in his office in random moments when I was passing by.  He always welcomed me, and we discussed the gospel in depth.  He had a vast scripture card collection in his filing cabinet on which he had written and organized key passages and quotes from the Brethren.  He was the consummate student, which is why he became a teacher's teacher.  I loved those inpromptu meetings with him in his office so much! 

Many years ensued after that.  He was called as a General Authority.  He went to Mexico in his first Area Authority assignment with no knowledge of Spanish.  I always considered that an act of extreme faith.  Later he was in an area assignment in Australia where my dear friend Scott Strong served as a mission president in Adelaide.  How I envied Scott for the interactions he was having with Elder Madsen! 

Next we saw the Madsens after a concert at BYU while our daughter Melanie was a student there.  That night he wanted a rundown on every single one of our children (not a small endeavor), and wrote it all down in his little notebook.  I was amazed at his personalized and individualized attention to detail after so many years had transpired.  We picked up the conversation despite all the intervening years as if we were old friends who hadn't missed a beat.

Soon after that I called him to ask if he would perform a marriage for our oldest son Jeff and his bride, Kim.  He readily agreed and officiated at their ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.  He gave marvelous counsel to the newlyweds, reviewing in detail the elements of the endowment, referring in that sacred setting to the specific covenants -- the "celestial circuit," he called it -- we must pursue during our mortal sojourn.  He was always so accommodating, so attentive and so generous with us.  He is the personification of Christ's love -- the best of the best of all that a General Authority is.

He and Diane can now take a well-deserved breather, but don't think for one moment his service to the Church might be over.  He will inevitably pop up again somewhere in a corner of the Kingdom of God on the earth, because that's who John Madsen is -- an untiring servant of the Lord.

I'm just glad I knew him, and I'll bet there are a myriad of folks who feel exactly the same way I do!

Chapter Four: Special Situations

Chapter Four

Special Situations

When we attempt to superimpose these eternal truths into an imperfect mortal state like the one we now live in, an added measure of sensitivity and consideration is needed for many faithful individuals. In mortality there is a lot of "breakage," and things don't always work out the way we hope.  The leaders of the Church have always responded to these realities with love and reassurance, while never yielding on the principles of truth they teach.

Women Who Do Not Have Marriage Opportunities in This Life

President Harold B. Lee:

All women have a desire for companionship. They want to be wives; they want to be mothers; and when men refuse to assume their responsibility of marriage, for no good reason, they are unable to consummate marriage. Brethren, we are not doing our duty as holders of the priesthood when we go beyond the marriageable age and withhold ourselves from an honorable marriage to these lovely women, who are seeking the fulfillment of a woman’s greatest desire to have a husband, a family, and a home. (CR, October 1973, 119-20; or Ensign, January 1974, 100).

President Joseph Fielding Smith:

You good sisters, who are single and alone, do not fear, do not feel that blessings are going to be withheld from you. You are not under any obligation or necessity of accepting some proposal that comes to you which is distasteful for fear you will come under condemnation. If in your hearts you feel that the gospel is true, and would under proper conditions receive these ordinances and sealing blessings in the temple of the Lord; and that is your faith and your hope and your desire, and that does not come to you now; the Lord will make it up, and you shall be blessed -- for no blessing shall be withheld.
The Lord will judge you according to the desires of your hearts when blessings are withheld in this life, and he is not going to condemn you for that which you cannot help. (Doctrines of Salvation, compiled by Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-56], 2:76).

President Harold B. Lee:

You young women advancing in years who have not yet accepted a proposal of marriage, if you make yourselves worthy and ready to go to the house of the Lord and have faith in this sacred principle of celestial marriage for eternity, even though the privilege of marriage does not come to you now in mortality, the Lord will reward you in due time and no blessing will be denied you. You are not under obligation to accept a proposal from someone unworthy of you for fear you will fail of your blessings. Likewise, you young men who may lose your life in early life by accident, or a fatal illness, or in the terrible conflict of war before you have had an opportunity for marriage, the Lord knows the intent of your hearts, and in His own due time He will reward you with opportunities made possible through temple ordinances instituted in the Church for that purpose.
Do all you can to comply with the laws of God pertaining to an exaltation in the kingdom of God. The Lord will judge you too by your works, as well as by the desires of your hearts, and your reward will be assured. (Ye Are the Light of the World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 308-9).

President Spencer W. Kimball:

Marriage is honorable. It’s a plan of God. It is not a whim, a choice, a preference only; it’s a must.
We are talking to normal young people. Generally there are husbands for most young women. There might be an occasional young woman who does not find her companion, but there is little excuse for the normal young man. I tell young women who seem to have missed their chance for desirable marriage that they should do all in their power to make themselves attractive physically in dress and grooming, mentally in being knowledgeable on many subjects, spiritually in being responsive, emotionally in being genuine and worthy. And if one fails to find a companion after having done everything possible, then there will be provision for her in eternity. (“Marriage is Honorable,” in Speeches of the Year, 1973 [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1974], 261-62).

Just as those who do not hear the gospel in this life, but who would have received it with all their hearts had they had it, will be given the fulness of the gospel blessings in the next world -- so, too, the women of the Church who do not in this life have the privileges and blessings of a temple marriage, through no fault of their own, who would have responded if they had an appropriate opportunity -- will receive all those blessings in the world to come. We desire all you sisters to know how much we love and appreciate you. We respect you for your valiant and devoted service and have many opportunities to observe how dedicated you are! (TSWK, ed. Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 295).

Unfaithful Companions

President Joseph Fielding Smith:

If a man and his wife are saved in separate kingdoms, for instance, the celestial and terrestrial, automatically the sealing is broken; it is broken because of the sins of one of the parties. No one can be deprived of exaltation who remains faithful. In other words, an undeserving husband cannot prevent a faithful wife from an exaltation and vice versa. In this case the faithful servant would be given to someone who is faithful. (Doctrines of Salvation, compiled by Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-56], 2:65).

Childless Women

President Lorenzo Snow:

When two Latter-day Saints are united together in marriage, promises are made to them concerning their offspring that reach from eternity to eternity. They are promised that they shall have the power and the right to govern and control and administer salvation and exaltation and glory to their offspring, worlds without end. And what offspring they do not have here, undoubtedly there will be opportunities to have them hereafter. What else could man wish? A man and a woman in the other life, having celestial bodies, free from sickness and disease, glorified and beautified beyond description, standing in the midst of their posterity, governing and controlling them, administering life, exaltation and glory worlds without end! (“Remarks Made at the Salt Lake Stake Conference, Salt Lake City, Saturday, March 13th, 1897,” Deseret Evening News, 27 March 1897, 9).

President Brigham Young:

Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring. You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected by John A. Widstoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941], 200).

Elder Melvin J. Ballard:

God bless those mothers who are not yet permitted through no fault of their own to be mothers in very deed, but who are nevertheless mothers at heart. The Lord looks upon the hearts of men and women, and their intent, and they shall be judged according to their will and their desires. Such mothers shall not go through eternity childless. . . (Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, compiled by Bryant S. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949], 206-7).

Unrighteous Dominion

President Harold B. Lee:

. . .the wife is to obey the law of her husband only as he obeys the laws of God. No woman is expected to follow her husband in disobedience to the commandments of the Lord. (“Maintain Your Place as a Woman,” Ensign, February 1972, 50).

President Brigham Young:

I never counseled a woman to follow her husband to the Devil. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected by John A. Widstoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941], 201).

Women With Special Health Concerns

Presidents David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, and N. Eldon Tanner (The First Presidency):

Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by.
However, we feel that men must be considerate of their wives who bear the greater responsibility not only of bearing children, but of caring for them through childhood. To this end the mother’s health and strength should be conserved and the husband’s consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self-control a dominant factor in all their relationships. (Letter to bishops, stake presidents and mission presidents, 14 April 1969).

President Hugh B. Brown:

The Church has always advised against birth control and that is the only position the Church can take in view of our beliefs with respect to the eternity of the marriage covenant and the purpose of this divine relationship. There are, of course, circumstances under which people are justified in regulating the size of their families.
Where the health of the mother is concerned, and where the welfare of other children would be adversely affected, parents sometimes, under the advice of their physicians, deem it wisdom to take precautionary measures. . .
The Church cannot give a blanket or overall answer to the question which would be applicable to all situations. Seeking divine guidance and searching your own souls is recommended, but in a long lifetime of counseling on these matters, the General Authorities of the Church are united in recommending generally against birth control. (Quoted by Mark E. Petersen, in The Way of the Master [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 114-15).

Mothers Forced to Work Outside the Home

President Spencer W. Kimball:

Normally, the husband is the breadwinner. We believe that the place of the woman is in the home, as a general rule. We realize that some women may need to be employed when their children are grown, or when there have been problems in their home and the breadwinner has been taken from them. The most sacred privileges that a woman could have are in the home, to be a partner with God in the creation of children. (Ensign, February 1974, 2).

President Ezra Taft Benson:

The Church recognizes that not all women in the Church will have the opportunity for marriage and motherhood in mortality. Of necessity, some of our sisters have had to choose careers as a means of their own livelihood, and in some instances to provide for their families. But we do not encourage our young women to enter careers as lifelong objectives nor as alternatives to marriage and family. There is a godly and noble reason for this counsel. (Woman, 70-71).

Just as nothing makes us appreciate good health more than sickness, or companionship more than loneliness, those of us who find ourselves in any of the circumstances outlined above would be the first to appreciate the counsel of the leaders of the Church regarding these paramount matters. We who may have been deprived of these blessings for a season would be among the staunchest defenders of these eternal principles and ideals. Certainly, nothing will make us more worthy of those blessings in eternity than to valiantly defend them here and now, especially in light of our personal and often painful circumstances.

How tender our hearts been made to feel when we hear a valiant single sister defending the law of eternal marriage, when she herself has had no prospect of fulfilling her hopes in this life. How noble is the single parent, a mother forced to work full-time for the temporal welfare of her family, a Spiritual Living instructor in Relief Society who teaches with conviction the importance of mothers staying home to nurture their young children. How courageous is the childless woman who testifies of the supernal work in this life of mothering, who reaches beyond her family circle to embrace those in need of her love and gifts when denied the blessing of her own offspring.

There are no greater souls than those who fight on in faith against the greatest of all odds and the improbability of fulfillment, who hold dear the very principles and covenants they are personally denied as they stand patiently outside the gate for a season. They go forward in faith, hoping on, believing on, trusting in God’s promises despite all the adversity and hardship arrayed against them. Like Job they are constrained to say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (See Job 13:15).

Sister Maischt

Perhaps no one in our experience exemplifies the possibilities of the total fulfillment of all the promises of the Lord more than faithful though obscure Sister Maischt. This account is taken from an inspiring biography of Elder F. Enzio Busche:

Shortly after our baptism, Jutta and I became aware of an elderly sister named Sister Maischt, whose enthusiasm for the gospel and the church was so extraordinary that the shabbiness of her outward appearance did not matter much. From her looks, she was as close to a fairy tale witch as anyone I have ever seen – always wearing the same, long, ugly black dress, and never clean, always smelly. She simply did not try to look groomed or acceptable.
The missionaries were always very embarrassed by her and tried to prevent her from approaching us, which she often attempted. However, as a young convert, I did not see her outward appearance so much as I was fascinated by her relentless enthusiasm. No one knew her very well, and only later did I learn the whole history of her background.
She was originally from East Prussia, about 1,000 miles east of Dortmund. She had five children who had been killed by the Russians. Her husband was killed. She was raped several times. Her farm was burned down. With a little handcart, she made her way to Dortmund to a piece of land she had inherited there. She lived in a shed without plumbing or electricity and lived off the food she grew on her land. She never talked about the details. When anyone asked her about her background, she would immediately change the subject and talk about the goodness of Christ, the support of angels, and her testimony of the Book of Mormon.
One day, in the early days of my membership in the branch, I was questioning why I was there. There were some people in the branch with seemingly unrefined speech and behavior. I was standing there in our humble meeting place, undecided about whether I would ever come back, when she approached me with a look of determination, thrusting her face so close to mine that I could not avoid her smell. She yelled at the top of her voice three times, “Brother Busche, it is true!” Her words sank deep into my soul, touching my spirit. In a strange way, I was never offended by her smell, or her ungroomed hair, or the holes in her shoes, or the dirt on her shirt, or the wrinkles in her stockings. I can still feel today the power of her testimony penetrating my soul.
One day, as I drove home with my wife and our little one-and-half-year-old son, Markus, we discussed Sister Maischt and the fact that she walked two hours one way to go to church. We debated whether we should make the sacrifice and leave thirty minutes earlier on Sundays to give her a ride to and from church. We felt good as we finally agreed that we would arrange our time to do this service for her.
How surprised I was, however, when I presented her with our suggestion the next Sunday. She said, “Brother Busche, you cannot do this to me. I’m an old lady. How can I ever show the Lord how much I love Him, how much I adore Him, how much I depend on His atoning sacrifice for my salvation, and my desire to serve Him? I’m too old and too ugly and too forgetful to serve as the Relief Society president or even as a teacher. The greatest joy of my life is on Sunday when I can get up early in the morning, walk to church, and take the sacrament. Yes, it is a long walk and, yes, my legs hurt and my back hurts, but every step I rejoice. Every tree and every shrub is my friend. I know every person behind every window. I greet them all with my heart and with my testimony. As I walk, I sing the hymns and when I arrive, I’m through the hymnbook and my heart is full of joy and gratitude because my walk is a celebration of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. And you want to take this away from me? You can’t do this to me. Let me walk.”
In a strange way, this woman taught me more about the gospel of Jesus Christ than I may have learned in Sunday School classes. Her commitment was total. Whenever she spoke, she bore her testimony. Yes, she looked funny, and people were embarrassed to associate with her, but the more I think about it, the more I know that she was probably one of the most compelling teachers I have ever had in my membership.
Long before I was able to go to the temple, she told me of the urgent need for each member to go to the temple as often as possible. One time, she reported she had been in the temple in Switzerland at least once a month since the temple had opened. That was much more than anyone else in the branch had accomplished. When she could not get anyone to take her to the temple, which was ten or twelve hours away, she somehow saved the money to go by herself by train. Not a month went by that she did not manage to go to the temple.
When I became branch president, one of the most touching experiences of my service was receiving the tithing envelopes from the members. I was deeply touched by the faithfulness and commitment of even the poorest in the branch. Sister Maischt in particular. When I first received her tithing, my heart was touched, but then I saw, to my surprise, that she had added a very large amount as a fast offering. It was nearly fifty percent of her tithing. In comparison, I said to her, “Sister Maischt, you don’t have to do that. This is a lot of money for you.” She rebuked me in another outburst of conviction. She stomped her foot and shouted, “Brother Busche, you are new in the Church. You don’t understand yet. This fast offering is for the poor and this is serious. We must not let the poor go hungry.”
I learned that she did not consider herself poor. I also learned that she refused any help that people offered. I never saw her in any other dress or in any other shoes, and I doubt that she had any. I knew that she lived in a little shack without sanitary installation, but she considered herself rich.
One day, she came to me and gave me a large amount of money. If I remember correctly, it was about 1,500 marks – the equivalent at that time of perhaps $1,000. She came to me and said, “Brother Busche, this is money for my funeral because this will be the last week of my life.” I protested and said, “Sister Maischt, you are going to live much longer. You are not going to die.” She said, “You don’t understand. The Lord told me that my time of probation is over and that I should come to you to arrange for my funeral. This is the money, and these are the songs and speakers.” She handed me a piece of paper with the arrangements for her funeral.
When she did not show up the next Sunday in church, the Relief Society sisters visited her. They found her dead in her hovel, calmly and peacefully gone. Yet her influence remains still because once in a while, I feel compelled to speak about her. In my mind, she is a monument of womanhood that I know will stand in the day of her resurrection, in prominence and beauty, and stands for me as a beacon of light in these days when we are so easily distracted by the things of this world. (Elder F. Enzio Busche, Yearning for the Living God, 166-170).

The prophets of God love the saints, and wear out their lives in service to them. They teach these priceless truths to bless our eternal lives, never to persecute or to injure our tender feelings and longings in righteousness. They realize there are special circumstances that from time to time preclude even the most valiant souls from fully attaining access to and living the higher law pertaining to the patriarchal order. They have no desire to injure or bring pain to their beloved brothers and sisters by teaching these important truths. On the contrary, they will magnify their faith and hope in these teachings of eternal truth to the end the principles will bless and strengthen all despite the personal circumstances we may temporarily find ourselves in.

Likewise, the leaders of the Church have no desire to persecute or estrange the wayward, who may have voluntarily chosen to live contrary to these glorious truths. The invitation to enter in at the gate is always open to those who stray. It is always their hope these teachings will soften hearts, change lives and bring indiscriminate eternal happiness to all.