Sunday, May 12, 2013

The True Doctrine of Womanhood

God knows males and females are innately equal. “The women’s issue” is not an issue because God and his anointed servants do not see and respect this obvious equality between men and women. Instead, the problem arises from a godless society lacking an eternal perspective, failing miserably to comprehend eternal truths.

Some who have adopted the world’s view contend equality for women means God’s sons and daughters must share the same roles and duties in order to be perfectly equal. The most obvious example we see today is men and women marching shoulder to shoulder into war. In a society where heterosexual marriage is no longer considered by many to be a desirable state, where children are often viewed as an economic burden because the family farm gave way to jobs in the big city, and where lifestyle options abound outside the home and hearth of yesteryear, it is little wonder such philosophies have gained popularity among us today.

However, while the restoration of eternal truth clearly confirms males and females have the same worth, it also reveals the innate power of the sexes lies in the wonderfully different characteristics the male and female join together. Each unique half complements the whole, and only in this God-given dichotomy properly joined together can mankind continue its progression. Man and woman are not only two equal parts of one whole, they are uniquely and necessarily different parts of one grand whole. We do not want them to be the same, we do not need them to be the same.

To the contrary, in marriage they must be different. One must be male and one must be female. They cannot both be males or females. Changing the laws and taking public opinion polls, attempting to be "politically correct" will never change the true doctrine associated with women.

The male part is necessary to manufacture the seed. If there is no seed there is no life. This morning when I wished Patsy a Happy Mothers Day, her response was, "I couldn't have done it without you." And she is right. The dirty little secret among every man since Adam is that we get great pleasure in our role as men in creating children. Women, and here's the true doctrine, do all the heavy lifting. That said, there is no life without both a male and a female contribution.

The power of the seeds is the fountain of life. However, the seed must be processed or it quickly dies. The male does not have the capacity to process the seed he manufactures. He is incomplete. By himself he is not whole. He must be connected, sealed together in partnership with his other half who has the unique capacity to manufacture an egg and then process the growth of the embryo to maturity.

By himself the male cannot process the seed to produce a living soul. No matter how many male parts we might add to the whole, the whole would forever remain incomplete and impotent to bring to pass the godly work of creating life. There is no place in eternal life, God’s life, for a single male or a single female who insists upon his or her right to act alone. 

The male needs, absolutely requires, a partnership with someone different than him -- one who has unique capacity he does not have. He needs the other half, a female half, with her singular attributes. He will never be whole without her. She will never be whole without him.

Some among us who are challenged with homosexual tendencies may not fully understand the eternal implications of this fundamental precept. The Church has one singular mission -- to be an instrument in bringing to pass God’s stated work and glory, the immortality and eternal life of men and women. The Church is to assist men and women in reaching their full potential to become as God is. Because of the revealed truth inherent in the Restoration doctrines, "God" has been revealed as an exalted couple possessing the power of procreation and the mission of the Church is to help God’s children become the same. The Church has no other legitimate mission even when it appears to be completely out of step with the exigencies of modern society’s agenda.

Homosexuality is simply not an option in the attainment of parenthood. It divides and subtracts from the achievement of the full divine potential of God’s sons and daughters. While adoptive homosexual parents may be caring and nurturing parents and are increasingly recognized as a legal definition of “family,” there is no power of the seeds in the homosexual relationship. It is a lethal perversion, a fatal distortion of those tender feelings and intimate acts calculated to bond the male and female parts together heterosexually in producing eternal lives.

To expect the Church to embrace, condone or even tolerate homosexuality amounts to requiring the Church to desert its divinely mandated mission and to deny the realities of revealed eternal truth. The Church cannot do so and remain the instrument of God it was prepared to be in administering the priesthood keys that unlock the gates of eternal lives.

Parley P. Pratt
Parley P. Pratt said:

All persons who attain to the resurrection, and to salvation, without these eternal ordinances, or sealing covenants, will remain in a single state, in their saved condition, without the joys of eternal union with the other sex, and consequently without a crown, without a kingdom, without the power to increase.

Hence, they are angels, and are not gods; and are ministering spirits, or servants, in the employ and under the direction of The Royal Family of heaven -- the princes, kings and priests of eternity. (Key To The Science of Theology, 9th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965], 169-70).

In the war of words and false doctrine that engulfs us every day over homosexuality, arguments abound whether homosexual tendencies are genetic, environmental or learned behavior. While it spices debate, the answer eternally is not really relevant. Homosexual partnerships are sexually impotent. The homosexual state is as incapable in the performance of the exalted work of God as the single state. Only an eternal heterosexual union with its two different parts has omnipotent potential.

There should be no debate in the Church about the need to value and cherish our homosexually challenged brothers and sisters as individual children of God, and to advance their happiness and well-being to the highest degree possible. But none of that changes the eternal implications of their fiercely held sexual preference. They are free to choose, free to act. Choosing an alternative lifestyle here and now is always an option under the principle of moral agency. But we must not fail to help them clearly see the eternally limiting ramifications of their short-sighted choice.

As recently as last month in General Conference, President Boyd K. Packer reminded us: "Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the “tolerance trap” so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity."

Recognizing the two parts must be different, males and females must cherish our different natures to perform our unique tasks for the benefit and blessing of the whole. While the powers resident in the different natures and capacities of the sexes are not the same, neither are they superior or inferior to each other. They are equally necessary and valuable.

Some fail to understand the term different does not imply the meaning unequal. Different does not mean unequal. Different capacities are not unequal capacities. Different roles and duties are not necessarily unequal roles and duties. Different missions and responsibilities are not necessarily unequal missions and responsibilities. Some do not comprehend this important principle with regard to the sexes.

Total and absolute equality can and does exist within the dichotomy of the marriage covenant.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Life More Sweet than Bitter

Maurice Warshaw, third from left
I'm borrowing today's title headline from the autobiography of one of Utah's business icons, Maurice Warshaw. I'll never know how the man ended up in Mormon-laden Utah, and he was the first Jew I ever knew.

I knew Maurice Warshaw well, because I delivered his newspaper to their apartment door every morning. When I knew the Warshaws, they lived in the then-upscale University Heights Apartments, a building that still stands today on the west side of 13th East between 100 and 200 South. He appreciated the fact that I took the newspaper to their door in a multi-floor apartment building instead of just leaving it in a pile with others who subscribed in the building, and he tipped me routinely for good service. He taught me what good service meant.

I eventually made it a standard practice to hand-deliver everyone's newspaper in the building. He knew and appreciated good service when he found it, and he encouraged me at a young age to go out of my way to work a little harder, care a little more, and do a little better than what was expected. I loved Mrs. Warshaw too, with her flaming red hair, probably the first woman I ever remember who dyed her hair. She got every nickel's worth out of that red hair dye!

Born in 1898 in Dubossar, southern Ukraine, Russia, the son of a prosperous Jewish food broker and community leader, Maurice was named Samuel Warshawsky at birth. His family emigrated to America because of the horrors of the Russo-Japanese War and the predictable hatred aimed at Jews. They journeyed to Kishinev, where they hid for seventeen days in a friend's basement. Maurice's father left the family in Kishinev to proceed to the United States on his own. Maurice's step-mother saw that the rest of the family made it to safety, first to Poland and then to Bremen, Germany.

The family booked passage in steerage on the SS Bremen for the nineteen-day voyage to America. After processing through Ellis Island, the family boarded a train at Grand Central Station for Philadelphia and a reunion with Maurice's older brother and father. For seven years the family lived in the tenements of Philadelphia in conditions that were worse than in Russia. But they were together and free.

At age fourteen, Maurice left Philadelphia with his sister and her husband for the newly-established Jewish colony of Clarion near Gunnison, Utah. Life was hard in the colony since most of the people were ill-equipped to handle the demands of farming in such an isolated area. After two years in Clarion, Maurice left for Salt Lake City, where he was joined shortly thereafter by the rest of his family.

It was in Salt Lake City that Maurice left his mark. Conditions for the Warshaw's were difficult, but Maurice and his father made a living peddling merchandise and foodstuffs door-to-door. He would learn good customer service lessons he later passed along to his young newspaper boy and eventually all his employees.

After several years in Salt Lake City, his step-mother died and his father moved to Cleveland. Maurice continued to work at various jobs until the Depression years, when he opened his own business at Ninth South and Main in Salt Lake City. He named his first store Grand Central Market hoping one day it would become "as busy as the big station." Because of his marketing innovations and firm belief in being volume-oriented along with giving the customer a good deal, his Grand Central spread throughout Utah into Idaho and Wyoming.

His life is best summed up in the words from the title of his autobiography, "Life, more sweet than bitter." Maurice Warshaw died on 5 January 1979. He was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and humanitarian. His bust has a permanent spot in the State Capitol building in Salt Lake City.

He's always been an inspiration to me. When I am tempted with feelings of "gee, ain't life awful," I often replay those words from Maurice Warshaw in my mind. No matter what life throws at us, we can always find a glimmer of light in an equal but opposite outcome, can't we?

It seems from the beginning, the law of the opposites has always been part of the mortal experience. (See 2 Nephi 2:10-13). And that is by design. Virtue cannot exist without the equal and opposite evil. Happiness could never be felt without deep and painful sorrow. Without fear, would we ever be able to muster courage? Suffering spawns sympathy and empathy for others we would never know otherwise. Without having tasted the uncertainty and deprivation of poverty, could the feelings that arise of generosity ever be fully enjoyed? Would you ever recognize that great job without suffering a period of unemployment?

Would we ever know evil when we see it if we hadn't known the righteousness that opposes it? A hot stove cannot be distinguished by a young child unless it knows the coldness of ice. We each learn about birth as children come along in a joyful welcome, but the bitterness of death is the bookend emotion at the end of life. To search for God in this life means encountering Satan and his minions. Things break, people sin, nations collapse, everything tends toward entropy. The quest for meaning is often difficult. It was never meant to be easy.

Sometimes it takes fierce thunder and lightning and a storm to lead us toward the sunlight. Sometimes He lets it rain. We will always find Christ in either sunshine or shadow. He is not just a fair weather God.

One cannot imagine a world in which all things were the same. Imagine every car being a black Model T Ford. Imagine a world where everything is the same size and has no variability, no diversity, and there is no chance for failure or success. Imagine no sound, no music, no silence or noise, a world with no beauty or ugliness. Could you ever hope to understand love without hatred? Is there sweet without bitter, and knowing how to prize the difference between the two without some of each?

The existence of opposites paired with our agency is what gives meaning and purpose to our mortal existence. Ironically, it is this part of our Father's plan most mortals instinctively reject. Without the Lawgiver to clearly establish the bright line between good and evil, man in this world would be constantly adrift, defining behavior any way they choose. Choosing between the two is agency. One produces happiness in harmony with the "great plan of happiness," and the other produces sorrow and regrets. Such is the condition we see constantly in the world around us.

President Ezra Taft Benson
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Every [person] eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there … must make his stand.” (“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, May 1975, 65). Don’t be surprised when it happens to you!

In this last week a spate of circumstances have played out, making me wonder if these things don't tend to come in bushels. A dear friend was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident, and his wife was badly injured. A young father in our ward died unexpectedly Thursday night in his sleep. A teenager, losing his temper for an instant in the height of emotion, struck the official with his fist on the side of the head, and the referee died of brain injuries sustained in the attack. So sad on so many levels.

Two nights ago, while I was fast asleep and our son and his family were sleeping in other bedrooms, my wife in the darkness of our upstairs hallway, mistook the stairway for the entrance to our bedroom, tumbled down a full flight of stairs and broke her left wrist and a toe on her left foot. It was a bad fall. She's still discovering new bruises two days later. An orthopedic surgeon will be required tomorrow to pin the shattered bones of her wrist back into the right place. Not one of these circumstances would be anyone's first choice, would they?

It seems we value the things that matter most only when we are compelled to submit to the opposite condition we would never wish upon ourselves. We love the living more when we bid farewell to a loved one who dies. We know sunshine and sweetness only by being exposed to the darkness and sorrow. However, no matter how dark the night, we can always find a bright ray of sunshine. Patsy's comment to me in the emergency room was, "At least it wasn't my right wrist." Look on the bright side, right?

Elder Neil L. Andersen
One week ago, the father-in-law of the young father who died taught our lesson in the High Priest Group. The topic? Elder Neil L. Andersen's General Conference address from October 2012, "Trial of Your Faith." Mercifully, it was the grandfather, not any of the immediate family members, who first discovered the body of his son-in-law. I called that father and grandfather on the phone this morning to offer my love to his entire family, many of whom live in our ward, as he now provides the comfort and lives the very principles he was teaching us a week ago. Life is filled with deep irony, isn't it?

At the end of Elder Andersen's talk there are many useful footnotes. One quote is particularly appropriate when tragedy, sorrow, doubt, fear and anxiety strikes. These unwelcome guests will frequently come knocking, but we don't have to give them lodging for any more than a brief season. Through it all we can find the universal expression to fit every situation, good or bad - "this too will pass."

President George Q. Cannon
President George Q. Cannon said: “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character. He is an unchangeable being; the same yesterday, the same today, and He will be the same throughout the eternal ages to come. We have found that God. We have made Him our friend, by obeying His Gospel; and He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them, if we only trust in our God and keep His commandments.” (“Remarks,” Deseret Evening News, Mar. 7, 1891, 4); see also Jeffrey R. Holland, “Come unto Me,” Ensign, April 1998, 16–23).

Knowing there is a God who can be appealed to in times of trouble makes of this mortal experience an existence that is truly "more sweet than bitter." The weight of our sorrows is never so great He will not gladly offer to lift it off our shoulders when we seek Him in faith. Of that I am certain.