Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Story You Tell Yourself

The past week has brought a flood of memories. Surrounded by family, all of whom were in town for youngest daughter Merilee's wedding, it was time for a backward glance and some reflections you might find useful. 

I thought about all the times in my life when I felt "stuck" with no sense there was any way out of my circumstances. As I reflected on those times, I penned these thoughts.

Remember this - nearly everything in life is based around the story you tell yourself about your past. I've felt "stuck" many times in my life, like I didn't have the control over my circumstances I thought I did. The roadblock occurs when you get stuck in that story, rather than letting it evolve. 

Victims get stuck. Survivors triumph and tell themselves a different story. 

You can't access the answers you seek as long as you have a story that says it's impossible. So I've learned to come up with stories I tell myself that say, "Yes, you can, David. You can do whatever you want to do." 

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when we go on missions to the far-flung countries of the world today, we've all seen lots of people put their pasts behind them and move ahead by making a huge commitment to join the Church. To do this they had to repent, embrace the Savior's atonement and create a new life for themselves. It's not easy to change, but people do it every day. 

As a business development guy and sales trainer, I have come to define success in my job as helping others make incremental improvements in their jobs. Sometimes the progress seems as rapid as watching my toenails grow, but when we look back to measure the results it's often satisfying and stunning. We've moved the needle toward improvement because people become convinced that change can be a good thing!

It's possible to change for the better, but only you can do it for yourself. You take the best elements of the story you are telling yourself about your past life, and you sift out the worst things you want to eliminate. Then you build the life you envision for yourself and your family. 

After 66 years of living, I can tell you the mid-course corrections I've made along the way turned out to be fabulous! There has always been a way to escape from the negative pieces of the story I was telling myself about all the bad things that happened along the way. 

I was thinking the other night with all our family surrounding me, 45 years ago not one single person in that large family group picture was in my life except Patsy. 

We began our lives together without much going for us. We used a little cash from our wedding day to buy our first car. I still had my college degree ahead of me and I was working two part-time jobs and going to school full-time. But we made a humble beginning and we kept on trudging ahead with an eye on what we hoped our future would look like. 45 years later I can't imagine being happier than I am. And there was a lot of sunshine to overcome all the cloudy days.

We met a lot of people at the reception for our daughter. More than one gave me the impression they might be feeling a little "stuck". 

We all know the power of belief; it can change your biochemistry. I've got many examples where miracles occurred just because people clung to a dogged determination to make a better future for themselves. Faith is what makes a dream into a reality. It's the substance of things that are hoped for, but not seen. 

It might be true you went through hell as a teenager. Maybe your parents divorced, maybe you were abused as a child, maybe your father was an alcoholic, maybe your mother abandoned your family when you were young, maybe unemployment put your family out on the streets in a homeless condition. Often we bring adversity upon ourselves, but sometimes it is the result of the actions of others over whom we have no control. We keep replaying the list of horribles in our lives, and it gets us nowhere. 

Which is the very definition of "stuck".

But that's not why you're not having what you want today. No matter how horrific your past may have been, that's not what today is. You stand on the brink of the whole rest of your life (and, oh by the way, it's going to be a great life!) It's hope that makes it so.

We went in to get our passports renewed the other day. Compared to our youthful pictures that stared back at us from the old passports, the lady behind the desk commented, "Well, you've changed a little since then!" And she had no idea how true that statement was. Gone was the dark hair, the svelte figure, the fire of youth. In its place was a story I told myself that turned out very differently than the old one. . .  and better.

Let's suppose you were one of those fantastic Mormon missionaries. You taught others what to do to get "unstuck". And now you must turn all the lessons inward upon yourself and do something different that embraces your "good" past (your mission) and rejects your "bad" past (your pre-mission days). 

You probably think all the avenues you hoped were open to you after your mission now all appear to be closed. That's the reason you're giving to yourself today and you may be tempted to think it's okay. 

But it's not okay to feel stuck because of what your circumstances seem to dictate to you right now. Be heartened by this reminder from Amos Bronson Alcott: "We climb to heaven most often on the ruins of our cherished plans, finding our failures were successes."

A lot of people might be deathly afraid of what it's going to take to move beyond the disappointments to do something different today. 

You just need to take a first step in a new direction of your choosing. You are free, and you are powerful! 

You can't always see beyond the edge of the light today, but just like a powerful train headlight, you can go to the edge of the light you can see, then beyond the edge of the light your future is illuminated. But you have to go as far as you can to the edge of the darkness.

Tell yourselves that story instead.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

To Proclaim Liberty to the Captives

Phil Sharp
Today's guest blogger is my daughter, Melanie Sharp, young mother and wife to a very busy bishop, Phil, in the Sunnyvale Ward in California. Phil asked her to speak on Easter Sunday, and this was her "reconstruction" of her thoughts after the fact, since she spoke without notes as she felt prompted to deliver her message. It's a message worth sharing:

Melanie Sharp Easter 2014
Sunnyvale Ward
To Proclaim Liberty to the Captives

Several years ago, I was asked to speak in church on Easter Sunday.  This wasn’t an invitation to speak in my own ward however; it was an invitation to speak to the female inmates at a local prison.  One of my Institute teachers was a volunteer there, and when I returned from a trip to India working in leprosy colonies, he asked if I would accompany him to share some of my experiences.  Being a holiday weekend, a family conflict soon came up for him and he wasn’t going to be able to join me after all.  I could either go alone or invite a friend to go with me.  I was dating Phil long-distance at the time, and when he told me he’d be in town for Easter weekend, I naturally asked if he’d be willing to join me.  Because….everyone wants to go on a date to a prison, on Easter, to sing and speak, right?  He said yes.

The day arrived and we had a remarkable experience.  Going into that prison was humbling and eye-opening.  These women were sincere, warm, and kind.  They listened intently, they shared their humble expressions and desires to follow Christ.  They seemed hungry for His truth, His peace, and His influence.  They expressed a sincere need for Him to heal them, forgive them, and set them free from the spiritual bondage they described.  It was a remarkable experience.  And as I sat there listening to and speaking to them, it hit me so profoundly that the experience of these inmates and that of the leprosy-affected I’d worked with in India were somehow similar.  Both groups were experiencing a form of bondage.  They both felt trapped, thwarted, and stuck.  Some felt bondage because of personal choices, some because of illness, some because of societal or family judgment.  Whether bondage from their own choices or the choices of others, most of them could relate to a shared sense that they in one way or another lacked freedom.

The prison date must have gone well, because a few months later I moved to the Bay Area to be closer to Phil, and began working as the director of after-school programs in East Palo Alto.  Most of you know that East Palo Alto is an a-typical city for Silicon Valley.  It has high rates of poverty and crime, and low rates of high school graduation.  It’s a unique place and I loved working there, but I soon realized that the theme of bondage ran through some of my students there as well.

One day I was talking to a 16-year-old who was such a good girl.  She was making good choices and carving out a hopeful future.  One day, in discouragement, she described to me the frustration she’d felt the night before.  She had called a local restaurant to order some Chinese food.  She’d completed the order, but when it came time to give her address she was told that they were sorry but they didn’t deliver to East Palo Alto.  She’d been disappointed and hurt and she said to me, “Really?  They won’t bring food to my house just because I live in EPA?  Can they do that?  What did I do wrong?”  Hers was the bondage of poverty, of the poor choices of others that had created an environment where people didn’t feel safe coming into her community.  In spite of her personal good choices, she was in bondage to the decisions and judgments of others.

Melanie and newborn
Phil and I got married shortly after my move to the Bay Area, and within a few short years, I found myself in the thick of raising several small children born very close together.  While I don’t want you to think this next story captures my general attitudes toward my responsibilities as a mother, I will share my experience on a day when I was feeling a less severe, but nevertheless genuine form of bondage in my own circumstances.  It had been a long day or a long week, and I had had it.  I was discouraged, tired, and frustrated.  As I went about my daily tasks, I allowed myself to begin murmuring and then complaining to God.  “Why is this so miserable?  You promised me joy for this life path, and all I feel is frustration.  I am exhausted and unhappy.  It seems like all I do all day is perform menial and meaningless tasks for a bunch of little people who don’t even appreciate it.  I feel trapped.  I feel like a slave!”  (It sounds dramatic now, but in that moment those emotions were very real!)  In an instant, the Spirit whispered gently, “Melanie, you are not a slave.  You are a servant.  There is a difference.”  My heart was changed dramatically by that sweet reminder.  One difference of course, is that being a slave is involuntary, and being a servant is chosen.

Joseph Smith taught, “When we enlist to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, we leave neutral ground forever.”  We choose a path of service and become servants to Him.  Christ taught that the greatest among you shall be your servant.  It is a path that may at times feel like it limits us, but in reality and in the long-term view, it is the way to freedom and peace.  In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil, for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”

It is truly our choice to follow Christ and receive His promised freedom, even when that freedom doesn’t come immediately.  Sometimes like Alma and Amulek, our shackles will fall in an instant as we yield to Christ and His will for us.  Other times, like for Joseph Smith, we may even die in bondage.  But if we can maintain an eternal perspective, and trust that God will keep all of His promises of deliverance, we can and will feel that freedom from circumstances, from illness, from the consequences of our own choices or those of others.  In Isaiah 61:1 Isaiah relates, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”

We all at times experience bondage due to life circumstances, mortality, illness, our choices, or the choices of others.  But Christ promises freedom.  He promises us a life of deliverance from bondage.  I know that Christ lives and saves us.  That is the message of hope on this Easter Sunday -- that He lives!  I know that He restored His church and His priesthood power through the prophet Joseph Smith.  I testify that if we continue in faith and discipleship, Christ will deliver us from any and all bondage we experience in mortality.  I am so grateful for that testimony and assurance.  

Additional Scriptures and Quotes:

“How are we, then, to understand Christ’s promise to preach deliverance to and liberate the captives in these circumstances? Why were not all these believers freed? Understanding the answer to the question why is not always easy for any of us, because such understanding is acquired only by our faith in Jesus Christ (see Philippians 4:7). That understanding necessitates, as King Benjamin taught, that we yield “to the enticing of the Holy Spirit, and [put] off the natural man and . . . [become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
Those who can submit to the Lord’s will, knowing that life is truly more than mortality and more than we know with our limited perspectives, are also able to understand that Christ can liberate the spirit even when the body is in chains. We learn from Abinadi’s death by fire that God knows how his children suffer and is prepared to execute “vengeance upon those that destroy his people” (Mosiah 17:19). and trust in Christ can turn some moments of captivity into blessings in disguise.”  (Sandra Rogers, International Vice President at BYU, “To Proclaim Liberty to the Captives,” Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011).

Using the example of Joseph Smith’s experience in Liberty Jail, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shed great light on how the Savior can free those who remain bound. He said, “The lessons of the winter of 1838–39 teach us that every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through it. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples — or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace.” (Elder Holland, “Lessons from Liberty Jail,” Ensign, September 2009, 28).

Elder Scott said: “The beginning of healing [and the release from captivity caused by someone else’s misuse of agency] requires childlike faith in the unalterable fact that Father in Heaven loves you and has supplied a way to heal [or liberate or deliver]. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, laid down His life to provide that healing. . . . The cure requires profound faith in Jesus Christ and in His infinite capacity to heal.” (Richard G. Scott, “To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse,” Ensign, May 2008, 42).

“Through our faith, forgiveness, trust, and obedience, Christ liberates us from the prisons created by the agency of others. When we are able to understand his doctrine, rely on his love for us, and cast our burdens upon his shoulders, looking forward with his eternal perspective, we will have regained our freedom. By choosing him, we are delivered and bound no more.” (Sandra Rogers, International Vice President at BYU, “To Proclaim Liberty to the Captives,” Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Mothers in the Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood

Many years ago when I served on the high council, our bishop invited me to speak to our ward on the topic of The Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood. It was Fathers' Day. When I stood to speak, the clock said I had less than three minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting. I briefly bore my testimony and said I would come back and give that talk someday.

Last week at the end of the meeting block, I was approached by the executive secretary who said the bishopric had requested that I be the concluding speaker for our upcoming Mothers' Day program. I was asked, not surprisingly, to center my remarks around mothers. My mind immediately flashed back to that Fathers' Day, and I knew instantly what I would say. I'll make it easy for anyone to use all of this in whole or in part if you have a similar assignment on Mothers' Day or Fathers' Day.

My topic for Mothers' Day is the same as it would have been for Fathers' Day. My desire is to teach the doctrine so plainly and simply that no one can possibly misunderstand. The words of prophets I will cite are my own words. The doctrine has governed our lives since the day Patsy and I first discussed the possibility of marriage.

Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith taught there were three orders of the priesthood: Levitical (Aaronic), Patriarchal and Melchizedek. When a man and a woman kneel across an altar in a temple from each other, they are conditionally admitted into the patriarchal order of the priesthood known as the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. If they are true and faithful to their covenant, the time will come when they are given the unconditional promise of eternal life.

The name of this priesthood order should be obvious because patriarch means father. There are no fathers without mothers and there are no mothers without fathers. In this way couples receive their formative lessons in Godhood and take their first steps together toward returning to full fellowship with God.

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D&C 131:1-4).

Elder John A. Widstoe
In other words, he has no kingdom that can grow and increase by the power of the seeds worlds without end. The power of the fullness and continuation of the procreative seeds forever is at the very core of Godhood. Elder John A. Widstoe said, “The government of heaven is by families. It is patriarchal.” (Gospel Interpretations: Aids to Faith in a Modern Day [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1947], 100).

I am aware, intimately and personally, there are both men and women who for reasons not of their choosing are unable to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage while in this life. Also, there are many who are unable to bear children here and now. A long succession of living prophets in this dispensation has promised faithful saints in this condition they will be denied none of the blessings I shall mention. There are no expiration dates on priesthood blessings and promises if faithful observance of covenants is in evidence.

It is written of those who do enter into the patriarchal order and faithfully keep all the laws, rites and ordinances pertaining thereto:

. . .they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end. . . . This is eternal lives. . . (D&C 132:19-24).

Exaltation is nothing less than the fullness and continuation of the seeds of procreation forever and ever. The continuation of lives has no end, even eternal lives. Exaltation requires eternal parenthood, eternal parenthood requires eternal marriage.

President Joseph F. Smith
In 1913, President Joseph F. Smith said:

The house of the Lord is a house of order and not a house of confusion; and that means, that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; and that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God, without the woman, and no woman can reach the perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone. That is what it means. God instituted marriage in the beginning, he made man in his own image and likeness, male and female, and in their creation it was designed that they should be united together in sacred bonds of marriage, and one is not perfect without the other.

Furthermore, it means that there is no union for time and eternity that can be consummated outside of the law of God, and the order of his house. Men may desire it, they may go through the form of it in this life, but it will be of none effect except it be done and sanctioned by divine authority, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. (CR, April 1913, 118-19, emphasis mine).

It is important to understand that those who enter the new and everlasting covenant of marriage are not covenanting to keep the commandments in general. They have already made those covenants in the waters of baptism. When entering the patriarchal order of the priesthood together in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, the bride’s and groom’s promises are much more specific; they promise to keep laws, rites and ordinances that pertain to marriage.

President Joseph Fielding Smith
In 1972, President Joseph Fielding Smith emphasized:

There is nothing that will ever come into your family life that is as important as the sealing blessings of the temple and then keeping the covenants made in connection with this order of celestial marriage. (Ensign, July 1972, 27).

Obviously, we must take such sacred promises seriously and think deeply and honestly about their meaning and import. What are the laws, rites and ordinances of marriage?

The first marriage was performed by God when he joined Adam and Eve together. (See Genesis 2:20-24). Note that Eve is called Adam’s “wife.” This was an eternal marriage, as they were both infinite and eternal beings at the time.

The Law of Marriage

What was the great commandment or law given to Adam and Eve? (See Genesis 1:26-27). It was to “multiply and replenish.” The word “replenish” should be translated “fill.” (See Genesis 1:28, footnote “c;” note also verse 22 where the same Hebrew verb is used interchangeably).

God commanded them to multiply. This law applies to all who enter the order of marriage. This is the first and great law of marriage -- we are commanded to multiply and fill the earth, that we might have joy in our posterity. Imagine that! We are commanded to be joyful!

President Ezra Taft Benson
In 1988, President Ezra Taft Benson testified:

I can assure that the greatest responsibility and the greatest joys in life are centered in the family, honorable marriage, and rearing a righteous posterity. (Ensign, May 1988, 52).

The Rite of Marriage

What is the rite or ritual that applies to marriage? It is the rite or ritual of “sexual union,” or “the passing of the seed.” Many will say sexual relations between a man and a woman can easily be accomplished outside the bounds of marriage and it is perfectly legal under the laws of the land, because we see that fact played out on TV nearly every night. Adultery, fornication and homosexuality are rampant, perfectly acceptable and legal in society today, but sexual relations between unmarried men and women are forbidden by God regardless of whatever societal norms or the laws of the land may permit.

Furthermore, we understand God eternally accepts and ratifies only an eternal marriage when men, women and children are sealed by his authority, and only that marriage will continue to retain the priesthood power of the seeds forever if they remain faithful. (See D&C 132:15-24).

President Spencer W. Kimball
In 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

We do not raise children just to please our vanity. We bring children into the world to become kings and queens, and priests and priestesses for our Lord. (In General Conference Report, Buenos Aires Area Conference 1975, 26).

The Ordinance of Marriage

Now a word about the ordinance we covenant to observe and obey in this order of marriage. The law is to multiply by the rite of holy sexual union to form a living soul, so the ordinance associated with marriage should be obvious.

Birth is the first great ordinance of this life, or the first “living endowment” of this life. Truly, this is a most wondrous and miraculous ordinance. In this holy ordinance a spirit child of God is endowed with a physical body. This physical body must be obtained in order to have all “power over those who have not.” (See TPJS, 181). This physical body is necessary to receive a fullness of joy. (See D&C 93:33-34). This physical body is a prerequisite to becoming a God. (See D&C 130: 22). This physical body is the main object of our coming to earth. (See TPJS, 181). We will each take this physical body with us into the eternities by observing and keeping the priesthood ordinance of resurrection. (See JD 15:137; D&C 88:15-16, 27-29). It is hard to imagine a holier priesthood ordinance in this world than the first priesthood ordinance we call birth.

President Kimball glories in the possibilities of motherhood:

Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children, and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Could there be a more sacred trust than to be a trustee for honorable, well-born, well-developed children? (TSWK, 326).

President George Albert Smith
In 1907, President George Albert Smith:

How will those feel who fail to obey that first great command when they stand in the presence of the creator, who says to them, as He said to those of olden times, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” How can they comply with that invitation if they have no children to take to the Father? . . . I realize there are some men and women who are grieved because they are not fathers and mothers, they are not blessed of the Lord in that particular, they have no children of their own, and by no fault of their own. I believe the Lord will provide in such cases. (CR, October 1907, 38).

President Joseph Fielding Smith:

If the responsibilities of parenthood are willfully avoided here, then how can the Lord bestow upon the guilty the blessings of eternal increase? It cannot be, and they shall be denied such blessings. (The Way to Perfection, 239).

President Brigham Young
President Brigham Young:

There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? -- To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and women to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. (Discourses of Brigham Young, John A. Widstoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941], 197).

The daughters of God are under covenant just as much as the sons of God to keep his commandments, and to diligently perform their assigned duties on earth. The Doctrine and Covenants says the daughters of God are given in marriage to the sons of God

. . . to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified. (D&C 132:63).

God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (See Moses 1:39). He cannot bring to pass the immortality of man if his mortal sons and daughters thwart the work of bringing to pass the mortality of man. This is not an idle cliché we hear frequently in the Church, nor has the doctrine been outdated by the current conditions of a godless society. The prophets have consistently laid stress on our part of the work and glory of God.

Elder Melvin J. Ballard
Elder Melvin J. Ballard said:

There is a passage in our Scriptures which the Latter-day Saints accept as divine: “This is the glory of God -- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Likewise we could say that this is the glory of men and women -- to bring to pass the mortality of sons and daughters of God, to give earth-life to the waiting children of our Father. . . The greatest mission of woman is to give life, earth-life, through honorable marriage, to the waiting spirits, our Father’s spirit children who anxiously desire to come to dwell here in this mortal state. All the honor and glory that can come to men or women by the development of their talents, the homage and the praise they may receive from an applauding world, worshipping at their shrine of genius, is but a dim thing whose luster shall fade in comparison to the high honor, the eternal glory, the ever-enduring happiness that shall come to the woman who fulfills the first great duty and mission that devolves upon her to become the mother of the sons and daughters of God. The jewels in her crown, the stars that still glisten in her diadem, in time and in eternity, shall be the sons and the daughters to whom, through the blessing of the Lord, she has been instrumental in not only giving earth-life, but in bringing them, through care and devotion and faithfulness, into the paths that God has appointed for his children to follow. . . (Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, 203-4).

The prophets have been consistently clear on this important doctrine throughout the entire dispensation. They have taught, counseled and warned the saints these truths have eternal ramifications, and that the saints will be blessed if they are faithful to their covenants. Joseph Smith prophesied “the day would come when none but the women of the Latter-day Saints would be willing to bear children,” and his words are sadly coming to pass. (See Joseph Smith The Prophet, Truman G. Madsen, 39).

I plead with you, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to stand with truth, stand with God, stand with the leaders of the Church, teach the doctrine I have outlined here boldly and without apology amid the evils and sophistries of man in this wicked world. Reach out in love and patience to those who are blinded by the craftiness of others and have gone astray, restore unto them their sight of these promises and blessings and the hope of eternal life.

No matter how unpopular or inconvenient it may become, the priest and priestess must be diligent in their respective duties, if the couple is to obtain the exaltation the Lord has promised those who keep the laws, rites and ordinances of marriage in the patriarchal order of the priesthood. These solemn promises and covenants are most sacred. Of the reality of the Author of these truths I humbly testify.