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.

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