Wednesday, January 20, 2010

UVU Drops Prophet's Name from Events Center

It was recently announced that Utah Valley University will remove "David O. McKay" from the name of their events center and place the name on a nearby education building. See article here. The idea for the name change apparently came from the original anonymous donors who initially donated $3 million to the college in order to place the prophet's name on the arena.

Am I the only one who cringed when the McKay Events Center would host entertainers with questionable morals and values? I could be mistaken, but I think Ozzy Osbourne played there once. Didn't he once tear up a copy of the Book of Mormon while on stage?

Although there are those seeing this as simply a move for the University to attract a new nameplace donor, I think the move to place the prophet's name on an education building was a good move in light of what David O. McKay stood for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

He’s Rich, He Must Be Very Righteous

It’s interesting to me that Latter-day Saints often equate financial success with personal righteousness when it comes to fellow members of the Church. It’s probably a result of living in such a success-oriented and materialistic world. However, I think most would agree that anyone can be monetarily rich, regardless of their status before God, as long as they are determined enough to make it so.

As Latter-day Saints, apparently one of our greatest tests we must endure in these last days is the acquisition of and proper use of wealth. Brigham Young once declared that “[t]he worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear … is that they cannot stand wealth” (James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer, Salt Lake City: Geo. Q. Cannon and Sons Co., 1900, pp. 122–23) (emphasis added).

Is wealth evil, then? Certainly not, since it is “the love of money” that constitutes the “root of all evil,” not money itself (see 1 Tim. 6:10). Indeed, President David O. McKay counseled that “[g]old does not corrupt man; it is in the motive of acquiring that gold that corruption occurs” (Treasures of Life, p.175). The false idea that financial success follows righteousness may stem, at least partly, from the following statement from Jacob:

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted” (Jacob 2:18-19)(emphasis added)

Accordingly, all those who have received a hope in Christ, who are true and faithful to every covenant, and who further seek for riches, will be prospered, right? Not quite. There have been too many righteous men and women (i.e., men and women that know true success in life) who have lived and died in humble circumstances for us to conclude that financial success = righteousness.

Instead, I propose an alternative interpretation to the term “riches.” The Lord explained in modern revelation the following:

Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich” (D&C 6:7) (emphasis added).

And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39) (emphasis added)

Thus, I submit that, in at least one interpretation, “riches” may consist of intangible heavenly goods, such as an increase in spiritual guidance, revelation, and, above all, eternal life. This interpretation further accords with the Lord’s admonition that where one’s treasure is, there will his heart be also (see Matt. 6:21). Indeed, if our treasure is God’s greatest gift (i.e., eternal life), our heart will certainly be willing to “clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”

Sunday, January 10, 2010

LDS Family Services: Isn't It About Time...To Get It On?

My previous post on Marijuana and the Word of Wisdom (WoW) was inspired by what I viewed as an irony where the government may in some cases dictate what is permissible for medical use under the WoW. Another irony came to mind as I was thinking a few days ago about Alma's advice to his son Corianton, that wickedness never was happiness.

In full disclosure, my wife and I are trying to adopt through LDS Family Services. We have already adopted once and it was a great experience. We occasionally are contacted by various birth mothers and will reply to emails, hoping that someone will choose us. After recently being contacted by a potential birth mother, I inadvertently thought to myself that I was grateful that she had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, so that some family could have children, even if it was not mine. And that is where the irony kicks in.

There are hundreds of couples that are waiting, praying, fasting, and sacrificing so that they will be chosen for adoption. And the only way for this to happen is for, in most cases, a boy and a girl to commit a serious violation of the Law of Chastity. That leads me to wonder, only hypothetically, should I pray for more of these scenarios to happen so that I can adopt? It blesses the lives of many. I suppose it's just one of those things where a good situation can occur from a bad one, but I do find it ironic that the happiness that I experience with my son was caused by the wickedness of someone else. Perhaps God does have a sense of humor, or at least a sense of irony.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How Are We to be Perfect in Mortality?

Latter-day Saints believe that our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation aims to transform those who are saved by Christ to be like Christ. We take literally the words of Paul that “[t]he Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16). Indeed, He is the Father of our spirits (Heb. 12:9) and we are his offspring (Acts 17:29); it only makes sense that offspring will eventually grow up to be what their parents are.

The New Testament itself contains Jesus’ directive to “[b]e ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48) (emphasis added). President Hugh B. Brown emphasized that “[w]e take seriously and literally the injunction of the Savior to be perfect” (Conference Report, Oct. 1966, 102).

But what is the perfection that our Heavenly Father expects us to achieve while in mortality?

Today, we often characterize perfection as “sinless” or “flawless,” but there has only been One that truly meets that classification. And yet the scriptures attest that “Noah was a just man and perfect” (Gen. 6:9); Job was “perfect and upright” (Job 1:1); and Seth was “a perfect man” (D&C 107:43). Consequently, the scriptural definition of perfection seems to differ from our modern definition.

There are only 5 words in the Bible that are translated as “perfect”: (Hebrew) 1) shalem (1Kings 8:61; 15:14; 2Kings 20:30); 2) tam (Job 1:1); 3) tammim (Gen. 6:9; 17:1; Duet. 18:13); (Greek) 4) teleios (Matt. 5:48; 19:21; Eph. 4:13; Col. 4:12; James 3:2); and 5) artios (1Tim. 3:17). And yet, none of these words actually mean “sinless.” Instead, each is better depicted as “whole,” “complete,” “undefiled,” “upright,” or “just.”

So, what type of a person is someone who is whole, complete, undefiled, etc., if we are to obtain such a state of being? To help explain this, Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated the following:

We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. You don’t. There’s only been one perfect person, and that’s the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path – thus charting a course leading to eternal life – and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship… If you’re on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you’ll never get off the path.

There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you’re working zealously in this life – though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do – you’re still going to be saved…

You don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true. You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church – keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes – because this is the time and the day appointed, this is the probationary estate – you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure” (McConkie, “Probationary Test of Mortality,” p.8) (emphasis added; paragraphing altered).

Accordingly, someone who is whole, complete, upright, and so forth (i.e., “perfect”), is someone who lives as an upright member of the Church and avoids unbalanced, fanatical Church zeal. It is someone who, upon sinning, immediately repents and is once again reconciled to God. In other words, perfection in mortality simply amounts to living our lives by doing those things we know to be right and true, for if we are doing this and we die while in the process, we cannot fall from that path in the world to come.