Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Do all roads lead to God? Why does there have to be one true church?

This is part of a question that I received from a friend of mine. I have edited my answer both for the sake of clarity, and also to remove any personal references that might infringe on the privacy of my friend. 

Q: What’s with the one true church thing? Sometimes it just feels like they (the LDS church) want me to join some elitist club or something. Is the whole “one true” thing really necessary? Like I said, I believe in logic, and the LDS seem to make the most sense, but what does it matter if I’m a card carrying member if I believe?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You Are Never Beyond The Reach of God's Love

Even in the depths of sin, hope comes through the Savior. Don't give up, and don't give in to despair.

I read an article the other day about a young woman who was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her high school teacher. Her parents, who were already devastated, are broken-hearted because she is convinced that she is meant to be with this teacher (who is now in prison), and she apparently has come to despise her parents because they won’t let her be with him. She has left home, she smokes and drinks and does drugs (whereas she apparently didn’t do so before), and she won’t talk to her parents. Apparently she has gone a little wild in these and other ways.

It is my opinion that this unfortunate girl believes that she is lost and damned forever, and that it doesn’t matter anymore what she does with her life. I believe that, despite her apparent devotion to her abuser, deep down she feels as if she is a sinner because of what he did to her.

Firstly, I would like to declare unequivocally that victims of abuse (sexual or otherwise) are just that: victims. Despite feelings of guilt and shame that accompany such abuse, the victim is never responsible for the abuse, and they are certainly not guilty of sin where the abuse is concerned. I cannot state this strongly enough. When I was a child I was the victim of long-term physical and emotional abuse, and I was informed by several of my fellow church members on several separate occasions that I should not have provoked my abuser, or they merely made implications that there must have been something wrong with me because I was abused. More often I was just treated like a liar because they did not want to believe that this person that they knew and respected could beat his wife and children.

The actions of these church members were in complete disharmony with the stated policy and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as explained on the official church website lds.org:

“Victims of abuse should be assured that they are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. They do not need to feel guilt. If they have been a victim of rape or other sexual abuse, whether they have been abused by an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a family member, victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sexual sin.”

It is not my intention to dwell on the issue of abuse today (a subject for another day perhaps). I chose to share this tragic story in order to examine the self-destructive choices that are being made by a girl that is undoubtedly confused and hurting in the wake of this horrendous incident. The reason I chose to address this subject today is that the story of this unfortunate girl who is making a whole slew of bad choices in the wake of what she apparently perceives to be one major sin (as I stated above, she didn't commit a sin, but she doesn't understand that), is altogether too common. As I read her story, I was strongly reminded of people that I know and have known who feel that they are hopeless cases who are beyond the reach of the Savior. I speak now of those people who generally have not been abused but rather who, through their own human weakness, have committed a serious sin, and instead of seeking the solace of forgiveness through repentance and the atonement of Jesus Christ, they choose instead to sink deeper and deeper into sin. I see this happening around me almost continually. I have friends who, for whatever reason, have fallen into the depths of transgression. Some of them have managed to find their way back to happiness and righteousness, others still struggle with sin, and still others may never free themselves from the snare of sin. Some of my friends and acquaintances have become so hardened, through sin, that they might not come back even if they felt like they could. Many of these people were raised in good homes in which they were taught the principles of the Gospel, and yet they have chosen to reject all that they learned as a child. What motivates such a departure from what they must know is good and right?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What happens to us when we die? Part V: Degrees of Glory

Click to go to a previous installment:

Part IV: Judgment

Part III: Resurrection

Part II: The Spirit World

Part I: Death

V. Degrees of Glory

Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15 that while all men will be resurrected, not everyone will be resurrected to the same state of glory. He compares these degrees of glory to that of the sun, the moon, and the stars respectively. In so doing he is merely using a comparison to illustrate the glorious nature of the resurrection of our bodies, and the difference in glory among the states to which a man may be resurrected.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What happens to us when we die? Part IV: Judgement

Follow these links to go to a previous installment:

Part III: Resurrection

Part II: The Spirit World

Part I: Death


a. Jesus Christ performed the atonement in order to bring mankind back into the presence of God. All mankind will be brought to stand before Christ so that they might be judged.
Helaman 14:17 But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.

3 Nephi 27: 14-15 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

b. We will be brought to stand before the Savior to be judged.
John 5:22-23 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

What happens to us when we die? Part III: Resurrection

This is a treatment of resurrection as it fits into the larger plan of salvation, and therefore it is concerned primarily with the nature and characteristics of our resurrected bodies, and the state that we will be in upon receiving them. For a more detailed examination of every aspect of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, click here.


There is nothing to fear in death. It is a natural part of life, and a part of God’s plan for his children. We could not progress to the next life without it. (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

"Viewed from an eternal perspective, we live to die; and we die to live again....Birth is the gateway to mortal life; death is the gateway to immortality and eternal life."  (Russell M. Nelson, The Gateway We Call Death, pg. 5)

The only fear in death is to die in one’s sins, as Paul says “O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (See 1 Corinthians 15:55-56). This great victory that comes through Christ is the victory of resurrection and immortality over death and corruptible mortality.
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