So today while I was studying the Joseph Smith Manual while waiting for Sacrament, I started reading the chapter entitled “Prayer and Personal Revelation” It was where I found the Joseph Smith quote I mentioned in the last post. As I turned the page I discovered the words of Joseph to his uncle Silas Smith.
Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to understand by anything heretofore revealed that he had ceased forever to speak to his creatures when sought unto in a proper manner, why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation? Perhaps you may be surprised at this assertion, that I should say for the salvation of his creatures in these last days, since we have already in our possession a vast volume of his word which he has previously given.
The letter goes on to describe that because of the examples given in the scriptures of repeated prophecies of the fathers given to the Children such as the Abrahamic promise given to Issac and later Jacob. That
the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient for Abraham, or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his nativity and seek an inheritance in a strange country upon the word spoken to Noah, but for himself he obtained promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in that perfection that he was called the friend of God.
Joseph then tells us that:
If one man can live upon the revelations given to another, might not I with propriety ask, why the necessity, then, of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did, as is recorded in the 26th chapter of Genesis? For the Lord there repeats, or rather promises again, to perform the oath which he had previously sworn unto Abraham. And why this repetition to Isaac? Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham? Was not Isaac Abraham’s son? And could he not place implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man of God? Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and different from men in these last days; consequently, the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different, as he was different from men in this age. I admit that he was a peculiar man and was not only peculiarly blessed, but greatly blessed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the man, or all the difference between him and men in this age, is that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day.
The same might be said on the subject of Jacob’s history. Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same promise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to Isaac? Why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers?
When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to them? The promise or word to Abraham was that his seed should serve in bondage and be afflicted four hundred years, and after that they should come out with great substance. Why did they not rely upon this promise and, when they had remained in Egypt in bondage four hundred years, come out without waiting for further revelation, but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come out?
Joseph, to me, is imploring of the necessity of continuing revelation particularly for our day because even the words of revelation given to a father are not sufficient for even the literal children let alone many generations down the line, even though Issac clearly falls under the stewardship of his Father, the Prophet, Abraham.
Joseph then goes on to describe how Even Paul recognized this principle (this part is not included in the Manual but I was able to find it here (page 206-7) and have reproduced it below)
paul said to his hebrew brethren that god might more abundantly show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel he confirmed it by an oath he also exhorts them who through faith and patience inherit the promises notwithstanding we said Paul have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast and which entereth into that within the vail.
This seems to me a continuation of the principle of Line upon line and precept upon precept, but that the original line should not be taken for granted as a given, but needs to be expressly restated as was to Issac and Jacob. This seems particular to me in that every jott and tittle concerning homosexuality from the Church comes from prophets ancient, and even the most recent that might be revelation and not just personal feeling (highly unlikely however) comes from Spencer W. Kimball who could have been my mothers grandfather. Don’t we need some new revelation concerning this? Most of what we have concerning this however doesn’t come from modern revelation, as is needed, but comes from the Old Testament. So we are basing our actions off of revelation given 4000 years ago when, according to Joseph Smith stated:
I may believe that Enoch walked with God. I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels and heard the word of his Maker, that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained a blessing. I may believe that Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses. I may believe that the saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face after his resurrection. I may believe that the Hebrew church came to Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into eternity and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.
But will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me to the regions of eternal day with my garments spotless, pure, and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself? And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers and listen to my cries as soon as he ever did to theirs if I come to him in the manner they did?
I think that this is a crucial aspect for each of us personally but as the church on the whole. While I can fully believe the storis of the Old, New and Another Testaments does it profer me anything? Or must I obtain, as is my privilage just like the ancient saints and Joseph Smith, an assurance of the gospel and particularly how it relates to me a Gay man trying to do what is right?
I have often experienced, and I am sure that we all have, the feeling that happens when we review a topic after 6 months, a year, several years how the meaning that we see changes because we ourselves have changed. I believe that this is a fundamental reason for the need to read the scriptures constantly because each time we do we discover more about them and about ourselves. Doesn’t it make sense then for the Church, an entity who has based its position on homosexuality not on the present leader but on past prophets, to excercise its privilage of continuing revelation and ask the Lord for some clarification concerning this issue rather than silence or ambiquity?
I have been told by many members that I shouldn’t look for more but should instead accept what has been given. This struck a minor chord in me and reminded me of 2 Nephi 28:27-30, the infamous ‘a Bible, a Bible, We already have a Bible’ line
27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!
28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.
29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
I can’t help but shake this feeling that there is more knowledge and truth concerning homosexuality in regards to the church that we haven’t recieved yet because those with stewardship have not asked with an open mind and a broken heart and a contrite spirit to recieve the knowledge, or that the Lord has chosen to withold such revelation because it might cause more saints to leave the Church and hamper its ability to grow and the saints just aren’t ready to hear it yet.
And I pray that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 will kneel down in humble prayer asking for the truth with stayagraha in their hearts, that they will be willing to endure great personal suffering in order to do what is right. I implore them to do this so that even if the counsel simply clears up the ambiguities that we who suffer will be able to do so based on the revelation that is our privilage to hear and obtain. I pray that this April we will no longer cast this topic into the category of “For Young Men Only” and discuss it with shame and scorn, but rather drag it out in the open even if by exposing it to the light the leadership shakes the faith of members or even if they bring it out to publicly destroy it. Please no longer discuss this in fear, causing many young men and women to tremble in fear at themselves and at the words spoken each week by ignorant members, please lets bring this out into the light because as Justice Brandeis said “sunshine is the greatest of all disinfectants.” Please let us stand clean and pure and unspotted before the world and before God. Let us not be confused and pulled between a dilemma and a dichotomy that is agravated by the ambiguities of homosexuality.