Monotamy is Unnatural or My Hominem Beats Your Hominem


ImageA friend on Facebook linked to this blog entry: Monogamy is unnatural. In it a blogger replies to an email he received from a professor claiming that monogamy is unnatural. I would like to address my concerns about the statements made by both the professor and the blogger named Matt.

Aside from the Professor’s disgraceful Ad Hominem attacks I will address some of his points here:

Professor: Your prose are rife with fallacies and Neanderthalic musings,

This itself is a fallacy and illogical. I’m surprised that a Professor would accuse someone of being “Neanderthalic.” It has been proven that Neanderthals were a very intelligence and skillful subspecies of humans. In fact most people of European descent have 5% Neanderthal DNA inside of them. Neanderthals even had larger brains the modern humans.

Professor: Sexual unions between humans are not meant to be permanent.

I disagree. Adults benefit from long term sexual unions. Children also benefit from a large community of committed adults. However the professor is right in that humans are not designed to be limited to one long term sexual companionship. We have been culturally programmed to believe that is the case, but both biology and psychology indicate that we are not.

Professor: You do not find it often in the animal kingdom, and where you do it is generally born of an evolutionary necessity. The necessity of monogamy among humankind has evaporated.

This is misleading. He is attempting to minimize the concept of monogamy in the natural world. From what I understand monogamy is fairly common in the natural world. Is is relatively uncommon in the primate world though. He is also incorrect that there was a necessity of monogamy among humankind that has since evaporated. This is not correct. There has never been a necessity of monogamy in human history except for that imposed by ancient and modern western culture(and the Chinese). And in these cases monogamy was instituted to control men and women.

Professor: It is your constant reinforcement of archaic relationship models that really does the profoundest of damage.

Actually polygamy is the most archaic(meaning oldest) and traditional form of marriage. Monogamy as the standard form of marriage is a relatively recent invention.

Professor: I am married. I’ve been married for 15 years and my wife and I both sleep with other people. We are honest about this, which makes our open relationship more healthy than “monogamous” relationships built on lies.

I agree that an open relationship is better than a monogamous marriage where the spouse cheats and lies(my interpretation of “built on lies”). However a polygamous marriage of committed people is much better than any “open marriage.” It provides safety and security for all people involved. It is much better than temporary sexual trysts with no commitment or cause for support. The professor’s noncommittal “Open Marriage” is very damaging because it treats humans as commodities. They are used for their sexuality. With a polygamous marriage all people involved are valued. They all support and benefit from each other.

Now on to Matt:

Matt: (After addressing the Professor with much sarcasm) No, my dear Professor, I am a humble man and I can only write in plain language, using words that, you know, exist.

This is an appeal to Pathos because he is appealing to the understanding of his audience. It builds Ethos in their eyes because they can relate to being the simple, humble people. He is trying to build authority to his audience will accept his later arguments because they are on the same team.

Matt: A married person who doesn’t believe in monogamy seems an awful lot like a Satanist in a church choir, or an existential nihilist performing lifesaving heart surgery.

False Analogy and Non Sequitur. Marriage does not automatically mean exclusivity. A married person who doesn’t believe in monogamy is simply a married person who does not believe in monogamy. I ask Matt to show proof that marriage is automatically exclusive. I don’t mean various traditions and cultural ceremonies. I mean marriage itself.

Matt: Monogamy is not natural. You’re right about that. It’s supernatural.

An appeal to emotion. It is not rational. Matt presents no evidence to show that monogamy is better than Polygamy. Instead he relies on the readers culturally engrained positive feelings about monogamy to prove his point.

You see Matt one of the things that the professor failed to mention in his attempt at minimizing monogamy in animals is that animals who are truly monogamous don’t have to struggle to be monogamist. They don’t have to “rise above the natural man.” True monogamist animals don’t have to change their thinking to not look at other women after they find a mate. They don’t have to find ways to keep spicing it up after things get monotonous. They don’t have to worry about cheating and high divorce rates. Because monogamist animals are really monogamous. The reason we have all of these “problems” is because our instincts tell us one thing but modern culture tells us another. Our culture tells us that these are “problems” and that we need to rise above them to be pure and holy monogamists.

But it’s time to face facts; our culture is wrong. We are not monogamist creatures and we are doing harm to current generations and will continue to harm future generations if we continue this farce. And yes I can list the ways monogamy is damaging our society if you really want me to.

Matt: If I wanted to be natural, I could live in a hole like a rodent, eat insects, and scamper from one mate to the next, until, after a life of nothingness, I die alone in the cold darkness, decomposing into the dirt without anyone ever noticing. That would be natural. It’s probably pretty realistic, too. So it is fortunate that I am a human being and I am given the chance to transcend the existence of a rat or a lizard. I have the opportunity to experience supernatural things like love, and sacrifice, and commitment.

False analogy. Even the most early humans had experiences transcending those of rats of lizards. This comment reeks of ethnocentricity and cultural evolutionism. Ancient humans living in communal multi-mate tribes experienced more love, sacrifice, and commitment than Matt will probably ever in his monogamous marriage.

You see, unlike the Hollywood images we are given of ancient cavemen who say “ug.” Humans who are more in tune with the natural environment are remarkably sophisticated. I would say that in many way they are more advanced that modern humans because they were in harmony with their surroundings. Can you say the same thing for our modern society of big cities, pollution, smog, and lacking intimacy?

Matt: Monogamy and loyalty are higher things.

Again no information is offered to back up this assertion. But it feels good to the audience because it reaffirms their engrained cultural biases. That statement is also ethnocentric. Granted it is rebutting an “open marriage” but the idea is that somebody who loves more than one person cannot be loyal to all of them. That monogamy is higher and more loyal than polygamy. That is ridiculous and can be easily dis proven. The idea of monogamy being “higher” doesn’t make any sense(Really what does that mean anyway?). How do you rate something as being “higher?” Higher in relationship to what standard of measure?

Matt: Why should it be hard for me to simply refrain from tossing such a gift into the garbage?

Polygamy does not toss people aside as garbage. Polygamous families are just as capable, if not more, at valuing all people in the family. It is you cultural training that tell you that if a man is married to multiple women(polygyny) each women only gets a portion of the man. Or that a man must leave one of his wives to be with the others(again using polygyny as an example). But that is all hogwash. You seem to value the idea of humans transcending something. So why not transcending the numbers game that anti-polygamists play? Love is not a limited commodity. The more love the better. Can you say there is such a thing as too much love?

Matt: Marriages, by definition, are supposed to be closed.

Upon further reflection I actually disagree. I would say that marriage by definition are supposed to be committed. But I say that carefully because there are many societies where the man and woman stay separate. The wife will stay with her family and her brothers will take on the father role of her children.

It is western culture that has placed the “closed” limitation on marriage. It does not have to be there and does not mean that once a person is married they are incapable of entering into other marriages.

Matt: If you aren’t strong enough to stay committed to one person, that’s your business.

I could say , “if you aren’t strong enough to stay committed to multiple people, that’s your business.” But it carries no weight other than to impress your audience by sounding “romantic” This idea is based on American cultural assumptions. It makes the reader feel good about their ideas rather than presenting any real data to back up the assertion.

I pity the man who has to fight so hard against his instincts to maintain a cultural ideal that has been created arbitrarily and handed down to him by tradition alone.

I suggest you get a copy of the book “Sex at Dawn.” It goes into great detail about how human mating is deigned to work. It gives examples of many modern tribes to show how our even more ancient ancestors lived. The proof is in the pudding as they say.

Now don’t be scared, it doesn’t read like a text book it is actually very fun and entertaining to read. So it is perfect for humble men who can only write in plain language.

I believe that God’s(or Nature’s; you can choose but I find the distinction meaningless) design for mankind will ultimately prevail and we will be able to throw of the false traditions of modern society. We will be able to return to a more harmonious way of living. And how do we teach our children to live harmoniously with others? Is it by teaching them to be selfish or to share?

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Facebook Page


headerimageszomarah2I started a facebook page for this blog. You can like and follow it here: https://www.facebook.com/zomarahpurenews

I’ve heard that just liking a page does not guarantee you will get all the updates. So it will take a couple extra clicks to make sure all the status updates show up in your news feed: https://www.facebook.com/notes/random-thoughts-n-lotsa-coffee/how-to-make-sure-your-favorite-pages-show-in-your-newsfeed/398706583504230

My idea for the facebook page is to post ideas I have that aren’t long enough to justify a blog post. Also some good discussion might come from these ideas that may lead to future posts.

I haven’t been posting here as much as I would like but I do have stuff in the works. So visit my page and you’ll probably be hearing a lot more from me than you do here.

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New Temple Movie Review


DISCLAIMER: In this post I present my biased opinion as to the way it was filmed and put together. I also like to throw a bit of humor in just to lighten it up. This is not meant to disparage the Endowment or the film. Also I don’t discuss anything I have covenanted not to. I hope there’s no hard feelings from any of my L-DS friends(if they read it).

After a brief pre-recorded introduction the officiator sat down. I was surprised how few people were in this session because of how many cars were in the temple parking lot. I had joked with my wife that, “All these people must be here for the premier.” Then lights in the creation room dimmed and the movie began. The first new thing was the music. It had some good oomph to it, but the violin parts made it seem really small for an epic expansive space shot. Then multicolored nebulae appeared on the screen. However they seemed a bit to stiff and motionless, I was hoping for something a bit more epic.

As we panned through another nebula white streaks of light appeared from the bottom of the screen. Then in a bright flash there was God, Jehovah, and Michael. Their bright white clothing was a significant improvement over the plastic shower curtain style of the previous films. God looked Jewish and Jehovah had effeminate lips accentuated by his white mustache and beard. The whole scene was brightly light with glowing effects. The hardest part to make out was what they were standing on. It was like a big glowing rock.

After some dialogue, heaven disappeared and in a bright flash and we were back with the nebula. As the dialogue of the formation of the earth progressed we saw several shots of the earth forming. A ball of gas; a molten planet; then the planet cooling. They definitely did a pretty good job of incorporating modern scientific understanding of planet formation.

fantasy-the-lord-of-the-rings-fantasy-art-artwork-HD-WallpapersThen as they planned the formation of land we saw a “Lord of the Rings”-esque planning shot with drawings of water, mountains, volcanoes and rivers appearing on a parchment-like background. When we got to the stage of actually carrying out the plan(“we will go down”) we saw actual shots of volcanoes, rocks, rivers, etc.

If I recall correctly it was at this point that we went back to heaven in a bright flash. Then I realized just what it was they were standing on. I noticed that this “rock” has an opalescent quality. I also noticed diamond and glass-like qualities to the surface. BING! That’s supposed to be like the “sea of glass” mentioned in revelations. It was kind of cool but also a bit disorienting. They were just standing on this blob of glowy, glassy, shiny stuff.

The creation continued with Lord of the Rings parchment planning scenes and the live shot “creating” scenes. The dialogue hadn’t changed so it didn’t seem any more open to evolution than any of the previous versions. The only big difference is that we saw the earth form as I mentioned above. Also something new happened when they were creating the lights, the greater to rule the day, the lesser to rule the night; when they got to the stars we all cast our gaze skyward as LEDs which had been installed in the ceilling, lit up to engross us in the experience.

Then when the earth is pronounced finished we saw a huge wave crash dramatically over a rock, probably filmed somewhere in the pacific. It was a nice shot.

Then we went back to heaven and prepared for mankind to be created. When they started discussing it, we get the parchment drawings again, but this time of Adam and Eve and a pair of hands holding the forbidden fruit. The actual tree of the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was rather small. It was dwarfed by the palm trees behind it.

We went down to the tropical paradise garden(Really, why is it always a tropical paradise? Why not a north American forest or something?). As Adam was formed the camera panned past some rocks with a small cleft where we briefly caught a glimpse Adam laying down. Then it moved past the rocks and we got a clearer view of Adam. He was laying down with his upper body propped up against a rock. Everything below his neck was covered in mist. I noticed that some light chest hair could be seen on our Adam. Behind Adam was something like a thin rock wall. Elohim and Jehovah were standing behind the rock wall. This was one of the corniest shots, because it looked like Adam is snoozing in a hot tub.

40330_proAdam was a Josh Brolin look-alike. He was in his late 30′s. He didn’t necessarily have white-white skin, but his black hair and eyebrows made his skin look white. However Adam’s voice wasn’t what I expected, it was slightly high pitched and nasally.

After Adam got up, Elohim and Jehovah presented Eve to him. Adam and Eve looked off into the distance at the Garden as they are about to be introduced into it. The lights went up and we moved from the Creation Room into the Garden Room.

Eve was also in her later 30s and not as attractive as many have been hoping for. The blonde Eve in the previous film was probably the most attractive. Our Eve was a Miriama Smith look-alike except she looked older and less attractive. Of course for all I know it could very well have been Miriama Smith who would now be older and maybe less attractive than when I saw her in “Other Side of Heaven.” (I don’t think she really is, but then again I don’t follow celebrities).

I spent the rest of the endowment trying to remember what movie she looked like she was from.

I spent the rest of the endowment trying to remember what movie she seemed to be from.

NOTE: I know some may find discussing the attractiveness of the actress who plays Eve to be distasteful. And I find it a bit superficial myself. However I’ve noticed it is one of the topics discussed about the new temple movie. So I feel it is appropriate to include it.

In the Garden Room with the lights dimmed the film resumed. We saw various shots of Adam and Eve walking through the Garden. We literally NEVER saw ANYTHING below the shoulders. Thankfully though, instead of the only employing the miraculously placed flora trick to hide Adam and Eve’s naughty bits, they were carrying baskets woven from plants(I thought there was no death before the fall. So how could they kill the leaves of a plant to make a basket?). They were gathering leaves and fruits in these baskets presumably to eat.

Adam was carrying one such basket when suddenly he saw a red robed man crouched near the Tree of Knowledge. This was of course Lucifer who then stood up and offered Adam some fruit. Adam refused the dried-ornamental-pepper-strawberry-tomato fruit(I would too. It looked all dried and disgusting. I prefer the triple-lobed-pear-plum fruit of the previous film.).

Lucifer in this film was easily forgettable compared to Micheael Ballam’s Lucifer. He was a

For Lucifer just imagine Jim Parsons but with less hair.

For Lucifer just imagine Jim Parsons but with less hair.

small mousy man. He was clean shaven and balding. The only thing that gave him any screen presence was his wardrobe. He wore bold reds contrasted with dark blacks. Golden embroidery adorned his apparel. As the film progressed Lucifer, Adam, and Eve’s attire changed, presumable to represent the passage of time. It was a nice touch that helped the story feel like it was moving along.

Next we saw Eve sitting down, her naughty lady bits covered in the latest“modest is hottest” woven baskets. Lucifer approached her from a distance. Slowly he snaked his way closer, tempting her. Then he knelt before her with his head bowed, offering the fruit to her as the only way to become like God. She paused and contemplated. She stood and looked towards the tree. You could see on her face that this was a difficult decision. Then, almost tearfully, she took the dried-ornamental-pepper-strawberry-tomato fruit and took a bite.

Lucifer kind of seemed like a nice guy up until this point; but after Eve partook his demeanor changed as he knew he had succeeded. He told Eve to get Adam to partake. In the next shot Adam was sitting by a tree with bushes that just happened to be blocking the camera view to anything below his shoulders(the camera man couldn’t have moved the camera?). Eve tearfully approached Adam and explained what happened. She told Adam that he will be left alone in the garden. He knew what he must do to remain with Eve. A tear rolled down his left check as a took the fruit and ate it. Then they embraced to show their unity and solidarity through this situation.

They did a really good job at eliminating the mindlessness of Eve. They were portrayed as much more active and loving to each other.

Then Lucifer came back his face was partially obscured by shadows so that it looked almost grey. Another negative against Lucifer was his “Dark Knight” voice. However instead of gargling marbles he just hissed all of his lines in loud whispers. Gone are the days of an operatic Satan bellowing his lines boldly! Now his lines quietly hiss forth out of his mouth.

When Elohim and Jehovah returned, after Adam and Eve had supposedly cover their naughty bits in fig leaves, we saw probably the most campy shot in the film. It is from the perspective of God looking at Adam and Eve. There was literally dense foliage EVERYWHERE. Then in the center of the screen were two little heads poking up out of it. The foliage near Adam and Eve looked like CGI, or they were standing so close to it that was casting odd shadows. I mean seriously, why are Adam and Eve going to be standing around, nearly naked, in dense, prickly plants. They already covered their naughty bits in fig leaves so God wouldn’t see their nakedness. Maybe they didn’t have enough time to weave fig leaves so they just ducked into some brush. Nevertheless, I want to see some fig leaves!

The lights went up and we moved into the room representing the Lone and Dreary World. As the film resumed we saw Adam and Eve get cast out of the Garden. Now when they say cast out into the Lone and Dreary world, they mean LONE and DREARY! They contrasted the lush garden, not with sparse forest and dead trees like the previous film, but with the Grand Canyon. We’re talking DESERT! In some wide angle shots of the canyon you can see a tropical lush mountain in the distance(Eden?).

Then Peter, James, and John came onto the scene. Peter was an older, bald, white guy. James had greying hair and seemed almost middle eastern. John looked like a Filipino American.

Eve doesn’t just stand around during this part anymore, she has a little more to do. At one point Lucifer threateningly sat down next to her and she bolted to her feet to get away.

Finally when Satan want on his schpiel about ruling everything he was standing on a cliff edge with montage of shots of him filmed from a circling helicopter.

Overall, I would say this film is an improvement. The visuals are vastly improved. Yet, I would say there is still a touchy of campy-ness that makes you feel at home. The acting is WAY better. However their casting leaves much to be desired. Adam came of as bit of a sissy; Eve was alright but won’t give the men much their much craved eye candy(not that that is her purpose); Satan was forgettable; Jehovah looked like the bearded lady; and Elohim is about that same as in previous films, meaning he doesn’t do much, just gives commands.

On the drive home I was talking about it with my wife who also agree that the actor for Satan was the most illogical choice. But then I thought that maybe it was on purpose. the most common comment you hear about the previous endowment films is that Satan was the star. So perhaps they intentional cast this guy so that people would like Adam and Eve better. Just a thought.

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Priesthood of the Relief Society


Relief-Society-Symbol_Two-Tone_WhiteThe Relief Society was organized on March 17th, 1842 and on March 17th 2013 it will have its 170th Anniversary. This women’s organization was originally called the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Before the first meeting began, there was found a scrap of paper laying on an open Bible. On this paper was written the words:

“O, Lord! help our widows, and fatherless children! So mote it be. Amen. With the sword, and the word of truth, defend thou them. So mote it be. Amen.”

This prayer is one of many clues to understand the purpose and structure of the Relief Society. There is a key phrase that is repeated twice, “So mote it be.” This phrase is an archaic form of “So may/might it be.” It comes from Freemasonry. The idea of helping the widows and fatherless children is also strongly connected to Masonry. The phrase “defend thou them” comes from Psalms 5:11. There are probably other scriptural connections that could be made.

It is also important to note that the Relief Society’s first meeting was in the Masonic Hall where Joseph Smith became a Master mason the night before. I suggest that Joseph Smith left the Bible there, and wrote this prayer on the scrap of paper and placed it on the open Bible. It was all prepared for them to find it that day. There may even be some Masonic connection associated with that act. However I don’t know enough about masonry to try and make a connection. Nevertheless, before the first meeting even starts we can see the intense connections to Freemasonry.

In my piece Understanding Priesthood Keys, I attempted to clarify Joseph Smith’s understanding of Priesthood Keys. I demonstrated that, even from the early years, Joseph’s concept of priesthood and keys was tied to Freemasonry. The association that Mormonism has to Freemasonry was not a Nauvoo innovation, but has been there since before the church was founded. It is no surprise to find the Relief Society organized following the same model.

But wait, isn’t Masonry only for men? It’s not. In about 1740 a branch of Masonry was developed in France. It was called ” Maçonnerie d’Adoption” or “Adopted Masonry.” It was developed to allow women to participate in a female branch of Masonry. Its is apparent that the highest rank in Adoptive Masonry is that of “Elect Lady.” In July 1830 a revelation was given, which became Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Emma is referred to by this title. In our modern editions of the scriptures it is written thus:

3 Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.

It could just be a coincidence. Since “elect lady” is not capitalized it is probably not referring to a title. However, I looked up the original revelation in my Facsimile Edition. In the original revelation it is written this way:

Behold thy sins are for given thee & thou art an Elect Lady whom I have called

Elect Lady is capitalized in the original revelation. Being capitalized it is far more likely referring to a title and calling. In addition to Emma Smith being referred to as an Elect Lady, some Relief Society Presidents after her were referred to as Elect Lady.

emma-smith-mormonDuring the first meeting of the Relief Society Joseph Smith initially Presided and suggested that they elect a presiding officer. That officer would then choose two councilors. Joseph Smith then said he, “would ordain them to preside over the Society.” Joseph also instructed them that the Presidency of the Relief Society would preside “just as the Presidency, preside over the church.” I suppose this could be interpreted as meaning that the Relief Society Presidency was to preside in the same manner as the First Presidency. However, those are very powerful words to use. I think it puts the Relief Society Presidency on a much more powerful footing than simply being in charge of the girls club.

Emma Smith was elected unanimously to be the President of the Relief Society. The “Presidentess Elect” then chose Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney to be her Counselors. Joseph then read the revelation to Emma Smith which had been received twelve years earlier. He then “stated that she was ordain[e]d at the time, the Revelation was given, to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of community; and that not she alone, but others, may attain to the same blessings.”

I searched the word “expound” on scriptrues.lds.org and found that every entry in the Doctrine and Covenants was associated with some ordination, calling, or priesthood office/responsibility.

Joseph Smith further hits his point home about Emma’s position by reading the first verse of 2nd John which also refers to an elect lady. Emma was not simply called an elect lady because she was a special person. She was an Elect Lady because that referred to her office as a President. After Emma’s election John Taylor then ordained the two women* to be councilors to “the Elect Lady.” President Emma Smith and her two councilors then took charge of the meeting only deferring to Joseph when they needed instruction on how to conduct the meeting.

We can see further Masonic connections in the 3rd Meeting of the Relief Society on March 30th. Joseph Smith was in attendance and was worried that they were growing too fast. He instructed them that they should, ”grow up by degrees.”

In an Epistle sent on March 30, 1842, Church leadership was going to disclose some confidential information to the Relief Society but they weren’t sure that the Relief Society could ensure it’s confidentiality. They are worried that “there may be some among you who are not sufficiently skill’d in Masonry as to keep a secret.” They then close the epistle with, “Let this Epistle be had as a private matter in your Society, and then we shall learn whether you are good masons.”

Masonry is very closely tied to the nature of the Relief Society. The Endowment was an Appended Body to the Blue Lodge degrees of Masonry. It was often called “Celestial Masonry.” Emma Smith was ordained to a Masonic title in 1830; and the parallel women’s organization, which was established in 1842, has definite Masonic ties. It would actually be very surprising to find that it didn’t have those ties.

Women and Gifts of the Spirit

Gifts of the Spirit are those acts which are fruits of the Holy Ghost. They come through the Spirit to be a proof that the a person is a true believer. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 these gifts are listed as: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. These gifts were abundant in the Relief Society. On April 19, 1842 during their fifth meeting, Sarah Cleveland said that she felt things in her heart that she could not express in our language; so she powerfully spoke in tongues. Another women then gave the interpretation of what had been spoken. During that meeting it was recorded that, “The meeting was very interesting, nearly all present arose & spoke, and the spirit of the Lord like a purifying stream, refreshed every heart.”

At another meeting later in the year “Mrs. Chase” prophesied that if the sisters are faithful the gifts of the spirit would be with them. Thus showing that the gift of prophecy was also present among the women.

During the sixth meeting on April 28, 1842 Joseph Smith spoke to them. He had heard that members of the Relief Society were saying that women shouldn’t be laying their hands on the sick and healing them. Joseph addressed this concern saying that people should rejoice that the sick could be healed. He went on to say that the Gifts of the Spirit should follow all who believe whether male or female; and that “if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on.”

Joseph gave further approval of women laying on their hands to heal the sick by saying that if God gave his sanction, in that the person was healed then, “there could be no devils in it.” Dealing the final blow to settle the matter concerning whether women should heal the sick he said, “there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water— that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal[e]d by the administration.”

It is important to remember that there is a distinction between laying on hands to heal the sick and laying on hands for a priesthood blessing. They are two different things.(D&C 42:43, 44)

Even though some members of the Relief Society, and probably the church in general, doubted that women should be able to exhibit these spiritual gifts; Joseph corrected this misconception. If women are believers in Christ they too should exhibit the gifts that follow believers. The Relief Society in these years was filled with the exhibition of these spiritual gifts. Women were healing and being healed, they were speaking in tongues, and they were prophesying.

Women and the Priesthood

There is a strong correlation between Joseph Smith’s views on priesthood and Masonry. With the Relief Society’s close ties with to Masonry could it be possible that priesthood plays into this? This is actually exactly what we find. During the very first meeting of the Relief Society Joseph Smith instructed them that officers should “be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers, &c. are among [the church].”

During the meeting on March 30, 1842 Joseph Smith said that “the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood” He also said that he “was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day.”

Sarah Kimball recalled Joseph Smith’s invitation to the first assembly of women. She recalled his description that the Relief Society would operate “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood.”

Later, on April 28, 1842 Joseph visited the Relief Society and spoke to them, “respecting the Priesthood, and give instructions for the benefit of the Society.” It is recorded that his instructions were intended only for the Relief Society. Later during this meeting he read from the twelfth chapter of 1st Corinthians and instructed them concerning the different offices. Thus seeming to indicate that those offices were to be present in the Relief Society

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

It seems that the climax of Joseph Smith’s discourse to the Relief Society was when he most clearly “spoke of delivering the keys to this Society and to the church.” He continued by stating “that the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect every thing false— as well as to the Elders.” Not only was Joseph Smith going to give the Keys of the Priesthood to the Quorum of the Twelve(Elders) but also to the Relief Society. Following those statements he reaffirmed, for a third time, his intent of giving the keys by saying “I now turn the key to you in the name of God and this Society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time.”

Elder Reynolds Cahoon addressed the Relief Society on August 13, 1843 and said that he was “perfectly satisfied with the order of this society.” He also compared the Relief Society to other organizations in the world by saying, “There are many Benevolent Societies abroad design[e]d to do good but not as this[;] ours is according to the order of God connected with the priesthood.”

We can further see the Relief Society’s role as a parallel priesthood organization in Cahoon’s statement that “the organization of this Society & the Church is similar[,] according to the mind & order of God.” The church leadership(First presidency, Elders, Priest, teachers, Deacons, etc.) are to be mirrored in the Relief Society. Joseph established it this way to be a parallel priesthood organization for women. This follows the Masonic model and also manifests the complimentary male-female duality of humanity. When some people discuss women and the priesthood they expect it to be some androgynous concept with women in the First presidency, and potentially men in the Relief Society Presidency. But this is not the case as it does not preserve the unique qualities of each.

The biggest problem in people’s minds is that they view genders as competitive. They believe that there must be women in the First presidency or else women are not equal with men. This is because they view the Relief Society as lesser than that First Presidency. But they are not. Remember what Joseph Smith stated about the Relief Society Presidency; that they should preside “just as the Presidency, preside over the church.” The Relief Society is the female priesthood counterpart to the male priesthood offices. One is not higher than the other, rather they are complimentary. Just as males and females are complimentary to each other.

The following quote sums up the nature and purpose of both men, women, and their priesthoods. It was given by Bishop Newel K. Whitney in the presence of Joseph Smith during the May 27, 1842 Relief Society meeting:

In the beginning God created man male and female and bestowed upon man certain blessings peculiar to a man of God, of which woman partook, so that without the female all things cannot be restored to the earth. It takes all to restore the Priesthood.


* Cleveland was ordained to be a Counselor to “the Elect Lady”; and Whitney was ordained to be a Counselor to “Mrs. Smith, the Prest. of the Institution.”

Most of these quotes were taken from the Nauvoo Relief Society minute Book which can be found here.

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Coming to Terms With Change


Here’s an Essay I wrote last week for my English Class:

For young men who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the most anticipated events is the reception of a mission call. A mission call is a letter, sent from Church leadership, “calling” the young man on a mission to a certain place. On this mission the young man will be expected to spend two years in a certain area, preaching the message of the Gospel. Missionaries are only allowed to email home once a week. Their time and attention is to be focused on their mission.

Such was my experience, in late 2003, after having sent in my papers to inform Church leadership of my desire to serve; I received my mission call. The simple white envelope arrived in the mail and my family and I went to the park and gathered around a bench. I sat there with the white envelope held in my trembling fingers. As I prepared to open the envelope, my mother asked me, “Where do you want to go?” I thought of all the places I might want to go; my father went to England; and I was studying Russian. After a few second I replied, “I want to go anywhere, as long as it’s not hot.” With that, I quickly ripped open the top of the envelope. I pulled out the papers from the envelope and began to I slowly read the letter. My family stared at me with excitement.

“Brother Michael Ellis, you are called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are called to serve in the,” I paused for dramatic effect, “Philippines Baguio Mission.” After I had slaughtered the pronunciation of the name Baguio, I knew my desire to serve someplace, “not hot.” had jinxed me. I was going to be serving in a tropical area, the Philippines.

The following months were followed by a variety of preparation including purchasing necessary books, and materials. A new suit was purchased, as a well as three pairs of shoes. On January 2004, I went to the Missionary Training Center(MTC) in Provo, Utah. In the MTC other missionaries, and myself, were trained in preaching and languages skills. We were taught the importance of being obedient to our Church leaders so that we could effectively teach by the Holy Spirit.

Almost two months later we flew to the Philippines to begin our missions. Missionaries are always paired with another missionary. This is so there are always two together at a time. As I served, I became close friends with many of the missionaries I was paired with. I also became close friends with many of the Filipino people I served among.

During the first months of my mission it took a lot of patience to understand the Filipino culture and even more to learn their language. The language skills we had been taught in the MTC were barely sufficient for basic communication. There was another challenge I had to overcome. For a long time I had been afraid of public speaking and starting conversations with people I haven’t met. My pulse would race with each person we contacted. In contacting people, we would start a conversation about God or some other subject. We would then inform them about the message of the Gospel we had to share. If they did not have time at the moment we would set an appointment to return.

The first lesson we would teach people was about the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a text that is believed to have been miraculously translated from an ancient record by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the 1800s. This book is used as evidence to support the belief that prophets have been called by God again in our times. We would then teach them that the successors of Joseph Smith from the 1800s until today were also prophets.

In other lessons we would teach them about the various beliefs and doctrines of the Church. We would teach about the basic principles of the Gospel, such as: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism of water and receiving the Holy Ghost. Other things we taught concerned eternal families, and the importance of temples. Perhaps the most important thing we taught was that thanks to Joseph Smith, Jr., the true Church of Jesus Christ had been restored to the earth. We taught people that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was that true church; and that the leadership was divinely inspired of God.

Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in scripture. I believed that what I was taught was correct, and that we missionaries were the representatives of the Lord. It was my belief that as a representative of the Lord when others were kind to me, or helped me, then they were really helping the Lord. I would offer quiet prayers for those people who were good to me.

While it is true that the main objective of a missionary is preaching, relationships are also formed. The local members of the Church would help us in contacting and teaching people from the local area. Usually bonds of friendship would be formed with these people. I can recall many nights eating dinner at a member’s house. We called him Brother Dudi. The Filipino missionary I was paired with would chat away with him, while I sat and sketched in my notebook, catching only a few words here and there. As time progressed, I could communicate better in the native language, Tagalog. I also became better at sketching.

Towards the end of my mission a member of the Church gave me the phone number of a woman in the area. Missionaries are not allowed to date on their mission; so after my two years were up and I returned home, I called her. Three years later we were married here in Idaho.

After a couple more years I began doing serious study into my beliefs. I read and searched the important texts of my religion. Through this research, and other online resources, I discovered that there were contradictions in my religion. I realized that the teachings of my religion contradicted the revelations and texts we viewed as authoritative. As I continued to examine these things it was as if my eyes had been opened. I could clearly see the differences between what the texts were actually saying, and what I was told they were saying.

One of the biggest discrepancies came in the area of missionary work. The book Doctrine and Covenants contains, what Mormons believe to be the revelations of Joseph Smith. In this book it is stated that missionaries should leave without taking any money or food, and that they should rely upon the charity of others for their sustenance. However the actual practice for the Church today is that missionaries and their families should pay a monthly amount to the Church. That amount is put into a general fund; the missionaries then receive a monthly allowance from that general fund.

I realized that, rather than being representative of the Lord, I was actually just a representative of a religious corporation. I had been teaching things not found in the scriptures, but instead were found only in the traditions that had been passed down through generations. This contradiction weighed heavily on my mind. What I had previously accepted as correct doctrine was actually only the opinons of others; rather than the actual doctrine itself. It was necessary that I either accept the modern contradictory teachings or accept the original texts.

Now as I look back on my missionary experience I see myself as having been used to promote this corporation whose teachings, in many cases, I no longer agreed with. Yet, there were still many positive experiences I had experienced on my mission. It wasn’t all bad. I had made friends, learned things, and even met the woman who would become my wife.

I cannot throw away my missionary experience like so many others have. How then, do I accept my mission as a good thing, while also disagreeing with it? Is it possible for good to come from bad means? Even today, these are the question I ask, as I seek to reconcile my current views with my previous actions. Changing a world view is not an easy task. Though perhaps, the process of change in our lives is never really complete. Maybe the journey is the destination; and we all must find the good out of all the things we have done, and all the mistakes we have made.

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The Deseret Region


While this post isn’t what most people expect from my blog it is something important to me. One of the reasons my posts here have been few and far between lately is because of other projects I’ve been busy with. One of the biggest of those projects is the Deseret Region.

Proposed State of Deseret

Modern Deseret Region

The Deseret Region is a project to develop a self sufficient region within the western United States. The Deseret Region gets its name from the historic State of Deseret which was proposed by early Mormon settlers in the 1850′s. The modern Deseret Region roughly follows the same boundaries, except is it determined by modern county borders.

The purpose of the Deseret Region is to initiate and coordinate various projects and programs to improve infrastructure, lifestyle, and economy; so that the Deseret Region can be self sufficient.

Why is self sufficiency important? It is important because it allows us to provide for our own necessities. We don’t have to rely on outside sources for the things we need. For example currently food is imported from distant areas. This causes some major problems. The food is more expensive because it has to be transported long distances. Also because the food has to be transported it is harvested when it is under ripe. This means it has to be treated with chemicals to give the illusion of being ripe. But if food is grown, harvested, and sold locally, it is much healthier, and better for the local economy. Another issue would be if the trucking systems were shut down due to some disaster. Currently if this where to happen, many people would quickly starve. But if we were self sufficient then a shut down of outside trucking systems would have little effect.

Our projects page brings up many infrastructural issues that need addressing. So go check it out and see what we are facing.

Additionally we have a business directory and we offer free listings for any business within the Deseret Region. If you have a business within the Deseret Region come and get your business listed now for free.

We have a presence on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Come like our Facebook page; join our group; and follow us on Twitter.
I also invite all my readers, even if you live outside the Deseret Region, to join our forum. This is where we can get together and discuss solutions to problems. And for a limited time the first fifty accounts to reach 10 posts get a free Upgraded Membership. An Upgraded Membership allows for more PMs and an uploaded avatar.

Finally we have a Deseret Region blog. I’m looking for other bloggers to help contribute. So if you would like to become a contribute on our blog please email me at info@deseretregion.com.

This project is something I think is very important. By developing this region we can create a buffer that will soften the blow of the coming disasters such as a financial collapse. We must act now to prepare ourselves for the future. Self sufficiency only makes sense. We are One Region, and we have One Future.

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Understanding Priesthood Keys


Modern Beliefs About Keys

In the Church today we are often taught about the importance of Priesthood Keys. In Chapter 14 of Gospel Principles, Joseph F. Smith teaches:

“The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God. Every man ordained to any degree of the Priesthood has this authority delegated to him.”

“But it is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. In their fulness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the prophet and president of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 141).

A common analogy is that of a physical key. In order to properly enter someones house. We must receive a key from the owner. That key allows us to unlock the door and enter.

Priesthood keys, we are taught, are not a set of physical keys, but are a set of spiritual authorities. They are all bestowed upon the President of the Church when he is ordained. The President can then bestow certain keys on other male Priesthood holders so that they may perform their duties.

It is through these keys that the affairs of the church are administered. Those priesthood duties can be done with God’s authorization and thus have effect in both heaven and earth. For example, a person who seals a marriage must have sealing keys otherwise that sealing is not recognized by God in the eternities.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe that these keys were restored to Joseph Smith and that they have been passed down to through Brigham Young and all his successors and that they are held today by President Thomas S. Monson.

It is important to note that we are taught the bestowal of these keys does not come through the transfer of any physical object. Rather they are received by the laying on of hands by those who already possess keys. It is then pronounced that the recipient has the keys and they are now recognized as having that spiritual authority.

In the case of a new President of the Church being ordained, the Quorum of the Twelve collectively holds all the keys, they give all these keys to the new President. In the case of a local leader, someone with higher authority, who possessed only a limited number of keys, bestows an even more limited number of keys upon the local leader.

This is the modern understanding. However, there are statements by Joseph Smith that show that perhaps our current understanding of keys is not complete. As initial evidence of this, I would like to present Doctrine and Covenants Section 129. After explaining how to detect messengers of God by using handshakes, we read in verse 9:

These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

Here in this revelation Joseph Smith uses the term keys, but it doesn’t seem to be used in the sense of a spiritual authority. Rather it seems to be a piece of knowledge that is a key.

Another example is on page 156 of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith states:

I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity”

Here Joseph Smith says he is giving one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom and then he says that “It”, the key, is an eternal principle. If Joseph Smith restored the Priesthood keys as we understand them today; why then would these statements exist which do not agree with our modern understanding?

There must be something else about these Priesthood Keys, in Joseph Smith’s understanding, than what exists in our modern one. If we dig a little deeper we can find out just what Joseph Smith understood Priesthood keys to be. And since Joseph Smith is the one who restored the keys, his understanding and teachings about the keys must be the foundation upon which we base our understanding.

Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Keys

Joseph Smith’s beliefs about keys were developed early in his life. If we look at Joseph’s youth we can see that he was involved in practices that are termed as, “magic.” There is often a negative connotation associated with using the term magic in association with Christianity and also Mormonism. However the “magic” that Joseph Smith was practicing came from the tradition of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. This type of “magic” is actually better understood as actions that help a person gain the attributes of God. So while Joseph Smith was doing things that can be called magic, in Joseph Smith’s mind it was a set of practices to help him gain the attributes of God.

Because many of Joseph Smith’s relatives were Freemasons Joseph was also immersed in Freemasonry, as was common at the time. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s book* was used by Joseph Smith in his “magical” practices. The reason Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa carried such weight in those days was because at the time it was believed that Agrippa was a Freemason. Because of this other masons were reading his works. Agrippa’s teachings, and also those of Masonry, established the framework through which Joseph Smith’s would later understand and relate to his spiritual experiences.

If we look at this information we can see that Joseph Smith’s understanding of keys came from these works and his Masonic upbringing. In these books we read of certain “keys” for invoking the power of God or for bringing various aspects of His power down to man.

It is taught that a Key possesses three attributes. The first attribute is physical. A key must possess some physical manifestation such as a hand grip, hand gesture, or something written.

The second attribute is something spoken. A key must possess a spoken manifestation. But this is not simply saying a word. It is speaking something with complete conviction, as if your entire being is that word.

The third attribute is the Spiritual power or attribute that is accessed by the previous two elements.

So when Joseph Smith spoke of keys he was referring to these type of keys. It was not simply a spiritual authority, but was a physical and spoken manifestation that must be known. It was believed that when these keys were used they brought about a very real spiritual power/manifestation.

In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith(pg. 199) we read:

There are certain key words and signs belonging to the Priesthood which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing. The sign of Peter was to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost obtained.

Here we have Joseph Smith teaching that there are KEY WORDS(spoken attribute) and SIGNS(physical manifestation) which belong to the priesthood.

With this new understanding of keys we can reexamine events in the history of the church from a new perspective. Here is when Joseph received the keys in the Kirtland temple

Doctrine and Covenants 110:1-16

11 After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.

12 After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.

13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:

14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—

15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—

16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.

Since we understand what Joseph meant by the term keys we can better understand what occurred during these events. Joseph and his companions didn’t just stand there and have angels tell them, ‘I am now giving you the keys.’ Rather these were sacred communions with heaven wherein knowledge of the Keys, and how to perform them, was transmitted from angels in heaven to men on earth.

When these visitors came to Joseph and gave him the keys. They were not simply imbuing him with power. But they were giving him knowledge and teaching him the keys necessary to access the powers of heaven pertaining to the specific realms of each key.

Conferral of the Keys

Let’s discuss this idea of conferring Keys in greater depth. We have seen that according to Joseph Smith’s understanding that the conferral of Keys in the early church was not a magical transfer of power from one person to another. Rather the conferral of Keys involved educating the recipient in the Keys and how to perform them.

What this means is that in order to receive priesthood keys the recipient must be taught them. This concept is almost completely foreign to modern members of the church. However this is exactly what was meant by Joseph Smith. And we know this is the case because of Joseph Smith’s early practices, his statements, and beliefs.

Knowledge of what the Keys are and how to use them cannot be transferred through simply uttering the phrase, “I bestow upon you the keys.”

It would be like giving your car keys to someone, but not actually giving them the physical keys. Instead you just tell them that they now possess the keys to your car. But unless they do some hot wiring, they aren’t going to be starting the car anytime soon.

No, the Keys must be taught to the recipient. Therefore, when Joseph Smith received the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, the messengers who bestowed them must not have simply pronounce upon them the keys. Rather they bestowed the knowledge of the physical and spoken manifestations that are the Keys.

This entire concept is can be difficult to grasp. However there is something that many members of the church can relate to, and this is something I feel I should speak very carefully about. In the endowment ceremony members receive certain keywords and signs. These keywords and signs that are given in the endowment are keys. And all the other keys of the priesthood as restored by Joseph Smith are similar to these.

Who is Supposed to Hold the Keys?

It is very easy to show that the President of the Church is supposed to hold all the keys. It is also easy to show that the Quorum of the Twelve is supposed to hold all the keys collectively. But there is information to show that other people are supposed to hold all the keys as well.

Before I continue, I know people will be pointing to Section 132:7 where it says: “7 …whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred)…”

This verse is often quoted as proof that only one person on the earth at any given time who holds all the Keys of the Priesthood. But there are problems with Section 132. The most original version we have came from Brigham Young after the Saints arrived in Salt Lake. To explain this situation I would like to quote Rock Waterman from the blog Pure Mormonism:

Brigham’s later explanation for why the revelation was not in Joseph Smith’s handwriting was that this one was actually a copy of the original revelation, as “Sister Emma burnt the original.”

When Emma Smith, back in Nauvoo heard this claim, she replied that she had “never saw such a revelation until it was published by Pratt in The Seer.”

This “copy” of a very lengthy revelation was in the handwriting of William Clayton, formerly a scribe of Joseph Smith. He was also now a polygamist.

What I wonder about is this: was it the practice of Joseph Smith to have his scribes immediately create a second copy of all of his revelations, or did Brigham Young simply ask Clayton to “recreate” this one from memory?

To be succinct the providence of section 132, especially the phrase about only one holding they keys at a time, is not as clear cut as first thought. Also when considering some of Joseph’s other statements it may not be correct.

First, here is a quote that relates to the issue of women and the Priesthood(a topic which I plan on blogging about another time):

[Joseph] spoke of delivering the keys to this Society and to the church— that according to his prayers God had appointed him elsewhere.

This comes straight out of the Relief Society minute book available on Josephsmithpapers.org. Here Joseph Smith says he is going to give the Keys to the Relief Society and also to the Church. There are other quotes relating to this but are not relevant to the discussion of keys.

Second, Joseph spoke that it was part of the ordinances of the church that a person receive all the keys of the priesthood:

The declaration this morning is, that as soon as the Temple and baptismal font are prepared, we calculate to give the Elders of Israel their washings and anointings, and attend to those last and more impressive ordinances, without which we cannot obtain celestial thrones. But there must be a holy place prepared for that purpose. There was a proclamation made during the time that the foundation of the Temple was laid to that effect, and there are provisions made until the work is completed, so that men may receive their endowments and be made kings and priests unto the Most High God, having nothing to do with temporal things, but their whole time will be taken up with things pertaining to the house of God. There must, however, be a place built expressly for that purpose, and for men to be baptized for their dead. It must be built in this central place; for every man who wishes to save his father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends, must go through all the ordinances for each one of them separately, the same as for himself, from baptism to ordination, washing and anointings, and receive all the keys and powers of the Priesthood, the same as for himself.

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p.362

Here we see that for the operation of the church the President holds all the keys and also the Quorum of the Twelve holds all the keys collectively. But we also see that it is the divine purpose for each person to attain the fulness which includes “all the keys and powers of the priesthood”.

Conclusion: The Keys Today

We have examined this topic from a historic perspective. We have learned that Priesthood Keys are not simply a spiritual authority; but are a three part key bringing together the physical, the spoken, and the spiritual to distill the powers of heaven upon mankind. We have learned who are supposed to hold the keys. We have also learned that keys cannot be conferred only by placing hands on the head, but they must be taught to the recipient. Now in order to bring our analysis full circle we must apply our understanding to our modern times. We can clearly see that the understanding of priesthood keys early in the restoration is not the same as that which we have now.

So what happened? Did God change the nature of priesthood keys? Was Joseph Smith wrong in his understanding? Or has something been lost in our understanding of what keys are?

For me I don’t think God would change something as fundamental as Priesthood keys. The Keys were restored as a certain type of tool, a physical and spoken manifestation, to access the powers of heaven. For this to have been changed would completely undermine the work of Joseph Smith and the restoration. Likewise if Joseph was wrong about the keys then it destroys the work he did as the founding prophet of this dispensation and again undermines our own foundation.

I think the issue we must face today is that we have simply lost a fundamental understanding of what the priesthood keys are supposed to be. And since the understanding of keys, which is taught to us from the highest level of the Church, is different than what Joseph Smith taught keys were; then it seems that the nature of keys has also been lost among the leaders as well. Granted, this is just speculation on my part, but it seems to me that if the leaders are not teaching the correct nature of priesthood keys, then it means that they themselves do not have this understanding. This begs the question, How long ago was this understanding lost? When did it happen? And even more importantly, if and understanding of the nature of priesthood keys has been lost, then the keys have not been taught to the following generations of leaders. And if they keys have not been taught to the leaders, then how are they supposed to possess them?* These are questions we must all very carefully consider.

Post Script: What Are the Keys?

Now that we have an understanding of what keys really are in general terms lets look at specific keys. Throughout the scriptures there are mentions of specific keys. Only a small portion of these references exist in the Bible, the rest are in the Doctrine and Covenants. I apologize for not including the references for each key.

Here is a list of keys, some of which have an explanation as best as I can research(many have a descriptive name so I have not provided an explanation):

Key of the house of David/Key of David

“The word key in this verse is maf-tay-ach in Hebrew. It means an opener, Strong’s #4668.

The name Eliakim (EL-YAW-KEEM), Strong’s #471, means “whom God raises up or sets up”.

The word shoulder is she-kem, Strong’s #7926, meaning the place of burdens like a yoke.

So now we have the paraphrase: ‘EL will lay the yoke on the place of burdens of the one He raises up; and this yoke is the opener of the house of David. What He opens no one shall shut; and what He shuts no one shall open.’” – http://yeshivahanateev.org/keyofdavid.html

This key refers to the authority to establish the House of David or the Kingdom. Revelation 3:7 tells us that it is Christ that holds this key.

Keys of the Kingdom

This is a term that seems to refer to all the keys. It is related to the sealing powers and the Key of knowledge.

Key of Knowledge

According to Luke 11:53(JST) the Key of Knowledge is the fulness of the scriptures.

Keys of Hell and Death

In Revelation 1:18 Christ tells us he holds the Keys of Hell and Death. Hell could be associated with salvation and death could be associated with resurrection.

Key of the Bottomless Pit

Keys of the Gift of Translation

The term “translation” here means translating languages, not the changing of the body into a Celestial state.

Keys of John’s ministry

Key to live until Christ comes

Key to prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues, and people

Keys of the Record of the Stick of Ephraim

Keys of Bringing to Pass the Restoration of All Things Spoken by the Mouth of All the Holy Prophets Since the World Began, Concerning the Last Says.

Keys of the Power of Turning the Hearts of the Fathers to the Children, and the Hearts of the Children to the Fathers

Keys of the Mysteries and Revelations Which are Sealed (a.k.a. Keys of the Mystery of Those Things Which Have Been Sealed)

Keys of the Church

Keys of the Mysteries of the Kingdom

- That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy;

Keys of the Aaronic Priesthood:

Key of the ministering of angels

Key of gospel of repentance

Key of baptism for the remission of sins

Keys of Salvation

Keys of the School of the Prophets

Keys of this Kingdom and Ministry

Keys of all the Spiritual Blessings of the Church

Keys of the Gathering of Israel From the Four Parts of the Earth

Keys of the Leading of the Ten Tribes From the Land of the North

Keys to Administer in Outward Ordinances

Keys of the Patriarchal Blessings

Keys Whereby He May Ask and Receive Blessings

Keys of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times

Key to Know a Resurrected Being by Shaking His Hand

Key to Know a Just Spirit by Offering Your Hand and He Will Not Take It.

Key to Know an Angel from the Devil in that You Will Not Feel His Hand When You Offer to Shake It.

There are also the Keys of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood as given in the Endowment.

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