Sunday, May 22, 2011

Constitution hang by a thread? LDSLiving says "myth," Latter-day Prophets say "prophecy."

The May/June 2011 issue of LDSLiving correctly identifies the white horse prophecy as a Mormon myth, a revelation that simply cannot be traced back to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Sadly, in debunking the white horse prophecy, LDSLiving wrongfully implicates "the Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy by implying that President Joseph Fielding Smith denounced them both.

According to LDSLiving, 1918 was the "year when President Joseph Fielding Smith denounced the fabled ‘White Horse Prophecy’ (commonly known as ‘the Constitution will hang by a thread’ prophecy) in general conference" (see below).

In truth, Joseph Fielding Smith did not denounce or even mention the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy in general conference in 1918 and has actually declared its truthfulness:

"The statement has been made that the Prophet said the time would come when this Constitution would hang as by a thread, and this is true." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:326.)

President Joseph F. Smith, who also condemned the white horse prophecy in 1918, said this about the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy:

"Joseph Smith, the prophet,... predicted that the time would come, when the Constitution of our country would hang as it were by a thread, and that the Latter-day Saints, above all other people in the world, would come to the rescue of that great and glorious palladium of our liberty." (Gospel Doctrine, 403.)

Source of "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy

Summarizing more than 40 years of research, LDS scholar Don L. Penrod recently said:

"The so-called white horse prophecy is ... often erroneously cited as the earliest and most reliable source of two statements: that the United States Constitution will hang by a thread and that Joseph Smith prophesied that the Latter-day Saints would settle in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, these statements have reliable sources that predate the writing of the white horse prophecy [and] those other sources should be cited rather than the white horse prophecy." (Don L. Penrod, "Edwin Rushton as the Source of the White Horse Prophecy," BYU Studies, volume 49, no. 3, 2010, 75-131; emphasis added.)

Prophets confirm the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy

While Ezra Taft Benson was 13th Church President, a book was published that contains 487 statements about the U.S. Constitution made by him and the 12 Prophets who preceeded him. Donald Q. Cannon, the book's editor, wrote in its introduction:

"The idea that the Constitution would one day hang by a thread, first put forth by Joseph Smith, is one of the most interesting and controversial subjects related to LDS teachings about the U.S. Constitution....

"Our study shows that eight modern prophets have made statements about the Constitution's hanging by a thread, and that all eight of them quoted Joseph Smith as well as adding ideas of their own. However, Joseph Smith and the other twelve prophets of this dispensation have all said that at some time in the future the Constitution would be in jeopardy, and it would be rescued by the Elders of Israel." (Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution, Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Provo, BYU Religious Studies Center, 1991, xii-xiii.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith said the Constitution will hang by a thread

The white horse prophecy is a ridiculous lot of trash, as President Joseph F. Smith said. On the other hand, the Prophet Joseph's "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy has been reliably corroborated for more than 150 years by Church Presidents and other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

The white horse prophecy is not the source for Joseph Smith's "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy. And contrary to what some might think after reading the LDSLiving article, the "Constitution will hang by a thread" prophecy is not a myth.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tasteful Nudity (i.e., "Evil has unclothed herself")

Last week, there was a blog discussion at Times and Seasons titled "Tasteful Nudity." My post today is a followup to that exchange of opinions. Nothing in this post is intended to be a pronouncement of doctrine. Rather, it is simply a collection of some things I've learned over the years as a Church member.

After the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened, they knew that they were naked and they "sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons" (Moses 4:13, Gen. 3:7). Not satisfied with aprons, God made coats of skins "and clothed them" (Moses 4:27, Gen. 3:21).

Today, after six thousand years, endowed members covenant to wear a special garment that represents that coat of skins. Properly worn, the temple garment shows us which parts of the body should be kept covered. The garment covers nakedness that should not be exposed in public. Keeping our bodies appropriately covered is modesty.

Last October, Russell M. Nelson quoted the First Presidency on this subject:

"Some members do not fully understand the covenant they make in the temple to wear the garment.... The fundamental principle ought to be to wear the garment and not to find occasions to remove it.... The principles of modesty and keeping the body appropriately covered are implicit in the covenant and should govern the nature of all clothing worn." (Ensign, Oct. 2010, 47.)

"Modesty is the foundation stone of chastity," said Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women General President. (Ensign, May 2007, 112.)

James E. Faust also linked modesty and chastity:

"In forsaking the great principle of modesty, society has paid a price in the violation of a greater but related principle—that of chastity." (Ensign, May 1981, 9.)

When we use the power of procreation only within the bonds of marriage and when we think and speak of it with reverence, we are keeping the law of chastity.

Until about fifty years ago, modesty and chastity constituted the standard of decency throughout the Judeo-Christian world. For many centuries, these Biblical concepts also determined the English definition of pornography. As far as I can tell, every dictionary of the English language published anywhere in the world before 1957 equates obscenity with offensiveness to modesty and/or chastity.

A technical paper prepared for the 1970 President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography reports that this country had experienced a tremendous shift in standards. The report explains that the degree of pornographic explicitness had increased steadily over a ten year period until material previously found on the pornographic frontier was, in 1970, being widely distributed in mass media.

In other words, by 1970 the level of explicitness previously available only on the black market was being sold openly and above the counter to the general buying public. In the years since, this downward shift in standards has accelerated and gained momentum.

From God's point of view, the standards of modesty and chastity are still in place. But the world, on the other hand, has developed an enormous tolerance for immodesty and unchastity.

The following statements are typical of how the apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders have reacted to this shift in standards and the abandonment of modesty and chastity:

Thomas S. Monson (just last month): "We have come to the earth in troubled times. The moral compass of the masses has gradually shifted to an 'almost anything goes' position. I’ve lived long enough to have witnessed much of the metamorphosis of society’s morals. Where once the standards of the Church and the standards of society were mostly compatible, now there is a wide chasm between us, and it’s growing ever wider." (Ensign, May 2011, 66.)

Gordon B. Hinckley: "In literature and art there has been a shift in standards. Across that educational landscape there have been change and modification—everywhere except in the eternal truths of God." (Ensign, Jan. 1994, 2.)

Gordon B. Hinckley: "Nakedness or near-nakedness has become the hallmark of much public entertainment." (Ensign, Aug. 1989, 5.)

Joseph B. Wirthlin: "Forms of pornography that would have made us blush and turn away in shame in 1947 are now thrust at us openly in printed and audiovisual material." (Ensign, May 1987, 30.)

Boyd K. Packer: "Evil has unclothed herself and walks the streets in brazen, impudent defiance." (Ensign, Sept. 1973, 38.)

Boyd K. Packer: "[Jesus] would think there is a place for art work of every kind — from the scribbled cartoon to the masterpiece in the hand-carved, gold-leaf frame. But I am sure He would be offended at immodesty and irreverence in music, in art, in poetry, in writing, in sculpture, in dance, or in drama." (Ensign, Aug. 1976, 65.)

Silvia H. Allred (First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency): "From the beginning, the Lord has asked His children to cover their bodies. After Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened and they became aware that they were naked. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with simple aprons made of fig leaves. But the aprons were not enough, so the Lord made them more modest coats of skins. (See Genesis 3:7, 21.) God had a higher standard then, just as He does now. His standards are not those of the world." (Ensign, July 2009, 28.)

First Presidency (to priesthood leaders worldwide): "We reiterate our concern over the decline of moral values in society." (Ensign, Apr. 1999, 80.)

First Presidency (to priesthood leaders worldwide): "We note with alarm the continued decline of moral values in society." (Ensign, Apr. 1994, 76.)

Richard J. Maynes (of the Seventy): "As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we need not be surprised or discouraged by the rapid decline of moral values in our day. Rather, we can take hope by remembering that ancient prophets accurately predicted today’s social conditions and that modern prophets continue to warn us about those conditions." (Ensign, Oct. 2008, 50.)

Ezra Taft Benson: "'Thou shalt not commit adultery' [and] 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.' (Ex. 20:14, 17.) Here God gives the great law of chastity.... Never in this generation have morals been so loose as now.... The curtain of modesty has been torn aside, and in play and book and movie and television, in magazine story and picture, even magazine advertisement, immorality stands out in all its vulgarity and rottenness." (New Era, July 1978, 37.)

Joseph Fielding Smith: "The Lord gave commandments to ancient Israel that both men and women should cover their bodies and observe the law of chastity at all times. I am making a plea for modesty and chastity." (New Era, Jan. 1971, 5.)

Yes, sadly, it has become fashionable to be immodest. But God's Prophets will surely continue to counsel God's children to be modest and to "walk out ... if what is being presented does not meet Heavenly Father’s standards." (For the Strength of Youth, 14, 17; see also True to the Faith, 107.)

Much more so today than when Boyd K. Packer first said it, evil has unclothed herself and does walk the streets (and the bloggernacle) in brazen, impudent defiance.

In modern Israel, there is no such thing as "tasteful" public nudity.

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