My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 04 May 2014, 13:14

Today, we started the month's topic of Prophets and Revelation. I focused on the lesson outline entitled, "How does revelation help me receive revelation?"

I didn't introduce the topic at first but, instead, pulled out my cell phones (personal and work-provided) and asked each student to name one benefit of having such technology available individually. They mentioned a bunch of things, all of which could be grouped into two general categories: information access and interpersonal connectivity. I then asked them to name something that is a negative about having such technology individually. The answers fell into two general categories: information access and interpersonal disconnectedness / distraction. We talked for a short time about how having so much information available to us allows us to receive answers to many questions almost instantaneously and to stay connected with people from whom we naturally would be separated, but having that same amount of information available constantly also can cause obsession, distraction, non-productivity, interpersonal distance, erosion of communication skills, etc.

I then talked about my experiences blogging and how hard it can be to convey full meaning with just words on a screen - how nuance and emotion can be difficult or impossible to express adequately, which can lead people who actually agree with each other to argue with each other due to misunderstanding what has been written. I mentioned one particular person whom I used to count as a friend who can't discuss anything online without turning it into a debate she is determined to win - and how she isn't that way in person. I also mentioned how anonymity can lead to people saying things they wouldn't say, ever, in person.

I then asked the students to define "reverence". One student said "respect" - while another one said it comes from the word "revere", which is extreme respect. I added the element of awe.

I asked if we tend to talk about revering food or such things, and one of them said, "Yes - chocolate!" After a good chuckle, we focused on the ultimate object of reverence in the context of church and a Sunday School lesson. Obviously, that is God. I asked about prophets and apostles - and they all answered that we should respect them but not revere them in the same way that we revere God, simply because they are human and make mistakes.

I asked how reverence generally has been defined in their years in the Church, especially in Primary. The answers were, "Be quiet," "Sit still," "Fold your arms," "Don't argue with your teacher," etc. We talked about how children need structure from which to learn - and I told them that, at some point, the challenge is to transition from the understanding of children to an individual, adult view. As an example, we talked about the "form of prayer" and how it is important for someone just learning to pray - but that, at some point, we need to learn to talk with God naturally and not in a formulaic manner. We need to revere God, not recite things to God.

In order to illustrate the point about moving to a more mature understanding of reverence, I asked if our hymns are supposed to be reverent. They said the hymns are supposed to be respectful and expressive of awe - but not all of them are supposed to be sung quietly and/or in a subdued manner. I had them open the hymnals randomly and read the titles of the hymns and the word at the top left (above the first line) explaining how they were to be sung. We laughed at the first person's selection, since it was "Reverently and Meekly Now" - but almost half of the hymns were supposed to be sung "exuberantly" or "with rejoicing" or "exultantly" or "energetically" or some other similar adjective. Each and every hymn dealt with a topic for which we should have deep respect, and even awe, but, for some of them, singing quietly and solemnly would be the opposite of reverently.

I told them that I wanted to go through all of that to make sure the last part of the lesson, which is really important to me, wasn't the only thing they took away from the lesson - that there is a very important element of the traditional focus on quietude and solemnity in reverence, which we were about to discuss, but I wanted them to be able to "rock" reverentially, as well.

We read 1 Kings 19:12 and 3 Nephi 11:1-7 (about the still, small voice) and D&C 63:64 and 84:54-57 (about valuing and not making light of sacred things), then we read Psalms 46:10 ("Be still, and know that I am God."). I went back to the discussion about cell phones and distraction / disconnectedness, and we talked about how hard it is to develop a reverential attitude when we aren't "still" and contemplative. I mentioned that when I recruit high school students I rarely call them; rather, I text them and ask them to call me or let me know when I can call them. I do that because most of them won't interrupt multiple, simultaneous text conversations to answer the phone. They have to stop what they are doing and set aside time just for me to have the important discussions that are necessary to get ready to go to college.

I ended with the idea that there is a cause-and-effect relationship articulated in: 1) Be still, and 2) Know that I am God - that, often, we need to eliminate distractions in order to commune with, recognize and gain understanding of the divine. We can be reverential without being quiet, but we can't be fully reverential if we never are still and quiet, especially internally. It is in that stillness that revelation often can come and be recognized - no matter how we reach that stillness (prayer, meditation, pondering, contemplation, etc.). Revelation can come amid chaos, but some revelation only can come in the stillness of the soul.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 May 2014, 11:40

The lesson yesterday was based on the outline entitled, "How can I use scripture study skills to help me learn more about the Priesthood?" - but I changed the focus to learning more about revelation instead of the Priesthood.

We started by reading a bunch of the scriptures listed in the outline, focusing on the key words and phrases I have bolded below:
1 Nephi 10:19 - For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.


I emphasized that it's not enough just to read - that we need to SEEK and do so "diligently". I also pointed out that being "unfolded" implies multiple steps and more time that just one or two times.
D&C 88:118 - And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.


I asked the students what they think of when they read "the best books" - that we would be focusing on the scriptures today but what other books would fit that category. They mentioned textbooks, books about science, math, history, etc. One person mentioned historical fiction and how it can be easier to read and ponder than the more "dry" textbooks. I mentioned scriptural commentaries, even by people outside our religion, and the scriptural texts of other people. I told them that they need to find their own "best books" - the things that will give them the "learning" they want to obtain.
1 Nephi 19:23 - And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.


I mentioned that we usually talk about likening things from the scriptures by focusing on the positive messages and how we can get a "moral to the story" from them. I told them that such an approach is important, but it is more important to read each story and passage carefully to see what we can learn from it, no matter what that is, good or bad. I mentioned that, later in the lesson, we were going to look at two specific stories in the Old Testament with that in mind.
2 Nephi 4:16 - Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.


and
D&C 138:1 - On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;


I simply emphasized with these verses that it is important to think about what we read at times other than while we are reading them - that often the deepest insights occur after we have had time to "digest" what we've read and mull over it a bit.

Finally,
2 Nephi 32:3 - Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ;


Using that as the foundation (really digging into the words as if we were participating in an old fashioned feast), we turned to two stories in the Old Testament: Abraham and the attempted sacrifice of Isaac (which we have discussed at least twice previously in class) and Moses and the annihilation of the Midianites.

We read Genesis 22:1, and I told them that I had missed a word and its implications for nearly 50 years as I read and talked about this story. That verse says:

And it came to pass after these things, that God did TEMPT Abraham.

We looked at the notes at the bottom of the page and saw that two possible alternative readings for that word are "test" and "prove". I asked the students why we always use "test" when talking about this passage and never "tempt" - the word that actually is in the translation we use. They said that "tempt" has a negative connotation and is used to talk about trying to get someone to do something that is bad - that we don't see God as someone who tempts people and tries to get them to do bad things.

I then asked them, since it was Mother's Day, how they would react if the thought hit them that they should kill their mothers - or if a friend told them he had had a dream in which he was told to kill his mother. They all looked shocked and said they would never have that thought (and certainly not act on it) - and that they probably would recommend professional counseling if a friend seemed serious at all about it.

I summarized by saying that such a thought / impression / whatever would not be a temptation for them - and asked them why it would have been a temptation for Abraham if he thought God had asked him to kill his son. We talked about the story of the destruction of Sodom and how Abraham had argued / bargained with the Lord about saving the city. I asked them why Abraham hadn't argued / bargained with the Lord about killing Isaac - and, again, why the word "tempt" might be a great word to use for what happened.

That stumped them completely, so I took them through an abbreviated version of the story in the PofGP about Abraham's background - how he had been raised in a culture and religion that practiced human and child sacrifice - how nobody in that area would have questioned the idea of him sacrificing Issac (that nobody at that time and place would have suggested professional counseling). They would have understood and supported him, so, given his own personal history, it really would have been a temptation - and, given how he reacted, a temptation to which he succumbed. Ultimately, God had to stop him from actually doing it - so, even if we use "test" instead of "tempt", the use of "tempt" can help us see that Abraham might have failed the test by succumbing to the temptation of his upbringing and not questioning or arguing with the Lord about it.

I emphasized that what we had just discussed was completely consistent with the actual account in the scriptures and only hit me as I talked with others about the story and pondered / feasted on it.

We then turned to the story in Numbers 31 about the Israelite war with the Midianites and how similar it was to the current situation in Nigeria with the girls who were kidnapped and given as "brides" to the soldiers. We read verses 1-2, which say:
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, "Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people."


I pointed out that the only thing the Lord commanded was that the Israelites fight the Midianites and win. There are NO specifics in the account.

In verse 14, it says Moses was "wroth" (extremely angry) and that Moses commanded what happened next - not just the death of all the men capable of fighting (which already had been done) but the killing of all the women and male children and the giving of all the virgins to the Israelite soldiers as wives.

I told them that it is easy to skim over the story and assume that God commanded everything that was done - but that simply isn't what the account says. I then shared with them the idea articulated by a friend that we can get so passionate about doing what we believe to be what God wants that we end up being over-zealous and going beyond what was commanded. We can believe that tithing is important - and figure that if 10% is good, 11% or 60% has to be better; we can believe that the scriptures are important - and eliminate all other books from our lives; we can believe that the Sabbath is a day of rest - and sleep all day each Sunday; we can believe that missionary work is important - and harangue people until they avoid us like the plague; etc., etc., etc.

We discussed the concept of using scriptures not just to teach us "the good parts version" (anybody recognize that reference?) but also to help us avoid making the mistakes other people have made (even prophets) throughout history.

We finished by going back to the title of the lesson, and I told them that I view the new insight I had gained from studying those two stories over a long period of time and with "real intent" to be a good example of one type of important revelation - the uncovering of something that previously had been hidden.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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QuestionAbound
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by QuestionAbound » 20 May 2014, 06:54

Curt Sunshine wrote: I then shared with them the idea articulated by a friend that we can get so passionate about doing what we believe to be what God wants that we end up being over-zealous and going beyond what was commanded. We can believe that tithing is important - and figure that if 10% is good, 11% or 60% has to be better; we can believe that the scriptures are important - and eliminate all other books from our lives; we can believe that the Sabbath is a day of rest - and sleep all day each Sunday; we can believe that missionary work is important - and harangue people until they avoid us like the plague; etc., etc., etc.

We discussed the concept of using scriptures not just to teach us "the good parts version" (anybody recognize that reference?) but also to help us avoid making the mistakes other people have made (even prophets) throughout history.
I have been out of church for several weeks due to health reasons and I SO needed to read over your lessons. Can I move to your ward and enroll my kids in your class? :) I feel inadequate to teach them even at home since I am so full of questions myself.

The over-zealous part...I used to be that way...I am either black or white. I've never been comfortable in the grey...I find it now difficult to know "how" to behave. I'm too old to start my life over! :geek:

Thank you for taking the time to blog about your lessons. :wave:

Curt Sunshine
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 May 2014, 12:10

Thank you, QA. I really appreciate that comment.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Posts: 16570
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 May 2014, 06:35

In preparing for a week of extensive travel that began last Sunday, I forgot to post the summary of my Sunday School lesson last week. The following is an abbreviated version, minus the scriptural background from the first half of the lesson.

We focused on the lesson outline entitled "What does it mean to bear testimony?" After the scriptural discussion, I took them through a comparison to court proceedings and what different types of witnesses testify in that setting. (eye-witness, character - both good and bad, expert - like psychiatrists or forensic scientists, etc.) We talked about which ones are least reliable (only one eye-witness) and which ones are most reliable (often experts who analyze data without perceptual biases). We talked about why more than one eye-witness is important.

We then applied each of those types to spiritual testimonies and talked about the importance of gaining a testimony from each category - to have a well-rounded, balanced, multi-faceted testimony.

I asked each of them to take a minute and think about one aspect of the Gospel that they feel is the strongest part of their testimony - and why it is. We talked about some of those aspects, very briefly. I am not going to share any of those details, since it was a very personal discussion.

I then asked them to identify one thing about which they didn't have a strong testimony but want to gain. One student said tithing, since she hasn't earned much money in her life to this point and doesn't feel like she has a personal testimony of it. Another student hesitated and then said, "Everything." He explained that, due to some pretty serious ward issues where he used to live, he had withdrawn emotionally and become mostly inactive. When he moved here, everyone accepted him - and one friend in particular made a huge difference in his life and helped him look at the Church differently. He said he wants to understand everything better, which wasn't the case a couple of years ago. (On a personal note, it was one of the highlights of my time as a teacher of that class - and I told him afterward that I was grateful he had had the courage to comment, especially since the other members of the class needed to understand that situation better.)

We read John 7:16-17, which says:
Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.


I told them that the best way to figure out how they feel about something (to "gain a testimony" that is unique to each of them individually, no matter what it ended up being) was to "experiment upon the word", as Alma said - to try it over an extended period of time, both when it was easy and when it was hard. If they do that, they might come to differing conclusions among themselves, but those conclusions would be uniquely their own.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Posts: 16570
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 25 May 2014, 15:34

Today, we wrapped up the monthly theme of "Prophets and Revelation" by focusing on two scriptural stories that describe very different situations but the same action: killing someone else. I used these stories (Abraham & Isaac and Nephi & Laban) to explore what revelation really means and when people generally receive revelation, specifically to address personal revelation in the future of each of the students.

We started by revisiting the story of Abraham being tempted to kill Isaac. I asked everyone to pinpoint the "revelation" in this story - to tell me what the revelation was. One of the students immediately answered: "Obedience brings blessings." I pointed out that the story can lead to a lesson about obedience, but obedience wasn't the revelation - since obedience had been taught for a long time prior to that moment. At that point, they were stumped, so I altered the question a bit to be: "What was revealed to Abraham that had been hidden / unknown previously?" After some discussion, they understood that the revelation was that human / child sacrifice was to be discarded as a form of worship - and that animal sacrifice was to take its place.

So, in a very real way, the revelation in the story was a clear statement of what would be worded in Moses' time as:

"Thou shalt not murder (your children)" - with an additional understanding of the Atonement that he hadn't possessed previously.

We then turned to the account of Nephi and Laban, and I asked again what the revelation was in this story. Since nobody could answer that immediately, we read the main verses in 1 Nephi 4 that talk about it. We talked about what it means to be "constrained" ("confined; restrained; compelled; etc."). We talked about Nephi's reaction to the idea that he needed to kill Laban ("No way! I've never killed anyone and can't do it.") - and then we talked about the difference between that reaction and Abraham's reaction first thing the next morning. ("Okay, let's get going so I can do this.")

[Just to add something for this forum that I didn't include in the lesson, that wording (first thing in the morning) implies a dream vision, NOT a visitation.]

We discussed the concept that Abraham had to be "constrained" NOT to kill Isaac (since he was inclined naturally by his upbringing to kill his son), while Nephi had to be constrained TO kill Laban (since he lived with a long-time practice of animal sacrifice, not human sacrifice) - and how the Isaac story might have been different if Abraham had reacted like Nephi did. (If the change in sacrificial ordinance was the intended outcome, God might have gone ahead and revealed that to Abraham right away, without all the drama.)

We read the verses that explain Nephi's justification of his actions, ending with the "revelation" (the new understanding) in verse 13:
It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.


I pointed out that, up until the time when Nephi was faced with doing something he would not have done naturally, he simply was "honoring his father" and "being a good son". His dad told him they needed to get the plates, so he tried to do that. They asked for the plates, and they tried to buy the plates. Finally, he went into the city on his own and discovered Laban passed out drunk. It only was when he was faced with killing Laban (something that went beyond being a good son) that he was able to see WHY he had to get the plates - beyond the generic, "God commanded it." The revelation wasn't the command to get the plates; rather, it was gaining a vision of the reason for the command.

In Abraham's situation, likewise, the revelation came ONLY when he was ready to do something that he didn't understand naturally - NOT killing his son. He had "gone through the motions" of blind obedience and, unlike Nephi, had to be stopped from killing because he followed his natural instincts rather than thinking and questioning first.

[Also, just for this forum, I think there is a very reasonable justification for Nephi killing Laban, especially for that time period and the overall story - but for this lesson I stayed with the theme, "Killing people is not right or a good thing in any situation other than an extreme exception. If you ever have the thought that you should kill someone, ignore it - and get professional help if it persists."]

Finally, to follow the concept of really studying scriptures to understand the people and the stories, not just what they taught, I briefly summarized (since we were almost out of time) the story of King Mosiah changing the government structure at the end of his life. Rather than re-create that summary, I am copying something about it that will post on my personal blog soon.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
We tend to take the summary, abridged descriptions in the Book of Mormon at face value and, often, don't step back a bit and remember that what we have is presented as not even 1/100th of what could have been included - or that it was recorded by very few individuals from their own perspectives. We can accept them as prophets and good people without sacrificing our acknowledgment that they also were humans with personal biases and motives that influenced their writings - especially in the case of Mormon, who, like any historian with space and time constraints, had to pick and choose what to share and what to exclude.

For example, when I read the chapters about Mosiah's actions near the end of his life regarding the future governmental structure of his people, something jumps out at me that is easy to overlook:
-----------------------------------------------------------
1) Mosiah had taken leadership of a people more numerous than the Nephites. That simple fact opens all kinds of issues relative to his government-altering actions before he died.

2) If one of his sons wasn't going to take his place, there was a good chance that one of the people of Mulek who already was influential and popular would do so - especially if the kingship was determined by popular vote. Again, it is stated clearly in the text that the people of Mulek greatly outnumbered the descendants of Nephi in that area. In fact, the moment Mosiah's sons rejected the throne (and Alma the Younger also did), those other influential Mulekite contenders might have started agitating for the position very quickly.

3) Nehor is described as being another King Noah, in philosophy and intent. Amalici was one of his disciples. They are said to have gained a following FAR too quickly to have started a grass-roots campaign from scratch at the end of Mosiah's life.

4) If Mosiah knew either of them was likely to become the king, it would have provided the best possible motivation to change the system.

5) If you think about it, the best possible reason for Nehor, and then Amlici, to be extremely upset and demand what they had assumed they would attain would have been what they would have seen as an attempt to perpetuate the minority rule of the Nephites over them. Consider the situation in some Islamic countries even today; there are striking parallels.

6) It's easy to condemn Nehor and Amlici, given the descriptions we have of them, and I'm not trying to endorse them in any way - but it's harder to realize that they might have had a very compelling legal argument and an incredibly strong emotional appeal to a majority people ruled by those of the minority.

Many things are less clear than we tend to assume in hindsight - and many things in the Book of Mormon are pretty amazing when looked upon a bit more expansively than we tend to do.

---------------------------------------------------
I emphasized that prophets often do things not from revelation (though Mosiah wasn't a prophet, he might have seen his decision as revelatory) but rather from a perceived need at the time. [Another example I didn't share in the class would be Moses' interaction with the daughters of Zelophehad - where he first allowed them to keep the lands of their inheritance when they married (since their father had died without having sons) and then restricted them to marrying only someone in their own tribe (so their tribe would not lose the lands of their father's inheritance when they married).] There is nothing wrong with leaders making non-revelatory decisions, since leaders often have to make decisions for organizations on their own, based on their best understanding - but we need to be careful not to confuse those decisions and personal views as "revelation" and accept everything they do and say, by default, as the pure word of God.

I ended the lesson by mentioning that I believe all of them will be faced in the future with something(s) that requires them to gain new understanding (to have something "revealed" to them) and that I believe most of those revelations will come to them only when they have thought, pondered, questioned, considered, discussed, studied, prayed, etc. diligently - when they are at the point where they simply can't understand something better through their own efforts. At those times, through patiently "enduring to the end", a new insight will hit them and they will understand FAR better than if they simply had followed conventional wisdom and relied on the testimonies / understanding of others. Those times hopefully won't involve an impression to kill someone, but the deepest insights generally will come in the times of deepest struggle and trial. I told them I hope they don't give up before the revelation they need comes to them, no matter how it comes to them - even if it seems to be only an idea that makes sense as a solution to what they face.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Posts: 16570
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 01 Jun 2014, 21:25

The topic this month is "Priesthood and Priesthood Keys".

I explained to the students that the lesson outlines had been written before Elder Oaks gave his talk in the April General Conference about the authority and power of the Priesthood, and since it dealt with two of those outlines (men and women working together in the Church and how councils operate), we were going to go through his talk sentence-by-sentence and discuss what he said and how it changes the way we should talk about priesthood, keys, authority, power, offices and ordination from how we did so when I was their age.

For the purposes of this summary, I will quote the sentences we discussed and give a synopsis of the discussions. We only managed to discuss the first six paragraphs, so we will continue next week - and the following week, if necessary.
1) "We do not “step down” when we are released, and we do not “step up” when we are called. There is no “up or down” in the service of the Lord. There is only “forward or backward,”


I asked them if we really believe this, since it goes against everything about our natural person view of "positions and responsibilities". We talked about a corporate President being asked to become a secretary and how many would accept that change. We talked about members of the Church going from Bishop or Stake President to Nursery Leader.
2) While addressing a women’s conference, Relief Society general president Linda K. Burton said, “We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood.” [Said Elder Oaks,] That need applies to all of us


The direct implication is that "all of us" don't understand the Priesthood well enough, which also implies we need to accept that our understanding needs to change and grow - that what we have believed in the past wasn't full and isn't good enough / adequate anymore. Thus, what Elder Oaks said after this point constitutes "new understanding" that needs to replace our old understanding.
priesthood ordinances and priesthood authority pertain to women as well as men.


I asked them how many of them had heard someone say in the past that priesthood authority pertains to women. None of them had heard that. I told them that Elder Oaks explained that change in the next few paragraphs, and that it is important to start thinking about women using Priesthood authority from now on.
President Joseph F. Smith described the priesthood as “the power of God" (to do lots of things).


So, at heart, "priesthood" can be defined as "power" - most specifically "power to do God's work" (to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man[kind]). Jesus is taught to have accomplished the immortality part (living forever as resurrected beings), so our work falls within the eternal life part (being / becoming like God).
“Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood [holders] to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth.”


We discussed the concept that, given this wording, changes to how priesthood authority and power are used is up to people who have keys to direct, control and govern - and, as we will read further on in the talk, ultimately we teach that Jesus has the final word. So, what happens in a ward is up to the Bishop, within some limitations directed by those who hold more keys (like the Stake Presidents and Apostles) and "confer" Bishop-specific keys on the Bishop (give them to him and authorize him to use them). Thus, at the local level, leaders with keys can do things differently in many ways than others at that same level but in different locations, subject to restrictions put in place by those with more keys.
As Elder M. Russell Ballard has explained, “Those who have priesthood keys … literally make it possible for all who serve faithfully under their direction to exercise priesthood authority and have access to priesthood power.”


We spent more time on this statement than any other one. I asked the students who, according to this sentence, can exercise priesthood authority and access priesthood power. It took a little time, but they came to see that ALL means all - so all who are set apart in any calling or who accept any assignment from someone having keys can do so. Focusing on the ward, that means it's not just men and young men who can exercise priesthood authority and access priesthood power, but it also is the YW class presidencies, the Primary and Relief Society Presidency, the Ward Chorister, the Librarians, the Primary and Sunday School teachers, etc. I asked them how often they had heard about any of those people exercising priesthood authority and accessing priesthood power - and none of them had heard that previously. I reiterated that this is something that they are going to have to accept and understand, even if older people like me struggle to do so from decades of hearing it explained differently.
In the controlling of the exercise of priesthood authority, the function of priesthood keys both enlarges and limits. It enlarges by making it possible for priesthood authority and blessings to be available for all of God’s children. It limits by directing who will be given the authority of the priesthood, who will hold its offices, and how its rights and powers will be conferred. For example, a person who holds the priesthood is not able to confer his office or authority on another unless authorized by one who holds the keys. Without that authorization, the ordination would be invalid. This explains why a priesthood holder - regardless of office - cannot ordain a member of his family or administer the sacrament in his own home without authorization from the one who holds the appropriate keys.


We talked about two things from this paragraph:

1) The limits on who will be given authority, hold office and receive rights and powers are set by the people who hold the keys - at whatever level they are. Thus, the enlarging also is in their hands - subject, of course, to what they perceive to be the will of the Lord. That can change, as was the case with OD2 and the lifting of the race-based Priesthood ban. People who previously had been unable to hold Priesthood office, perform Priesthood ordinances, attend the temple, etc. were authorized to do so from that point forward - because those holding the keys to direct, control and govern those things "enlarged" the former boundaries to include people who had been "limited" previously.

2) Even an apostle can't baptize his own grandchildren without the authorization of the Bishop, since that key (directing, controlling and governing right) is given to the Bishop to use.
With the exception of the sacred work that sisters do in the temple under the keys held by the temple president, which I will describe hereafter, only one who holds a priesthood office can officiate in a priesthood ordinance.


I asked if women can perform Priesthood ordinances in the Church, and their initial reaction was, "No." When I told them to re-read that sentence and then asked them the same question again, they all said, "Yes, but only in the temple." I asked them WHY women can perform Priesthood ordinances in the temple, and they saw that it is because Temple Presidents have been authorized to use their keys (that allow them to direct, control and govern what happens in the temple) to allow women to perform those ordinances there - even without "holding a priesthood office". (I compared a priesthood office with an office in a building - a room certain people are allowed to enter to perform specific tasks.) So, looking at that sentence, outside the temple, the distinction is that women currently can't hold priesthood offices (aren't allowed in those rooms). That "limitation" hasn't been removed, so an "enlargement" hasn't occurred like it did with OD2. I asked them if there was anything in the talk so far that said women never will be able perform priesthood ordinances outside the temple, and they saw that there isn't. I told them that we would talk about that topic next week as we continued to read more from the talk.

We ran out of time at that point, so we will pick up with the next paragraph next week.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Posts: 16570
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Jun 2014, 15:18

Priesthood and Priesthood Keys: Elder Oaks' General Conference talk - Part 2

We had three students in class today who weren't in attendance last week, so I took about ten minutes for a quick review of last week's lesson (the first six paragraphs of Elder Oaks' talk). It was good for the others to hear it again. (If anyone wants to review that lesson before reading this one, it is the comment above this one.)

Today, we covered the next six paragraphs. Like I did with last week's summary, I am going to quote the parts we discussed and provide a summary of the discussions:
Ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used. We are accustomed to thinking that all keys of the priesthood were conferred on Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple, but the scripture states that all that was conferred there were “the keys of this dispensation” (D&C 110:16). At general conference many years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us that there are other priesthood keys that have not been given to man on the earth, including the keys of creation and resurrection.


We talked about what this means about possible changes in the future - that it is another reminder that the way we do things currently is not necessarily unchangeable, eternal doctrine - and that we have to be open to radical changes if they occur.
The divine nature of the limitations put upon the exercise of priesthood keys explains an essential contrast between decisions on matters of Church administration and decisions affecting the priesthood. The First Presidency and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who preside over the Church, are empowered to make many decisions affecting Church policies and procedures - matters such as the location of Church buildings and the ages for missionary service. But even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.


We discussed the difference between "administration" and "the priesthood". We defined "administer" as "oversee; supervise; direct". We discussed what that means in terms of the sacrament. We talked about why it is incorrect to say, "The sacrament will be administered and passed by the Priesthood." First, I simply pointed out that the Priesthood is different than the people who do things with Priesthood authority and power - as has been stated numerous times by apostles recently. I asked who administers the sacrament and who passes it. Their first responses were the Priests, Teachers and Deacons, so we dug further into what happens with that ordinance.

The Bishop (or Branch President or presiding key holder), as the presiding Priest, administers the sacrament, as do the Priests. The other offices in the Aaronic Priesthood (the Deacons and the Teachers) have been authorized to "help" the Bishop and the Priests - not actually to administer but to assist in an official way - and every single person in the congregation passes the sacrament among themselves. (D&C 20:58 explicitly says that Teachers and Deacons are NOT authorized to administer the sacrament.) This means that "administer" and "prepare and pass" MUST be different things, while "bless" (pronounce the prayer) is part of the administration. Administering (including blessing) is a responsibility specific to a Priesthood office (Priest), while the others are assignments made by the presiding Priest to help / assist - NOT to administer.

We talked about how the exact method or pattern of distributing the sacrament is different from congregation to congregation, based on the size and demographics of the congregation. We mentioned various ways the sacrament could be "passed" - from a tiny unit where everyone goes up to the sacrament table and takes it directly from the person who blesses it (with nobody "passing" it) to a larger branch in another part of the world where there are dozens of members but only one man who is ordained to an office in the priesthood and the women (young and old) pass the sacrament throughout the congregation completely on their own - including practical applications that look much like what we see regularly with AP young men. [I know of situations where that happens in some countries.] We talked about the fact that HOW it happens is determined by the person who holds the keys to "direct, control and govern" it - and how nearly every aspect about it is "cultural", when it comes right down to it, since nearly every aspect can change depending on the unique congregational situations. (Outside of the prayer wording and the current restriction on who can voice the prayer [since voicing the prayer is part of the administering], there might be nothing else that couldn't be adapted by a Bishop, Branch President or Area Authority.)

We re-read the last sentence in that paragraph, and I simply pointed out that, as far as we know, women have not been ordained to offices in the priesthood at any point in our scriptural history - so our current leadership does not see that as a matter of practice or policy. Rather, they see it as a "pattern". Therefore, just as was the case prior to OD2 and the lifting of the race-based ban, they don't feel "authorized" to change it without direct revelation from God. I told the students that I hope such a revelation will be received at some point, but I understand why it can't change without revelation to the church leadership. I told them that, lacking such revelation, we need to work on everything else laid out in this talk - that, maybe, this is a case of learning and changing line-upon-line and precept-upon-precept.
I come now to the subject of priesthood authority. I begin with the three principles just discussed: (1) priesthood is the power of God delegated to man to act for the salvation of the human family, (2) priesthood authority is governed by priesthood holders who hold priesthood keys, and (3) since the scriptures state that “all other authorities [and] offices in the church are appendages to this [Melchizedek] priesthood” (D&C 107:5), all that is done under the direction of those priesthood keys is done with priesthood authority.


I pointed out that Elder Oaks' use of "man" in the first point MUST mean the generic "mankind" or "humanity", given everything he had said up to that point in the talk. We talked about how often we fall back on the language with which we are familiar, even when we are teaching new understandings. I told them that we can accept that and be charitable, or we can get upset and take offense - but that we ought not "make a (person) an offender for a word" and not focus on one word and let it negate everything else the person has said.

We talked about what "appendages" means: "a subordinate part attached to something; an auxiliary part; addition". I pointed out that Elder Oaks said that "ALL authorities and offices in the church" are auxiliary to the priesthood itself - which means that even the "office" of apostle is an appendage, governed by keys just like any other calling or office. We talked about the concept that Paul taught about all parts of the body being necessary and no more important than any other body part - that "appendages" are of equal importance when, as Elder Oaks said in the first paragraph of the talk, there is no "up and down" in the Church structure. We talked about the idea that, if ALL is subordinate to the priesthood itself and ALL is done with priesthood authority (and priesthood power), then appendages are complementary - especially when at the same organizational level within the Church. Thus, the Young Men quorums are the male equivalent of the Young Women classes (as complementary appendages), and the Relief Society is the female equivalent of the MP quorums. All of them are, based on Elder Oaks' reframing, "priesthood" groups - meaning they can act with priesthood authority and exercise priesthood power. He addresses this further in the following paragraph.

We also talked about what Priesthood "offices" means. I asked them what the word "office" means outside a discussion of the Priesthood. We agreed that offices are rooms (or spaces) where people do certain things that are assigned to them or that are their responsibilities. That basic definition works for Priesthood offices, as well - figurative locations that are "unlocked" (by keys) to allow people to do certain things therein. Using the AP offices, the Deacons are given access to one room where certain things are authorized to be done - and Teachers are given access to that room and one more, where other things are authorized to be done - and Priests are given access to those rooms and one more - etc. The "office" is nothing more than the authorization to do specific things - to be allowed into that room of the overall Priesthood house, per se.
How does this apply to women? In an address to the Relief Society, President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said this: “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, it has not been conferred upon them, that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. … A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord. They have authority given unto them to do some great and wonderful things, sacred unto the Lord, and binding just as thoroughly as are the blessings that are given by the men who hold the Priesthood.”


I pointed out that, linguistically, President Smith had modified the first phrase ("While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood') to clarify what he meant ("it has not been conferred upon them [through ordination to an office])" - and how that is an important distinction, since it supports the concept that women DO have priesthood authority and can exercise priesthood power. He then said that women can do things that are "binding" AND "necessary for salvation" - that are just as "binding" as what men who have been ordained to offices in the Priesthood do. We talked about how the priesthood itself is the same no matter who uses it, which also means the admonitions in D&C 121 about unrighteous dominion apply equally to men and women. We talked about how "binding" and "sealing" mean, in practical terms, the exact same thing - and how women perform "sealing" ordinances in the temple, just like men. Again, the only restrictions in place right now are ordinance-specific - meaning men are authorized to do some things women currently can't do.
In that notable address, President Smith said again and again that women have been given authority. To the women he said, “You can speak with authority, because the Lord has placed authority upon you.


We talked about how women have authority within themselves - that Priesthood keys don't let women use a man's priesthood but rather allow women to use the priesthood authority and power that the Lord has placed upon them (particularly in the temple, when they are endowed). Thus, the young women in the class don't use the Bishop's authority and power in their callings; they use their own.
He also said that the Relief Society “[has] been given power and authority to do a great many things. The work which they do is done by divine authority.” And, of course, the Church work done by women or men, whether in the temple or in the wards or branches, is done under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys. Thus, speaking of the Relief Society, President Smith explained, “[The Lord] has given to them this great organization where they have authority to serve under the directions of the bishops of the wards … , looking after the interest of our people both spiritually and temporally.”

Thus, it is truly said that Relief Society is not just a class for women but something they belong to—a divinely established appendage to the priesthood.


We finished with me explaining a "soapbox" issue - a pet peeve - of mine. I told them that I hope as they perform their callings in leadership positions, they never let their organizations be just classes and social clubs - that they treat them like Priesthood groups who have responsibilities to serve and bless people - that they never defer to others to tell them what to do but rather embrace their own authority and power to make decisions and receive personal revelation. I mentioned specifically Relief Society and Young Women, but I told the young men what I was saying applied to them, as well. I stressed that the adults in the youth organizations are not supposed to be the "leaders" or "decision makers" - that those roles are supposed to belong to the youth presidencies. I begged the young women to remember that when they move into Relief Society - that they are supposed to run that organization and report to the Bishop, not ask for permission in everything they do, and, particularly, not let it become just a class and a social club. I told them that there is tremendous potential for life-changing service in the Relief Society and that they need to lead the necessary change to make it what it can be.

I ended with the concept of new wine and old bottles, and I told them that a lot of members my age and older simply can't understand and accept the changes outlined in Elder Oaks' talk very easily, if at all - that the youth are the new bottles that can handle the new wine without bursting and that I hope they step up and help lead the older folks to where we need to go.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16570
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Jun 2014, 11:06

Last week's lesson summary posted on my personal blog this morning, and a commenter pointed out something that made me realize I had been a bit sloppy in my summary. As a result, I edited the outline above to reflect a better summary, as well as add one point (the reference to D&C 20:58) that I will address in the lesson tomorrow.

Rather than ask people to re-read the entire lesson summary, I am pasting below the paragraphs that were edited - with a note afterward that I included in my personal blog comment section but not in the lesson or the lesson outline itself.
We discussed the difference between "administration" and "the priesthood". We defined "administer" as "oversee; supervise; direct". We discussed what that means in terms of the sacrament. We talked about why it is incorrect to say, "The sacrament will be administered and passed by the Priesthood." First, I simply pointed out that the Priesthood is different than the people who do things with Priesthood authority and power - as has been stated numerous times by apostles recently. I asked who administers the sacrament and who passes it. Their first responses were the Priests, Teachers and Deacons, so we dug further into what happens with that ordinance.

The Bishop (or Branch President or presiding key holder), as the presiding Priest, administers the sacrament, as do the Priests. The other offices in the Aaronic Priesthood (the Deacons and the Teachers) have been authorized to "help" the Bishop and the Priests - not actually to administer but to assist in an official way - and every single person in the congregation passes the sacrament among themselves. (D&C 20:58 explicitly says that Teachers and Deacons are NOT authorized to administer the sacrament.) This means that "administer" and "prepare and pass" MUST be different things, while "bless" (pronounce the prayer) is part of the administration. Administering (including blessing) is a responsibility specific to a Priesthood office (Priest), while the others are assignments made by the presiding Priest to help / assist - NOT to administer.

We talked about how the exact method or pattern of distributing the sacrament is different from congregation to congregation, based on the size and demographics of the congregation. We mentioned various ways the sacrament could be "passed" - from a tiny unit where everyone goes up to the sacrament table and takes it directly from the person who blesses it (with nobody "passing" it) to a larger branch in another part of the world where there are dozens of members but only one man who is ordained to an office in the priesthood and the women (young and old) pass the sacrament throughout the congregation completely on their own - including practical applications that look much like what we see regularly with AP young men. [I know of situations where that happens in some countries.] We talked about the fact that HOW it happens is determined by the person who holds the keys to "direct, control and govern" it - and how nearly every aspect about it is "cultural", when it comes right down to it, since nearly every aspect can change depending on the unique congregational situations. (Outside of the prayer wording and the current restriction on who can voice the prayer [since voicing the prayer is part of the administering], there might be nothing else that couldn't be adapted by a Bishop, Branch President or Area Authority.)


Since preparing and passing are NOT specific to a Priesthood office but rather assignments given through the keys of the presiding Priest, I believe, according to Elder Oaks' talk, this is one area where changes could be made to who prepares and passes (an area where what Elder Oaks referred to as an expansion) without any change in doctrine. In other words, since who "prepares and passes" is a policy or practice, it would not require revelation to change it. Theoretically, this sort of expansion could be done by the presiding Priest in a congregation, since he holds the key to that ordinance (like what happens in some congregations that have only one or no presiding Priest) - but I think that would be seen by so many members as a doctrinal change that it probably would receive push-back in many areas.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16570
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Jun 2014, 20:15

Priesthood and Priesthood Keys: Elder Oaks' General Conference talk - Part 3

This lesson covered the next seven paragraphs in Elder Oaks' talk.
We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.


We talked about this as being a rephrasing of what we had discussed in the first week's lesson - that everyone who acts under the direction of the presiding Priesthood keys does so with the authority and power of God - the classic definition of the Priesthood. We talked about how traditionally young men serving missions has been considered a Priesthood duty but young women have been told they can serve missions or not, whatever they want, without any pressure to do so - since "preaching the Gospel" has been considered a Priesthood duty. We talked about how the lowering of the minimum age for young women goes hand-in-hand with seeing women as working with Priesthood authority and power, as well. Therefore, serving a mission is a good example for Elder Oaks to use when talking about how we need to start seeing Priesthood authority and power differently than in the past.
Whoever exercises priesthood authority should forget about their rights and concentrate on their responsibilities. That is a principle needed in society at large. The famous Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is quoted as saying, “It is time … to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.” Latter-day Saints surely recognize that qualifying for exaltation is not a matter of asserting rights but a matter of fulfilling responsibilities
.

This could have been tricky, but I focused on the concept that Elder Oaks already had said that everyone can exercise Priesthood authority and power, so, with that foundation (not talking about Priesthood offices and the performance of ordinances but only exercising Priesthood authority), it really is more important to talk about what is done with that authority (one's responsibilities) than focusing on a right we all have anyway. I mentioned explicitly that this paragraph has nothing whatsoever to do with civil rights. We also talked about how different Mormon theology is with regard to responsibilities relative to exaltation than Protestant theology relative to the right to salvation merely by confessing the name of Jesus.
The Lord has directed that only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood. But, as various Church leaders have emphasized, men are not “the priesthood.” Men hold the priesthood, with a sacred duty to use it for the blessing of all of the children of God.


I repeated from last week's lesson that the leadership sees a historical pattern of a male-only Priesthood office structure, but, as we discussed in a previous lesson about the sacrament, "the priesthood" is not the men who hold offices and preform ordinances outside the temple. We then talked again about how easy it is to slip into the vocabulary of our formative years, like even Elder Oaks did when he said "men hold the priesthood" - after he had made it clear throughout the talk that what he had to mean is that men are ordained to offices in the priesthood and administer ordinances outside the temple. I emphasized that most people will continue to use the term "hold the priesthood" when what they mean, usually without realizing it, is "be ordained to offices in the priesthood and administer ordinances outside the temple".

Prior to reading the next few paragraphs, I emphasized that Elder Oaks now was starting to talk about a new topic - and that he was NOT repeating the oft-stated idea that priesthood is the male counterpart to motherhood. That is easy to misunderstand with a quick reading only, but that former comparison makes no sense in light of the entire talk. I also told them explicitly that the next paragraphs contain good examples of cultural assumptions that are hard to release, even in a talk as paradigm-altering as this one.
The greatest power God has given to His sons cannot be exercised without the companionship of one of His daughters, because only to His daughters has God given the power “to be a creator of bodies … so that God’s design and the Great Plan might meet fruition.” Those are the words of President J. Reuben Clark.


It makes no sense to read "the greatest power God has given to His sons" as being the Priesthood, since men can exercise the Priesthood without the companionship of women - and, according to Elder Oaks in this talk, women can exercise the Priesthood, as well. The ONLY logical meaning of that "greatest power" is the ability to have kids - or "procreation" in Mormon-speak. I simply added that this is kind of a "Duh!" statement and that Pres. Clark, whom I really respected and admired, was wrong in a way - since a woman is NOT "a creator of bodies" all by herself. I grinned and said that a man has to be involved, as well - that they both are creators of bodies.
He continued: “This is the place of our wives and of our mothers in the Eternal Plan. They are not bearers of the Priesthood; they are not charged with carrying out the duties and functions of the Priesthood; nor are they laden with its responsibilities; they are builders and organizers under its power, and partakers of its blessings, possessing the complement of the Priesthood powers and possessing a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.”


I pointed out that, all by themselves, these sentences make little sense when compared with the rest of Elder Oaks' talk - that the rest of this talk up to this point actually changes many of the assumptions in Pres. Clark's words. Either Elder Oaks was using the quote because it was quoted often over the years or he is talking about something else. The next sentence shows he is talking about something else.
In those inspired words, President Clark was speaking of the family.


Thus, Elder Oaks used Pres. Clark's quote not to discuss Priesthood authority and power but to discuss family and marriage structure and responsibility.
As stated in the family proclamation, the father presides in the family and he and the mother have separate responsibilities, but they are “obligated to help one another as equal partners.”


I simply mentioned how frustrating it is for me to hear members cite the Proclamation to insist that men and women have to adhere to the traditional roles described as "primary responsibilities" in the Proclamation - since the part about helping each other as equal partners says it applies to "these responsibilities" inclusively and then goes on to talk about how each couple needs to make adaptations that work for them. Given this wording, just like the distinction between rights and responsibilities in exercising the authority and power of the Priesthood, it's not about who does what (rights) but simply that everything that is supposed to happen actually happens (responsibilities). Thus, I know stay-at-home dads who are married to full-time working moms - which now is said to be completely fine if decided mutually by those spouses.

I also mentioned that "preside" now means something very different than it did when I was their age, as emphasized in the next thing Elder Oaks quoted.
Some years before the family proclamation, President Spencer W. Kimball gave this inspired explanation: “When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner.”


I pointed out that this quote was a pre-cursor to the Proclamation and that it fundamentally changes the way we ought to talk about marriage. We talked about "full partnerships" by discussing joint checking accounts - that my wife and I each don't have access to half of our money but that each of us has access to all of it. It's not 50/50; it's 100/100. Likewise, a full marriage partnership means each spouse has equal access to everything done in the marriage - that there isn't one who is the final decision maker or ultimately the boss. Too many older members, especially, still see it that way, but it's not consistent with Pres. Kimball's quote or this talk.
In the eyes of God, whether in the Church or in the family, women and men are equal, with different responsibilities.


We ended the lesson by talking more about what it means to be equal but have different responsibilities - and that how the determination of how those responsibilities are divided among men and women is up to spouses in the family and "key holders" in the Church - and that changes to how responsibilities in the Church currently are up to the leadership, subject to revelation that may change the current division of responsibilities.

The remaining portion of the talk won't take long to cover this Sunday, so most of the lesson time will be for open Q&A and recap.

[As an aside for this forum only, it has been extremely encouraging to see how relatively easy it is for these young men and women to understand and accept all of this new framing. They get it almost instinctively, and none of them come from homes with parents whom I would classify as heterodox. They are quite representative of the future leaders of the Church, and they simply get it.]
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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