Mormon Discussion

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Church of Joseph Smith??

A friend of mine had an interesting experience the other day in church. While singing "Praise to the Man" in sacrament meeting, she noted that her friend next to her was not singing. She asked him why not and he replied that the name of the church was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and he worshipped Jesus, not a prophet.

His point wasn't that he disrespected the prophet, but that in his opinion, singing songs that praised the prophet Joseph Smith were a form of worshipping him.

This lead me to thinking about my experiences with this song and with the ideas surrounding Joseph Smith.

I looked at the words of "Praise to the Man" in depth, which I usually don't ever do. I just sing the words in the book and we're done. However, there is a particularly interesting verse in this song that seems to give validity to my friend's friend.

"Praise to his memory, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame."

This sounds to me like a verse that could be sung about Jesus Christ as well. Interesting.

Another verse seems weird as well, when looked at in this light...

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know "Brother Joseph" again."

Here's what I found interesting in particular. Jesus died to atone for the Earth. Now the Earth must atone for Joseph Smith's death? It sounds as if we as a human race are in more trouble, so to speak, for murdering Joseph than for murdering Jesus. At least in this verse.

The chorus also seems to echo this similar-to-Jesus vein.

"Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again."

Jesus was a prophet, as well as the Savior. So this verse could very easily be applied to Him. And it would seem to make more sense to my little brain that Jesus would be very able to plan for His brethren after His death. However, is Joseph Smith just chilling with everyone else until the day of the resurrection? I mean sure, he's probably got a straight ticket into the CK. But, does that mean he gets to circumvent the whole plan and get exalted and become a god before everyone else? The song seems a bit confusing on that point.

This then lead to me remember when we've sung this song in church or at church functions. Almost every single time we've sang it, we've been urged to stand by the bishopric or leaders, no matter which ward I'm in. But, I don't recall a song in specfic about Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father that is consistently sung while standing. In fact, I'm hard pressed to recall a time ever when we stand in sacrament meeting to sing a song, with the sole exception being "Praise to the Man."

I'm not necessarily siding with my friend's friend. However, his comments did get me thinking. Do we focus too much on the prophets of old and current times and forget about Jesus? If Christ leads our church and deserves our most high worship, should we sing songs about mere men (and yes, the prophets are mere men--remember, they too are falliable and can make mistakes) that mirror so closely to the Savior? No doubt Joseph, as well as other prophets, was a wonderful, sacrificing man. But does that mean he is almost up to par with Jesus? I don't know the answers to these questions, nor do I know if what we do is considered to be "worshipping" Joseph Smith. But I thought I was something interesting to mull over.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Why I'll Never Get Married (in the temple, that is).

I epitomize weird Mormon, as I'm sure anyone who reads this realizes.

But it's slowly but surely come to my attention that this weirdness will very likely prevent me from getting married in the temple to a fellow Mormon.

I want to get married in the temple, don't get me wrong. I always have. I've always had that dream of the special wedding and blah, blah, blah.

But I'm weird. I like it. I think I'm cool and I'm funny. A lot of people like me in church. However, I'm not marriage material. I don't want kids, ever. And before anyone harps on me about that, I talked to my bishop long and hard about that issue, in tears, because I couldn't make myself want to be a mom no matter how hard I tried. I lack maternal instincts. I wouldn't even know how to take care of a fish, let alone a child. And everyone always tried to convince me that I could WILL myself into wanting kids. So, I prayed, I studied, and I finally made a tearful trip into my bishop's office and lamented the fact that no matter what I did, I couldn't make myself want to fill my uterus with someone's kids when my heart said to go be a lawyer and poltician and help the downtrodden of society and build community youth centers and be a philanthropist... And my bishop told me that choosing not to be a mother was a perfectly acceptable and fine decision because motherhood is the best choice for some women and for other women, such as myself, there are other better choices.

So, strike one against me: I don't want kids in a religion that stresses the importance of family. I'm not violating any religious rules, according to my bishop, but it's still a cultural thing. We're taught to want kids. I doubt I'll find a man who doesn't want kids. Most people in the world want kids, not even narrowed down to Mormons only.

Strike two: I can't marry a Republican. No offense to any Republicans, because I realize that most Mormons are Republican. I'm just so incredibly Democratic I bleed blue. I live and breathe Democratic values. Raise my taxes to ensure healthcare for all! Give kids better education! Welfare is a good thing (spoken from a former welfare child)! I can't get on board with the Republican side of things. I'm not hostile towards them (okay, okay, I'm not USUALLY hostile towards them), I just severely disagree with them. And I'm so passionate about politics that it would be very difficult for me to be married to someone who doesn't support the same political beliefs that I do. Of course, there is the option that I could marry someone and we just wouldn't talk about politics. Except if you know me, you know every other word out of my mouth is somehow related to politics. is my favorite website. I'm a politics junky. To have to never talk about it, especially with my husband, would be torture!!! So, I don't want to have a code of silence, nor do I want a heated battle. Hence, I've got to marry a Democratic Mormon.

Strike three: I support gay rights. I've previously posted about this issue as one of my very first posts. In brief, for those who don't want to read the whole big thing, I think it's a political issue, not a religious one. Religious institutions are free to do whatever they like. However, the political realm is a different place and we have to be fair to everyone. We let the KKK make horrible speeches about how awful black and jewish people are. Clearly, I don't believe what the KKK stands for, believes, preaches, or practices. However, I do believe that they should be afforded the right to say it, because it's a constitutional right. So, even if I HATE what they have to say, I have to support their right to say it. So, whether or not someone agrees with a homosexual's lifestyle, I think it's still our obligation to support their rights. Being fired for being gay is ridiculous. Being unable to claim the same tax benefits as other Americans is ridiculous. Ok, so now, try to find another Mormon that sides with me on this...yeah...

So, I've got three strikes (at least) against me. I'm not the Mormon girl that guys have dreamed of asking to marry.

I've accepted this. I'm not completely ruling out the possibility, but I am not a hopeless optimist either. I know that a Democratic Mormon man who supports gay rights and doesn't want kids is pretty friggin rare. I'm sure there is one...somewhere...but does he live in Minnesota? Uh, probably not so much.

So, what's a girl to do? I really want to be married someday. I would really like to have a husband and a family (family means all sorts of things; in my case, it means a unit of my spouse and me). I want to have someone to grow old with, to share my moments with...and I've got really, really slim chances on finding that.

So, I'm currently dating a wonderful, wonderful guy. Not a member. He's super great, a wonderful man. He's got his head on straight, treats me wonderfully, is really funny, has the same political beliefs as me, supports my future dreams and aspirations. I could be completely happy with him for the rest of my life. I would be incredibly in love.

But, I have to be married in the temple to go to the Celestial Kingdom. So, what's a girl like me to do? Do I stay single and hope, hope, hope for the unlikely to occur and wait for a Mormon man who is compatible with me? Or do I go for the non-member who makes me really happy and is incredibly compatible with me?

Don't give me the crap that God will provide someone for me. That's BS. Yes, most Mormons get married. However, there are some who never do. They have a spouse waiting in the next life. They get to be single and lonely and alone for all their life on Earth. And I think I have a high probability of being that single girl for the rest of my life if I stick to only Mormons.

What's a woman to do? Do I take happiness now (and by now I mean this life, not NOW as in tomorrow...oh heavens no!!), or do I live a miserable, lonely life in hopes of a big pay off in the next life?

And I know that it says in D&C that people who choose not to be married in the temple give up their place in the CK, but does this apply to girls as well? I've heard stuff about it not applying. I don't think that this would be fair to guys, but it appears that there is more of an onus for men to be married in the temple rather than women. What's the actual doctrine on this??