Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Passing of President Paternoster

It is with the deepest regret that I, Sister Paternoster, announce the sudden and unexpected passing of President William Lilburn Godfrey Paternoster.  

He suffered a major heart attack today while sitting on the stand at Church waiting for sacrament meeting to start.   We were visiting the local YSA branch when a small group of sisters entered the room.  As Bill turned to them his smile quickly faded into a look of horror and he started to clutch his chest.   I rushed to his side while the Branch President called an ambulance.  Bill was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. 

He will be sorely missed by family, friends, the faithful members of his Stake and readers of this blog.  

The sisters in question feel awful for rebelling against the Brethren.  They have promised to never again wear pants to Church.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

December 2012 Ensign Highlights

In order to assist readers as they prepare for this season of joy and peace I would ask that they prayerfully consider the words of the Lord as given in the Christmas/December 2012 edition of the Ensign.
May we ever keep in mind that “Church magazines are an important segment of the authoritative voice of the Church through which prophetic counsel from the Lord is made available to all of our Father’s children of all ages on matters pertinent in today’s world.”
I testify that solutions to the world’s greatest problems will be found as individuals and governments heed the words of the Ensign.
Below I will quote a couple of the wonderful and faith promoting highlights from the December edition:
“If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing."
This is a wonderful message that the world needs to hear.  Why anyone would choose to feed their family and pay for water when they could be giving these sacred funds to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is completely beyond me.
Here is another very touching story……
“My wife, Lesa, and I became acquainted with a young woman soon after she came to church to attend an English class taught by the missionaries. She was outgoing, vibrant, and in control of her life, which included a good job, a longtime boyfriend, and her family….When the missionaries began teaching her the commandments, she knew she must obey.”
From the article we learn that her parents seemed worried.  Perhaps they thought she was getting involved in a cult, but she faithfully assured them this was not the case, and stopped talking to them. 
We learn that with the spirit of obedience “She broke up with her boyfriend and quit her job, which required that she work Sundays. She began observing the Word of Wisdom and accepted the law of tithing…..Within a few weeks of accepting the commandments, she found herself without a job, an apartment, or family support.”
Later when they met her while going for a walk she gleefully exclaimed “I am on my way to my new job working the graveyard shift at the drive-up window of a fast-food restaurant.”
I always encourage members to work at fast food restaurants rather than being tempted to accept careers which require them to work on Sundays.  When Doctor Murphy joined the Church he faithfully gave up his career as a heart surgeon so he could attend his Sabbath day meetings. 
The article explains that “This job represented a significant drop in pay, responsibility, and hours from her previous job. Despite significant trials and setbacks in the temporal affairs of her life, happiness exuded from her.  She then announced that her baptismal date had been set.”
What a beautiful example of righteousness. If all investigators could show such obedience and dedication to the one true Church of Christ the world would be a much better place. 
Lovingly shared by President Paternoster

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mormon Woman Ordained a Deacon

I received the following letter from Melanie Ladouceur of Paris, France this week and felt it deserved a response.  I will translate her letter and my response into English for your benefit. 

Dear President Paternoster,

I cannot for the life of me understand why it is that we the sisters of the latter days cannot serve as deacons in the church.  If the church today is literally a restored version of the early (New Testament) church, as we claim, why can women not serve as deacons? 

In Romans 16:1 we learn of the earliest Mormons (and I refer to them as Mormons because they are of the same church/religion as us) and are specifically told that Phebe, a woman, served as a deacon. 

Having served in a French speaking mission you would already be familiar with this verse President, but I will quote it anyway: “Je vous recommande Phoebé, notre soeur, qui est diaconesse de l'Église de Cenchrées….”  (
President, as you are likely aware the word "diaconesse" is the feminine version of the English word deacon.  It would be like saying deaconess in English (just as you use the word prophetess to describe a female prophet in your version of the Bible). 

This word “diaconesse” comes from a literal translation of the Greek word Diakonos, meaning deacon.  I know in some languages they have interpreted the word Diakonos to mean servant (such as in the English King James version of the Bible).  However in the New International Version (in English) it is translated as deacon, which is more accurate than servant.  (

Either way my point is clear.  There was a woman named Phebe who served as a deacon in the original church. 

And this being the case why can I not hold the Aaronic priesthood and serve as a deacon in the modern church, which church is simply a restoration of the original one?  It seems to me that the restored church has made an error, and I am very surprised that the Lord in his weekly temple visits with the prophet hasn’t corrected this.

Please let me know your thoughts on the matter,

Melanie Ladouceur

Below is my response

Dear Sister Ladouceur,

Thank you for bringing up this important point.  The main thing to keep in mind is even though the Greek word may well have been Diakonos the interpretation as servant must have been accurate because if it wasn’t Joseph Smith would have pointed this out as part of his inspiring project to correct the many errors in the Bible. 

Keep in mind that with regards to the qualifications required of a deacon we also read in the New Testament (in 1 Timothy 3:12) as follows: “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”

As the only true Church upon the face of the earth we closely follow the words of the living scriptures by only ordaining 12 year old unmarried boys as deacons and having them advance to the office of teacher just two short years later. 

Please continue to find the sweet joy and peace that can only come from following your priesthood leaders and doing what they say.

With loving concern,

President Paternoster

Sunday, November 4, 2012

President Paternoster Speaks to the Sister Missionaries

Last week I was visiting Utah to meet with and provide direction to the public relations department of the Church in preparation for the possibility of Mitt Romney becoming President of the United States and the influx of new members this will cause.  I was absolutely delighted when Elder Nelson explained that an opening had come up and that he would be honoured if I were to address the sisters at the MTC. 
Below is an excerpt of my address (for the full address I understand that some of the sisters may be uploading my talk to YouTube):
Thank you Elder Nelson for that long and wonderful introduction.  Surely the spirit of the Lord is pleased when at such events we highlight each other’s academic and business achievements.  While the early apostles were nothing but fishermen and young Joseph was a poor farmer we the modern day leaders of the Lord’s kingdom, yea, we who will be present to usher in the millennial reign of our Lord and Saviour, rarely miss an opportunity to let the members know just how highly educated, successful and humble we are.  This is most pleasing unto our father in heaven.
Elder Nelson I am glad that you and the rest of The Twelve have also noticed the strong correlation between my blog posts and Church attendance.  I trust in the Lord that this trend will continue. While those who oppose this work may gain small victories (such as getting me banned from Facebook) my blog is still alive and well and is influencing many to come unto Christ and be saved. 
My dear sister missionaries, it is wonderful to be amongst you today.    
My thoughts and counsel today will be based on a wonderful article found at that was specifically written for you.
As I look upon you today I feel impressed to discuss the important and delicate issue of physical appearance.  As representatives of the Lord you must always look your best, for the Holy Ghost works at its greatest strength through a person who is in all things pure and clean. 
As you work alongside the elders please carefully consider their feelings.  The article brings up an important issue that should concern you each and every day of your mission.  It points out that “Elders’ most frequent complaints are about sisters’ hair .“  Please follow the counsel to “Have a neat and easy style—not too short or it will look like the elders’, and long enough so that it can be curled on Sundays.”
Be sure to “Sleep on a satin pillowcase” to preserve not only your hair style but also your divine femininity.
In my Stake I labour constantly to get the sisters to wear make-up when they are out in public.  The article on confirms this requirement for sister missionaries.  I have observed that some in this very room could use a little more.  Please seek out and follow the counsel of your wise and loving district leader in this matter. 
Remember always that as sisters you have pledged to “honor and support the priesthood authority over you (even though this authority be administered by an elder who is younger and less experienced). This is an important lesson to learn, for the line of authority is an eternal principle of the gospel and of the home.”
Sisters, always make sure that you are on a diet.  No elder wants to have to work with sisters who are overweight.  The article counsels that sisters should exercise and warns that at dinner appointments they should “take small helpings, no seconds, and cut down the next day”. 
A word of caution is given to, “Never, never eat late at night! When you come home late after a discussion and you have not had time for dinner, eat a little salad or fruit and then go straight to bed and think how much skinnier you will be by not eating a large meal until morning.”
The article confirms what I have been saying to Sister Paternoster for years in our weekly Personal Priesthood Interviews that, “If you are one pound overweight, it is too much. Take it off”
One suggestion that I hope you will all implement in your various missions is that of having a “BNTE Week (Be Nice to Elders Week) where you either cook something good or do something nice for the elders in your district. If you do this, remember that this week especially you must work like a whirlwind so no one can say that you borrowed the Lord’s time. Make it a top week in service and in work also.”
Something that sisters often forget is that rather than going shopping they should “Always participate with the elders on preparation day. If it is something you cannot do (for example if the elders are playing soccer or cricket), then at least be there to watch or cheer. This does wonders for mutual respect between elders and sisters.” Honestly I can’t think of a better activity for Sisters on P-day than watching and cheering the elders on as they play sports.  You may consider going the extra mile by supplying the food and cleaning up after them too. 
Now as a word of warning; As Brethren we understand that Sisters often like to get worked up and depressed about things.  When you get depressed, as I’m sure you will, set aside a little time that day to do something that raises your spirits. The article gives a great suggestion of “spending extra time on your hair and then praying earnestly for help from the Lord.”  
Sisters I know that as you do these things, you will find emerging within yourself a strength that will help you bear up under many hardships. You will gain an insight into the gospel that will bring peace to your heart.  And as the article confirms “you will have an aura of femininity and a serenity about you that no time spent before the mirror could ever produce”.  All this because you will be acquiring qualities that will help you to fulfill your mission in this life as well as in the eternities.
May the Lord bless you as you embark on your missions, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Can the Prophet Lead us Astray? A Stake President responds

While Jesus warned of false prophets in the last days one thing that has helped strengthen my testimony of the restored gospel is that those who have stood as Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always assured us that they will never lead us astray.
The scriptures warn that “cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh” which is why I only put my trust in the prophet.  
The scriptures record the words of President Wilford Woodruff who said “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray.”
Those who oppose the Church know that if they can successfully show that a Church President has indeed led the people astray then we, his followers, would have to conclude either that the Lord is a liar or even more preposterous still - that the leaders of His Church aren’t really speaking on His behalf. 
One who attempts to confuse members in such a manner is a young man named David Twede. 
If there is one thing I, as a Stake President, cannot understand it is when disaffected members feel the need to write blogs in condemnation of the Lord’s Church and its chosen and anointed leaders. 
Twede not only has his own blog but is also involved in the website which is a site dedicated to exposing historical facts about the Church that are not in harmony with the restored gospel.  
Twede not only dares to suggest that the Lord has gone against His own promise in permitting those who stand as president’s of the Church to lead members astray, but he provides what on the surface, to the untrained eye, looks like good evidence. 
His blog post deals with the sensitive issue of the Lord not permitting those of the Negro race to hold the priesthood until 1978.  Twede quotes from a recent statement in the Mormon newsroom where it says, "It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago...We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church."
Twede says, “This statement is very profound. It tacitly admits that the previous statement, that the Lord won’t allow a prophet to lead the members astray, is false.”
As evidence he puts links to quotes from past prophets as given on  Twede wrongfully assumes that if the Church today condemns racist messages from past Church President’s, then this must mean that past Church President’s led the people astray. 
I will correct Brother Twede in his assumptions but let’s first start with the following quote from our past beloved Church President Joseph Fielding Smith:
"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning.... we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our negro brethren, for they are our brethren-children of God-not withstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness.”  The Way to Perfection, pages 101-102.
Here is another quote from Smith:
"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less." Doctrines of Salvation, volume 1, page 61.
The first question we must ask and that I, as a Stake President, will answer is ‘are official statements made by the Church Newsroom (and which in this case condemn past racism in the Church) actually official?’ 
In order to correctly answer this I will have to speak very frankly and openly with you.  While the Church has no official position on the matter, I happen to know that leaders desperately want Mitt Romney to become the president of The United States of America.  Since Romney is a member of the one true Church the people of America are naturally very interested in finding out exactly what he believes.  So when articles are written that portray our teachings in a negative light it is important for the public relations arm of the Church to quickly smooth things over. 
One must ask oneself whether the people of America would rather vote for someone who believes that black people are ‘children of God-not withstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness’ or are they more likely to vote for someone who’s Church denounces  “any and all past racism by individuals in the Church?”  The answer is obvious.
And thus we see that as marketing specialists the job of the public relations folk is to make our religion seem more palatable to the outside observer.  I personally commend them on the fine job they are doing in this regard.
But let’s keep one thing in mind.  These statements on the Church Newsroom were not signed by the First Presidency nor did a Church leader get up in General Conference to read and endorse them.  No.  Because General Conference is for those who are already members while the Church Newsroom is for the general public.   And thus as faithful members we can be assured that our past leaders did not lead us astray. 
But let’s play devil’s advocate and just pretend for a minute that it was completely wrong of the 15 white men at the head of this Church to not allow blacks to hold the priesthood and that this was indeed racist, as the newsroom article suggests.  If this were the case then would Brother Twede be correct in stating that the prophet has, in the past, led us astray?  
Well let’s first define the true meaning of being led astray.  To lead someone astray means to guide a person down a path that will not result in their eternal salvation.  Would anyone’s eternal salvation have been at risk if blacks should have been allowed to hold the priesthood but were denied this right?  Of course not!  The black man that joined the Church through baptism and led a life of service to the Lord will not be denied eternal salvation by a loving father in heaven just because the prophet at the time mistakenly thought that their skin colour was ‘emblematical of eternal darkness’.  Nor would the white man’s salvation be jeopardized by this policy.  All are equal in the sight of the Lord.
And thus we see that past presidents and prophets of the Church have not led and will never be permitted to lead astray those of us who follow him.  On the contrary it is people like Brother Twede who seek to lead people astray.  We must keep one thing in mind, and it is that Twede is an apostate.  Not many know this so I will just tell you straight out that he was on the verge of being excommunicated from the Church by loving priesthood leaders for his involvement in
Rather than humbly and bravely facing the consequences of his actions like a man Brother Twede ran off to an ex-Mormon conference and amongst cheers and applauds sent an email to Church headquarters asking for his name to be removed from the records of the Church.  This received certain media attention:
Such actions show that Twede was and is under the influence of Satan and therefore any evidence he produces to show that Church President’s have led us astray cannot be trusted and must be ignored.
Brothers and Sisters as a Stake President I can assure you that the President of the Church will never lead us astray.  We can follow him with full purpose of heart knowing that even if in years to come his policies are deemed discriminatory by the public relations arm of the Church, we who have faithfully sustained and followed him will be eternally blessed. 
This is my assurance that I give unto you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trying to be like Jesus - a Halloween Costume Guide

While the other 5 year olds were trick or treating around the neighbourhood dressed as sluts the Lord was pleased with little Sadie, of Arizona, because she had picked out a Halloween costume that covered her body. 
Her shining example was highlighted in an article entitled “Trying to Be Like Jesus” where Sadie reported that, “When it was time to pick out a Halloween costume, I told my mom that I would choose a costume that was modest. I found one that I really liked, and it covered my body. I know that Heavenly Father is happy when I choose the right.”

Avoiding the pitfalls that can occur as a result of Halloween is something that every latter day saint parent should prayerfully consider. 
The Ensign magazine warns that what can start out as a seemingly innocent and cute witches costume can, in later years, result in occult rather than temple wedding ceremonies.
The article speaks of how before joining the Church a family dressed their daughter up as a witch but afterwards, in order to not grieve the spirit, they chose more righteous costumes.  They did not want to "personalize evil by encouraging our children to identify with witches, even cute ones."
One way I help the neighbourhood children consider the feelings of Jesus when choosing their costumes is to put a sign on my lawn stating that only those dressed appropriately will receive candy.  I further specify that children dressed as witches and wizards and those dressed immodestly are welcome to come back when they have changed.  In this way I know that I am doing my part to promote the sacred standards of the restored gospel.
Those with teenagers need to be extra careful to ensure their children are discouraged from attending events where fortune telling and other satanic practices take place, even if such activities seem like harmless fun.  President Boyd K. Packer warned of such activities when he told young men and women "In a moment of curiosity or reckless bravado some teenagers have been tempted to toy with Satan worship. Don’t you ever do that! Don’t associate with those who do!"
James E. Faust warned that "The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft, voodooism, black magic, and all other forms of demonism should be avoided like the plague.”
With this prophetic warning in mind to avoid casting spells just as one would avoid the plague I have counseled and will take this opportunity to raise my voice again against the dangers of the infamous Harry Potter series.  Please discourage your children from dressing as characters of this popular book. 
Sister McCullough wrote to me reporting that she always goes to the shop a few weeks before Halloween to buy up all the Harry Potter costumes so that the children will be obliged to pick more appropriate clothing.  We can learn much from her example. 
As always there will be those who mock the counsel given by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on matters such as this.  Those who mock should take careful note of the following Ensign report of what happened to those who did not take this counsel to heart, "Friends of ours recently were shocked and saddened when they arrived at a garden wedding to find that it was an occult ceremony. Their beloved grandson’s experimentations with “the dark side to spiritual things” were no longer mere Halloween curiosities."
Consider yourselves warned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Missionary Service Cures President Paternoster of Anthophobia

Some of you may not know that several years ago as a direct result of my parents serving a full time mission I was not only cured of Anthophobia but my sore knee suddenly got better.  Such miracles are not uncommon in the Church. 
The *September 2012 Ensign spoke of the miraculous blessings that occurred in one family when the parents served a mission, “One couple who had been unable to have children were blessed with a baby boy, another had a miraculous healing from cancer, another with a struggling child saw great progress, and others had their best year in business.” 
The Ensign article also confirms something that my scientifically trained mind has observed for many years, that “Missions keep people younger.”
With such blessings readily available to all I hope you can understand how it just sickens me when senior couples find excuses to not serve missions.  If only more couples could be like the Luangrath’s mentioned in the Ensign who admitted that (like most retired couples) they “sat in their home. … wondering what they should do.” 
The difference between them and less faithful couples is that instead of twiddling their thumbs they “wanted to follow the prophet, so they turned in their mission application.”
Couples are reacting positively to the new revelation highlighted in the Ensign that “Senior missionaries may return home for critical family events (for up to 10 days) at their own expense.”
The McClusky’s who are considering serving a mission when they retire next year told me that they appreciate the Lord recognizing that senior couples are now considered mature enough to decide for themselves whether to come home in an emergency.  “Previous generations of senior missionaries were probably not capable of making these decisions on their own and needed priesthood direction to tell them what to do, but we were specifically told in our youth that in the pre-existence ours was a more valiant generation”, remarked 68 year old Sister McClusky.
This new policy came just in time for John and Dorothy Simpson who’s only daughter Andrea was dying in the hospital.  At my suggestion they went on a mission in an attempt to cure Andrea of the stage 4 lung cancer that had been plaguing her for the last 7 months.  When it became clear that Andrea was imminently needed on the other side of the veil the Simpson's followed the direction given in the new policy and paid for themselves to return home to be with their daughter during the last days of her mortal probation. 
On the 5th day of their return with only 5 more days allowed they started to worry that they might not be able to be with Andrea when she passed on.  As a stake we all fasted and prayed and on the 9th day Andrea, in a moment of weakness, asked her parents to stay.  The Simpson’s knew that the Lord had implemented the 10 day policy for a reason and with faith filled tears they hugged their daughter for the last time before heading back to where the Lord needed them most. 
While obediently on their flight back to their mission in Australia Andrea passed away peacefully in her sleep.  "It was truly a miracle", said Elder Simpson who was proud to report that they were able to give a pass along card to a member of a rock band that was sitting next to them on the plane.  "We are so thankful that even though we missed the funeral this newly inspired policy permitted us to come home for a short final visit", said Sister Simpson.    
Brothers and Sisters please do all you can to encourage the elderly to serve missions.  I testify that as couples have the faith to go forward and serve the Lord they and their families will be blessed beyond measure, and I say these things humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Missionary Age Update: Reaction from Ireland as the LDS Church recognizes that Women are almost as mature as Men

This is the initial draft of a statement that is being prepared for release to the media.  It was done by Mark Kennealy, my Stake High Councillor responsible for public affairs.  When I have time I will make some adjustments and release it.  Feel free to provide suggestions:
In a bold move towards the equality of the sexes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has lowered the age of full time missionary service to 18 for men and 19 for women.  Previously men had to be 19 and women 21. 
“The Church is now recognizing that rather than being less mature than priesthood holders by two years, we, as modern women, are now only one year behind” said an excited Shannon O’Connor of Belfast.
“This shows that emotionally we are catching up to the priesthood in these the latter days” remarked Trinity Murphy from County Cork.
Sister Kennedy, an accountant from Macroom said that her 12 year old son Peter has the opportunity to grow up much quicker than his twin sister,  “He is a righteous priesthood holder and as such has been given divine authority from God to do things such as go from house to house collecting Fast Offerings.  This is something that his sister and I, as women, will never be able to do.” 

Asked whether this made her feel inadequate in any way Sister Kennedy said, “Who am I to question the Lord? I am just thankful that the Saviour allows me to give my money to the Church.  Having the priesthood handle it from there must be His will or the Church would have been organized differently.”
Mary, Peter’s sister said “I look up to Peter.  As a priesthood holder he often gets to be the Bishop’s messenger where he sits on the stand and runs errands that I, as a girl, could not possibly handle.  He looks so important up there with the bishopric.  I just wish he would remember to not pick his nose.”
Mary spoke of longingly watching the boys prepare the sacrament one Sunday and admitted that sometimes she wishes she had been a boy so she could be considered worthy to place the trays of bread and water on the sacrament table before the meeting.  In a gesture that brought tears to her mother’s eyes Mary brightened up as Peter put his arm around his sister and said “ah yes, but you get to bear children.”
Peter’s Bishop, Paddy Barnes confirmed that while Mary is spending her time learning of the importance of becoming a wife and a mother Peter will progress through the ranks to become a priest at age 16 where he will have the authority to baptize converts and ordain men to the Aaronic Priesthood.  “By the time he is 18 he will be ordained an Elder and will be more than prepared to go out into the world to preach the gospel” said Bishop Barnes, “whereas his twin sister will need at least another year to reach his level of emotional maturity and stature.” 
“In a world where women are fighting for equality the Church has truly stepped up to the plate” remarked Sister McMaster of Limerick, “it is wonderful to see that God is at the helm, guiding this Church through His ordained prophets.”
16 year old Caitriona Cragg from Killarney caused an outburst of laughter from several of the 18 year old boys when she asked whether this meant that sisters could now serve as district and zone leaders in the mission field.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Stimulation of one’s Holy Organs, and the Restored Gospel

I received the following letter from a single sister the other day and felt it deserved a response. 
Dear President Paternoster,
Thank you so much for standing up for the truth and not being shy in condemning the false doctrines of our day.  Your blog has helped so many come unto Christ and I want you to know that your words are often used to provide clarification during Church meetings in our Young Single Adult ward.  We have a saying in our ward "What Would President Paternoster Do?" (or WWPPD for short), which helps us during times of temptation to stay on the straight and narrow path towards eternal life.  I believe it is every worthy sisters dream to one day meet and marry a priesthood holder as faithful and valiant, not to mention as handsome, as you. 
My roommates and I were discussing the delicate topic of self stimulation the other day and I was shocked and horrified to find out that I am the only one who has never engaged in such an activity.  I was taught in my youth that this was wrong, that boys couldn’t serve missions if they did this and that I needed to do all I could to be worthy of the love of a pure and undefiled return missionary.  In each interview growing up my Bishop would inquire about this and I would assure him that I was not guilty of such a practice.  
One of my roommates who didn’t grow up in the Church thought this was absolutely ridiculous and said that self stimulation is just a normal and natural part of growing up and learning how the body works.  She pointed out that if God was against this then a woman who never married would be required to live her whole life without ever experiencing an orgasm.  She wondered out loud what sort of God would require such a thing. 

She said that self pleasuring has provided her the opportunity to discover the sensations and movements that work best to give her the greatest sexual gratification. She explained that this is an empowering thing and that it has helped her feel better about herself and her body. 
She says that when she gets married she will be much better off than those who abstain (me, in other words) because knowing what her body needs to experience a fullness of pleasure she will be able to guide her husband.  She seems to think this will strengthen their marriage.
My roommate went on to explain some of the scientific research that has been done and told us of some of the associated health benefits.  The list is rather long.  Apparently it helps prevent cervical infections and relieve urinary tract infections.  It is associated with improved cardiovascular health and a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes.  It builds resistance to yeast infections and increases pelvic floor strength. It can help work against insomnia in a natural way by releasing calming hormones and endorphins, making us feel the warm afterglow that helps us sleep (no wonder I suffer from insomnia while she sleeps so soundly at night).  She also said that men who engage in similar activities are far less likely to develop prostate cancer, that it keeps their reproductive systems strong and healthy, and strengthens the immune system. 
President, the way she talked about it you would think it should be included as part of the Word of Wisdom.
I asked her whether she felt guilty about doing it and she said that although shame and guilt have been associated with masturbation for centuries society is now moving on from these attitudes.  She thinks I should “get with the times”. 
“But what about following the prophet”, I asked.  She said that she looked in the manuals and on the official website of the church and could find nothing on the topic.  She also found no references to the practice by ancient prophets in the scriptures.  She assumes that the Church, like society in general, has moved on from and no longer discourages this activity. 
As a believer she also said though that if I were to find some crystal clear instructions denouncing the practice, not in some old books written years ago, but currently on she would go to the bishop to confess and repent - and she would give up the habit. 
President, can you help?  Can you clarify the position of the Church, if one still exists, on this topic? I am finding her arguments to be somewhat persuasive and while reading from the pages of The Book of Mormon is certainly helpful I am having a very hard time getting to sleep at night. 
Jenni Hewitt, of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Dear Sister Hewitt,
Thank you so much for your letter.  It is wonderful to hear that the words of my blog, which are only used to highlight and defend the position of the Church as given on its official website, are being discussed by the young people in such far off lands as America. 
Surely the Lord is pleased when in a world of confusion and doubt there are still some who are willing to stand up for the inspired teachings of the Church, providing a beacon to the weary and the lost. 
If only all sisters could be like unto you Jenni.  You were reserved to come forth in this day and age, even in the dispensation of the fullness of times, to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all places.  As you have kept yourself unspotted from the sins of this generation you have found joy and peace in a world laden with sin and iniquity.  May you be blessed as you bear the burden of being a member of the only Church upon the earth in which the Lord is well pleased.
You have brought up an important question and one which confuses many.  I will attempt, dear sister, to answer this question as best I can and pray that the spirit of the Lord will accompany me in so doing.
As a recent convert your roommate did not grow up in the Church and was thus denied many of the experiences and teachings which those of us who were born in the covenant take for granted.  As such it is your responsibility, Jenni, to bring her up to your level of knowledge and understanding of the gospel and ensure that the opposite does not occur. 
The gospel is the same yesterday, today and forever and God and His teachings have no need to “move along with the times”.  If a certain habit was a sin yesterday then I can assure you that it is a sin today and no amount of justification, research or rational thinking can change that. 
Your friend rationalizes that masturbation is a normal and natural part of growing up, but as a seminary student you would have memorized in your youth the sacred verse of scripture that teaches that natural man is an enemy of God and will be forever unless he yields to the enticings of the spirit.
I am thus prompted to ask the following questions:  
Does the spirit of the Lord entice man to engage in acts of self mutilation? 

Can a daughter of our father in heaven feel and follow the sweet promptings of the spirit of the Lord whilst touching her most sacred organs and imagining herself engaged in illicit acts of a sexual variety and nature with a man to whom she is not legally and lawfully wedded?
Would your roommate engage in such lasciviousness if she knew that Lord with his all piercing eye, yea he who suffered and bled from every pore for the sins of the world, could see her in the very act thereof? 
I didn’t think so.
Your friend states that the prophets of old and have nothing to say on this important matter.  You and I know that this is not true.  I will show you, Jenni that modern day prophets know all about the worldly rationalization that takes place on this topic – the same worldly rationalization that your friend seems so familiar with.
For your benefit I will quote that which can be found today on the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
“The world rationalizes that masturbation is natural and healthy. However, President Spencer W. Kimball states the Lord's view as follows: "Prophets anciently and today condemn masturbation.”
Keep in mind Jenni that President Kimball isn’t giving his own view.  No.  As one having authority he states the Lord’s personal view on the matter.  One may ask how this is possible since there are no scriptural records confirming this.  The same could be said of the ancient prophets.  How did President Kimball know that prophets anciently condemned masturbation?  I will answer this.
Much like Joseph Smith, as President of the Church Kimball would have met regularly with the Lord and the ancient prophets on a variety of matters.  Amongst all of the issues of the day, which likely included such topics as world hunger, war and other disasters, it is safe to assume that the pernicious evils of masturbation were discussed. goes on to say that masturbation “induces feelings of guilt and shame”. This guilt and shame is not currently felt by your friend because she has yet to be taught the fullness of the restored gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  As you share with her your findings the spirit will help her to feel the Godly guilt and shame that are so necessary for sincere repentance and forgiveness to occur.  A loving bishop can be very helpful in this process. 
Your friend will soon see that rather than being a beautiful celebration of the body which was created by the Lord to have such feelings, the act of masturbation is (as the quote goes on to say) “detrimental to spirituality”.  Rather than being a celebration of freedom “it indicates slavery to the flesh” and rather than being an act that will help her in the future eternal partnership of marriage it will in fact inhibit “the growth toward godhood which is the object of our mortal life.”
If this isn’t clear enough for your friend or if she tries to justify her iniquities by claiming that President Kimball’s quote is from too long ago please have her read this month’s Ensign article entitled ‘Teaching Chastity and Virtue’.  Below is a quote from Richard G. Scott, a prophet, seer and revelator who currently serves as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
He said: “Any sexual intimacy outside of the bonds of marriage—I mean any intentional contact with the sacred, private parts of another’s body, with or without clothing—is a sin and is forbidden by God. It is also a transgression to intentionally stimulate these emotions within your own body.”
Need we be any clearer than this? 
The Lord has spoken and those who love Him will gladly obey. 

Basically what it comes down to is would your friend rather feel the orgasmic ecstasy associated with the natural man or would she rather enjoy the sweet sensations that come from reading the scriptures and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost?
Jenni you mentioned in your letter something about serving missions that is confirmed on at the first link I provided.  It is that “No young man should be called on a mission who is not free from this practice."
As a Stake President I faithfully abide by this principle and pride myself in having never sent a young man on a mission who is unclean. 
Occasionally the Area Authorities will ask me why no missionaries have been sent out from my stake in the past 7 years.  I always answer that the while the bar is high we as a stake have faith; we fast and pray often for a young man to rise up to the challenge. 
As a word of warning I want to mention that I had one young man who wanted so badly to serve a mission but who was not free of this denigrating practice.  He would give up the habit for a week, maybe two and he once went two whole months, but Satan always overpowered him in the end.  He felt terrible about himself, lost all self confidence and quit a promising career as a rugby player.  In a desperate attempt to escape his failures he turned to drinking and drugs and ended up in a rehabilitation care facility.  Worst of all he was excommunicated from the Church.  I occasionally see him wandering the streets of Dublin looking downtrodden and without purpose.  All this could so easily have been avoided if he had just followed my counsel and trusted in the Lord. 
Please don’t let this happen to your friend.  Please stand by her as she overcomes her weakness and comes unto Christ with a full purpose of heart.
I am thankful for the fullness of the gospel and all that it teaches us.  May God be with you Jenni in all your endeavours,
President Paternoster

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Disastrous Consequences of the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment

This post is about a book I recently read that serves as a living example of how truly inspired the Church was in officially opposing the Equal Rights Amendment in America.

As a Stake President I was initially delighted to learn that a new book named “Mormon Diaries” had been published. 

I have always prided myself on only ever reading books written by righteous priesthood leaders but thinking of the recent counsel to be more sensitive to the needs of our wives, I did something completely out of the ordinary and read “Mormon Diaries” whose author is a woman. 

Never have I felt so betrayed and misled.  This experience reminded me of the importance of always being in tune with the spirit to avoid being deceived. 
I’m sure you can imagine the horror I felt at finding out that rather than being a book about the immense joy this sister found in serving faithfully in the Church, in bearing and rearing children unto the Lord and in honouring and sustaining the priesthood, it was in fact a story of how a sister left the one true Church in a desperate attempt to usurp the authority of man. 

So blasphemous was the content that I couldn't seem to put the book down and ended up being over two hours late for the weekly stake reactivation committee meeting.

If in your search of an inspiring and uplifting book to read you stumble upon these links I would warn you to stay away.  Be not deceived by the low price and intriguing cover:

YouTube trailer:

Sophia Stone (the author) speaks of a time when, as a faithful latter-day saint, she felt an overwhelming desire to help someone in need.  She asked him if he would like a blessing and he agreed.  This is what Sister Stone wrote of the experience:

"All my life I’d been told not to seek the priesthood, that it was selfish and power-hungry for a woman to desire it. All my life I’d just assumed that if I ever felt this kind of need, it’d be caused by my stubborn pride. Not by compassion.

“I . . . can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t?”

“I’m a woman. I can’t. Women can’t hold the priesthood.” I shrugged my shoulders in a gesture of helplessness. “But I could take you to my dad, he’s—”

“From you it would have been a nice gesture,” he said, interrupting me. “No offense, but I don’t want a blessing from your father.”

It is precisely this kind of gender role confusion that Church leaders foresaw and prophesied of when they officially opposed the equal rights amendment.   

For the benefit of readers not from America the Ensign states that the equal rights amendment would, in a nutshell, rule that *“equality of rights will not be denied on account of sex.”  

Our prophets when speaking of God-given gender roles warned that “Legislation that could blur those roles gives cause for concern.”

The Ensign went on to clarify that “The Church is firmly committed to equal rights for women, but opposes the proposed Equal Rights Amendment.”

And lest anyone should claim that the Church regrets having had this position back in the 80’s when the amendment was being discussed I can confirm that this is not the case at all.  In the Spencer W. Kimball manual (used in 2007) we highlighted some of his **major accomplishments, one being that Kimball “Made powerful statements against homosexuality, abortion, and the Equal Rights Amendment.”

In her book Sister Stone (in speaking of her husband’s priesthood authority and the blessings he would bestow) indicated that she used to have a correct understanding of her role as a woman “I believed he held authority from God, that my Heavenly Father didn’t want me to give the gift of his word to the single mother in the trailer park, the abandoned teen in our guest room, or the children in my care. I wasn’t a man. My hands weren’t capable…” So just how did Sister Stone lose her way? 

It is obvious from the book that sexual sin played an important role in her downfall.  She admits that at a BYU dance “Nate’s arms tightened around me until heat raced under my skin....I was overwhelmed by the closeness, the intimacy, the connection. For years I’d turned my sexuality off like a water spigot. And now that I was feeling . . . sexual, I thought myself a dirty whore. Worse, I didn’t mind feeling like a dirty whore.”

That pretty much sums it up. 

And if that isn’t shocking enough she goes on to complain at how she was treated by her mother for the sins she committed on her wedding night saying “my mother rebuked me for purchasing my own “trashy lingerie” for my honeymoon instead of using the beautiful and elegant nightgowns she’d given me for the occasion.”

Obviously Sister Stone had not internalized one of the great commandments of the Lord - to honour thy mother and thy father that thy days may be long upon the land. 

Her sister tried to explain why their mother was so upset saying “her reaction is understandable under the circumstances. She thought you were sleeping in your lingerie instead of wearing your sacred temple undergarments to bed. She found that most upsetting in light of the covenants you’ve made in the temple.”

If only all children could have such righteous mothers.  Sister Stone’s mother cared enough to intervene in her daughter’s life in order to lovingly ensure that she kept the sacred vows appertaining unto her underwear.  I only pray that one day she will learn to truly appreciate her stalwart mother.  

Sister’s Stone’s testimony wavered even further while defending the Church.  She explains that “trying to defend my religious beliefs triggered one of the most profound depressions I’d ever experienced.”  As a Stake President nothing brings me greater joy than to defend the simple truths of the restored gospel.  How this could ever depress someone is completely beyond me.  

She goes on to say “I decided to write a well-researched article using my own life experience to prove that rigid gender roles were not oppressive and that the patriarchal structure of the Mormon Church was beneficial to women.

But something went wrong.

Okay, fine, not just something. Everything.”

She then shows some of her findings.  I was stunned to find out that rather than strengthening her testimony her discoveries seemed to have the very opposite effect:

“There was the story of Sonia Johnson being excommunicated for criticizing priesthood leaders over the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). The trial and excommunications of prominent feminists like Maxine Hanks and Lavina Anderson in 1993. And the many anti-suffragist arguments which were identical to the arguments I found in General Conference talks and in the new Daughters In My Kingdom manual for why women should not hold the Priesthood outside the temple.

It meant I could be the most kind, compassionate mother in the world, that I could magnify my callings and testify of the restored gospel to my neighbors, that I could cook baked goods for ward activities and baptisms, working my whole life to do the Lord’s work, and He would never, ever desire my voice in the running of His kingdom.

My hands could bandage knees, button the backs of dresses, and cut up tomatoes, but they were forbidden to baptize, to pass the sacrament, or to bless my own children. If my husband were gone on a business trip and my daughter came down with a raging fever at 2 a.m., I’d have to call the bishop or my home teachers in the middle of the night so they could minister to her.

In the scriptures, our bodies are likened to temples. My temple, however, was unworthy to hold the power of God. Not because I’d committed an unpardonable sin, but because I was a woman.

I climbed into bed fully clothed, burrowed under the covers, and cried.”

It seems to me that some sisters will always find fault in the Church.  If only they could learn from the example of the brethren.  In all my years I can honestly say that I have never heard of a priesthood holder murmuring or writing a book about how unfair it is that he will never have the opportunity to serve as a Primary President.  It is precisely this sort of humility that the Lord requires of all true disciples.

Sister Stone speaks of her temple experience and “How Eve had been told by God that from now on she’d have to hearken to the voice of her husband as he hearkened to the voice of Heavenly Father. I was single at the time, and had raised my own hand, covenanting to do the same as Eve… I was slightly shocked by that covenant. Slightly shocked that I’d believed the temple would bring me closer to God than any other place on earth, but that even there I needed a man to bridge the gap between me and my Father in Heaven.”

With the spirit of apostasy so evident Sister Stone then confesses to an act of bitter defiance.  Yes Brothers and Sisters, I am sorry to say that she removed the sacred and holy underwear that according to her covenants should have adorned her body throughout all the days of her life. 

Having lost her testimony of the temple she said “…But now that I didn’t think God had anything to do with those covenants, my garments felt hot and constricting. They were uncomfortable and itched below my bra, which never fit right due to the extra layer of fabric beneath it. 

I went to the bathroom and took off my shirt and pants, my ill-fitting bra and my temple underwear. As I stared at myself naked in the mirror, I realized that I’d avoided looking at my body for over ten years.

Why should I feel ashamed while looking at what Heavenly Father had given me?

Why was it frightening to let the air in the bathroom touch my naked skin? “   

It is no wonder that in this state of confusion Sister Stone turned from her loving priesthood leaders and looked to another Church to validate her feelings.  She describes how she arrived at a Church early one morning and spoke to what on the surface seemed to be a caring and understanding pastor.  As you will note from the ensuing conversation he was clearly (as the Saviour warned) a sheep in wolves clothing:

“If I wanted to join this church, would I have to be re-baptized?” I asked.

“No, we’d honor your original baptism.”

That just blew me away. The very idea that by belonging to one Christian church, you belonged to all the others was mind altering. It put all Christians on an equal footing, giving each person power to make their own spiritual choices independent of any particular religious institution.

“And what if I resigned or was excommunicated and all my ordinances, including my baptism, were canceled by the LDS church. Would you need to re-baptize me then?”

“No,” said Pastor John. “In the eyes of God your baptism will always be valid. What’s done in the name of Jesus Christ can’t be taken away by man.”

In all my days I have never heard such blasphemy.  What this so-called servant of God is saying is that I, a Stake President, have no authority to take way or invalidate the baptisms of those under my divine authority and jurisdiction.  This is utterly preposterous.  Under the direction of the spirit I have personally excommunicated many from the Church and am astounded that such false and unchristlike teachings are being taught.  Surely the last days are upon us. 

Brothers and Sisters, in closing I want to assure you that I am as disappointed as you are that even though it never passed the proposed Equal Rights Amendment influenced so many, causing gender role confusion today in even the most faithful of our sisters. 

Please avoid “Mormon Diaries” as you would a plague, lest the adversary should gain a hold over your heart.  Also please join me in letting Sister Stone know of our love and concern for her eternal welfare on twitter at ‘sophia stone@ask_a_mormon’. 

I am confident that as we reach out to her she will see the error of her ways and will desire to return to the temple where she will be reminded of her glorious potential and eternal destiny, which is to become a queen and a priestess unto her husband. 

These thoughts I leave with you, most humbly, in the sacred and holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.