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.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Overcoming Green Tea Addiction through the Atonement

At the age of 39 Sister Josephine Kennedy finally felt ready to go to through the temple. She had passed the interview with the Bishop and completed the temple preparation course.  She was hoping to be at her sister’s temple wedding two weeks from now.  Yet when I met with her the spirit warned me that something very serious was amiss.  In our discussion on the question of obeying the Lord's law of health I was horrified to learn that she regularly partook of Green Tea.  She claimed that just as members are now permitted to decide for themselves whether to drink Coca Cola she too, as a grown woman, should be able to decide for herself whether or not to drink green tea.  She also said that according to her research and her doctor it was in fact a very healthy habit.   
From this month’s *Ensign we learn that "Those who struggle with sin sometimes rationalize in an attempt to minimize the consequences of their behavior. But somewhere inside themselves, they are aware of what they have done and know they are in spiritual bondage. Almost everyone I have met struggling with addiction suffers from a terrible sense of shame and a belief that he or she is broken, defective, and beyond the love and grace of God.”
I assured Sister Kennedy that she could overcome this addiction and warned her that the leaves used to make green tea are the very same ones as in regular tea and thus carry the very same danger.
Sister Kennedy tried to tell me that it wasn't an addiction but a conscious health choice but I assured her that it takes faith, hope, and time to heal from the patterns of self-deception that accompany such addictions.
Sister Kennedy asked whether the Saviour would still consider her worthy to enter the Celestial Kingdom if she continued to drink green tea.  I told her that in most cases it will be the little things that keep people from the highest degree of glory.  Drinking green tea is in fact not little though, I explained, it renders one unclean and unworthy to enter into the holy temples where sacred covenants, essential to one’s salvation, are made with the Lord. 
Sister Kennedy, who was probably fearing that the Lord would cast her out for her disobedience, humbly accepted my offer of a priesthood blessing.  Through me, an authorized servant of the Lord, she was blessed with tenacity, courage, and a strong desire to be clean as she marched toward recovery.  She was counseled to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.  She was warned that she must not give up or decide that because temptations and cravings return, there is no hope; there is always hope in Christ and He is the hope of recovery.
After the blessing I encouraged her to report back to me in three months with regards to her progress, at which point I am hopeful that the Lord will consider her to be both clean and worthy to enter into His house and make sacred eternal covenants.   I also lovingly assured her that her sister would completely understand. 
I am thankful for the gospel and the way in which it helps each child of our heavenly father strive to become more like the Saviour, and I leave these thoughts with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Warning to the Apostate Saints of Europe

As a Stake President nothing disappoints me more than to see those who have left the Church writing blogs and using other public forums to speak ill of the restored gospel and its anointed leaders.   

At my prompting Erich W. Kopische, Europe Area President sent a letter to Church leaders in which we included the solemn warning from the manual of instructions that “priesthood leaders may need to take disciplinary action with those members who persist in publicly opposing the Church and its leaders after they have been lovingly worked with and corrected by their bishop or higher authority”.

This message goes along perfectly with this month’s Ensign *article on restoring religious freedom by Church Apostle Quentin L. Cook.  In it he explains that “If we fail to diligently protect religious freedom, we risk diminishing other important freedoms that are important both to society and to us.”  

One person who needs to be lovingly corrected and severely disciplined is a British member named Christopher Ralph.  Brother Ralph not only posts the letter that was intended for those of us in anointed positions of authority but attempts to rip apart the very logic given in the letter.  As a baptized member of the Church brother Ralph ought to be ashamed of himself.  He is setting a very poor example of sustaining Church leaders to fellow ward members and more importantly to his posterity, which includes his very distraught daughter Sophia.  

In an effort to both follow the manual of instructions and protect the religious freedoms that Elder Cook is speaking of Brother Ralph and like minded individuals need to be silenced.   

To see the effect Satan can have over those who find fault with Church leaders feel free to click on the below link:  

With lovingly concern,

President Paternoster