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