83: Memory

83: Memory Posted by on Nov 28, 2015

Bible Scholarship

78: The Intertestamental Period

78: The Intertestamental Period Posted by on Oct 17, 2015

Ask the Mormon Sex Therapist

83: Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist Part 12

83: Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist Part 12 Posted by on Nov 21, 2015


One in Us

One in Us Posted by on Nov 25, 2015


80: Top Ten Books on Mormon History – The Angel and The Beehive...

80: Top Ten Books on Mormon History – The Angel and The Beehive Posted by on Oct 24, 2015

Why I Am Mormon

One in Us

One in Us Posted by on Nov 25, 2015

Recent Posts

OxyMormons #5

Nov 29, 15 OxyMormons #5

Posted by in Featured, Mormon Humor, OxyMormons

A weekly ‘political cartoon’ about Mormonism (or bi-weekly…or monthly…). Click on comic to see it in full size....

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Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Policy

A few weeks ago, I remember hearing the news about the church’s new policy which targets the children of parents in same sex relationships. Like many, I was overcome with anger and hurt for the families that would be affected. However, I cannot say I was surprised. I have been an LGBT+ advocate for too long, heard too many stories, and felt them all too deeply, to be surprised anymore by news of this nature. Even so, it has been simultaneously painful and empowering to see the response to this issue. On the one hand, I have seen a massive strain on families in the past week, both those with and without LGBT+ members. I have seen loved ones attacking one another and relationships severed as a result. On the other hand, it fills me with hope to see so many LDS members taking a stand against the discriminatory practices of the church. Questioning your beliefs is not easy. Standing up for those beliefs against the majority is even harder. Though it may not be my place to do so, I would like to address individuals on both sides of this issue. I would challenge those who stand against the policy to remember how difficult it was to take that stand. I would also challenge those who stand by the policy to ask the difficult question, “Why?” To be clear, I am not a member of the LDS church, nor have I ever been. Until I met my husband four years ago, I had never even spoken to a Mormon. And to be completely honest, I am not even religious. Though I was raised Evangelical for most of my life, I left the church in my late teens and now identify as agnostic. Regardless, I also do not believe it is my place to judge members of any religion. Religion has done beautiful things for many people, from offering individuals a healthy support network to even saving lives. My goal is not to degrade, but...

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Late Night Thoughts on the LDS Church’s Policy on Gay Parents &Their Children

Nov 29, 15 Late Night Thoughts on the LDS Church’s Policy  on Gay Parents &Their Children

Posted by in Family, Featured, Homosexuality, Policy, Theology

NOTE: For the past several weeks I have considered how best to respond to the LDS Church’s policy changes on gay and lesbian parents and their children. I resisted a quick response because I feel this is a complicated matter that deserves careful, thoughtful consideration. Upon first hearing the news of the policy change, I was both disturbed and distraught. At a time when it seemed the Church was moving in a progressive or at least positive direction on issues relating to its LGBT members, this policy seems a sudden lurch backward and out of harmony with other recent statements and sentiments by Church leaders on LGBT issues. When friends began calling or writing asking my thoughts, I simply said that it didn’t make sense to me spiritually, culturally, socially, politically or, especially, emotionally. It still doesn’t—nor do I expect it will. Nevertheless, I have an impulse to try and respond. I’ve divided my response into sections that might help readers zero in on particular issues, concerns or hopes. Personal Perspective I came of age in a homophobic world, a world in which my family, friends, church leaders, fellow members, teachers and almost everyone I knew saw homosexuality as an evil perversion. “Queer” and “pervert” were common terms used in my home, and I was taught to avoid and fear gay men and even abuse them physically. My friends in Long Beach talked seriously about “rolling some queers down at the Pike” (an arcade). When I saw men showing romantic affection for one another, I was repulsed and even felt my fists tighten in anger. Everything in my culture reinforced such feelings. At BYU I often heard disparaging remarks about students rumored to be gay, and as a young missionary I remember speaking disparagingly behind the backs of missionaries reported to be gay as “sisters.” As a leader of the Honor Society at BYU I was aware of the fact that being homosexual was against the honor code and heard of gays being called...

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An Open Letter to the Office of the First Presidency

Nov 29, 15 An Open Letter to the Office of the First Presidency

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Mormonism

An Open Letter To: The Office of the First Presidency The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints After much prayer, I am writing to implore you to reconsider the Church’s new policy on the treatment of same-gender families and to address this matter more clearly and lovingly and within the context of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I appreciate your desire to protect the doctrine. These policies do not do so. Many LDS families, including mine, are troubled by the new policy guidelines of the Church regarding the treatment of same-gender families. This policy requires direct and frank responses from the First Presidency so that Church members may make educated decisions for and with our families. Simply directing members to pray and talk with local ecclesiastic leaders are insufficient for this highly charged yet extremely sensitive discussion. Elder Christofferson’s interview, while appreciated, addressed the policy only superficially. The recent communication with additional guidance was inadequate. I have reviewed these matters with my Stake Presidency.  They do not have the answers.  As these are policy matters, only the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles can address them. As the Church has now opened this door, it is time an open and interactive dialogue on matters of sexuality and the role of the Church in this very intimate activity. Many of the troubling matters are noted below. In some cases, these comments are, of necessity, rather blunt: The Church’s policy appears to be a new McCarthyism. The Church position will encourage its members to report each other’s actions to ecclesiastical leaders for unnecessary and harsh disciplinary action. This will be the practical outcome of the Church’s new policy among some of our members who are more concerned with the salvation of their neighbors than their personal salvation. How will the Church handle such “witch” hunts? President Boyd K. Packer stated with respect to the Church’s LGB members, “We do not reject you. … We cannot reject you. … We will not reject...

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Why are you Cozying up to Gay Mormons Now?

Nov 29, 15 Why are you Cozying up to Gay Mormons Now?

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality

A Critique of Recent Posts by Believing Gay Mormons and the Mormons who are Now Using Those Posts as Proof that the Church’s SSM Policy Changes are Helpful In the days following the policy change to Handbook 1 and as a result of my public critique of those changes, I experienced social media ‘silence.’ Only a few family members engaged in (fairly) polite discussions about my frustration with the changes to Handbook 1. Others were not so polite. For example, a former mission companion accused me of being an apostate by quoting the writings of Brigham Young who warned of ‘false teachers’ and ‘false prophets.’ Brigham’s accusations will never hurt me (I have no respect for him). How can I respect a man who ‘lied for the Lord’ and supported Joseph Smith’s marriages to teenage girls and the wives of some of the men he had sent away on missions? One friend expressed her love for me and gave me a Facebook hug ((hugs!)). That made my day since I know that she had likely spent a lot of time contemplating and grappling with the Church’s policy change (perhaps even weeping, I don’t know, but I feel for her and her family since it directly impacts their lives). Suddenly, out of the silence of my friends and family Facebook feeds, I began to see a common trend. My True Blue Mormon [TBM] Facebook friends began sharing blogs and articles written by believing LGBT Mormons or believing children of LGBT relationships intended to show that the Church’s change in policy was legitimate and helpful. Some of these friends were the same who have shown disregard and in some cases, hate and contempt, toward LGBT Mormons (believing or unbelieving) and those that support the fight for gender and LGBT equality in the LDS Church. However, when their purposes were best served, they were more than willing to use the words of those they have marginalized to their advantage. I want to address two problems I see with this trend. First, I want to engage...

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History Repeats Itself, Especially When you Ignore It! – Considering the LDS Church’s Past Racial Restriction Policies in Light of Current LGBT Policies

Nov 29, 15 History Repeats Itself, Especially When you Ignore It! – Considering the LDS Church’s Past Racial Restriction Policies in Light of Current LGBT Policies

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Racism

It has been said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it – the first as tragedy, the second as farce. The current faith crises of sanctions on homosexuals, their families, and other members of the gay community within the LDS faith, is a challenge that rings familiar to those LDS who lived through the faith’s racial restriction policies of the past that endured up until 1978. The scars of the exclusion of those of African descent, still not completely healed, have again been wounded as the ghost of this past has been conjured again with these new, painful policies. There are many striking similarities between how the gay community is being treated as the LDS church enters this new era of segregation wherein recent policies have been enacted to ban blessings, membership and numerous ordinances and opportunities to children of gay parents, in addition to the pre-existing restrictions placed upon those parents. BLACK- Under the past racial restriction policies of the Church that lasted from the presidency of Brigham Young until 1978, blacks of African descent were somewhat welcomed into the Church, but not with open arms. Under the racial restrictions, persons with any black African ancestry could not hold the priesthood and could not participate in most temple ordinances, including the endowment and celestial marriage. The racial restriction policy was applied to black Africans, persons of black African descent, and anyone with mixed race that included any black African ancestry. While the Church had on open membership policy for all races, blacks were the only group subject to these sanctions as leaders of the time claimed this was due to a godly-imposed “curse”, and therefore their hands were tied. Church leaders tried promoting these institutionalized foundations of segregation as creating a “separate but equal” class structure within the Church, however, this was not viewed as being such by those affected. ________________________________________ GAY- Under the current homosexual restriction policies of the Church, those who self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual,...

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83: Memory

Nov 28, 15 83: Memory

Posted by in Featured, Podcast, The Human Mormon Mind Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Little Brother: “Hey remember than time when we all jumped off the ski lift?” Older Brother: “Dude you weren’t even there. In fact you were 5. I told you that story.” Little Brother: “Oh.” Memory is a funny thing. We all know that it is fallible and that we forget stuff or misremember stuff all the time. Yet, when a memory is vivid it is deeply upsetting to find out that it is false or even flawed in some way. In this episode Mica, LaShawn, Thomas, and I discuss how memory is experienced, how memory is understood according to modern psychologists, and how this understanding of memory should inform our interpretation of history. Side Note Please check out the RF-LCF fundraiser page and donate while you are there (and nab some sweet Mormon swag). Mini-Lecture Text I spent much time playing guitar through my high school years, and like other guitar nuts I never learned to read music like those who went through piano lessons did. I learned new songs through guitar tablature found on the internet. I remember several times visualizing in my mind, what I thought was a memory of previously seeing a link to tablature for a song I wanted to learn on a website. When I went to look for the actual link my brain was telling me existed I could not find it. It simply wasn’t there. This kind of experience is not unique to only me. Similarly, a memory researcher “Dr. Neisser, came to the realization that his own memory was as fragile as [anyone else’s]. For years, he had said that he was listening to a baseball game on the radio when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Finally, he said, it dawned on him that he could not have been listening to a baseball game in December.” They don’t play baseball in the winter. What he...

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The Restoration Movement, Blind Men, and the Unknowable Gospel

Nov 28, 15 The Restoration Movement, Blind Men, and the Unknowable Gospel

Posted by in Featured, restoration, Theology

Before I begin this post, I want to relate the following parable called “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” A number of disciples went to the Buddha and said, “Sir, there are living here in Savatthi many wandering hermits and scholars who indulge in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite and eternal and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul dies with the body and others that it lives on forever, and so forth. What, Sir, would you say concerning them?” The Buddha answered, “Once upon a time there was a certain raja who called to his servant and said, ‘Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind… and show them an elephant.’ ‘Very good, sire,’ replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, ‘Here is an elephant,’ and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant. “When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, ‘Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?’ “Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, ‘Sire, an elephant is like a pot.’ And the men who had observed the ear replied, ‘An elephant is like a winnowing basket.’ Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the tail, a pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush. “Then they began to quarrel, shouting, ‘Yes it is!’ ‘No, it is not!’ ‘An elephant is...

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Faith, Fasting, and Religion

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like all people (perhaps especially Mormons) often miss the mark. We confuse the means with the ends. At very least I often do. I can get so wrapped up in something that I miss the forest for the trees. Here are 3 areas that where I think we can easily go wrong: 1- Faith If we have all faith so that we can move mountains, but we lack charity, we’re nothing. So how do we show true charity? When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. 2- Fasting Many times I have fasted with some specific purpose or blessing in mind. In fact, I was taught that this was how we were supposed to fast. We need to fast for something. But what does that mean? In my experience this has meant that we want to invoke some blessing from God. We want some family member who is sick or going through some trial to get blessings through our fast. What does God say about fasting? Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. So it is not to make our petitions be more effective. It is not to increase the likelihood that God will grant our proposed desire. So why should we fast? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? What does it mean to hide yourself from your own flesh? My take is that we are all family, and as such when we ignore those in need, we are hiding ourselves from our own family. We could also take it to mean that we should take care of our own. For years I assumed that our tithing and fast offerings ensured...

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One in Us

John 17: 21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Unity in Christ is essential to the Gospel message. However, Christian unity as it is understood in the modern ecumenical movement is somewhat of a contradiction of terms. Are we speaking of a unity in belief, practice, or personal piety? For Mormons this term becomes even more ambiguous, as Latter-day Saints tend to believe our church is the “One True Church.” Furthermore, this concept is even more divisive among Mormons, considering some are declared “worthy” for the Temple, while others are not. During my studies overseas with the World Council of Churches in Geneva, I learned that John 17:21 was the key to understanding Christian unity as defined by the modern ecumenical movement; for in this verse is expressed Christ’s “ecumenical imperative,” a calling for unity among believers. However, those outside Mormonism—Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox— are even divided on what this means or how to interpret it. So what does it mean to be “one in Christ”? The seventeenth chapter of John is the great intercessory prayer for church unity. This prayer was offered up by Jesus himself just as he was about to undergo the agonizing ordeal of the Atonement. Perhaps the following verse offers a clue; “that they also may be one in us….that the world may believe….” (emphasis added). The key to unity is found in divine plurality. It is interesting to note that as Jesus is conversing with the Father all throughout chapter seventeen, he makes repeated reference to the essential unity found in divine plurality; verse eleven, “….that they may be one, as we are” and verse twenty-two, “…even as we are one.” (emphasis added) It would seem that Jesus’ repeated use of “we,” along with the reference to “us” in John 17: 21, indicate that he is speaking not only to...

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Eternal Marriage and why I’m no Longer Heterosexual.

I was married a virgin. My wife was too. We both believed it was important because of what we’d been taught about temple marriage and “worthiness” to get married there. The consequences of that decision have gone far beyond the original intent of getting to the temple. For one thing, it precludes us from legitimacy in any discussion about whether or not it’s a good idea to wait until marriage for sex. Those of us who wait can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be sexually active before marriage and vise versa. As a white, straight first world man, there are a lot of people that I can’t relate to, but I can allow them freedom without judgment even if I don’t understand their experience. Another significant consequence for us is an intensification of the commitment we made when we agreed to the covenants we made at our marriage.   We met while she was attending BYU, at a time when I had all but given up hope in ever finding a compatible mate. I was committed to two seemingly incongruous lifestyles: punk rock, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The girls I dated who were faithful Church members, were bewildered and a little nervous about my alternative interests, and the punk rockers I dated were somewhat less than religious. Jennifer was/ is the perfect blend and I was very attracted to her. We started to date when she asked me out, about a year after we first met. We had both been involved in other relationships up to that point so her request was a bit of a surprise. She invited me to a concert, (Peter Murphy) which was three weeks away. We saw each other every day for those three weeks and got engaged the night of the show. We were married in the Seattle Temple three months later. Since then we have been passionate about each other. We have overcome jealousy, fought bitterly, hurt each other (never physically) and healed. We...

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Content warning: This blog post explicitly discusses the porn industry and sexual acts. No euphemisms are used.   For quite some time I’ve been observing discussions amongst the Rational Faiths permabloggers regarding the LDS Church’s approach to pornography.  Usually the critique I’ve seen amongst online Mormons is something along the lines of: “The Church talks about porn so much and brings so much shame to those men who have occasionally seen porn, that they are actually making the problem worse.  For the Church, a one or two-time porn looker is the same as someone who is addicted to porn.  Those are two different creatures.” The discussions I’ve seen amongst the Rational Faiths permabloggers has been different. The conversation, generally led by two women, has been more along the lines of: “Mormonism’s dissuasion of porn is male-centric – that is, it’s consumer-centric. Apart from the occasional mention of how the spouse of the porn consumer is affected, it focuses on how porn affects the consumer – usually men. Absent from the discussion is how porn affects the women who are in the porn industry.” This latter critique was discussed in a June 2015 Rational Faiths blog post by permablogger, Jared: “The real evil of porn is in the objectification and victimization of human beings, primarily women. Pornography is one of the principle drivers of human trafficking and slavery and pornographers are among the chief perpetrators of these crimes.” (click here to read Jared’s post) Rational Faiths has also discussed, quite explicitly, sex trafficking.  In the February 21, 2015 podcast episode, Jerilyn Hassel-Pool and Brian Dillman have a frank and painful discussion with Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground (click here to visit Operation Underground’s website.) Operation Underground is a foundation that rescues children from sex slavery.  (Click here to listen to this important episode.) This critique (of focusing on the porn consumer only) can easily be observed in the following quotes. These quotes came when I searched “pornography” on  I limited my search to General Conference talks: “Young people and...

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Nov 22, 15 OxyMormons#4

Posted by in Featured, Mormon Humor, OxyMormons

A weekly ‘political cartoon’ about Mormonism (or bi-weekly…or monthly…). Click on comic to see it in full...

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Rational Faith’s 2015 LCF Fundraiser Kickoff! Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS What we are Doing Rational Faiths is taking a step to help those who cannot help themselves. We have pledged as we did last year to “Adopt a Stake” through the Liahona Children’s Foundation (LCF). What this means is we are committed to raising enough money to provide for the nutritional and educational needs of children in need in the Ta Khmau area of Cambodia. Last year our readers and listeners helped us raise over $9,000, so this year we are hoping to raise $10,000 for the LCF. This will help an entire stake and help fill the gap for other stakes who are in need. Though LCF uses stakes to facilitate finding children and families in need, no official affiliation with the LDS church is required of those who seek help. LCF covers its own overhead, so 100% of your donation will go directly to help families in need. Here are a few recipients that benefited from last years efforts: How to help The easiest way to donate this year is to go to our IndieGoGo campaign page. That way you can readily donate to the cause and IndieGoGo will funnel all the donations to the RF stake (Ta Khmau.) All donations for the LCF through IndieGoGo are tax-deductible. We also have perks from cool Mormon peeps! In fact, all donors will receive a copy of James Goldberg’s book of poetry called “Let Me Drown With Moses” in electronic format, with a special edition exclusively for RF-LCF donors. Check out our IndieGoGo page for more awesome perks, and see our gift-donor section to find out who is donating gifts! (Please note, you cannot receive any of the gifts/perks unless you donate through IndieGoGo.) The volunteers at the LCF will track the donations and send periodic updates of the total donations received. We will update this page to reflect our progress towards our $10,000 goal (see bottom of the post). There are a few other ways to donate...

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83: Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist Part 12 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS And now for something completely different! In this 12th installment of the “Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist” series Brian and Laurel talk with  Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife about the cultural anxiety surrounding oral sex in a married relationship, and in the second question we discuss objectification and appropriate lust. Also look forward to and make plans to contribute to our fundraiser for the Liahona Children’s Foundation that will be released here on Rational Faiths and on our indiegogo campaign page. This year we have an ambitious goal to raise $10,000 for the LCF. Woot Woot!!! In order help make that a reality some wonderful LDS artists, authors, and our very own Jennifer Finlayson-Fife have offered their work(s) as prizes/perks for contributing to the LCF fundraising campaign. So head over and check out the cool stuff available for being a charitable person. In regard to the question of oral sex I suggest reading a post called “Prophetic Counsel About Sex Within Marriage: A Brief History.” Here I’ll offer my own summary and analysis of the 1982 question, “Is oral moral?” During the presidency of Spencer Kimball an increased concern over members sexual behavior emerged which impacted the way members and leaders thought about all sexual activities. Specific temple recommend interview guidance for priesthood leaders was issued from the First Presidency on Jan 5, 1982, which on the second page indicates oral sex as an “unnatural, impure, and unholy” act. Following the initial advice, another letter came out ten months later on Oct 15, 1982 seemingly correcting interviewers who had asked too personal of questions regarding the couple’s specific sexual activities. I have looked around the web for old news articles and asked older bloggernacle folks what went down to provoke the October correction. (Unfortunately the Salt Lake Tribune’s digital archives only go back to 1991 and I doubt the Deseret News covered this story so I didn’t bother looking there.) I have found nothing but a rumor of a letter...

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Where Is the Book of Mormon?

Nov 19, 15 Where Is the Book of Mormon?

Posted by in Book of Mormon, Featured, scripture, Temple

In 1832, with the infant church barely two years old, the Lord announced to Joseph Smith that it stood condemned for not taking seriously the things which had been written, especially in the “new covenant,” the Book of Mormon.[1] One hundred and fifty four years later, President Ezra Taft Benson taught that the Church once more risked such condemnation.[2] Now I fear we again face that danger. Of course, the Book of Mormon remains central to our religious identity. It is the keystone of our missionary efforts. We continue to encourage converts and youth to read it and pray to know whether it is true. But the actual details of what the Book of Mormon says are conspicuously absent from much of our practice and discussions. Instead, we seem to have reduced it to a mere artifact, a sign that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Church is true. Such behavior cannot be pleasing to the Lord, who described the Book of Mormon as containing the “fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”[3] Joseph Smith said that we “would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”[4] To do so, however, we must actually follow what is written in its pages, not just rely on the fact of its existence. Our regard for the actual words of the Book of Mormon is especially crucial at this time of turmoil within the Church.[5] As we collectively wrestle with what it means to be Mormon – how we should live our lives and run our Church – we would be well-served to return to the principles of the “new covenant.” Let us consider some of what that encompasses and what it does not.[6] Perhaps surprisingly, the Book of Mormon does not include: Eternal Families. There is no promise of celestial marriage or eternal families in the entire book. Instead, even when the Book of Mormon does talk about families, the focus remains firmly on individual salvation, supported by family, church,...

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