Not Even at Our Best Are We Near Perfection

Each time I read through the ‘War Chapters’ of the Book of Mormon I am astounded by the letters exchanged between Moroni and Pahoran – both righteous Nephites. Moroni, who valiantly led the Nephite armies in defense of their faith, families, and liberty and Pahoran, the Chief Judge over all the land, entrusted with the responsibility to righteously manage the affairs of government and to oversee the works of Moroni ensuring adequate provisions and manpower were provided.

Both had the same end-goal: to preserve liberty so that the people could worship according to God’s will and live out their lives in peace. Both were challenged in different ways as they strived to fulfill their missions. Interestingly, what provoked the passionate exchange between these two saints was the adversity both were experiencing simultaneously, unknown to the other.

In these dire circumstances, Moroni sent a scathing letter to Pahoran chastising him for not sending adequate support; a sign that he’d turned away from the Lord. Because of this, the Lamanite army had gained significant ground and many God-fearing Nephites had been slaughtered in the process. Moroni felt that no other logical reason made sense than to believe that Pahoran was no longer his brother in Christ and had submitted to desiring power unto himself.

Because this account has a happy ending -- as we find out that Pahoran himself was fending off those trying to overtake the government and not ignoring Moroni at all – it leaves one to wonder why Mormon shared this account in the Book of Mormon? Because, honestly, the story initially doesn’t reflect well on Moroni – the guy so highly esteemed by Mormon. Throughout the ‘War Chapters,’ it mentions multiple times Moroni’s anger toward those who opposed God’s will and, this time, it was directed towards Pahoran’s presumed rebellion. And whether or not Pahoran actions were acceptable or not, I’ve struggled with Moroni’s 'righteous' anger -- was it? It leaves one to wonder if Mormon struggled to share this account because of that fact? I suppose we will never know, but perhaps this key verse about the importance of cleansing the “inner vessel” and its personal application to each of us has something to do with it.

"Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.” (Alma 60:23)

The reality is that not one of us, even at our best, is near perfect – nor our wonderful leaders. We all need to continually look within, repent and recommit our devotion to God. Constant preparation to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary is an ongoing experience of every disciple of Jesus Christ – Moroni surely understood this in what he witnessed of the saints throughout his life. I am grateful for inspired reminders that God will see each of us through a perfect lens, though not yet perfect, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, as we strive daily to do what is right.

Kathryn Skaggs 

Recent Policy Change is 'Will of Lord' Says President Nelson

During last night's Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults President Nelson shared how the "prophetic process" to receive revelation works; then shared two recent examples. Of most interest, the policy update to the Handbook that affects same-sex couples and their children.

From the Deseret News report:

“The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively,” he said. “And then, we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord’s will.” 
This “prophetic process” — which also includes fasting, prayer, studying, pondering, counseling with each other as they wrestle with the issue — was followed in 2012 with the change in age for missionary service, as well as the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries, President Nelson said. 
“Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter,” he said. “Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. 
“And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson. Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process. And so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation.”

LDS Church Shares Teachings of Joseph Smith to Clarify Position on Religious Freedom

While the official LDS Church takes a neutral position when it comes to 'party' politics, it's willing to get loud in proclaiming its strong position to preserve Religious Freedom -- even bringing the teachings of Founder, Joseph Smith, to the table for clarification. This, just posted on the Mormon Newsroom:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns. However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom. The following statements by Joseph Smith from 1841 and 1843 are consistent with the Church’s position today:

If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a "Mormon," I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.

—Joseph Smith, 1843

Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, that the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopals, Universalists, Unitarians, Mohammedans [Muslims], and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges in this city ...

—Ordinance in Relation to Religious Societies, City of Nauvoo, [Illinois] headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, March 1, 1841"

Prophet Writes Bold Letter to Unbeliever on Absolute Truth

Hat tip to Daniel Ortner for posting the link to an incredible First Presidency Message published in a 1978 Ensign -- a must share! The message is actually a letter that then president of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball, wrote to a non-believer (John), on the topic of absolute truth. I can't tell for certain, but in the closing remarks President Kimball gives the impression that the person he was writing to was a member of the Church struggling with his faith, who had many questions that deeply concerned the prophet. He also shared that the content of the  letter is "to all others who may hear it..." Apparently the reason it was published for the entire Church. Here, I will share excerpts:

"I wrote, some time ago, a letter to a disbeliever. Much of what was said in that letter has been on my mind lately and I wish to share the substance of those thoughts. With that explanation you will better understand the point of view assumed and the style in which it is given. Writing to this young man, who was battling with his thoughts, I said: 

An Outsider's Perspective on Mormons and Gay Marriage

This article was written by, Rod Dreher, not of the Mormon faith, and shares some really great insights as to why the majority of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will never accept same-sex marriage and not because we're all a bunch of homophobic bigots -- far from it. Rather, we believe in moral absolutes and to deny what we know to be true about marriage goes against everything we understand about God's plan for His children.

"Again, I cannot comment on Mormon theology, but I am struck by how much this parallels the way orthodox Christianity sees marriage and metaphysics. We too believe that male-female marriage is an icon of God and His creative work, and that it cannot be represented any other way. What’s more, marriage is not simply a representation of divine nature, but also participates in it. In other words, complementary marriage (male-female) is really real, in a way that same-sex marriage cannot be. This is not a legal distinction (because same-sex marriage is a legal reality in many countries now), but a metaphysical one. Though orthodox Christians disagree deeply with Mormons over the nature of God, we share the belief eloquently expressed by Jacob Hess that to discard what the faith teaches about the nature of marriage as a way to participate in theosis, or metaphysical unity with God, is to lose something essential to the faith. 
Again, based on what little I know about Mormon theology, the key point to take away here, re: orthodox Christian theology, is that both orthodox Christians and Mormons believe that marriage is not simply the name we give to a specific form of social relationship, but it is also something built into the fabric of reality. As Hess says, you don’t have to believe that story, but if you are going to understand why so many of us on the conservative side of this issue believe as we do, you have to understand that for us, to accept SSM is to deny something we believe is real. And that we cannot do."

It's always nice when people outside of Mormonism get it right. Make sure and read the entire article and consider sharing it:

Kathryn Skaggs

Guest Post: A reason behind Donald Trump’s popularity and a lesson to be learned from it

A Guest Post by Michael Terence Worley. Michael shares some personal insights and opinions about Donald Trump's popularity and some lessons to be learned. Please note that I am not personally taking any position on a candidate at this time but only sharing a perspective that I think you will find interesting. ~ Kathryn 

Two questions: Why is Donald Trump so popular? And what lesson can we take from this?

To the first: to the low-to-medium-information voter, Donald Trump is everything President Obama is not.
Trump is white; Obama is black.
Trump is outspoken; Obama is scrupulously politically correct.
Trump portrays himself as a war hawk; Obama has spoken as a dove.
Trump claims to oppose Obamacare; Obama championed it.
Trump is Christian and anti-Muslim; Obama, while Christian, is erroneously considered a Muslim by some.
Trump says illegal immigration is causing rape and murder; Obama has striven to provide amnesty for many illegal immigrants

There are more comparisons, but these suffice.

Profess Your Faith and Share Church Christmas Message: #ASaviorisBorn

The Mormon Newsroom released a statement about this year's Church initiative to share the good news of the gospel during this holiday season. Members are invited to share a special video 'A Savior is Born' with friends and family and also to invite them to visit to learn why this knowledge is central to the plan of salvation.

"A Christmas initiative that includes a video in multiple languages and outdoor advertising in New York City’s Times Square was launched today by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 2015 initiative, “A Savior Is Born,” focuses on finding, knowing and following the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Church anticipates the initiative will reach millions around the globe as people share the online content on their social channels during the month of December, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ."

Christmas Video: A Savior is Born

"“We live in a world where the power and influence of God in our daily lives are downplayed and dismissed and where the need for a Savior is ignored and even mocked,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the December issue of the Church’s Ensign and New Era magazines. “For those who are devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, there has never been a greater need for us to profess our faith in our Savior, privately and publicly.”

The two-minute video can be found at, as well as on the Gospel Library app. The video features children in locations around the world, including Israel, Los Angeles, New York and Utah, quoting Isaiah (see Isaiah 9:6 and Handel’s Messiah) and expressing their personal belief in Jesus Christ."

See also this new video:

Why we need a Savior -- A Christmas message about our Savior Jesus Christ

To read the entire news release about this Christmas campaign visit the Mormon Newsroom:

Visit to discover WHY we need a Savior.

Kathryn Skaggs

Top LDS Church Spokesman Explains Handbook Used by Leaders

The Mormon Newsroom published the following commentary, written by Michael Otterson, Director of Church Public Affairs, to help members and those interested understand the Handbook used by leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

If there’s one thing that virtually all Christians agree on, it’s Jesus Christ’s tender love of children. Both the Bible and Book of Mormon deliver touching accounts of His love for “little ones,” blessing them and forbidding His disciples from keeping children from Him. 
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the family is reverenced and children are its centerpiece. Yet last week an instructional letter from Church leadership addressing the sensitive topic of how to respond to same-sex relationships sparked a wave of inquiries from Church members. Most of the questions were about children.

Resist the 'Rainbow Veil' and Let God Be God

I can't begin to tell you how much I love this post, published on the Public Discourse, "Rending the Rainbow Veil: How to Make Your Church a Safe Space for Christians with Same-Sex Attraction", by Jean Lloyd. The familiar cry of Martin Luther King, "I have a dream" has long been my own for gay Mormons who desire with all of their hearts to find a safe space within LDS congregations as they strive to keep covenants.

Considering the current controversy surrounding the recent update to the Church handbook in regard to same-sex couples and their children, now more than ever Mormons must step-up and work harder to show forth love to those most affected. This is our challenge as those claiming to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. We must learn to love better while at the same time stand firm with our doctrine and the inspired counsel and direction of Prophets and Apostles on the topic of homosexual behavior.

Proving Ourselves Against Opposition

I’ve really enjoyed studying the Doctrine of Christ this week for my Book of Mormon religion class. The BYU-Idaho Pathway program is changing my life. I seriously feel like I’m living my life backwards and feel so grateful to have this inspired opportunity (because of technology) to seek higher education at this stage of my life.

I’m grateful to know that learning is a life-long endeavor because knowledge is a thing of eternal worth. I will say, however, that this experience is teaching me better what it means to be humble. We are at our most humble when we are teachable – and these days, I am definitely that, as I desire to better understand and know my path going forward.

Which is why, I believe, finding a deeper understanding to the application of the “Doctrine of Christ” was so meaningful to me as I studied, in particular, 2 Nephi Chapter 31 this week.

The Doctrine of Christ is intended to set us on a qualified course, guided by the Holy Ghost, back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. After Nephi had, painstakingly, taught each required step along this path (faith, repentance, baptism, receive HG) he taught us how to proceed from that point forward.