My Brief Bio

I suppose I should introduce myself as I’ve found context helps understanding.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. I have a satisfying, happy life, and I attribute that to my faith. Everything that is valuable to me has come through the gospel of Jesus Christ which was restored in its fullness through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have been married for 8 years to my sweetheart who I met while we were students at Utah State University. Because of the gospel, I know our marriage is eternally sealed, and will therefore not end at death. With eternity on our minds, divorce is not, especially when we aren’t exactly seeing things eye to eye. We are the parents of three cute children. Because of the gospel, I know that these little ones, along with any others we may have, will be our children forever. Like Abraham, ours is the promise of an endless posterity as numberless as the stars in the heaven. With eternity on our minds we attempt to raise these children in love and righteousness, although it may not always look that way when battling toddleritis. My goal with this blog is to share my happiness. I want to write posts on thoughts I have about life and the gospel. My hope is that these posts will be a blessing. I have no desire for debate or contention, although I might post on sensitive topics. Differing opinions are welcomed when respectfully expressed, and I will try to post and respond in kind. But most of the time this disclaimer shouldn’t be necessary as I will not seek out controversy. I just want to share what makes me happy.
The thoughts and opinions I express are mine, and do not represent the official view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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The Gift of Agency and Satan

Some people know just enough about the doctrine of Agency to make them dangerous. An incomplete understanding of this important doctrine may be just as dangerous as no understanding.

LDS theology states that we lived before we were born (Abraham 3:22-23). That there was a pre-mortal counsel where the Father presented the plan of Salvation (Abraham 3:25-26). And that Satan proposed an alternate plan that would destroy agency, save everyone, and give him all the honor. (D&C 29:36) What some members of the church do with this doctrine is make the assumption that Satan was proposing a forced righteousness program. This particular assumption was taught to me very early in my primary classes, and continues to be the prevalent premise among many young people I talk to.

This kind of assumption can have some unintended consequences. On a practical level, a teenager with this idea may confuse appropriate parenting and consequences with Satan’s plan. BYU’s honor code is another victim of this assumption, as some will state having such a code is a form of forced righteousness. There was even a “controvery” over a book written by Wendy Watson Nelson saying that her advocating obedience in children is Satan’s plan. In all these examples, the resulting application is rebellion against rules, standards, and principles. Which, by the way, is precisely the intended consequence of Satan’s plan.

There is a better assumption. In 2 Nephi 2 we are taught by the prophet Lehi that we essentially need 4 things to have agency.

1. Law v.5

2. Opposition v.11

3. the power to choose v.16

4. Knowledge of good and evil v.18

The removal of any one of these would result in a loss of agency. The above stated premise is the removal of #3. But that just doesn’t sound like the Satan we experience everyday. In understanding that Satan is still enacting his war on agency in mortality, his plan may be more easily seen. Especially if we assume he tried to remove a different element of agency. What if he wanted to remove Law? Let there be no right or wrong. Or opposition? Let anything they choose be right. Or knowledge? Keep them from understanding what they’re doing.

That sounds more like what we see in the world today. We see a world of moral relativism where anything goes if the conditions are right. We see a more dominate atheism, which removes any ultimate right or wrong. And we see enslaving addiction, which makes a person’s life beyond their control.

That which leads a person to do right, and be obedient, is part of God’s plan. That which leads a person to rebellion, is part of Satan’s plan. The Good news is that Jesus Christ came here to give us that choice, and we can choose Him and happiness. Satan’s plan would never have worked, and still doesn’t work because “wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10)

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Power to Preside and the Single Guy

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I had a very interesting conversation with a young man who I work with. He is currently a student teacher for the Church’s educational system, and he’s single. He recently asked a girl out on a date to a work dinner we were having, and she turned him down because she has just recently started dating another young man and they are currently seeing how it will go.

This conversation took me back a decade to the early 2000’s when I was in exactly his same position. For anyone out there who is unfamiliar with the Mormon culture, marriage is a big deal to us. And we emphasize marriage at a younger age than society is tending to do these days. As a young returned missionary, I was very anxious to find a girl I could love and start eternity with. But it was much harder for me in college to find compatible girls, than it seemed to be in High School. Perhaps because this was the big leagues, the stakes were higher, and so were my self consciousnesses. First dates came fairly easily, but second dates were rare and special, like a unicorn.

The best advise I received was from a former mission buddy, a very charismatic, self confident man who told me to be much more open and confident with the girls. He said, “tell them: ‘I like you, why don’t we try out being boyfriend and girlfriend for a while and see how that goes.'” That kind of boldness didn’t really take for me at first. I really didn’t attempt it until the year I met my future wife. I tried that boldness on two girls prior to dating her, they responded very positively to this confidence and boldness, but neither relationship panned out. Which is fine, because it went just perfectly with Bonnie, who I would eventually marry.

In the LDS church, there is a structure to family that is grounded in doctrine. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). To Preside means to lead out in spiritual things. For a man to do this, he must be willing to put himself out there, and sometimes do the hard thing.

So I told my young colleague, in the animal kingdom, the female watches for the victor of the dueling males to determine who would have the stronger DNA to contribute to her offspring. A young woman, perhaps subconsciously, is looking for a confident, proactive man to marry. If she’s the kind of girl you want to marry, she will want to see someone who is willing to preside in important and hard things. She will want to see a guy who will put himself out there to do the brave thing, maybe even asking her out again and saying just how he feels about her. So I recommended he ask her out again, and state frankly that he thinks she’s worth fighting for. If she doesn’t want to give him a chance, that’s fine and they can continue to be friends (or not, now that it’s awkward). But it’s also possible that a seed has been planted and she can at least consider an alternative. Either way, the worst that can happen is that he continues to not date her. That is a low risk for such a potentially high reward.
Disclaimer: These views are personal and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints