“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”

By: hawkgrrrl
February 4, 2014
A "war on masturbation" video that isn't actually about masturbation.

An unfortunate facial expression given the subject matter.

BYU-Idaho released a video last week on YouTube encouraging students to monitor their roommates’ behavior to determine if a roommate has a porn addiction (or implied masturbation issue).  Then, in my ward, we had a lengthy discussion in Sunday School about God’s expectation that we should be our brother’s keeper, leaning heavily on a 1986 General Conference talk by E. Oaks.  In a BYU class in the late ’80s, a teacher of mine pointed out that we are not required to be our brother’s “keeper,” and that the Lord pointedly ignored Cain’s belligerent question.

Let’s revisit the story of Cain & Abel found in Moses 5 (an extended account of the Genesis story).  This is a very familiar exchange, and one that includes the infamous phrase “my brother’s keeper.”  Many Christians (not just E. Oaks) have taken the phrase as an admonition to care for others, to take responsibility to keep others in line with gospel teachings, and to correct their behavior at times.  But is this interpretation justified by the story?

13 And aSatan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: bBelieve it not; and they believed it not, and they cloved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be dcarnal, sensual, and devilish. . .

. . . 16 And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare aCain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain bhearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should cknow him?

We see here that Cain loves Satan more.  Also, it seems that Satan is out there, getting to know the people and making promises, whereas the Lord is aloof, waiting to be asked to the dance.

17 And she again conceived and bare his brother Abel. And Abelahearkened unto the voice of the Lord. And bAbel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Law & Order, the early years

Mormons love to point out that only animal sacrifice was acceptable.  From a broader perspective, this story has been used to illustrate the conflicts between farming culture and animal husbandry as part of human evolution.  It always reminds me of “The Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends” from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma.  It’s an age old conflict.  Also, does “fruit of the ground” mean it wasn’t the best fruit?  Or did it have to be animal sacrifice instead of fruit, meaning Abel wins no matter what.  No wonder Cain desired his flocks.

18 And Cain aloved Satan more than God. And Satan commanded him, saying: bMake an offering unto the Lord.

This verse always makes me wonder, who is the Lord?  Is Satan referring to himself as the Lord (meaning Cain’s Lord because Cain loves him best)?  Otherwise, why would it be at Satan’s behest Cain makes an offering to the Lord?  Is Cain making an offering to Satan?  If so, which offering?  The fruit of the ground, or his brother Abel?

19 And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of theafruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.

20 And Abel, he also brought of the afirstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had brespect unto Abel, and to hiscoffering;

21 But unto Cain, and to his aoffering, he had not respect. Now Satan knew this, and it bpleased him. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

22 And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?

23 If thou doest well, thou shalt be aaccepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan bdesireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I willcdeliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt drule over him;

You can see how Cain would find this odd cursing enticing.  He is promised that if he doesn’t toe the line, he gets to rule Satan, not the other way around; it seems to me that that’s backwards.  “Satan desireth to have you” but “thou shalt rule over him.”  Maybe the Lord hasn’t figured out this cursing business yet.

24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his alies; thou shalt be called bPerdition; for thou wast also cbefore the world.

Do I look cursed to you?

This verse is problematic.  First of all, all Cain has done so far is make a crappy offering, and he’s already been called the father of Satan’s lies and Perdition.  What more does he have to lose by going completely off the rails?  Way to parent, God.  Second, God is saying he “wast also before the world” as if to imply that Cain’s pre-mortal life is the reason for his curse.  This isn’t supposed to be the way it works, though.  This life is a test.  Everyone who came here already passed the pre-mortal existence and chose the right plan.  Right?

I’ll skip ahead a bit to the brother’s keeper business, after Cain has slain Abel.

33 And Cain agloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the bflocks of my brother falleth into my hands.

34 And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said: I know not. Am I my brother’s akeeper?

Note that Cain is the only one who uses this phrase, and he does it sneeringly or in faux innocence.  The Lord doesn’t respond.  Cain is essentially saying it wasn’t his turn to watch Abel, that he wasn’t Abel’s babysitter.  And God doesn’t disagree.  He never says “Yes, you are your brother’s keeper,” partly because Cain is pointing out rightly that his brother is his equal, a free agent like he is (albeit a dead one).  And also that it’s just a diversionary tactic to throw God off the trail of his murder.

35 And the Lord said: What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s ablood cries unto me from the ground.

36 And now thou shalt be acursed from the earth which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand.

37 When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her astrength. A bfugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

Oddly, the actual cursing that comes sounds a whole lot like a black thumb, inability to grow plants.  Is that really a fitting punishment for murder?

What is a keeper?

I would be my brother’s keeper.

First of all, what is a keep?  When someone is in your keep, they are in your charge or your control.  A parole officer is a keeper.  A prison guard is a keeper.  A babysitter is a form of keeper.  Beekeepers, zookeepers, those are all “keepers.”  Cain was making a joke, a probable play on the fact that Abel was a keeper of animals.  He was asking God if it was his responsibility to guard his brother, to restrict him and track him the way his brother guarded his animals.  God doesn’t respond to this ridiculous question because people, unlike animals, are responsible for our own choices.  We should help one another as equals, but not force others or “keep” them like prisoners.  He also doesn’t respond because far from caring for his brother, he has murdered him (which God already knew).

Which brings us to the recent video BYU-I has put out, encouraging students to police one another for porn use and masturbation, including turning in their roommates to ecclesiastical leaders.  The video is disturbing for many reasons, several of which Jana Riess ably points out in the linked article:  porn exposure isn’t always addiction, masturbation is a normal part of human sexual development (although apparently only guys do it), and grown ups tattling on each other is hardly healthy social behavior.

The word “keeper” is problematic.  Being a shepherd is even problematic.  Jesus tells his disciples “Feed my sheep,” but the metaphorical sheep belong to Jesus, one who is divine and perfect.  They are not subordinate to other humans.  While the video purports to teach students that they are responsible to care for those who are (spiritually) wounded, tattling is not a normal behavior for adult peers, particularly when the content of the tattling is normal behavior and the “friend’s” academic status is in jeopardy at the whim of the ecclesiastical leader.

What do you think?

  • Are we supposed to be our brother’s keeper?  Or to care for one another with respect and as equals?
  • Is tattling appropriate?  Under what circumstances?  All BYU schools require as part of the honor code that students tattle on their fellow students for any known infractions.  Is this really honorable?  Is it right?
  • How do we create healthy sexual attitudes in the church?

In my view, we’ve got the gospel mixed up here.  Tattling on each other for sins is not living a Christian life, and it is often self-serving, not honorable behavior.  Additionally, our negative attitudes about sexuality are often unhealthy and misguided.  For a religion that believes in eternal sex, we sure do have some crazy notions about it.

Lastly, how did your ward present this lesson?

Discuss.

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47 Responses to “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”

  1. Douglas on February 4, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    I’m glad that my older kids are done with college, and it’s about five years b/f my little girl does same. I don’t mind the Church insisting on its moral teachings being upheld by the conduct of the students and faculty as a condition of enrolled/employment therein.
    But an environment of tattling or “Big Brother” is utterly creepy. Presumably college students are adults and ought to be presumed capable of thus comporting themselves.

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  2. Jack Hughes on February 4, 2014 at 5:05 AM

    There needs to be a distinction between legitimate reporting and tattling (or “snitching”). When laws are broken, or a person’s health, safety or rights are in jeopardy, it is very appropriate to inform the authorities. The context of tattling, however, usually involves self-interest or aggrandizement for the reporter, either by elevating his/her own status, or reducing the status of the person being reported.

    Another issue entirely is the reporting of matters that are deeply personal and individual (Word of Wisdom compliance, chastity, other indicators of “worthiness”). Personal worthiness is no one else’s business. Worry about your own salvation.

    The BYU Honor Code (and generally whenever a government or institution tries to legislate morality) creates a hostile culture that encourages and rewards spies, and shames the penitent. People who voluntarily confess their sins are punished, while those who lie or cover up their missteps continue forward unabated.

    There are a number of ways we could interpret the OT story of Cain and Abel, but I don’t read anything into it that suggests righteous people should be spying on each other.

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  3. Brad on February 4, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    Are we becoming North Korea?

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  4. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    Is tattling appropriate? No. The Pharisees brought the adulteress to Jesus in the temple to tattle on her and he blew them off!

    The church is dysfunctionally sexually repressed and myopically focused on sin avoidance via. enforcement. There are exceptions but generally compliant people successfully raised in this manner become naive sexually repressed adults, the others tend to push back along the way often leaving in their late teens or early twenties. Much of church practice is O.T., it needs to become much more Christian in practice.

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  5. Mormon Heretic on February 4, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    I was hoping to debunk the “curse of Cain” doctrine. The teacher didn’t go there, so I decided not to open up that can of worms, but I wanted to bring it up.

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  6. hawkgrrrl on February 4, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    Howard, I’d be careful not to conflate church culture with BYU-I culture. Even BYU is not as hardcore as BYU-I, although both schools officially require reporting other students for infractions. My son got a written notice from his landlord this weekend (all residents did) that they are obligated to report fellow students who don’t obey housing standards by allowing members of the opposite sex to enter bedrooms or stay past midnight (1:30 on weekends). At BYU some will report things like that, but many will not. In the church in general, it’s ridiculous to think people will report others to the bishop for masturbation as a rule. Some may confess such things, but monitoring others’ behavior and reporting it is a whole different thing.

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  7. SilverRain on February 4, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    First of all, acceptable sacrifices are the “firstfruits of the field” AND the “firstlings of the flock.” I really wish that people would stop that. It’s not WHAT he offered, it was WHY that was the problem. He was doing it at the command of Satan, not to appease God.

    We are to be our “brother’s keeper” in the sense that we are caretakers. But righteous caretaking is not exercising domination, it is operating through the principles of righteousness, with faith, hope, charity and love. It is calling others to repentance and proclaiming the word of the Lord through patience, longsuffering, meekness and love unfeigned. Not through overbearing attitudes, “tattling,” or force.

    My two cents, anyways.

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  8. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    You’re right hawkgrrrl, it varies but where does it emanate from? Isn’t this a Randy Bott type of blow back?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I never attended BYU but I knew those who did and apparently there was a very strong snitch program there at one time. SWK stretched Alma 39 to (wrongly) argue that sexual sin is next to murder. I suppose some would call that revelation but by SWK’s own definition of revelation it couldn’t have been. And don’t forget Packer’s little factories. And homosexuality is curable. How many GCs in a row did men hear anti porn talks? So BYU-I’s policy had to come from somewhere and apparently it came from the church’s past, some of it not so distant. Even deconflating all of this to separate out today’s practice, the church still holds a discipline council for an adulteress while Jesus simply said; go and sin no more.

    I found this interesting: Mormon Sexual Repression – One family’s experience with pornography.

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  9. IDIAT on February 4, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    I viewed the video and the only reference I heard was to porn addiction. As a missionary, if one of my investigators told me or implied he/she had a porn addiction, would I ignore it or try to help in some way? If I knew my companion had a porn addiction, would I ignore it or try to help in some way? If a family member of mine had a porn addiction, would I ignore it or try to help in some way? I don’t see this video as asking anyone to tattle on someone. I see it as an admonishment to get involved in the lives of your friends and loved ones, and to act in the spirit of Christ to help as best you can.

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  10. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    IDIAT,
    In spite of all the podium jawboning every third of fourth man in your ward and stake and quite a few of the women use porn or are addicted to it.

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  11. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    If the church really wanted to help porn addicts they would produce church approved porn and show it on the BYU channel after children’s bedtime so addicted spouses can watch softer more loving porn with their spouse and channel their compulsion it into love making thus bringing the couple closer together instead of driving them farther apart.

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  12. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    It’s one thing to be genuinely concerned about a fellow human being as to personally address what appears to be an issue they are facing, privately and with love.

    It is another thing again to report a suspected personal action as an independent activity to a “higher authority.” I would be much more reluctant to do that.

    Having said that, there is a strong movement to report bullying, potential violent behavior or suicidal tendencies.to prevent a possible tragedy

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  13. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    “If the church really wanted to help porn addicts they would produce church approved porn..”

    Well, that’s the weirdest thing I’ve heard today.

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  14. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Gee, I posted that idea several time on W&T. What do you think? Wouldn’t it make things better all the way around or is there something inherently evil about watching or make love on camera?

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  15. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    My mind’s eye cannot comprehend LDS porn…… I’m well aware of what the other stuff looks like….. The forbidden nature of it is part of the attraction, Even though it is now readily available. it is still somewhat of a guilty pleasure….

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  16. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    I am wondering why it is that some people feel it necessary to publicize the stupid moves that the Church and some of its organizations make?

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/hollywelker/7548/save_your_fellow_soldier__from_masturbating/

    What does someone like Holly get out of it?

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  17. IDIAT on February 4, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Sorry, Howard, I won’t engage your fantasies.

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  18. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    My mind’s eye cannot comprehend LDS porn… I know what you mean, would it begin in the Garden of Eden? I felt the same way until someone sent me a link with an attractive young couple in garmies and it progressed into some very loving sex scenes, it was very well done for porn. So my mind’s eye now has some idea of how it could go and that helps me visualize how this could be a healing experience for all including the church.

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  19. alice on February 4, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Frankly, I’m glad when someone holds things up to the light to see how valid they may be.

    There are probably students at BYU-I who see that and conclude ratting on people is what’s expected of them. When they have an opportunity to see what adults make of the same message it may give them pause to consider what their obligation may really be and how it is best discharged.

    Students may talk about it among themselves but it’s not the same thing as having a chance to see if the wider community agrees with Pres. Clark’s message in the way it’s been presented. Pres. Clark might even get to consider himself if this was the best approach the university could have made.

    Besides, Holly is hardly the first. It’s been burning up secular media for days. How could something so hyperbolic not have made waves?

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  20. Frank Pellett on February 4, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Wow, Howard. That’s like saying the government should provide herion addicts with “nice” herion so they can channel the good aspects of it into something productive to society. Sexual Addiction is destructive, harmful, and very real.
    The merits of porn is an entirely different discussion. Arguing that the Church should just “get in line” with conventional thinking about porn is specious, and not the point of the post.

    To that point (being the OP), there are a few things oddly missing. The Moses 5 account clearly says how Adam was told specifically the how and why of sacrifice(v5-8), and that he instructed his children of the same(v12). That God was very active in trying to teach them the error of their ways when they decided to follow Satan (v14-15). Verses 23-25 are simply the consequences if Cain continues on the track he is on. He is being told what his name was before this Earth, and that if he continues, his name will be used as the source of evil, not that he was evil before being born. 23 seems a bit contradictory, but is untangled if it is assumed that the power is not at the same time. Cain will be in the power of Satan, as is anyone who commits sin, but at the final judgement, Cain (who kept his 1st estate) will rule over Satan (who did not). I wonder if Satan thought about that, figuring that being able to control people in this life meant he’d be able to keep that control in the next, despite his lack of body.

    Anyway, to the penultimate point, the “Am I my brothers keeper” is used mockingly, but has since been re-used by others as an example that we should be looking out for each other. Not to the extreme of a strict definition of “keeper” (not the first time we use alternate definitions for things), but that we should be doing what we can to help each other overcome our sins, both of commission and omission.

    For the video, I think it was a poor idea gone viral. Makes it seem like people are just waiting to pounce on anything Mormon that might seem off, just to point to the world how wierd “those Mormons” are.

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  21. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Maybe, it bears investigating whether other groups do do the same thing, we just do not hear about it because no one is on: Mormon mess up” watch

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  22. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Wow, Howard. That’s like saying the government should provide herion addicts with “nice” herion…

    Not really Frank, sexual fetishes and compulsions are innocently formed at an early age, shame and guilt fuel those desires, bringing them out of the closet reduces shame and guilt allowing the addition to redirected in a healthier direction.

    Imagine the guy in the BYU-I video going to his Bishop about his problem and his Bishop lovingly supports him and gives him a password to church approved love making online videos. Now his shame and guilt are gone as long as he is using approved material and he has a structured environment in which to work through it. Perhaps he is also given an LDS psychotherapist referral as well.

    If he’s married it goes even better because they can use this to get closer together as a couple rather than tearing them apart. I’ve heard more than one LDS wife swear she would divorce her husband if she caught him using porn. What a shame some of them think this way!

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  23. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Howard,

    “church approved love making online videos”

    As if that is what is really about…..

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  24. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    The main problems with porno are that it is isolating and it teaches disconnected sex. Bringing it out of the closet begins to address the isolation. If disconnected sex can be taught by watching videos, connected sex can be modeled on video and addressed through psychotherapy. Variety?

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  25. Hawkgrrrl on February 4, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Jeff and others, this video went viral well in advance of Holly and Jana writing about it. Gawker snapped it up last week. They also picked up the modesty shaming at the BYU-I testing center when a RS pres was barred from taking her test for wearing jeans that weren’t even out of dress code. If BYU-I is going to post something like this on YouTube, it’s going to recieve scrutiny. Gawker is on top of this stuff as are a few other outlets: Slate and Jezebel.

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  26. alice on February 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Now it’s on Huffington Post and Daily Beast.

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  27. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Raw Story has it.

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  28. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Comment excerpts on this topic from breadprincess06 on Jezebel:

    Ohhhh BYU-Idaho. I’m a gay student who currently attends BYU-I and s#*t is not great right now. The campus LGBT group has been kicked off campus for supporting gay marriage…and my fiancé was called into the Honor Code Office for supporting same sex marriage in his marriage class… They are really, REALLY cracking down on anyone who supports LGBT rights in any way. A friend’s bishop at an on campus ward went on a tirade about it yesterday and she left the church service and she’s afraid of repercussions if she reports what he said… You can get in trouble for HUGGING SOMEONE OF THE SAME SEX if they think the hug is too intimate.

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  29. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Bboxxgurl on http://community.babycenter.com:

    My brother served in the army. My husband has a pornography addiction. I’ve seen both sides, and I still think the analogy was pretty inappropriate. To compare my husband’s struggle to what my brother experienced–you know, on a real battlefield–is pretty ridiculous…

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  30. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    Hawk,

    “Jeff and others, this video went viral well in advance of Holly and Jana writing about it. Gawker snapped it up last week.”

    Firstly, I am not surprised that all these sites have this ridiculous video, though I suspect they usually don’t patrol the Church websites but rather someone brought it to their attention.

    Secondly, it really is beside the point which is the difference between uninformed folks commenting on our stuff and those who know commenting on our stuff in a critical manner. Which generally seems the case. As I stated, what do they hope to gain by feeding into it?

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  31. Howard on February 4, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Well there’s a loud non-member guffaw – is this 2014? And jokes and a puzzlement about what the movie is actually trying to portray metaphorically, a few correctly concluding it’s meant for insiders others disagreeing that pornography addiction can be reasonably compared to war. But mostly the non-member comments highlight how different we are morally both sexually and with regard to tattling. Culturally our mores appear as as outdated to them as an Amish horse and buggy.

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  32. hawkgrrrl on February 4, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    The church owes Gawker and the like a debt of gratitude for keeping whack jobs (no pun intended) in line, even in this case their own institution; maybe at some point (I can dream) we will be able to see these things with some external perspective before we do them. For a missionary church, we don’t seem to have great instinct for how we sound to outsiders. Examples: The bishop who banned cross dressing toddlers, the not so skinny jeans, parking a dump truck in front of women asking to attend the Priesthood session. We need outside perspective. That’s why converts and diversity create a healthier culture than isolation and groupthink.

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  33. Jeff Spector on February 4, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    See, if you thought that Joseph talking to God and Jesus was out there. Well, watch this!

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  34. hawkgrrrl on February 4, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    A peculiar people indeed.

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  35. Douglas on February 4, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    #12 – “Family-Friendly Porn”…Howard, my man, you might have an entertainment marketing idea there!

    #16 – Figures. Rule 34 is again upheld.

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  36. LLH on February 5, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    My sister and brother attended BYU in the 1990′s, and my sister is one of those obsessive compulsive letter of the law type people, who thought she should turn in my brother to the authorities for violating the honor code because he grew facial hair (didn’t shave for 3 days) when they were home for Christmas break. I think the whole idea of turning people in is ridiculous, and it makes certain overly self-righteous people unbearable to be around when they feel they have a platform that will listen to them. What ever happened to the idea that we teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves? We can help one another and be kind and loving, NOT police other people’s behavior. I am pretty sure this would fall under “no one else’s business” unless someone felt the need to ask for help (if they had an addiction or felt they needed help for some reason).

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  37. heather on February 5, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Not to sound all snarky, but the church can barely manage a passable temple film. I cannot fathom what a trainwreck a tasteful LDS porn movie would be. Just say NO and keep the church out of the bedroom. The last thing I want to see in my bedroom is anything with the LDS logo on it. I am sure Jesus is not interested in participating in that personal activity with us. At least, I find the thought of inviting The Spirit into my bed, a complete turnoff.
    Howard, if you need a film to make you happy, make it for yourself.

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  38. Howard on February 5, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    … the church can barely manage a passable temple film…The last thing I want to see in my bedroom is anything with the LDS logo on it.

    Lol! No HeartSell”® porn for you heather?

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  39. Howard on February 5, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    What ever happened to the idea that we teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves? The Pharisees took over.

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  40. Khinkaid on February 6, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    I can see the church approved porn now:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presents .” Cue 70′s porn music bow chicka wow wow.

    LOL!

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  41. Douglas on February 7, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    #40 – It’s human nature that the control freaks and self-righteous twits take over, regardless of which organization. The trouble with the Church is that we have to pick our leaders and members from the “Hew-Mon” race, and it’s further handicapped by governing with but the male portion.

    I’ve been watching off and on a series on the “History 2″ channel about the supposed lost books of the Bible. Much of what they allege is missing sounds like “plain and precious” things, as Joseph Smith would have put it. Now, I’m sure that what we have in the New Testament is what the Lord wants us to have; He wouldn’t leave it purely to mortal foibles if it ran contrary to His will.

    So why would he ensure that numerous accounts of His dealings with the Pharisees made it into scriptural canon? Probably b/c the overtly wicked are easier to spot and deal with than either (1) the posers, aka wolves in sheep’s clothing (think of Palpatine getting Padme’s bodyguard in her guise to vote no-confidence in Chancellor Valorum, then some ten years later, while the Senator herself is off canoodling with her “Jedi protector”, getting her doofus staffer and designated Rep, (Jar-Jar) to propose giving Palpy “emergency powers”… (2) those that think they’re doing the Lord’s work, but are caught up in their own self-righteous delusions and narrow-mindedness. Most of the Pharisees were not “bad guys”, per se, they were so caught up in their traditions and notions of what their Messiah ought to look like that they couldn’t recognize Him right in front of them.

    I’d rather our students, now ADULTS, for pity’s sake, not be micro-managed, but merely be counseled that they are responsible for their OWN comportment while attended a Church University. Sheesh, if one day they’re supposed to procreate “spirit children” and create worlds, you’d think by age 18 or so they ought to be familiar with the concept of personal integrity.

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  42. Kullervo on February 7, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    This is inevitably what salvation by works gets you.

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  43. New Iconoclast on February 7, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    I’m sure that what we have in the New Testament is what the Lord wants us to have; He wouldn’t leave it purely to mortal foibles if it ran contrary to His will.

    I hope you’re being facetious, Douglas. If not, you have a lot of history to read.

    What “salvation by works” gets us (ignoring the fact that it isn’t really that) is progress and growth, instead of little word games.

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  44. Douglas on February 8, 2014 at 1:50 AM

    #44 – Chill…I don’t mean that other books (“Lost” Gospel of Peter) wouldn’t pass muster as scripture. The current scriptural canon was sufficient that a certain boy living in upstate New York could read James 1:5 and the rest is history…

    That’s the advantage of current revelation. Either these heretofore discarded works could be canonized were the Prophet to be thus directed, or he can bring forth new scripture. Indeed, was not a great deal of the Doctrine and Covenants a result of Joseph Smith inquiring about the Bible? Just as the Lord could direct his servant to find a set of metal plates that contained His word, so he can direct His modern servants in bringing forth whatever else we need. Or perhaps it’s not yet time for, as the late Paul Harvey would have said, “The REST of the Story”.

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  45. […] that she learned as a teen. (The Mormon shame around masturbation is not only creepy, but also has some doctrinal problems.) And this picture brings back some (not-Mormon-related) memories of growing up in the Twin […]

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  46. New Iconoclast on February 10, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    SilverRain wrote:

    First of all, acceptable sacrifices are the “firstfruits of the field” AND the “firstlings of the flock.” I really wish that people would stop that. It’s not WHAT he offered, it was WHY that was the problem.

    Actually, it was both. Joseph Smith was pretty clear on this; he taught that since sacrifice was meant as a type of Christ (see Moses 5:6-7), only sacrifice by the shedding of blood was acceptable. In other words, Cain and Abel weren’t simply paying in-kind tithing; the sacrifice itself was meant to draw them to the idea of the Savior, and grain can’t bleed.

    By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man; for this was the plan of redemption; and without the shedding of blood was no remission; and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin. But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God Himself testifying of his gifts.

    The mere shedding of the blood of beasts or offering anything else in sacrifice, could not procure a remission of sins, except it were performed in faith of something to come; if it could, Cain’s offering must have been as good as Abel’s.

    (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section 2 (1834-37, pp. 58-59))

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