Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Increasingly Antagonistic War of the Sexes: Dating

I read once that Lucifer's goal was to unite what God has separated, and to separate what he has put together. The war of the sexes has only festered hotter and hotter. Neither side is the sole guilty party, and I am very suspicious of anyone who lays blame more on one side than the other. This is not the ordinary antagonism that stems from "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" - from ordinary differences in gender. This war, as now raging, will end in the destruction of the family -and civilization as we know it, unless we cease to fight on its terms. I am going to take some time to discuss the battlegrounds this war takes place on. If you can only see mostly one side at fault - YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!

A post over at Gently Hew Stone described how political correct genderism is now veering anti-male. Or we could look at the whole Tiger Woods debacle. My goal would never be to defend his philandering, but to point out the extreme double-standand when it came to domestic abuse. The American Media seemed to prefer bizarre cover stories to what actually happened that night with the SUV and broken window, while the Swedish media, encouraged his wife to hit him again. Can this kind of an attitude do anything but drive the sexes apart?

Today, let's look at dating.

The world of dating is in sad sad shape. The dynamics of dating have shifted significantly since the rise of the sexual revolution. Dating once had a goal of courtship and marriage - now it is primarily short-term enjoyment. Once the goals of dating and also marriage shifted, patterns of dating changed as well. And who did these change in patterns benefit? By and large, they benefitted the Alpha Male (and arguably the Alpha Female). They were the ones that got all the attention and sex they could handle. The Beta Males (ordinary Joes) were the big losers, along with Beta Females once they were past their prime.

Things might be better in the Church, but if so, only marginally. Roughly a third of adult church membership is single.

We have more dating services than ever before, online and offline, and an increasingly large and frustrated body of single adults. And it isn't getting better.

This has led to the rise of "Game" and its practitioners, the pick-up artists.

Now, I will not condemn all usage of Game because parts of it are genuinely useful. But in general, its purpose is help beta-level men to seduce women. Many guys turn to this, not out of a desire to be Don Juan's or Casanova's, but simply because dating these days makes Wall Street cutthroats look warm and fuzzy and fishing in the Sahara look worthwhile. They are mainly just average nice guys tired of finishing last.

It is bad enough that even the top of the chain pick-up artists complain about it.

A recent comment over at The Spearhead points out clearly both the problems with Game, and why

One of my problems with Game, which Todd White and Elliott point out, is the inherently degrading worldview that is a result of embracing the philosophies of Game and evolutionary psychology out of context. Most supporters of Game merely argue that it is what it is. Humanity and human nature are ugly so get over it. But to me this is too simple an answer. Do women, by their very nature, typically only want to mate with thugs and practitioners of game, and raise children in fatherless broken homes? In the west at the present moment, one could answer yes and present a host of evidence to support that claim. But was it always this way throughout human history?

Things have not always been this way. While it can be dangerous to rhapsodize about the past, we used to have stable families that loved each other. This is much better for spouses, and even when there is no love lost between the parents, it is better for the children. Both genders are taking advantage of the easiest way - non-committal sex and no families to burden them. Likewise, the reason divorce rates have been dropping has more to do with marriage rates dropping than any sudden increase in virtue.
A strong argument could be made that the fact that a large portion of males who are healthy and financially stable (Betas) are hated and rejected by most women is a symptom of societal and cultural decay, not human nature or nature’s ideal for evolution. The fact that using heroin could make me a junkie isn’t proof that it’s my nature to be a junkie. Similarly, the fact that most women are amoral, and hookup with as many thugs and bad boys as possible in their youth, and then expect a nice guy or the “State” to pay for their offspring isn’t indicative that this is the norm and how it should be. This is enabled through corrupt government and cultural decay. Similarly, women’s behavior and taste in men has also been affected by this decay and a lack of quality men (i.e. fathers) and women (i.e. wise mothers and grandmothers) in their lives.

This is in the World, but too often, these same attitudes creep in by osmosis, among us.

I won’t go into depth here, but the masculinization of women probably plays a large role in why you need Game these days to get a woman. A normal healthy man doesn’t do it for them anymore. They need someone who represents a hypermasculine ideal to get their juices flowing, whether it is a thug or a Gamer that fools them. Again, this isn’t proof that this is simply the nature of women and how things are.

This is what we call a Red Queen's Race, from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass. We all have to move fantastically fast merely to keep up, and get ahead, you have to move even faster than that. What was good enough for dating 60 year ago, or even 30 years ago, simply is not sufficient to garner any attention these days, unless you are particularly good looking or are particularly natural with women.

If you want to keep score on who is at fault in this war, the score is currently
Men: 2
Women: 2
Both for Acting like jerks (1) and shortchanging the Family (1).

This is only going to get more vicious as we discuss marriage, divorce, gay marriage (and not for the reasons you are thinking).

The war of sexes is nobody's friend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some Counter-Intuitive Facts about Loneliness. | Psychology Today

An interesting blog post over at Psychology Today on the effects of loneliness.

--Loneliness “sets us apart by making us more fragile, negative, and self-critical.”
--“When people feel lonely they are actually far less accepting of potential new friends than when they are socially contented.”
--“Lonely students have been shown to be less responsive to their classmates during class discussions, and to provide less appropriate and less effective feedback than non-lonely students.”
--“When people feel rejected or excluded they tend to become more aggressive, more self-defeating or self-destructive, less cooperative and helpful, and less prone simply to do the hard work of thinking clearly.”
--Bonus loneliness tidbit: “People with insecure, anxious attachment styles are more likely…to form perceived social bonds with television characters.”
Loneliness makes us so anxious and worried about rejection that it distorts our thinking and our behavior."
Some Counter-Intuitive Facts about Loneliness. | Psychology Today:

Loneliness is not merely unpleasant - it is very bad for us physically and spiritually.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Women in Siberia pushing for polygamy

Short story - severe economic recession in Siberia prompts women to decide polygamy would be a solution to their problems

A study of polygamy in Russia


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Purpose of Marriage

A lot of the difficulties in marriage stem from a misunderstanding of what marriage is for, or why we have it. Divorce in particular is often predicated on this.

Marriage is not primarily a social arrangement or something you do because you need someone. That just leads to unhealthy relationships and codependence.

It is for emotional fulfillment, sexual fulfillment, self-fulfillment or fulfilling you in any way. It can be good, even great at these things - but that is not what it is for, not primarily.

It is like our mouths. They are meant for talking and eating. Tasting delicious food is a strictly secondary purpose. It is a nice benefit, but when push comes to shove, we can eat food that tastes terrible and still have a good functional mouth and healthy life. Putting flavor first is not doing the waistlines of this country any good, nor for that matter, our finer sense of taste.

Like an unhealthy priority on flavor over food, an overemphasis on can lead to unhealthy marriage.

Marriage is PRIMARILY a way for us to serve, and to express love. To both serve and love God and spouse. That love comes via service, and not self-fulfillment.

It sounds a bit austere and unromantic, it is important to have first things first.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


It is often asserted that we have no control over those whom we are attracted to and this may well be true. Right now, the kind of women who win contests like Miss America are a very different sort than those who won, even just 50 years ago. And this is quite different from the sort of women the ancient Greeks idolized or sculpted. In different times and different places, people have had different tastes as to whether to prefer fat or skinny, or well-toned, or any other number of adjectives. The question is, can these tastes be changed? If forums of single people are any indication, then the answer is no. People would rather be frustrated and lonely, than change their taste in the opposite sex. This is just as true of women as it is of men.

But it is equally true, that historically, sexual taste has shifted wildly.

What is unalterable for us, is easily shifting ground given time and the most meager of incentives. We do not appreciate the role of the foundation in keeping the structure secure.

Case in point, divorce used to be prohibitively hard to get. It took years and and extreme circumstances, and even then, it left a stigma. It was argued that there were a lot of people in bad marriages who had ought to be released from it. When there was suggestion that this would weaken the institution of marriage, it was laughed down. At most, this would be a few percent of people. This would not change how most people acted, it was thought.

The problem with this line of reasoning, is that it makes a classic blunder on a level with involvement in land wars in Asia. It fails to account for the marginal case. In most cases, the marginal case is not you at all. But every times a person on the marginal edge makes a decision, it progressively destigmatizes it for everyone else.

As I said concerning divorce laws, it was done with the best of intent. It was done, with fantastic and unassailable logic. Marriage was too steady a public institution to see change, it was thought. And yet, here we are with divorce at rates at ~50%, with increasingly large segments of the population not planning on marriage at all. What we can imagine happening is a very poor guide to what is possible.

Economists have found that when changing things, it is the marginal case the you must take into consideration. In so many ways, most of us reading this blog are the last ones to be affected, but by the time it gets to us, its momentum will be unfathomable.

Likewise, public welfare used to be solely for the use of families temporarily down on their luck, not unmarried mothers. It was argued, quite logically, that unmarried mothers should not be discriminated against. When it was suggested that this would lead to an increase in unwed mothers, that was seen as ludicrous – who would choose such a difficult thing for such a paltry sum? And yet, what do we have now? The most meager of incentives, has destigmatized this to the degree that some high schools have 1 in 7 female students pregnant.

My point here is not to discuss divorce law, nor welfare policy, but to point out the effect of changing incentives and stigmas.

If you care to read more, I strongly recommend an essay by Jane Galt, who made these points better than I could have.

But what is codified into law, has the stigma progressively removed from it – it comes to be seen as morally acceptable. What is accepted progressively becomes public taste.

In other words, unless we want to see a lot of heterosexual marriage replaced by homosexual marriage.

Marriage does matter and not just to the few percentage points that gay marriage would immediately affect. It is not the effect today that is worrisome. It is the effect 20, 30, 50 years from now. It will affect the institution of marriage, and even the meaning of what marriage itself is for.

Anything else, is kindly meant, but shortsighted.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America? has an excellent article on, if America were to collapse however many hundred years from now, how American culture and ideals would be preserved - and we LDS are seen as the most likely of preservers. (Off-topic for this blog, but just really enjoyable and interesting.) This is part of a series of articles looking at possible ways for America to collapse or the world to end.

No society yet has lasted for ever, so even our nation must be mindful of it own mortality. But who and how will we be remembered when we are gone?

But for America's intangible qualities to get preserved—our shared history, our ideals, our passions—someone needs to do the preserving. Edward Gibbon argued that the introduction of Christianity doomed Rome: "[T]he last remains of the military spirit were buried in the cloister." There's a stronger case to be made that the Christians kept Rome from being erased from our collective memory—that the Catholic Church was the one entity that maintained Roman hierarchies, Roman thought, and the Latin language as the rest of the continent descended into illiteracy.
Likewise, the article quote Cullen Murphy's excellent book, Are We Rome?, which posits that Salt Lake City could become "the Vatican of the third millennium," with the LDS "propagating a particular, canonical version of America."

The kind of things that give us an advantage are birth and marriage rates, food storage, cohesiveness, shared values, etc. - something like how the Catholic had who saved bits of Roman culture and heritage and language. We even have prophecies about stepping in and saving the Constitution. And because of our respect for the Constitution, we would continue a reasonable separation of church and state with no Mormon equivalent of Sharia law or Taliban.

The church as a whole, has a toe-hold in both the present and in the past. We are seen as 30 years behind the rest of the country on some issues, and we continually look back to our pioneer heritage even though many to most of us, like myself, have no pioneer ancestors at all. But we SLC is a tech center and we have modern business leaders like Stephen Covey, Romney, Marriott, and many others.

Whatever the future hold, bonds of family and community will preserve us more readily than the govt will.

The article concludes with:

In The Folk of the Fringe, Card writes that "civilization lives on among those folk whose bonds of faith, tribe, and language are strong." As a native New Orleanian, I couldn't help thinking of Hurricane Katrina. With the federal, state, and local governments all failing to mount a rebuilding plan, the city's revival was left to grass-roots, neighborhood-based organizations. It's not surprising group that the city's most tightly knit and most homogeneous group—the Vietnamese-American community of New Orleans East—came back the fastest. Partly inspired by a priest from the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church who traveled around the South persuading evacuated parishioners to come home, Vietnamese residents of the Versailles neighborhood turned out to help each other and help their church. Within nine months, 45 of 50 neighborhood businesses had reopened. Within two years, 90 percent of the area's pre-Katrina residents returned, double the citywide average.

In New Orleans, civilization lives on among those folk whose bonds of faith, tribe, and language are strong. In America, perhaps civilization will carry on in the same way.

I have not done the article justice and I encourage you to read it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Dilemma of the Moral Vampire

The Vampire is a particularly apt metaphor.

What brings this to mind was an at by one Grady Hendrix, where she berates the Twilight series for creating unrealististic expectations --- namely abstinence. She expects those girls to be putting out. Other sites discussing this essay include Double X, Jezebel, and others. I point out these sites because they are mainstream and not just someone blog. The comments are particularly interesting... they are largely in agreement. Not sleeping around is seen as devient and unnatural.

Of course, it is no secret that vampires and the erotic are so closely linked. Indeed, this is what makes the moral vampire such a powerful symbol. Normally a vampire is the very symbol of eternal lust, youth, seduction, power and vitality. But when part of this is forgone for moral reasons, it has much more of a message than just indulgence.

I am not a Twilight fan. Not a hater particularly, it just never really caught my interest for reading. But the idea of Edward as someone who is both moral, and yet vampire is a particularly apt metaphor for our times. It was pointed out (in the NYT?) that unlike other monsters that remind us of our relative frailty and mortality, vampires remind us of eternity and immortality - and what we could have.

The vampires in Twilight are viewed as strange for their morality in not wontonly drinking human blood. It is difficult for them as well - it is as though their very life depends on it.

Interestingly, Stephanie Meyers had a dream in which Edward told her she got it wrong, and that vampires did need human blood and that they could not truely live until they partook of it.

Is it so different with us? God asks some insanely difficult things of us - things that at times make us feel as though we are dying inside. Necessary? Oh, yes, but difficult all the same.

Another movie coming out (rated R, unfortunately) called Thirst, has a priest who falls prey to vampirism, and yet can not so easily brush off all of life's demands and responsibilities.

Marriage and sex are NOT things that made for our own self-satisfaction - and if we focus on that, as most vampires do, we will find our souls quite as dead as theirs.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Meaning of Marriage

Alas - this is a very busy summer for me and so posts will be (as you can see) few and far in between. But I have not forgotten you!

There is an very good article in Time on marriage, and its decline in America. But the finest part, in my opinion, was the very end, which illustrated the increasingly confusing modern concept of marriage.

The fundamental question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of the century is this: What is the purpose of marriage? Is it — given the game-changing realities of birth control, female equality and the fact that motherhood outside of marriage is no longer stigmatized — simply an institution that has the capacity to increase the pleasure of the adults who enter into it? If so, we might as well hold the wake now: there probably aren't many people whose idea of 24-hour-a-day good times consists of being yoked to the same romantic partner, through bouts of stomach flu and depression, financial setbacks and emotional upsets, until after many a long decade, one or the other eventually dies in harness.

Or is marriage an institution that still hews to its old intention and function — to raise the next generation, to protect and teach it, to instill in it the habits of conduct and character that will ensure the generation's own safe passage into adulthood? Think of it this way: the current generation of children, the one watching commitments between adults snap like dry twigs and observing parents who simply can't be bothered to marry each other and who hence drift in and out of their children's lives — that's the generation who will be taking care of us when we are old.

Who is left to ensure that these kids grow up into estimable people once the Mark Sanfords and other marital frauds and casual sadists have jumped ship? The good among us, the ones who are willing to sacrifice the thrill of a love letter for the betterment of their children. "His career is not a concern of mine," says Jenny Sanford. "He'll be worrying about that, and I'll be worrying about my family and the character of my children." What we teach about the true meaning of marriage will determine a great deal about our fate.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Tree of Life

As Mormon ideas go, the whole Tree of Life vision is standard for us: it seems remarkably simple and too often we leave it at that. But when we do not go into depth, there is a lot we miss out on, and in particular, things that relate to virtuous living.

Prior to the Babylonian Exile, the Jews like to personify Wisdom as a real person, who was symbolized as both a tree and a fountain. This is seen in 1 Ne. 11 when Nephi asks about the meaning of the Tree of Life, and is shown the Virgin Mary, to which Nephi responds with what we might paraphrase as, "Oh, duh, I get it now". What is it that Nephi understood that made the image of a tree or fountain make so much sense to him?

We can get a sense of this from reading the Old Testament, especially those parts that we call "Wisdom Literature".

To start in Proverbs,
13 ¶ Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
Prov. 3:13-18
Many things are associated with the tree of life in Proverbs, but prominently among them is Wisdom, which is closely associated with Virtue.

"Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it" Prov. 16:22

We see more in ch. 7

4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
One characteristic of Wisdom literature is the juxtiposition of wisdom and virtue versus unvirtue and hartlotry. The rest of chapter 7 is an example of this. It is also seen in Nephi's vision with his discussion of a great and abominable harlot.

But what has impressed me the most is fountain of living waters and the fountain of filthy waters in Nephi's and Lehi's vision.

Waters are especially associated with virtue and lovemaking:
15 ¶ Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.
18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
Prov. 5:15-20
Chapter 5 has more to say about being virtous.

On the other hand, compare ch. 9, which starts off contrasting wisdom and understanding to sins of chastity, and ends with,
18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
with 1 Ne. 12:16

16 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.
As far as I can determine, these are the only two places that use that particular turn of phrase. Virtue, the clean waters, are life itself, while the filthy waters, (in Proverbs 9:18 it was the intimate company of a loose woman) are death and the very depths of hell.

If you want to read more, Meridian has a nice article, while the figure of the fountain and tree in Nephi's vision is examined in careful detail by BYU professor, Daniel Peterson in "Nephi and his Asherah".

A look at the meaning the verses about usage of the word "Rod" in Proverbs. Some good Protestants point out that "Rod" has far more to do with correction, than with beating. It seems that "spare the rod, spoil the child" has far more to do with teaching children the Gospel, than beating them. While from the Neal A Maxwell Institute, we get "What Meaneth the Rod of Iron"?

A better defintion of Pornography

My work during the day is Physics, so when I deal with things, I like a mathematical precision to the definitions I use. There is, however, a lot of confusion about exactly what pornography is, how to distinguish from art, or eroticia, both of which is implicitly assumed we should approve of.

The classic statement on the matter was given by Justice Potter Stewart in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in french film, The Lovers.

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.
But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that. [Emphasis Mine]

The Volokh Conspiracy (not a favorite of mine, but right on the money here)

Many people who know the quote, though, don't know the follow-up: Nine years later Justice Stewart joined the dissent in Miller v. California, and would have thus held that such material is categorically constitutionally protected (at least where no unwilling viewers or underage viewers are involved). And the dissent's reasoning focused largely on the vagueness of the existing tests for what's constitutionally protected and what's not.

So Stewart thought he knew it when he saw it. But after seeing enough cases, it seems that he either lost confidence in his own ability to know what should be protected, or concluded that such a test was in any event no way to run a legal system.

Trusting in your ability to distinguish seems simple enough, but runs into difficulty once you start trying to apply it to real life, which is, more often than not, more messy and vague than we would like it. There are accusations of violence in porn, but what of porn that isn't violent? (most isn't actually)

What of porn that objectifies men or women? What then of drawn images? Does this make erotica OK? How do you distinguish between a good lovemaking scene and a bad one? Is there a difference?

The Church gives this definition:

Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. It is distributed through many media, including magazines, books, television, movies, music, and the Internet. It is as harmful to the spirit as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are to the body. Using pornographic material in any way is a violation of a commandment of God: “Thou shalt not … commit adultery … nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6).

“Pornography,” True to the Faith, (2004),117–18

This is a good definition and I in no way intend to suggest it is wrong. But is it as useful as it could be? Is it always clear (or only afterward) what "arouses sexual feelings"? That is the kind of thing that is sometimes most easily noticed afterward, and not at the time. It often becomes useful only once you realize you are aroused, but the best way to fight this is to never get to that state in the first place. A good general does not like being surprised by the enemy having the high ground (and advantage). And so it is with porn - a better definition is a better warning.

Pornography is that which promotes sin, encourages, invites or entices to sin. In the broader sense, porn is that which is not just conducive to sin, but is agreeable to it, open to the idea - supportive, sympathetic, willing. Thus while an immodest image may or may not be porn, a TV sitcom (for instance) that makes light of immorality, or portrays it in a sympathetic way, is a very subtle kind of pornography. And not incidentally, one that has been linked to higher rates of immorality and younger ages at which virginity is lost.

As much as I would like to take the credit, I will need to defer to the prophet Moroni.

But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. Moroni 7:17
Often, the Devil is the most subtle with his greatest temptations, but we should not allow this to deceive us.

**** coming soon - interesting insights into the Vision of the Tree of Life ****

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Relief from the sexual temptations that so easily beset us

Temptation and suggestiveness are all around us. The sheer amount of temptation to be overcome and ignored can be exhausting, particularly when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Some struggle scarcely at all, while others feel as though there is a gaping hole in their soul that they can find no relief for. And in light of a movie that just came out, I want to reiterate the line, "I don't believe in no-win scenarios". God has placed us here with difficult, if not impossible dragons to overcome - for a reason

This may include ladies who grow old and never have a chance to marry. It includes guys in a similar position, who couldn't get a date, to save their lives. It includes those who struggle (most likely through no fault of their own) with same-sex attraction. These are not easy things to overcome, and in many cases, they may simply be impossible?

The Book of Mormon was written specifically for our day - yet what does it tell us?

1) We have the stories of both Limhi and Alma juxtaposed in the book of Mosiah.

King Limhi and his people were in bondage to the Lamanites from 145 BC to 121 BC; some 23 years. They had heavy burdens put on their back (and given what we know of Meso-American archeology, this would be quite literal) and a tax of one half of all they possessed. They attempted three times to fight their way out of their predicament, but to no avail. They could not solve their problems on their own. God did not allow them to escape so easily, so that they might learn. He was slow to hear their prayers, because they had been so resistant to the words of His prophets. Because of their afflictions, they were “compelled to be humble” (Alma 32:13-16). Though they resisted at first, they slowly humbled themselves, and their burdens were lightened gradually. And when they had truly humbled themselves sufficiently, they were given relief from their problems – what they could not do on their own.

At about the same time, Alma the elder and those with him, were taken prisoner by the same group of Lamanites. The scriptural record is quite clear that they had not brought this on themselves, but God had given it to them.

Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.
Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.
For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham and Isaac and of Jacob.
And it came to pass that he did deliver them, and he did show forth his mighty power unto them, and great were their rejoicings.
Mos. 23:21-24
And yet as much trial as He brought upon them, he was willing to be with them in their afflictions.

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
Mos. 24:13-15
Does this truly pertain to those who struggle with any kind of temptation? Most assuredly! Christ came to save us from our sins. He is far more concerned with spiritual slavery, than temporal slavery.

If we are trying to do what is right, and yet we do not feel Him making our trials lighter, then we are doing something wrong; we are not living the Gospel as completely as we need. Many of those who have truly struggled with SSA, have later in their lives, been thankful for their temptations, and struggles, because by them they have been drawn nearer to their Heavenly Father than they would have ever accomplished by themselves.

Lest we idolize the prophets themselves, let us remember what Alma said of those venerable prophets, Lehi and Nephi. Even they were not perfect - and as they were were not diligent, they too struggled.
And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.
And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.
And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.
And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.
For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.
For those of us who will never marry in this life, heterosexual, or homosexual, or who simply feel like despairing, God offers us rest from all our struggles, all of which He understand in great detail.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)

But this means coming to Him to the best of our ability, and He will give us rest from our afflictions, spiritual and temporal. For some of us, that means an effort far greater than others, but the spiritual blessing will be proportionally greater.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Modus Operandi of Satan

We often have a little mental image of Satan in our heads, where he sits on our shoulder, tempting us to sin. While Satan does tempt us to sin, that is not the majority of his effort.

Satan, is above all, the Father of Lies. It is lies that he loves and cherishes, and that he tries to insinuate into our lives. It makes our sins all the more delicious for him, for if we act according to a wrong idea, then it was just us choosing between right and wrong. If he can get us to believe a falsehood, then he all all the less work to do, getting us to sin on our own. The "Devil made me do it" is less often even an influence than we think.

Thus, we need to realize the importance of ideas, particularly those that we accept and incorporate as part of ourselves. It is in the realm of ideas and doctrines, that the Devil spends most of his time, and not commandments and rules. If he can win with ideas and doctrines of devils, then rules of any kind will have a very hard time keeping us in the right way. Thus we see the importance of ideas. People often try to change things with commandments and rules, but the greatest power, and danger, is in ideas. Hence the verse
But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils. D&C 46: 7

It is ideas and doctrines that drive us and compel us. Thus, even more than the commandments, we must be certain we understand correct doctrine and true principles, or we may give undue weight to what seems to us, to be of the utmost importance. God loves us more than even we love ourselves, but He understand more perfectly what it is that will make us happy. And those things are often different from what the world teaches.

This is the source of a lot of the struggle is chastity - wrong ideas that seem so close to the truth as to seem indistinguishable. If we could understand things correctly, we would plainly see and agree to the importance of chastity.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Nicolaitan Band

In the book of Revelations, Jesus twice refers to a group called, the Nicolaitan band, whose deeds and doctrine he plainly says he hates. So who are these people?

It seems that as the Great Apostasy was unfolding, that there were some who took a statement of Nicolas, one of the original Seventy, out of context. We don't have exactly what he said, but evidently it was something to the effect of God is willing to forgive as often as we sin.

Misinterpreting (purposefully or not) his words, they claimed the option of total sexual license, with wives in common and free love with everyone, yet they made a great deal of effort to look good outwardly.

This is hardly just a sin particular to one period of ancient history.

Bishop Newel K. Whitney was also sternly warned:
Let my servant Newel K. Whitney be ashamed of the Nicolaitane band and of all their secret abominations, and of all his littleness of soul before me, saith the Lord, and come up to the land of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and be a bishop unto my people, saith the Lord, not in name but in deed, saith the Lord. D&C 117:11 Emphasis mine
In his Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said this refers to “members of the Church who [try] to maintain their church standing while continuing to live after the manner of the world . . . . [The phrase] has come to be used to identify those who want their names on the records of the Church but do not want to devote themselves to the gospel cause with full purpose of heart” (DNTC 3:446).

When we pick and choose which parts of the Gospel we want, we have already excluded the most important parts - sacrifice and humility.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “Our relationship to living prophets is not one in which their sayings are a smorgasbord from which we may take only that which pleases us. We are to partake of all that is placed before us, including the spinach, and to leave a clean plate” (Things As They Really Are, p. 74).

Some of us struggle with the spinach, and that may even be normal to a degree. But it is when we have been given time to learn for ourselves, and we still refuse, that we tread dangerously.

Joseph had this to say in Lectures on Faith

"It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner, offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him."...

"But those who have not made this sacrifice to God do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for ...where doubt and uncertainty are there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; ...and where faith is weak the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them." Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6, paragraphs 8,12

We can not live after the manner of the world, or incorporate it into the Church, without destroying either the Church and/or ourselves.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Meaning of Words

The words we use can make all the difference in influencing how we think of things. (For the pedantic, this would be the weak version of the Sapir-Wolf Hypothesis)

I find it interesting, that in Hebrew, there is no word for simply the act of sex, though debateably you could argue that 'to lie with" (שכב) fills that roll. It does occur 212 times in the Old Testament, not all in meaning sexually.

There is much of whoredoms and fornication (זנה), and defiling beds, and adultery (נאף) but to "know" someone is ( ידע ; pronounced yada) is the example we are given. It occurs 947 times in the Old Testament, not always in a sexual context though.

Rather, sex and deepest intimacy, literally to "know" a person are linguistically bound together.

It is here that Adam and Eve provide the great example of married intimacy - even before the Fall they 'knew' each other. They show us that our most primal urges are not that of the cave man, or the savannah ape-man, but a truly intimate couple; physically, emotionally,

Contrariwise, it has been suggested by some experts that in place of the term "porn addiction", we say "intimacy disorder". This is in no way meant to minimize the danger of pornography, but rather to show both the roots and the result of such action. Painting with a deliberately broad stroke, those who struggle with porn and are married, have intimacy issues or limitations, or latent developing ones. Among the single, it is primarily loneliness. Not that sheer horniness doesn't play a role, but it is second fiddle, both in cause and in effect.

Likewise, referring to it as an "intimacy disorder" reminds us of where we should start, and the dangers if we fail. For instance, I have written in chapter 2 (or 3?) about how former prostitutes and porn stars have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships.

If we want to capable of life's greatest joys and loves, it is essential we are chaste and virtuous.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Not all of us have arcane statistics as a hobby, but those that do, I respect. Audacious Epigone is one of those. There is a particularly interesting post on the correlation of support for gay marriage and sympathy for extramarital sex. There is also a strong correlation between those married and those single, in their support for gay marriage.

From the post:
Homosexuals should marryXmarital sex always wrong
Strongly agree70.7%
Strongly disagree91.1%

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Leaving the ways of the World

One of the most dangerous and pervasive aspects of Babylon is the mindset and philosophy that we must discard. That is not to say there are not good things out in the world, but when we say, Babylon, or The World, we mean what is worldly from a gospel perspective. Unconsciously we have absorbed a “network of ready-made solutions”, which can be as much of a problem, as our problems themselves. In other words, when we have problems, or stresses, the solutions we often revert to, are those we have seen used around us.

One philosopher had this to say:
“One of the factors that makes up our destiny is the mass of circumambient convictions in which we find ourselves. Without realizing it, we find ourselves installed in that network of ready-made solutions for the problems of our lives. When one of these problems weighs on us, we revert to that treasure.... “

And what does this “network of ready-made solutions” tell us? They tell us not merely how to answer questions, or what questions to ask, but how to answer those questions.

Nor is it necessary to ask such questions; from the very moment of birth – in family life, in school, in reading, and in social intercourse – we are constantly trying to receive and absorb those collective convictions into our veins before, almost always before, we have become aware of the problems for which they are, or pretend to be solutions. To that when we come to feel actual distress in the face of a vital question, and we really want to find int solutions, to orient ourselves with respect to it, not only must we struggle with the problem, but we find ourselves caught within the solutions previously received. The very language in which we will have to think our own thoughts is itself an alien way of thinking, a collective philosophy, and elementary interpretation of the life which so closely imprisons us.

To simply intend to be good is entirely insufficient as long as we have rely on the network of ready made solutions – solutions that are at odds with what God desires of us. This is part of the reason both pornography and associating excessively with immoral people is problematic – we tend to pick up on their “ready-made solutions”. That is the problem with even the casual references to sex, we see in prime-time TV. We unconsciously and unavoidably begin to see wrong things as normal and we begin to see things from the World's point of view. It is that point of view that makes all the difference in the world. That point of view changes our behavior more than seeing certain actions do.

Thus, in the parable of the Sower, the weeds that choke the seed, are worldly concerns
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
Luke 8:14 cf. Mark 4:19; Matthew 13:22

Likewise, the Lord warns us that that a reason we are called, yet still not chosen, is that our “hearts are so much set upon the things of this world”. D&C 121:35

And what does the world think of sex? It is either spoken of in the crudest terms, or the crudest actions, are spoken of in the sweetest terms. The language we use subtly influences, and sometimes limits, the way we think.

Using the wrong words may either convey as vulgar something that should be sacred, or it sugar-coats what is blatant sin. And as bad as vulgarity is, it is the sugar sweet words for sin, that are most dangerous.

The secular world frequently accused Christianity as seeing sex as something dirty. However, quite the opposite is true. They see it as a filthy thing, and denominate it as such. It has been made into a degrading and wholly self-centered activity. Now, some may object to criticism of the world, because sex is important. That is not something I want to deny. In fact, we don't pay nearly enough attention to the importance of sex. It should be an act of intimacy that helps two people love each other more deeply. Yet, what has it become? Has it lead to greater love? Where it would have once enabled greater love for spouse, only greater focus on personal pleasure is realized. There is nothing enlightened about it.

So, on one hand, we see women referred to as b*tches, or whores (or much worse I will not mention here) while what should be the ultimate act of human intimacy, is demoted to simply “f**k”, as well as a host of euphemisms that usually convey nothing of intimacy, either in intention or action.

Of course, there are many people who do not call sex vulgar things. And that is a positive step. But unless it is followed through with the corresponding commitment that God requires, specifically marriage before intercourse, then the nicer words used, are partly empty, because they don't have the actions to back them up.

But it is when honey-sweet words are used, that we are in the greatest danger of unconsciously believing lies. When we call 'love-making', what is a simply lust, our minds will begin to confuse the two. When we use words with sugar poured on them, like 'friends with benefits', we speak a lie. Because those 'benefits' are not beneficial. Nor is 'getting lucky' something that we should aspire to.

I am deliberately blunt here so we can see things as they are – and the bluntness is important so I encourage the more sensitive to see that if we never speak of things as they are, if we always use sugar-coated words, we do not convey the appropriate horror we should. It is as though we refer to the Holocaust as “the Nazi-waties used gasy-wassy to killy-willy the Jewsy-whoosies.” No one in their right mind would say that. We use words like genocide and cold-blooded murder to describe it because we want people to understand the appropriate horror of that event. We need to be careful, that in our zeal to avoid vulgarity, we do not endorse sin by calling it sweet things.

We have grown so used to this in our own culture (and most of us read too little of other times and cultures) that we are used to this, and think of it as normal. But it is not.

Sex is become an abominable and degrading thing when stripped of such reverence and awe as it should have.

The way we see sex, is a reflection of how we see ourselves and others. It may either unite us in greater love, or a string of used partners, even if the use is mutual. Sex will draw us nearer to Heavenly Father, or it will debase us to Hell. How sacredly we regard both our bodies and sexual functionings, speaks volumes about how sacredly we see ourselves. We can not see ourselves as children of God, as Temple of God, if we think of ourselves in such a manner, or speak in such a way of what is sacred.

Even before the Fall, before Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they were cleaving together as “one flesh”. It is because of is underappreciated sanctity and importance, that immorality in all its forms exists.

We can not denigrate body without denigrating how we feel about it. If we do not regard our bodies as sacred, then we can not regard truly regard ourselves as children of God, for they are one and the same. Our bodies are an important part of us. Further, the way we see others, is a reflection of the way we think of ourselves, at the deepest level.

If we have the spirit, we will be able to resist temptation. But not lusting and not committing adultery is only half the story. We want more than mere absence of sin. We want actual virtue. And we can only have that virtue when we have the spirit of God.

Virtue is not merely kept by having the Spirit, (Gal. 5:16 Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh) nor is coincidentally lost when we lust (D&C 42:23; 63:16). Virtue and the spirit of God are one and the same. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and what ever temple is desecrate, that is to say, devoid of the Spirit of God, that temple will be destroyed. Let us not obsess that the building blocks of our personal temples are fallen and mortal, but consider it a warning. Remember the great temples in the Old Testament, such as Solomon temple. When the people kept the commandments, and had the spirit, then the temple worship was preserved. But when their hearts yearned after idols, which symbolized the things of this world, then the temple fell into decay and was eventually destroyed. That will be our story. If we will keep the our temple holy, by obtaining the Spirit of God, then we will be able to maintain our lives as we should.

If we have the spirit of God with us, then we will be able to act virtuously. But if we do not have the Spirit of God, we will not be virtuous, regardless of whether any overt sins are committed or not. It is entirely possible to be as wicked as hell and yet have complied with the letter of the law.

During the Exodus from Egypt, the Children of Isreal were fed with manna. This manna could not be gathered all in one day to suffice for the week. It had to be gathered daily. This was an object lesson from the Almighty to teach them they needed spiritual nourishment continually, and that sporadically is simply not sufficient.

This necessitates that we do not mere have the Spirit from time to time. If we are to be able to resist moral temptation, we will need to have the have the Spirit with us always. In fact, this is the stated purpose of the sacrament, that we partake of weekly.

In fact that is the meaning of the second birth, the rebirth of spirit, being born again. It means the introduction of the spiritual in place of the natural man. This also necessitates that our spirits govern our bodies, and not vice versa. Our literal physical bodies are still the same, so we must work and struggle and receive this spiritual reawakening as many times as necessary. Alma reminds us, that while it is good to have been born again, “do ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:14,26)

No matter how much our spirits intend to be good, we must be born again. No exceptions. Willpower alone can not return us to the presence of the Father.

Alma the Younger, speaking of his conversion, said;
And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
Mos. 27:25-26

Naturally, on this Earth, temptation can be quite severe. Satan seems to derive a certain pleasure from wearing us down with stress, problems, and temptation. And some of those who carry these severe burdens, through no fault of their own, feel particularly hopeless about their situation.

Our flesh is weak and prone to error. It takes a lot of effort to keep on the Strait and Narrow Path. And not only getting on the path, but staying their takes infinitely more. Some of us are given temptations much stronger than those around us. It may not seem fair.
Jesus himself said,
Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matt 26:41 cf. Mark 14:38

If we desire rest from the temptations and stresses that pull us down, we may receive that rest through the Spirit of the Lord. If we will have the Spirit with us always, we will not fall.

We are holy Temples to the degree we have the Spirit of God with us. Likewise, we are virtuous to the degree we have the constant companionship of the Spirit. To do this, we must abandon the ways of the World. We must see ourselves, body and spirit, as holy and in the very likeness of God.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Treating our bodies as sacred, isn't all avoiding tattoos, and piercings. Just as we must be careful not to step off the narrow path to the tree of life to the one side, it is also quite capable to step off it to the other side. Indeed, tattoos and piercings may even be the lesser worry of the two extremes.

The more subtle danger is to focus too hard on how the body looks. That is not say we should not be attractive, but all things can be taken to extremes God did not intend. There is no shortage of references in the Book of Mormon correlating fine clothing with pride and wickedness. Costly apparel is the universal distinguishing feature of the Great and Spacious Building (1 Ne. 8), the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil (1 Ne. 14) and Babylon, The Mother of Harlots (Rev. 17).

The dual dangers here are pride from better clothes than those around you (which I shall not spend much time on) and immodesty, though they are more closely linked than one might expect.

Elder Holland said, quoting Halle Berry
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress [Berry] is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.” i

In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.”ii And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild. One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us. Yet at the end of the day there would still be those “in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers” as Lehi saw,iii because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.
Jeffrey R. Holland, “To Young Women,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 28

So many of us have an artificial distinction in our minds between what is immodest and what is pornographic, when in reality, it is a continuum. We think of pornography as something abhorrent that we would never do, and yet immodesty as a little thing. However, any distinction drawn is purely artificial. They are quite the same thing.

In some ways, the pornographic label is a poor one, because it seems far removed from personal experience, whereas in reality, it encompasses everything from the unspeakably degenerate, to what we think of as quite ordinary and every gradation in between. There are far, far more degrees, kinds and variations of porn than there are flavors of ice cream.

The problem with the label “pornography”, is that it sometimes leaves us worried about the things we are in the least danger from, and unconcerned about the things that pose the greatest threat.

It is only in the last few years, since about 1957 that the definition of pornography and of obscenity has been separate from definitions of biblical morality. In the United States, this legal redefinition happened because of the court cases, Roth v. U.S (1957) and then Miller v. California (1973). The result of all this is, that legally while any obscenity would have made something pornographic, as it is now, if there is any “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” it is not (legally) considered pornography. But even the Miller decision only attempted to define legally prohibited pornography, and not all pornography.

We can not live by the world's definition and still expect the Lord's approval. We may have limited influence on the world around us, but we need to show where we stand. So why bring this up here and not earlier when we spoke of pornography? It is only because of legal definitions that we have even begun to think of immodesty and pornography as fundamentally different things. They are not. They are simply labels and it is by manipulating labels that Satan tries to convince us that somethings are not as bad as they really are.

Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter of the First Quorum of the Seventy said:
And, of course, in doing these wicked things they suggest that it is not so bad anymore. Since so much of the world accepts these actions, if we resist them or speak out against them, we will be scoffed at. We will be called prudish, Victorian, puritan, and self-righteous, as if we had become the sinners. We will be accused of being evil-minded in our failure to appreciate the “beauty and naturalness” of the human body.
Ensign, May 1984, p. 27.

However, once you have made the decision to wear something (or look at someone) that is below your standards, your standards are already changing. What you consider normal, and ordinary is strongly affected by what you do and see, even and especially when you think you are aware of it.

The old maxim is, “If you don't look once, you aren't a man”. But our bodies do not need to see pornography in order to arouse inappropriate feelings. When we view something that is immodest, or suggestive, our bodies automatically react to anything suggestive. The reaction happens within milliseconds – faster even than the rest of our brain can even recognize what an image is. In other words, even before the rest of our brain can tell what we are looking it, it is already reacting to its sexual suggestiveness. Our bodies will begin to go on autopilot and unless our spirit counter-acts immediately, we progress toward a point where our spirits will not be strong enough to fight our bodies. It has only been in recent years that scientists have begun to realize that this physiological reaction (arousal) in our bodies long precedes conscious desire. In other words, your body is beginning to gearing up and get ready long before you realize it. That gives your body a significant head start over your mind, one you can't allow it to have.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Modesty is another issue where we have sometimes allowed the rules overshadow the doctrine. At the risk of sounding cliché, consider the very large amount of money and time that the Church spends on grounds keeping and upkeep of temples. It is no insignificant amount! Likewise, as important as the temple ordinances are (essential for eternal exaltation) look at what the Lord required of the Saints in the beginning of this dispensation. Years were spent hauling stone, when they barely had enough to survive on. If the ordinances are so important, why didn't the Lord simply allow the people to get by with a nice tent?

It is not because the ordinances, per se, must be done in a nice place. At times, mountain tops and wilderness places served as temples. But what is essential, is that we treat the temple and its ordinances as extremely sacred. The building and grounds help us remember that, as well as the reverent voices and music inside. It is why we take especially care of our temple garments.

By treating the temple as sacred, we are reminded in physical form the sacredness of the temple ordinances and the covenants we make there. It is as physical a symbol as our bodies themselves are.

Considering how much effort the Lord insists of us, in order to have a temple building (the Salt Lake Temple took 40 years to build), modesty is becoming the temple that we ought to be. We need to see ourselves, body and spirit, as sacred – literally in the image, or the likeness of God, literally the
(צלם) resemblance of God. He is serious about this, and is saddened when we do not treat it seriously as well. We can not treat it lightly without diminishing the degree to which we take God seriously.

An idea that is common to the point of taken for granted, is that what we are in the inside is what really counts. And like all misconceptions, there is a great deal of truth to that. The deceptive part is where we think of the outside and inside a separate parts. Clothing is as much an important part of mortality, as receiving a body is.

The primal man, is not the naked dirty caveman of lore, but Adam our Father and Eve our Mother.

Naked is what happened to a person who has been nake-ed. Nake is a old verb meaning “to remove clothing”. The naked man is not our primal ancestor, but rather one that has been stripped of the clothing he has on.

God the Father clothing Adam and Eve was one of the first things that ushered them from their proto-mortal state in the Garden of Eden, to life in mortality.

Elder Hales said:
Modesty is at the center of being pure and chaste, both in thought and deed. Thus, because it guides and influences our thoughts, behavior, and decisions, modesty is at the core of our character. Our clothing is more than just covering for our bodies; it reflects who we are and what we want to be, both here in mortality and in the eternities that will follow.

Clothes express who we are, and what we believe. There is more than a bit of literal truth to the maxim, Clothes make the man. The once you have made a decision to wear something that is below your standards, or to view something below your standards, your standards are already changing.

As in theatre, we become what we wear.

How we clothe ourselves is no small issue.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Circumambient Convictions

One of the most dangerous and pervasive aspects of Babylon is the mindset and philosophy that we must discard. That is not to say there are not good things out in the world, but when we say, Babylon, or The World, we mean what is worldly from a gospel perspective. Unconsciously we have absorbed a “network of ready-made solutions”, which can be as much of a problem, as our problems themselves.

One philosopher had this to say:
“One of the factors that makes up our destiny is the mass of circumambient convictions in which we find ourselves. Without realizing it, we find ourselves installed in that network of ready-made solutions for the problems of our lives. When of e of these problems weights on us, we revert to that treasure.... “

And what does this “network of ready-made solutions” tell us? They tell us not merely how to answer questions, or what questions to ask, but how to answer those questions.

Nor is it necessary to ask such questions; from the very moment of birth – in family life, in school, in reading, and in social intercourse – we are constantly trying to receive and absorb those collective convictions into our veins before, almost always before, we have become aware of the problems for which they are, or pretend to be solutions. To that when we come to feel actual distress in the face of a vital question, and we really want to find int solutions, to orient ourselves with respect to it, not only must we struggle with the problem, but we find ourselves caught within the solutions previously received. The very language in which we will have to think our own thoughts is itself an alien way of thinking, a collective philosophy, and elementary interpretation of the life which so closely imprisons us.

To simply intend to be good is entirely insufficient as long as we have rely on the network of ready made solutions. This is part of the reason both pornography and associating excessively with immoral people – we tend to pick up on their “ready-made solutions”. And how has the world as a whole decided to treat sex?

Just how aware are we really about this "network of ready made solutions" that society tries to teach us? I think we see part of it... but not always all of it.

Bite-size segments

You would think that as net-savvy as I am, it would have occurred to me to write in bite size pieces, instead of a chapter at a time. You might think that.... but you would be wrong.

So, while I am behind in posting anyway... I am going to put up smaller, but more frequent postings. Which is really the way I write anyway.

After all, it isn't what you eat, it is what you digest.

So in place of chapters, I will post a sub-topic at a time - first up
(1) "circumambient convictions"
(2) modesty

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chapter 5: Celibacy vs Virtue ~The fourth characteristic of Virtue is the proper place of Sex

Chapter 5: Celibacy vs Virtue

During the Middle Ages, celibacy was taught as being a higher way of life, especially for those monks and nuns who devoted their lives to God in this way. One proponent of this doctrine was St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the most prolific and influential writers of Early Christianity, born in 354 AD, just before the fall of Rome. Among the many things he is remembered for, was his prayer 'da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo', or simply, “[God] Grant me chastity and continence, but not quite yet". As funny as that is to read now, St. Augustine was quite in ernest. He was a Gnostic Christian, until he was 32 and converted to Catholicism. But until that time he spent a lot of effort sowing his wild oats, indulging frequently and with vigor sleeping with anyone he could. He had a concubine (whose name we do not know) with whom he had a child, Adeodatus. His mother, Monica, had opposed a marriage with the concubine as it would interfere with his career. His mother persuaded him to get rid of her, and move to Milan, so he could make a better career. She also set him up with a marriage into a prominent family, whose rank and means would further his career. He abandoned his concubine now that it was inconvenient (his fiancee's family insisted on it) for a society wife, half his age, his mother had set up with him. But as the society wife was two years too young, he took up in the meantime with someone else.

Both as a Gnostic1 Christian and a Catholic believed in chastity, but struggled with lust. He finally came to associate sexual desire with our fallen nature. It was not the sex act itself, but rather the feelings associated with it, and the degree with which relationships and family interfered with his career.

He tried to quit, but found himself unable to stop. Even after his conversion to Catholicism, he struggled between lust and sexual anorexia. But God is not a glutton for either punishment or asceticism. Augustine avoided marriage because it would have interfered with his work and sex because he had a guilt complex. But none of that was a good thing. This was not an oscillation between virtue and vice because neither of these was virtue. While his celibacy was not fornication, neither was it anything good. It was still a sex obsession.

You can not oscillate between virtue and vice any more than you can easily go from bodybuilder to frail old man, and back again. And if any have done that, it has taken years to recover what they lost.

Later, he advocated celibacy as a higher way of life. But was this celibacy a form of virtue? No, not at all. You can not any more easily change yourself from a bodybuilder to scrawny wimpy nerd and back. Nor could you change from a accomplished mathematician to a village idiot, and back. Thus virtue is not only what we do or do not do, but is a statement of what our soul is truly like. It is an aspect of our nature. Christ must change our natures, or when it comes down to willpower vs. desires, desires will win.

What this illustrates, is that the opposite of immorality is not abstinence. Nor is the opposite of pornography, modesty. Abstinence and modesty are both merely a lack of sin. And while that is important, we need something more substantial. The true opposite of these, is the service we perform in the Temple and the ordinances performed there and the living covenants we have made there, particularly those that seal us as families. Why is the Temple and family, the spiritual opposite? Because the qualities necessary for, and engendered by one, are the polar opposite of what composes the other.

Temple service is just that, service and that service is a selfless and vital act of love, for people that for the most part, we will never even meet in this life. It releases them from a spiritual bondage. It strengthens us against the World and our own carnal natures. The entire focus of the temple is Eternity. It brings us a greater measure of the Spirit of God and brings us closer to God than we could otherwise be.

While on the other hand, immorality in its myriad forms, separates us from God. It focuses inordinately on the moment. We can not have his Spirit while we unrepentantly indulge in this sin. It is among the greatest expressions of worldliness and the most potent re-enforcers of our carnal nature. It is a spiritual bondage. It is the opposite of love and service, as it neither benefits others, nor is done with that in mind.

Further, one is destructive of the foundations of family happiness and futurity and is among the greatest of sins, while the other is the means for its eternal existence and exaltation and is among the greatest forms of service.

Was this celibacy merely neutral? While it is true, that it was intended as a way to become closer to God, it was anything but neutral on the subject of sex or family. Jerome, for instance, counseled married couples to divorce so they could devote themselves to God, even going so far as to say that marriage was an invention of Satan. "How many there are who, by consent between themselves, cancel the debt of their marriage, eunuchs of their own accord through the desire of the kingdom of heaven."

Augustine for his part, was not quite as extreme, but scarcely less obsessed. He considered that any kind of sexual feeling or action, not matter how natural or innocent, was sin. Married couples could have sex, but only if it was for children. He even considered an erect penis to be a symbol of the inner man's rebellion against God.

Origen felt so strongly about it, he castrated himself. St. Ambrose wrote, “The ministerial office must be kept pure and unspotted and must not be defiled by coitus (sex)." (St. Ambrose, "Duties of Clergy" 1, 258). Iranaeus (d. 202) taught that sexual copulating was the reason Adam and Eve were banished from Eden, and that it was by never having sex, that Jesus redeemed the world. (St. Iranaeus, "Against Heresies" 5, 19, 1)

These were not minor figures or people on the fringe or rare opinions. They were the leading men and popular opinion-makers of their day. But in all of this, the family (and often by extension, women) were denigrated as a sinful result of the Fall, and something to be avoided. The ultimate goal was a life of uninterrupted and exclusive philosophical contemplation of God. Family was considered an evil to be avoided because it drew one's attention away from God. Origen considered the distractions of domestic and economic life to be an unmixed evil. (Origen, Contra Celsum I, 9-10, in PG 11:672-75.) They sought a quiet unattached life free of all financial and social obligations.

Considering that men like these wrote voluminous books on this, we could spend a very long time discussing this, but this is enough for us to ask, Is there a relationship between celibacy and these very unhealthy opinions about sex and family? And was any of this virtuous? Can this be considered to be what the Bible taught?
Although this did have its origins in some misinterpreted verses in the New Testament, some by Paul for instance, it is certainly not scriptural. It is plainly taught that children are an heritage of the Lord and blessed is the man that has his quiver full of them.

But when the Early Church Fathers (as they are called) preferred the unattached life of a philosopher over the hassles of marriage and family, they made a significant error. The stated goal was to spend all of one's time drawing near to God, to more completely worship Him. But can we worship God without trying to be like Him? Do we not all strive to be more Christ-like and Godly people? How can we best do that?

Above all things, God is the Father. He is our original parent. If we wish to become more Godly and like Him, we must learn the life lessons that spring from the kind of life He leads. The kind of life lessons that are learned from being without responsibility, without necessary concerns for others, without personal inconvenience, and above all, without sacrifice, teach us the wrong lessons to learn. But no amount of church service in addition to such a life, can teach us, or help transform us, to become a mother or father.

And the longer it is put off, the longer it will be before we can be taught by service in this very essential way. Not that all of us, of course, have all of the opportunities for dating and marriage that we would like. I would scarcely condemn those without opportunity. What I refer to by way of condemnation, are those who prefer the single life, and who do not actively seek to change their single status. Not all of us may even have an opportunity in this life, but all of us should have honestly sought it with all our heart.

Thus, virtue has everything to do with the doctrine of the family, which, by extension means the sealing power of the priesthood is its ideal.

Virtue is what benefits and perpetuates the family, it is the proper relationship between men and women – hence those who avoid marriage, (even single mothers and fathers, who are too busy with their children to date are included here) may be not disobeying the law of chastity in so many ways, but until a couple is eternally sealed, the law has not been fulfilled completely and the blessing is unreceived.

The rest of the chapter coming later!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some essays worth reading

While you wait, here are some of the things I have been reading lately - the first two are particularly good.

Bearing Our Crosses Gracefully: Sex and the Single Mormon (scroll down the sidebar until you see it - this one is worth it)

BYU Magazine Protecting Purity (likewise excellent)

When Virgins Collide

The Dedication of a Lifetime - Elder Oaks - CES fireside

Dating vs. Hanging Out - Elder Oaks

Why it is not good for Man to be alone - Larry Barkdull - mentioned if only because he is recent. He is not so wrong in fact, as he is dreadfully wrong in perspective. Some points that are true, but applied sloppily where he does not comprehend the struggles of an LDS single adult.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chapter 4: Worldliness and the Sacred Body ~ The third characteristic of Virtue is receiving the Holy Ghost, leave worldliness, and becoming holy

Chapter 4: Part A

In order to be virtuous, we must have the Spirit of God with us as a constant companion and if we do not have the Spirit with us, we are not fully virtuous. In order to do this, we must forsake the things of this World, and treat our bodies as truly sacred.

In order to be virtuous we must not have the Spirit only occasionally or often, but continually. A temple is a holy place where God will not only visit, but where both He and his Holy Spirit will permanently stay. We were meant to be temples. And like as defiled temples were destroyed anciently, we must be virtuous or we will be destroyed, most likely by ourselves.

In other words, the crux of virtue is the Spirit of God and we are truly virtuous (as opposed to merely not being unvirtuous) in proportion to the amount we have that Spirit. Once we tie as significant a quality as the Spirit of God to virtue, the quality of virtue has suddenly become much larger subject and suddenly encompasses far more than it seemed to before.

We have long been taught that we cannot serve two masters and that like as Zion is a type and pattern of Heaven that we must exemplify, Babylon is likewise one we must purge ourselves of.

What do we mean when we say 'Babylon' or 'Zion'? The scriptures ….... {{I will expand upon this more properly later, in order to explain the great distinction between Babylon and Zion – the interested reader could look at the first chapter of (or indeed the entire book of) Hugh Nibley's Approaching Zion in the meantime}}

Babylon is both a culture and a worldview that does not willingly co-exist with Zion – the Heavenly Order that God desires of us, nor does God look kindly upon the ways of Babylon.

Of the world, the scriptures say, “I give not unto you that ye shall live after the manner of the world” D&C 95:13

And also of Zion, we read, “Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” D&C 105:5

Time and again in the Holy Writ, what trounces an established Zion, is embracing the World or compromising with it, most often by attempting to synthesize it with the Gospel.

The essence of it, is putting things we should not, before God, hence the great command, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Ex. 20

Likewise, we are told that the reason that “Many are called, but few are chosen” is “Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson - That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.”
D&C 121:34-36

In a word, when we speak of the World, of Babylon, or of the Great and Spacious Building, we speak of idolatry and a worldview for whom the things of the Gospel are pure foolishness. It is putting other things before God. Is this too much to say and terms too strong to condemn with?

Speaking of the unrepentant, in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord says,
For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
D&C 1:15-16

Of particular interest to us, is what Abraham writes of three royal virgins who “were offered up because of their virtue”, because he explains, “they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone”. Abr. 1:11

Virtue, in a word, was in rejecting the things of the world, and putting God first.

The things of this world are naturally in opposition to what God demands of us, much as the Great and Spacious Building in Lehi's dream was in opposition to the Tree of Life and the Iron Rod and those fashionable people

In order to have the the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we must forsake the World and become holy ourselves.

Once we take this into consideration, Ezekiel 16:49-50 makes far more sense. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were memorable for their unbridled sexuality and legally attempted gang-rape in Gen. 19. Yet, in a chapter devoted to adultery, what the Prophet condemned them primarily for was Worldliness.

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
Ezekiel 16:49-50

We can not cling to the things of this world and simultaneously embrace the Spirit of God any more than we can stand near the great and spacious building in Lehi's Dream, and still hold to the iron rod – they are at odds with each other. The things God asks of us are deliberately meant to bring us our of our mortal obsession with the very temporary world we inhabit.

After the tremendous outpouring of the Spirit and numerous spiritual manifestations after the dedication of the Kirtland temple, there came a time of temptation where many apostasized. Eliza R. Snow wrote,
“Many who had been humble and faithful to the performance of every duty—ready to go and come at every call of the Priesthood—were getting haughty in their spirits, and lifted up in the pride of their hearts. As the Saints drank in the love and spirit of the world, the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from their hearts.”

Prosperity often knits a man or women closer to the world. Just when he thinks he is really beginning to find his place in the world, it is the World finding a place in him. Why is it that prosperity tends to go hand-in-hand with immorality? This is pattern is shown again and again in the Book of Mormon, and unless we make a very conscious effort to focus on Christ above the day to day concerns of the World, we will make the same unconscious errors the Nephites made over and over until they were destroyed.

Very often we spend a lot of time talking about delaying sexual gratification, but how much time do we spend on delaying immediate gratification of other things in this world? Considering that up to 90% of divorces stem from finances, and not literal infidelity, this is no minor worry.

There is much in the spirit of immorality that is strives to coexist with Worldliness, in a kind of symbiotic relation. By 'Worldliness', I mean an inordinate focus on the present, and on self. And not merely a focus on self, but on self-will – what we call pride, is an underlying cause. What parades itself so loudly as love, is in reality stems from enmity towards God and not God only , but man also. It is evident in those who insist that a certain sexual choices must be legitimized and accepted, by both society and the church. It is evident in those who continue their actions regardless of the teaching of modern prophets.

We must not therefore, be surprised when the same society that winks at immorality, becomes more callous and less caring, more focused on the mortal body and less on the soul, more on the spirit of the times, than the Spirit of God.

A righteous society may become wicked by sexual obsession and rampant immorality, but how does such a sex-obsessed society become more wicked? More obsession and more sex? Perhaps sometimes, and perhaps even often, but more often, it just becomes increasingly self-centered. There is less sex, not because it is more moral, but because people are busy with careers and money, and the things of this world. There comes a prudishness, not born of restraint or desire to keep the commandments, but of pride, of enmity to those who are deemed less and/or simply less worthy of interest than work matters. Notice well, how many measures of immorality, such as the divorce rate, are improving, but largely because people are not marrying. Our world is more wicked than the the 1960's when the Sexual Revolution happened – yet sexual activity rates are lower now.

We live in a culture, not of pre-marital sex, but one that does not correlate sex and marriage at all. 
I would not call it pre-marital, because “pre-” implies something that happens before marriage. In much of society, marriage is never even considered.

Now, you may say, I would never do all that. But important thing to realize is that the same spirit that drives an over concern with the world, drives them all. Lucifer is not interested remotely in our happiness or freedom, except only when it helps to promises future disappointment and trouble.

We can not fulfill the purposes and blessing God has in store for us, while carrying the cultural baggage and attitudes of Babylon

Continuing the quotation of Elder Maxwell in Ch. 2,
”A sex-saturated society cannot really feel the needs of its suffering members because, instead of developing the love that looks outward, it turns men selfishly inward. Imperviousness to the promptings of the still small voice of God will also mean that we have ears but cannot hear not only the promptings of God, but also the pleas of men. .... preoccupation with sensual things can cause us to lose our capacity to notice. Sensuality reminds us of our own needs so much of the time that we pass others by and "notice them not." The selfishness of sensuality is at least as intense as the selfishness of riches. When we listen only to the loudest things and act only in response to rage, we will lose our capacity to hear that still small voice.”

Rejecting worldliness is a good first step, but we need more than that if we are to cultivate actual virtue. We need to have the Holy Spirit as our constant companion. In a word, we each need to be a temple. We know a bit of what we should not be – but what is it that we should be? We know the world, because we live in it. But what is it we should strive after instead?

Holy temples
Our bodies have been called temples, but if that concept seems awkward, let me put it a different way. We are children of God. And so there is a bit of that divinity in us. Out of all God's creations, we have that particular honor. And not only we ourselves, but those around us, have to potential to be like our Father and Mother in Heaven. CS Lewis reminds us, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship”.

Elsewhere he said:
He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly . . . His own boundless power and delight and goodness.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. <>

This is what we are suppose to be – that is our true natural spiritual state.

Now with all of this in mind, how do we treat what is holy? This human body that was created in the image of God – we should not take that lightly. The Jews, according to the Law of Moses, even held the body of criminals sufficiently holy that they would not allow dead bodies to remain hanging over night, either from a noose, or on a cross. Deut. 21:22-23; John 19:31

Hence, our most common ordinance, is the sacrament of the last supper, where weekly we remember the body and blood of Christ. Further, that is why we have the Word of Wisdom, as well as commandments about gluttony, sleep and health. Above and beyond that, that is why the Resurrection central to and the final glorious culminating act of the Atonement. We are not some kind of neoplatonists that regard the body as evil or indifferently at best. True enough, in its present form, it is subject to sin, but is still a mark of our royal birthright. Remember the devils that Christ cast out into a herd of swine – those disembodied spirits vastly preferred even a pig's body, to having none at all.

The Sacred Body
if we do not regard our bodies as sacred, then we can not regard truly regard ourselves as children of God, for they are one and the same. Further, the way we see others, is a reflection of the way we think of ourselves, at the deepest level. Personally, I never fully trust someone who despises his fellowman.

And yet, with all this divinity, how do we treat those around us? We are in a society of potential God and Goddesses. Do we see ourselves as holy or as children of Deity? Do we treat others that way? If we do not treat either ourselves or others as holy, is that not a desecration? Can we desecrate others without desecrating ourselves?

But just to be clear, how would we desecrate ourselves or another? Anytime we treat the body as less than sacred – anytime we treat ours, or others bodies casually or flippantly, we are treating people the same way. Thus, sexual union, without the serious binding marital union, is a mockery. It promises everything, but discards the other person, if not the next day, then eventually. Its hallmark is impermanence and avoiding commitment. Stereotypes aside, this is hardly just a male issue.

BYU Prof. Van C Gessel explained, “How to make mortals regard the human body as less than holy? Very simply, just strip its sacredness of all its modest coverings and parade it to public view; batter it and explode it and riddle it with bullets; and display it nakedly engaged in its most intimate activities to make sure the viewer or listener comes to consider public performances of sexual activity as commonplace. What our Father in Heaven regards as the Holy of Holies Satan treats as an open-set film studio. You can almost hear the fiendish laughs of the demons over every depiction of the physical bodies they so desperately envy being exposed to public view and treated like so much meat in a butcher’s shop.”

Is it any wonder then, that the prophets have even spoken on such mundane topics as tattoos or excessive piercings? It is less the fact that one set of earrings on woman are ok, than it is that the body is to be held as sacred – not something to be casually marked or pierced according to the whims of the world. Nor is it something to be sexually exploited one moment (either in person, or by inappropriate viewing), and discarded the next. Or to be exploited before we are serious enough to properly eternally sealed. If we do not love the other person enough to see to it that there is no spiritual harm, them we are putting our own needs and desires ahead of their good, and is exploitation. 'Consenting adults' merely means mutually agreed upon exploitation. Whose good is each party looking out for?

Exploited is a harsh word to use, but in the final analysis, isn't that what it is? Is it possible even to exploit these bodies we have been given? Yes, actually it is.

We have grown so used to this in our own culture (and most of us read too little of other times and cultures) that we are used to this, and think of it as normal. But it is not.

Much of the Gospel centers around the sanctity and importance of the body.

Next week: Part B
Sanctity of Sex
How Sex is spoken of
To be virtuous is to have the Spirit of God