“To Whom It May Concern”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that I find it odd that Official Declaration 1, Official Declaration 2, and the Articles of Faith are all crammed into one week while The Family: A Proclamation to the World gets its own week.  I mean, the Articles of Faith alone has two major classic Latter-day Saint books that focus on discussing and extrapolating from the document in great detail, each of which could function as a manual for Sunday School for a year on their own.  Official Declarations 1 and 2 both deal with major topics in Church history.  Official Declaration 2, for example, provides a great opportunity to discuss racism and address the issue.  It’s a lot to merely gloss over in one week, particularly in a year where there really isn’t an overabundance of material to read through.

In any case, I’m working on some more substantive posts to cover this week’s topics, but for now, here are some of my major posts relating to the topics of each of the sections we’re discussing in “Come, Follow Me”


17 comments for ““To Whom It May Concern”

  1. All of those topics are important. But it could be that at this particular time in our history there is actually less confusion–in terms of morality–on the subjects of polygamy and racism then there is on the church’s teachings about marriage and family.

  2. Jack is that the teaching that you vote to get the government to only allow families you approve of, even though you also want to deny them the resources to get there?

  3. Geoff, I think the first order of business is to help the saints build stable and happy homes in zion–and then to influence and help the larger community to do the same.

  4. My experience is that Church members I’ve met usually have a pretty good feel about the Church’s teachings about family, but racism is an area a lot of us are still just starting to understand

  5. Chad, I have to say that I’ve noticed many of the more controversial sections of the Come Follow Me manual for the Doctrine & Covenants fall on even weeks when we are not in Sunday School and thus not focusing on the assigned Come Follow Me reading. The biggest example of this is D&C 132 with OD1 and OD2 right behind it. I can’t help feel but that that is very intentional. I would also have appreciates if the coming lesson on the The Family would have included some references to the Hawaii Supreme Court case on same sex marriage which was a significant reason (though not the only reason) for the issuance of the doctrinal proclamation. The proclamation is an increasingly touchy subject for many current members which is striking as I found it to be very pedestrian when it was issued. How times do change.

  6. So we should discuss some touchy subjects more, but another touchy subject less? The Family Proclamation includes the language “all human beings male and female are created in the image of God.” And “marriage between man and woman is ordained of God.” Plenty of room for discussion of racism, polygamy, homosexuality, gender, etc. I saw and heard nothing directing us to avoid these topics. Not many who are abandoning the prophet of God saying they want to be racist or polygamist but there are many having great difficulty staying or leaving because they are gay or unsure of their gender. Maybe they are purposefully glossing over these topics. Perhaps the brethren know something we don’t and they prioritized it exactly as the Lord intended. Perhaps the scheduling was decided by others and there is no plot against our discussion of controversial topics. I tend to assume the best about most people including the prophets.

  7. “My experience is that Church members I’ve met usually have a pretty good feel about the Church’s teachings about family, but racism is an area a lot of us are still just starting to understand.”

    You could be right, Chad. Even so, it seems to me that as the church strives to be more inclusive there is less moral confusion among the saints (nowadays) about race than there is about marriage and family.

  8. To be clear, I don’t necessarily feel like we need to talk less about the Family: A Proclamation to the World (at least that’s my feeling right now). It’s not a problem for it to have a week to itself, per se. But the Doctrine and Covenants isn’t all that big, so lessons could have been arranged to give more time to discuss and study the three documents on the docket for this week individually.

  9. I certainly agree that they’re all important subjects. And I’d like to think that there’d be adaptation at the local level to meet the specific needs of the saints in every culture and clime.

  10. How many lessons have there been on the Proclamation? More than I care to remember. I have NEVER heard a lesson on racism in a Ward setting. Not even one regarding race and the priesthood. Never.

  11. Thanks so much Chad for all your posts this year regarding the Doctrine and Covenants. I have found them very insightful and definitely a motivation for deeper conversations with my wife in our attempt to study lessons out of Come Follow Me.

    I took time to go through your “Embracing Jacob’s Sermon” post from March 17th in 2020 in your list. I thought it might be useful to mention that the introductory paragraph to Official Declaration is new as of the 2013 edition of our scriptures. In light of the post-manifesto marriages that took place between 1890 and 1904, I have come to appreciate the last sentence in the new intro referring to the manifesto: “This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.” That “led to the end” phrase seems to be a partial admission that it took about 14 years for us to finally take the manifesto seriously and follow the new norm. Following the prophet turned out to be a more difficult task than maybe some were prepared for.

    But going through the “Embracing Jacob’s Sermon” post along with the 25 comments that followed, I noticed there is no “outside the box” discussion regarding whether Jacob 2:30 maybe isn’t an exception for the general policy of monogamy after all. When I read Jacob 2 in its entirety and keep the overall context in mind, I don’t see the justification that everyone else seems to see. I realize that it may be proof texting on the one hand, but it couldn’t it be proof texting in the other direction as well?

    That is, when a person reads the preceding verses in which Jacob is clearly denouncing the whoredoms concerning the “many wives and concubines” of David and Solomon, verse 30 doesn’t seem to necessarily stand out as granting the Lord’s one-time exception. Here’s the reason for me: I consider the word “things” as incredibly important in Jacob’s statement “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people, otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”

    When you go back to verses 23 and 24, catch the phrases “they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David and Solomon his on. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” Is it possible this could be what “things” is referring to in verse 30?

    Finally, considering the comment in verse 25 where Jacob stresses “that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch …” you get the feeling that raising up seed or a righteous branch is going to be much more likely when the Lord says “I will command my people” as in one wife for one husband. Then he finishes with a caution by saying “otherwise they shall hearken unto these things” and that could potentially refer back again to the whoredoms of multiple wives and concubines.

    In other words, if we don’t keep the commandments as a people, how can we raise up a “righteous seed” or a “righteous branch” if we end up getting pulled into the worldly temptations that take us outside the monogamy standard. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of monogamy. It has worked well for my wife and me and we highly endorse it.

    Just thought I’d attempt to get your take on this and anyone else’s out there. By the way, in the 2013 intro paragraph of Official Declaration 1 there is also one more scriptural reference for a support to the justification theory. It’s 2 Samuel 12:7-8 and I’m no Old Testament expert in the least, but it sure seems like an even weaker supporting verse than Jacob 2:30.

    Thanks again for all you do to put out high quality posts each week. I appreciate your footnotes and attention to detail.

  12. “I tend to assume the best about most people including the prophets.” James, I don’t have to assume the worst about the Church leadership to acknowledge that the Church’s ongoing wrestling with our collective past has resulted in a lot of heartache and disaffection from many of the Saints. You can find several statements from Church leaders about being more transparent but doing it in a manner that doesn’t shove it in the faces of people who weren’t already concerned about our history, and inadvertently causing a crisis of faith where it wouldn’t have otherwise happened. Plural marriage and race and the priesthood have been especially difficult topics to address exactly because there is so much about them that, while true, is not very useful to paraphrase President Packer. I don’t blame them for not wanting to tee up Sunday School discussions among the Saints given that our familiarity with the details of such topics will vary widely as will our individual testimonial resilience (I just made that term up but it feels right) to the introduction of difficult historical material.

  13. Richard, I’m glad to hear that the posts have been appreciated. As far as Jacob’s sermon, it’s possible that you are on the right track. What you suggest seems more in line with what Jacob is saying throughout. The “otherwise” part of the statement is the main thing I’m having trouble fitting into that view, though. It does seem to be making some kind of exception there. Also, as a side note, since I wrote that post, I did find an example of Orson Pratt using that as an escape clause in the Seer in the 1850s, so using it that way has apparently been part of the Church’s public discussion of plural marriage from early on.

    Not a Cougar, that’s fair. I suppose I’ve been so immersed in Church history for so long that I sometimes forget what it is like to step into the thornier issues for the first time.

    Dennis, thanks for sharing your views. I still disagree that it was implemented by revelation and that racism had nothing to do with it, though.

  14. I think teachers often try to touch on material from both weeks in Sunday School, or at least I have generally been doing so when teaching (I teach 14-15 year olds in my ward) and when it is possible to do so without getting too bogged down.

    I think that the Family Proclamation is absolutely an important topic that merits a full lesson and class time to discuss. There have been so so many sermons based on the Family Proclamation from the Apostles since it was published. I agree that having more time on OD 1 and OD 2 would be good.

    We have a special stake conference this week so my ward decided that next week would be Priesthood and Relief Society instead of Sunday School so I am a bit disappointed to not get to teach a lesson about any of these important topics

  15. @Dennis, how do you know what the Church will or will not do? Do you speak for the Church? Can you tell us what General Conference you were sustained in, thank you!

  16. Total thread-jack here: I hate hate hate this idea that a woman’s value is reduced if she’s ever had sex. The ten virgins, the whole Mary was a virgin, and of course D/C 132 which constantly refers to women as virgins: I hate them all. Do we value the Virgin Mary story because we are pleased to understand that Mary was not defiled by ever having sex, or because we believe that Jesus of Nazareth’s father was God? Isn’t it long past due to stop valuing a woman less if she’s ever had sex?

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