#exclusionpolicy

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice [whispering “I love you. I love you. I love you. You belong with me”].

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An Ancient, Wondrous Story

to Lydia and Eleanor, my forever daughters

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I want to tell you a story. An ancient story.

Long ago, before you ever came to this earth, you existed as a bunch of little wild and bright intelligences. I imagine you in rainbow sparks amidst darkness. There’s an idea: you have always been and you will always be.

Our Father and Mother in heaven helped shape you from the wild, jumping intelligences that you were into a bouncing spirit body. We don’t really know how–everyone speculates–but you were formed into a gorgeous big spirit body that may look a lot like your glorious body now. Your bones and skin are young, but your spirit is ancient.

You lived with our Father and Mother in a big spirit world with a big spirit family full of all kinds of brothers and sisters. Jesus was our oldest brother and oh, how he loved you. And still does. And oh, how Father and Mother loved you. And still do. I was there with you, too. And Daddy. And oh, how we have always loved you and oh, how we always will.

You lived and explored in this heavenly place. Think of the most beautifulest place you can think of. I imagine all the greens. And all the blues. And all the rich browns and fuchsias and ruby purples. And gold, not like jewelry, but like wheat in the sun. 

In our heavenly home, Father and Mother hosted grand parties and we can only speculate about the types of hors d’oeuvres and breads and cheeses and fruits and juices (let’s be honest, probably wines) and pickles for Eleanor and desserts–probably lemon cheesecake for Lydia and butterscotch pudding with cream and caramel and chocolate crumbles for me, and of course, cherry cake for all of us–that were created for these grand celebrations. And the music! Oh how we danced! You think you love music now? Oh, the music of our heavenly home! You better believe we danced then like we dance now to rock ‘n roll. Even our dancing and twirling and rhythm is ancient.

Sometimes Mother and Father called us in for some good ole family council. You were part of these exciting councils and debates to imagine and collaborate in the creation of an earth. That’s another idea: You have been creating for a long, long time. 

Some of our brothers and sisters fought with each other at these councils. Kind of like how you two fight with each other. One of our brothers got really mad and angry and hateful. He wanted to make us all do things his way and only his way or else he threatened to leave. Father and especially Mother wouldn’t have that. So he left. I’m not sure what happened to him after that, to be honest. Some say a whole bunch of our brothers and sisters left with him. We were really sad and a little traumatized by the whole ordeal. Mother and Father too. The tragedy and glory of agency has always existed. It is a precious gift preserved throughout the eons. It is a gift you have even now, though at times you may forget.

Jesus with the help of our brothers and sisters, probably all of us, formed the world and from afar, it looked as lovely as a tulip. Together we rejoiced and called it good. Beautiful and glorious and wondrous and good! I sometimes wonder about the peony. If it was created just for me–it moves me like that. What was created for you? A white dandelion ready to blow? An acorn that fits just perfectly between your thumb and index finger? Or a maple seed shaped like your dancing elbow?

We created great big dinosaurs and whales and birds and even bugs–that was probably your idea, Eleanor–to roam the earth. And we watched them like we watch movies now: transfixed. Giraffes and buffalos and fish and snakes and wolves and apes evolved, and still we watched until: “Oh this is the best part!”

It was then that our parents chose brother Adam and sister Eve, like all of us, to come to this earth we had helped create, away from our heavenly home, to become more like Mother and Father. After all, that is what Father and Mother wanted for us and taught us to desire: “Go on, beloveds,” they said. “It’s time you go out on your own.” Their bodies and brains and powers were different from ours and the key to getting bodies and brains and powers like theirs was this glorious earth full of wild and lovely and scary creatures. Including trees with fruit.

“If you eat that fruit,” they said, “you can become like us. If you don’t, you can stay as you are. We love you as you are. Just know this: If you eat the fruit, if you choose bodies like ours, it will be really hard and scary, and sometimes very sad. You’ll learn what tears are. What blood is. What sweat and grinding teeth and loneliness and betrayal and disappointment and premenstrual dysphoric disorder are. You’ll learn to live in and tolerate cycles. To live in seasons of growth and change and exuberance and seasons of bitterness and resentment and grief. Through it all, you’ll learn to feel this godly thing called joy. You’ll learn what it’s like to breathe it and shout it and run with it.” The truth is, nothing else in all the universes our heavenly parents have created is like it. In fact, it’s something that can’t be given to you. You have to look for it and find it; reach for it and let it sprout in your fleshy hands.

“If you choose godly work,” they said, “We’ll send your brother Jesus to help you.”

And so, like our sister Eve and brother Adam, when you leapt to this earth, Lydia, and you bloomed in my belly and then into my arms, I cried at the otherworldly and old power of your spirit in such a tiny, tiny seven pound body.  And Eleanor, I still remember sitting and holding you all alone in the hospital room, after Daddy left, after all the grandmas and grandpas left, and it was just me and you, girl. I felt your ancientness too.

You both learned of tears and blood and hunger and loss the minute you were born. So I taught you stories of our brother Jesus and our Father and Mother, old stories written down by our silly, yet diligent older brothers, and remembered and passed down by our silly, yet diligent older sisters. Yes, it was they who wrote down and passed down these stories, sometimes revising it, changing it, all the while trying to preserve this blessed, treasured truth: we are children of Gods with a brother Jesus who came to this earth with us to wipe away our tears and kiss our bloody foreheads and hum in our ears in the dark. To tell us this time here is blessed time. Make the most of it.

You see, we love because we are loved. We wonder and marvel because we were wondrously and marvelously made.  I tell you this story so you too can believe you are forever loved and wondrous and marvelous.

And so we’re all here now trying to do god work. I’m still learning what that is or why it’s so dang hard to figure out and do sometimes. Sometimes I think I know, but then sometimes I don’t. The truth is, I don’t even know if this story is true, but I believe it because it sparks something in me and I keep coming back to it. There’s something true about me and you being divinely created and us being divine creators. I don’t believe that belief is foolish or naive. I think, as Circe says, it’s the relentless divinity making headway. 

Here’s what I think god work is and you tell me what you think about it. I think god work is listening, creating, working, loving, surviving, adoring, passioning, beautifying, tendering, exploring, experimenting, hoping, helping, healing, learning, discovering, apologizing, forgiving, reconciling, wondering, choosing, persevering. I think it means becoming kind, diligent, wise, patient, triumphant all while being in a body that gets sick, tired, loony, droopy, poopy, poisony, angry, prickly, hormoney, and bruisey. Sometimes people will tell you what god work is, but you have to learn what that is for yourself. You see, we all do. We’re all Eves and Adams here. You have to look at the concept of god work like our Mother looks at a fruit seed. What does it produce? Often it takes time to see the fruits. What is good and godlike is sometimes really clear and obvious like the first spring daffodil; but sometimes it’s not. Our heavenly parents knew this. We’re born with a little bit of knowing, but not all. Sometimes discovering what’s godlike is like spotting a blooming crocus in autumn. Wait and watch, little ones, and be delighted by the surprise.

Our brother Joseph Smith helped me write this story. And so did our sister Eliza R. Snow. She was married to Joseph along with 33+ other wives, and I don’t feel like secretly sharing a husband with a lot of other wives is a godlike thing. Hence, the whole discovery of what is godlike can get messy and requires a lot of diligence and sorting. I’m quite tired lately. But god work can be tiring.

You know who else helped me write this story? Our brothers Abraham and Moses. And Mary I and II, and James, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, that unnamed woman at the well, the others on the road, the ones always spotted at Jesus’ side. Our brothers Nephi and Jacob, Charles Darwin and John Milton and Dostoevsky and Brian Doyle and Steven Peck and Daniel Kahneman and Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Chaim Potok and Terryl Givens, and our sisters Rosalind Franklin and Marilynne Robinson and Maya Angelou and Christina Pinkola Estes and Rachel Hunt Steenblik and Elaine Pagels and Brene Brown and Beverly Campbell and Maxine Hanks and Joanna Brooks and Gina Colvin and all the poets have added bits and pieces to this story I am telling you. And there are many more storytellers, including your grandmas and grandpas and your aunties and uncles, and your momma’s favorite friends and mentors that have helped me write this story by the lives they have lived and the stories they have told. I’ve only heard and read some stories, but I still have space for hundreds of books in our bookshelves that I had made simply to store them, ten of which are on my nightstand now. I still have many more brothers and sisters to meet who have yet to tell me their inherited and discovered stories.

I have added to this story too, sometimes editing it or revising it after what is whispered to me when I’m out walking in the mountains, or near a river amidst trees, or in between dreams and memories and prayers and pregnancies, or amidst scrolls in our shared family tree. Sometimes I discover more of this story while watching you, little ones. Suddenly I’ll feel this divine light enter my chest that tells me how I feel about you is how our Mother and Father feel about all of us. Those moments add to this story too.

Much of our life here–the god work of still living and still working and still grieving and still rejoicing–involves discovering your story. A lot of your time here will be discovering where you come from, who you are, and whose you are. This discovery will come from your adventures, your scrapes and your screams; from exploring books and dreams and cities and mountains; from reading histories and listening to stories; private and community prayers and songs; conversations in person or online with those both kind and cruel to you. Sometimes the discovery will take you off guard. Like a thought in the kitchen, or on your way to take out the trash. Other times it will come more forcefully, expectedly, like while you’re holding the hand of a dying neighbor. Remember our sweet Jill? Sometimes I still feel her like I sometimes feel your great-great grandma Mummi or your great grandpas Steve and Dale, even though they’re all gone from this earth.

I am still searching, but I am giving you a draft. It’s a different draft than the one I wrote at four or five years old, your ages now, or the one I wrote at twelve, or just last year. Go ahead, take it and add to it or revise it until it sparks with truth and burns in your bellies. You are and always have been a part of this story; you help create it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Can We?

The following is a gorgeous excerpt from Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler. I am adding this book to my list of recommended readings because I find it incredibly thought provoking and honest and powerful. You can read my review here.

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Two brothers live on either side of a hill. One is wealthy but has no family; the other has a large family but limited wealth. The rich brother decides one night that he is blessed with goods and, taking a sack of grain from his silo, carries it to the silo of his brother. The other brother decides that he is blessed with many children, and since his brother should at least have wealth, he takes a sack of grain from his silo and carries it to that of his brother. Each night they go through this process, and every morning each brother is astounded that he has the same amount of grain as the day before. Finally one night they meet at the top of the hill and realize what’s been happening. They embrace and kiss each other.

And at that moment a heavenly voice declares, “This is the place where I can build my house on earth.”

. . . . “The point of the story is that this degree of brotherly love is necessary before God can be manifest in the world. . . . The relationship between a person and another human being is what creates and allows for a relationship with God. If you’re not capable of living with each other and getting along with each other, then you’re not capable of having a relationship with God.” He gestured up at the Wall, the Dome, the churches. They were illuminated in man-made light now, their brilliance a little too sharp.

Then he turned back to me, “So the question is not whether God can bring peace into the world. The question is: Can we?”

Wilderness Love

for Ryan

The other day I drove out to Spanish Fork with our four-year-old, Eleanor, our youngest, our most exhaustingest, to visit some kitties and puppies in an animal shelter that turned out to be the worst smelling area this side of the planet. She insisted, while we drove, that I play Imagine Dragons because to her, Imagine Dragons is “totally the best.”* I know. What’s she going to be like when she’s a teenager? And while I listened to Eleanor’s voice, noticing her remarkable capacity for remembering lyrics and singing in tune (unlike you, more like me), I drove past dead land and naked trees and black mountains with brilliant snow. And in the outskirted roads, amidst ugly warehouses drizzled in rain and mist, I thought of you and I thought of me and the thought of us was a surprise. I’m not always surprised by you these days and we both know you can’t even keep a surprise from me even though we’ve literally argued about you maybe–just maybe–trying a little harder not to tell me what you get me. But the surprise was this:

You love me. 

 

(I already know I love you.) But you love me.

I’m reminded of the white rapids river that love is, how it shoves and widens, chisels, and breaks, crushes and flushes out; oh how it eats and eats at the earth, at times drowning it, at times trickling slowly, its last drops feeding a trembling aspen grove or one tiny little wild daisy. Have you ever seen a wild daisy?

All these years I’ve been trying to figure love out, to comprehend it and prove it with reasons, like an enthymeme. And yet: what of this love that we’ve stumbled upon that is both earned and not earned; worked for and not worked for? Yes, we’ve been deliberate, at times particularly careful, gentle, reading the books. God knew all I wanted was to love right and be loved right. But we’ve also just kinda been, at times existing next to each other, sometimes ignoring each other, consumed by other appropriate interests, bumbling on our own in both pleasant and dreadful ways. Of course there are the many times, especially lately, that we’ve yelled at each other about how damningly different we are and oh! The intolerance! I’ve often wondered about how to sort this big mess that is us. We say sorry, even though maybe it’ll happen again out of habit or hormones or lack of sleep, even though you tell our girls, “Do you know what sorry means?” You forgive, and of course I forgive, thank God for forgiveness, but my goodness, what do we deserve of this thing called love? I mean. I know I’m not undeserving–I remind you of that ;) But how particular and difficult I must be. (Even at the animal shelter, I was thinking: that cat’s too stringy, too dark, too scowly. And that dog’s too bony, too loud, OMG that voice–gross!) So to what do I owe this surprise? You love me.

Do you know what it is to be loved? I do. I feel it in the wilderness of my abdomen, amidst my intestines and spleen, my liver and pancreas. I breathe it into my lungs.

All this time I’ve been asking you why, but now I know. What is this love that has no reasons?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*”Next to Me” by Imagine Dragons (on behalf of Eleanor)

 

 

Are “Stumbling Blocks from God” a False Doctrine?

Yesterday I listened to Neylan McBaine’s interview with the Salt Lake Tribune about the recent temple changes. I have sincerely appreciated McBaine’s work inside the church to address cultural habits and traditions that hurt women and the church as a whole. She is a trailblazer in many ways as we’ve seen a lot of improvement through her “within-the Church’s comfort zone” approach. (There are many people working to improve the Church’s cultural tendencies. McBaine happens to be a YW President who also has a slightly “radical” book called Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact that got published through Deseret Book publishing. I’ve heard stories of Stake and Ward councils reading and implementing many of her suggested changes. McBaine is also CEO of “Better Days 2020“, which is a non-profit initiative to publicly celebrate Utah women’s past contributions and create a better future by and for women.)

In this interview, however, McBaine brings up the concept of stumbling blocks placed in our paths that confound or confuse or challenge us in our faith journeys. I paused when I heard this because there seemed to be an assumption that these stumbling blocks were intentional, part of God’s plan, or from God.

This concept of stumbling blocks is one I am familiar with as a member of the Church and as a reader of LDS and Christian scripture. McBaine seemed to suggest that stumbling blocks, like the inequality between men and women in the temple, could have been from or allowed by God himself, though she acknowledges that she doesn’t really know and that this is confusing for members before and after the changes, e.g. Did that stumbling block lead those before the changes to more faith or less? Will those who enter after the changes not ever question or wrestle and in ways lose opportunities to draw closer to God? Are we hurt or helped by these stumbling blocks?

This concept of stumbling blocks from God tends to be common, even if not dominant, among many members of the Church–and not just ours. I’ve heard this idea that God gives us pain or confusion referenced in other Christian denominations and even Eastern religions. I think it is a belief in this concept that makes many within our Church feel uncomfortable denouncing past temple practices as sexist or past Priesthood and temple bans as racist because, what if this was an intentional stumbling block to test the faith of us Saints? If we denounce that, aren’t we denouncing God’s intended plan? After all, His ways are not our ways.

In my own struggle with understanding the recent temple changes, I have had a hard time saying confidently, “THIS IS WRONG.” Because questions I feel I have inherited from my culture and upbringing are: What if God wanted to test my faith through this uncomfortable time/practice? Perhaps the changes are a sign of new times: a part of the unfolding, the unveiling, the restoration, new revelation, etc., and there is more to come? This is all just line upon line and each step in the process has been from God! Milk before meat, y’all!

After the recent temple changes, however, I didn’t pray and ask about the changes. I didn’t ask, “What do you want me to learn from this?” I wasn’t ready. Because I didn’t know if the temple as it was was exactly from God–I didn’t feel like it was–but if it was, I was afraid of that utilitarian God that I thought I no longer believed in.

So I didn’t ask about it. I avoided the topic like I avoid touchy topics with my husband until I’m ready to confront them. And I took a break last week and this week because there’s only so much to talk about when underlining your polite, surface talk you feel extreme irritability or rage.

After today’s Relief Society lesson on “Divine Discomfort”, however, I felt ready again, begrudgingly as I’ve been lately, to explore the question of stumbling blocks further. I wanted to start with scripture first because I like to differentiate between culture and theology. I don’t even bother with General Conferences or magazines here, but invite anyone to explore there. I’m a believer that Mormon theology and doctrine is much more progressive than our culture (which is a reason why I stay) and so I will still look to scripture and LDS resources for insight, even if they don’t provide all the answers.

I looked up the term in our scriptural canon “Stumble”, “Stumbling block”, and “err” or “error”. I read each reference and the surrounding scriptures for some context. The following are references that shed light on who is responsible for these stumbling blocks–God or otherwise. I’ve listed at the end of my post relevant scriptures if you want to take a look, but for those of you less interested this is my summary:

According to our scriptural cannon, stumbling blocks overwhelmingly refer to the errors, unrighteousness, or wickedness of men. The only three scriptures that seemed to suggest stumbling blocks are directly from God are few, and I feel like I can explain them away:

STUMBLING BLOCKS FROM GOD

  • 2 Nephi 4:33 . . . Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
  • Isaiah 63:17 Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.

What’s interesting about these first two references is that they are questions by men–Nephi and Isaiah–rather than declarations or prophesies. “Please don’t give me these stumbling blocks,” they say because they believe 1) God is responsible for giving them in the first place, and 2) this stumbling block is prohibiting them from obtaining something better God would want for them (peace or inheritance, e.g.). If only God would remove these, then these men could grow closer to God or to what’s good. They believe God is placing these in the way, but that doesn’t mean God actually is.

The third reference is trickier. This scripture suggests God deliberately provided confusion in response to a request for it:

  • Jacob 4:14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

It seems that in this particular case, God gave stumbling blocks because “the Jews” deliberately asked for them (and hopefully this just isn’t an anti-semitic text ;). But it is clear even here that God does not want stumbling blocks for them. It seems to be more of a consequence for a refusal to want plain truth. God gave them what they wanted, rather than what He wanted.

In addition to being able to explain away the references in our scripture to God placing stumbling blocks, there are far more scriptures deliberately stating stumbling blocks are from men, usually from pride, wickedness, ignorance, or unrighteousness. For example, in Alma 4:10 it reads: “. . .the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.” And in 2 Nephi 28:12 it reads, “Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted . . . they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (See below for a full list of stumbling block/err references). In other scriptures, not only are the stumbling blocks created by men, but the desired end goal, for God, is to have those stumbling blocks removed.

This is big and important and here’s why. To attribute to God the Priesthood and temple ban for black members or the “incorrect” temple ordinance(s) is to reveal a belief in God-sanctioned stumbling blocks. I think I’ve had a confused belief in that before, though I’ve never been able to articulate it until now. I feel now that that belief is wrong because it isn’t supported by scripture and, more importantly, it falsely characterizes God with whom I feel I have a strong, loving, nurturing relationship. And anything that does not reveal God’s true nature will not lead us closer to Him. In fact, to believe God will deliberately confuse you or hurt you or teach you fake, awful things just to test you is to believe in an abusive father. Hurt is different here than challenge. What challenges us in good ways can help us (but I also think nothing evil comes from God because in the New Testament Jesus only heals and provides. But that’s another post.). But hurting us, confusing us, lying to us, making us doubt ourselves or Him are signs of an abusive relationship, not a healthy one. As a mother, I provide consequences and teach my children, but I never lie to them or make them doubt themselves intentionally or doubt me to make them “stronger.” Those who have been in abusive relationships are made to feel weaker, miserable, and less sure of themselves until they learn how to get out of that relationship. The false doctrine of “God’s stumbling blocks” is not supported in scripture, but it also just doesn’t make sense in our personal lives or in our personal experiences with God.

So let’s stop spreading that “false doctrine” if it ever was one. Common answers to the temple changes that reflect a belief that God creates stumbling blocks for us can be like the following:

  • “Perhaps God knew we wouldn’t have been ready for these changes so He needed to work line upon line.” [That first line, the first stumbling block, then, would have needed to be from God. But God doesn’t do that. + Another problem: Who wasn’t ready? The racists? The sexists? Because those being affected by these stumbling blocks were ready.]
  • “This is the higher law.” [The assumption here is that the previous law was a “lesser,” but still “from God” law, like the Law of Moses.]
  • “God’s ways are mysterious.” [This assumes that this is God’s way, and our scriptures teach otherwise.]
  • “God has revealed we no longer need to . . .” [Like with the Priesthood and temple ban for black members, the assumption that God ever wanted these stumbling blocks in the first place is a disgrace to God and His character.]

Those of us hurt by the stumbling blocks felt and feel relieved when stumbling blocks are removed. Many have always understood stumbling blocks to be from men. For example, I remember hearing one black member’s conversion story on a podcast and she exclaimed something to the effect of, “Racism is everywhere. Of course it’s here too.”

But others ignorant of or distant enough from that suffering and hopeful that everything may indeed be part of God’s plan need to come to grips with the fact that our own scripture suggests God doesn’t actually work in this way. To suggest otherwise, I think, is to twist His character even if that’s not their intention. I find it easier to appreciate current leaders who help correct false traditions (centuries old even) and move on when I understand with confidence that “God didn’t want this.” I also feel obligated to comfort those hurt by these false traditions when I understand that these traditions were wrong. I also feel responsible for and empowered to discern for myself what is taught or practiced at church with a correct understanding of God and His nature. Those are good things for me to understand, not bad. This understanding should be encouraged, not ignored. Feel free to share other excerpts from scripture or otherwise that have contributed to your own understanding of stumbling blocks/your relationship with God.

The following excerpts suggest stumbling blocks are not from God. I’ve cut down a lot of the references for the sake of length, but you can read each chapter in its entirety because a lot of the context is enlightening. These scriptures also include specific references to the cause (who) and effect of the stumbling blocks. (Some scriptures that reference “err” or “stumble” are used in a different context, so I have left them out of this list.) This is not exhaustive. The concept of stumbling blocks or God deliberately confusing or hurting us (like in the allegory of Job) still exist in our scriptural canon, so feel free to share more of your thoughts on this topic.

STUMBLING BLOCKS ARE NOT FROM GOD

  • Alma 4:10 “. . . the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.”
  • 1 Nephi 13: 29 “…because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.”
  • 2 Nephi 26:20 “And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches. . . 23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.” 24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world  . . . 28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden. . . 33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”
  • Jacob 4:13 …the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls…
  • 2 Nephi 28:12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted . . . they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
  • 2 Nephi 25: 20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err.
  • Moroni 8:And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle. [Moroni explains that the correction of the error of infant baptism was from God.]
  • D&C 1:25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
  • D&C 33:And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; and they err in many instances because of priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds.
  • Romans 9: 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
  • Jeremiah 31: They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
  • Isaiah 63:13 “That led them [children of Israel] through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?

The following references don’t reveal the source of the stumbling block, but God seems to not desire the stumbling blocks. God seems to want to take them away and that to do so would be good for His children:

  • 1 Nephi 15:And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks
  • And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.
  • Mosiah 7:29 For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not [something from God]; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them. [from men]
  • 33 But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage [the desired end goal].

“Truth is no trophy”

“We might know some things. We might even be in possession of some fundamental truths, but truth is no trophy you can hold up. Its value isn’t in possessing it. Its value is the love we muster to build relationships in its pursuit. This is why we need God, each other, even our enemies, to teach us truth. Paul made it clear: you can talk truth all the day long, but if you don’t have charity, you have nothing. There is something truer than truth, and it is love.”

 

from the gorgeous George Handley, “On Criticism, Compassion, and Charity”