Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why Full-time Missionaries Can't Swim

By Lynn Arave

 WHY are full-time missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints NOT allowed to go swimming?

The current (2017) Handbook for missionaries states:

"Never go swimming or take part in water sports." 

  The myth of this taboo is that it is because "Satan has power over the water."
I asked an 18-year-old young man in the church, who was soon leaving on a full-time mission, about the "why" and the Satan reason is what he had been taught.
  Who is teaching young people this incorrect doctrinal reason? Seminary teachers? Sunday School instructors? Both?
While it is true that ALL missionaries cannot go swimming, I have different reasons why and I believe they hold up far better than the Satan reason.
  The Satan reason is based on Doctrine and Covenants section 61, particularly verse 19, where Satan (the Destroyer) is seen in a vision riding with power upon the waters.
(Joseph Smith and 10 Elders of the church were traveling in canoes down the Missouri River when this revelation was received.)
  This D&C section also addresses missionaries for the church, that they are to go two-by-two and prepare for the Second Coming.
  Nowhere does it say that missionaries should not go swimming.
In fact, verse 6 states that "all flesh is in mine hand, and he that is faithful among you shall not perish by the waters."
  If anything, verse 5 states that the Lord has decreed in anger many destructions upon the waters -- especially "these waters"  (the Missouri River).
  Verse 16 is the key verse in Section 61: "And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart."
  That's clearly a prophecy for the future.
--Anyway, I have a copy of the official "Missionary's Hand Book" of the LDS Church from 1946, by President Heber J. Grant.
  On page 27 it states, "Mixed swimming should be avoided."
 That's all it states about swimming. Swimming was allowed by missionaries in 1946, just not with females.
  The prohibition against missionaries and swimming came about later, probably in the late 1950s.
In some missions today, like the Hawaii Mission, mission rules clearly state that the mission's boundaries end where the sand of a beach begins.
However, in other missions, like Oregon, I've met full-time missionaries proselyting at the beach and so all mission rules regarding that must not be the same.
So, it is policy, not doctrine why full-time missionaries are not supposed to go swimming.

-Notwithstanding the 1946 Missionary Handbook also quoted the late President Joseph F. Smith (who died in 1918): "It is not a good thing, neither is it at all wise, for our elders to go out on excursions on dangerous lakes, or streams, or bodies of water, just for fun. They had better stay away. The Lord will protect them in the discharge of their duties."
Thus, missionaries by an early 20th Century admonition, were advised to not run rivers or take any pleasure boating excursions on any "dangerous" bodies of water.

 I believe the true reasons why missionaries can't swim are two-fold:
1. A rise in immodest bathing suits, starting in the 1950s. (So, it may really be about "Satan having power over the swimsuit designers!")
If missionaries can't swim, they generally won't go near the beaches and see the immodest sunbathers.
2. An increase in missionaries drownings -- particularly in foreign lands. Elders preach in far away nations and on time off, may spot a neat little island at the edge of the ocean, and think they should try and swim there.
Not knowing local dangers or currents, a significant number of missionaries have drowned in such situations of ignorance.
 (I've attended several funerals over the years of Elders from Utah who drowned in foreign lands in accidents, caused by ignorance of local water dangers.)
 If Satan truly had all power over water, he could control our bodies (mostly water), or drown a new member during a baptism.
 Now Satan does (or will have in the Last Days) have some special power over rivers and oceans, as D&C 61 states.
  However, swimming pools are safe (though immodest apparel can be there too), but again a blanket rule against ALL swimming was applied some 60 years ago to all missionaries, certainly because of immodest apparel concerns and accident dangers more than anything about Satan's power over water.
 In conclusion: The context of D&C 61 focuses on TRAVEL upon the water, by boat (not swimming). So, until there's a travel advisory for missionaries, or church members, about boat travel, I'm not buying the "Satan has power over the water" myth as to why missionaries can't swim.
Some Church members need to question such prevalent myths, rather than instantly buy into them, or perpetuate them further.
-Pure obedience-wise, ALL full-time missionaries may NOT go swimming because that's been the inspired rule for many decades.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Challenging the unbelief of some church members ....

 IN a recent New York Times article, "Some Mormons search the Web and find doubt," by Laurie Goodstein, published July 20, 2013, a former area authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seriously questions his church beliefs.

  First, I have to say that although the article lists the man as an emeritus "General Authority," I do not agree.
  Area authorities are only a half-step above stake presidents and are below Seventies. Also, since they are NOT listed in the Church Almanac, they are NOT true general authorities.

  The 4 church doctrines the man told the N.Y. Times he questions have been around for decades and pre-date the Internet.
  Also, I find it simply startling that the man didn't find these questions decades ago and he just now tries to come to grips with them then?
Where has he been for decades? 
    He just now comes up with these rather common questions? Curious and curious.
  In my case, I believe the Web has made my testimony stronger, not weaker.
  I offer this blog as some possible answers to the man in question -- and others -- who need their testimony jumpstarted.
  I now examine the 4 church doctrines the man questions in some detail:

1. Why the church portrays Joseph Smith as translating the Book of Mormon from golden plates, when some witnesses say he looked down into a hat at a “peep stone,” rock?

This claim pre-dates my life.
Why does it matter the HOW the Book of Mormon was translated? We have it now and the proof is in the reading of it and the living of its teachings.
Anyone hung up on this claim has a testimony based on facts and history, not on faith and spiritual power.
I still believe the Book of Mormon came from golden plates, but the vehicle Joseph Smith used to translate it is of far lesser importance, though it makes sense he had to use some aid, since he wasn't a scholar.
And, you'd got to judge that question by its context. This question first came back in Joseph Smith's lifetime, when searching for treasure was a fad, and "peep stone" is a term from that era, not from our time. 

2. Why were blacks prohibited from the priesthood from the 1850s, until 1978?

All worthy black men in the church have access to the full priesthood now, so the past is much less a question now.
The Lord doesn't tell us, or even the Prophets everything.
I'm sure the Lord has his reasons for a ban in the priesthood. We will know what it was someday, but it is not a key question worth losing sleep, or your testimony over.
3. Why is the Book of Abraham, in the Standard Works, claimed to be a translation of ancient writings, when Egyptologists now claim the papyrus Joseph Smith used had nothing to do with Abraham?
How many church members today have read All the Book of Abraham?
I bet, not many. (Too many read the Book of Mormon over and over again and that's all.)
You've got gems, like the Theory of Relativity, showing up in the Book of Abraham.
Again, its proof is in its content -- divine content -- not how it came about.
Science is always at odds with the Gospel in some manner and always will be -- in a Telestial World -- where faith is the prime quality needed.
I trust Joseph Smith and that he did translate ancient writings into the Book of Abraham, far more than what any scholar may claim othwerwise.
4. Is it true that Joseph Smith took dozen of women as wives, some very young and some possibly still married to other men?
Again, these sort of claims have been around for more than 1 1/2 centuries.
Godhead, in a true eternal context, means an exalted man has MANY exalted wives in an infinite marriage situation.
Any concerns, or questions about that aspect will disappear in a nanosecond once people regain their full memories of life before birth-- and know (again) that plural marriage is the norm among Gods.
You can't argue against the eternal and we -- those now on earth -- are offspring of that process.
Did Joseph Smith marry young women, or those already married?
Times were different in the 1830s and early 1840s. I'm certain laws and a low marriage age were not as strict, and records weren't as absolute then.
Also, I'm certain some women wanted to be married to the Prophet and may have tried to spread rumors they were secretly married to him.
Also, marriage on Earth and in eternity are two different things. Only God sanctions eternal marriage.
Furthermore, a women could perhaps be married to Joseph Smith for eternity, but not for "time" (on earth).
(I suspect there will a lot of changes in eternal marriage partners during the Millennium.)
Again, I trust Joseph Smith in the matter of marriage and know he did right as best he could. But also, we should not judge others, since we don't know a person's heart or thinking.
God told Joseph Smith that which is wrong under some circumstances, might be right under other circumstances.
So, judge not, lest ye be judged.
Either Joseph Smith was a prophet, or he wasn't. It's a package deal. You can't cherry pick and choose what you will and won't believe.
Yes, his wife Emma had incredible ordeals to go through regarding plural marriage. Almost any woman would have that.
But ancient prophets took wives and concubines in the Old Testament. They key question is if God sanctioned them to do so.
I believe Joseph Smith had God's sanction in ALL his plural marriages. End of the debate.
-If you want to read the New York Times article, go to:


NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don't Look to Science or history to support your Faith ....

ANY members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint who look to man's "science" to support, or foster their faith is looking at the wrong source.
The same goes for history and historical evidence.
The Lord didn't make it easy.
  If man's science, or history, proved every thing, or even most Gospel teachings as correct, where would we be showing our faith? Why, there would be no need for faith at all then.
 Science and faith, as well as history and faith, will always be at odds in a Telestial world. That's how it is. That's how the Lord crafted his mortal testing ground.
You've got to have faith to foster your testimony.
 I say, so what if DNA evidence doesn't support the Lamanites' existence; or if supposedly the Spanish brought horses to the New World, etc., etc.
  Science today is NOT nearly advanced as man in general believes it to be.
  I dare so there are loads of so-called scientific "facts" man has that will go out the window in a nano-second once the Millennium reveals hidden truths.
  Man DOESN'T find out ANYTHING unless God lets him.
  Some of the entire thinking of science is based on incorrect principles -- such as leaving out the existence of God in virtually ever scientific fact.
 Also, the Standard Works teach that the entire Planet Earth is one huge living thing on its own. Know any scientist who will support that Gospel truth?
 Yet, that one universal Gospel truth that the entire planet is one gigantic singular being is enough to shatter the foundations of a multitude of so-called scientific facts man has.
  I dare say man is still in the stone age in science, as far as true science  is concerned ...
 - And, regarding DNA, the Scriptures teach that man's soul is his spirit and body together. Scientists today only understand and see human DNA. What about our spiritual DNA? Science is clueless of that and yet that is 40 percent of our makeup..
There ultimately is no conflict between true science and true religion, but that conflict is essential to the test of a Telestial World.
  Historical conflicts with the church fall into the same category.
  How many wives did Joseph Smith have and why? That's between him and the Lord. If his number of wives and/or the why of it ruins your testimony, then your so-called testimony is based on facts and the world, and not on faith and spiritual power.
  Anyone who goes inactive, or leaves the LDS Church over some seemingly scientific or historical conflict is going to be so embarrassed one day about such silly behavior that they will want to hide under a rock from God -- and will feel like they are in a personal "hell." 
 --Some church members are now and recently leaving the church, or church activity in droves. 
  In part, daily living is too easy and luxurious for most Americans and so they think they can get by without God and Church activity. Hard times are coming ... though.
 If you have no stockpile of personal faith built up, you won't be able to stand in the last days.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Friday, July 5, 2013

One of the first things returned missionaries do is ....

 ONE of the first things a signficant number of returned missionaries (Elders) seem to do is grow some sort of facial hair -- a beard or goatee -- at least in Northern Utah.
They go two years with that on the prohibited list and many seem to have to try it out in the first month of coming home -- for good or bad.
Some stakes still have facial hair on the no-no list for all their stake and ward leaders.