2 Sundays ago was General Conference so there was no church. I decided to go to Catholic Mass with my mom (who is still Catholic). The priest said during his homily that Christians are obligated to vote for pro-life candidates. When deciding who to vote for, he said, we should examine our conscious.
This makes me wonder if it is a sin to vote for Hillary Clinton. I wanted to vote for her but I happen to know she is an anti-life, pro-choice extremist. I really liked Bill Clinton because he said abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” But Hillary believes in abortion on demand for any reason. She argues that minors should have their privacy protected by not obliging parental notification of an abortion. She agreed with Obama that fetuses who survive an abortion should not be given medical attention. Her vice-president, Kaine, voted against a bill that would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks pregnancy. Hillary Clinton is not like Bill Clinton when it comes to abortion.
Not that I’m Catholic. I’m very much Mormon. But our church is against abortion too!
Anyway, I don’t know if I can vote for Donald Trump because he wants to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood offers non-abortion services like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings that should not be defunded. But I do think they should make it illegal for someone who works for Planned Parenthood to even mention an abortion to a patient who is just coming in for information that will help them in their state of pregnancy. The patient should have to ask specifically for abortion information. And tax money should never fund an abortion.
Hillary Clinton is for repealing the Hyde Amendment which makes it illegal to fund an abortion with taxpayer money. Medicaid can’t pay for an abortion. Medical can’t pay for an abortion. AHCCCS cannot pay for an abortion. But Hillary Clinton wants to change that. That is why I simply cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, sin or not. She wants ME to pay for an abortion!
Donald Trump is not exactly pro-life either. He believes in exceptions for cases of rape and incest. But a Catholic who examines their conscious should probably vote for Donald Trump. I don’t know if I can vote for him because he’s said some offensive things about Mexicans (I’m Mexican). But I have heard him in his rallies saying that he loves Mexicans — the legal ones. I’m one of the legal ones so I try not to get offended when he says things about Mexicans that are illegal and slips up and refers to them simply as Mexicans.
It would take great humility on my part for me to vote for Donald Trump. But I think that’s what I have to do after hearing this pro-life homily at Catholic Mass. I wish the LDS Church would talk about abortion more. I was pro-life when I was Catholic and I’m still pro-life now that I’m Mormon. I think the Catholic teachings on life and abortion are truth that the LDS Church should adopt.
Anti-Mormons argue that the Book of Mormon couldn’t have been divinely translated because it makes the same grammatical mistakes as the 1769 King James Version of the Holy Bible. They ask why a book written in the 19th century has the same type of language used in the 1700s. Did Joseph Smith use a KJV Bible to write the Book of Mormon?
It is true that the BOM has many passages where the language mirrors that of the KJV. This only can add to one’s testimony that the BOM must be holy scripture. But why does it make the same mistakes?
If language is rendered a certain way in the KJV, we should assume that that was the correct way to render it. The KJV is the greatest piece of literature in Jacobean English and perhaps in all of English. Some contest that language is rendered a different way in other pieces of literature of the time. None of these were as great as the KJV.
Critics admit that the introduction to the KJV contains no grammatical mistakes. If you read that introduction, you’ll know that the KJV was composed under his majesty’s special command. There is no room for errors in the KJV. If something appears a certain way in the KJV, we should assume it was the authors’ intent and that it was the correct way to translate.
So why does the Book of Mormon language mirror KJV language? Because God wanted us to see it as just as great a piece of literature as the KJV! FairMormon defends the faith by saying, “…we do not claim to know why the Lord chose to reveal the Biblical passages in that manner.” They claim that the BOM passages were revealed in the same manner so that both books would be heavenly sealed together.
Anti-Mormons try to discredit the First Vision by bringing up the fact that there are multiple accounts of this vision. In one version, only Jesus Christ appears to Joseph Smith. In another version, Joseph Smith simply sees a bunch of angels. How could this vision be true if Joseph Smith lied about what he saw?
If you do your research, you’ll find that the sources for the multiple accounts were merely hearsay. Somebody wrote in their diary that Joseph Smith said this or Joseph Smith said that. Faulty evidence.
But there’s another explanation even if you take the hearsay at its face value. You see, I am schizophrenic and I have had visual hallucinations. On one particular occasion, I saw a hologram of an old, white man talking to me. This imaginary personage claimed to be Ezra Taft Benson. In one of my accounts of this incident, I was completely convinced that it really was Ezra Taft Benson. In another account, I believed that this personage was God appearing to me as a hologram. In a third account, I said that the personage was a complete stranger.
I really did have this visual hallucination. But I have 3 different accounts of it. Joseph Smith wasn’t a schizophrenic like me. There is absolutely no evidence that Joseph Smith had a mental illness. He saw God the Father and the Son and the forces of evil tried to stop him from producing an accurate account.
You see, there is another visual hallucination I had that I tried to write about but I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and I thought I could hear Satan telling me he would stop me from writing an accurate account by giving me a heart attack if I attempted to write it. I feel Joseph Smith had similar experiences. Satan tried to make him look bad by making him slip up when saying what he saw.
I testify to you that the First Vision really did happen. I testify that God the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith as described when he wrote his definitive account of what happened. True doctrines such as God the Father having a body of flesh and bones are based on this vision. Why would a church base doctrine on a false vision? The Holy Ghost has revealed to me that the First Vision was real.
There were several witnesses of the golden plates of the Book of Mormon who later went back on their word and said they didn’t really see the plates. Why did they do this? And could the Book of Mormon be true even if they did rescind?
Joseph Smith Told Them to Lie
It’s possible that Joseph Smith felt like he was a prophet and wanted to write a book about Jesus Christ visiting America. But, in order for people to believe his book, he had to convince people that he had found some golden plates on which the book was written. So, it is suggested, he wrote the book himself and then asked several people to lie and say they saw the golden plates of which he spoke of.
I believed this hypothetical scenario for a while when I first joined the church. My Catholic friends would ask me, “How could you believe this book when it wasn’t really written on golden plates engraved upon by ancient Americans?” I told them that I believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he had the authority from God to write a book and that God told him to lie.
The Book of Mormon is a beautiful book. It’s like crack-cocaine for a well-schooled Christian. There are many interpolations from the Bible. I really feel like it’s the Hip-Hop version of the Bible, meaning that it “sampled” the Bible much like Puff Daddy samples old, classic songs. Whoever wrote the Book of Mormon really knew the Bible pretty well.
They Sort-of Saw the Plates
When they asked the witnesses how they could lie about seeing such a thing, they responded that they had only seen the golden plates through the eyes of faith. This means they prayed with Joseph Smith and they had some sort of hallucination.
Hallucinations can be very religious experiences. Just because they had a vision in their mind doesn’t mean the vision wasn’t of God. In my early years as a member of the Church, I had no problem with the idea that maybe Joseph Smith handled these plates strictly through the eyes of faith. And, as he translated this book that he could only see through vision, the words were beamed into his head from God.
It’s Still a True Book!
Nowadays, I believe the Book of Mormon is literally true. After studying creationism and creation science and the theory of intelligent design, I came to the conclusion that the Book of Genesis was literally true. Then, God prompted me to fully examine the Book of Mormon and determine if it was also literally true.
The first doubt I had was that it couldn’t have been engraved upon golden plates. Nobody did that in ancient times. But then I researched and found out that they found ancient scripture engraved on metal plates in some caves. This makes it more plausible that the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, who came from the Middle East, recorded scripture in a similar fashion.
The second doubt I had was that the ancient inhabitants of the Americas couldn’t have come from the Middle East. But genetics research has shown that there are similarities between Native Americans and Middle-Easterners.
I want to bear my testimony by saying that I know the Book of Mormon is a true record that was written on golden plates that were found and translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Many anti-Mormons claim that we believe that our God was once a man on another god’s planet. Allegedly, we believe he became a god by being a good Mormon, and we too can become gods of our own planets by being good Mormons. This is not true!
Let me explain what Mormons actually believe. Romans 8:17 says that Christians are joint-heirs with Christ. What is a joint-heir? It is someone who inherits something equally with all the other joint-heirs. So being joint-heirs with Christ means that we will inherit, to an equal degree, whatever it is that Jesus inherited from God the Father. And it was godhood that Jesus inherited from God. In John 8:58, Jesus calls himself “I am,” which is God’s name in the Old Testament. He is claiming to be God!
So we too will inherit godhood from God the Father. Just like Jesus, if we are faithful Christians and receive all the saving ordinances of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we will return to God’s presence. If God is everywhere, and we are with God, then we are everywhere too. Being in God’s presence makes you god-like.
It doesn’t mean that you will become a god over your own planet like anti-Mormons claim. You will still be subject to the one and only God. But God will share the secrets of eternity with you. You will be all-knowing just like God is. God wants to share everything he has with us for we are his beloved children.
So if we can be like God, was God once a man. Well, yes. But he wasn’t a man on another God’s planet as anti-Mormons claim. You see, in the beginning, God was just a spirit surrounded by nothing. God knew everything because he knew that he existed and that’s all there was to know. So the Bible is correct in declaring that God always existed and was always an all-knowing being. But we know through latter-day revelation that, in order for God to know everything he knows now, he had to learn everything. He had to progress.
In order for God to learn everything about mortality and the human condition, he created a body for himself and dwelt on an earth that he created similar to ours. He learned everything there was to know about being human. And then he created our world and the billions of souls that would be born here. Our God didn’t have another god who gave him a body of flesh and bones. God learned to make for himself a body of flesh and bones all by himself.
Mormons do believe that there are many gods because many Christians have accepted the saving ordinances of the LDS Church and have been exalted to become god-like. But they are under God, even though they are gods themselves. It doesn’t mean we believe that there are many gods who each have their own planet. There is only one God who makes worlds without number. Our God is the god of all the planets in existence. There is only one God.
What makes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints different than other churches is that we offer the priesthood to all males. I would like to discuss this blessing.
Today, in Elders Quorum, we discussed living a life like Jesus’. I mentioned that magnifying your priesthood calling is a step in the direction of imitating the life of the Savior.
Practicing the priesthood means acting in the name of God, our Heavenly Father. Jesus did this all throughout his ministries among the New Testament peoples and the Book of Mormon civilizations.
In the Old Testament, all males of the tribe of Levi were to have it. In the New Testament, Jesus allows even Gentiles to have the priesthood. In the latter-days, God wanted all males who join His church to have this authority.
The priesthood brings us closer to God because it allows us to act in His name.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.
Here goes an amateur bible study of one of the greatest verses in the New Testament (if not the greatest one).
58: Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
The secret to this passage is that “I am” is half of God’s name in the Old Testament. “I am” is God’s name in Hebrew. When Moses asked God what his name was, he said it was “I am that I am,” or in other words “I am the one who is.” God says to call Him “I am.”
In verse 58, when Jesus said that he lived before Abraham and that “I am,” he is claiming to be not only the Son of God, but god himself.
I love latter-day revelation how it tells us that “I am” of the Old Testament is really Jesus Christ. Sometimes, “I am” is translated as “Jehovah.” Because it’s some European method of saying “Yahweh,” which is how you say “I am” in Hebrew. Ancient Jews thought it was a sin to think or write all the letters that make up the word “Yahweh,” or “I am.” For it is God’s name. The God who Jesus would call “Father.” Our Heavenly Father. They thought it was outrageous when Jesus claimed to be the Eternal Father that Isaiah prophesied he would be. Perhaps the Jews had forgotten that scripture. Latter-day Saints are uniquely Christians in believing that the Heavenly Father of the Jews was really Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I think it makes us extra Christian to believe that Jesus was greater than other religions would have you believe. The beginning of John’s Gospel claims that everything that was created was created by Jesus. And the 58th verse of the 8th chapter drives home this idea that Jehovah is Jesus. Why won’t other religions accept this biblical truth?
Read just a few verses back and you’ll hear Jesus claim that Abraham was joyous of the day of Jesus. He could see this future Messiah in the days of the Old Testament. Perhaps Abraham knew that Jehovah was the Messiah.
At the end of verse 58, Jesus is claiming that He existed as God before Abraham was even born. Did Abraham know that the Messiah came before him even though he would be born as a human after him. Did he know that the Messiah was the Firstborn spirit child of God? The one who helped him create the heavens and the earth? I testify to you that just like our Heavenly Father is literally the father of our souls, Jesus, the Son of God, is our spirit brother as we are all children of God. We should love him like one loves their eldest brother. And, ultimately, as much as one loves their dad.
John 8:58. Beautiful verse if you understand “I am.” It confirms so many Gospel truths revealed in latter days.