In The News: Religious wackiness.

Theologians Ask Pope To Suspend Limbo?

Now, my analysis of this story is heavily contingent on my own
LDS religious views, so take it for what you will. I’m putting it
behind a cut because I don’t think I should inflict this on folks that
don’t want to read it.

I have a major problem with “doctrine-by-committee.” To me, something’s either true or it
isn’t, and we either know the answer or we don’t (with a third option of having part of but not the whole picture on something so we can reach a partial, not-yet-authoritative answer involving some extrapolation and supposition based on what we do know). Thus, as far
as I’m concerned, there does not need to be any negotiation in doctrine. Hence, whether a council or committee (even the public at large) likes a particular point of doctrine or not, they can’t change whether it is literally true. It’s not possible to vote God out of office or close Hell by referendum. Hell’s way too popular to ever pass such a referendum anyway. If there is such a thing as limbo, the committee’s stance won’t change this fact. Now, I’m not Catholic and I don’t believe in Limbo, but seriously…

Old joke: q) What is a camel? a) A horse designed by a committee.

Also, changing their stance in this particular manner does beggar one
of the core tenets of the Catholic Church: the infallibility of the
Pope. If he (as they attest) can never be wrong, then… when this
doctrine changes does it become the case that Limbo suddenly ceases to
exist, given that many prior popes have reaffirmed its existence and,
being infallible, were incapable of being wrong? Now, I like Catholics
and their church… but this process bothers me. This is part of why I
believe continuing revelation is important: God giving man more
information over time and clarifying things. This also allows for human
error and biases a bit more… teaching what one believes based on the
information presently at hand until God corrects you. There’s no voting
here, and the laws of reality aren’t determined by either democratic
process or committee wrangling.

Practices are perhaps more negotiable since secular legality is a factor there,
and sometimes it’s tough to obey multiple doctrines when they seemingly come into
conflict via legal matters. I shall attempt to illustrate with the matter of Latter-Day
Saints and plural marriange: The 12th Article of Faith states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.
Now, working to change the law for the better and to bring it into line
with something that we can follow in good conscience is implicit here,
since that’s part of honoring and sustaining it. Now, back to the
plural marriage thing… Doctrine & Covenants section 132 explains
at great length that plural marriage is a good thing and in fact a
commandment, but only as and when commanded by the Lord. Hence,
entering into plural marriage when another commandment forbids it ain’t
cool (as in verse  38: “…and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they recieved not of me.“). Upon the Lord’s command to Joseph Smith, the Church began practicing plural marriage under some fairly strict terms.

Eventually, they were driven out of the US into mexican territory, then
were border-shifted back into the US by the annexation of the West
after the Mexican War. Following this, Congress passed a law outlawing
plural marriage that included no grandfather clause, putting the
preexisting polygamous families in a major bind. Let’s remember, the US
government didn’t always deal justly with the Church, as in the
invasion of Utah by Johnston’s Army… and actually the anti-polygamy
legislation was theoretically aimed at a different crowd than the
Mormons anyway… namely the types of guys that maintained different
families in different areas without one another’s knowledge. Anyhow,
back on track:

Church leaders were in a very tough spot here, as were a number of
families (less than 10% of members ever practiced plural marriage).
They promptly ceased solemnizing new plural marriages and refused
anyone else the right to do so, going so far as to dismantle the
Endowment House in Salt Lake over an unconfirmed report that one was
solemnized there in 1889, thus leaving only the Temple as a place to
perform temple marriage (all plural marriage was required to be sealed
in a place where endowments could be performed, namely the Temple or
the temporary Endowment House and thus without the EH, it’d be easier
to keep an eye on any performance of marriages). Yet the preexisting
families were a stickier problem. Serious crisis developed, and due
process of fighting for these families went as far as the Supreme Court
(sustaining the law, after all), which declared this law constitutional
and thus plural marriage invalid in the US.

The crisis was finally defused via revelation to Wilford Woodruff,
then-President of the Church, who resolved the conflict between
following these two important doctrines in 1890 by publishing Official Declaration – 1, also known as The Manifesto.
To wit: the practice of plural marriage was done away with. Given that
all authorized sealings (temple marriages) are preformed under the
auspices of the president of the church’s authority, that was the end
of it for all faithful Saints. Polygamous families were disbanded
legally, for time only (in the eternities their preexisting sealings
will still be recognized but that’s not something Congress is capable
of legislating). Anyone that has practiced polygamy since that date has
not gotten it performed in the temple or with authorization from Church
leaders, and thus is apostate and gets excommunicated if word reaches
them, since all plural mariages require God’s approval and that of the
Church… which approval is not forthcoming at this time. The vast
majority of polygamists that now exist in Utah are people that have
never within their lifetimes been members of the Church anyhow, and
they decry the authority of the prophet to lead the Church, repudiating
the very doctrines that made plural marriage available in the first
place (continuing revelation and the authority of the Priesthood).

Following the law didn’t change the doctrinal correctness of plural
marriage. We still believe that plural marriage is a correct principle
and will at some distant point be re-instituted along with the united order/Law of Consecration.
We just aren’t practicing it right now, because the Lord gave further
directions via the prophet to hold off, much like He instructed His
apostles not to go teaching the Gentiles until after His resurrection.
Now, I’m not a guy that’s interested in taking on a slew of wives, so
that’s fine with me. I couldn’t afford the financial burden, and the
emotional one… don’t get me started. Besides, my wife would have to
approve or select any further additions… and she’s jokingly said that
if we were practicing it, she’d stick me with her friends… then I’d
really be up a creek: outnumbered, ganged up on in decision-making and
totally out of luck. 😉 One woman’s more than plenty for me. I love her
and don’t need the distractions.

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7 Responses to “In The News: Religious wackiness.”

  1. kurosau Says:

    For some reason, in juxtaposition to the nature of your article, I find the joke about the camel ironic, given that it seems perfectly suited to it’s environment.

  2. kurosau Says:

    Also, I apparently, forgot, how to use, the comma.

  3. uhlrik Says:

    It’s intentionally ironic. Let it be noted, however, that camels are well suited to their own native environment, not necessarily that of your typical horse.

  4. uhlrik Says:

    What’s, wrongwith, talking like William, Shatner?

  5. nightowl33 Says:

    “The Catholic Church teaches that babies who die before they
    can be baptized go to limbo, whose name comes from the Latin
    for “border” or “edge,” because they deserve neither heaven nor
    hell.”

    Oh man! I have to take issue with this whole idea that a baby deserves neither heaven or hell because they haven’t been baptised. A baby has no control over when or if it’s parents baptize him/her. Since the baby has no choice in the matter- being too young to make any such choice, how is it that a loving, merciful God would put them in “limbo?”

    I just don’t get it. I know that people have very strong feelings about religion and God, specifically if there is one or not. I also know that there are many people that prefer science or fact and that believe they can’t put faith in something that can’t be proven. But that’s just it… putting faith in something or someone requires that you disregard the need for proof and just believe. My kids love the movie The Santa Clause. It’s a classic at our house now. And one of the lines from that movie sums up my views on religion and whether there is or isn’t a God. “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” I choose to believe. I don’t choose to ram my beliefs down anyone’s throat because I believe that it is an individual choice that everyone makes at some point in their lives.

    That being said, what about these young ones that aren’t old enough to make a choice? Are we to suppose God would just leave them in a netherworld, in nowhere, for all eternity? I don’t think so. I cling to the belief that there is an age of understanding that we all come to. Whether it is at 4yrs old or 7 yrs old doesn’t matter, but essentially there comes a time when people are old enough to understand the choice, and should someone die before that time, I have to believe that God, with his grace would not leave them in limbo but welcome them into heaven.

    I know my beliefs seem radical to some and I usually avoid putting myself out there because it is such a touchy subject and people tend to be judgemental and short-fused about it. So, this is my opinion, for what it’s worth on this subject. It is not meant to sway or convince anyone. It’s just what I believe.

  6. uhlrik Says:

    “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.”

    I like how Spencer W. Kimball put it: “faith precedes the miracle” (he also titled one of his books thus).

    That being said, what about these young ones that aren’t old enough to make a choice? Are we to suppose God would just leave them in a netherworld, in nowhere, for all eternity? I don’t think so. I cling to the belief that there is an age of understanding that we all come to.

    Latter-Day Saints refer to this as the age of accountability: being old enough to make moral choices and know right from wrong. We operate under the standard that by the time they’re 8, just about any kid’s there (barring severe mental handicaps). We refuse to baptise before the age of eight for this reason, and if a child dies before they’re old enough to be accountable for their actions, then they’re safe and Christ’s atonement is sufficient for them. Feeling otherwise seems to me (and us) to deny both the justice and mercy of God. Which is also part of why we believe in vicarious baptism for the dead, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion. 😉

    Thus, your beliefs on the acountability of children don’t seem radical at all to me. To latter-day saints, it’s official doctrine.

  7. uhlrik Says:

    “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.”

    I like how Spencer W. Kimball put it: “faith precedes the miracle” (he also titled one of his books thus).

    That being said, what about these young ones that aren’t old enough to make a choice? Are we to suppose God would just leave them in a netherworld, in nowhere, for all eternity? I don’t think so. I cling to the belief that there is an age of understanding that we all come to.

    Latter-Day Saints refer to this as the age of accountability: being old enough to make moral choices and know right from wrong. We operate under the standard that by the time they’re 8, just about any kid’s there (barring severe mental handicaps). We refuse to baptise before the age of eight for this reason, and if a child dies before they’re old enough to be accountable for their actions, then they’re safe and Christ’s atonement is sufficient for them. Feeling otherwise seems to me (and us) to deny both the justice and mercy of God. Which is also part of why we believe in vicarious baptism for the dead, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion. 😉

    Thus, your beliefs on the acountability of children don’t seem radical at all to me. To latter-day saints, it’s official doctrine.

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