Some of you may not be aware that on my FB page and Instagram Channel I’m running a series called #DailyDoctrines. I post short, quote-length doctrines daily. Whereas this blog is weekly.

I started #DailyDoctrines because it has become apparent to me that it is difficult for many people to identify and locate doctrine in the scriptures. Why does it matter? Why not just be satisfied to understand the basic story lines?

To just grasp the basic story lines of scripture stories (especially the Old Testament) defeats the purpose of scripture study. The whole point of scripture study is to come to know God, and invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. Why is actually getting to know God important? “For this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent” (St. John 17:3).

Eternal life is nothing less than life like God. And, we can’t spend an eternity with someone whom we don’t know. And we certainly can’t live like Him if we don’t know Him.

In the parable of the ten virgins, it has always impressed me that when the five foolish virgins show up at the feast that the Savior denies them entrance based on the following: “I know you not” (Matthew 25:12). I think what He is also implying is that “you don’t know me.”

Why would any of us let someone into our home whom we don’t know? We wouldn’t. We wouldn’t trust them. We would be surprised that they showed up and even wanted to come in. And we might even be slightly offended if they showed up for a party we were throwing, where they could mooch off our generosity, and we hadn’t even known they were coming. When they knocked on our door, we would say, “Um…sorry, I don’t know you.” Meaning reflexively, “Um…why are you here, you don’t know me.”

We might say that “oil in our lamps” is our relationship with and knowledge of God.

Identifying Doctrine Helps us Come to Know God

The whole purpose of identifying doctrine in the scriptures is because doctrine teaches us as much about God as we can ever come to know in this life. It teaches us two very critical things: 1) What God is like, and 2) How He works with us, His children. And, I might add that in some cases we learn 3) why He works with us in certain ways.

I seem to have a knack for finding doctrines. And, the more I practice, the more and more fundamental it becomes to who and what I am and how I live. Doctrine answers the “why” behind everything in God’s plan for us. It answers the hard questions that we struggle with each day. I haven’t come upon a question yet, in my life, that I haven’t found the answer to through clear doctrines from the scriptures. Granted, I don’t always love the answer. It may not be as specific as I like. Sometimes, it’s too specific. Sometimes the answers test my fortitude. But, more than anything else, the answers—the doctrines—give me power to keep going, to endure. The doctrines give me confidence before God. The doctrines teach me what to expect from God and how not to freak out and worry when I see Him at work.

An Invitation

I’ve only been at this for just under two years. I’m not sure who follows me and why. But, I’m issuing you a direct invitation. If you feel any of the following things (see below) would help you in your life and in your desire to follow God, please like and follow my Facebook Page: TheDoctrineLadyBlog. And please visit and follow me on Instagram: @TheDoctrineLady. As well, once you join, start with me right where I am (currently Leviticus in the Old Testament). If you use the NIV Bible or the King James, you should be great. You don’t have much to do. Just read a chapter a day and look for 1) things you learn about God, and 2) things you learn about how God deals with us, His children. Then, check out my FB Page or my IG account each day and see what I’ve come up with. See if it sits well with you. See if you found a doctrine I missed. See (and record in a journal) what it allows the Holy Spirit to teach you about your life and your relationship with God.

Do you want any of the following:

1.       Closer relationship with God

2.       Increase your belief in the existence of God

3.       Understand some of what God does better

4.       Reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament

5.       Understand better temple worship and ordinances

6.       Recognize how God is working with you in your own life

7.       Understand and recognize steps God wants you to take in your life right now

8.       Strengthen your witness and testimony of Christ

9.       Increase your capacity to live a godly life

10.   Increase your capacity to understand and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ

If you decide to join me in this journey, and feel that someone else you know would benefit, invite them! Don’t be afraid. Our role as Christians is to invite others to come to Christ. Our role is to “feed His sheep.” You aren’t responsible if people choose to come to Christ. But, you are responsible for extending the invitation. I’m extending my invitation to you. I hope you will extend the same to others.

I’m going to keep doing my #DailyDoctrines whether I have 10 followers or 10,000. When the Old Testament is through I’ll push right on to the New Testament and so forth. This is a lengthy journey. But, isn’t the effort worth it if it will help each of us to secure our eternal life with the God, and Father, of us all? Did not God, Himself, teach us that a relationship with Him, a deep knowledge and love of Him, is what will make life with Him in eternity possible? I’m doing #DailyDoctrines to help myself, and anyone who wants to join me, to increase their capacity to come to know God.

Challenge and invitation issued. I hope you will join me.

BT

Doctrine: Politics has never been about picking the perfect leader. There is only one perfect leader, and that is Jesus Christ. Therefore, national and world politics has always been about our responsibility to seek to support good, honest, and wise candidates, and to uphold moral agency in the land that all may be accountable for their own sins in the day of judgment.

I have always loathed politics, and I’ll tell you why. Politics seem to breed contention, back-biting, slander, dissension—even among friends—and a long list of other negatives. In fact, I struggle so much with the political “environment” that I often check out completely. When it is time to vote, I seek out the least biased material I can find and research the issues and the candidates for myself. Then, I make my selections based on some very clear gospel doctrines—which will follow.

Politics, however, are not completely bad. In a very real way, government is a godly institution. God is our King. He is a perfect ruler, but He does expect us to be subject to His laws if we are to gain the glory of His divine leadership both now and in eternity. Learning to be subject to law is something we must to do learn to become like God, and to live with Him.

So, though earthly government is a poor substitute, it is indeed an actual substitute, therefore it is godly-instituted. God has said, “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:22)

However, though government is a form or substitute of being subject to God, it is intended to be enacted and carried off in such a way that moral agency is preserved. Moral agency is our right to choose between opposing choices of all kinds and to be accountable, as an individual, for our choice. That accountability includes consequences, whether positive or negative.

God “raised up men” to design our current constitution and He has commanded that the constitution: “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment…And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land…” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80).

God has also said in Doctrine and Covenants 98:6-11:

Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land: and as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this [constitution], cometh of evil.

I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.

And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.

In the scriptures, God always tried to set up governments that preserved moral agency and allowed for as much individual choice and accountability as possible. That’s because, ultimately, in God’s plan, we do not approach Him as a nation, state, city, or town. We approach Him as individual children. Every choice we make is, in the end, individual.

So, in the scriptures, laws and consequence were dispensed from God through His prophets. God intended to have His people governed by prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers, etc. However, almost without fail God’s people always wanted to be “like everyone else.” They begged for kings and monarchs—absolute rulers. They wanted governments led by men. Not God.

In the Old Testament and Book of Mormon there are several accounts where the righteousness or wickedness of the ruling monarch often caused, by default, the subjected people to be righteous and or wicked. That’s because if a wicked king said something wicked in God’s eyes was okay, people could engage in it and avoid godly consequences (for the present), and the rest of the people had to bear with it. Therefore, as well, the king or ruler carried the majority of the accountability for the righteousness or wickedness of the people. There was still individual accountability, of course, but not quite full accountability.

In the Old Testament God tried to give the Israelites what they wanted through a compromise. He instituted judges. The judges were public intermediaries (similar to a democratic system) and unlike prophets were not always as righteous or as fair or as helpful as they could have been. And because of this they often failed in saving Israel and were often destroyed themselves. In the Book of Mormon, during a particularly righteous period the Nephites had a very righteous king, Benjamin. When he died his son Mosiah became king. He was also very righteous. The people enjoyed both righteousness, peace, and prosperity. Then, when Mosiah was dying there was contention about who should be the next king. To avoid the political turmoil, Mosiah encouraged the people to elect a system of judges instead.

“And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.

For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their king. And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land…but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike…that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part.

And now it came to pass, after king Mosiah had sent these things forth among the people they were convinced of the truth of his words. Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.”

So, politics and the type of government we choose are something God certainly cares about. However, He can counsel us on what to seek for and then the accountability for our choices is left up to us. He will allow nations to fall or rise based on the consequences of our political choices.

However, it seems in our country, that we long ago forgot about what was most important in choosing a candidate. We have gotten caught up in financial concerns, welfare concerns, and many other worthwhile and interesting issues. And these issues are critical and important. And yet, in the concern for these issues we have cast aside the importance of individual moral agency. We still talk about it and preach it, but we sidestep it when something else we want for our city, state, or nation takes precedence in our mind. We place some other objective in the line of importance over agency when agency is the one objective/right God will never breach.

C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, Book 1, Chapter 2 Some Objections, roughly paragraph 5:

“…The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.  There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.  You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not.  If you leave out Justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials ‘for the sake of humanity’, and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.”

In the place of “man” I might insert “nation.”

While our nation and its main political candidates preach equality and opportunity and the love of humanity, they absolutely and unequivocally leave out the need for honesty, justice, and personal moral agency and personal accountability. In fact, much of the legislation in the past years has been about protecting people from the power and the personal effects of moral agency.

Currently, we have a very strong two-party system—though it seems to be weakening a bit based on this most recent presidential election. People are afraid to step outside this two-party system. In fact, people limit themselves to two choices because any other choice, they argue, won’t matter. Why vote for someone I like who won’t actually have a chance to get elected? So, people justify voting for a candidate they really don’t like because they feel that their vote has to change the election outcome in order to matter. But, what people have forgotten is that the vote is about trying to elect a good and honest person to office—as God commanded. It’s about doing our part to support moral agency—as God has commanded—for “more or less than this cometh of evil.” In fact, we are to “forsake all evil.” We are not to support a lesser evil.

So, if there is no good or honest person to elect, do we simply pick the best of the worst? Do we vote for someone who is not good or honest and wise simply because that’s all there is to pick from? Do we vote for someone to keep someone else who is less terrible out of office? What motivation are we placing as the justification for our vote?

Each person must answer these questions for themselves. I can’t tell anyone how to vote and I would never dare. I can only state the doctrine. That God has commanded us to seek good, honest, and wise men (and or women). He has commanded that we forsake all evil, not just some of it. He has never suggested that we settle for evil simply because good can’t be found. He has asked us to uphold moral agency. He has said that if the majority uphold evil (even a small bit of it), then we will individually, and as a nation, mourn.

Finally, as a last note. Popular vote is not what elects our president. It is the electoral college. And even though those who sit in the electoral college are supposed to uphold the popular vote, they don’t have to. We have elected them to uphold our best interests and if they don’t agree with what we’ve chosen, they can choose differently. So, does our vote matter if it doesn’t actually contribute to or effect who gets elected?

Yes. And I’ll tell you why.

Each of us is accountable for our political choices to the same being for which we are accountable for everything else: God. God has given clear guidance on how His people are to act politically. Whether our vote contributes to the election of an official we like or dislike; whether our vote keeps the greater of two evils out of office, won’t matter in the eternal scheme of things. What will matter is our intent behind our votes. Did we seek to uphold good and honest candidates who would also maintain the doctrine of moral agency? Did we uphold God’s laws? This is what matters about our votes. This is a hard doctrine to swallow, but it is nonetheless true.

Our votes are about our souls. Our votes are about our willingness to follow God. We are commanded to make these votes. We are encouraged to choose honesty and goodness. When honesty and goodness cannot be found, our votes still are a part of our individual eternal makeup. If we make them so that we are in good conscience with our God, then we can have peace that He will manage the rest. Nations come and go under His all-seeing eye, and yet we know that the Kingdom of God will break down and absorb all the rest (Daniel 2:44). So, what are we so afraid of?

Though politics make me upset and frustrated and frankly, I can’t stand them. I know my role as a citizen of this country, and more importantly as a child of God. That is how I make peace with the current political environment. That is how I weigh what matters most in my individual political contribution. I do what I feel is right in my standing before God; and I don’t just hope He’ll take care of the rest. I know He will.

BT

This is a 4-Part Blog. At the end of each part, if you want to continue you’ll be able to click on a link that will take you to the next part.

Doctrine(s): #1) The witness we receive from the Holy Spirit is more valid than any other source.

I learned long ago that everyone has their own path to truth and joy and that they must take it. The whole purpose of agency is not about preventing people from taking paths you think they shouldn’t take. It’s about sharing what you know to be true, in love, and then letting them exercise their will to find out what’s true for themselves. This is how we all arrive at a witness of truth.

So often we think what we know, if said in the perfect way, will fix other’s issues and doubts. So often we believe that we can micromanage or even help people with the perfect paragraph of proof. We will try persuasion. Then, if that doesn’t work, we try compulsion. Then, if that doesn’t work, we move on to other ways where we try to make/force others to see what we see. And it seems so simple. It seems that it should work. But, it doesn’t. In fact, if it was that easy, then I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

There is only one source that can teach people absolute truth—the truth of all things (Moroni 10:5). That source is the Holy Ghost. And, the Holy Ghost can only teach people things if they want to be taught. If we want to believe something that is not true, or that is only partially true, the Holy Ghost will not force us to believe the actual truth. Our agency is so sacred and personal that it is like an impenetrable block in our minds and hearts that God, nor His Holy Spirit, will attempt to break—unless we invite Him to break it (1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Nephi 33:1). A witness from the Holy Ghost is also so special and sacred that it can only be received when we want it and when we are willing to believe, and receive it. And, it is not a witness that comes without significant effort (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-33).

Each and every person has personality traits, psychological characteristics, life experiences, and ways of reasoning that only God knows and that only God can fix or change for those willing to follow His guidance. And only God knows what path will best lead each of us to the full measure of what blessings and truths He wishes to give us. Consequently, there is no choice that we make or path we can take that God can’t turn to our glory in our discovery of joy—if we let Him.

So, what is my goal with this blog post? My goal is to show what things I think about when I see those I care about, or who I have known well, leave the church. I can’t change them. But, I mean, let’s be real. Anytime anyone we love or respect has a crisis of faith—of any kind—it makes us question our own faith, or at least ponder and solidify it. So, here is the thought process (more or less) that I often go through when I see others struggle with their belief, their faithfulness, their activity, and who eventually make an exit from the church.

The first thing I think of is that the church doesn’t want people to accept things without asking questions or receiving their own witness of truth from the Holy Ghost. On the whole, a fundamental doctrine of Mormonism is seeking a personal witness and not only of the church being true as a whole—but a witness of each and every principle and doctrine we teach (Alma 32, St. John 7:17). That is the greatest strength of the church. We don’t live as we do and believe as we do because it’s nice, or good, or easy. Because it’s not. We don’t do it because some old men have threatened us. We rarely do it as a social thing, though some do. Even if someone has been born into the family tradition of being a Latter-day Saint we still encourage and expect them to gain their own witness.instagramquotes2

So, in general, we are in this church because we were invited to seek a personal witness of The Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith, and of current Living Prophets and on-going revelation, of God’s specific and powerful plan for us, and of a Living Christ who is active in our lives. And, we received that witness from the Holy Ghost. That’s why we joined, and most often why we stay. The Holy Spirit said, “Yes, this is true.”

If a person’s witness from the Holy Spirit is called into question by fear, doubt, trials, offenses, mid-life crisis or other crisis of faith, or the philosophies of the world mingled with half-truths, by persuasive and well-meaning friends who don’t have our same witness, or other concerns or issues; then this is when many people leave the church or, minimally, become inactive.

 

I have had many times in my life where I had the opportunity to question my witnesses of truth. Whether it was a trial or struggle I was facing personally, or whether I saw others whom I respected struggling, I have had many opportunities to fear, doubt, to take offense, or to grab hold of worldly philosophies that, at the time, seemed to make much more sense and would lead me to happiness. So, why did I stay?

Well, I had one clear and unshakeable witness that held the glue together on all my other witnesses. What was that witness? That there is no more powerful witness than that which comes from the Holy Ghost. He is a member of the Godhead and as such He is omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly kind, loving, etc. He sees better than any mortal, no matter how intelligent, informed, or educated that mortal claims to be. So, if the Holy Spirit has told me something is true, then how can I let some mortal person or some worldly commentary undo it?

I have studied the doctrine (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118). I have lived the gospel. And, I know the doctrine to be true in the same way I know the church itself is true. The Holy Spirit has witnessed to me that it is true. I know this independent of my own struggles, doubts, and trials. And, I have had my share.

Click here to go to PART TWO

I told myself I would never write a religious blog…

I’ve had requests to do it, but I always turned them down. Why? I’m a non-confrontational person. I don’t like arguing and when you put yourself out there and write a blog it’s an invitation to put oneself in the public light. To do this is to say, “Hey, I have something to say and I want people to read it.” Now, you might say, “Well, hey, you write books. That’s an invitation to put oneself in the public light. So, what’s the big deal about a blog?” My answer would be: books don’t have an online comment option, books have links to buy and books have general feedback comments, but they aren’t dynamically available and they allow me the time to ponder a topic for months (sometimes years) before I open my big mouth. Conversely, blogs are much more “in the moment.”

In consequence, writing a blog also invites arguing and confrontation. People want to disagree with you. They want to give you heck for being bold enough to speak out, especially if they don’t agree. They want to silence you and make you appear the fool. They want to turn life into a battle of who’s right and who’s wrong and there can only be a victory if they’re the ones who come out on top and their opinion rules. People—in general—are rarely sincere seekers of truth. Some people are humble enough to see truth outside their own and make compromises. A few want to find hope, belief, doctrine, and peace.

People will almost always think what they want to think and do what they want to do, so to offer something that I think will help them when they don’t even want it is another invitation to get mud thrown in my face. In fact, my view has always been, that “I know what I know to be true. I know why I know it’s true. I know who I am and I’ve worked long and hard, studied long and hard, to get to this point. That’s all that matters to me.” As well, I respect other people’s right to believe what they want. I don’t want to force anyone to think like I think, to believe what I believe, or to do what I do. Do you all hear that? Think how you want to think. Do what you want to do. It’s not my goal to discount or belittle what mores you hold dear.

So, why am I writing a blog? Because, like Jeremiah (20:9) said, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” I’m writing this blog because life is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. This life is about God’s will. It’s His world, His plan, and we can all fuss and fight and bicker. But, in the long run, when all is said and done, it’s His rights and His wrongs that matter, whether we understand them or not; whether we like them or not; whether we believe them or not. He’s either real or He’s not. And if He’s real, then His will is real. If His will is real, then what more is there to argue about? Who are we, as mere mortals, to fight over things we have no true authority to change?

So, I’ve decided to make my moniker The Doctrine Lady because I hope to back up everything I write, as much as possible, with good sound doctrine i.e. core truths. However, if ever doctrine fails or if people discount it, I will fall back on personal testimony because people can complain and argue and persecute me, but “so persecuted they the prophets” before me (Matthew 5:12; Acts 7:52), and they can’t change my own personal witness of truth. They can’t tell me I haven’t seen what I’ve seen. They can’t tell me I haven’t felt what I’ve felt. And they certainly can’t do anything to make me pretend otherwise.

If credentials matter, then let me just say I’ve been reading and studying my scriptures (the Bible, Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price) since I was fourteen years old—along with multitudinous other resources and manuals. I have completed four years of Seminary—equivalent to what a trained, professional preacher would attend. I have taught the same Seminary for six years as a volunteer. I have been teaching in volunteer capacities the very doctrines I will use since January 1999. I have been writing books, both fiction and non-fiction, since the year 2000. I have a BA in Business Administration, an MA in Curriculum and Instructional Design, and I have been working in business, finance, marketing, and retail since 1998. But, my biggest credential, the one I count of greatest worth, is my personal testimony of Jesus Christ.

Well, I’m going to make mistakes. There are going to be typos. I may not explain something in the way that best suits every person. I may fail to include something… So, for those who might seek to ridicule or persecute I simply quote the following (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 33:10-11):

“And now my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye shall believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.”

“And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.”

So, there’s my intro, for what’s it’s worth.

Now, onto the doctrine.

BT