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Taalcon

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Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« on: November 09, 2019, 07:28:01 pm »
I've had some thoughts about problems we have when we conflate Marriage and Sealings, and view the latter as just an 'upgraded' form of the former, with the Eternal Definition of both being basically equal, and existing from the Dawn of Time.

NOTE: I don't intend for this observation to be about SSM. I know all discussion of marriage lately have this concept very much in mind, and its an assumed subtext. For this observation, I'm looking at the broader view of what Marriage is, and how it has been taught and practiced. You can bracket that when I talk about spouses, that it can mean just man to woman. But even with that caveat, the understanding of the relationship between those two partners has radically changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament, to the Beginning of the Restoration, to Today, and its relationship to the Sealing Covenant,  I think, is worth thinking about.

The Sadducees and the Seven Brothers Polemic, with Context
We're all familiar with the account in the synoptic gospels of the Sadducees using a marriage example as a way to point out the absurdity of the idea of Resurrection in general.

I've seen a lot of attempts to explain how these scriptures were really an affirmation (!!!) of the LDS doctrine of Eternal Marriage but making clear that those in the example just didn't qualify for it on technicalities, etc.

One thing helpful to realize is widespread belief, understanding, and worldview of the 1st Century, where the idea that A Resurrection Would Be Happening was a pretty strong belief among many of the Jewish people, but it was a future day of vindication that would not happen until Israel had basically been forgiven for its past sins, and become redeemed by their God.

It also has to do with the idea that a key part of the purpose of progeny in this worldview was hope for bearers of the covenant to continue to exist to be able to see through the redemption of Israel. Through most of the OT period, belief in a Resurrection was NOT common. Israel as a whole lived through its children. Individuals lived through their posterity. It's part of why being childless was such a devastating thing - your line (and your ability to participate in the covenant through your posterity) was seen as being wiped out.

Marriage was chiefly set up as a process to arange, safeguard, provide form and assert claim on one's legacy - one's posterity. It was a contract that helped avoid a lot of messyness. It was a very good thing, and created a substantial safety net for almost everyone involved in some way. But the purpose in the OT for marriage was very clear - perpetuate a family's name and lineage so that there remained those to participate in the covenant with YHWH following the death of the parents.

Now, with the Sadducees bringing up their story, Jesus told them when it comes to Resurrected life in the Age to Come, it was irrelevant. Because in the Age of Resurrection, there is no longer death. In the order in which they are concerned with, the purpose for such marriages is moot. There is no need to have descendants to fulfill the covenant for their fathers, because death will have come to an end. Just as angels (in the 1st century understanding of them) did not need to reproduce to fulfill their role, those in the new age would not need to consider to contract new marriages of the order of those discussed in the OT.

NT perspectives of the purpose of Marriage
In the NT, there are two approaches to marriage, both somewhat transformative.
1) If you are married, view it as a symbol of the covenant relationship between God and Israel, which will not be voluntarily ended. (Marriages ending at death allowed for remarriage, because while the participants were different, they kept the same roles). A marriage ended in divorce represented either the disregarding of it by Israel, or the unfaithfulness of God. Neither of which should be modeled. Israel cannot break the covenant, and God would not. These are some of the views at work both in Jesus' Gospel teachings, and in the Pauline letters.

2) If you're not married, don't feel required to get married. This was because, especially in the early Pauline epistles, an expression of the Hope of the eminent coming in of the New Age and Resurrection. It expressed your faith in God of the Hope that you don't need descendants to carry on the covenant. This was a misunderstanding that was adjusted.

Adjustments
Well, throughout the years, the institution of marriage (throughout so many different cultures) served different purposes.

The notion of Ideal Marriage, even as promoted by the Church today, is so VERY different from the paradigm in the OT/1st Century Jewish perspective. It's why I can't help but groan anytime I hear anyone trying to safeguard and defend something they call "biblical marriage", because, no, honey, we don't want that.

Those who are Sealed are Eternal Covenant Partners. This is a radical new paradigm, that actually benefits from the evolution of the public perception and government oversight of marriage.

Evolution of Marriage and the Introduction of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Sealings
Marriage is now generally viewed as a show of commitment and affirmation of love between partners who are choosing to support each other, and work together to increase each others' happiness. Children are often still a part of it, and are still safeguarded by it and enhanced by it (I believe this is 98% of the reason for Laws of Chastity - to regulate as much as possible that children will ideally be safely born inside marriage atmosphere). But the focus on a commitment of love and unity, rather than a commitment that simply perpetuates one's legal inheritance/perpetuation of one's name, I think has grown stronger even following the revelation of Eternal Marriage.

Much of the introduction of that doctrine was interpreted in light of present (and past) views of marriage and viewing it as a mere continuation of that existing institution, rather than a call to enhance and better it. Or, in other words, to 'translate' it.

Marriage Ordained ('set apart', or 'made holy') of God - Different Definitions of Marriage Ordained At Different Times
The marriage institution that Jesus and his disciples knew in their day will not be represented in the eternities. It's changed. It's not what's taught in the Church now. It's been made better. And, I believe, it still continues to improve.

When it is expressed that 'marriage is ordained of God', it doesn't make sense to look back to a past historical moment and its purpose to show 'THIS is what was ordained of God.'. In fact, even though in our Sacred Story we look to the relationship of Adam and Eve as the prototype, the version in our minds is an updated reboot of the story to show how things must have been. The relationship between Adam and Eve in today's Temple and in modern teachings is not the Adam and Eve of Genesis. Not because Genesis was changed, but because our understanding and light and knowledge has.

While 'Biblical Marriage' was ordained of God for that time, it appears to me that that has been 'done away', and the modern more egalitarian view developing over the last few centuries of Marriage as a relationship between equal partners working together in love and unity is what is set-apart and approved of by God.

It's why the statement 'God's definition of marriage has not changed' seems to be inaccurate, even if one holds that new innovations like same-sex marriage partners are NOT included. If 'marriage' has always been ordained of by God, the institution and understandings of its purposes have radically changed. Its core properties have changed. As I said at the beginning, I don't intend for this observation to be about SSM. I'm looking at the broader view of what Marriage is, and how it was taught. You can bracket that when I talk about spouses, that it can mean just man to woman. But even with that caveat, the understanding of the relationship between those two partners (that of a
'Principle', (IE, a Husband) and 'Auxilliaries' (Wife or Wives) has radically changed from the Old Testament, to the New Testament, to the Beginning of the Restoration, to Today. I think this is worth thinking about. For most of history, Marriage was not, by definition, an Equal Relationship. And while those civic relationships made sense, and perhaps upgraded what were then-present conditions and concerns, circumstances HAVE changed, and the marriage relationship has also substantially radically changed. (There's a fascinating book about the changes to the marriage institution over the years of history and in different cultures and the purposes and practices within them subtitled, "How Love Conquered Marriage")

Accordingly, I am very grateful that marriage as a civil institution has radically changed from 'Biblical Marriage', and see echoes of what we are inspired to see as the Ideal of Eternal Covenant Sealings in the changes and broadened views of contemporary marriage practice and perspective. I see the view of equality of spouses that have progressed in the common understanding of civil marriage as a reflection of the Eternal Covenant Companion. The earthly ideal actually growing closer to reflect the heavenly ideal.

I believe marriage, as a civil institution, in the wide general sense (not in specifics, because of its many varieties around the world, some still far more oppressive than our current understanding of the Gospel would approve), is indeed approved by God, and recommended, because of the security it ideally offers for all affected by it, and because of the pattern (if incomplete or imperfect) it presents for understanding (and even prompting revelation to better understand) the principle of Eternal Covenant Sealing Companionships. God often takes something that already exists in a different context, and then uses it and claims it to teach something else using the shared conceptual understanding as a starting point, (IE, the "You believe in a Great Spirit? Let's say this is God, and go from there, okay?" principle)

I also find it instructive that the doctrine of the Eternal Covenant wasn't made known to the world (in the mid 19th Century) until marriage (its closest comparable idea) had evolved substantially beyond its essentially property-based origins, and had begun to continue to progress in the more relationship-based direction.

Once the earthly model began on the path to becoming closer to the Eternal Ideal, the Eternal Ideal was revealed. I think this is a fascinating concept.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 09:27:00 am by Taalcon »
 
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AndrewR

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2019, 05:27:28 am »
Very interesting reading Taalcon, thank you for your thoughts. However, I do question some parts of your thinking. Specifically: -

Quote
The relationship between Adam and Eve in today's Temple and in modern teachings is not the Adam and Eve of Genesis. Not because Genesis was changed, but because our understanding and light and knowledge has.

I don't know how you can possibly deduce the relationship between Adam and Eve as it was. I am more than happy to believe that Adam and Eve are Sealed in the exact same way that my wife and I are. Albeit, how that marriage has been seen through the intervening millennia has certainly been very fluid.

I think there is a deeper issue at the heart of this. What exactly is the difference between male and female, in an eternal perspective - in both directions. If gender is eternal, and that is the what we are told in the Proclamation, what does it mean for men and women?

Quote
Gender is an essential characteristic of individual
premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

And, using President Oaks defining comments in General Conference, this is Doctrine - being endorsed by all 15 PS&S's.

So we find in the marriage/sealing the combination of two different types of Eternal Being, becoming One Eternal God. At least I do, I know that others don't.

Both have access to, and can control, Eternal Powers, Dominions, Etc. But only together do these work to make the Eternal Round work - the Power of Endless Lives.

I am not so sure that Marriage and changed, but I am sure that our understanding of what it can accomplish in the Eternities has grown, and continues to grow, and will do into the Eternities.
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Roper

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2019, 09:12:35 am »
Our most concise doctrine of marriage is found in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." It contains our modern understanding of marriage, It also retains elements of the Old Testament and New Testament understandings of marriage.

"...marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and ... the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children." This is similar to ancient Israel's understanding of marriage, posterity, and the covenant.

"We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force." Direct reference to Adam and Eve.

"HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children." Restatement of traditional understanding, with added modern understanding of love.

"Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan." Modern revelation added to traditional biblical practice.

"Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." Ties to ancient Israel's practice with added modern revelation.

"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." Direct reference to NT teachings.

"In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners." Modern revelation which expands on the Biblical understanding of roles of husband and wife.

"WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God." Ties to ancient laws and commandments regarding adultery, with added modern understanding.

When Christians reference the "Biblical" definition of marriage, it's in the context of one man and one woman, which is what we also believe and teach.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 
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Taalcon

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2019, 10:22:57 am »
Quote
I don't know how you can possibly deduce the relationship between Adam and Eve as it was.

I didn't say anything about any relationship about any historical Adam and Eve "as it was". I'm talking about what stories about the prototypical humans presenting the prototypical marriage have presented, and how those ideas were understood. The stories we tell about them are different. And I understand it can be difficult to do, but for the sake of this discussion, I think we really need to bracket 'what the first two covenant people really did and thought about each other' to 'what are the presentations of the stories we have about them attempting to convey'.

The Genesis garden story doesn't say anything about marriage per se (McConkie's header in the LDS KJV aside), but presents a description that is consistent with contemporary marriage practice and belief, and explains why those conditions are normative. It was doctrine of its day.

Why must women/wives must be subservient to the men/their husbands? Because the woman, who was created from man for man, was also the first to disobey. Why is childbirth necessary? Because now humans are going to die, and it's your responsibility to keep them in the world. Why is the process a painful necessity while animals don't appear to cry out in pain? It's part of the punishment - the pain is deserved, accept it and move on). Men need to work, women need to grab hold of their husband and suffer pain of babies. It's just the way things are now because of it. Woman was first created (from a part of man being pulled out) because the animals weren't good enough companions, and God wanted Man to be happy. But then Man went ahead and took that gift and it caused disaster, so now you're stuck together suffering through life. It's a way of putting them back together again as close as things were when they were ideally created: Not as 2, but as 1, and without possibility of humanity dying out. And now THEY are cursed to have to make the Garden themselves, and it will be HARD. It's just the Way Of Things. This is the Genesis explanation of marriage status quo - its just the way things are now, trying to fix what they broke.

It's not until later in the story when Covenants are made to individuals that present a good hope for the world and humanity that a specific line will not only accomplish the renewal, but they will see and inherit it - having children are a means to see that a specific covenant and promise is fulfilled, with eventual return to a more idyllic life in a promised land. The women are the means by which the seed is continued. And while it's viewed that love is ideal in a marriage, it's not required. It's not even the primary factor (blood relation, or being owned by a blood relation is). Marriage involves using the property of a spouse as if they are the spouse themself.

Quote
I think there is a deeper issue at the heart of this. What exactly is the difference between male and female, in an eternal perspective - in both directions. If gender is eternal, and that is the what we are told in the Proclamation, what does it mean for men and women?

Part of my point was that this  in and of itself is a brand new question in terms of marriage. It has to be remembered that in the OT view, parents were not 'giving bodies to spirit children of God'. In fact the idea of a distinct spirit with its own individual distinct Eternal Life beyond death is not even considered. Your life continued through your offspring. If you did not have offspring, your life was gone. You have lost your opportunity to fulfill your obligation of fixing what your ancestors broke, and to be able for them to eventually enjoy it.

In the NT, marriage was presented as an institution that would have fulfilled its purpose at the coming of the New Age/Kingdom of God with death having been defeated. Because having children was a form of fighting death, that fight would no longer be required. That debt caused by Adam and Eve could be seen as being fulfilled. Paul looks to have seen marriage mostly as a helpful symbolic relationship to teach about the relationship between Jesus and the Church as long as it was present, but that was basically it. Putting the two together certainly would serve to enhance the way the Husband was to treat the Wife, but would keep it in a Lord/Servant relationship, even though (as was made clear in Philemon) Paul made clear that servants/slaves should be treated very well and in love by their masters as fellow Christians, even if the subservient relatinship still existed. Because this was a common symbol to describe followers of Christ, as his Slaves (KJV softens it by making it 'servant').

So if you are in a marriage, the NT teaches, which is not required, then use it to model the relationship between Christ the Lord and his willing and loving Slave, the Church.

In this view, in the Resurrection, this relationship would be rendered moot, and all would be equal, together, male and female, before their mutual Lord.

Remember: in the NT, it is a MASSIVE innovation, in the Gospel of John, that Jesus Himself is a pre-existent Being.

The expansion of this idea that all of humanity pre-dated their mortality as immortal beings doesn't fit the models as they were taught and understood. Which absolutely required new language and new concepts to explore that. And these are the questions we started to see Joseph Smith asking.

Just by the very act of defining Marriage as eternal opens up a massive can of worms, and difficult questions. The Sadducees question is absurd in the NT because in the context of what we being taught about the Resurrection by Pharisees AND Jesus, it didn't make any sense. It was a stupid 'gotcha' based on a strawman, and Jesus answered accordingly.

But now, when you begin thinking that Marriage DOES continue? There's a LOT of very practical questions. And in that context, the Sadducees question is suddenly a good one, even though their motivation still wasn't.

Oaks' point that there's so much about the Spirit World and Eternities that we don't know is a good one. And there is so much we don't know about Sealing relationships. But the one thing that it DOES transform about the view of marriage is to view the relationship as one that is intended to be one of unending devotion to each other. That there is Eternal reasons for fostering a relationship even if children are not part of it in this life. In the Bible, if a marriage was childless, it was a failure. It's why it was seen as a curse from God, because only God, in their view, would make it so they would be unable to fulfill their role in humanity.

The Proclamation is like Genesis. It descriptive of the ideal as understood for its day, and presents it as normative. It is absolutely the official teaching, aka the doctrine. (It has abrogated the explanations given in Genesis!)

But also like Genesis, while going about to answer questions so the people could move on and live out the status quo with eye to their purpose, there are also many questions that are not answered by it, and in some cases some of the answers given are likely (like Genesis) be shown to be in need of adjustment as our understanding of the story changes.

The statements about Gender in the Proclamation are declarations without explanations or scriptural prescedence. It's actually the most out of place part of the entire proclamation. But it pulls together the other parts to describe what 'must be' based on practice, and the standard communal understanding of the meaning of ritual and other aspects of current Church doctrine. It's a lot like earlier scriptures in that regard, and I think it helpful of presenting a picture that we are instructed to work within as long as the picture still fits our revealed understanding. It's the doctrinal paradigm. (Only once has Gender as presented in that document even attempted to have been given an official definition, and, funny enough, it was by Oaks alone in one line in one obscure talk ;) !)

But the initial point is that the emphasis on a key aspect of marriage being about love and devotion between the partners, whether or not children are included in mortal life I see as being consistent with and parallel to the modern doctrinal understanding that because Covenant Sealings are for the Eternities, that the ability to have children in mortality is rendered moot in the ability to fulfill one's purposes. That as long as covenant partners are faithful and grow in their love for each other and God with their covenant bonds, they are on the right path.

Eternal Sealings becomes the first time, really, where mortal infertility in marriage is understood as being truly doctrinally irrelevant along with an explanation of why that can be so. This is actually a really, really massive development. It's why all OT (and NT!) accounts of infertility with the faithful are always resolved with a child. Because in that contemporary doctrinal framework, it's the only way the story would have made any sense consistent with what was then understood.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 10:55:00 am by Taalcon »
 

cook

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2019, 01:32:15 pm »
Am I oversimplifying things or am I just missing the whole point?

The view of the purpose and practices and everything related to marriage has changed ever since Adam and Eve. Both in the world and in the gospel teachings. The latter most likely because of the first, when people are ready for new views. We don't quite understand the divine marriage, but it is the model of marriage (and has always been) and we are going towards it in all the development.



 
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Taalcon

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2019, 01:37:39 pm »
I actually think that's a wonderful summary, cook.

I was using this thread as a way to workshop specific patterns and thoughts that I'd observed and been pondering, knowing there would be some good questions and observations to help me refine and clarify it.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 01:41:24 pm by Taalcon »
 

Roper

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2019, 05:28:08 pm »
There has been a lot of research about the contractual nature of marriage in the Bible. There has been a lot of research about the relationship of posterity and covenant Israel. It's conventional wisdom that the concepts of love and romance were of far less import than property and prosperity. While that might be true on the level of the legalistic marriage arrangement, it's certainly not true of the actual lived experiences of marriage and family in the Bible. The records we have in the Bible preserve some of the most profound accounts of love and sacrifice in marriage in the history of the world. I think it would be shortsighted to brush that aside in pursuit of a legalistic understanding of marriage.

Edit: Here's my underlying thinking which prompts the thoughts above. I'll start with an example from the first union: Eve sacrificed Eden for (future) children. Adam sacrificed Eden to stay with Eve. That kind of love and commitment is almost unfathomable. They knew what their motivation was. It was love in its purest expression. Centuries of customs and traditions and just plain error changed that. Adam and Eve were united in love and choice and sacrifice. Full stop. That's not a "new" understanding. It's a restoration of the original understanding.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 05:58:55 pm by Roper »
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Taalcon

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2019, 07:22:34 pm »
Edit: Here's my underlying thinking which prompts the thoughts above. I'll start with an example from the first union: Eve sacrificed Eden for (future) children. Adam sacrificed Eden to stay with Eve. That kind of love and commitment is almost unfathomable. They knew what their motivation was. It was love in its purest expression. Centuries of customs and traditions and just plain error changed that. Adam and Eve were united in love and choice and sacrifice. Full stop. That's not a "new" understanding. It's a restoration of the original understanding.

I think the idea of Restoration is less to a historical period of time when all knowledge was perfect and ideal, and more to a Restoration of the Ideal as was known in the Eternities, but never fully realized here on earth.

But this is actually irrelevent to the ultimate point I was trying to make, and even bringing this up might be a distraction.

The point is, clearly by the time of the writing of the extant ancient scriptures that we have as passed through antiquity, the Eternal Ideal, as we understand it, was very much not in sight. And we CAN see a traceable flow in the direction of development and adjustment, both in practice and in belief.

Whether it was a historical Adam and Eve who lived out the drama as we see in the Temple today, or if it's simply a dramatization of Ideals we were taught in the pre-mortal world, it doesn't essentially matter. We've forgotten them, and are in the process of seeking to recover them. Joseph (and the Church) isn't just a gatherer of people, it's a gatherer of truths. And just like gathering people takes work combined with revelation, so does the process of gathering truth.

My observation is that Marriage as is found in the teachings and practices in the extant Old Testament, and the New Testament and understood for millennia has different perspectives and goals and ends and means than what we are being presented with as the Eternal Ideal now. It's fascinating seeing human culture in the same way Joseph described himself - as a rough stone rolling, where he got refined by chunks getting knocked off here and there. To me, it's fascinating to trace the process, both in the history of our religious tradition's teachings, AND in the practice of general views and public perception of civil marriage where and how those chunks get knocked off, and at times, both get knocked off in different places that are incongruous for a time, but then turn out to be complementary, ultimately conforming into a similar vision.
 
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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2019, 08:46:18 pm »
The point is, clearly by the time of the writing of the extant ancient scriptures that we have as passed through antiquity, the Eternal Ideal, as we understand it, was very much not in sight. And we CAN see a traceable flow in the direction of development and adjustment, both in practice and in belief.
Agreed.

My observation is that Marriage as is found in the teachings and practices in the extant Old Testament, and the New Testament and understood for millennia has different perspectives and goals and ends and means than what we are being presented with as the Eternal Ideal now.
Some of the perspectives and goals and ends and means are different. But not all of them. As I meant to show in my above posts, I think there are still significant ties of our modern "Eternal Ideal" with the teachings and practices of marriage in the OT and NT.

The more time I spend in the temple, the more I realize that every covenant and every teaching in the temple has, at its core, Restoration.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 09:09:57 pm by Roper »
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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2019, 10:03:27 pm »
Taalcon, I want to thank you for treating this line of inquiry the way you have. I think it's definitely worth understanding more. I'm enjoying the exchange of ideas.

I've responded as I have because I've seen LDS proponents of gay marriage use similar reasoning to uncouple our current understanding of marriage from a Biblical understanding of marriage:

- Biblical marriage was all about the exchange of property and title.
- Biblical marriage was all about preserving influence through posterity.
- Modern revelation teaches that marriage is all about love.
- We should abandon the ancient ideas about marriage and embrace the modern ideas.
- If marriage is ultimately about love, then we shouldn't deny marriage to gay couples who love each other.
...and so on.

Thank you for starting a discussion seeking understanding rather than promoting an agenda.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2019, 02:09:18 am »
I like discussion, and I do find the thoughts of others interesting. However, there is an agenda here, it is the Lord's and should not be ours.

I guess my make up is very different, I live in a binary world (due to the nature of my work), and there are only 10 possible choices; Marriage as ordained of God, or marriage (not marriage) that is not of God. I don't look at the evolution of the understanding of marriage, and have never considered it. I also don't see proper marriage having changed significantly in my life time, nor do I view it as different from Adam and Eves' marriage.

I have always considered Adam and Eve to have been married by God, and to have had a marriage not dissimilar to the one I have with my wife. The view given in the scriptures is one into a world I don't really know - I don't live how they lived. I don't know what life was like then. But if the Book of Abraham is to be believed, as a record of God's teaching of Abraham, Abraham had a very good understanding of the Plan of Salvation, of pre-mortal existence, and of earth life preparing us to progress. I have no reason to suppose that Adam, Enoch, Noah, etc. did not also have a sound understanding of the POS. I do, however, accept that that is lost in the Bible as we have it now.
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Taalcon

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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2019, 08:48:32 am »
I've responded as I have because I've seen LDS proponents of gay marriage use similar reasoning to uncouple our current understanding of marriage from a Biblical understanding of marriage

I'm aware that right now, in LDS circles anytime the doctrine and practice of marriage is discussed, this is what is prime on people's minds, and we've conditioned ourselves to see that as THE issue. Which is why I started off by asking that to be put aside. I wanted to think about this all in light of my personal experience with and perspective on my own marriage/sealing.

I've been reading a facinating book by N.T. Wright called 'The Resurrection of the Son of God', which is a DEEP DIVE exploration of beliefs concerning death and bodily resurrection, and an intricate explanation of how the NT writers made sense of what they knew happened to Jesus in light of that, and in light of then-current beliefs, and how a present-day resurrection of Jesus would have expanded and adjusted the understanding rather than out-right shattering it. It shows very well how Paul's developed theology would have been a logical extension of the basic assumptions he had as a Pharisee, but actualized far earlier that would have been expected. The Future Age To Come had been initiated NOW, and that changed the terms of things in a way that really hadn't been worked out.

Anyway, one thing about N.T. Wright is he's a big advocate of trying to wipe away the sectarian notion that kind of handwaves Resurrection as just 'life after death', and makes clear that a big part of the doctrine of Resurrection (in the late OT and the NT) was that it was life after life after death, and the essential nature of the physical nature of it, and the theology of the transformed world into the Kingdom of God in light of that (that 'going off to heaven when you die' as your ultimate goal doesn't make sense and isn't found in the Bible at all). Anyway, it's a dense book, but I had just got to a section discussing the synoptic story of the Sadducees Question. And I sort of had a lightbulb moment for understanding the significance of that, and why the contemporary view of marriage would have been viewed as having fulfilled.

And it made me think of how a lot of new revelation comes once a particular paradigm (or version of the Story of How the World Works that we use as our model of interpreting everything) no longer fits new understanding. New stuff comes, but the puzzle looks like it's already put together, and there's no room for the new pieces. If the picture is put together according to the guide on the box, then those pieces either don't belong, need to get crammed in somewhere that disrupts the beautiful picture in front of you. It's an old wineskin, and there's new wine coming, and the skin is about to burst.

It's usually around that time that apart from just new revelation, the entire paradigm is needed to be re-framed. A new story is told that now makes FULL use of all the new information, instead of trying to cram it into a context that doesn't make sense. A new picture goes on the box, and the pieces now need to be re-sorted to try and make the new picture, and, wow, suddenly those new pieces have a place.

The history of the Bible is a history of these crisis moments where the old paradigm suddenly didn't make sense anymore in light of new experiences and knowledge. The Exile and destruction of the Solomonic Temple was a HUGE catalyst for a paradigm shift. It didn't make sense with contemporary understanding.

Most of Joseph's most profound revelations came from questioning things that stretched the boundaries of the paradigm. During Joseph's own ministry, the Latter-day Saint paradigm adjusted several times. It's fascinating to read Parley Pratt's 'A Voice of Warning', followed by his 'Key to the Science of Theology', both written at very different times in his life, and both expressing what were at the times a very full and robust explanation of the developing Latter-day Saint Paradigm. And the change in perspective and the framing of the story changed so much just in those years.

The thing is, the very nature of accepting that there will be new revelation is the acknowledgment that on those topics where new revelation will come, our understanding is incomplete, and likely has some erroneous assumptions baked into it. This isn't a flaw in the system, but it does require humility. The paradigm shouldn't be shattered at the first wind of new light, but it shouldn't be seen as impermeable, either. That was what the Creeds were to Joseph - the scaffolding of a Paradigm that refused to let themselves be adjusted.

One of the things the Presentation of the Endowment is serving to do for us today is to concretely model the present understanding of the paradigm. The adjustments made are a way of creating a new framework by which things are understood and interpreted.  When something is removed, or altered, or presented slightly differently, and you go, "Oh, well, does that change how I think about XYZ? Does that provide more ways to think about it? Does that cancel out support for this interpretation?", etc,  I think that's the point! "Oh, I always assumed A because of how B happened in the Temple, but A doesn't happen anymore..." - that's a practical way the paradigm shifts. But it also happens at a time when the changes seem logical now based on how you've already begun to question and see things, but would have appeared crazy radical if they had happened decades earlier.

I am fascinated with how all this roles out, and how God works with people inside and out of the Church to help us push forward as humanity to a paradigm that gets closer and closer to the universal eternal ideal. The more I study, the more I see it is almost never, "It was this way, and that God spoke, and it was now that way." - it was always a process of questioning, pondering, humility, and asking God with a willingness to allow the paradigm to change if that's what He needed to happen for us to progress.

It's very hard for me to see things as binary. But that is part of what keeps me looking for the hand of the Lord in all things.

EDIT: One reason I need to understand the evolution of thought is because it makes my reading of the scriptures make more sense. If I try to cram in President Nelson Era Latter-day Saint Doctrine into the beliefs and intention behind all what is being said and done, it would be incomprehensible. But understanding where they were, and the questions being asked, and why those answers might have been given then, and what they meant in light of their paradigm actually helps me 'translate' them to myself better. "If this was what was said and done according to their model of understanding, and this is the message they would have gotten out of it then, what is the essential core of the message, and how would it translate or be presented to me with my own present paradigm?" - seeing the scriptural story as a process of evolution and development and striving rather than something that just had all the pages with the things I already believe inconveniently ripped out of it helps me process them, and process my relationship to God.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 09:00:45 am by Taalcon »
 
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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2019, 11:30:37 am »
Are any of y'all familiar with syncretism?

It's most commonly applied to East Asian cultures, but it's basically a melding of cultures, religions, or ideas.  And it's exactly what all this is talking about.

For instance, we know that much of the Old and New Testaments, the parables and allegories and details thereof, were greatly influenced by the cultural traditions and beliefs of the regions, lifestyles, etc. The Book of Mormon is ROOTED in the same culture, but centuries of separation and an entirely different climate and lifestyle would alter some things.

After I learned about it (listen to a Great Course about Great Mythologies of the World), I realized how much LDS culture and beliefs are syncretic, and how much trouble that causes. The first few decades, as Joseph was receiving revelations, they were all in the context of things like a new country fueled by Manifest Destiny, early Victorianism, the jingoism inherent with a fairly new and hard-won nation-state, the Great Awakening (powerful religious revival that created the hubbub that prompted Joseph to start asking questions), etc.  As God's revelations were not micro-managing, this new religion picked up bits and pieces of the surrounding environment, like a snowball made in shallow snow.  The earliest decades saw some changes as we tried to clarify, discern the bits from the snow and pick them out, etc., but eventually, much of our idea of what constitutes "the church" solidified, freezing some of those traditions in with the actual doctrine. In fact, some near worship of pioneers and such actually strongly discourages any questioning of traditions at all, and many souls were lost when the cherry-picked details of our early members turned out to be not quite accurate.
There are deeper, more subtle bits of flotsam slowly being carefully removed over the years, though. Like separating tares from wheat, or that big stick in the middle of your snowball, it has to be done VERY carefully (which usually means slowly), lest you lose too much of what is good and right. The priesthood ban.  Much of the unrighteous dominion towards women. The unassailable and unquestionable authority of leaders, especially in light of abuse claims. They are not nor ever were doctrine, but became part of the syncretism that was and to a point is what we consider "the Church." 
As the culture around us changes--for instance, race relations or our culture's 180 towards LGBTQ+--we've had to examine ourselves and our policies, to determine what is debris/tare, and what is snow/wheat.  Remove the bad, like racism. Maintain and strengthen the good, like the doctrine that eternal marriage is between a man and a woman.

We don't understand everything. We CAN'T. But I think we get closer as we continue to rely upon God and seek revelation from Him.
 
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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2019, 12:33:44 pm »
Quote
Are any of y'all familiar with syncretism?

It's most commonly applied to East Asian cultures, but it's basically a melding of cultures, religions, or ideas.  And it's exactly what all this is talking about.
.

Oh totally. It's also the idea is that no revelation occurs onto a blank canvas. And those receiving it use the world they know to interpret and make light of the new information.

It's the process of what leads to the next leaps, and the new 'outside the paradigm' questions that lead to leaps forward that really fascinates me.

It reminds me of this quote from Adam Miller's Letters To A Young Mormon:
Quote
Take Genesis 1 as an example. The Hebrews, as was common for their time and place, thought the world was basically a giant snow globe. When God wanted to reveal his hand in the creation of their world, he borrowed and repurposed the common-sense cosmology they already had. He wasn’t worried about its inaccuracies, he was worried about showing his hand at work in shaping their world as they knew it.

I believe in a literal reading of this text. I believe the Hebrews literally thought the world was like that, and I believe that God literally ran with it and revealed his grace at work in their lives through it.

The world given to us is not the same as the world given to them. We have two worlds here. But though our worlds diverge, it is the same God peeping through. Believing that the God of their world is just as surely the God of ours doesn’t commit us to believing in their version of the world. Rather, it commits us to believing in a God whose grace is full enough to fill them both.

This quote gave me a whole new perspective on the concept of a New World, patterned after an old one humanity once inhabited. 

 
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Re: Marriage, Sealings, and How We Think About Them
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2019, 07:20:03 pm »
I also like studying the things which haven't changed. It helps me understand which things are eternal, and which things are situational to time, culture, language, etc. And then there are things which have changed so much that they needed to be restored.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 
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