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Of earrings and obeying the prophet


Rob Bowman

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Vance,

This one's too easy. I would rather not rob you of the joy of discovery. Try to think of the relevant difference between Abraham's situation and that of the girls who heard President Hinckley's counsel.

Rob,

This one's too easy. It is called a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of an answer. The obvious answer to the rhetorical question is meant to encourage you to think about it. Sorry you didn't grasp the obvious point or intent. Next time I will provide a more simple explanation to help you understand. In the mean time, try to think of the relevant similarities between Abraham's situation and that of the girls who heard President Hinckley's counsel.

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Circumcision is a relic of the Law of Moses

Technically, according to the Biblical narrative, circumcision significantly pre-dated Moses, or any Law attributed to him :P - you might say it was part of the Law of Abraham (where's the 'nitpicking' emoticon? )

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Vance,

You wrote:

Rob,

This one's too easy. It is called a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of an answer. The obvious answer to the rhetorical question is meant to encourage you to think about it. Sorry you didn't grasp the obvious point or intent.

That your question was rhetorical was obvious, which is why I didn't bother replying to it. The problem is the relevance of your question to the issue at hand. You wrote:

Next time I will provide a more simple explanation to help you understand.

Feel free to offer an explanation of the relevance of your rhetorical question.

You wrote:

In the mean time, try to think of the relevant similarities between Abraham's situation and that of the girls who heard President Hinckley's counsel.

Thinking...thinking...thinking..............

I can't think of any relevant similarities. I can, however, think of at least three obvious and crucial dissimilarities with which you cannot plausibly disagree, as well as one crucially relevant dissimilarity on which we will disagree. And since I suggested you think about such dissimilarities and you dodged the issue, the ball remains on your side of the net.

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But not in a literal sense. That is what I was talking about. And I'd say a physical practice vs. a figurative comparison constitutes a difference of more than "a little bit."

I'm sure uncircumcised male converts to the Church would agree.

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Thinking...thinking...thinking..............

I can't think of any relevant similarities.

Then any attempt to point them out to you would be useless. A certain level of desire to understand and open mindedness is needed on your part.

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Rob,

I haven't read this thread, only your first post. I frankly get a little irritated with the amount of conversations regarding this 2+ pairs of earrings. I've written on my blog that not everything the apostles say are of equal value or importance nor is everything a revelaton. For example, struggling with and overcoming the supposed vice of two pairs of earrings is not equal to struggling with and overcoming an addiction to pornography, despite the former's more frequent mentioning in Sunday School classes. I wrote,

To be accurate, President Hinckley actually said, "We

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Mr. Bowman, please speak up if this side trip is annoying you.

BoMLr:

Simply dealing with this one law and not any other...not using this to justify any modern day polygamy, I don't think that should be done, at best biblical polygamy can be used to demonstrate that God does command polygamy at times.

The case of Judah is an example of nonfulfillment of the Law, Judah knew he was in the wrong so could not fault his DIL. Onan, the brother, is killed in the story because he also did not obey the Law (perhaps because he selfishly wanted all his father's property to come to his family).

Are you claiming that there was never a case where Levirate Marriage required that a married brother take his dead brother's wife as his wife in order to fulfill the Law of Moses properly?

PS: Using the marriage supper as evidence requires a huge assumption that most familiar with actual customs of that area would disagree with. There are better ways to demonstrate that it was possible to reach one's thirties and not be married.

However, this would be uncommon in the era where the Levirate Marriage rule was given as part of the Law of Moses. Probably would have been more common to be a widow at that age than a single man.

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WalkerW,

I'm sorry for your irritation, but this is the first time I've ever brought up this point (indeed, I didn't know about it before), and it might well be the last. I agree with your sentiment that some issues are more important morally and spiritually than others, but that is somewhat of a side point to the question I raised, which had to do with the attitude that the stories about the girls and their earrings reflected. As you said, it's the "because he said so" motivation that the stories commended that raises some concern.

Rob,

I haven't read this thread, only your first post. I frankly get a little irritated with the amount of conversations regarding this 2+ pairs of earrings. I've written on my blog that not everything the apostles say are of equal value or importance nor is everything a revelaton. For example, struggling with and overcoming the supposed vice of two pairs of earrings is not equal to struggling with and overcoming an addiction to pornography, despite the former's more frequent mentioning in Sunday School classes. I wrote,

To be accurate, President Hinckley actually said, "We

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Vance,

You wrote:

Then any attempt to point them out to you would be useless. A certain level of desire to understand and open mindedness is needed on your part.

This is pure projection on your part. You brought up the comparison in what you call a rhetorical question. I pointed out that there were some obvious relevant dissimilarities that made the comparison to Abraham inept, and asked if you could think of what they were. You have so far refused to answer and instead tried to project what is your unwillingness to discuss the analogy seriously back on me. It won't work.

Here are the dissimilarities you refuse to acknowledge:

  • The word that came to Abraham to take his son to a mountain and sacrifice him did not come to Abraham through a human prophet. God spoke directly to Abraham, as he had done many times previously. So in the case of Abraham, there was no prophet whose word Abraham had to assess or decide if it was from God or not, because Abraham himself was the prophet and the word came directly to him from the Lord himself. By contrast, in the case of the girls and their earrings, they heard the word from a man who claimed to be a prophet of God, so they had a responsibility to decide if this really was a word from God or not.
  • Abraham's test took place at a time toward the very beginning of redemptive history. There were no Scriptures for Abraham to consult. There was no long history of revelation to which Abraham could compare what he heard from God. His knowledge of God was entirely dependent on his own experience of God's personal revelations to him. Furthermore, Jesus had not yet come and died as the sacrifice for sin. Abraham therefore made his decision to do as God commanded in a near-vacuum of spiritual truth and history as compared to people living in modern times.
  • In the case of Abraham, God tested him to see if he would obey but then revealed that in fact he did not want Abraham to sacrifice his son on the altar. The experience taught Abraham and his descendants, far more powerfully than a mere prohibition would have done, that God did not want his people offering their children as sacrifices. So the test was God's way of revealing what he in fact did not want his people to do. In the case of the girls and their earrings, you apparently wish to suggest that the point in that case was also to test the girls to see if they would obey. But supposedly what the prophet told the girls was, at the very least, good counsel that they really should have followed. The point was not merely to see if they would follow the prophet's counsel; the point was for them to do what he said because it was right. Several of your fellow Mormons in this thread have insisted on this point. What the prophet said was right; the girls were therefore right to comply. If this is correct, then there is no analogy to Abraham's test, since in that case he was told to go do something that God actually intended for Abraham not to do.
  • President Hinckley's counsel to the girls regarding earrings would have the same validity regardless of who gave it. Its value is independent of Hinckley's supposed status as a prophet. This is obviously not so in the case of Abraham's intention to sacrifice Isaac; the directive to do so would have had no validity or force to it whatsoever had it not come directly from God.

The above four dissimilarities are enough to render the analogy to Abraham's test completely irrelevant to the case of the Mormon girls and their earrings. Of course, in my view there is a fifth dissimilarity: I don't agree that God spoke to President Hinckley. I think that Hinckley's counsel to the girls with regard to earrings was good counsel, but I don't see anything divinely inspired about it.

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Assumption not in evidence. You don't know the extent of the scriptures Abraham had or worked with. You only know the scriptures that exist today for us. For all we know the scripture could be more explicit or less.

Good point.

We do have this from the Apostle Paul that does give an indication what kind of information Abraham did have access to.

Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

You presume but your opinion is not valid as fact.

A common occurrence.

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Jeff,

You wrote:

You reject the scripture referring to "whether by me or one of my servants it is the same"... ?

Well yes, I do reject D&C 1:38, which you paraphrased here. I am not LDS.

But D&C 1:38 doesn't negate my point in context. Joseph is saying in that text that God's word will all be fulfilled, whether spoken by the Lord's own voice or by the voice of his servants. True enough; but that doesn't change the fact that if God speaks to you directly rather than through a prophet, you don't have that intermediate prophet and don't have to decide if he really was speaking for God or not on that occasion.

I had said that Abraham did not have Scriptures. You replied:

Assumption not in evidence. You don't know the extent of the scriptures Abraham had or worked with. You only know the scriptures that exist today for us. For all we know the scripture could be more explicit or less. You presume but your opinion is not valid as fact.

Your objection is a fallacious appeal to ignorance. It's true that Genesis does not assert explicitly that Abraham had no Scriptures. It also does not assert explicitly that Abraham did not have an advance copy of the Sermon on the Mount, or that Abraham never visited Australia, or that Abraham did not drive a Chevy pickup truck. Nevertheless, based on the historical information that we have, we can state with a high degree of confidence that these statements are correct.

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Jeff,

You wrote:

Well yes, I do reject D&C 1:38, which you paraphrased here. I am not LDS.

But D&C 1:38 doesn't negate my point in context. Joseph is saying in that text that God's word will all be fulfilled, whether spoken by the Lord's own voice or by the voice of his servants. True enough; but that doesn't change the fact that if God speaks to you directly rather than through a prophet, you don't have that intermediate prophet and don't have to decide if he really was speaking for God or not on that occasion.

I had said that Abraham did not have Scriptures. You replied:

Your objection is a fallacious appeal to ignorance. It's true that Genesis does not assert explicitly that Abraham had no Scriptures. It also does not assert explicitly that Abraham did not have an advance copy of the Sermon on the Mount, or that Abraham never visited Australia, or that Abraham did not drive a Chevy pickup truck. Nevertheless, based on the historical information that we have, we can state with a high degree of confidence that these statements are correct.

I always thought he drove a Dodge Ram diesel. He would have liked an HMMV, but it doesn't have the cargo space to haul the food for his stock. diablo2.gif

Seriously, Latter-Day Saints believe that Adam and his children kept a Book of Remembrance containing the revelations they received. (Moses 6:5) I do think the rest of your post is correct.

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Actually, Elder Ballard's statement was in the context of a story about a young woman who chose to obey counsel and took off her second set of earrings after hearing President Hinckley's address. What Elder Ballard said was, "Wearing two pair of earrings may or may not have eternal consequences for this young woman, but her willingness to obey the prophet will."

The same thing might be said about virtually any sin, transgression or infraction, large or small, because if such are repented of, they will, in fact, not have eternal consequences. To attempt to make this seem like Elder Ballard is minimizing the importance of the prophet's words in this instance strikes me as a distortion.

I didn't mean that Elder Ballard was diminishing President Hinckley's words. I know he was supporting him. However, an apostle states that he isn't sure whether or not 2+ pairs of earrings will have eternal consequences. However, following the prophet in principle will. I don't think he is conflating the two. It seems to me that he is stating that this specific counsel may or may not have any eternal significance, but the general principle of following the prophet will. I see no reason to read it as, "The actual practice of wearing 2+ pairs of earrings may not have any eternal significance in and of itself, but since the prophet brought it up, it does now."

Unless there is something intrinsically wrong about wearing 2+ pairs of earrings, I don't think it can be considered a "sin, transgression or infraction." I'm afraid that too many members assume it is one of those three only because the prophet said it was (even though he never labeled it as such). This is along the same lines a divine command theory: murder isn't intrinsically wrong. It is only wrong because God says it is. This is problematic. I wish members would seek out the reasons behind such counsel instead of just doing it "because he said so." That's all that worries me.

Does it rub you the wrong way that Elder Ballard said, in the address you cited, that "willingness to obey the prophet will [have eternal consequences]"?

Not at all, for the reasons given above.

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WalkerW,

I'm sorry for your irritation, but this is the first time I've ever brought up this point (indeed, I didn't know about it before), and it might well be the last. I agree with your sentiment that some issues are more important morally and spiritually than others, but that is somewhat of a side point to the question I raised, which had to do with the attitude that the stories about the girls and their earrings reflected. As you said, it's the "because he said so" motivation that the stories commended that raises some concern.

I apologize for not being more clear. I'm not irritated at you for bringing this up. I actually think you've made a worthwhile observation. My irritation comes from how often I hear it mentioned among the local members or from articles like the LDS Living one you linked to. I too am somewhat bothered by this approach and the praise that accompanies it. I think it is great if one heeds President Hinckley's counsel on this matter. I don't think it is great when one does so unthinkingly. I also don't think it is great when such counsel is transformed into some new revelatory commandment written by the hand of God Himself. This is how Mormon folk doctrine begins.

After rereading my original comment, I can see how you interpreted to be directed at you. It wasn't. It was just me expressing my frustration with some of my fellow members. As a very active Latter-day Saint, I think your observations and the implications of them are correct. I too find it concerning.

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Nathair,

I'm sure you understand that I don't regard the Book of Moses as historically authentic. But even conceding that this is what LDS scriptures teach, the fact remains that Abraham came comparatively early in the history of divine revelation and redemption. The Law of Moses was still future, as was the coming of Jesus Christ and the New Testament. So Abraham, as he trudged his way to the mountain to offer Isaac on an altar, did not have the benefit of our 20/20 hindsight as to the significance of his test in the larger scope of redemptive and revelatory history.

I always thought he drove a Dodge Ram diesel. He would have liked an HMMV, but it doesn't have the cargo space to haul the food for his stock. diablo2.gif

Seriously, Latter-Day Saints believe that Adam and his children kept a Book of Remembrance containing the revelations they received. (Moses 6:5) I do think the rest of your post is correct.

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WalkerW,

Thanks so much for your clarification. I appreciate your perspective.

I apologize for not being more clear. I'm not irritated at you for bringing this up. I actually think you've made a worthwhile observation. My irritation comes from how often I hear it mentioned among the local members or from articles like the LDS Living one you linked to. I too am somewhat bothered by this approach and the praise that accompanies it. I think it is great if one heeds President Hinckley's counsel on this matter. I don't think it is great when one does so unthinkingly. I also don't think it is great when such counsel is transformed into some new revelatory commandment written by the hand of God Himself. This is how Mormon folk doctrine begins.

After rereading my original comment, I can see how you interpreted to be directed at you. It wasn't. It was just me expressing my frustration with some of my fellow members. As a very active Latter-day Saint, I think your observations and the implications of them are correct. I too find it concerning.

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