March 21, 2017

The Painful Quest for Truth

From the beginning of humankind, we have sought for the truth. We want to know the answers to those deep questions about life and search through science, religion, philosophy, and society. God wants us to ask the tough questions because it builds our faith. He will answer our questions...but in different times or ways then we expect.

Satan intervenes during our quest with half-truths, flattering words, distractions, and lies. He yearns to discourage us when we face troubling questions and moral dilemmas.

We then have a choice of where and how we search for the truth.
"The Serpent and Eve Banner" by Circe Denyer

The First Desire for Truth & Knowledge

In the Garden of Eden, God imparted eternal truth and knowledge to Adam and Eve. This included the plan to return to Heavenly Father and to be like Him. However, Adam and Eve's paradise--which literally means to form walls around--soon became a prison. Particularly, this commandment of warning and choice halted their progress:
Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (emphasis added; Moses 3:16-17).

Eve desired more knowledge to be like God as he had taught her. And she desired to follow every commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. Thus, Eve recognized truth--but not the lie yet--in Satan's half-truth about the forbidden fruit:
"Ye shall surely not die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as the gods, knowing good from evil" (emphasis added; Genesis 3:4-5).
Adam and Eve chose to not heed God's warning, but follow the other commandments. They fell on the double-edged sword of seeking knowledge, experiencing sorrow and joy. Their fall led to our existence (see 2 Ne. 2:25).

Paradoxically, God cast Adam and Eve out on their journey back to Him.

Historical Quests for Truth

Questioning aspects of religion has led to many breakthroughs throughout history. The Bible records many of the answers to spiritual questions from Adam to Paul.

According to LDS belief, Jesus Christ's entire church collapsed when His apostles died. Only records remained, but no Priesthood authority. A few hundred years later, Catholicism and Orthodoxy took shape with parts of the truth intact.

Many questioned the power and doctrine of Roman Catholicism (which led to eventual change in Catholicism).

Martin Luther questioned the doctrine of indulgences and his 99 points. The Baptists questioned how baptism should really take place. Anne Boleyn convinced Henry VIII to break from Catholicism, though he used it only for his selfish desires.

The Separatists, pilgrims, suffered because of their quest for knowledge outside of the Church of England. Eventually, these questions improved Catholicism itself. Many more questioned practices found in religion, and the contradictions in the Bible.

During the Second Awakening in America, a 14-year-old boy Joseph Smith was on a quest for spiritual knowledge. He received an answer that no church was true, which wasn't what he expected at all!

I believe Jesus Christ restored His Church through Joseph Smith. With each question Joseph Smith had, he received answers (whether he liked the outcome or not, such as plural marriage).

In my church, Joseph Smith's questions led to the restoration of the priesthood, temple ordinances, Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. He and others made mistakes along the way because they had no predecessors to rely on.

Other prophets received revelation about other aspects. Of great concern was why the black men weren't allowed to have the Priesthood. Joseph Smith had ordained a few black men to the Priesthood, but the ordinations stopped after his martyrdom. After Brigham Young, subsequent prophets asked when the Priesthood would be available to all men, no matter their color. The answer came in 1978 to Spencer W. Kimball and the Apostles. This quest for truth lasted for over 100 years. For more information, read this article.

Satan Manipulates Our Desire for Truth

Satan manipulates our drive for knowledge with half-truths, philosophies of men, and knowledge for knowledge sake. He drives us into whatever wind of doctrine that distracts us from the whole truth of God. We get stuck on one passion and neglect the rest. He seeds doubt and casts out faith.

We sometimes search for truth from questionable sources. Instead of searching for answers from the source, we go to the opposition's camp. We can become swamped with so much useless knowledge, we never attain the highest truths of existence.

How do We Receive Answers?

First, we need to have faith to seek eternal truth. Without the foundation of faith, we are blown off course. We must hold on to what we know until we find the other answers we seek.

Jesus Christ told Oliver Cowdery during the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "you must study it out in your mind" (D&C 9:8). The Lord wants us to use our brains and hearts to find answers. This inherently means to ask questions.

We prepare ourselves for an answer when we pray and clear our minds. Then we listen for answers. We allow the quiet to settle upon us.

How do we know if something is true? When the Holy Ghost speaks peace to our hearts and our minds (D&C 8:2).

The Answers that Never Come

I have had questions that sometimes I don't have a satisfactory answer to. I try to hold on to what I do know. Some answers remain for eternity.

I wonder why the women don't have the priesthood in the LDS faith. I have some answers, but mostly more questions. I read Sheri L. Dew's book Women and the Priesthood, which gave me some answers. When men would say that she didn't have the Priesthood in her home, Sheri Dew responded that she had access to the Priesthood in her home through her baptismal and temple covenants. 

I have access to the Priesthood authority of God when I keep my baptismal and temple covenants. I can't rely on my husband or any other Priesthood holder to be present all the time. On the other hand, a man alone cannot give himself a Priesthood blessing. Another Priesthood holder has to do it.

What do women have that correlates with the Priesthood? I've concluded that it is not motherhood, but service. We have an authority that is veiled from the world.

I wonder why some struggle with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. My thoughts are that it is an affliction similar to bipolar, but it does throw in a lot of kinks. The jury is still out.

Some answers will only come in the eternities. In the meantime, I hold on to what I know. Like science, spirituality is a lifetime exploration that adjusts to new discoveries.

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