Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors: Can Eternal Marriage Be Perfect?

When I was a young girl I dreamt of having an eternal marriage. One day I would be in the celestial room kneeling across the altar, looking at the love of my life. We would see each other in the reflection of the mirrors as we were sealed to each other for time and all eternity. This man would cherish me and love me unconditionally, as I would him. He would be my best friend—someone I could trust. We would share all our joys, our hurts and pains, and the desires of our hearts. Most importantly, he would be faithful and true to me forever.

As I said, this was my dream. But I really never thought it would come true. Before I was even old enough to know what it was, I had lost my most important possession—my virginity. For most of my childhood I had been sexually abused and I felt so much shame. I knew how unclean I was, how inadequate to be a man’s wife. Who could ever love me if they knew? I was a broken and unhealthy young woman.

I dated quite a bit. One young man was very special to me, but I never felt worthy enough for him. How could I ever tell him the truth? While he was on his mission, I made horrible choices that confirmed I was not worthy. Getting drunk one night led to getting pregnant by a man who was not LDS. My dream of an eternal marriage was shattered by my sin.

We married and my husband was baptized our first year of marriage. We both desired to be married in the Temple and worked to become worthy. Our second daughter died of SIDS and we desperately wanted to be sealed together as a family. After we obtained our much sought after Temple recommend we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. As the years passed, my husband started questioning his faith in Mormonism. Much to my dismay, he left the Church. Then I found out he had been unfaithful to me. We separated and my girls and I moved to a new State and a new Ward. The desire of my heart was to be forgiven and cleansed of my sins. I clung to the words of my prophet Spencer Kimball about how to gain this forgiveness. (If you would like to read about this, read my post titled “God Doesn’t Lie—You Have Been Forgiven”)

After I left the Church, my husband and I reconciled. He promised he would be faithful and true to me and I trusted him. Over the next several years, he often broke this promise. My heart ached every time he cheated on me, but I always took him back. Deep inside I felt that the reason he was intimate with other women was because there was something wrong with me–because I had been sexually abused. Finally, after a rocky 14 years together, he left me for good. I vowed never to trust another man. I turned to other things I loved—my daughters, my artwork, college classes and gardening. But no matter what I did, I was still alone with the guilt and shame of my sins. I knew I was unworthy, unlovable and unfit.

Amazingly when I was 36, I met the man of my dreams! He knew everything about me—all my life of shame and sinfulness. Despite how unworthy I was, He still loved and cherished me! Nothing I had ever done mattered to Him. His love was unconditional. Even though I had vowed never to marry again, I was so in love with Him that I couldn’t help myself! His name was Jesus and in 1994 I was sealed to Him for time and all eternity by Heavenly Father Himself (2 Corinthians 1:20-22). He had already proved His love for me by giving His life for me—washing me of my sin and guilt and making me the virgin I never really had the chance to be! Because of this, I knew I could trust Him and that He would be faithful to me forever.

When He chose me as His bride, He showered me with so many undeserved gifts. But the gift I have treasured most is the forgiveness won for me by His shed blood. His blood has made me clean! My life of shame was taken away the moment He chose me to be His bride. He even gave me my wedding garments! I sing with joy the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10) This gift of His robe of righteousness cleansed me of all sin, so I can dwell in the very presence of God!!

Having been given this amazing gift has changed my life drastically. One of those changes has been my desire to study God’s Word. I pour over the pages of the Bible, discovering the things that God wants to teach me. LDS Prophets claim that marriages performed in LDS Temples will last into eternity: “Grateful should we be for a knowledge of the eternity of the marriage covenant.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 8: Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors)

But when I did a study on whether a marriage between a man and a woman will last into eternity, I found God’s truth. The only marriage relationship that will last beyond the grave is one with Jesus. Jesus Himself testified of this truth:

“For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” (Mark 12:25).

This doesn’t mean that believing husbands and wives won’t be together for eternity. It just means that their relationship will not be as a man and wife. All believers will spend eternity together, in companionship with God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

Another gift God gave me was the courage to marry again. Four years after I met Jesus, God brought into my life a wonderful Christian man of God who, amazingly, is also Christ’s bride. The Apostle John taught us in the book of Revelation that anyone who has been made righteous through Christ is His bride. And my husband and I will be together for eternity because we both have faith in Jesus.

There is no earthly relationship that surpasses the love that Jesus has for you. He died for you and wants to shower you with His gift of righteousness. Please, join with the Apostle John as we shout: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:7-9).

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“He Is Risen”— a Prophet’s Testimony: Is Jesus Your Substitute or Your Exemplar?

Today we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It is my hearts desire to share our Savior’s true mission with you. When I was LDS I thought I understood Christ’s true mission. I had been taught that through the Resurrection Jesus conquered physical death. In doing so, I believed He gained immortality for us (bodily resurrection)–the only free gift of the Atonement:

“President Monson shares his testimony of …the Savior’s Resurrection and declares that because the Son conquered death, all of the Father’s children who come to earth will live again.” (First Presidency Message, “He Is Risen”—a Prophet’s Testimony, Ensign, Apr. 2012)

Because Heavenly Father sent us to earth to be tested, we needed someone to show us how to be perfect. In His role as our Exemplar, Christ showed us that we could gain eternal life by obedience to God’s commands. We just had to follow His example. When I was LDS I didn’t realize that His Role as Exemplar was unique to Mormonism:

“Christ came not only into the world to make an atonement for the sins of mankind but to set an example before the world of the standard of perfection of God’s law and of obedience to the Father. In his Sermon on the Mount the Master has given us somewhat of a revelation of his own character, which was perfect… and in so doing has given us a blueprint for our own lives.”

I was amazed when I learned Christ’s true mission: Christ is our Substitute! For thirty six years I never once heard the word “Substitute” in connection to Christ or His Atonement. When I first heard it—I rejoiced because of what it meant. I knew how sinful I was and how much I needed a Substitute. I knew that if my eternal life depended upon how well I followed Christ’s example, I was doomed.

I learned that I was not the only person who was unworthy. I discovered that the very reason Christ came to this earth was because every person is unworthy and sinful (Romans 3:10-12). None of us has the ability to meet Heavenly Father’s demands. By nature we are children of wrath! (Ephesians 2:3) No one is righteous; in fact Jesus claimed that we’re not even good (Matthew 19:17). The Prophet Isaiah testified that even our righteous works are like filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). Since our eternal destination hangs in the balance of meeting God’s demands, we need a Substitute–not an Exemplar.

The idea of a substitute is not foreign to God’s people. Heavenly Father had actually instituted Christ’s role of substitution through animal sacrifices. He declared that anyone who did not obey His commands must pay for their sin through eternal death. But since every person is sinful no one could be saved without an alternative plan. We see that plan demonstrated in the Old Testament sacrifices. A man’s sin could be atoned for by the shedding of the lifeblood of a substitute sacrifice.

When an Israelite sinned, he went to the Temple! He brought a perfect animal and the Priest sacrificed it as an atonement for his sin. If the sacrifice wasn’t perfect it was declared unfit to atone for someone’s sin. All these animal substitutes merely pointed ahead in similitude to the perfect Substitute sacrifice—Jesus Christ! And, His perfect sacrifice was the final sacrifice—once, for all (Hebrews 10:10).

Before Christ could sacrifice Himself and become our Substitute, He first had to do what we could not do–live a perfectly obedient life. He successfully obeyed all the commands that God required, like visiting the sick, loving our enemies and forgiving those who despitefully used Him. He did all of these things for us, in our place, as our substitute! (Romans 5:19) He did this because we could not meet God’s demands to be obedient for ourselves!

In a similar way that a substitute teacher takes over and accomplishes the work the teacher was supposed to do, Jesus lived His entire life doing the works we were supposed to do. When you read in scripture that Jesus prayed for His enemies, rest assured that this obedient act has been credited to your account. Jesus took your sins as if they were His own; and in exchange, gave you His perfect works, as if you yourself had accomplished them (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be our Substitute and not our Exemplar (53:4-12). He testified that Jesus would suffer the penalty for our iniquity. We all have gone astray, just like sheep! Even though we deserved punishment, God laid all our iniquity on Jesus. As our substitute He was wounded, bruised and stricken. Our eternal consequence for sin was to be cursed to eternal life with Satan because we failed to continue doing everything God commanded. As our substitute, Jesus became a curse for us! (Galatians 3:10-13). We were all unclean and not able to enter God’s presence; (Ephesians 5:5) but Jesus washed our sins away with His own blood and became sin for us.

In Hebrews we read that Christ offered His body as a perfect sacrifice and in exchange, we have been perfected forever! (10:10-14) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” We who were sinful and imperfect, are found perfect in God’s sight. This is because Christ was punished for our sins, and covered us with His righteousness: Isaiah 61: 10 “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,”

Heavenly Father loves you so much He sent His Son on a Mission to be your Substitute! Believe it, and then live your life in thanksgiving — following Christ’s example. Not to be worthy enough to gain eternal life; but to thank your Savior who was worthy for you — as your Substitute!

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The Immortality of the Soul: As Man Is, God Once Was, and As God Is, Man May Become?

The Relief Society and Priesthood Lesson for this week states: “The Lord has blessed us with a knowledge that he lives, and has a body, and that we are created in his image. We do not believe that he is some kind of essence or that he is incomprehensible.”

Have you ever questioned the LDS belief that God’s “eternal spirit is housed in a tangible body of flesh and bones”? When I was LDS I never questioned this teaching — it seemed that the Bible clearly supported it. After the Holy Spirit brought me to faith in the true Christ, I discovered that this doctrine was unique to Mormonism. And I soon found out that the Christian churches I attended taught other things about the nature of God that didn’t make sense to me. So I decided to dig into scripture to find out the truth. With my new-found faith I had a strong resolve to be like the Berean’s — to search the scriptures and make sure that whatever I was told agreed with God’s truth. (Acts 17:11)

Underlying the LDS teaching that God has a body of flesh and bones is the belief that God was once a sinful man, subservient to an earlier created god: “…we believe that “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.” [See Lorenzo Snow, “The Grand Destiny of Man,” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 7: The Immortality of the Soul, p 71)

Searching the scriptures I quickly discovered that the words of this LDS prophet are false. God’s Prophet, the Prophet Isaiah wrote: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (43:10, 44:6)

Learning that God could never have been a man still didn’t explain to me what God was. I wondered what He looked like. I had been taught that since I was created in God’s image, then God must look like me. I decided to read all the passages referenced in the LDS Topical Guide about the body of God to see if any had been miss-interpreted. To my surprise, they hadn’t. These passages clearly taught that God had the physical characteristics of a man. They attributed God as having a face, mouth, voice, fingers, hands and feet.

Wanting to learn more, I started doing word studies. When I found another passage saying that God had a hand as well as ears, I wondered why this passage hadn’t been listed in the LDS Topical Guide. Reading in context answered my question and led me to a surprising discovery! Not only did God have ears, He had wings and feathers:

“I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Ps 17:6-8).

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:1-4)

From this study I learned that while scripture often attributes human characteristics to God, it also uses non-human characteristics to describe Him. (Not surprisingly, you won’t find any of these passages listed in the LDS Topical Guide.) Mormons can no more claim that God is a glorified man than someone could say He is an enormous bird.

Jesus told us the truth about what God is. He revealed:

“God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

God is so powerful that He can take on any form He chooses. We see at Christ’s baptism that the Holy Ghost took on the physical form of a dove. Scripture often uses word pictures to give us a glimpse of what God is like because He is so unlike humans:

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

Scripture reveals that our Savior has always been God! He was not (as LDS prophets claim) “the first spirit born to our heavenly parents” — parents who began their lives as created spirit children:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14) Jesus took on human flesh and became a man “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:14-18). Even though He was God, He “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

In the end, it is not the form of God that matters, it is what He did for us. Death is a consequence of sin but Jesus had no sins of His own! He died on the cross because He chose to die — for you. It was His mission — His very purpose for coming to earth was to take our sins upon Himself, as if they were His own; and give us His righteousness, as if it was our own:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Your sins have been covered and forgiven by His blood. Believe it and receive it, and trust in Him:

“How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” Psalms 36:7

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General Conference: To the Women of the Church from the Prophet

Listening to a speaker at Conference yesterday reminded me of a talk President Hinckley once gave. While both men focused their words to single mothers, the Prophet directed his words specifically to those with emotional pain.

Everyone has felt pain. Pain is often a warning of something wrong and in this way can be a blessing. I have experienced both physical and emotional pain in my life. Once I had a pain in my side that finally got bad enough I went to see a Doctor. He detected and removed a very large cancerous kidney tumor. I had a similar situation a few years later when headaches led Doctors to find and remove a brain tumor. While this physical pain was not fun, its warning saved my life – twice. I could have chosen to ignore my pain, but I didn’t. If I had, I would have forfeited my life.

The same can often be said of emotional pain. When I was LDS I suffered the pain of failing to gain forgiveness through the process of repentance. I failed because I just couldn’t keep all of Heavenly Father’s commands all the time. When I repeated a sin, like gossiping or not forgiving someone, I lost what precious forgiveness I had already gained. The anguish from this pain was a warning which led me to seek help in finding the only cure — my Savior.

When I met the true Christ I learned that no one can gain forgiveness with their own works. John the Baptist declares that Christ’s works have already taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The forgiveness of sins comes only through the shed blood of a perfect sacrifice. And Jesus sacrificed His perfect life for us over 2,000 years ago. The Apostle Peter testifies that forgiveness is granted the moment a person believes in Jesus: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43).

Are you a woman in pain who struggles with depression or anxiety? Were you sexually abused as a child and don’t know how to overcome the emotional trauma? Is your spouse addicted to pornography? Are your burdens heavy because you have been abandoned by your husband or have been widowed? Have you been left alone to raise your children? Do you often “cry in your closet” but wish you had someone to simply listen to you? Do you pretend you are fine but “put a smile on your face whenever you are in front of others“?

Put on a smile before others

Put on a smile before others

Some years ago in General Conference President Hinckley had a message for such hurting women: “Now I speak to you single mothers whose burdens are so heavy because you have been abandoned or have been widowed. Yours is a terrible load. Bear it well. Seek the blessings of the Lord. Be grateful for any assistance that may come out of the quorums of the priesthood to help you in your home or with other matters. Pray silently in your closet, and let the tears flow if they must come. But put a smile on your face whenever you are before your children or others.

Hiding your pain from family and friends is never the answer! If you had a daughter whose spouse died or who abandoned her, would you tell her to pray and cry in her closet but pretend to others that her burden was not heavy? How could anyone reach out to her if she hid her affliction from others? The most daunting aspect of these words is that according to LDS prophets they are not merely President Hinckley’s opinion, they are the words of Heavenly Father – His latest revelation.

My pain of failing to earn forgiveness led me to discover that Heavenly Father would never say these words! Instead He tells us to “bear one another’s burdens”; words which compel your Christian brothers and sisters to reach out to you in love (Galatians 6:2). God’s Words comfort, heal and speak of unconditional forgiveness. God showed His ultimate love for us by punishing His one and only Son to heal our disease of sin (John 3:16).

Are you in pain and tired of pretending? If so, I pray that pain drives you to seek the Savior who has borne your grief and carried your sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). May it drive you to a Christian Congregation of brothers and sisters who welcome the opportunity to share your burdens.

Or, you could choose to hide your pain, alone in your closet. But if you do you may well forfeit the joy of living with your Savior for life eternal.

Additional Testimony:
Visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions:
– James 1:27
Give all your burdens to Heavenly Father & Jesus:
– Matthew 11:28
– 1 Peter 5:7
– Philippians 4:6-7
– Psalm 23:4
– Psalm 119:50
Additional LDS Words:

Found in TofPofC-Harold B. Lee, page 84:
“His prophet is upon the earth today, and if you want to know the last revelation that has come to this people, you get down the last conference report and read carefully especially what the First Presidency said… “You will have the best and the last word that has been given from our Heavenly Father.”

Found in D&C Gospel Doctrine Teachers Manual, page 244:
“Emphasize that the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators. They continue to receive revelation to guide the Church. “Their direction is “the will of the Lord, … the mind of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation”.

Link to President Hinckley’s Words:
General Conference, Ensign, November 2003, page 115
President Gordon B. Hinckley, To the Women of the Church