Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Body is a Temple

We Mormons have a unique perspective regarding our mortal bodies, and that comes from the Mormon doctrine that our Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bones.

Tangible, but not mortal, God is not a personage of spirit, but a glorified, exalted, celestial Man with a resurrected and glorified body in which His eternal spirit dwells.

Because He loves us and has a plan for our eternal happiness, our Father in Heaven sent us, His spirit children, to earth to obtain mortal bodies through which we would be tried and tested to see if we will keep His commandments. Eventually we will all die--our spirit separating from our body for a while--but because of Christ's atonement and resurrection, all mankind will eventually be resurrected as well, the spirit and body to never again separate. Those who choose to follow God's plan and keep His commandments will not just rise from the dead with resurrected bodies, but with glorified, exalted and celestial bodies.

Even though these mortal dwellings of our spirits are imperfect and corruptible, the bodies we've been blessed with house our spirits and are God's sacred creation. Wise and grateful Mormons respect their bodies as gifts from God. Our body is the instrument of our spirit, and our challenge here is to make our body the best we can, and to use it as wisely and obediently as possible.

The wise and righteous use of our body includes how we display it for the rest of the world to see. Clothing that is too short, too tight, and too revealing in any way mocks the sacredness of the body and affronts our God. Tattoos, body piercings, and even too many piercings in the ears both disfigure and call inappropriate attention to a sacred gift. Photos of ourselves or our children that are placed where all the world can see them should accurately reflect the respect and esteem we have for our bodies, by being modest and promoting the sacred joy we have in these bodies.

It is not that Mormons are not grateful for our bodies, nor is it that we do not think them beautiful gifts from a divine Father. Modesty itself is a public statement as to just how grateful we are for the precious gift of our physical bodies. How we treat our bodies is a reflection of just how grateful we truly are.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Called of God

Faithful Mormon parents raise their sons with the expectation that, when they turn nineteen, those worthy sons will be called as part of the missionary force the Savior instituted when he said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

Shortly after our third son received his call to serve in South America, a friend not of our faith, grandfather to our boy's good friend, asked if we knew yet where said son would be going.

When I told him the nation that would be our son's home for the next two years, the grandpa asked, "Does the missionary get to pick where he wants to go? How does that get decided?"

I ventured to answer honestly: "We believe the missionary is called by God through inspiration."

With a look of slight impatience on his face, this man responded, "Right. How do they really decide?"

As Mormons we share many of the same Christian doctrines as our friends of other faiths. However, if there is one thing that truly sets us apart, it could well be that we really DO believe that in Christ's church, men and women are called by God, through the Spirit of prophecy, to serve the Lord in His Kingdom.

When the Savior asked his disciples who people said that he was, Peter declared with certitude, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (see Matthew 16:15-19). The Savior then stated two great truths:

First, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona . . ."--it is a blessing to feel the inspiration of heaven revealing truth to our souls; and second, "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven"--there is a power beyond mortal might which will teach truth to the honest seeker.

Heavenly Father wants his children to know, to experience, truth. Whether the truth has to do with the field of labor for a new missionary, or how to organize and run a local congregation, men and women who are called of God can have the gift of prophecy. That is a great blessing all of us can tap into.