Saturday, April 6, 2013

Summary Of 183rd Annual LDS General Conference, Saturday Morning General Session: New Temples For Cedar City And Rio, And Beware Of The "Tolerance Trap"

On April 6th, 2013, the Saturday Morning General Session of the 183rd Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kicked off with the announcement of two new temples, a condemnation of the enshrinement of the Tolerance Cult in our society that promotes such intolerance against social conservatives and other people of faith, and that the Atonement should not be viewed as a license to sin. The opening session also marked an organized counteroffensive against the feminism which is slowly infecting LDS ranks, but it was done in a spirit of love without condemning feminism or feminists. And, for the first time, a woman gave a prayer during a General Conference session; Jean Stevens, first counselor in the Primary Presidency, offered the benediction at the close of the session.

Video and audio archives and written transcripts of the talks are now available HERE. Mormon Newsroom provides a gallery of photos. Good secular-oriented coverage is provided by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Summaries of Other Conference Sessions:

-- Saturday Afternoon General Session
-- Saturday Evening Priesthood Session
-- Sunday Morning General Session
-- Sunday Afternoon General Session

Summaries of the talks are available through both the LDS Church News Portal Page and the Deseret News. Clicking on the speaker's name will take you directly to the Deseret News story about the speech (after the jump):

-- President Thomas S. Monson: Led off by announcing that new temples will be constructed in Cedar City, Utah and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This will bring the grand total of temples worldwide to 170, 140 of which are currently in operation. President Monson also made a pitch for increased contributions to the General Missionary Fund, noting that 65,634 missionaries currently serving and 20,000 more have been extended calls; of those 20,000, 6,000 are currently in the interview process.

-- President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve: Spoke out extensively about disturbing social trends in the greater society, noting that a dangerous world threatens those things which are spiritual. President Packer said "The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded." President Packer also condemned the enshrinement of the Tolerance Cult in our society, noting that "Tolerance is a virtue, but, like all virtues, when exaggerated it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the 'tolerance trap' so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the spiritual consequences that result from the violation of God's law of chastity."

-- Bishop Dean M. Davies, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric: Bishop Davies, citing Helaman 5:12, counseled on the importance of building lives on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ. He said that when a site is considered for a new temple, careful attention is given to the soils, geology, weather and natural calamities that take place in the area where it will be built to make sure it will stand firm. He also said Heavenly Father also has prepared plans, tools and resources for our use so that we can build and frame our lives to be sure and unshaken. Bishop Davies then noted that faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end are the blueprints that shape the supporting structure of a person's life, while the specifications that integrate and bind together this structure are prayer, reading the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament and receiving priesthood ordinances.

-- Sister Elaine S. Dalton, General Young Women President: Sister Dalton extended a call to parents to help instill in their daughters that they are daughters of God and help them step out of the world and into the kingdom of God. Citing Mosiah 18:9, she said they need to stand as witnesses of God at all time and in all things, and in all places, and emphasized the importance of virtue. Sister Dalton noted that if virtue was reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value, we would see a decrease in immorality, pornography and abuse, and there would be fewer broken marriages, broken lives and broken hearts. She condemned the mass media for objectifying and degrading women.

-- Elder Craig A. Cardon of the First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Cardon discussed the miracle of forgiveness. He noted that the Savior forgives sin upon earth and not just at the final judgment. But Elder Cardon also noted that the Atonement does not grant a license to sin in the future, saying about the Savior that "He does not excuse us in our sins. He does not condone our return to past sins. But when we repent and obey His gospel, He forgives us." Yes, the Savior recognizes we cannot become perfect in this life, but He merely asks that when we sin in the future, we recognize it, repent, and correct for it as necessary. So in the final analysis, the Atonement, rather than giving us a "license to sin", actually gives us a "license to repent of sin and overcome it".

-- Elder M. Russell Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Ballard spoke of the power of the Priesthood. To counteract Mormon feminists, Elder Ballard differentiated between the power of the priesthood, which he defined as a sacred and essential gift of God, from priesthood authority, which is the authorization to act in God's name. To reassure women, he said "In our Heavenly Father's great priesthood endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife.". I've also heard it said that while women bring spirits from eternity to mortality through motherhood, men bring spirits from mortality back to eternity though priesthood. Interesting analogy.

Elder Ballard also noted that the priesthood power we use to succor, strengthen and bless our families and our neighbors is the same priesthood power used to create worlds, galaxies and universes. This point is of interest because the authors of The Kolob Theorem speculate that each galaxy represents the kingdom of an exalted being who has achieved godhood. But Elder Ballard also suggests that universes were also created, and that there are multiple universes. This is mind-boggling and absolutely incomprehensible at this point; one can readily see multiple galaxies, but how can one envision multiple universes? It is this type of deep doctrine that makes Mormonism so intellectually captivating to me.

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: "To obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams". President Eyring spoke about the importancer of obedience, saying that individuals come closer to the Savior through simple acts of obedience to the commandments and through blessing and serving others. He reminded people that we are under covenant both to lift up those in need and to be witnesses of the Savior as long as we live, and that we will only be able to do it without fail as we feel love for the Savior and His love for us. As we are faithful to the promises we have made, we will feel our love for Him. It will increase because we will feel His power and drawing near to us in His service.

Reaction: As is usual, unofficial LDS opinion is reflected in the Bloggernacle, with reaction published in By Common Consent and Feminist Mormon Housewives and Millennial Star and Times And Seasons.

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