Monday, 5 October 2015

How to Read the Scriptures

I have on my computer a copy of the Scriptures.  I also have a copy on my iPad as well as a printed copy that sits on my shelf gathering dust.  I assume that you have access to a copy as well.  My question is how do you use them? While I'm waiting for you to send me an e-mail with your answer let me tell you how I use my Scriptures.

I will read them as part of lessons I'm attending or teaching.  I also read them on a regular basis.  For example I just finished reading all of the words of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.  I also read all the scriptures on a yearly basis.  But this isn't the only way I use the Scriptures.  I also study them topically.  This is where I get most of my understanding of the principles of the Gospel.  But I don't ignore my reading because I need this reading to understand the context.  I find this two part approach to be very enlightening.

Another approach I use is to have a meta-principle in mind as I'm reading or studying.  I want to share one such principle with you.  I call this meta-principle behaviorism which I define this way.  I believe that we are three dimensional beings and that these three dimensions are Affect, Behaviour and Cognition.  Affect is everything you feel.  Behaviour is everything you do.  And Cognition is everything you think.  Behaviorism suggests that of the three the most important dimension and the one that takes precedence over the other two is what you do or in other words Behavior.  This is how I apply this principle to my study of the Scriptures.  It is a two step process.

Step number one I ask this question.  What the meaning of what I'm reading?

Step number two I ask.  How does what I'm reading, if it is true, affect my behaviour.

I believe that Jesus is concerned with two types of behaviour.  The first is sin and transgression.  I believe that He wants me to avoid doing either.  The second is being proactive in a positive way. For example if I'm serving in a calling then I believe that He wants me to perform at my best in my calling.  Let me give you an example that I hope will make this process perfectly clear.

Take this scripture in the Book of Mormon.

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Alma 7:11-12

Some people think that the word succor in the second verse means that Jesus will make us feel better by taking upon Him some of our infirmities.  I believe this interpretation is wrong because I have tried feel better by thinking He is bearing some of my burden and I failed every time.  And the reason I have failed is because neither I nor any other person can measure how they feel.  Our feelings are far too ephemeral to be measured.  Your experience may mirror mine.  If it has then apply my technique and see what happens.

When I apply my two-step process here is how I understand this scripture.

I believe that this scripture is explaining to us that Jesus suffered pains, affliction and temptations of every kind and that He remained sin and transgression free.  As well He also completed His mission regardless of His personal feelings.  So if we are ever in pain, or suffering an affliction, or being tempted then we can know that we can endure successfully by remaining sin and transgression free, and we can complete our mission because He did.

Another example of this in His life is what He said while He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

"And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Matthew 26:39

The key is to focus on our behaviour.  And the test of whether our understanding of this scripture is true is how our understanding affects our behaviour.  If our understanding doesn't help us to remain sin and transgression free or if our understanding doesn't help you with your mission then there maybe something wrong with your understanding.  If that is the case then you need to go back to square one and look for another meaning in the scripture and then put this new meaning to the test.  Repeat this cycle until you are sin and transgression free, and you are successfully completing your mission.  If you can do this then your understanding is true.  In other words, the truth has set you free.

And that in a nutshell is how I read and study the Scriptures.

As always, comments are welcome.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

There are no absolutes!

In this months post I return to my parable of Adam and Eve focusing on how God communicated with them.  What I'm going to do is show that typically when God speaks to us He does so using a specific pattern and once you know what this pattern is you will find in His messages new insight.

The pattern is the essence of simplicity.  It consists of two parts.  In the first part God typically makes a statement which can be classified as an absolute.  Then He follows this with an exception.  Take the Ten Commandments as examples.  There are five commandments that would seem to argue for the position that there are absolutes.  Take the sin of murder.  It would appear that this is an absolute.  Yet take the example of Nephi slaying Laban.  If the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" was an absolute where would Nephi be?  So in this instance we have an example of an "absolute" with an exception.  And there is always an exception.  Elder Oaks explained it this way in a fireside talk reported in the Ensign of May 2006.

"As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. For example, we believe the commandment is not violated by killing pursuant to a lawful order in an armed conflict. But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord."

Even the next commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery", has its exceptions.  We find this exception in the Doctrine and Covenants section 132, verse 41.  If a man be with a woman and she be with another man she has committed adultery unless she was appointed unto her by the holy anointing.  So again we have the exception.

Now returning to my parable of Adam and Eve where is the exception in this story?  And when we reread the scriptures it is clear that God said that Adam could eat of all the fruit of the garden except that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Again we have an "absolute" followed by an exception.

One final example should suffice to prove my point and we can turn to my first post and the use of the phrase "save it be".  If you go back and read each verse where this phrase and its companion phrases, "save it were", "save it was" and "save it is" are what you will find is the same pattern where the Lord states an "absolute" then He follows it up with an exception.

The question we might ask is why does God do this?  I'm going to suggest that the reason why He does this is because He wants us to focus on the exception and not the general "absolute".  Once you understand why He does this then this gives a whole different perspective to God's communications to us His children.

You can find more examples in the talks given by general authorities at General Conference.  Almost every talk uses this same pattern.  Joseph called the use of this speech pattern "the mysteries of Godliness".  In D&C 19 verse 6-12 God explained it this way.  He said that while the term "eternal damnation" might be understood as being endless actually what is meant by the use of the word "endless" is that it is one of God's names.  So while it might appear to mean endless damnation it isn't.  God just lets us believe it is endless because it might work upon the hearts of the children of men.  In other words it might scare us into being good.  A lot of what passes across the pulpit in General Conference follows this pattern.  It is meant to scare some of us who need this extra incentive to be good.  For the rest of us it means we can safely ignore this extreme rhetoric.  Unfortunately some of us are troubled by this speech and I'm hoping those who find and read this article will find solace in my words.

As always, comments are welcome.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Pornography, is it a sin and why?

For a lot of members of the Church I'm sure the first question would be an unmitigated yes, but I'm equally sure that most would have no idea as to why.  An even better question might be exactly what do we mean when we say that pornography is a sin?  Isn't pornography a thing?  And if pornography is a thing then how can it sin?  Isn't sin something that an individual does that God has commanded us not to do?  So how can pornography be a sin?

This line of questioning, points out an inherent problem with the issue of pornography in the Church.  The problem is that in our discourse we don't have or use an easy to understand definition for the word pornography.  In fact it took me some time to find this definition on the Church web site.

"Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings."

If this is what we in the Church are using to define pornography then there are four issues I have with this definition.  One issue is that it is so broad as to be almost meaningless.  One could argue that garbage bags are pornographic if they are shaped like the human body and if they arouse sexual feelings.  I can't imagine a world without garbage bags.

But whimsy aside, an even more troubling aspect of this definition is with the last phrase, "…arouse sexual feelings."  Who is to say if something arouses sexual feelings or not?  The conditional aspect of this definition is so subjective that it makes it impossible, for someone other than the individual themselves, to determining what is and isn't pornographic.  The question is, how does an individual know if they are aroused or not? As far as I can tell no one is born with an arousal meter that tells them when their arousal rating creeps into the red zone.  And without some way of measuring arousal we are left with everything is arousing, or nothing is arousing, or we are somewhere in the middle and we don't have a clue where we are.

The third issue I have with this definition of pornography is that two individuals can be looking at the same thing and one will be aroused and the other won't.  A subjective definition of pornography is the very antithesis of the belief that God is no respecter of persons.

My fourth issue with this definition is that it conflicts with the Church's stance on same sex attraction (SSA).  For example compare the definition of pornography just discussed with this quote from a letter published by the Church and read in Church on July 5th or 12th of this year.

"While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. If members feel same gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior… …These members may receive Church callings. …they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances” (Handbook 2, 21.4.6)."

In this case there is a very discrete line between desire and behaviour.  And when it comes to sexual desire in the context of SSA, having this desire doesn't disqualify one from a Temple recommend and participating in temple ordinances according to this letter.

Now compare this with those who have a sexual desire towards a member of the opposite sex.  If you find yourself sexually aroused by abstract objects like garbage bags you might be denied a Temple recommend.  Yet on the other hand if you find yourself sexually arouse by a member of your own sex obtaining a Temple recommend isn't a problem.  When you compare the consequences of these two desires you end up with only one conclusion.  There is an unfair difference in the consequence between those who have same sex desire and those who have opposite sex desire.  These two positions are therefore mutually exclusive.

Another troubling aspect, that this comparison demonstrates, is in the nature of the two acts being discussed.  On the one hand, homosexual behaviour is a sin.  While on the other hand, heterosexual behaviour isn't a sin as long as it is in a marital relationship.  Yet in the former any desire for a same sex relationship is okay but any desire for an opposite sex relationship is a sin if you are doing so while looking at someone of the opposite sex.  This doesn't make sense.  Why do those who have same sex attraction get a free pass to the Temple when it comes to desire?  And isn't the sole purpose of this life is to have a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex? 

Logical inconsistencies and subjective definitions like this need to be resolved or the consequences of these issues will play out in ways that are not always positive for the individual, or the Church.

Comments and questions are welcome

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Story of Adam and Eve - Part Three

How do we define what Adam Did?  In this next part of my parable of Adam and Eve I want to focus on what Adam did to contribute to Eve's transgression.  And again like last month you need to know the parable to make sense of this post.

The clue to understanding what he did can be found by searching the scriptures for every verse where these three words occur: transgression, sin, and iniquity.  When you do this you will discover the following three facts.

First all transgressions, sins and iniquities are behaviours.  In other words what you are thinking or what you are feeling may lead to any of these three behaviours but thinking and feeling are not a transgression nor a sin nor an iniquity.  A lot of people think because all behaviour for the most part is caused by what they think and feel then this means that all thinking and all feeling causes behaviour.  This is clearly wrong.  There are lots of times when thinking and feeling don't cause any behaviour or else how would things like planning take place?

The second thing is that these three behaviours all involve someone breaking a commandment from God.

The third and key fact is that the difference between these three behaviours has to do with the numbers of people involved.  For example the first of the Ten Commandments are all transgressions.  You can prove this is true by asking this question.  Who else, beside the person committing the transgression, is effected by the behaviour of the person who is breaking the commandment?  While there may be other people mentioned in the first five commandments, it is only the person who is breaking the commandment who suffers the consequences of their behaviour.

Sin differs in that there is at least one other person involved.  We can compare the first and last five commandments to see this difference.  In the first we are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  If we break this commandment the only person affected by our behaviour is ourselves.  When we break any of the last five commandments, for example the commandment not to kill, we are obviously affecting at least one other person.

The last of the trio of behaviour we are to refrain from doing is committing iniquity.  Iniquity is like sin in that it involves two or more people only in this case the person is trying to influence someone else to break a commandment.  This is the worse of the three behaviours and suggests that a sin is therefore worse than a transgression.  This graduated view of the commandments can be quite enlightening but it is a subject for another post.

Now with this understanding let us revisit the parable of Adam and Eve.  If we assume that when Adam added the extra caution to the commandment given him from God he was motivated by his love for Eve.  When he did this what commandment was he breaking?  If we go thru the five commandments from the Ten Commandments that are sins we might be able to answer this question.

The first is not to kill and it should be obvious that this isn't what Adam did.

The second is to not commit adultery and this also doesn't apply.

The third is not to steal and again there was no stealing.

The last sin is to not covet and this clearly isn't true in this case.

This leaves the fourth commandment which is not to bear false witness and this seems to fit the behaviour.  What Adam did was that he told Eve a lie and while he might have had good intentions this still doesn’t mitigate his responsibility.  We could continue this analysis of the parable by applying the definitions of transgression, sin and iniquity to the actions of all the three participates.

For example Satan was clearly breaking a commandment because he was trying to influence Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.  His behaviour was an iniquity which is why he received the severest punishment.  Adam lied to Eve while what Eve did in eating of the fruit was only a transgression.

What looking at this aspect of the parable does is that it provides an good example of the difference between transgression, sin and iniquity, and this understanding would seem to be a good thing if we are to avoid transgression, sin or iniquity in our own live.

As always, comments are welcome.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Story of Adam and Eve - Part Two

You need to read my previous post to make sense of this second post.

There are eight lessons we learn from my parable of Adam and Eve.  I propose to spend some time on each of them in the coming months.  This first lesson is directed at those who have authority over others.  This lesson is all about unrighteous dominion.
The prophet Joseph Smith was told in section 121 of the D&C that unrighteous dominion is pervasive and that "…no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned."  What Joseph didn't do is explain exactly what unrighteous dominion is.  I will use the parable of Adam and Eve I presented previously to explain exactly what unrighteous dominion is so that we can easily recognize it and take steps to counteract it.

To recap, in the parable of Adam and Eve what Adam did, when he added an extra commandment to that given him from God, was unrighteous dominion.  I'm sure that Adam's intentions were pure but his reasoning was faulty.  To make sense of what Adam did we need to assume two things.  The first is that his behaviour wasn't malicious.  The second is that he was so worried that Eve wouldn't be able to resist partaking of the forbidden fruit unless he added an extra step.  Unfortunately what he didn't do was respect Eve's agency and this failure is at the root of Adam's sin and in fact all unrighteous dominion.

For example I was in my High Priests meeting the other day and a former Bishop said he had great success in using this question. "When was the last time you used pornography?" to trick young people to confess.  Yet it is clearly stated in the Church Handbook of Instruction not to do this.  In this example of unrighteous dominion this former Bishop felt that he needed to add a little extra just like Adam did with Eve.  I had heard of this before but never first hand and I was shocked that this former Bishop would even consider using this technique let alone use it and then boast about it.  I even found a website where a group of Bishops expounded on the merits of using this and other questions like it.  And the reason why they use these types of questions is because for the most part they always work, especially with young people.  And because they work they get used a lot.

The only problem is that those who use these types of question are exercising unrighteous dominion and unrighteous dominion was what Lucifer was proposing.  Lucifer intention was to force everyone to be good so when a Church leader uses this type of interview question to force someone into confessing they are doing the very thing that Lucifer proposed.

Not only is this an example of unrighteous dominion there is a related problem and it happens as soon as the word gets out that the Bishop will try and trick you into confessing.  When the members of his ward learn of his underhanded method the pipeline of naive young people will quickly dry up.  But even more significant is that once someone is burned by this trick they become jaded about Church leadership just like in the case of Adam and Eve.  When Eve found fault with the commandment as given by Adam she wasn't able to resist partaking of the forbidden fruit.  This same thing happens with those young people who are unfortunate to have a Bishop that thinks tricking them into confessing is a good idea.  And just like Eve when these young people are tempted the deceitful actions of their leaders gives them an excuse at the very instant they need support from the Church.  I'm aware of a number of studies done at BYU that suggest that the combination of deceitful leaders and raging hormones is the single most significant factor in the high rate of inactivity and apostasy in the Church in the age group from 18 to 25.

I could go on and on listing examples because as Joseph suggested unrighteous dominion is ubiquitous.  And things need to change.  If you are in leadership in the Church and you are using these types of question then you need to recognize that doing so is a sin and stop immediately.  If you have been subject this type of abuse then you need to forgive those who committed this sin because ultimately you will be held accountable for your part in any sin that you might commit regardless of whether there are extenuating factors.  And if you are a lay member of the Church your obligation is to speak out if you see an example of unrighteous dominion.  And lastly everyone needs to share this message.

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Story of Adam and Eve

I thought that this month that I would share with my readers a little story.  It is a story that you might have heard before but I guarantee my version is different enough that it will open your eyes.  It is the story of Adam and Eve.  What I'd like to do is tell you a version of what happened in the Garden of Eden based the one in the Old Testament.  I will be quoting the Scriptures but you might want to have yours at hand as you read this article.  And like all my posts the goal of this exercise isn't to discover some truth in the Scriptures as much as it is to discover some truth about yourself.  This is how my story goes.

Everything starts with God putting Adam into the garden.  Here, from the scriptures, is the story.  I want you to pay particular attention to the commandment that God gave to Adam because I'm going to refer to it later in my story.

15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Then Adam, looking around, noticed that all the animals that God had made were male and female.  And because he was lonely God made a help meet for him.  This is how the story goes in the Scriptures.

18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Now this is where the fun begins.  Eve is approached by the serpent acting for the devil and she tempted to break a commandment.  And just for reference sake here is the commandment she is to keep.

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Note the change to this commandment in these verses.

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Did you notice the difference between the first commandment and this one?  Someone added the phrase "neither shall you touch it".  The question is who added these extra words?  There are three people who might have done it.  It might have been God or it might have been Eve but because it is my story I'm going to suggest that it was Adam.  I assume it was Adam because it was his way of protecting Eve.  In other words he extended this commandment because he wanted to ensure that she didn't eat by telling her not to even touch the fruit.  I also assumed he did this because he loved her and didn't want her to die.  This brings me a series of questions.

My first question is what would be the consequences of this belief on Eve, that even touching the fruit would be deadly, when she saw the serpent picking a piece of the forbidden fruit and offering it to her?  What would you do if you were Eve and you saw that the serpent didn't die when he touched the fruit?  What do you think would be going thru Eve's mind at this point?  Do you think she might have started to have doubts about the commandment?  Perhaps she thought the serpent isn't subject to the same commandments as Adam and her?  Regardless of her thoughts I'm sure she must have had experienced some confusion.  The question is did this experience have an affect on Eve's decision to eat of the fruit?  And because I think like a psychologist I have put this final question into the form of a psychological test.

Who do you think was responsible for Eve partaking of the fruit in my story?  If you think Adam was 100% responsible then circle the 0.  If you think it Eve was 100% responsible then circle the 10.  Of if you think they shared the responsibility then circle a number from 1 to 9 that indicates how you think they shared this responsibility.  Here is the scale.

Adam                                                                                                 Eve
0         1         2         3         4         5         6         7         8         9         10

This is step one.

The next step in this exercise is to give this quiz to someone else and ask them to answer this question.  The third and last step is to compare their answer to yours.  This is where the real learning in this exercise occurs.  The more effort you put into it the more you will get out of it.  If their answer differs from yours then why do they differ?  As you come to discover why some people see this story differently you will learn more about them but more importantly you will learn more about yourself.  Have fun with this little exercise and let me know how you make out.  I would love to hear of your experiences.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


As a new blogger I wondered what would make a suitable first post. I thought something about me might be appropriate but that seemed to be too much like boasting to a stranger.  It might make me feel good but I not sure you would find me that interesting.  And if you really want to know more about me you can always check out my web site.

Instead I decided that I would post an exercise from my workshop on personal self-development.  The workshop is an experiential process where I gather a group of members of the Church together to discuss Gospel topics and then we compare our understanding of these topics with a model of personality.  The process is a lot of fun and can be quite revealing.

The goal of the workshop is two fold.  The first is self-awareness.  The second is a greater appreciation for individual differences.  As we come to know who we are and how we differ from others we can use this understanding to improve our relationships with others.

One of my favorite topics in the workshop is what I call the twin challenges in the Book of Mormon.  This exercise tends to general a lot of discussion because the topic is somewhat controversial.  If you want to try this on your own you need your scriptures.  Electronic ones work best.  You can use your printed copy if you prefer.  It just takes a lot longer.

The Twin Challenges

The first is the Truth Challenge.  It is in Moroni 10:1-4 where we are challenged to discover for ourselves if the Book is true.

The second is where the fun starts and it is the Wisdom Challenge.  This is how Moroni phrased it in Mormon chapter nine.

31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made (will) manifest unto you our imperfection, that you may learn to be more wise that we have been.
32 And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.  (Mormon 9:30–33)

What do you think Moroni meant by "imperfections"?

Some might suggest that he is talking about personal failings.  It is hard to believe this is true when in verse 33 he says, "…imperfection in our record."  Therefore I suggest that one reason why he wrote the book was that God could, as Moroni writes later in this chapter, "…manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."  I believe that this challenge is like the Truth Challenge in that what we discover from the process is more about who we are then some object truth.  I have found one possible imperfection.  How I found it is another story that I will save for another post.

The possible imperfection that I want to tell you about is in the sermon of Jacob.  To understand why this might be an imperfection we have to start with the meaning of a common phrase that he used.  The phrase is "save it be". This phrase isn't used much today, yet it and the related phrases "save it were", "save it was" and "save it is" are used 131 times in the Book of Mormon.  The question is: What do you think these phrases mean?

The key to understanding these phrases is in the word "save" which means to rescue or set aside or to make an exception to a general rule.  When you combine the word "save" with the words "it" and "be" or the variants "were" "was" and "is" the end result is a verb phrase that you can use in a sentence where there is a comparison of the whole to a part.  Here is how this phrase is used.

Every use of the phrase "save it be" in the Book of Mormon follows this pattern.  First the author will start with a declarative statement which is stated as an absolute.  Most of the time, the statement is also a negative statement.  Take this verse from 1 Nephi for example.

4 And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.
(1 Nephi 2:4)

The declarative statement in this verse is that Lehi "…took nothing with him on his journey into the wilderness."  Note that the phrase "…took nothing with him" is a negative statement and it is also an absolute statement because it doesn't allow for any exceptions.  If he took anything with him then this statement is false.

What follows next is the phrase "save it be" which indicates that there is an exception to the previous statement.  In this case what Lehi did was bring "…his family, and provisions, and tents."

Today, instead of the phrase "save it be", we use the word "except" or "only". Which you use depends on whether the phrase is modifying the subject or the object of the sentence.  This means when you find the phrase "save it be" in the Book of Mormon you should be able to substitute either of these two words and not change the meaning.

I have included a few examples of scriptures that contain the phrase "save it be" in this article for those who don't want to search to find them.  If you are using a print copy of the Book of Mormon this might take some time.  I suggest using an electronic copy of the scriptures and searching for the term "save it be".  Make sure you include the quotation marks in your search term otherwise you will get too many hits.  When I left out the quotation marks I got 280.

What you will find is that there are 31 times in the Book of Mormon where the phrase "save it be" appears.  You don't have to read every example.  Three or four chosen at random should be sufficient to make my point but feel free to read them all if you like.

What you learn might surprise you.  So much so that you may even end up going back and reviewing all the verses that you found on your device just to make sure the conclusion I have drawn is correct.

Scripture examples

3 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be (only/except) the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.
(1 Nephi 14:3)

8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be (only/except) through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
(2 Nephi 2:8)

10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be (only/except) for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.
(Enos 1:10)

2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were (only/except) by the Holy Ghost?
(2 Nephi 32:2)

8 Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be (only/except) revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.
(Jacob 4:8)

19 And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were (only/except) in bearing down in pure testimony against them.
(Alma 4:19)

19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be (only/except) those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
(3 Nephi 27:19)

14 And it came to pass that the seventy and first year passed away, and also the seventy and second year, yea, and in fine, till the seventy and ninth year had passed away; yea, even an hundred years had passed away, and the disciples of Jesus, whom he had chosen, had all gone to the paradise of God, save it were (only/except) the three who should tarry; and there were other disciples ordained in their stead; and also many of that generation had passed away.
(4 Nephi 1:14)

Now here is where the fun begins

What you have learned from the proceeding is that in every single scripture where you find the phrase "save it be" in the Book of Mormon you can substitute "only" or "except" and the meaning of the scripture stays the same.  Now follow along as we replace "save it be" with "only" in this verse from a sermon by Jacob.

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have (only) one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
(Jacob 2:27)

When you replace the phrase "save it be" with the word "only" the meaning of this scripture is that no man should have only one wife.  Or in other words, every married man should have more that one wife instead of having concubines, which was what they were doing.  Did you see this coming?  Is this one of those imperfections Moroni mentioned?

I'm not suggesting that this is an imperfection but rather it might be because it seems to run counter to the common belief in the Church that polygamy wasn't sanctioned in the Book of Mormon.  But this is beside the point.  The goal of this exercise isn't to discover objective truth.  The goal is to learn more about who you are.  And we do that in the workshop by comparing each person's reaction to this discovery with the reaction of the rest of group.  This is obviously easy to do in a workshop.  It is a little trickier to do this on your own.  One way you can do this is to share this article with someone and then compare your reactions.  Remember you are looking for personality differences to explain your reactions and not looking for the truth.


The main reason why I picked this example to share with you is because it tends to generate a lot of discussion in the workshop and I'm hoping that it might do that here as well.  Of course this is because it is such a controversial topic.  Please note that I'm not promoting the practice of polygamy.  My goal here isn't to prove that polygamy was sanctioned in the Book of Mormon but rather my goal is to show how different personalities react in different ways when exposed to new and somewhat controversial information and that knowing who you are can help not only with understanding the Scriptures but more importantly with your interpersonal relationships.

I hope you have found this exercise interesting.  If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

All the best,