38: “After Much Tribulation … Cometh the Blessing” (Doctrine and Covenants 102–105)
Have you ever built something with your bare hands? Maybe you’re savvy with tools, or maybe assembling IKEA furniture is the closest you’ve gotten to building something. Either way, we all know building includes a lot of different pieces and finagling to get it to all come together. This weeks study group we dig into Doctrine and Covenants 102–105 that is all about building up Zion, and what sort of finagling is involved in helping us become one, together.
Have you guys ever built something, like really built something? I'm not talking about something from IKEA. Although that is difficult. I will tell you that the summer I graduated from college my cousin hired me, he gave me on-the-job training as a dry-waller. I learned how to hang, mud, and tape. And I'm telling you right now, it was the hardest, most labor-intensive, painful job I have ever had in my life. I'm not a builder, but I did need money that summer. So I was like, "I'll do it."
You know what, by the end of the summer, I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty good at drywalling. But the incredible thing is I noticed how strong I had become. I had muscles in places I didn't even know I had muscles. And I noticed that there's so much that goes into building things. And in my experience, it wasn't just the client who was the one who benefited from the results. I benefited. And I kind of think that's true for what we've been asked to build throughout the Doctrine and Covenants this year, building Zion.
Today's study of Doctrine and Covenants, Sections 102-105 is all about building up Zion. And I think that our client—God—is all about making sure that we benefit from this process more than we ever imagined.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDS Living, where we take the Come, Follow Me lesson for the week and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, hi, Tammy Uzelac Hall.
Now if you're new to our study group, let's just make sure you know how to use this podcast. So follow the link in our description. It's going to explain how you can best use this podcast to enhance your Come, Follow Me study just like my friends do: Lacey Johnson, Ginger Evans and Shannon Rally from Cedar City, Utah. Hi, ladies. Was so good to be with you.
Now another awesome thing about our study group - this is my favorite thing - is each week, we're joined by two of my friends. And so the friends that I get to have on today, and I could not be more excited, we have Aliah Hall and Ben Schilaty. Hi, guys!
Aliah Hall 1:47
Good morning, Tam!
Ben Schilaty 1:48
Hello! Happy to be here.
Oh, I'm so happy to have you guys here. Just so we all know, they're both therapists. And I have to say that because I asked them both, I'm like, "Can you do that? Can you put two therapists together?" And I love that Aliah's like, "We'll play nice."
And we'll charge you after this, Tammy.
Yeah, go ahead. See the secretary.
There's a copay for this episode. I think we should actually pay you because there's a lot of therapy that can come out of these sections 102-105. And I even looked at these and I thought, "I can't believe we have to cover this much in an hour." Everybody just say a little prayer that God will stretch time for us because we cover so much in a short amount of time. So that's our goal with this episode. So thank you.
Alright, for those of you who are listening, if you want to know more about my guests, go check out their bios at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday, and I'm going to encourage you to do that; you're going to want to know their backgrounds. It's amazing.
Well, friends, let's do this. Grab your scriptures and let's dig in. Okay, have you ever built something?
So speaking of building houses, I'd just finished at BYU and moved to Salt Lake and I had no friends because that's a frequent problem of mine (laughs).
Because you're an introvert.
Yeah, I'm an introvert. I'm like an extreme introvert. And so I decided that a good way to make friends was just do a women's build for Habitat for Humanity. And so I organized a women's build with the women in my ward to go and build houses for Habitat for Humanity. We, we did not lay drywall but we did put on siding all day long. So you can put on the drywall and I can put on siding on a house.
Yeah, Tammy, I'm not handy at all. I've done a lot of like painting and digging, but building? Not really. I've put together some IKEA furniture, but it's always a little wobbly at the end.
I remember, I'm from the Seattle area and the soil there is a lot of clay. So it's really easy to dig. And then I serve my mission in Chihuahua, Mexico, in northern Mexico, and someone was planting trees and we offered to do service and help them and that ground was just rock. And I did not know how hard it would be to dig in desert soil after spending my whole childhood just digging in clay. And so building and digging and painting can be different based on where you are, so.
Yes, absolutely. I like that Ben. And now look at us. We all have these skills that we bring to the table. I like that God says this in Section 104 verses 14 and 15. I really like that the Lord calls Himself a builder here. Aliah, will you read that real fast?
14 "I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.
15 "And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine."
Isn't that cool? Like, "I'm a builder and I'm gonna ask you to build."
I have a five-year-old, so now I have like the "Bob the Builder" theme song going on in my head.
Do you want to sing it for us?
No, no (laughter).
Well, here's the question I want you to kind of think about because I'm gonna ask you this at the very end of this episode. I just want you to think, "Do either of you have an experience where you personally benefited from building Zion, where your spiritual muscles grew?" So kind of be thinking about that as we go throughout this because we've been asked to build Zion. And I like how all three of us have different skill sets that we bring to the table. And that's kind of what building Zion is all about. Would you guys agree?
When we build Zion, we are all different on purpose. Like the body of Christ is all made up of different kinds of people. So when we build, you know, we don't have to be good at siding or drywall. It's okay if you're just good at painting because we do not all have to have the same skills. We need to pool our skills and work together to build.
I want to add to that. Not only do we not have to have the same skills, we should not have the same skills. Because a house that's just made of siding is not a house at all.
Oh, that's awesome!
So I teach a diversity class at BYU every semester. And there's kind of two pendulum swings when it comes to diversity. And one extreme is, you know, "We're all children of God, therefore, our differences don't matter. We don't need to talk about them."
And the other pendulum swing is, "I am only this one thing, this thing that makes me different, I'm only that one thing." And I think, you know, we should be falling somewhere in the middle. If I were to focus only on my gender, or my orientation, or my profession, I miss out on the other important things that make up who I am. Then I'm not being holistically me. And so I think as we look at the diversity that builds Zion, we're all children of God, we're called to work together. And our differences really add strength.
So funny that you bring that up, Ben, because I teach the diversity class up at the U (University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah) occasionally, which is a completely different, I think, altogether, but also we have that same sort of conversation about like, how much should we talk about this? And I think what you said is so important, and it's like that we, individually and collectively, are a lot of things. And when we hyper-focus on one aspect, the diversity within us gets diminished. And when the diversity within a system is diminished, the diversity outside of us is also diminished. And that is, that's no bueno. That's no good.
Okay, we're only five minutes in. Am I right? Holy cow, you guys, that was so good. What both of you said, and you know I have to say, as you were teaching us about what we individually bring to the collective table of building, I mean, I would be a terrible framer. I'm so glad that I wasn't asked to frame anything or forced to be a framer because when it comes to using a ruler, I'm like, "Man, it's good enough." And so I think everything you've talked about is so important that we just don't want everyone to be a framer, we want everything. We need everything in this whole building scenario that the Lord is asking us to do. We are going to build Zion today.
One of the things that's so incredible about this is He's asking them to build during a time that is so tumultuous, and we've talked about this in the past couple of episodes.
So just to kind of as a reminder: the Saints are in Missouri, they are being persecuted, physically beaten, tarred and feathered, all of their belongings are being taken and destroyed. I mean, this is truly trauma. It's what we reflect on when we think how bad the pioneers had it, we think of this time, and then crossing the plains. And so when we think about how traumatic it is for them, here's my question: "What role does trauma play in this order and design from the Lord, to build?"
You know, Tammy, you said you're not good at framing, but you're great at framing questions. So you are a great framer.
No ruler involved in that (laughs).
You know, when I talk to people who are going through a tough time, which honestly is probably most people. A lot of people want to know, "Why?" you know. "Why is this happening?" And as I've talked to people, whether it be people in my personal life, friends, family, clients in therapy, students, I have come to see that everyone's life has a large measure of sadness and disappointment, isolation, rejection. Like, all of us deal with these tough things; I think everyone's life has some kind of trauma in it. Not all the same amounts, but we all have tough things.
There's this quote that I like that's fairly famous. It's been quoted in general conference that says, "Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." I don't often think when I'm struggling, like, "Okay, how is this going to make me stronger?" I just need someone to like, help me get through it.
You know, when when the pioneers were leaving Jackson County, you know, fleeing from their homes being burned, they're not thinking, "How is this gonna make me stronger?" In that moment, they just needed safety. They just needed someone to be safe. And right now in our day, more often than not, we are not going to be in physical danger. But we are going to be in, our houses will be metaphorically being burned; we metaphorically will have to flee. And in those moments, we don't need someone to be like, "Well, how are you growing from this?" You know, we just we just need someone who's going to be with us in those hard times and help provide some kind of safety.
And I like how you just said that we just need someone to be with us. That is, that is part of a process of building. I love that you just said that because I'm imagining there are some really good builders in my life who know how to just sit. That's a skill set that we need to build Zion. Oh, I love that, Ben. What about you, Aliah?
I often talk to people when they come to me with the same sorts of things that Ben was talking about, like, "Why is this happening? How come I'm struggling so much?" And I said, there's times in our life, like, I think of our life is, you know, we're firefighters, and then we're construction workers. Like there's times where we're putting out fires, and there's times where we're building something beautiful, and both things are needed.
And like, to be able to build a really good structure, we need to have like, a firm foundation. And to have a firm foundation, we have to break stuff a little bit. We've got to get in, dig in there and root some things out and set the foundation and pull down trees. I think President Hinckley, when they built the new Conference building and they built that podium - and tell me if I'm gettting this story wrong - but like they built that podium out of a tree that was on his property, if I remember correctly.
That he had planted.
Yeah, that he had planted. And he tells this beautiful story about like the tree wanting to grow some way or something and God doing it some other way and all this sort of business.
But I think it's just a beautiful story because I think of like Ben quoted about wood and President Hinkckley quoted about wood and I think wood is a good example of trauma because wood does grow stronger. And, you know, I have some people that I work with that are doctors and they're like, "Bones that are set correctly, are stronger than natural bone." And so, so many things in our life and in our environment and the world and in nature get stronger through adversity. And we are not seperate from nature. We are part of the circle of life.
Yeah, for us to say, "Well, that must be nice for trees. But that's not really how people work."
No, but people do work that way.
And one of the things that I love is, you know, years ago, there was all this research about secondary trauma. You know, as a therapist, I listen to a lot of trauma. We listen and we're like, "Woo, secondary trauma, secondary trauma." But recently, there's been all this whole group of literature that's come out about secondary resiliency. As we walk and talk with people who are being resilient, who are having a hard time when we are doing it ourselves, we become more resilient. You know, and then many of us aren't being chased out of our homes, but that is happening in the world that we live in today. That people are being, you know, chased out of their homes; they are experiencing natural disasters.
And I think sometimes people say like, "Well, what did those people do to deserve that?" Or, you know, maybe they were doing something, you know, sinful are iniquitous, or their country is not as fantastic as the United States, or whatever things they say. And that's just not true. That adversity and trials is part of what we're here to do. We are here to be tried. And so don't say that to anybody while they're going through a trial. That's not empathetic. But that is part of what we're here to do.
Thank you, Aliah.
Yeah, Aliah, as you were talking about, you know, secondary trauma and secondary resiliency, I was thinking about what when I have a tough day, like, I've got my go-to people that I go and talk to. And I have friends who I know aren't going to be great listeners and so when I'm having a bad day, I don't call them. But I have friends who are. I know I can like call them and they're like, "Oh, tell me about it." They're like, "Oh, that sounds like the worst." Like it really is the worst.
And, and then I, you know those same friends will come and talk to me. And it's interesting how, you know, I can mourn with them, and sit with them in those hard times. And then when good things happen, like, and we talk about those things like we both are uplifted. And you know, Zion is about becoming one. And so when someone is struggling and suffering like, shouldn't I be suffering, too? And when they're rejoicing, shouldn't I be rejoicing, too? And I don't know what Alma would say if he were here today, but I think he would add to our baptismal covenants, to rejoice with those that are rejoicing.
I like that.
Because we're really one, and that's what we're meant to be.
Oh, Ben, I love that. I love that you just said "To rejoice with those that are rejoicing." I might write that in my scriptures. That is so good. That's the end result of building up Zion, is to be one, which is what we'll talk about today. So, oh my gosh, okay, that was just the first segment. Oh, I'm exhausted. I feel like I could pay you my copay, and we're done. That was so good, you guys. That was the foundation that we need as we talk about the trauma that the Saints are going through.
Everybody has it. And what's so unique is during this time when the Saints are experiencing adversity and trauma, and it's hard and they're sad. I think it's fascinating that the Lord takes some time now and He's going to give a revelation. You're kind of like, "Why would you do that now?" But it's important because it addresses another form of trauma that, for me in 1992, was the worst kind of trauma possible, until my Mission President taught me it was actually a blessing. And we'll talk about that in the next segment.
Okay, so we are going to talk about the topic of excommunication. And first off, I just want to acknowledge that this topic is fraught with emotion and difficulty and tears and questions and discomfort for many of our brothers and sisters. So why then, this is what I want us to think about, why would the Lord include it in His building process and address it right here in the Doctrine Covenants?
This is the title for Section 102: "First High Council, Church Courts." It's just interesting that amidst all of this trauma that's happening, the Lord takes the time to say, "You know what, Joseph, let's just take a moment and establish the high council, the very first high council. And then I'm going to give you the pattern for how you're going to hold Church courts from here on out."
There's about 3,000 members of the Church at this time. And so it's grown. It's pretty big. And in Doctrine and Covenants, section 102, let's turn there. So in verse one, if you want to highlight, He just says, 'we're going to organize the high council.' So He says that in verse 1. And here's the purpose of the high council, which is verse 2. And so, Ben, will you please read verse 2?
2 "The high council was appointed by revelation for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the church or the bishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties."
So turn the page, and let's bracket off verses 12, through 23. And to the outside of 12, through 23, write, "Church courts." This is how they're to be run. And the Lord is going to take the time to tell Joseph, this is how I need you to do things. And here's the order. And there's a purpose, and all of the rules for Church courts. So if you're interested, go ahead and read it. We're not going to take the time to read it; I just want to discuss this from Aliah's and Ben's perspective. And I asked you guys ahead of time to kind of think about this. 'How does excommunication build up Zion?' If we're going to talk about building today, how is this a building block?
What I always try to remember when I'm reading the Doctrine and Covenants is the Church is so brand new right now, you know, and a little bit different than maybe how we're experiencing the Church now. And so to keep that in mind. But I think when we're building something the first time, we make lots of mistakes, and we have to like pull the nails out, and like, reset, you know. Like, "Oh, that was not quite right." You know, and I think maybe, you know, they're setting up how the court is done; lots of people are apparently getting excommunicated. That's the difficult business that they're talking about. I did not get that till Tammy told me that the difficult business was excommunication. I was like, "What difficult business? People building cows or what? what's happening?"
And so I think, in that guise of what you're saying is, like, you know, taking people out of the Church, that they're not held accountable is kind of that resetting. But the thing that I read in verse 15, and they talk about how the council set up and like, you know, two people are responsible for pleading one case and an equal number of responsible for pleading the other side of the case and that sort of thing, up to six people on each side. And that it has to be fair, but in 15, it says
15 "The accused, in all cases, has a right to one-half of the council, to prevent insult or injustice."
And when I read that, I was like, "Okay, you know, the Lord is conscientious and aware that we as humans, have a tendency to not always be just or fair, or to be kind to one another." And so He's putting in here now during the foundation of the Church, and in this modern time, to remind us that one-half of all the council, and I don't know how bishop councils work. But I love that that was put in there because I know other people that I've talked to, who did not feel that way, who did not feel like that they were protected. They didn't feel that it was, that they were prevented from insult or injustice. And I think that the fact that it's here in the Doctrine and Covenants was foresight. Well, not foresight on the Lord's part, but foresight on Joseph's. And receiving this revelation that we as humans don't always look in that way and that the Lord needs us to have half of the council to protect whoever was accused.
Aliah, you make a really good point. And, you know, I think to answer Tammy's question, I think the people that would best answer this question are people who have gone through this process. I've never been excommunicated, or had my membership removed so I don't know what that's like. But I know a lot of people who have had that experience.
For some people, it's been this beautiful experience that has encouraged them to change and repent and come back. And for other people it's been this really damaging experience where they felt injured and insulted. And you know, if we jump ahead in the Doctrine and Covenants in Section 121, you know, it talks about, you know, the danger of people having stewardship over other people, and the power they feel that they might have. And then the Lord explains how to make sure we're not doing that. And so sometimes things don't always happen the way they're supposed to.
But you know, you asked this question, Tammy, you know, 'how does excommunication build Zion?' Zion is all about individuals coming together to form community. And I was on a stake high council for a few years, I've since been released. And I participated in a few of these councils. And during one of them, we were deliberating what the decision should be. And the the person who was, what might have bee,n had their membership removed, was out of the room. And when he came back in, the stake president asked me if I would share what I had shared in our deliberation. And what I had said was, "I want to be a part of a Church that this person is a member of." And the stake president made sure I got to say that to this person, and then they just started crying. And they said, "I want to be part of this Church too." And in the end, that was the result.
And so I think that in any case, when serious misdeeds have happened, we are always trying to build up the individual, and build up the community, and trying to come up with the way that the Lord would have us do that. And the root of that is always love for the individual and love for the community.
Okay, Ben, you know what, I just love what you shared, especially the part about building up the individual. That really struck me because, you know, here's a story when I was on my mission. Excommunication was new to me, like I was a kid, I had never heard anyone talk about it. I didn't know anyone who'd been excommunicated, as a kid.
And I can remember in my very first ward council, hearing the bishop talk about people who had been excommunicated. And I was shocked that there was more than one because I just thought it was so like, "Wait, what?" And I called my mission president to express my concern for this crazy ward I was in. And I, that was a real turning point for me in my life because I'd always understood excommunication to be such a horrible, awful, the worst thing that could ever happen. And my mission president's words to me that day changed my life. Like it changed the way I view this. And it just kind of goes back to what you were saying, Ben, about how it's building up the individual.
I think it can. I don't think it always goes that way. That's not been my experience in listening that it goes away. But what gave me comfort in reading this was verse 23, where it says, "In case of difficulties respecting doctrine or principles, if there is not a sufficient writing to make a case clear in the mind of the council, the president may require and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation."
And I think, leaning towards that, towards, you know, whatever happens in the council room is what happens in the council room. But as us as individuals and loving our neighbor and loving our children, and our parents, and our spouses, or whomever is the accused in these cases, that we lean towards the Lord. That we lean towards, like, you know, whatever the decision is, even if it's for ourselves, that the decision came down, and maybe it didn't feel like it was the right decision, or maybe it felt hurtful or injuring that we still have access to the light of Christ. We still have access to, you know, the Lord's blessings, to prayer, to revelation, we still have access to those things. And that we can lean in that direction, because there's definitely injustice in the world. And the Church is not excluded from that. But that's part of our trial as well, like the body of Christ gets injured. The body of Christ gets injured. And that's part of being a part of this community is that hurtful and dangerous things will also happen.
Okay, I just need to pause for a minute here so I can write that down. Oh my gosh, "the body of Christ gets injured." Wow, I'm totally thinking on that now. And this is such a tough topic.
And for anyone listening who feels like you have a different experience, or you know, someone who has a different experience, we want to acknowledge that. And just kind of go back to what Aliah said that sometimes the body of Christ gets injured.
And there's a really great quote from President Hinckley about what it is supposed to look like, so that the body of Christ isn't fatally injured. Ben, will you please read this for us?
“I wish to assure you … that I think there is never a judgment rendered until after prayer has been had. Action against a member is too serious a matter to result from the judgment of men alone, and particularly of one man alone. There must be the guidance of the Spirit, earnestly sought for and then followed, if there is to be justice” (“In … Counsellors There Is Safety,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 50).
Thank you. And it may not seem fair, but just know that section 102, the Lord set up a provision for it to be fair, and to be spirit-driven and guided. And I think that's the overall message from 102. And that it's a part of the rebuild, Aliah, I like how you put that sometimes we have to just go in and fix the foundation. And that's okay. If you're having your foundation fixed right now, the good news is God's the builder and He's not leaving the project until it's done. So, thank you. Thank you, both of you. Anything else you guys want to say on that topic?
You know, I think the most important thing, like it says in Section 121, that when something tough happens, we should show an increase of love. So if anyone is experiencing any kind of Church discipline, you know, we need to be showing them an increase of love.
Amen to that. Amen. Well, thank you, both of you for your thoughts on that. I appreciate it. That was a tough topic, but necessary.
So, okay, now, seven days after this revelation was received, and then high council was organized, another revelation was received during this meeting in the Kirtland high council. So Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight, who had just come from Missouri, they were seeking direction on how to rebuild Zion in Missouri, how to fix the foundation. And the Saints in Missouri needed to obtain temporary relief, and they needed to regain the possession of other lands in Jackson County. So Joseph asks the Lord. And he was given some very specific direction and instructions that did not end up the way anyone thought it would. And there were some pretty mixed feelings about it, too. So we're going to talk about that in the next two segments.
So here's what I want to know from both of you and your reading and what we know about the history of the Church at this time in Church history. What would you say was some of the greatest threats to building Zion?
You know, I think that, you know, when we look at the threats, it was these external threats of people attacking persecuting the Saints. And we definitely have those kinds of threats today. But what what the Lord says is that the people weren't keeping the commandments. They weren't following his word. And I think back then one of the things that, that they had pride, they had dissent. And the things that were hindering them building Zion back then are honestly the same things that we're struggling with today.
I chime in the same with what Ben said. I think that what was bothering or what was interrupting Zion then, and what's interrupting Zion now, are the same things. And I think it's the same thing throughout history. I think balancing our individualism with our community is always a problem of humanity. And the Lord has said, "If you're not one, you're not mine." But we also know that salvation is individual. So it's like, balancing that individualism of like, receiving personal revelation and understanding the gospel for myself and making those decisions to get baptized to leave my family and friends in my town and my country and all of these things, and balance having a good relationship and community with the Saints. And like, "How do I do both of those things?"
I don't want to get ahead but, you know, one of the problems back then was they've been asked to live the law of consecration. They've been asked to join this united order. And that is a tough thing to do. To say, "My stuff is our stuff." Right? You know, that is hard to do. And they've really struggled with that.
And later on in Missouri, when the Church is centered there, it becomes a huge problem. And certain Church leaders do not do a good job of administrating their stewardship. And some people got excommunicated for misusing Church funds and lands.
And so I think one of the hindrances to build in Zion then and also today is we've all been given stewardship, whether it be of belonging or money, or time or talents. And when we focus on us as individuals, and when we ignore our stewardship for our own selfishness, then that is what hinders and hurts Zion. And that's what was happening back then. And we see the same thing happening today, people not honoring their stewardship by just keeping all their stuff for themselves.
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much, you two, for putting this into the context of our day and how it applies to us.
You know, I appreciate what you both said, because it goes right along with what the Lord wants to teach us in this section. He is going to show us then how we should act.
And so Doctrine and Covenants section 103, let's go there. In verses one through 21, the Lord speaking to the Saints, and then us, and then draw a line separating verse 21 from 22. Because then the Lord's giving Joseph Smith some very specific instruction of what he wants Joseph to do. But one through 21 is packed with so much stuff.
In fact, in verse one, it says:
1 "Verily I say unto you, my friends, behold, I will give unto you a revelation and commandment, that you may know how to act . . ." Like He's going to tell us here right now, if you want to know how to build Zion, I'm going to tell you how to do it. And it's going to come out of Section 103, how to act.
And then he gives some pretty heavy verses. And they're found in verses four and five. Let's just read these two. And, Aliah, can you read those for us? When we're done, I just want you to tell me what does the Lord want us to do? How does He want us to act?
4 "And that those who call themselves after my name might be chastened for a little season with a sore and grievous chastisement, because they did not hearken altogether unto the precepts and commandments which I gave unto them.
5 "But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them."
How does the Lord want us to act? What does He want us to do in those verses?
He wants us to be obedient.
Yep, that's it. And we've talked about the word, "hearken," and He says it twice in those verses. In Hebrew, that word, "hearken," means to obey, not just to listen, but just what you said, to obey to keep his commandments. And so as we're talking about this, look, again, in verse four because I wanted to know what you guys thought. What's the difference? Why does he say, "The precepts and commandments which I gave unto them?" What's the difference between those two words?
You know, I'm not sure. But when I read—
I'm not either.
But when I read commandment, I think of like, this is a specific thing that we're being asked to do or not to do. And I think of a precept more of a framework.
I think of the same thing. We have the doctrine, and we have policies. There are policies of Church that have come in and left, you know. And that's caused a lot of disruption in Zion, I think, in past times. And I think in current times as well.
Growing up as a Black family in the 70s, and 80s, as members of the Church, like my parents joined the Church almost immediately after the declaration for the priesthood. And so we were like, the only Black people. We were the only family of color of any sort.
You know, and my parents were really good at helping us as we grew into the truth. Because there were things happening in the Church, and things that were being said, that still were getting kind of weeded out of like the policies of the Church, or even the culture of the Church, that served some people in the Church, but it did not serve us. And so my parents were really good about teaching us from a very young age, "This is a doctrine, this is policy. And you need to know the difference between these two." You know, from a very young age, my parents were using that kind of terminology with us so that we could see what were precepts and what were, you know, commandments.
And He's asking us here to be obedient to both, you know, and as much as we are able to, but to be obedient to both. But I think it's important to understand the difference, and that He names them differently means it's different to the Lord as well.
Yep. Perfect. Thank you, both of you for describing that. And the whole point and purpose of this, as He says if you'll hearken to these things, in verses six through eight, you will prevail. You're going to be fine. You're going to succeed, and everything's going to be great.
But then we have to highlight verse nine. It goes back to what you said earlier, and I love this idea of this foundation and you actually said, I wrote it down, you said, "We need to set the foundation." And that struck me in verse nine. And so Ben, will you please read verse nine because here's what the Lord, the whole reason the Lord wants us to hearken. And the whole reason the Lord wants to tell us how to act is for verse nine.
9 "For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men;"
When I read the word, "set," I thought of cement and a foundation, like how cement sets and it's going to stay, like it's solid And the Lord has set us to be a light unto the world and to be a savior of men. Let's talk about that verse. Like, how in the world do we become saviors?
You know, I had an interesting experience. As I was writing my book, I recently wrote a book called, A Walk in My Shoes, you can go Deseret Book, that's great.
It is great. I'll just also, I will support that. So good.
And when I was done, when I submitted the manuscript Deseret Book, I knew the book wasn't done. Like I knew I hadn't figured out how to end it. And then once it got approved, I'm like, "Okay, well, how do I end the book?" And it just flooded into me how I was supposed to end it. And I ended it by talking about the brother of Jared. Actually, you mind if I just read a paragraph and a half?"
So this is the very, this is the second-to-last page of my book:
"In Ether 2, the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to build eight barges, and then gave very specific instructions on how to accomplish that task. When the brother Jared was done, he approached the Lord with two remaining problems. The first problem, access to air on their voyage, the Lord solved for him. But the second problem, having light on their journey, He didn't. Instead, He listed some possible solutions that wouldn't work. The Lord then asked him, 'What do you want me to do?' In chapter three, the brother of Jared created 16 transparent stones. He again approached the Lord and asked him to touch the stones so that they would give light to the Jaredites as they crossed the sea. The creator of the universe reached out His hand, touched the brother of Jared's creations, and 16 small stones became sources of light. Sometimes the Lord has inspired me to do specific things. Other times he's allowed me to come up with a solution. This book is my creation, my 16 small stones, 16 attempts to answer questions about life as a gay Latter-day Saint I wrote to address a problem to help others better understand the LGBTQ Latter-day Saint experience. I have prayed and prayed that this creation of mine would be something that would give more light to the world. If that is the case, it's not because of me. I know that this book is filled with story after story about me, but it has never been about me. I hope that reading this book has helped you understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ."
And so when you asked like, how are we a light to the world? How are we the saviors of men? We do that by pointing people to the source of lights, by pointing people to Jesus Christ. And as we develop His attributes, we become a light as well.
And in the end, if people are looking to us to be the light, if someone's like, "Ben, look at all the good you're doing. Look at your light." I'm like, "No, no, but like, look at Jesus Christ. Anything I do, is because I just created these 16, small stones, just these little trinkets, that don't become a value and don't give light until the Lord touches them." So I think the way that we become the saviors of men and a light to the world is by asking God to sanctify our works.
Ben, thank you. Oh, my gosh, that made me so emotional as you share that. I mean, that is the only way that we're a light and a savior is to turn people to Jesus Christ. That is absolutely true. Because I love how he says, to be a light and to be a savior. They're all about how we point people back to Christ, using the skills that we've been given from our Heavenly Father.
I'm just thinking in my mind, like we're up in the pre-Earth life and God's like, "I'm going to give you this skill, and it's going to help so many people to come back. And it's different than her skill and his skill."
Can we circle back to what we were talking about, in the beginning about like, you know, we have different skills, and why do we have different skills. In talking about building the house and the drywall and the siding, like when we magnify what we have been given, you know, how we came into this world. When we magnify that, when we magnify our dry wall, and we magnify and are exciting, you know, when we magnify being a hand, or a foot, or a hair, or an eye, like whatever the Lord gave us. When we do that to the best of our ability, then we strengthen the whole body.
I love that, Aliah. And I think that's such a beautiful truth.
As I've been thinking about this question, you know, the song, "Where Can I Turn for Peace?" has come to my mind. And that line, "In my gethsemane." And I thought about, you know, what are our gethsemanes, you know? The gethsemane is where the Savior, you know, acted as the Savior. And in Matthew 26, when He's in gethsemane, He says that prayer we're very familiar with, which is, you know, "Father, if thou be willing, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done."
And then He goes on to say that same prayer two more times, so three times He said, "Father, I don't want to do this, but I'm gonna do Your will. I'll do it if I must." And I think it's a very human thing to not want to do something hard. But then the Christlike part of the savior part comes when we are willing to do the Father's will anyway.
And so when I think about my gethsemane, like those tough times when I'm like, "God, I don't want to do this." But then when you have the faith and trust in God, to move forward with His plan for you and to trust what He's asking you to do, I think that's when we become saviors. Just like the Savior did in gethsemane.
I know when it's God's will when I don't want to do (laughter). Like when something comes in my mind, and I'm like, "No, I don't want to do that." And I know like, Heavenly Father's like, "Yeah, that's what you're supposed to be doing.
That's my tell.
Well, I want to encourage everyone who's listening to just take a moment, and maybe this already happened for you. But to think about what it is for you, and what skill or gift God has given you to be set as a light and a savior of men. And kind of just think about that.
It's gonna be pretty easy when life is easy. But when it when life gets hard when you're in the middle of your gethsemanes, it almost seems like there's not a lot of light or savior there. And we're going to talk about how that is not true in the very next segment.
[Note] Before we begin this part of our discussion, we just want you to know that there is a mention of sexual assault. So if you are listening with your family, you may want to preview this segment.
In my reading of Section 103, I was struck by verse 12 and verse 13. Because basically the Lord saying, "Listen, I've told you once before in Section 58, verse four, and just in case you forgot, I'm going to tell you again: that after much tribulation come with the blessing." That is what verses 12 and 13 are about. This is the Lord's life lesson for us. No matter what you're going through, there's going to be a blessing.
And then I'm like, "Really? Like, is there really good that can come from tribulation?" So let's talk to Ben and Aliah about this. Here's what the Lord says. We're going to read verses 12 and 13. And Ben, will you read that for us?
12 "For after much tribulation, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, cometh the blessing.
13 "Behold, this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren—your redemption, and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established, no more to be thrown down."
So my question to the two of you is, after much tribulation come with the blessing. Is that true?
Let me ask you on your own, how has good come from your own tribulation?
You can't see me because this is a podcast, but I'm like bawling. And I and I'm not a bawler. I'm not a bawl baby. And I think I've talked about this before on the podcast, but my father passed away when I was fairly young, and quite suddenly, of bone marrow cancer. And two things happened. One, my life was like devastated because I am daddy's girl of all daddy's girls so that was like, huge. My dad was just larger than life and in so many ways and his testimony was so strong. So it was devastating.
It was right before I left on my mission. So that made it extra hard. But one of the things that came out of it is I felt invincible. Because I was like, "If that didn't kill me, nothing, nothing can if I can make it through that trial." And that was a blessing, especially on my mission.
But I thought like, "Okay, well, I had my hard thing." And then almost 20 years later, I gave birth to it a micro-preemie (premature baby).
What does that mean?
So a preemie is less than four pounds. And my son was born at one pound, six ounces.
So tiny, tiny. They measure that in grams, they don't even measure that in pounds. And there's a certain amount of grams if you're less than that, you're a micro-preemie. And that became the hardest thing in my life. But those two events also have been the thing that have strengthened my faith, more than anything that I've ever experienced. They have like, grounded and rooted me in the gospel so deeply. Because I have never felt the presence of my Savior more strongly or more closely or more present than in those two times of my life. But even talking about tribulation and blessing, to me, they mean the same thing.
Wow. Aliah, thank you for sharing that personal experience. I want to know when you said it strengthened your testimony in Jesus Christ. What do you know now that you didn't know before?
This is gonna sound really kind of weird, but like when my son was in the hospital, I didn't do anything except for take care of him. I didn't really go to church. I didn't really read any scriptures. I didn't really pray. I didn't do any of that stuff. And the Spirit was still so strong. He was so there with me. And I wasn't doing any of the stuff. And not that I'm advocating for, "Don't do any of the stuff." But it just was a testimony to me that my Heavenly Parents' love for me has nothing to do with this stuff that I'm doing.
I will 100 percent back that up with all of my heart. I believe our Heavenly Parents love us so much. And that it's not a checklist. Not for that love. Wow, I will back that up. Thank you for sharing that. That was incredible.
Yeah, Aliah, thank you for sharing just, you know, a huge part of your heart with us and just that beautiful testament that tribulations and blessings are the same thing.
You know, I, life is hard.
Being a gay member of the Church has been hard, you know, it continues to be hard.
Has it really? (laughs)
And, you know, as I try to think about, and to share about tribulations being blessings, one story is come to mind. And this was before I was out publicly, and this is before I got my degree in social work. I wasn't trained to be a therapist. And I'd come out to a friend on a Saturday night. And then the next day at church, right after sacrament meeting, she said, "Ben, since you shared something with me yesterday, can I share something with you?" And, and I said, "Yeah, let's just do it right now. Like, I don't want to go to Sunday school." So we found an empty classroom and she told me that she had recently gone to a party and had been sexually assaulted. But she just talked to me about what had happened, and we both cried, and she share what happened.
And, you know, I'm a tall man. And I have never, even for a second, worried about being assaulted. And then to hear her share the story about like, the fear of it happening, and the actual terror when it does happen, just expanded my soul. And as we cried, and I just like, told her I loved her and I just asked her what I could do to help. You know, I grew a lot that day because I had seen a part of her heart. And she felt comfortable to share that part of her heart because I shared a part of my heart with her.
And then when I became a therapist and learned about, you know, sexual assault. And, you know, now when I teach my diversity class, we have a whole day where we talk about sexual assault, and what to do if it happens to you, and how to help people who have experienced that. And, you know, it all started with, you know, someone been willing to share part of her heart with me.
And if we can use our tribulations as blessings, to help other people to maybe avoid similar or to be better prepared to respond when someone is struggling. I think that's, what this is all about. And because everyone's life is hard, everyone's life has has trauma and difficulty. And the key, you know, as I've said before, and as Aliah has testified, is we just need to be with one another on on our journeys, wherever they are.
Yeah, Ben, I really appreciate your perspective on that because that is verse 13. And it makes me go back to Aliah, when you were like trying to balance the act between being an individual and then also being a community. Isn't it interesting, again, in verse 13, in verse 12, he says, "After the tribulation cometh the blessing." But then in verse 13, he says, here's what the blessing is. It will be, "Your redemption and the redemption of your brother." And highlight the word, "redemption" in that verse.
Now, there are two definitions for this word. One is repurchase of captured goods or prisoners, and the second is deliverance from bondage or distress. Now, I really like that Ben's story was an example of delivering someone from their distress. I thought that fit perfectly. And I'm just curious, how else does this word apply to building each other up?
Well, I like that first definition as well, to repurchase something, because I think one of the things, at least for me, I can't speak for everybody. But one of the things that my tribulations have helped me repurchase is my humanity.
Wow, I love that.
In this way that like when, you know, when my dad died, I had all this empathy for people who lost parents that I have never had before, or lost anything, you know. And when my son was born, I had a whole new understanding of what it meant to be a mom and to be in the hospital and to be completely dependent on other people for something that was so important to you.
And so I think that definition of repurchasing is also so poignant, because I think, when we suffer, we repurchase some of that divine humanity that we have. That ability to empathize and to like, feel not just be with other people, but feel other people.
Wow. Is there any greater blessing? I mean, that is proof that is to be able to do that.
Well, that is what God does. That is what Christ does.
It's a godly attribute.
And I think that's what our trails are for us.
That's what our gethsemanes are for. I got to write this down. That is so beautiful.
Okay, that was So good. And that is what it means to be a savior for others. Like I'm just starting to connect all these things because that is what Jesus would do. That was good. That was really good you guys, thank you so much.
So in Section 103, then, I had you draw a line separating 21 through 22. And so here's what you need to know is in vs 22, to the very end, this is instruction the Lord is giving Joseph Smith on how to build up Zion's Camp. Because he says to them, "I know times are tough, and I know that it's hard right now. And I also know that I need you to build something and I'm gonna have you build up Zion's Camp, and you guys are gonna go fight and you're going to defend yourselves. And it's going to take a lot of work."
So while Joseph is building up Zion's Camp, we kind of get a, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch." It's kind of what I say section, which is Doctrine and Covenants section 104. And we're going to talk about that in the next segment.
So at the top of Section 104, I have the words, "Meanwhile . . . " written. The title for Section 104 is: "Order of the Church for the Salvation of Men." And in Section 104, this is what happened. The Lord had originally decided they were going to disband the United Order. And as we had learned, the United Order is a part of the law of consecration.
The United Order or the United Firm, as it was originally called, was made up of a group of men, no more than 12, who had stuff they could consecrate. They usually owned a store or, you know, they had money. And I also think Vienna Jaques is part of that, but that's a different story.
Anyway, Section 104 is the Lord comes in, and he says, "Okay, we're not going to disband it, we're just going to reorganize it. And we're actually officially going to call it the United Order and not the United Firm." So Section 104 is all of that.
And if you read, when you start to get to verses 20 through kind of 47, that is, you can kind of mark those and write to the outside: "Division of Properties to the Members of the Firm," or to the, "Members of the United Order." You're gonna see all their names there. And that's where the Lord divides that.
Now, that was all I was going to say to do a quick little cover of this section. We weren't really going to dive into it. But Aliah, she mentioned that this section actually has one of her favorite verses, who knew? So I cannot wait to see what it is. So, Aliah, hit it, sis.
So it's so funny that we're reading this because in 104, in verse 17, is my family's motto. And I don't remember ever reading the Doctrine and Covenants with my parents. But when I read this, I was like, "Oh, that's scripture? I thought they had made that up" (laughs).
And so this scripture, this is our family motto, is, "For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare." And so my parents would always tell us, "there's enough and to spare." And that was the answer to every question. So, you know, we would come home and be like, "Can you believe Susie was so mean to me at school?" And, "Blah, blah, blah." And they would just say, "There's enough and to spare." And it was their way of saying like, "You can be gracious in this moment." You know, like if people are treating you poorly. Or you're having a hard time. Or you didn't get lunch today. Or your brother pinched you, whatever it is. My parents would be like, "There's enough and to spare."
And my parents would bring home stray children. And so that was also why they latched on to this. We had always had other people living in our homes. We always had things going on. Even when all of my, well, my dad passed away and all of my mother's natural-born children were out of the house, there were still three teenagers living with us because there was enough to and to spare.
And by no means am I boasting that my family were wealthy because we were not. We lived in a small house. But there were people everywhere, all the time. And for an introverted child, that was a trial. But they'd always say, "There's enough and to spare." So at every dinner table, every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, every holiday, every not-holiday, every birthday, everything, "There's enough and to spare."
I love that. I love that your family was like that.
I come from a similar family. But we, our house was small enough that we didn't really have stray children stay at it.
Ours was small enough we should not have had stray children (laughs).
But I'd kind of say, "Hey, mom, my friend is coming over for dinner." And she'd be like, "Great." You know, there was never a question about it.
But I love what the verse before says as well. What sets this up. You know, the Lord is saying that He needs to provide for His people in His own way. And He says, "I the Lord have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, and that the rich are made low." And you know, I think what He's talking about here is like actual stuff, you know, actually making sure that the people have an abundance give to those who don't have an abundance.
And you know, I'm not sure what the Lord's asking us today because we all have stewardships, you know. Whether it be like stuff or belongings or time or our talents. And I think what the Lord is saying is those of us who have abundance, and whatever thing, if we're keeping that for ourselves, that's not the Lord's way. The Lord's way is to share what we have and to be wise and, and to not run faster than we have strength, as King Benjamin would say.
But in the end, you know, there's a scripture in Section 64 that talks about tithing. And the Lord says that this is the day of the tithing for His people. And he says that he who is tithed will not be burned in His coming. And you know, that's an interesting thing like, why is, you know, paying 10% of our money, why does that keep us safe when the Lord comes again? It's because if we learn to not focus on belongings more than people, That's what sanctifies us. And so it sounds, Aliah, like you come from a family where you prize people over belongings. You prize people over space. You prize people over having an abundance of food. And I think that's really how we build Zion, by making sure that we are we are using our stewardship to treasure our people, and to make them more important than our belongings.
I think my parents would have said, "No matter what you do or don't have, there's enough and to spare. That everybody has an abundance." And I mean, I served a mission with an indigenous tribe off the coast of Panama, who lived in huts with no electricity and no running water and we still had an abundance. They taught me what it really meant to have an abundance when you have nothing. And there was enough there.
Wow. Oh, don't mind me. I'm just over here writting down more notes. Seriously, you two.
Okay, so you know what, I'm just gonna do this. This week, I'm going to put a post calling for anything that you guys wrote down that these two said, because this is incredible. I just want to retitle the section now, I feel like section 104 should be, "Enough and to spare." That, Aliah, I never noticed that verse, ever. Not ever, not once. I read it so many times.
My parents made it up (laughs).
They wrote it. And that is so cool. And I just love how it says there is enough and to spare. And what both of you said is so powerful. I mean, that is the key right there. Because in my mind, I'm just thinking of this building. Again, going back to the whole analogy. Because before the Lord says, "I have built the earth, and it is my handiwork." And, "It is my purpose to provide for my saints." So how powerful that the three of us chose those three verses out of the whole section to talk about. And then Lord's like, "And there's enough and to spare." Wow, that's good stuff. Oh my gosh.
So this discussion is so interesting in light of Zion's Camp, which we're going to discuss next because, remember, God is the builder and He is setting the Saints to be lights. So section 105 is all about Zion's Camp.
But here's what we need to know: the reason for Zion's Camp. So here's what's going on. The Missouri Governor, Daniel Dunklin, he said that he would be willing to help the Saints and return them to their lands in Missouri with a military escort if the Saints could provide their own forces to retain the lands after the troops were gone. So Hyrum is in Michigan, Joseph's in Missouri, and they are looking for volunteers and donations with a plan to meet up at the Salt River in Missouri. They would march about 900 miles from Ohio to Missouri to meet up with Governor Dunklin's troops.
And here's some fascinating facts about Zion's Camp. The average age of the camp's recruits was 29 years old. The youngest was 16 and the oldest was 79 years old. They marched an average of 35 miles per day in the conditions of—and I know this because I'm from Missouri—horrible humidity, heavy spring rains, and inadequate supplies. I mean, it is so humid. And I'm reading this like, "Yep, that would be rough." Thirty-five miles per day they're hiking. So these are some tough conditions.
So section 105, the title is called: "Zion Not to Be Redeemed for a Little Season." That's the title. And in the next segment, we are going to talk about Zion's Camp.
So we just learned some great stats about Zion's Camp. Now, in Section 103 verses 30 through 33, what did you guys notice when it came to how many people the Lord recommended to Joseph that he wanted in the camp?
The Lord asked for 500 people and he got 205.
Yeah, you know, I'm so glad you brought that up because in Section 103 the Lord's like, "Listen, I'd like 500, but if you can't do that, we'll take 300. And if you can't do that, all right, let's go for 100." Like we'll do whatever we can. And so he did he got 205 volunteers.
Isn't that interesting how the Lord like, the fact that He counts us and like, "I want 500, but if you can't get 500, let's go for 300. Can I get 300?" Like he's an auctioneer, like "Come on, what can we do? What can we do? 500? 500? 500?"
He does that! No, let's talk about this.
That seems so bizarre to me. I don't know, I don't understand that. And that's probably just my limited understanding of godhood or something. But that just seems like very, that seems very human. It's like me like, "Clean your room. Clean your room. Okay, just pick your clothes. Just pick your clothes up (laughter). Okay, just don't eat your room. Okay? That seems very parent-like, and very human.
What I think is interesting is Joseph's like, "How many people do I need? I've never built an army before. What are we talking about?" And the Lord's like, "Well, let's start with 500." Like, I love how it gives him a jumping off point. And then he allows for him for Joseph, because you know Joseph, Joseph would have been like, "Five-hundred, we got to have 500." But then the Lord gives him wiggle room. "But if you can't find five, you know, we'll go with two. And if you can't find two, 100 it's fine too, Joseph." Like Joseph doesn't know what he's doing. And I just love how the Lord gives him these bigger parameters. And let's work within that, like you just said, Aliah, "Clean your room. Okay, listen, if you'll just not eat in your room." Joseph can do that.
Whatever came before the 10 commandments. And then he was like, "Okay, like, just this 10" (laughs).
Just this 10.
Can we just do these?
It seems to be like the Lord is teach us the difference between the ideal and the real. There's this ideal, but you know, do your best.
So that's what Zion's Camp is. Here's the ideal. They think they're gonna go in and just fight. I mean, clean house. And they don't.
The Lord says, "You're not actually going to have to fight. Just you're done."
Thanks for coming.
So they don't end up fighting because Governor Dunklin decided that he was no longer willing to help the Saints or Zion's Camp. He freely admitted that the rights of the Saints were being violated, but he was so worried that supporting the Mormons would lead to a civil war. So there's Zion's Camp in Missouri, ready to fight and maintain their lands. And then Joseph receives section 105. So I want to know, what did you to mark in the first 14 verses?
The Lord says, "For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion. For as I said, in a former commandment, even so will I fulfill. I will fight your battles." And here they had been called to form this army so they could redeem Zion, and the Lord saying, "You don't have to fight the battles. I am going to fight the battle."
And when I see things in the world that upset me or that feel unfair or wrong, I just kind of get this desire, like, I want to fight. Like, I want to make sure that I am going to fix everything. And then I'm reminded, you know, the Lord, this is the Lord's battle and I am his servant. He will give me stewardships, but in the end, this is the Lord's battle, and He will fight our battles for us.
Yes, yes. And it's so interesting, because the Lord knew they weren't going to fight. And so that goes back to this question like, then why would He even say, organize an army? Why do we even do this? That was one of the biggest complaints that many people had. Go ahead, Aliah.
I think it's interesting, both in 104 and 105, when the Lord talks about, "mine." He doesn't say, "Your," he says, "Mine." These people are attacking me. You know, and I think sometimes when we are having tribulation, or things aren't going our way, or the world is, you know, doing what the world does. We take it really personally and we make it about us. But when iniquity abounds, it is the Lord's enemies. They're fighting against the Lord, they're not fighting against us. And I think that that's important to remember that like the Lord will fight His battles. These are His enemies because this is His Church. This is his.
You know what, thank you, Ben and Aliah, for pointing that out. And Ben, thanks for sharing verse 14. That was perfect. Because you both pointed out that this is God's battle, and these are his enemies. He is in charge, right? And we keep saying that throughout this whole year of Doctrine and Covenants.
So what I want to do is take what both of you shared, and let's read what the Lord was hoping to build from Zion's Camp in verses nine through 10. I'm going to read these verses. And as I do, just highlight or underline, I found four, but there's probably more, the purpose and reason behind Zion's Camp. So he says:
9 "Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion—
10 "That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands."
So tell me, what was the Lord hoping to build? What's the Lord's reasoning for not having them fight?
Well, first, they were unprepared. They had not been taught. They didn't have any experience. They didn't know about their duties.
He was inviting them to do something that they weren't ready to do. But doing the thing, even though they weren't ready, was going to help them be ready for what was gonna come next.
I had an experience, and the details would be too confusing to tell. But I was very sure that like this one specific thing was going to happen. And it felt like all these events were leading up to this like one thing. And then it didn't happen. And it just like very obviously didn't happen. And I thought, "Well, why didn't this work out?" And I was pretty upset about it for like a whole day. And then as I was writing in my journal about it, I realized that like what I had learned was like how to love, like I had learned love. And I thought, "Well, if this thing ever does happen, I now have a greater capacity to love that I didn't have before." And even though it didn't work out the way I had expected, I had developed a greater capacity for love.
Wow, Ben, that is a great example of the whole purpose and meaning behind this Zion's Camp was that God has a reason for everything.
I really like this quote. This is one of my favorite quotes from the whole Zion's Camp story. And this is told by Brigham Young, actually told by B.H. Roberts quoting Brigham Young in his sketch, it's such a good story. So the journey of Zion's Camp, it was regarded by many as an unprofitable and unsuccessful episode. Ben, will you please read this right here?
"A brother in Kirtland who did not go with the camp, meeting Brigham Young upon his return, said to him, “Well, what did you gain on this useless journey to Missouri with Joseph Smith?” “All we went for,” replied Brigham Young. “I would not exchange the experience I gained in that expedition for all the wealth of Geauga County,” the county in which Kirtland was then located. (B. H. Roberts, “Brigham Young, A Character Sketch,” Improvement Era, vol. 6 [June 1903], p. 567.) And I don't know how to pronounce the county.
You're fine. That reminds me of your story, Ben. Like as you're writing in your journal, "Well, that seems pretty useless." All of that work that you did? Was it worth it? And you would say—
All I went for. Yep.
Although I think I would take all the wealth in Utah County instead (laughter).
But all you went for. I just think it's awesome. And some extra money. There's kind of a cool theme in Section 105 that I noticed and what I love about this.
So going back to this idea of my summer job doing drywall in homes, and this idea of building homes and building Zion and being set, I want you to think about your house, and what it's like in your home.
And the Lord uses this phrase several times in Section 105 and in 104. In verse 16, he talks about the strength of my house, in verse 17, at the beginning, "But the strength of mine house." And then again in verse 27, he says, "Shall have time to gather up the strength of my house." And I just think this is so beautiful. When the Lord talks about us and being united and building up Zion, it's all about strengthening His house. And so, I asked you the question at the very beginning, and I'm gonna ask it to you now, do either of you personally have an experience from building Zion? How are you strengthening the Lord's house?
Yeah. Can I just share a quote from Sharon Eubank? This comes from her talk in October 2020. And she said:
"We may not yet be where we want to be, and we are not now where we will be. I believe the change we seek in ourselves and in the groups we belong to will come less by activism and more by actively trying every day to understand one another. Why? Because we are building Zion—a people “of one heart and one mind" (Sister Sharon Eubank, "By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God," October 2020 general conference).
I love her teaching here that we build Zion by actively getting to know one another, every day. And so we want to build Zion, we have to understand what's in one another's hearts and minds.
One of the ways I do that, I also have a podcast. It's called, "Questions from the Closet." And my co host and I, Charlie Bird, we discuss a question we commonly get asked as LGBTQ Latter-day Saints in every episode. And then we have a guest on to discuss the question with us. And so what I try and do is I try and elevate other people's experiences so that we can learn from them and learn from their hearts and build Zion that way. And I also do my best to try and listen to and understand other people's experiences. So that's that's how I try and build Zion, but by sharing my heart, elevating other people's stories, and then doing what I can to hear and receive what's in other's hearts and minds.
Ben, thank you so much for coming prepared with that quote, that was perfect. And I loved your application of how you are trying to build Zion. I really like the idea of how that quote said, "Actively getting to know one another." It goes along so well with our guests from last week, Monica, when she encouraged us to get to know other cultures, and what a great way to build Zion. So thanks, thanks for that quote.
I think to go along with what Ben said and to continue with 105 in verse 24, it says, "Talk not of judgment, neither boast of faith, nor of mighty works, but carefully gather together to never judge other people." I think that's how I try to build Zion is to not judge others, to not boast of my own faith or my own mighty works, but to to carefully so carefully, being full of care, gather together. And so wherever I am, and whatever I'm doing, even though I'm an introvert, I try to gather the Saints because we're stronger together.
I think that's perfect, Aliah, thank you for sharing that.
You know, as I was thinking about this, one of my favorite things in the world, and when you said gather reminded me of this, Aliah. I love people and family in my house. Like if it's a holiday and someone says, "Can we come stay with you?" "Oh, yes, please." A house filled with so many people, that makes me happy when people want to stay in my home. The more the merrier. It makes me so happy.
When I kept reading this, the strength of my house, it made me think that that our Heavenly Parents feel that way. They love it when they when we say can we come stay with you. And I think our Heavenly Mother is like, "Yes, come!" And she probably washes our sheets in Tide and Downy and it smells nice. And it's a soft, comfy bed. And I think that's what it will be like, I think that's what they want. They just want all of us, every single one of us in all of our differences, to just be together in their big gigantic united house. And that is what the strength of his house looks like, or the strength of their house, all of us together, bringing what we're good at. And that is how we're going to build up this Zion so that we can be together. It just it's so happy to me and so warm, and I think there's going to be good food (laughs.
Oh, it'll be delicious.
Ambrosia, I hear.
Yes. So I just have a quick challenge. Here's what I want you to do. Grab a sticky note, if you guys have one at your house, and write on it, "The strength of my house," and just kind of put that somewhere. You know, actually, there's probably two sticky notes we could do for this lesson, "The strength of my house." And then you could also do, "Enough and to spare." It's so good. But I just love this idea. Like, how are you helping to strengthen the Lord's house? What is your gift? What is your ability? And I'm just gonna put this on my mirror in my bathroom to kind of remind me of this, what this strength looks like for you individually. Just kind of think about that throughout this week.
Anyway, thank you, both of you. That's the end. That's our episode. So this was awesome. I loved everything you said and brought to the table and thank you for preparing. Wow, that was good. Okay, so take a minute. Gather your thoughts. And what is your takeaway from today's lesson?
My takeaway from this is that I just really enjoyed being with Ben on this podcast and his doctrine of love. Not that I don't have a doctrine of love of my own, but just I felt that through the screen and through his words and like it just brought me right back. You know, sometimes we get stuck in tribulation and trial and what's not going right and all of that stuff, but that we just come back over and over again to love
Ben is love. I would say that. Ben is love.
You guys are so kind, I should do this all the time. I just love the affirmation (laughter).
Um, you know, my takeaway is gonna be from Aliah. I don't own a house, but someday I want to own a house. I want to have a big sign in my kitchen that says, "Enough and to spare." And I just want that to be my motto that you know. I've got enough and there's plenty to spare, and let me share what I have with you. Whether it be my time, my food, my money, I'll share what I can.
Oh, that was a good quote. I do love that. Thank you, both of you for sharing your takeaways. It was such a great day. It better than I even imagined I did not know direction it would go. And it was profound, everything you guys shared. And both of you spoke on this topic about the body of Christ, it seemed to be an underlying theme for you and I know it is for you, Ben, in your book, you talk a lot about it, which changed the way I perceive that. But what I loved is when you both kept talking about the body of Christ, and then earlier, you said that sometimes the body of Christ gets injured. And that is so important for us to remember that it's not perfect, but it can be healed. And I just think that's so cool. So I just thank you for both of you and your thoughts about the body of Christ and how important it is to all have a part. And again, I think you said this in your book, Ben, that if everybody were ears, all we do is hear no one be able to see the beauties of the earth.
It's Paul that said that. I just copied him.
You did, copycat (laughs). No, it was great the way you put it into good words. So thank you. Well, thank you guys. I love you both. This was such a great episode. So thank you.
So fun to be here. This is great. You guys are wonderful and so fun, and so smart and wise.
It's so fun to be together.
I'll get the copay to you later (laughter).
Well, we would love to hear what your big takeaway was from this episode. So if you have not joined our discussion group, go to Facebook and Instagram and follow us so that you can then ask questions and answer questions. It's so much fun throughout the week.
And then at the end of the week, usually on Saturday, we post a call for your big takeaway. So comment on the post that relates to this specific lesson. And just let everyone know what you learned. It's really fun to read what people have to say.
You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode on ldsliving.com/SundayonMonday. And it's also a really good idea to go there because that's where we're gonna have the links to all the references that we use, as well as a bunch of quotes and history about Zion's Camp that you're going to want, especially if you're ever going to teach this lesson. There's so many notes we didn't even get to because we didn't have enough time. So go check that out. And there's also a complete transcript of this episode.
The Sunday on Monday study group is a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original and it's brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall. And today our incredible study group participants were Aliah Hall and Ben Schilaty. And you can find more information about these friends at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Our podcast is produced by Erika Free, and me. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at 6 Studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom.
Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week. And please remember this, that our Heavenly Parents want you to come home because you're Their favorite.
The Lord is a builder:
15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine (Doctrine and Covenants 104:14-15).
Quote: "Good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." Quoted by President Monson in his talk, "I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee." Originally from Douglas Malloch, “Good Timber,” in Making the Most of Yourself by Sterling W. Sill.
President Hinckley's story about the tree he grew that was used for the pulpit: "To All the World in Testimony," general conference, April 2000.
Baptismal covenants: Mosiah 18:8-10
Title for Section 102: "First High Council, Church Courts"
"By January 1834 the Church had grown to over 3,000 members. This growth created a need for additional leadership to manage the affairs of the Church. On February 17, 1834, twenty-four high priests gathered in Joseph Smith’s home for a conference in which the first high council of the Church was organized. Orson Hyde, the clerk of the meeting, noted that the high council may have made some errors in the minutes of the meeting. Therefore, the council voted that the Prophet should make any necessary corrections. Joseph Smith spent the next day, February 18, making an inspired revision of those initial minutes. The minutes were amended and accepted the following day, February 19. Now found in Doctrine and Covenants 102, these minutes outline the establishment of high councils and provide direction for stake presidencies and high councils when they administer discipline for people who have committed serious transgressions. (Note that district presidencies and district councils may also be authorized to follow these procedures)" (Doctrine and Covenants Seminary Teacher Manual: Lesson 107).
Purpose of the high council:
1 This day a general council of twenty-four high priests assembled at the house of Joseph Smith, Jun., by revelation, and proceeded to organize the ahigh council of the church of Christ, which was to consist of twelve high priests, and one or three presidents as the case might require.
2 The ahigh council was appointed by revelation for the purpose of bsettling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the church or the cbishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties (Doctrine and Covenants 102:1-2)
How the Church courts should be run: Doctrine and Covenants 102:12-23
Provisions to be just and fair:
20 But should the remaining councilors, who have not spoken, or any one of them, after hearing the evidences and pleadings impartially, discover an aerror in the decision of the president, they can manifest it, and the case shall have a re-hearing (Doctrine and Covenants 102:20).
23 In case of difficulty respecting adoctrine or principle, if there is not a sufficiency written to make the case clear to the minds of the council, the president may inquire and obtain the bmind of the Lord by revelation (Doctrine and Covenants 102:23).
Quote: “I wish to assure you … that I think there is never a judgment rendered until after prayer has been had. Action against a member is too serious a matter to result from the judgment of men alone, and particularly of one man alone. There must be the guidance of the Spirit, earnestly sought for and then followed, if there is to be justice” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “In … Counsellors There Is Safety,” general conference, November 1990).
How to act when building Zion:
1 Verily I say unto you, my friends, behold, I will give unto you a revelation and commandment, that you may know how to aact in the discharge of your duties concerning the salvation and bredemption of your brethren, who have been scattered on the land of Zion; (Doctrine and Covenants 103:1)
The Lord wants us to be obedient and to hearken:
4 And that those who call themselves after my name might be achastened for a little season with a sore and grievous chastisement, because they did not bhearken altogether unto the precepts and commandments which I gave unto them.
5 But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall arealize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour unto the bcounsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them (Doctrine and Covenants 103:4-5).
Hearken: Hebrew = Shema to obey, hear, listen, or pay attention to.
Precept: In a general sense, any commandment or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct. See webstersdictionary1828.com.
The results of what we have been asked to do:
7 And by ahearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the bkingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is cgiven unto the saints, to dpossess it forever and ever.
We are asked to be lights and saviors of men:
Excerpt from Ben Schilaty's book: A Walk in My Shoes: Questions I'm Often Asked as a Gay Latter-day Saint
"In Ether 2, the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to build eight barges and then gave very specific instructions on how to accomplish that task. When the brother of Jared was done, he approached the Lord with two remaining problems. The first problem, access to air on their voyage, the Lord solved for him. But the second problem, having light on their journey, He didn’t. Instead, He listed some possible solutions that wouldn’t work. The Lord then asked him, “What do you want me to do?” In chapter 3, the brother of Jared created sixteen transparent stones. He again approached the Lord and asked Him to touch the stones so that they would give light to the Jaredites as they crossed the sea. The Creator of the universe reached out His hand, touched the brother of Jared’s creations, and sixteen small stones became sources of light.
"Sometimes the Lord has inspired me to do specific things. Other times He has allowed me to come up with a solution. This book is my creation, my sixteen small stones. Sixteen attempts to answer questions about life as a gay Latter-day Saint. I wrote it to address a problem, to help others better understand the LGBTQ Latter-day Saint experience. I have prayed and prayed that this creation of mine would be something that would give more light to the world. And if that is the case, it’s not because of me. I know that this book is filled with story after story about me, but it has never been about me. I hope that reading this book has helped you to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ."
Quote: "He answers privately, Reaches my reaching In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend" (Hymn #129, "Where Can I Turn for Peace?").
After tribulation comes the blessing:
13 Behold, this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren—your redemption, and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established, no more to be thrown down (Doctrine and Covenants 103:12-13).
Cross reference Doctrine and Covenants 58:4.
Redemption: 1. Repurchase of captured goods or prisoners; the act of procuring deliverance of persons or things from the posession and power of captors by the payment of an equivalent. 2. Deliverance from bondage or distress. See webstersdictionary1828.com.
Instruction to Joseph on Zion's camp: Doctrine and Covenants 103:22-40
Title for Section 104: "Order of the Church for the Salvation of Men"
"In April 1832, Joseph Smith and others had met with the Church leaders in Missouri and organized a branch of the United Firm in Jackson County (see D&C 82). These two branches—one in Ohio and one in Missouri—had continued for two years. In a meeting held on April 10, 1834, the members of the firm decided to dissolve the organization. However, Joseph Smith received a revelation about two weeks later “that the firm instead be reorganized” and that “its properties were to be divided among members of the firm as their stewardships” (introduction to D&C 104). Under Joseph Smith’s direction, the term “United Firm” was later replaced with “United Order” in this revelation. The Lord also counseled Church leaders regarding their debts and instructed all Church members how they were to care for the poor" (Doctrine and Covenants Seminary Teacher Manual: Lesson 109).
Division of properties to members of the United Firm: Doctrine and Covenants 104:20-47
Aliah's family motto:
Those who have abundance should share:
16 But it must needs be done in mine own away; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the bpoor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low (Doctrine and Covenants 104:16).
Cross reference: Doctrine and Covenants Section 64
Title for Section for 105: "Zion Not To Be Redeemed for a Little Season"
Facts about Zion's camp:
"In total, There were approx. 205 men, 20 women and some children. The average age of the camp’s recruits was twenty-nine, with the youngest being sixteen and the oldest seventy-nine. They marched an average of thirty-five miles per day in poor conditions due to humidity, heavy spring rains, and inadequate supplies" (Marlene C. Kettley, Arnold K. Garr, and Craig K. Manscill, "Zions Camp").
The number of people the Lord requested:
30 It is my will that my servant Parley P. Pratt and my servant Lyman Wight should not return to the land of their brethren, until they have obtained companies to go up unto the land of Zion, by tens, or by twenties, or by fifties, or by an hundred, until they have obtained to the number of five hundred of the astrength of my house.
32 Therefore, if you cannot obtain five hundred, seek diligently that peradventure you may obtain three hundred.
33 And if ye cannot obtain three hundred, seek diligently that peradventure ye may obtain one hundred (Doctrine and Covenants 103:30-33).
The Lord will fight His battles:
The purpose and reason behind Zion's camp:
10 That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be ataught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their bduty, and the things which I require at their hands (Doctrine and Covenants 105:9-10).
Quote: "The 'journey of Zion’s Camp' was regarded by many as an unprofitable and unsuccessful episode. A brother in Kirtland who did not go with the camp, meeting Brigham Young upon his return, said to him, 'Well, what did you gain on this useless journey to Missouri with Joseph Smith?' 'All we went for,' replied Brigham Young. 'I would not exchange the experience I gained in that expedition for all the wealth of Geauga County,' the county in which Kirtland was then located." (B. H. Roberts, “Brigham Young, A Character Sketch,” Improvement Era, vol. 6 [June 1903], p. 567.)
Quote: "We may not yet be where we want to be, and we are not now where we will be. I believe the change we seek in ourselves and in the groups we belong to will come less by activism and more by actively trying every day to understand one another. Why? Because we are building Zion—a people 'of one heart and one mind'" (Sister Sharon Eubank, "By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God," general conference, October 2020).
One way we can build Zion:
24 Talk not of judgments, neither aboast of faith nor of mighty bworks, but carefully gather together, as much in one region as can be, consistently with the feelings of the people; (Doctrine and Covenants 105:24).