The Miracle of Forgiveness – Chapter 6 Review: Crime Against Nature by Gary Carter

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As we move through our explanation of The Miracle of Forgiveness, we have and will do explore language and ideas that one finds difficult, uncomfortable or unpalatable. This chapter builds on chapter five’s theme of ‘sexual sin’ by exploring masturbation and homosexuality. It would be fair to say that whatever your perspective or belief of these areas, the language that Kimball uses does cause discomfort and would cause offense to some who would naturally be more inclined to support his overall opinion on homosexuality and masturbation. The exploration of this chapter will focus on the very nature of salvation, grace and godhood that we can see through this topic but before we begin, it is important to deal with the nature of language in this chapter. The language and nature of the discourse on this subject has evolved somewhat since 1969 and how society as a whole views this subject has changed radically since then. We must remember this when we read Kimball’s work on the subject. To forget the culture, social norms and context when we read this would be a mistake no matter what one thinks about his work and thoughts. As we move forward with grappling with the underlining LDS theology, we must remember this when reading the language of the chapter and therefore, we shall not be looking at the emotive language in our analysis of chapter six. What we shall be looking at is the nature of salvation in Mormonism as well as some odd biblical interpretations in this chapter.

 

One of the more striking and odd sections of this chapter is Kimball’s reference to Paul’s theology on marriage. Kimball references 1 Timothy 4: 1,3 and 1 Corinthians 11:11 to support the argument that Paul argues that if you ‘forbid to marry’; you have departed from the faith. We need to explore these verses further.

 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

 

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. (1 Corinthians 11:11)

 

Kimball’s arguments are problematic however when we consider the following verses from 1 Corinthians.

 

 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? (1 Corinthians 9:5)

 

Now for the matters you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarriedand the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)

 

It is clear from LDS doctrine and theology that marriage is fundamental to salvation and exaltation to the celestial kingdom. Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 7 and 9 then prove problematic for the LDS position. If celestial marriage is vital for entry to the celestial kingdom, can the apostle Paul, who proclaims himself unmarried in 1 Corinthians 7:8, be in the celestial kingdom? A bigger problem in relation to the chapter is how can Kimball use Paul to justify Mormon marriage as necessary to exaltation as ordained by God if Paul himself was not married? Kimball makes it abundantly clear that the LDS position on marriage is that it is only ‘through the eternal union of man and woman can they achieve eternal life’. It is also clear that Paul is not against marriage in the slightest. To argue as such would ignore all the quotations that Kimball uses as seen above. Is Kimball right though to argue that Paul supports this aspect of LDS theology? It is quite clear that Paul does not forbid marriage as we can see in 1 Timothy 4. 1 Corinthians 7 though makes it clear that Paul does not command marriage for everyone. Paul says that for those who ‘cannot control themselves’ should get married and the inference therefore is those who can control themselves should not marry. Paul himself was not married as is clear by the quotation from 1 Corinthians 9. There is a theory that Paul may have been married, as that was a requirement to have been a part of the Sanhedrin. Even if this is true (this is not a theory that I personally subscribe to), this cannot possibly qualify as an eternal marriage as by the writing of 1 Corinthians Paul is clearly calling himself unmarried. So what are we to make of Kimball’s statement in light of this clarification? To come to an understanding is difficult but it is clear that Kimball is trying to merge biblical theology into Mormon theology of celestial marriage and this results in inconsistencies.

 

The crux of the matter though with regard to chapter six, without meaning to harp on my usual theme within my posts, is that Kimball has elevated a work to the same level of importance as grace and forgiveness in salvation and exaltation. Marriage is a prerequisite for eternal paradise. This means that a single person who has never partaken in any of the activity warned about by Kimball in chapters five and six, therefore not sinning sexually, cannot enter eternal paradise. Not even good works are enough for Kimball when it comes to exaltation, they must be the right good works. Am I arguing against abstinence, monogamy and righteous living? By no means but these works come out of a response to grace rather than achieve salvation  in its fullest sense by those means.

 

There are also some worry elements of what can be termed ‘process theology’ in Kimball’s understanding. Kimball argues that homosexuality cannot produce children biologically and goes against the command to multiply. There is nothing unspectacular or different in this so far but Kimball then goes on to explain that if homosexuality denies the disembodied spirits from coming into this world the ‘opportunity of mortality’ but is necessary on the path of eternal progression. The God of Christianity is one that knows is in control of all things. He has predestined all who are to be born and if you are of the reformed tradition, He has predestined all those who will be saved. The God that Kimball is advocating for here in his theology seems to be dependent on the actions of humans. Ignoring our differences on whether ‘spirit children’ exist and the Mormon theology of the beginnings of mankind, it is striking that Kimball is not advocating that God is in control of whether all the ‘spirit children’ can be born. God, according to this line of argument taken to its logical conclusion, is therefore bound by humanity’s actions and therefore is not omnipotent. If correct, this is a crucial difference between Mormonism and Christianity.

 

So to conclude, this chapter is definitely a chapter of its time in terms of language and assumptions of consequences of certain sins leading to others. What is truly revealing though is the surprising process theology that Kimball argues for with regards to the spirit children as well as the example of Paul as the need for all to marry celestially despite his unmarried state. This chapter is also another prime example of works, especially certain works, before grace. The chapter is a revealing insight into the differences between the Mormon kingdom of God and how one enters into it and the Christian kingdom of God.

 

15 thoughts on “The Miracle of Forgiveness – Chapter 6 Review: Crime Against Nature by Gary Carter”

  1. Just a few comments.

    1 Corinthians 9: 5 does not clearly say that Paul was unmarried. he declares his power to have a wife, and that is it. Whether he has proven this power by taking a wife, or whether he has not, cannot be definitely shown by that passage. Otherwise you would also have to say that verse 4 clearly means he doesn’t eat and drink, as it uses the same terminology in reference to those activities.

    As to 1 Corinthians 7, I am not sure what translation you use, but in the KJV (and even in the quote you give) he states clearly that his counsel to not marry is coming from him, not from God.
    In verse 26 he states “I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress,” showing clearly that his advice is in response to a specific difficulty that the Corinthian saints were experiencing, and was not to be taken to mean under all conditions.
    What he is saying is that because of certain circumstances (which are not given, and so we do not know them) it was his personal advice, not coming from God, that none of the saints should seek either to marry or to be separated, but to remain in whatever situation they were in.

    So these verses pose no difficulty or inconsistency with LDS doctrine.

    As to God being in control, no one in the LDS church has denied it. All his spirit children will be born. The question is, are we helping in the work, or are we hindering it. The work will be done, but only by helping in the work will we receive the rewards, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. That is what President Kimball was trying to teach.

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    1. Hi there shematwater, Gary the author may comment on this sometime but I thought I would jump in.

      It literally blows me away that Mormons seek to deny that Paul is saying he was unmarried and this is the height of good evidence that Mormons read into the Bible rather than from it.

      Paul clearly states that we can serve God more fully unmarried.

      1 Corinthians 7:8-9 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

      Really, Paul is not saying here that he was single? Its interesting how he uses sex as the reason for people to get married if they must. Surely their eternal exaltation was worth a mention here.

      1 Corinthians 7:32-33 32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
      33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

      Under any circumstance whatsoever how in Mormon theology could Paul say that you can serve God better unmarried? Surely if the times are bad and trouble is coming or present they are better off getting married quicker so as to make sure their exaltation? There is no sense so that here or in the bible as a whole.

      Pauls words were all scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16 says all scripture is God breathed, Pauls words are no less scripture than Christs words. However Christ had stuff to say about this too.

      Matthew 19:9-12
      King James Version (KJV)
      9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

      10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

      11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

      12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

      Recieve what?

      Of course no verses whatsoever pose a problem to Mormons if they dont wish to take them for what they say, this blog exists for those that do. The clarity here that marriage is not all the Mormon church claims it is in the eternal sense is very clear.

      We could serve God better single, (makes sense) but for the sake of our passions and our natural desire to be with someone, better to marry than burn with passion. However according to Christ if you can live without marriage, do so.

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  2. Bobby, you either don’t understand or are deliberately trying to misrepresent Mormon teaching on Salvation / Eternal Life.
    It’s true that the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom is available only to those who have been sealed in marriage – only they will have the privilege and responsibility of eternal increase, but two thirds of the Celestial Kingdom is open to anyone who has not. Salvation (depending on what you mean by that) is free for virtually everyone (assuming you mean everlasting life in a Kingdom of Glory?).

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    1. Hi there bud, if you read the title you will see I didnt write this, that said I think this is a sound article, however the word salvation I know can not always get to the heart of the matter when speaking of Mormon exaltation as exaltation is just one of many meanings for that word in LDS theology. This is not lost on us.

      Of course this article challenges the notion that marriage is required, feel free to engage with that.

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  3. There is much evidence that Paul indeed had been married, and was a widower at the time he wrote these passages in Corinthians. The Greek word translated into English as “unmarried” can refer to a widower as well as someone never married.

    The evidences that Paul was a widower are summarized by Denny Burk, at:

    http://www.dennyburk.com/was-the-apostle-paul-married/

    Mr. Burk is an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Ethics at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky:

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      1. Just to quickly follow up on this as im now on my pc. I certainly never doubted that Paul was once married (however I still dont think we know 100% that article is helpful, but we are not directly told that Paul was once married, however either way he here seems to be encouraging people to avoid marriage if they can.

        I imagine its safe to say that Paul’s wife was no Christian, therefore he could not expect to be exalted with her according to the ample Mormon material saying that this life if the time to earn our exaltation. So therefore Paul should still have been seeking a mate, even with that aside there would be nothing to stop him remarrying in light of being widowed as I believe Elders Oaks and Nelson have. However Paul seems to be speaking against a firm LDS belief here in saying that it is a greater service to God to be unmarried as our priorities are not then divided, as Christ says in Matthew 19:9-12

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      2. Bobby

        You are right that we are never told directly that Paul was once married. It is also true that we are never told directly that he wasn’t. So this point made in the article is proven false as it claims that Paul does say directly that he wasn’t married.

        As to the other points, I can think of one very clear reason why not to marry that God has justified in our day, and what I would believe is what Paul is speaking about. That reason is missionary work. Missionaries are not to be married, but are told to delay marriage until after serving. So, it is completely possible that Paul is advising the saints in Corinthians to focus more on the ministry, which seems to have been struggling at the time, rather than marry. Thus his statement to be even as he is would be more telling them to be ministers and missionaries of the faith.
        Just as missionaries today are not condemned for being unmarried if they die while on their mission, no saint in those early days would have been condemned for devoting themselves to the ministry instead of being married.

        Speaking of Paul’s wife, I am sure you are familiar with the work we do for the dead. If she wasn’t a Christian (though we have no real proof she wasn’t), Paul could have been sealed to her through proxy and that takes care of that problem. The doctrine that this life is the time for us to do our work speaks to those who have the truth available to them, not to those who do not. Those determinations we leave to God.

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      3. A load of speculation based on nothing. If you take the time to study the context of this chapter you will see that this is not the case, likely the current distress talked about in v26 is persecution the church is under, more here (http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/7-26.htm), however the verses I showed you from the words of Christ (which you have not acknowledged) also add to my argument, any concept of an LDS mission (in terms of the program and constraints that go with it) is again totally foreign to the Bible and certainly not being talked about here.

        You are bringing no substance to this argument other than speculation, hoping that somehow this chapter might support LDS theology, which if read for what it say does not. I will reply to you if you can bring more substance in your response otherwise the last word is yours.

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  4. Bobbie, I am afraid you are a little harsh today—not to worry, we all have those days.

    To summarize:

    A major premise of Carter’s article is: “how can Kimball use Paul to justify Mormon marriage as necessary to exaltation as ordained by God if Paul himself was not married?”

    Shematwater replied: “1 Corinthians 9: 5 does not clearly say that Paul was unmarried….”

    You then told shamtwater: “It literally blows me away that Mormons seek to deny that Paul is saying he was unmarried and this is the height of good evidence that Mormons read into the Bible rather than from it.”

    I then cited an article by a Baptist minister providing good evidence that Paul likely had been married, and at the time of writing these passages, was a widower.

    You then, with some self-contradiction, responded, “I certainly never doubted that Paul was once married….”

    You then speculated: “I imagine its safe to say that Paul’s wife was no Christian…” and you stack on your speculation a misrepresentation of Mormon doctrine by stating, “therefore, he could not be exalted with her…” This totally discounts the wonderful Mormon and New Testament doctrine of baptism for the dead, and the possibility of spirits after death accepting the gospel.

    (Author Carter makes a similar improper speculation, stating that, even if Paul once was married, Paul here said he was “unmarried,” therefore his marriage could not have been an eternal marriage–forgetting that the Greek word translated as “unmarried” also means widower).

    After all that speculation, you accuse shematwater of promoting: “A load of speculation based on nothing.”

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    1. Hey there Ted.

      Your right I think I had too much coffee or something the other day, sorry if I came across badly. As mucb as I like this kind of dialogue there is no substituting face to face. I dont suppose your in the Utah area are you? I am there next month and would love to grab a coke or something if you are, please drop me an email on bobbygilpin@gmail.com if this works.

      Anyway, I think I was a bit quick in throwing out my thoughts on Paul being married. My thoughts on it are that I dont dispute or have a problem with the strong possibility that Paul was married before conversion. However I see nothing to suggest that as a Christian he was married nor had any concern with being such. I can see where you perceive me contradicting myself and thats mostly because of me being a bit quick to throw my points out. I see Paul as being unmarried at the time of this letter and I also see him encouraging those that are also unmarried to stay that way. You have rightly picked up on the fact that Paul addresses widows here.

      However I do not accept at all that by the word unmarried he is simply referring to widowers. There is no logical reason to assume that when he says someone can more fully serve God single that this is referring to those that have once been married.

      Interestingly verse 11 says this

      But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

      You cannot be saying that the word unmarried here means widower? He is talking about a woman for one thing, I think you are making an unmerited leap here.

      As I have also pointed out Jesus in Matthew 19 says 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

      Jesus brings encouragement to those that decide for the kingdom of God to be in that state. Nowhere does Jesus say this:

      “Another thing that we must not forget in this great plan of re- demption and exaltation, is that a man must have a wife, and a woman a husband, to receive the fulness of exaltation. They must be sealed for time and for all eternity in a temple; then their union will last forever, and they cannot be separated because God has joined them together, as he taught the Pharisees” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:43-44. Italics in original).

      Or this

      “Man is not complete without woman. Neither can fill the measure of their creation without the other. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. Only through the new and everlasting covenant of marriage can they realize the fulness of eternal bless- ings. As a matter of priesthood responsibility, a man, under nor- mal circumstances, should not unduly postpone marriage. Breth- ren, the Lord has spoken plainly on this matter. It is your sacred and solemn responsibility to follow his counsel and the words of his prophets” (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign (Conference Edition), Nov.1994, p. 49).

      Rather we are complete in Christ.

      Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

      Again we see Mormonism upholding man to the expense of where are to find our true joy and satisfaction. As a married man I am certainly not saying, nor do I believe Paul is saying that we should not get married, you are totally right that we are not talking commandments here. Rather I am saying that singleness is a blessed route to take which brings with it the freedom to serve God more fully with less distraction (albeit a worthwhile one) and that this is encouraged for those that with too by Christ and Paul and therefore is utterly in contradiction to the Mormon teaching that without a spouse we cannot receive the fullness of salvation.

      And yes I stand by my points of Shematwaters speculation. I hope you can see I am not doing the same here even if you disagree with my conclusion.

      And seriously if you are in utah, would be great to meet.

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  5. More thoughts on how Paul’s language in 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 can be reconciled with the teaching of eternal marriage. Paul states:

     6 But I speak this by permission [concession], and not of commandment.
     7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
     8 I say therefore to the unmarried [widowers] and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
     9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

    1. He is speaking to “the unmarried and widows.” The word translated “unmarried” in our English editions is the Greek word “agamos” which means either bachelor or widower in Greek. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Da%29%2Fgamos .

    In contrast the word translated “widows” (chera) means only widows, not the never-married women.

    So it seems most logical that Paul is using the word “agamos” to mean widower, juxtaposed as it is against a word that means widows. Paul is thus directing this advise to widowers and widows.

    2. Paul makes it clear that this advise is not commandment, but just a concession or permission.

    3. He is saying: I speak here by concession or permission, and am not giving a commandment. I wish that all men were as strong as myself, but we all have our different gifts from God. I therefore say to the widower or widow, it would be good for you to do as I do [implying that you not remarry and rather devote yourself to building the kingdom] but if you are not strong enough to withstand sexual temptations, it is better for you to remarry, than to suffer the consequences of sexual sin.

    Nothing in that is inconsistent with the concept of celestial marriage.

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  6. Bobby

    First, I never said that I wasn’t speculating. Paul gives his advice because of “the Present distress” that faced the saints in Corinth, and thus should be taken only in the context of that distress. As we do not know what that distress was (he never tells us) we don’t know the context.

    I never said anything else until you asked “Under any circumstance whatsoever how in Mormon theology could Paul say that you can serve God better unmarried?” To answer this I gave you a very clear circumstance in which people are encouraged not to get married so they can serve God. I then showed how this same circumstance could be what Paul was referring to. I never said it was, only that it was a possibility.
    Now, you point out the persecution, which is another possibility. When the saints were driven from Nauvoo Brigham Young told them to leave with haste and not wait for Temple ordinances, saying that new temples would be built. While the people did do these ordinances in Nauvoo, if they hadn’t they would have been justified.
    So, you asked a question, and I answered it; I answered it directly and completely. You then blew me off and told me that I was not contributing to the conversation in any way. If directly answering a direct question is not contributing than I think we have different definitions of the term.

    You later said I was “hoping that somehow this chapter might support LDS theology.” You don’t seem to understand my point at all. I don’t think that 1 Corinthians chapter seven supports the doctrine of Eternal Marriage. My point is that it does not contradict it either. That is the point.

    Now, speaking of Matthew 19, just before this the Pharisees had been asking about divorce. Christ, in response, gave the famous quote “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” After this discussion with the Pharisees the disciples asked Christ if it was better not to marry. Christ answered them.
    “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

    So, who is not able to receive the marriage state. Eunuchs, which are those who are unable to engage in a sexual relation, which is one of the major aspects of married life. There are those who are born with defects that make these relations impossible. There are those who are taken by other men and made Eunuchs. Then there are those who, for whatever misguided reason, have destroyed their ability to engage in such. When any of these are converted to the gospel they are not required to enter the marriage state, as they are incapable of engaging in the sexual relation.
    This in no way denies the doctrine of the church.

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    1. In some ancient texts, “eunuch” may refer to a man who is not castrated but who is impotent, celibate, or otherwise not inclined to marry and procreate.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunuch

      Matthew 19:12 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

      Compared to.

      “Another thing that we must not forget in this great plan of re- demption and exaltation, is that a man must have a wife, and a woman a husband, to receive the fulness of exaltation. They must be sealed for time and for all eternity in a temple; then their union will last forever, and they cannot be separated because God has joined them together, as he taught the Pharisees” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:43-44. Italics in original).

      Nah.

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