Why do we teach Old Testament to youth under 18?

I’m reading the Book of Genesis. If the rest of the Old Testament is filled with vivid descriptions of adultery, fornication, polygamy, and sodomy, why do we teach Old Testament to youth under 18?

My wife and I teach Old Testament to fourth graders for their Sunday School hour but just read Old Testament verses in class that are listed in our teacher’s manual.

Maybe our church assumes students won’t read outside of class. I hope we don’t inspire our students enough to read Genesis on their own. There are many things that I would rather not have to explain. 🙂

The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible. – Mark Twain

by Robert John Stevens, February 20, 2018


Commments

I would probably just focus on the stories that do not contain the material you are talking about. I’m guessing the primary manuals do not encourage you to teach about adultery, polygamy or sodomy. There are lots of great stories in the Old Testament but it is a complicated book! — a smart and wise friend.

The Kind of Church I Want to Belong To

I’d like to belong to a church that teaches its youth ethics, honesty, self-mastery, etiquette, charm, table manners, to smile and greet each other and strangers, fundamental principles to raise the bar, forgiveness, the importance of making friends for life, never-ending learning, that life is a fountain of opportunity, critical thinking, original thought and public speaking.

I’d like to belong to a church where members are encouraged to bless the human race, hire, mentor and train youth, volunteer as individuals and with groups outside of church assignments, temple ordinances and chapel cleaning, help those in need, care for the poor and needy, and to share knowledge and truth whenever and wherever one feels inspired to share it.

I’d like to belong to a church where members study original sources instead of materials whitewashed by committees.

I’d like to belong to a church that teaches its members to not support the involuntary redistribution of wealth, how to recognize truth versus error and cover-up, the proper role of government, the falsehoods of evolution and the awe of intelligent creation, righteous vs unrighteous dominion by discussing hundreds of case studies including the lives of religious reformers and heroes outside of religious history who didn’t murder, rape, commit adultery, steal or plunder.

I’d like to belong to a church that promotes tithing, giving and the sacrifice of the widow’s mite or to give when we know we don’t have enough to pay our bills because we know we’ll be blessed, but then rigorously and repeatedly examines their own spending to ensure the widow’s mite isn’t wasted.

I’d like to belong to a church where members become so refined that they jump at opportunities to help each other, especially when not assigned by their religious leaders.

by Robert John Stevens, February 13, 2018

It is Time for Church Members to Hire and Mentor Youth

by Robert John Stevens, February 9, 2018

I see a problem in our church that probably extends nationwide to all faiths: Many young, capable people can’t find jobs and older church members won’t take a chance on them.

When the U.S. dollar finally collapses, it will surely get a lot worse.

I have two sons who graduated from BYU in Provo and can’t find work. Tyler graduated in physics. Andrew later earned an MBA from UVU and still can’t find a job so he volunteers and films BYU’s innovators for Tech Transfer Director Mike Alder at BYU.

Andrew applied to more than 1,000 jobs. Several friends and career advisors reviewed his resume and cannot figure out why he can’t get interviews and a job offer. There is nothing wrong with him. I watch his self-esteem sink weekly.

Hundreds of times he’s asked himself why he is turned down repeatedly and what can he do to improve his resume and interviews. One problem is he didn’t graduate with a degree in the E in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

This begs the question, “Would it be easier to get jobs after graduating from college if job training began in their youth?”

Often I hear employees tell me their best employees grew up on farms. Whenever I hire, I want to know how they earned money in their youth.

When I was young it was easy to get jobs from neighbors and church members. They took a chance on me and were never disappointed. I worked eight months for Bob Rowe in Potomac, Maryland and picked up his house one piece at a time after it blew down and then hung all his interior doors and moldings without any previous training or experience.

My brother and I sealed Brother Colton’s asphalt driveway, sealed Bishop Rolapp’s driveway and then repaired it with cold asphalt and rolled over it with our parents’ yellow 1972 Ford Gran Torino Squire Station Wagon, painted the exterior of Brother Hart’s home, mowed lawns, raked leaves, washed windows and sealed driveways all over Potomac and Darnestown. I was so successful that my father often called me “money bags.”

During my 37 years living here in Utah Valley, I’ve never seen a teenager mow another man’s lawn. In the dozens of neighborhoods we’ve lived, I am not aware of any youth who were employed by church members other than babysitting and at their retail businesses.

It is common to hear, “Kids these days don’t want to work.” Perhaps, but would things be different if they were given opportunities in their youth?

I have always been disappointed that so many of my generation, even after they earned degrees from BYU and other colleges, were never given the opportunity to work for the previous generation of millionaires and billionaires of church members in Potomac, Maryland ; hence, few graduates could afford to return to Potomac where the median home value rose steadily and is now $848,600.

I suspect at some point in their careers, many wealthy members of my church did hire youth and other church members from their congregation but now don’t. I do not understand that. They must know something that I do not.

Has litigation made it too risky? Did they lose money? Or has one too many relationships resulted in bad feelings?

What good is our money after we are dead? At Judgment Day will we rather say, “I used my resources wisely and with my keen knowledge of business I started farms, factories, manufacturing ventures and for-profit businesses, trained and employed the youth of my church and increased their salaries proportionally as their combined labors increased my profits?”

From Gordon B. Hinckley: “A man out of work is of special moment to the Church because, deprived of his inheritance, he is on trial as Job was on trial—for his integrity. As days lengthen into weeks and months and even years of adversity, the hurt grows deeper. …The Church cannot hope to save a man on Sunday if during the week it is a complacent witness to the crucifixion of his soul.”

I don’t have an obvious solution for employing youth. My kids babysat and sold Christmas videos but when they travelled outside of our ward or congregational boundaries in the same neighborhood they were treated with disdain.

I’ve personally mentored, trained and employed more than sixty adults. Sometimes they produced and I earned back my investment and more; sometimes they produced nothing and I lost my entire investment. As a whole, women very much outperformed men.

It is time for church leaders to speak out in public and from the public to ask members to mentor, train and employ our youth. Maybe it is time for my church to direct a portion of tithing to assist in a wise and clever manner.

I know there is great pain in this area and that something heavenly could be done if inspired leaders urge members to act. What would Jesus do?

George Müller: A Documented Life of Blessings that Come from Trusting in God

Our son Andrew who is graduating with his MBA from UVU this Friday and lives in BYU off-campus housing, told me scripture reading is rare and he doesn’t know anyone who reads them consistently. From the many Elder’s Quorums I continue to visit and the discussions and lessons I hear, he may be right that it is rare.

Andrew is only 26 and yet most of my his friends who married are already divorced. With the mind-blowing high cost of living, the cards are stacked against them. Compare the high salary and down payment they must have to get into a home with the requirements to begin a homestead in previous generations.

To see just how much things have changed and the emphasis to prove doctrines using scriptures, re-read Apostle LeGrand Richard’s, “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder” which was written for missionary work, and compare it to today’s Sunday School and quorum manuals.

Consider the attention members today give to their scriptures, the high divorce rate, the abandonment of constitutional principles which include the emphasis on free agency to buy property and develop homesteads without government intervention which I know a great deal about in Utah County, social media (especially Facebook) etc., what can be done?

The solution may require a re-awakening to return to these basic, core principles. What do you see happening to reverse the trend?

Maybe a solution can be found in or related to the trust George Müller placed in God and the orphanages God and he created and sustained. Watch this video with your wife and entire family. There is a message here that needs to be re-introduced everywhere:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CClRxvUyrRw

Love Thy Neighbor Without Stealing: Can Mormons Provide Shelters for the Homeless Without Supporting Government Theft?

by Robert John Stevens, March 29, 2017

A church friend sent me a link to the article How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive. After reading it, here are my comments.

The Mormon Church encourages and supports government-forced redistribution of wealth by taxation to build and maintain homeless shelters in Salt Lake City. Taxation is theft—period. God commanded, “Thou shalt not steal.” Jesus and Paul reiterated that. In this regard, the Mormon Church has not figured out how to love your neighbor without stealing.

My wife and I once had financial difficulties and agreed to be a recipient of the Bishop’s storehouse—the Mormon welfare program for local churches. It was miserable, bullying and condescending. Having paid tithing and fast offerings for more than thirty years, had those monies went directly into mutual funds I would have accumulated a very large sum, probably close to a million dollars. Had that happened with church support or without church interference we could have simply withdrawn funds during financially bad times.

Instead, we had to be humiliated by working through church channels and meeting weekly with the female Relief Society President to fill out a checklist of items, mostly unhealthy, to get us by. It felt like humiliating begging to an organization that was increasingly reluctant to give back even a portion of my life-long contributions.

No brother or elder ever came over to offer me employment or to invite me to their place of work for lunch, which is probably the best way to get a job. None in executive or corporate positions would hire me for a day to prove myself, or even permit me to volunteer for a day, not even those I’ve known for decades.

Having a B.S. in Computer Science and completed my M.S. coursework also in Computer Science from Mormon-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, and with more than 25 years of professional experience at that time, I was highly qualified for church programming positions but even though they had dozens of openings, not even their management would give me a chance to prove myself for a day. I realized then that full-time career church employment is evil and desensitises church employees so they are less likely to be loving and charitable outside of their assigned, paid tasks.

Once when I mentioned to our Mormon landlord I wasn’t sure if my declining revenues would provide enough money for our rent, they immediately panicked. The Bishop was reluctant to help with our rent payment and when he finally committed he was late so our Mormon landlords immediately asked us to leave. The Bishop wouldn’t let us rent just anywhere—it had to be the lowest-priced rental. Those we could find nearby were unreinforced masonry structures which will collapse during a major earthquake so rather than put our family at risk, we moved our into a friend’s 600 sq ft basement and paid him rent.

The correct principles described in that article are not new to Christianity or Judaism. The Mormon Church is just in a healthy position to work on the problems because of 187 years of tithing accumulation, volunteer missionaries (mostly elderly in this category), and thousands of full-time career church employees who think they were chosen by and working for God himself.

If I were a Mormon apostle, I would not compromise on theft by supporting government theft. I would not employ tens of thousands of full-time employees supported by religious taxation aka tithing punishable by damnation vs secular jail time. Surely there are better ways such as teaching correct principles and encouraging Mormon college graduates to temporarily work at the Church but not a mandate as Israeli youth are required to serve in their military.

The American system of limited government was not intended to support government handouts. Mormon Presidents David O. McKay and Era Taft Benson taught it is not the proper role of government to provide welfare. That responsibility belongs to the people and to their churches. The Mormon tithing monies used to employ more than ten thousand full-time, career Church employees in Information Technology alone is more than enough to provide shelters for the homeless in Salt Lake City.

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Rating Church Talks

by Robert John Stevens, October 24, 2016

People often attend churches if they like the minister; hence the popularity of the mega TV ministries.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe in a lay ministry, meaning untrained people run the local churches and give sermons. Giving member opportunities to grow has proven very successful. One consequence though, it is often difficult to listen to poor speakers.

The main church service is called sacrament meeting and yesterday’s was the worse I ever attended. Two speakers well over 60 years old just rambled and rambled and said nothing.

The LDS Church needs to raise and restore the bar. Here’s an idea to think about: If the Sermon on the Mount is the best religious talk in history, and if we rate it as a 10, then how will your next talk rate?

What did Jesus do in his Sermon of the Mount talk? What did he not do?

Why are People so Lonely?

by Robert John Stevens, October 18, 2016

Yesterday I emailed a friend and asked why he and his wife don’t bring their kids by to play with our kids. He responded:

“Your move…created a little more distance (in Festinger (1951) he found that the greatest predictor of friendship ties among students in married student housing at MIT was how many doors away the two couples lived. Next door neighbors were cited as close friends 41% of the time…individuals four doors down were cited as close friends 10% of the time).”

We moved just a mile away and he passes our house twice every weekday to and from work. 🙂

That led me to wonder why people are so lonely and whether or not today’s religions really help.

Throughout history people become friends because they helped each other through trials and hardships and built things together.

After thinking more about his comments and the study he quoted, I remembered a quote by Mormon Founder Joseph Smith:

I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it. Where this people are, there is good society.

Is that still true today? What can we learn from 19th century religions?

Compare the 21st century to times past. After high school, volunteer service and attending college we:

  • No longer work together to build our homes, barns, chapels, temples and cities
  • No longer help each other plant or harvest
  • No longer sit on our porches and enjoy friends
  • No longer physically fight for the cause of liberty or to defend our inalienable rights against government overreach
  • Make great financial sacrifices so certain church members may enjoy full-time career church jobs which leaves us with no or little money for entertainment, vacations or even nice furniture to entertain
  • Spend 40+ hours a week at work or more plus commute time
  • Work until April 24th (tax freedom day) just to pay our taxes. Tithe payers work more.
  • Allow the one-way media or ministry of propaganda to influence our thinking
  • Side with political parties that create strife and division/li>
  • No longer employ neighborhood children to mow our lawns, pull weeds, rake leaves, paint fences or wash our windows
  • Spend more time watching news, sports and videos, playing video games, and doing hobbies such as genealogy than spending time with true, living friends
  • Rarely if ever make true friends of the people we serve after our church assignments end
  • Indirectly are taught that church service is more important than developing true friendships
  • Are told to choose our friends which infers we should exclude those of non-conforming values or beliefs
  • Don’t associate too closely with other married couples because issues may arise
  • No longer send our kids to etiquette school or commit them to apprenticeships; therefore, they pale in communication skills and rarely have unique talents to share with and impress each other
  • Send our kids to public schools where they are taught the deep state curriculum vs home school them and guide them to follow their passions

Also most people today have fewer children despite the advice of Psalms 127:3-5

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

I suspect many readers will disagree with many of my points. I bet if we conducted a survey though we’d discover most people spend less than twenty hours a year with friends and most probably have fewer than three true friends.

These may be signs of the end of an empire or civilization which means a rebirth is coming and things will be very different as people work together to rebuild and survive.


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