What would you say if I told you that even though the Word of Wisdom and the most recent earring rules are temporary commandments, they will still be on the exam at our final judgment? Well if you are a Latter Day Saint I suspect they will be and here is why.
In my last post I postulated that commandments and rules can serve as faith promoting crutches or “Dumbo’s feathers” to us. In the discussion that followed it started to dawn on me that perhaps there is more to these rules that come and go in the church than I originally thought. Perhaps we will be called on to answer for our obedience (or not) to the little rules that our priesthood leaders give to us here… even the seemingly dumb rules that are likely to expire over time.
Think about a few of the scriptures that apply. When God gave Nephi the sealing power he told him:
Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
God said similar things to Peter and to Joseph Smith. So what does that mean? Well I suspect it means just what it sounds like – what they say here will count for or against us there. I think God makes these men stewards over the earth; he makes them shepherds and we are tested partially on how well we listen to his delegated voice through them.
Further evidence comes in the scriptures that described what we will be judged by at that great and last day:
For behold, out of the books which have been written, and which shall be written, shall this people be judged, for by them shall their works be known unto men.
And behold, all things are written by the Father; therefore out of the books which shall be written shall the world be judged.
(3 Nep 27:25-26)
The scriptures seem to imply that there will be literal books we will be judged by to me. Those must surely include current copies of the conference issue of the Ensign.
But the interesting part of this is that different generations of saints may be judged by slightly different criteria. Certainly the eternal principles will apply to all, but there are temporal rules that I propose only apply to the saints in the flocks where the shepherds emphasize the rule. That means that while the 19th century saints could drink coffee and some beer and chew tobacco without offending God, 20th century saints cannot. And why? Because the steward of the church said so and what he seals on earth is sealed in heaven when it come to the flock he presides over.
Even more interesting is that some rules that used to apply to saints under former shepherds are not binding on us today under the new shepherd. A couple of examples might be the proper method of anointing the sick with consecrated oil. Former prophetic counsel condemned the current practice of a few drops of oil on the head but current shepherds disagree and our shepherds are the ones that matter to us. Another example is the counsel to have large families. Former shepherds over the church emphasized this rule and I believe the saints who of child-bearing age in those days were bound by that counsel. Current shepherds do not emphasize that rule so those of us having kids now are not bound by it.
What does it all mean? Well among other things, it means we are bound to our leaders in this world. What they say matters to us, even if it may be expired by the time our children or grandchildren are adults. It also implies that God delegates more than we might normally want to think he does. But why wouldn’t he delegate real responsibility? Our theology says that we are in training to be like Him right? How else do we train besides practicing?
What do you think?