Mormon Officials and Christian Scholars Compare Doctrine/Program 4
|By: Lawrence Flake, K. H. Christensen, Sandra Tanner, Ed Decker, Dr.
Walter Martin; ©1983
|What is eternal marriage? Can a celibate man progress to godhood?|
Ankerberg: Thank you. We’re glad that you joined tonight. We’re talking about the claims of Mormonism compared with the claims of Orthodox Christianity. We found out in the past few weeks of time that those claims are different. We’re looking at the evidence for both claims. Tonight we want to turn to the area of why the Mormon Church puts the emphasis on the family. We’re going to let their own representatives explain to all of us: what is the importance, what is an eternal marriage? I’d like you to listen to their explanation.
Excerpt from “Interview with Mormon Leaders”
- Ankerberg: We’re asking a question about eternal marriage, and we’re going to have that explained right now.
- Christensen: We believe that the marriage between a husband and wife is not until just “death do you part,” which is in most of the marriage ceremonies that are mentioned, but that in reality a husband and wife are to be married and sealed for time and eternity. And now we made reference to the Mormon Temples. This is what takes place in one of the Mormon Temples. These edifices are built for that type of activity or that work wherein they are sealed for time and eternity, that they may, as a couple, progress, as we made reference to earlier.
- Ankerberg: I feel that there’s something important here that you are trying to get across – that it’s for time and eternity. Why did you add the “time and eternity”? Is it just because it is, or is there something else attached to that?
- Flake: I think the basis of the reference to time refers to this life and eternity, hereafter. Our belief is that under certain circumstances a couple can be sealed together with their family forever, and that again is through the proper authority. As President Christensen pointed out, you don’t just go out and want to baptize and therefore have the authority. When a marriage is performed under the proper authority and in the proper place, that can be a marriage that lasts forever.
- Ankerberg: Okay. Besides the question or the fact that that seems to disagree with Jesus’ statement that you neither give nor are given in marriage in heaven and so on, [Matt. 22:30] let’s say that we’re married after death, can I have children then? What is the relationship in marriage? I mean, everybody wants to know, can you have sex?
- Flake: Well, I think the point we want to make, John, is this, that first of all we believe that the family is eternal. In other words, marriage is eternal. Those children that are born to that marriage, assuming that they live a life worthy to be with God eternally, they will be a family unit eternally. So, that is the goal of Latter-day Saints – to live that kind of life and to raise their children. That’s why all of the programs of the Church are family centered so that the eventual outcome of this life is to enter the eternities with our family, with our mates. And consequently we have in the Mormon Church very few divorces compared with other people because it’s a very significant and sacred thing.
- Ankerberg: Alright, this is what President Flake has said about eternal marriage. Mr. Decker, for our folks that are not Mormons, could you summarize: What is the importance of eternal marriage for a Mormon? You went through this.
- Decker: Well, basically, in order to become a celestial god you must be married for time and all eternity.
- Ankerberg: You can’t become a god unless you are married in the Temple?
- Decker: You cannot become a god unless you go through the Temple, unless you are married for time and all eternity to your mate in the Temple, and have your children, if you have children prior to going to the Temple, sealed to you for time and all eternity.
- Ankerberg: You had to actually have meetings on Monday night with your family before you could get your Temple recommend to go into the Temple to be married, didn’t you?
- Decker: Well, in order to get into the Temple, first off, only 25% of all the Mormons in the entire world have ever been into a Mormon Temple, so it is a very small number. And only half of those that have actually been to a Temple can actually still go into the Temple. They have lost their worthiness. So, in order to get to a Temple you have to be worthy. And this is a period of time in which you are tested. You pay your tithing. A good Mormon will be paying 20-25% of his gross income to the LDS Church, attending many meetings and doing all the functions, having Family Home Evening every Monday night, doing welfare work, putting money into the fast offerings each month.
- Ankerberg: Okay. The Wall Street Journal reported the same thing. What I would like for the people to know is how could you get motivated to give 20% of your income, to meet on Monday nights with your family? What was the motivation for this?
- Decker: Well, realize what I’m saying that only 25% have ever been in a Temple and only half of those can get back in, that if that’s the way to godhood, then you are dealing with a 80, 85, 90% failure rate in Mormonism.
- Ankerberg: Let’s break that down. I think on another program we said that there are 5 million Mormons and that 600,000 had actually been married in the Temple and of those only 300,000 had gone back.
- Decker: Are still worthy!
- Ankerberg: Are still worthy.
- Decker: Now, the key to it is that this is held out to you. You must, in order to become a god, in order to progress, you must go to the Temple. So, as a new Mormon, as a young man or young woman growing up in Mormonism, you must be married in the Temple.
- Ankerberg: Okay. So you’re looking forward to this, and one day…
- Decker: It’s a great experience. You go through and you’re interviewed. The bishop finds that you are worthy. He gives you a Temple recommend. You go to the Stake President, he is the man who is over the bishops in your area. He approves you. You get your Temple recommend sheet or card and you go on into the Temple.
- Ankerberg: Did you know what would happen in the Temple before you got there?
- Decker: We had absolutely no idea. There I was given a secret name, my secret name and my wife’s secret name, and the name that I would call my wife out of the grave with on the morning of the first resurrection. She was never allowed to know my name, but I was to know hers.
- Ankerberg: You had to call her so she could get out?
- Decker: Her salvation was dependent upon me. I would call my wife forth on the morning of the first resurrection.
- Ankerberg: What if you didn’t call her?
- Decker: She wouldn’t get out.
- Ankerberg: Okay. What else happened in the Temple?
- Decker: Well, then we went upstairs. Again, my wife then sat on one side of the Temple and I sat on the other side. We were not allowed to sit together because the women can’t sit with the men. Then we went through a series of oaths and we learned certain things about how to become gods, and we learned secret signs and combinations. We learned special names, tokens, penalties.
- Ankerberg: Okay. You have a little apron there. What is the significance of this green apron? What is it?
- Decker: Well, the significance of the green apron, in the Mormon Temple ritual, as Lucifer our elder brother explains Mormon theology to Adam and Eve, that they must partake of the fruit of the tree in order to become as gods, they go ahead and do this. And as Adam takes a bite of the apple and becomes all-wise, he turns to Lucifer and he says, “What is that apron you are wearing?” And Lucifer says, “It is the emblem of my power and my priesthoods.” And then within a minute or two he says, “Quick, here comes Father. Quick, fashion one for yourselves out of these leaves.” And then Adam and Eve put on a fig leaf apron, and then we in the audience are instructed by the person guiding us to then put our fig leaf apron on. That was my fig leaf apron.
- Ankerberg: Well, there’s a meeting going on. There’s kind of like a play going on, and you are being taught theology via this play, and the person in the play that is Lucifer is saying these things.
- Decker: That the apron that he was wearing was the emblem of his power and priesthoods. Then he tells us to put on an apron.
- Ankerberg: So you did. That’s it. Okay.
- Decker: Then, that gives us the centerpiece of our costume that we’re wearing in the Temple. We have these white robes and white garments that we’re wearing and so forth, and the women have a white veil that is over their face when they pray. Now, this apron becomes a center of our costume, and for the rest of the ceremonies we wear this.
- But the interesting thing about it is, as a Mormon I never questioned the fact that it was a fig leaf apron. But as a Christian when I read the Word of God, in Genesis 3, I found out that God rejected the fig leaf apron because it was the work of man’s own hand. And so here we have in the Mormon Temple the centerpiece of our costume and the centerpiece of our ritual is the fig leaf apron, which is man’s attempt to cover his sin, the denial of the blood of Christ. And, of course, in Genesis 3, God killed animals and covered Adam and Eve with the skins of animals. He shed blood, and as it says in Hebrews, “There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood.” [Heb. 9:22] So, we ignore the shedding of blood. We come to man’s work and this is the center of it in the Mormon Temple ritual.
- Decker: Then you stand before a veil finally, wearing your Temple clothing, and you go up to the veil and there, as the Mormons are taught, they will eventually meet God face to face, actually through the veil, this cloth veil. And in the cloth veil are slits that match the slits on your breast and on your underwear. You go up to the veil and literally you do “foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee, breast-to-breast, hand-to-back…”
- Ankerberg: With another person there?
- Decker: With another person, though the veil and through the slits in the veil. Then you shake his hand in the secret patriarchal grip. And my entrance into the celestial presence of God is the chanting of a phrase that goes: “Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and the sinews, power in the priesthood be upon me and upon my posterity from generation to generation throughout all eternity.” This then warrants me, gives me the right now, to enter into God’s presence to be judged for my works.
- Now, my wife and I are then finally united on the other side of the veil, and once we are in there we are then brought into a sealing room and then we were sealed for time and all eternity. And at that time, the President of the Temple laid his hands upon our heads and sealed upon us exaltations, dominions, thrones, powers and principalities from above.
- And we walked out of that Temple shocked, looking for the greatest religious experience in our lives. You know, we were dumbfounded. We were forbidden to speak about it to one another so I could not talk to my wife without breaking my vows. We walked out and got in our car and drove home in absolute fear of what we had just done.
- Ankerberg: Who did you say your vows to then?
- Decker: Well, it was not to Jesus Christ. It was to the prophet of the Mormon Church and to the building up of the kingdom of God.
- Ankerberg: Okay. My question to the Mormon leaders concerning what you’ve heard Mr. Decker say and what you’ve heard them say is: Is it necessary to go through that as a Mormon to become a god? I want you to listen to their answer.
Excerpt from “Interview with Mormon Leaders”
- Ankerberg: Is it necessary to be married? What about the guy that’s celibate? Can he progress to godhood then?
- Flake: We believe, first of all, that a person has to understand these things. In other words, you’re not accountable for things that you don’t understand. So, there are millions of people on the earth who are not accountable for many things. But in the Latter-day Saint theology we believe that those who understand the doctrine of marriage and its importance in the eternal plan of things are under an obligation to get married. Now, obviously, a lady would be at a disadvantage in that situation. We believe that there are many who will not have that opportunity, those who die before the age and so forth. We believe, in the justice of God, that that opportunity will come to them after this life.
- Ankerberg: Apparently, Mr. Decker, they agree that it’s absolutely necessary if you’re to become a god and you know that you need to be married that you get married. You were that. You were telling us a little bit about how this actually worked out with your wife, with your children, and so on in the next life.
- Decker: Well, I think if you take the Mormon theology dealing with celestial marriage and eternal marriage and follow it to its final conclusion, the whole philosophy that they live on falls apart. First off, if I do make it to celestial exaltation with my family unit, the only person in my family that actually will go with me will be my wife. And since, based upon my righteousness, the number of my wives is variable, I will then only bring her there as my first or number one wife. If my sons make it to righteous exaltation, they will become gods also, become a heavenly “father” on some other galaxy, some other universe, and there they will live with their wives. If my daughters make it to celestial exaltation, they will be given as wives to righteous gods. So, we’re talking about gods and goddesses not occupying the same territory. Our heavenly father, Elohim in Mormonism, he is our god over this planet, over this area. He does not have other gods and his mother and dad there.
- Ankerberg: Okay. One thing, the Wall Street Journal said, “The Mormons for most people are known as the ones who practiced polygamy.” But right along this line, if you understand what the goal is, polygamy is absolutely logical. Why?
- Decker: Well, it’s logical because you cannot become a procreating god creating spirit children to the billions of numbers without having enough wives to keep them all pregnant.
- Ankerberg: You actually believed that you were going to go off, you’d have your own world and you had to populate it as a god and a goddess.
- Decker: For me to become a celestial god meant that I would live in a time of procreating spirit-children. For my wives, becoming goddesses, heavenly mothers, means that they will become eternally pregnant.
- Ankerberg: Okay. We’re going to go to a segment of a gal that was a Mormon all of her life and hear what she had to say about being eternally pregnant, if you want.
Excerpt from The God Makers
- Woman’s Voice: He was raised a Christian and I was raised Mormon. We just had a very beautiful relationship, but it always came back to Mormonism. I had to convert him in some way. The Mormon Church teaches that in order for me to become a goddess I needed to marry a Mormon man in good standing with the Church. And without a husband that could take me through the Temple, I wouldn’t be able to go to heaven and be with my heavenly father.
- Narrator: According to Mormon theology, husbands and wives who have successfully achieved godhood will be required to populate their own planet by procreating as many spirit children as possible.
- Woman’s Voice: Ever since I was a little girl I was taught that my primary purpose was to become a goddess in heaven so that I could multiply an earth. And I wanted that. I wanted to be eternally pregnant and look down on an earth and say, “That’s mine. I populated that whole earth, and all those little babies, I had.”
- Ankerberg: I want to come to you, Sandra, right here. I want to go back to what Mr. Flake said. He said, “Consequently, we have in the Mormon Church very few divorces compared to other people because it is a very significant and sacred thing.” You live in Salt Lake City. You told me some of the facts, the statistics about the state of Utah, which is 71-75% Mormon. What are the actual statistics?
- Tanner: Well, just last week in the Mormon Church News section they had an article on marriage and divorce. And they said in there that the women in the church, 35% will have been divorced by the time they reach 60. That’s what their statistics show to be the average rate. But you look at the overall picture of Mormonism and how it actually works in a Mormon community, you’ll find that Utah has above the national average rate of teen suicide. They have 7 out of 10 of the teenage first births in Utah are pre-marital conceptions. The divorce rate in Utah is above the national average. When you get to child abuse, the murder rate for children under the age of 15, through child abuse, is five times the national average.
- Ankerberg: Why do we have those kinds of devastating statistics in Utah?
- Tanner: Well, we aren’t sure just why except to say that Mormonism doesn’t seem to work that well at home. Utah isn’t the worst place in the world to live. I’m not saying it’s Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m saying Mormonism has not produced a better society than anyone else is living in. They have every kind of problem, every kind of sin going on there, and in some cases like child abuse, it’s even worse.
- Ankerberg: Okay, Dr. Martin, as a person that has never been a Mormon, but as a Christian scholar looking at this from a biblical perspective, this progression to godhood, what would you say from a biblical perspective?
- Martin: Well, first of all, you can’t progress to become a god because the Scripture says there is only one God. [Deut. 6:4] That’s fallacious. Secondly, a woman’s not going to get married after death and resurrection in order to fulfill herself because she can’t do it now, as they say, simply because Jesus said in the resurrection, “They neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as of the angels of God.” [Matt. 22:30] So you rule out sex at that particular juncture right there.
- The idea of all of the things that he discussed in the Temple, few people recognize that a great deal of this is drawn directly from the cult of Freemasonry, including the symbols. And the Melchizedek priesthood did not originate with Joseph Smith, he got it from the Masons. I believe it’s on the 17th level of the Masonic order.
- Ankerberg: It’s also printed in the Wall Street Journal that that’s true.
- Martin: Yes. I didn’t read the article but, I mean, this is just history.
- Ankerberg: They call it Masonic Rites. Go on.
- Martin: So, their whole concept is a psychosexual polygamy in which you can’t have polygamy here on earth because the government forbids it so you extend it through the Temple rite into eternity so that there you have your polygamy with your multiple wives and your children and your families along with your godhood. This is totally alien to biblical theology and to Christianity. And the Scripture forbids all of these things, and what they’re literally doing is disobeying the Lord Jesus. He said, “Swear no oaths at all neither by heaven at God’s throne, earth as its footstool, not even by the hairs of your head. Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no,’ for everything else comes from the wicked one.” [Matt. 5:34-37] And that’s exactly what Ed is talking about.
- Ankerberg: How can a person that is not in touch with what you just said concerning knowing God personally – not to become a god, but to know God in a personal relationship – how can they get into that relationship?
- Martin: We get into a relationship with God in the simplest possible way: “If you will confess with your mouth Jesus as your Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” [Rom. 10:9] It’s a recognition of the fact that by yourself you can do nothing. It’s pinning your hopes and your future on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This Mormonism doesn’t have. It doesn’t have the Savior who died for our sins, it has a spirit-brother of Lucifer who became the devil; and you are not dealing with the same Jesus.
- Ankerberg: Okay. Next week we will wrap this discussion up and we’re going to ask the Mormon representatives how they know Truth, and I want you to listen. It’s very interesting how they come to know that what they believe is true. We’ll compare that with how Christians say they know something is true. Please join me next week.