Sunday, August 2, 2009

Our Partnerships with the Godhead

There are a total of two ordinances in which all members of the Godhead are invoked.

The first is baptism. This makes sense: we are casting off the old person we once were and creating a new one, one that is not only representative of our own best hopes and dreams, but actually representative of the fact that we now stand as agents of the Godhead.

Because I am a lawyer, I view a lot of the Gospel through a legal lens. And while reflecting on this fact of the Godhead being invoked at baptism, it occurred to me that this is much like a partnership being created. In a partnership, each of the partners has the ability to act for and on behalf of the others, inasmuch as they are furthering the general interests of the partnership. And this follows with the Gospel, too: we are promised that we will receive power so that "whatsoever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" (see D&C 128:8; Matthew 16:19), meaning that, as new partners with the Lord, we will receive power to act in His name, on His behalf.
Not only that, but we are promised that if we continue to receive Him, all that the Father has shall be given unto us (D&C 84:38). Full partners, if you will.

Now, this brings us to an interesting fact about partnerships: when one of the partners dies (at least in the jurisdiction where I practice law), the partnership dissolves automatically. The properties are divvied up, the moneys are parsed out, but there is NO more partnership. It ceases to exist.

Why is this interesting for purposes of this little thought? It brings us to the next ordinance in which the entire Godhead is invoked: the sealing ordinance. In this, once more, the Godhead is invoked in full, each of them individually named as being the creators of the new unit. And where the previous unit consisted of four (the three members of the Godhead plus the baptized member of the church), this new unit consists of five: the three members of the Godhead, plus the husband, plus the wife. This, the "crowning ordinance" of the Gospel creates a new partnership. And THE OLD PARTNERSHIP DISSOLVES. There is no more simply "The Godhead and I," it is now "The Godhead and I and my spouse," each co-equal in the sense that we are all equally important to achieve the grace and salvation of the mortal "junior partners."

After all, can I graduate to the Celestial Kingdom without my Father permitting me entry? Can I go without the saving Grace offered by Jesus Christ? Can I attain salvation without the whispering words and cleansing fire of the Holy Ghost? NO.

Can I go without my spouse, if I do not treat her in full measure as an equal in our partnership, as someone whom God loves as much as He loves me, and as someone upon whom I utterly depend for my salvation?

Divorce in the world trends ever upward. Sadly, it seems, the church divorce rates are doing the same, moving up and up. Perhaps not as quickly as they are doing in the rest of the world, but moving up nonetheless...

That this is tragic is clear, because with the divorce comes the dissolution not just of the marriage, but of the partnership that had been created between spouses and the Godhead... and there is no new post-divorce ordinance offered to help us regain our previous status with the Godhead.

Now, heed me here, I am NOT saying that all divorces are wrong, or that all divorcees are evil, or even that ANY divorcee will suffer a withdrawing of the Lord's spirit. Indeed, the very purpose of the Sacrament that we take each week is to renew our covenants, including the ones we made at baptism, thus re-instituting our original partnership, this time back to a four-person partnership.

All this was inspired by a random comment made in Sunday School last week. And, to be perfectly honest, I don't know how much good it will do anyone (though hopefully it will do no ill).

But I AM glad I wrote it out, because it makes me ask these questions to you, the readers:

1) Do you who are not married treat yourselves as representatives of a full partnership between you and the Godhead? Are you aware that you are, not only sons and daughters of God, but princes and princesses - and therefore necessarily kings and queens to be? If you will always remember this status you have, you will never sin... for who would give up the univers of all God's possessions for the trifles that any sin can offer?

2) Do you who ARE married treat yourselves as representatives of a full partnership between you and the Godhead? And do you treat your spouse as a partner in equal measure, with equal rights and privileges before the Lord? Do you remember that you are a prince or a princess, and your spouse is equally endowed with a heritage of most high Royalty?

Let us go our way, and not merely sin no more, but anxiously seek to do good. Let us bind the Lord in Heaven, for we are His agents, his partners, his sons and daughters today and co-heirs with Christ in the hereafter.

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