Two Brothers

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A farmer and his wife had two sons. They lived in a modest home on a modest parcel of land. They worked hard from first light to dusk, clearing their land, plowing, planting, watering, and harvesting. As the sons grew older, their eyes started searching beyond their farm fences. There was a whole world out there that they longed to see and experience. They enjoyed the farm but both were curious and inquisitive. By the time they were old enough to strike out on their own, the elder brother staying around longer to help their parents, the father had many workers to help on the farm. The parents encouraged the brothers to go off and gain experience in the world, to get an education, and to learn and grow. The sons, while caring of their parents, knew that their parents would be able to manage the farm without them. So one day they struck off for the nearest big city.

The two brothers decided to rent a house in the city together. The elder brother found employment in a hospital during the day and went to school during the evening. The younger brother was restless. He bounced from job to job and had a difficult time holding on to his money. He began to become involved in risky behavior and began to interact with questionable people. The younger brother soon began drinking, using drugs, and dealing drugs. He knew what he was doing was wrong, and his older brother counseled with him about his choices, but he felt he was having too much fun. He felt like he was finally breaking free from the shackles of his parents and their prudish ways. He felt that he found a fast track to success – in dealing and using drugs.

For a time, the younger brother enjoyed his riches; he drove fast cars and wore fancy clothes. He still visited home on occasion, hoping, in his twisted view, that his success would please his parents; he found them only grieved. His older brother still lived with him because he hoped he could be an influence for good. One day, the younger brother did not come home. This was not unexpected, but the older brother began to worry. He called the police and asked them to search for his brother. They had dealt with the younger brother many times but said that they did not know where he was.

The next day, the brother still did not come home. After a week of searching, the elder brother began to give up hope of seeing his brother again; though he did not agree with his brother’s lifestyle, he still loved him. Then one day the police showed up at his home; no, they had not seen his brother but they announced that they were there to arrest the elder brother.

He was shocked; why arrest him? He kept every law and always did what was right. The police put him in a room and interrogated him, wanting to know where his brother was. They stated that his brother had beaten and murdered a whole family – parents and children; they assumed the motive was related to drugs and they had unimpeachable evidence that his brother had murdered the family. After the interrogation they locked the older brother away, declaring that because they could not find the younger brother, they were going to hold the older brother in his stead. The police said this was only fair because the two were brothers. They said the guilt of the younger brother would be placed on the elder brother because the younger could not be found. Even though the elder brother protested stating that it was not fair to punish him for the sins of his brother, the police would hear none of his arguments and, working with the courts, they sentenced the older brother to death for the crimes of his brother. The sentence was only reversed when the voices of many pointed out the injustice of guilt by association and a higher court overturned the charges.

A common complaint I hear about Mormons is that they believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. Some even casually remark this fact to others, eliciting the obvious response, “What!? Jesus and Satan are brothers? That’s heresy! Mormons believe in a different Jesus; one who is the brother of Satan!” While the statement (that Jesus and Satan are brothers) is strictly true, the use of it is often for nefarious reasons. We read in LDS scripture:

“And there stood one among them [spirit children of God] that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.” (Abraham 3:24-28).

The first who stood up was Jehovah, our Savior Jesus Christ. The second was Lucifer, who wanted to God’s glory but on Lucifer’s terms. We read in 2 Nephi 24 (quoting Isaiah 14):

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and shall consider thee, and shall say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms? And made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof, and opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, yea, all of them, lie in glory, every one of them in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and the remnant of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land and slain thy people; the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned.” (2 Ne. 24:12-20).

One interesting aside from these verses: Satan does not let his prisoners go free (“opened not the house of his prisoners”) but Christ does. Christ provided a way for the captive to go free.

Lucifer had a lot of pride and lust for power. He was cast out of God’s presence and became Satan. Lucifer is brother to Christ and every human on the earth for that matter but Satan is the antithesis of Christ. He sold his birthright, whatever birthright he might have had, for a mess of prideful pottage. He sinned great unpardonable sins against God.

Do his actions diminish the glory of his Father or elder Brother? Are the sins of the siblings answered upon the heads of their siblings? Is it just or right to condemn the elder brother for the murders of the younger brother?

My allegory at the start of this post was meant to drive home the point that we are not responsible for the actions of our siblings. We are not guilty simply by association. Yet, when individuals ask or declare the seemingly innocent question or statement about Mormons believing that Jesus and Satan are brothers (which again, is strictly correct; however, Lucifer has also been disinherited; he gave up his family membership through his evil choices and is left without root or branch) are usually trying to imply guilt by association.

I state usually because I have heard people ask the question honestly because they had heard it from a preacher or from someone else and thus they were simply wondering if we Mormons do believe that. But I have had people condemn me because I believe that Jesus and Lucifer are both spirit children of God (as are all of us). They view this as heresy because in their minds they create a link of guilt by association. They believe that if Lucifer is Jesus’ brother, that that somehow reflects on the Savior and even means that He could no longer be who He is and have the power He does. Who Lucifer is no more reflects on Jesus than who Stalin was reflects on you or me or any other person. Just because one individual is perfectly good and the other perfectly evil does not mean that either are responsible for the actions of the other.

Those who declare such things, even if they are true, are creating straw men and attacking them with rubber arrows of logical fallacy. They misuse LDS theology – with or without malice – to scare people away from what they view as the cult of Mormonism. I say again, the sins of the brother do not diminish the glory of another. Christ is not tainted by Satan.

A Father’s Job

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I’ve been reading the book Bonds that make us free by C. Terry Warner. It’s life-changing. It’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Even though the book is not scripture, I thought this short quote would be quite appropriate for this blog.

First, a little context. A man became upset at his children. He responded to them angrily and they started to cry. Realizing his error, he went to their room and asked for forgiveness. They quickly jumped into his arms and kissed him, forgiving him for any wrong. Now for the quote:

“Well, I leaned a lot of lessons from that. But the one that sticks with me the most, because I’m a father, is that it’s a father’s job to repent first. That’s what is means to me to be a father – to be the first one to repent and heal the relationship. My children were anxious and willing to forgive and be friends with me. But I had to start it. It seems to me that that’s the way relationships are healed. It’s no more complicated than that. It may take longer in some cases, but there isn’t much more to it than simply yielding your heart to what you know is the truth and saying, ‘I’m sorry.'” (p. 261).

Even though I’ve only been a parent for just over four years, I’ve made my share of mistakes. Parenting is very hard work; it takes a lot of effort and patience. But it also take more than that; it takes love and selflessness. I find that pride and selfishness usually cause the most friction in relationships. As a parent, as a father, it is especially important to be the first one to repent and ask for forgiveness.