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Hi I'm Jim

I'm a husband and dad, a Californian by birth, a Utahn by residence, an attorney by profession--and a Mormon by choice.

About Me

I grew up in central California, and came to Utah after high school to study at Church-owned Brigham Young University. After marriage and graduation, for family reasons I chose to stay in Utah for law school and I now live here with my wife and five children. I'm a bit of a history nerd, especially when it comes to American or military or maritime history. Otherwise I enjoy hiking, sailing, and playing with my kids.

Why I am a Mormon

I was born to parents who were practicing Mormons, so I was brought up in the faith. The programs offered by your average Latter-day Saint congregation are varied and time-intensive, and--if you let it--Church participation quickly becomes a foundational aspect of your life. It's a great way to grow up, and merely for its social/institutional value I think the Church is a great thing to have in your family. But it can also be very demanding, and the toll (whether in material resources, intellectually, spiritually, or just the amount of time it asks of you) can be heavy at times and lead a person to ask, "is this *really* worth it?" I've done that a lot, especially in my teens and twenties. That process has made me compare Mormonism to other belief systems, and to take a hard look at Mormonism's own theology and history. What I keep coming back to is Jesus' teaching (in John 10:10) that He is come in order that people "might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." I've looked around at a number of philosophical and religions traditions, and my experience is that there is a spiritual abundance--a depth of communion with God Himself--that comes with living the precepts of Mormonism; and that's not a relationship with Divinity that I've seen in any other belief system.

How I live my faith

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that my faith influences almost every aspect of my life. I live my faith when I go into the courtroom and try to deal fairly with the court and opposing parties while treating my own clients with empathy and compassion and Christlike love. I live my faith when I go home and try to give my wife and children the best life that I can, serve my wife, and teach my children the lessons that (I hope!) will help them to succeed in life; thanking God each day for the little things they do that delight me so much and for privilege of sharing my life with them. I live my faith in my friendships and in my civic and faith communities, as I try to deal honestly with others and lift up those around me. I live my faith as I try to make major life decisions--about career, about family, about relationships--because I believe God knows me, that He loves me, that He wants the best for me, and that--if I listen for His voice--He can and will tell me what to do in order to have a happy life and do the things He wants done.

Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?

Jim
Mormonism sees itself as a restoration of the pure church that arose during and after Jesus' lifetime, and we try to hew pretty closely to the practices of that church unless we receive a specific instruction from God to do something differently. Neither the Bible nor the other scriptures accepted by Mormonism contain any clear examples of women serving in the leadership echelons of the Church. Women certainly had a major part in the Church's work, but the the Apostles and the local pastoral leaders seem to have all been males. Similarly, in the Mormon Church today, women are active in service and teaching. Women who hold certain positions also sit in on the "ward council", a local group that advises the bishop. But it seems to me that Mormonism, like early Christianity, has adopted a paradigm of separate-but-complementary gender roles. In this paradigm women minister, on a highly-individualized basis, to people in their immediate social circles with a special emphasis within their own families. Men, by contrast, are ordained to the priesthood which entails an expectation of a much more general, less-individual ministry (i.e. preaching to larger groups); and the scope of that ministry is global rather than local. Could this emphasis change in the future? Maybe. But in the absence of such a revelation/instruction from God, we prefer to stick to the scriptural and historical precedents. Show more Show less

Why do you have 12 Apostles? They were just meant to be around for the time of Jesus Christ, not to be replaced with new apostles.

Jim
I don't read Luke 16:16 (stating that "the prophets were only up until John the Baptist") as a prohibition on future prophets. If there weren't going to be any more prophets, why would Jesus have bothered to to teach His followers how to discern between true and ones (Matthew 7:16)? And, we learn in book of Revelation--a vision received and recorded well after John the Baptist's death--that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don't see a reason that the spirit of prophecy (the testimony of Jesus) should be taken from the earth as long as there are people on earth willing to receive that testimony. Even if you argue that prophets were intended to be replaced by the revealed word of the Bible, the trouble is that the text of the Bible wasn't generally available until about 1,500 years after the Resurrection. And on a practical level, I don't think human nature fundamentally changed between 100 BC and AD 100 (or, indeed, in the millennia that have passed since then). I just don't think mankind has transcended the fundamental need to receive messages from God that it seems to have had for the four thousand years between Adam's lifetime and Jesus' ascension to Heaven. Amos 3:7 strikes me as an eternal principle. The apostles didn't disappear because God had nothing more to say. They disappeared because, generally speaking, most people were no longer willing to listen to them. Show more Show less

Why don’t Mormons have paid clergy?

Jim
Technically, in a way we do--Church leadership at the highest levels serve on a full-time basis, and are paid accordingly. Also, in the late 19th century, Mormon bishops might serve for decades and they, too, were compensated. But Mormonism has never had a "leadership track". You can't apply for a position in the hierarchy; rather, the hierarchy approaches you and more or less "drafts" you into service. This process of selecting leadership remains more or less the same, except that the thirty-thousand odd Mormon bishops now no longer receive compensation for their service. Instead, they serve part-time while continuing to work in their chosen professions. I think the reasoning for the current policy has to do with the Book of Mormon's strong condemnation of "priestcraft" - the tendency of some, when they get into positions of ecclesiastical authority, to abuse that authority. A big advantage of the Church's current policy is that it tends to weed out the bad eggs who "love . . . the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts" (Luke 20:46). And, like the "official answer" to this question suggests, the policy helps to create a unique ethos of service within Mormon congregations where bishops (and other leaders) wield authority for as long as their services are required and then, like the Roman statesman Cincinnatus, willingly set it down again. Show more Show less