Prophets or Evolution - An LDS Perspective

 

Chapter 6

 

The Children of God

 

 

 20 O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!

 21 Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest.

Mosiah 8:20-21 [King Limhi]

 

 

The Children of God

 

I love the phrase in the above quote: "they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd."  Indeed, we humans have a tendency to flee from those in the Eternal world, and who are on this earth; who are trying to help us.  But God will not force any of his children into His kingdom, thus we are free to flee from His shepherds.

 

With regards to the theory of evolution; if the theory of evolution is true then we humans are monkeys.  True, we would be hairless and very intelligent monkeys according to the theory, but we would be monkeys nevertheless.

 

The Gospel of Christ teaches that we are the literal children of God (i.e. our spirits are the literal children of God).  That is why God referred to Moses as His son (Moses 1:4).

 

Have you ever noticed that all children, of any species, start out totally ignorant, but slowly gain the intelligence of their parents and eventually become like their parents?

 

With this model of parent and child relationships, does the theory of evolution fit the data?

 

Humans are far, far closer to being like God than any other creature on earth.  We can comprehend many of the things God has done.  Every decade, humanity becomes more and more able to understand the things which God has done because of better education and research.

 

This is consistent with the intelligence of children.  In other words, it is consistent with the standard pattern between children and parents that we have the same kind of sentient intelligence as God, but it is just not as developed.

 

We are "children" compared to God.  In fact, it is consistent with the teachings of the prophets that humans are not only children compared to God, but that we (our spirits) are literally the children of God.

 

There is no other creature on earth which has a clue as to what God has done.  Not a clue.  No creature on earth, except humans, has the ability to appreciate anything that God has done.

 

Have you ever seen an ape stare into the night sky and ponder whether there might be other planets with apes on them?  But many humans have done just that; wondering if other planets are inhabited by other humans.

 

While scientists constantly attempt to prove that apes are more intelligent than we think they are (and they might be), the fact is that they will never be able to write a novel or a science textbook or be able to comprehend the scriptures.

 

It is perfectly logical that we humans are the children of God since we as a people are progressing in our knowledge and understanding of the things God has done.  This is logical.

 

It is not logical that we are cousins of worms or chimpanzees or that we are descended from other primates; because we are nothing like worms or chimpanzees or other primates.  They cannot appreciate or replicate or comprehend anything related to God.  We have unlimited potential; they have no potential on this world.

 

Thus, the theory of evolution fails to explain the facts because the theory of evolution equates us to primates, not to God.  We are more like God than we are like the primates.  We are more like the children of God than the children of primates.  Apes are more like other animals, but we humans are more like God.

 

This is the key: even though God is many, many times more intelligent that we humans are; at least our intelligence can be compared to the intelligence of God.  The intelligence of non-human primates cannot be compared to God.

 

The theory of evolution explains our superior intelligence (over other primates) by saying that small improvements in DNA can result in massive improvements in intelligence.  This is nothing but wild speculation.

 

While the opposite is true, meaning that small damage to DNA can result in major damage to overall intelligence.  There is no evidence that small mutations to DNA can result in massively higher intelligence.  For example, science has not proven you can make a small mutation to orangutan DNA and end up with an orangutan which can graduate from college and write a social sciences textbook.

 

Our intelligence comes from our spirit, as mentioned previously.  Does the spirit in an orangutan have the intelligence to graduate from college?  No one knows the answer to this, but the answer is probably 'no'.

 

The fact that we humans can comprehend the theory of evolution is, by itself, a proof that the theory of evolution is false.  In other words, no other creature on earth can comprehend the theory of evolution.  Only a child of God could comprehend a complex scientific theory.  Thus, the fact that we can think very abstractly and comprehend the theory of evolution is proof that it is false because it is a proof we are more like God than we are like other primates.

 

That the prophets are right should not be a surprise to anyone considering the source of information the prophets have access to - our Father in Heaven Himself and the Savior.

 

The fact that we can comprehend the teachings of the prophets (and no other species on earth can do that), including the abstract laws of God (such as faith, hope and charity), is a proof that we are the children of God and have His attributes (though we have far to go to equal His attributes) and we have the potential that God has told us about over and over again.

 

We are on this earth to learn and be tested.  No other species on earth is here to learn or be tested.  Other species don't have the intelligence or understanding to comprehend "good from evil" and thus they are not eligible to be condemned by the laws of God (see Moses 4:11).  In other words, you have to be able to understand the laws of God in order to be condemned by the laws of God.

 

Thus, people have the choice of believing that we are monkeys, and thus behaving like monkeys; per the theory of evolution; or that we are the children of God, per the prophets.  What a vast and irreconcilable difference!!

 

If we are literally the children of God, then we must behave like the children of God!!

 

If we are the children of God we must overcome the effects of the burdens of this earth life and we must rise up to emulate the nature, as best we can, of our living Father in Heaven.  In fact, we are commanded to do just that (see 3 Nephi 12:48).

 

 

From God's Perspective

 

From the perspective of parents; the parents of many species take great care over their children.  Every effort is made to make them successes.  The relationship between God and us, His children, is no exception.

 

While God is not a "species," it is obvious that God is watching over us, His literal children.  He wants us to succeed.

 

However, God's definition of "success" is not the same as the world's definition of "success."  Many people think of "success" in terms of money, power over others and the glory of the world.

 

God thinks of success in terms of family, helping others and keeping the commandments.  President David O. McKay gave us a glimpse of how God defines "success":

 

When one puts business or pleasure above his home, he that moment starts on the downgrade to soul-weakness. When the club becomes more attractive to any man than his home, it is time for him to confess in bitter shame that he has failed to measure up to the supreme opportunity of his life and flunked in the final test of true manhood. ... The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles.

David O. McKay (2005 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - pages 148-149)

 

Note that President McKay states that our family values constitute "greater value to God and future humanity."

 

We are here on this earth to make a choice: either make the effort to become like God, or to make no effort to become like God.

 

One symbol or evidence of our choice is by whether or not we keep the commandments of God and have the same definition of "success" that God has.

 

When and how God manifests his pleasure or displeasure with us is up to Him.  He will not interfere with our choices, but he may warn us of His will.

 

We have been put on this earth to make choices between good and evil.  God does not interfere with our choices, but it is God's prerogative when and how to remind us of which path we have chosen to take.

 

 

Societies

 

At the level of societies, God allows evil and corrupt societies to thrive in their spiritual filth and wickedness.  This is because we are on this earth to choose between good and evil.  When the wicked rule, many people are attracted to share in the "benefits" (as they suppose) of the power and glory of the evil forces.  Many people, when they see the glory of the world, choose evil.  It is part of their choice between good (i.e. becoming like God) and evil (following satan).

 

When God is ready, He will destroy societies which are beyond repentance.  Perhaps one of the triggers for their final destruction is when the children of the people in the society have no hope of ever becoming spiritual giants.

 

This cycle has happened many, many times in the history of the world.

 

In it important to understand that it is not the laws of nature, such as "survival of the fittest" that are in force when nations are destroyed.  It is the laws of God which are in force.

 

That is the whole point.

 

The pattern of behavior, of the people in the nations which have been destroyed; throughout the history of the world; has clearly followed the pattern of God's wrath, not the pattern of "survival of the fittest."

 

For example, when the Israelites destroyed the people in the land of promise, was it because of superior battle tactics, as evolution would have us believe?  No, it was because God had marked the evil people who were living in the land of promise for destruction:

 

  32 And after [the Israelites] had crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction.

  33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous?  Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

  34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous?  I say unto you, Nay.

  35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God.  But behold, this people [the cities destroyed by the Israelites after they left Egypt] had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

  36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.

  37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.

  38 And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes.

  39 He ruleth high in the heavens, for it is his throne, and this earth is his footstool.

  40 And he loveth those who will have him to be their God.  Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he remembered the covenants which he had made; wherefore, he did bring them out of the land of Egypt.

I Nephi 17:32-40

 

In verses 36 and 37 it says that God has created this earth so His children could inhabit it.  But it also says He destroys the nations of the wicked and causes righteous nations to thrive.

 

Sometimes the symbol of God's anger at the wickedness of a society is to have them destroyed.

 

Of course, those who do not admit God lives or has any influence on this earth, simply say that it is natural forces which lead to the destruction of wicked societies.

 

This is contrary to the evidence.

 

In the theory of evolution there is no "right" or "wrong."  In other words, there are no commandments, but there is power.  It is the power of "survival of the fittest."

 

If "survival of the fittest" were an absolute law (i.e. there was no God to overrule the law), wickedness would eventually rule over the world because those who are wicked, once they come into power, immediately take control the "media" of their day (i.e. they brainwash the citizens and take control of their minds); they control the government policy, the government pocketbook, the education of the citizens, etc. of their respective country.

 

Not only that, but frequently evil forces join together to share in the spoils of power.

 

Think, for example, about Hitler.  His government was a master of propaganda.  They totally controlled the minds and every aspect of the German society.  You were at risk to be executed if you owned a radio which could receive English radio stations.

 

Japan and Italy joined forces with Hitler.  Other nations, as they were conquered by Hitler, also joined Hitler.

 

Some would say that it was excessive ambition on the part of Hitler that caused the failure of his regime.  But that is the point.  Satan is allowed to blind the minds of his evil followers and when the time comes, their government will be destroyed.  Satan destroys his followers.

 

While it is the final decision of God as to when a society is destroyed; when the time comes, satan is loosed and he is allowed to destroy his followers both spiritually and physically.

 

It is a formula which has been used hundreds of times on this earth in different countries and communities.

 

In theory, the iron rule of Machiavellian control cannot be overthrown.  It is the ultimate example of "survival of the fittest."  If there were no God and no satan, once a Machiavellian government was in full control, that government could not be overcome by its citizens.  But satan is in the business of destroying the souls of mankind.

 

God can destroy a nation by allowing another nation to destroy it (as happened to the Nephites); God can destroy it by disease (as happened during the Plague); God can destroy it by natural disaster (which is no accident - it is what happened to many cities in America at the time of the crucifixion); God can destroy it by an internal uprising (as partially happened to King Noah in the Book of Mormon); God can destroy it by internal fighting among secret combinations (as happened in the Book of Ether); etc.

 

On rare occasions, the wicked can be destroyed by the righteous, such as when Joshua led the Israelites into the land of promise or as the Nephites constantly won battles over the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon (when the Nephites were righteous).

 

Mature evil societies are frequently destroyed by up-and-coming evil societies.  In this way it can appear to be a normal destruction.

 

But no matter how these iron-grip governments are overthrown, God is hiding His hand.

 

History books are not going to mention God any more than biology books or physics books are going to mention God.  God never gets credit, whether He is creating a Universe, designing human DNA, destroying an evil nation or protecting a righteous nation.

 

But since God doesn't get the credit in the newspapers and history books, He does not get the credit He deserves.  His actions, as always, are officially ignored by the establishments in the media, in science, and in government.

 

But the consistency of the pattern is indisputable.  When satan rules over a nation, unless they repent, it is just a matter of time until God releases satan to destroy his followers, both physically and spiritually.

 

There are many, many examples where totally wicked people have thrived for many generations.  It is up to God when and how to "draw the line" and terminate their spiritually destructive behavior.

 

It is essential that the wicked thrive in wealth and the glory of the world from time to time.  Like rotting meat attracts flies; power and money attract those whose hearts are evil.  Wicked people easily fall for the bait that satan has laid out for them.

 

All of this is to give people an opportunity to choose between good and evil.  People must be exposed to both good and evil in order to be justly rewarded or justly punished in the eternal worlds.

 

Many, many, many times the righteous have changed their hearts, and have fallen for the bait of satan and joined the forces of evil.

 

  27 Now it came to pass that those judges had many friends and kindreds; and the remainder, yea, even almost all the lawyers and the high priests, did gather themselves together, and unite with the kindreds of those judges who were to be tried according to the law.

  28 And they did enter into a covenant one with another, yea, even into that covenant which was given by them of old, which covenant was given and administered by the devil, to combine against all righteousness.

  29 Therefore they did combine against the people of the Lord, and enter into a covenant to destroy them, and to deliver those who were guilty of murder from the grasp of justice, which was about to be administered according to the law.

  30 And they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country; and they did covenant one with another to destroy the governor, and to establish a king over the land, that the land should no more be at liberty but should be subject unto kings.

3 Nephi 6:27-30 [narrative]

 

 

Applying the Laws of God to America

 

Even though America has the greatest military in the history of the world, the prophets have repeatedly warned that not even America is exempt from the power and laws of God:

 

  22 And then, O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways?

  23 Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?  Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?

  24 Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you--lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver.

Mormon 5:22-24 [Mormon]

 

And again referring to America:

 

  9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them.  And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

  10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God.  And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.

Ether 2:9-10 [description of revelation to the Brother of Jared]

 

Here is a quote on this subject by the president of the church at the time, Ezra Taft Benson:

 

I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14-16; D&C 84:49-53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18-25.)

Ezra Taft Benson, “I Testify,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 86

 

The interesting thing about this quote is that President Benson was not warning us about other nations, but rather he was warning us about secret combinations (which are a form of Machiavellian society), which generally destroy nations from within, not from without.

 

President Ezra Taft Benson also stated:

 

Never before has the land of Zion appeared so vulnerable to so powerful an enemy as the Americas do at present. And our vulnerability is directly attributable to our loss of active faith in the God of this land, who has decreed that we must worship Him or be swept off. Too many Americans have lost sight of the truth that God is our source of freedom—the Lawgiver—and that personal righteousness is the most important essential to preserving our freedom. So, I say with all the energy of my soul that unless we as citizens of this nation forsake our sins, political and otherwise, and return to the fundamental principles of Christianity and of constitutional government, we will lose our political liberties, our free institutions, and will stand in jeopardy before God.

Ezra Taft Benson, “A Witness and a Warning,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 31

 

No doubt the enemy which President Benson was referring was the secret combinations, not external enemies.  Internal corruption, and internal wickedness (e.g. unnecessary abortions, the popularity of homosexual behavior, etc.) must precede the destruction of all nations, prior to the actual destruction by external enemies or other forces.

 

In other words, satan must first cause a nation to rot from within.  Then, at the appointed time, God releases satan to destroy the nation from without or by other ways.

 

Thus, American, which is no exception to the Laws of God, if it is to be destroyed, must first rot with corruption from within before there is any danger from external forces.

 

Many people outside of the LDS church understand these principles perfectly just by observation and by reading the Bible.  As President of the United States Abraham Lincoln said to the American people:

 

"We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

 

In this relevant comment, President Lincoln also said this:

 

"Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step over the ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! -- All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a Thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

Abraham Lincoln

 

Indeed, every nation which has been destroyed has died by suicide.  While another nation may have "finished off" the nation; the other nation could not have destroyed it until after it had destroyed itself from within.

 

What President Lincoln is saying is that if America is destroyed, America must first rot from within; then it will be destroyed from within or without (by God) in whatever way He chooses.  The Book of Mormon says this explicitly, and by example, over and over and over again.

 

This is not the pattern of evolution and "survival of the fittest."  Machiavellian tactics are very good at maintaining power.

 

President Spencer W. Kimball stated, referring to the Americas:

 

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

 

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44-45.)

 

We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be.

 

King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, “And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:17.)

 

Enoch, too, was a man of great faith who would not be distracted from his duties by the enemy: “And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch.” (Moses 7:13.)

 

What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? Our assignment is affirmative: to forsake the things of the world as ends in themselves; to leave off idolatry and press forward in faith; to carry the gospel to our enemies, that they might no longer be our enemies.

 

We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the “arm of flesh,” for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, “I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.” (D&C 64:24.)

President Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,”

Ensign, June 1976, p. 3

 

President Kimball has spoke about the preservation of righteous nations by God.  This is the next topic.

 

 

Righteous Societies and Nations

 

Unlike wicked nations; righteous civilizations have thrived as long as their citizens kept the commandments of the true and living God.  In some cases righteous civilizations have even been translated (i.e. taken up to heaven without tasting death), such as the city of Enoch, called Zion, and the city of Melchizedek, called Salem.

 

As the great composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote in the Elijah oratorio:  "He, watching over Israel, slumbers not, nor sleeps.  Shoudst thou, walking in grief, languish, He will quicken thee."

 

No righteous nation on this planet has ever been destroyed!!  All nations which have been destroyed in the history of the world had first rotted in spiritual corruption.

 

Righteous nations are protected by God and cannot be destroyed by other nations.  It has never happened and will never happen in the history of the Universe!!  It is totally contrary to the Universal laws of God.

 

This message is to all nations, especially to the house of Jacob:

 

  18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments--then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.

  19 Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.

  20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.

1 Nephi 20:18-20

 

God loves those who love Him and who want Him to be their God (i.e. they want to become like their Father in Heaven).

 

On an individual level, some children of God fully qualified to live in His presence while they lived in the preexistence (these are they who never live to achieve accountability in this life, such as those who die before the age of 8 or those who are born mentally incapable); many will have the chance in this life; and many will have a chance in the next life (i.e. the spirit world).  God is a just God; and because of Christ, God is also a merciful God.

 

God is literally our parent and He looks down on us as a loving Father, but as a Father who will not compromise and cannot be deceived.  The evidence from history is inescapable.  The theory of evolution has it wrong; God has overruled the law of "survival of the fittest" (at the community or national level) on hundreds of occasions.

 

God has protected the righteous nations as well.

 

The data overwhelming supports the understanding that we are the children of God, not of primates.  God overrules the false notion of "survival of the fittest" whenever He chooses.

 

 

Progression

 

One of the main conceptual differences between evolution and LDS doctrine is the difference between accidental improvements and progression.

 

God did not become God by a long series of accidents.

 

The human race has progressed over the centuries, not because of new and improved DNA, but because of cumulative discoveries.  Adam had the same intelligence, in fact no doubt a much higher intelligence, than any human today.

 

But cumulative discoveries make it appear that humans have gotten smarter over the centuries.  They have not gotten smarter since Adam and Eve.

 

However, just as humanity has cumulatively improved over time due to increased technology (which technology was really the result of revelations from God, though God rarely gets that credit either); individuals have also cumulatively progressed over time due to better education.

 

In other words, humans have always had the capability to learn, but only in recent centuries have they had an opportunity to stretch their intelligence.

 

But our spirits will live forever.  Likewise, after the resurrection, our spirits and bodies will live together forever.

 

Those who are righteous will "eternally progress."  Those who put themselves into a position of eternally progressing will some day be able to travel among the stars without sitting inside of a metal box.  It is not evolution, it is progression.

 

Evolution implies accidents.  Progression implies a plan, which includes experiences and education (i.e. being taught by someone who "has been there").

 

There is no comparison between the dark theory of evolution and the glorious truth that we are literally the children of God.

 

  17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

  18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.

Doctrine and Covenants 78:17-18