Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Celestial Marriage Paradigm

In the first pages of his classic work on human behavior, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey talks about paradigms -- how we see the world -- and the enlightenment that can result from adopting positive new paradigms.

Although Covey is LDS, and thus his book is anethma to certain rabid Mormon-haters, Seven Habits is a secular work, meant for the general public. Perhaps if it were directed towards a specifically LDS audience, or with the intent to bear testimony of the Restored Gospel, he might have used the following splendid example of a paradigm shift:

The Apostle Parley P. Pratt, a companion and follower of Joseph Smith, recounted in expressive detail what a transforming influence it was upon him to learn the doctrine of celestial marriage from the Prophet Joseph. He wrote:

“[Joseph Smith] taught me many great and glorious principles concerning God and the heavenly order of eternity. It was at this time that I received from him the first idea of eternal family organization, and the eternal union of the sexes in those inexpressibly endearing relationships which none but the highly intellectual, the refined and pure in heart, know how to prize, and which are at the very foundation of everything worthy to be called happiness. . . .

“It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity; while the result of our endless union would be an offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, or the sands of the sea shore. . . .

“I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved with a pureness an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind ministering angel, given to me as a comfort, and a crown of glory for ever and ever. In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding also.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Revised and Enhanced Edition, 2000, pp. 361-362)

Societal paradigms also seem to be part of the intriguing theory of heresies, as described by Hillarie Belloc, about which I blogged a few years ago: http://mymormonworld.blogspot.com/2008/10/arianism.html

"[Belloc] makes another great point: the religious beliefs of a people shape their entire societal outlook. This is why he states that the study of heresy remains so important: a Protestant-based society will of necessity always be very different from a Catholic-based or a Muslim society."

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