On the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood
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Suggests that relationships bound by covenants are better than relationships not bound by covenants. Moreover, because covenants are two-way, we must change our desires and behaviors to conform with the terms of the covenant if we want the blessings of the covenant. These two concepts are illustrative of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.
On the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood
A Talk Given in the Ward Conference
of the Sterling Park Ward, Ashburn, VA Stake
By D. Calvin Andrus, Bishop
26 August 2007, Version 1.0
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(The old high school story was taken from a previous talk, On Covenant-Based Relationships, 21 July 1999.)
An Old High School Story
I started my senior year in high school in the fall of 1970. My high school had a custom that when a young man wanted a young woman to be his girlfriend, he would ask her to wear his high school ring. If she agreed to do so, then they entered into a relationship known as "going steady." In such an arrangement, it was expected that they had exclusive dating rights with each other. That is, the young man would not go on any dates with any other young woman, nor would the young woman go on dates with any other young man. Moreover, when any occasion arose for which a date was appropriate--such as a dance or a ball game--they each expected that they would go to the occasion with each other.
There were other social customs associated with going steady. If the young man were standing with a group of his friends and his steady girlfriend would come by, he would leave his friends to go talk to her. Alternatively, if she walked up to the group of young men, she would walk up to her boyfriend first, before talking with any of the other young men.
This social protocol was very serious business, and respected by all. If I saw a girl with another young man's ring, I wouldn't even think of asking her on a date. Similarly, a girl with a young man's ring would stop flirting with other young men.
Well, at the beginning of my senior year in high school, I started dating a fun-loving and "foxy" young lady by the name of Debbie. After a few weeks, we were only dating each other. It got to the point that I should have asked her to wear my ring. She wanted to go steady with me and wanted to wear my ring. I wanted to go steady with her, but I didn't want to give her my ring to wear.
This was the cause of some contention in our relationship. She felt like I wasn't fully committed to our relationship--that I really didn't like her enough to give her my ring. She felt like I didn't trust her with my ring. And when she felt like I didn't trust her, she began to not trust me. Did I want to keep my ring so I could date other young women? Did I want to flirt with other young women? Wasn't I proud of her as a girlfriend? Didn't I want to let everyone know she was my girlfriend? Was I trying to hide something? No matter how much I reassured her that I was proud to be her boyfriend and was committed to the relationship, she was never quite convinced, because I wouldn't let her wear my ring.
Within a few weeks, I noticed she had started flirting with other young men. Little things in our relationship would turn into fights. We were on a downward slope, and as hard as we tried, we eventually had a really big fight and broke up. This was due, in part, because of a lack of commitment that resulted from not having passed the high school ring as a token of our "love."
Let us stop for a moment and analyze this situation. When a girl in my high school wore the school ring of a young man, how was her relationship with that young man different than the relationship all the other girls in the high school had with that young man? Right! She was special to him. And he was special to her. In my high school, the passing of the ring signified that the couple had a special relationship. They had a social bond that was stronger to each other than to the other young men and women in my high school. They were socially bound together. And where one went, the other would go. The passing of the ring was a symbol or token of a promise the two had made to each other. The promise was that they would date exclusively. Such a promise added stability to the relationship. It brought them closer together. It allowed them to rely on each other. And they could trust that they would not leave each other behind.
So, we can conclude that a friendship with a promise and a symbol or token (the ring), is stronger than a friendship without a promise and an associated symbol or token. Let me say that again so you get it. A promise-based relationship (which we sometimes call a covenant-based relationship) is stronger than a relationship without a promise or covenant.
A Recent Adult Story
As some of you may remember, my parents came to visit us here in Sterling a few weeks ago. Their visit gave me the excuse to go see some sites I wanted to see. So we bundled up the family and went to Richmond to tour the Edgar Allen Poe museum, the Confederate White House, the church were Patrick Henry gave his famous, "give me liberty, or give me death" speech, and the newly renovated Virginia State Capitol building. We also went to Annapolis to tour the Maryland State Capitol building, and the US Naval Academy, where we got to see the plebes march around.
As we toured, I noticed that my parents were not moving as fast as they used to. They are only 20 years older than me, in their mid-70's. As I got to thinking, it occurred to me that I only have about 20 years before I start slowing way down. This means I only have about 20 years to go see and do all the things that are on my list of things to see and do before I die. This is a big list.
- It includes visiting Mount Rushmore and Venice, Italy;
- it includes taking a cruise, which I have never done;
- it includes reading Harry Potter number 7 and Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire;
- it includes a promotion at work;
- it includes writing some articles for a magazine.
- it also includes having all my kids move out of our house.
Wait! If they actually did move out, I might be so shocked, I would die right then. I'd better hurry up and read Harry Potter soon.
As I was feeling my life shrivel up before me, I went on a business trip with some of my co-workers. When we were out to dinner they talked about all the things they are doing. One recently returned from a vacation in Argentina and Brazil. Another was producing a record for a local singing group. Another talked about a cruise to Alaska they were planning.
When I thought about my life, it occurred to me that I was too busy to do the things my co-workers were doing. Reflectively, I asked myself,
How would I feel in 20 years, if I looked back and all I could say about my life was that I had been very busy for the last 20 years?
That depressed me. I determined that I need a serious plan to stop being busy and start accomplishing the things on my life's task list.
A Different Kind of Person
As I was moping around, feeling sorry for myself, crying about my plight to my good wife, she asked me what I was doing when I was so busy. I responded that in addition to work, I went to church meetings and interviewed people. I followed my children around to their activities. I did church email and made church phone calls. I did yard work. Janet suggested that my co-workers did not have church callings like I did. And, the time I spent doing church work, was really time spent helping other people. "What was so bad about that?" she asked. She reminded me that I was different than my co-workers. They had not taken upon themselves sacred covenants, like I had done. She suggested that in taking upon myself sacred covenants, I promised to trade away some of the good things in life for the better things of eternity.
(Brethren, don't you just hate it when you know deep down inside that your wife is right?)
So my sweet wife is right. I should set my heart less on the worldly things of my life's big to-do list and set my heart more on building the Kingdom of God. You know, I may not get to everything on my big to do list. And, that is OK.
Let me read a little out of one of the sacred covenants I have made, to see if it puts my life in perspective. It is known as the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.
DC 84:33-40 -- For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
So the two-way promise I have entered into is that I will magnify my callings in the Priesthood, and Heavenly Father will give me all that he has. I suppose I could give up a trip to Venice, Italy, for that. This covenant binds us to our Heavenly Father. This covenant provides the solid basis on which to have a close and continuing personal relationship with Heavenly Father. This covenant, if we do our part, is a ticket to heaven. All aboard!
To this I bear my witness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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