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Unity of the Father, the Son... and Us

Mosiah 3:5 first half.

These are not King Benjamin's words. From verse 3 onward, these are the words that were spoken to him by an angel, which he was commissioned to teach to his people. They are packed full of teachings about Jesus.

Jesus is "the Lord Omnipotent, who reigneth, who was and is from all eternity to all eternity." The Lord Omnipotent is a beautiful, faith-fostering title. It means that there is no situation or tragedy outside of his redeeming power. Which also means that if I trust him, I have no cause to fear. None.

Then, I get stuck on "was and is from all eternity to all eternity." What exactly does that mean, considering that he was born in the spirit -- the Firstborn, our Heavenly Father's first spiritual offspring (Colossians 1:15; D&C 93:21)? There are a couple of possibilities that come to me:

  1. Matter is not created or destroyed. Before Jesus was the Firstborn in the spirit, he was an intelligence -- and we know precious little about what that means.

  2. As a member of the Godhead, Jesus acts as all members of the Godhead. Is that the Divine Investiture of Authority? I feel like Jesus represents the Father in a fullness that I don't quite understand. It includes his doing nothing save what the Father does or directs (John 5:19; John 8:28), but I think it's more than that. When Jesus says in 3 Nephi 1:14 that he comes to "do the will, both of the Father and of the Son -- of the Father because of me and of the Son because of my flesh" it seems that the Father's will has become fully internalized as his own. That means that functionally, the Father comes to Earth in the birth of His Son.

What #2 means to me is that Jesus is the example of what it means to take upon ourselves the name and nature of our Lord. He took upon himself the name of Father (as evidenced by the many scriptures that identify him by that name), and I have taken upon myself the name of Jesus Christ. And my covenant is to become united with Him, to the same extent that He has become one with the Father (3 Nephi 19:23). I don't think that full extent of unity is possible in mortality. I think the vulnerabilities we inherit from the Fall interfere. But the level of unity that Nephi, son of Helaman achieved by Helaman 10:4-5 is possible. And when we achieve that, I think that's when we become identified as the sons of God (Moroni 7:26,48) just like Jesus became identified as the Father. This is more than reconciling with God. This is sanctification, or becoming holy.

What does that mean to me as a daughter of God? Does my gender prevent me from becoming the son of God? No. Because, while Jesus Christ is male, there is nothing in His character that is incompatible with the female. And I have covenanted to taken upon myself the name of Jesus Christ. This is not a gendered covenant and the invitation is unto all.

This causes me to ponder on the nature of gender and gender roles. My radical feminist daughter asserts that gender is a social construct and there is no intrinsic difference between the sexes other than physiology. But my faith in living prophets informs me that "gender is an essential characteristic of premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose."

At the same time, prevalent stereotypes about masculinity and femininity strike me as destructive. Neither a macho man nor an ultra-feminine woman seem to align with the character of Jesus Christ. Is gender mostly about roles, or does the Proclamation on the Family teach that there is something fundamentally different between the genders in our eternal nature? I think it does, and that leaves me wondering whether it is, in fact, possible for me to be as fully one with Jesus Christ as my brothers.

I feel like I'm wading out of my depths here, and I know not whereof I write. What I do know is this: my covenant is to come unto Jesus Christ, to receive of His nature, and to internalize His will until it becomes my own. I can do that regardless of gender.

And what I suspect is this: that neither man nor woman can become sanctified alone. I think that becoming fully united with Christ follows becoming fully unified with a Christ-like spouse. And that's why the covenant isn't gendered: because both genders are required to fulfill it.

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