Elder Vaiangina Sikahema gave a talk in the October 2021 General Conference on “A House of Sequential Order.”
Order indeed has its place as long as we do transform it into rigid dogma or weaponize it such that we deny mercy to suffering souls.
Order is as justice, and justice must be tempered with mercy.
Jesus Takes Initiative (and goes off script)
21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25 Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
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A common explanation of this story was that Jesus was putting the woman to a test. Be that as it may, there are additional layers of meaning to this story. The key is verse 24. Jesus “was sent” by his father.
To bless the woman’s daughter, Jesus effectively broke a rule given by his father. But Jesus did not sin. Rather he followed a higher law of his own free choice.
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Doctrine & Covenants 58
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
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The story also shows that we are not held to unquestioning obedience in all situations. We can reason with the Lord and plead for mercy in special cases, especially when we are praying for a loved-one.
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Perhaps we should not become too attached to sequential order for other reasons. Some people who have experienced near-death experiences report that time as we know it does not exist on the “other side of the veil.” Rather past, present & future co-exist simultaneously.
Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men. Alma 40:8
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Some Relativity & Quantum Mechanics
Time as we perceive it is merely a social convention, but the universe itself exists in a state of “dynamic timelessness.”
In Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, for example, time is woven together with the three dimensions of space, forming a bendy, four-dimensional space-time continuum — a “block universe” encompassing the entire past, present and future.
Einstein’s equations portray everything in the block universe as decided from the beginning; the initial conditions of the cosmos determine what comes later, and surprises do not occur — they only seem to. “For us believing physicists,” Einstein wrote in 1955, weeks before his death, “the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Reference
The Book of Mormon Prophet Abinadi understood this principle as he taught in Mosiah 16 (circa 148 B.C):
6 And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.
7 And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no string, there could have been no resurrection.
8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death sting is swallowed up in Christ.
– Tom Irvine