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
– Tom Irvine