Part II of "Marked with Red in Their Foreheads," posted 10 May 2010
"Orbed in a Rainbow" (Hodie, Ralph Vaughan Williams = John Milton, "Ring Out, Ye Crystal Spheres")
We are "to liken" all scripture unto ourselves. What modern practices might correspond to the action of the rebellious Amlicites in marking their foreheads with red? Modern prophets warn against the practice of marking the body with tattoos. Tattoos "defile" the temple of God, for the body is intended to be the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 3:17; 6:19). As followers of Christ, we manifest a constant love for all; neither do we seek to judge anyone who marks their body. At the same time, we share the prophetic warning about sanctifying the temple of God in our bodies.
Another practice reminiscent of marking the forehead with red is the use of color in social media as a sign of allegiance to claims of equality not in alignment with the will of God. To superimpose symbolic colors onto one's own photograph on Facebook or Twitter, as a sign of allegiance and of dissent--even if that is a quiet dissent--follows the practice of the Amlicites.
The substance that makes up discipleship is a thing of many days and, likely, even many jarrings. Every six months we come together in General Conference. We look for peace and comfort and love; we may find testing and rebuke. Learning at the feet of prophets and apostles was never easy. A disciple may be jarred into painful outcry for a day, but what is a day? As we continue in the covenant path, we must "hold on [our] way" by often also holding our tongues, meanwhile striving to tame our hearts. Loyalty, pure and undiluted, in both public and in private, should be the aim of every true disciple of Christ.
To follow Christ we must love and serve without distinction of persons--"charity is the pure love of Christ"--but as Latter-day Saints, we must ever hold sacred how the Scriptures of the Restoration present the rainbow, with its comprehensive spectrum, as a symbol of God's eternal covenant with His chosen people to bring again Zion. Section 97:21 of the Doctrine and Covenants defines the community of Zion as "THE PURE IN HEART."
The bow further signals for the faithful that promised moment in which latter-day Zion and the Zion of Enoch will unite in purity, glory, and peace. Here is the full separation from the world. Here is Ralph Vaughan Williams's stunning rainbow scene in the Christmas cantata Hodie. In the hope of the rainbow, promised tomorrow will dawn Today:
Orbed in a rainbow, and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
And heaven, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.
The festival is the panegyris, the glorious celebration of Zion, what the Scriptures call the "general assembly."
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself. And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy. And the general assembly of the church of the firstborn shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch (Joseph Smith Translation Genesis 9:21-25).
When we "look upon" the rainbow, we, too, should "remember the everlasting covenant" of the promise of Zion, THE PURE IN HEART.
James Thomas Linnell's richly beautiful painting, "The Rainbow," found in the annex of the Salt Lake Temple--And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will establish my covenant unto thee--carries that same message to the hearts of all who enter there.