Standing where the Savior stood: Eight Questions

I’ve been thinking lately about the admonition to “stand in holy places,” partly because of Elder Rasband’s tweet a couple weeks ago:

Standing in holy places is completely sensible and spiritually healthy. I agree with Elder Rasband that I need regular spiritual recharging by standing in those places.

What I’ve been wondering is, where else should we be standing? That tweet made an impression on me because I think, based on timing, that it was posted in response to the Orlando attack. As I ponder the connection between the divine principle, the tragic circumstance, and what I believe to be true about the Savior’s life, I’m led to all kinds of questions. They aren’t rhetorical; I’m trying to actually imagine answers to them:

  1. How literal are the New Testament accounts of Jesus cavorting with publicans and sinners?
  2. With whom would He be associating if He were here today?
  3. I think the answer is the poor, the oppressed, and the outcasts—who are those people in today’s world? (Trying to imagine this on a local level, in my own community.) 
  4. Would He go to social gatherings and parties, like He did before?
  5. What would those be like?
  6. Would He still function as the world’s best sommelier?
  7. His own religious community scolded Him for hanging out with specific types of people in specific types of places. Would we do the same for particular people/places?
  8. And should we be seeking to emulate that example?

I would love to read your comments and thoughts on this…


  1. Definitely we should do better at reaching out to the poor, the outcast, and the oppressed. Whether or not we ought to hang out with prostitutes, addicts, and so forth is another question, and while I wouldn’t say the answer is categorically no, it’s probably at least relevant to bear in mind that those of us who aren’t the Son of God may be more susceptible to such influences than he was.

  2. I think that’s probably right, Travis. I guess my ninth question should be “If we don’t go to where they are, can we do more to get them to come to us?”

    (Pardon the “us” and “them,” we’re all publicans and sinners in our own ways…)

  3. There are myriad ways to reach out to the vile sinners without participating in or condoning their preferred vices. People sit by me at church and talk with me there after all. I am mostly worried that in many parts of the country, the modern publicans (gov’t workers, especially IRS, or other less favored agencies) are as stigmatized as they were in Jesus’ time. I think about the parables of the Savior which talk about people and places from his time and how they might apply to our day. I think that He would pointedly highlight some of the most pervasive sins of our generation. Chemical addiction, greed, and family breakdown would be 3 such. He would also reach out with love and assistance to those caught in many of the snares of this society.

    I do not think that keeping LDS away from gay nightclubs was the primary message Elder Rasband was trying to convey.

  4. I think for the priesthood especially some of the holiest places are the homes of our home teaching families and neighbors. Sometimes as teaching most always as blessing and serving. It is here where we can truly uplift, support, and love the poor and downtrodden.

  5. If I am right with God, every place I stand is a holy place. All temptation is nullified and I do the right thing because it is right. If I am right with God, I can be with every sort of person and be a light towards them. I can be subject to all manner of temptation and none will register.

    It would appear that the original scripture “stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come” is more metaphorical than literal, for no one can remain, not moving, in a small space. Let, then, your space be the holy place. Then be a servant and a good host and a good guest, a loving friend and a help to the needy, the publicans, the prostitutes, the pimps, and the dealers.

    If your heart is not right, no place is holy and no place is a protection. Not home, not the temple, not at church or even in prayer.

  6. 1. Not literal at all if you understand the meaning of cavorting. But when he was spending time ministering (not cavorting) with sinners it’s because they were seeking what he was offering.

    2. He would be associated with people who recognized something was missing from the eat drink and be merry crowd and actually wanted to change but didn’t know how. In few to no cases did the Savior minister or preach only to people who weren’t seeking.

    3. It depends on who you define into the group poor and oppressed. Food stamps with phones is not poor or oppressed, but where there is not only true poverty but poverty of hope, I agree he’d be there.

    4 and 5. He was more likely to retreat to a hillside than to party, but I’m also sure he’d go to social gatherings. Is it sad that I believe those social gatherings now would look liked Priesthood meetings where we are instructed much the same as we are now? Or sad that you didn’t think as a member of His church, with his Priesthood we are already (supposed to be) doing what we’d do if he were here? Note I didn’t say he’d only be doing that. He’d also be visiting people in their homes teaching, blessing, and uplifting them.

    6. Since he’ll be teaching us at Priesthood meetings if he were here, I’m assuming his skills will not transform water into whine, but into milkshakes.

    7. Classic mistake. His ancient religious community was apostate. Our leadership is following his will, sans milkshakes after meetings.

    8. Yes, we should seek to follow his will in harkening to his commands as he follows the Father. Likewise, we should look to his servants as the way to follow Him back to the Father. This happens to be the oath and covenant of the Priesthood. It’s also reflected in the temple.

  7. *wine

  8. “Food stamps with phones is not poor or oppressed…”

    Wait. What? So a single mother with young children living in a run-down apartment in a dangerous neighborhood because she can’t afford to live in a safe one, the children attending a bad school because the public schools in the area are all bad, dealing with a bed bug epidemic and health problems that she can’t afford to fix, is not poor because she has food stamps and a phone?

    Heaven help us.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks, Tim, I had the same reaction to that one.

  10. Loursat says:

    “Standing in holy places” unfortunately has the possible connotation of just “standing around.” We too often read statements like Elder Rasband’s passively: hanging out at church or at the temple will strengthen us for when we’re hanging out in other, more dangerous places. It’s not dangerous to our spirits to help the poor, the criminals, and the outcasts, and it’s not spiritually dangerous to go where those people are. But it is dangerous to just hang around, waiting to get slapped by whatever causes people to become poor, criminal, and outcast. And that’s true no matter where we’re hanging out.

  11. Loursat says:

    Where you’re standing doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you’re doing.

  12. Rockwell says:

    “3. It depends on who you define into the group poor and oppressed. Food stamps with phones is not poor or oppressed, but where there is not only true poverty but poverty of hope, I agree he’d be there.”

    If you don’t take away their phone, maybe they can at least gave a chance to look for a job, and they won’t have “poverty of hope” in the first place. The first thing I would tell someone looking for a job is to put a phone number on their resume that will always (or as much as possible) be answered by a human, preferably the human that the resume is for. The last thing that I want to do is take away their phone. A VOIP phone plan can be had for $5 a month, a cell plan for a little more, and it is better for everyone (including taxpayers!) when people in need of work or services can communicate with people who can help.

    If you want the whole economy to tank, maybe the way to go is taking away people’s means to communicate with their potential employers, actual employers, service providers, bill collectors, etc. That’s a good way to move people from homed to homeless.

  13. As someone who has some personal experience with terrorists may I simply offer the knowledge I gained. When you end up alone in terrifying places with no immediate way out, the ability to get a grip on your fear depends solely on your ability to hear the Spirit. This is best learned and practiced beforehand doing holy things like praying and fasting and scripture reading. In scriptural language, standing in holy places.
    The attacks in Orlando and other places are causing great fear. These attacks will increase in number as the return of our Lord grows closer. Knowing how to cope with and overcome the fear is essential if you do not want to spend the future either hiding under the bed or giving up or giving in to bad influences.

  14. Is the food stamps and phones comment not a direct reference to one of the most ridiculous government programs of the Obama administration? Just an fyi, but based upon the people I talk with, food stamps for my family would add 30% or more to our food budget. It is probably an overgenerous program for many recipients. Free smart phones is way too much.

  15. Rockwell says:

    I don’t know if the food stamp comment was in response to a particular program, or whether such a program is “ridiculous”, but I do know that you can easily find the amount available from various programs using Google, which is how I found this site:

    So IF that is the primary source of food dollars for a family of 4 that is approximately 1.80 per meal per person. I think it is a good exercise to compare this to an example food budget of good nutrition.

    I recently price checked prepaid no contract phones and I found that where I live a prepaid phone running Android was the exact same price (about $20) as a “dumb” flip phone yet $20 got 120 minutes on the flip phone and 180 minutes on the “smartphone”. So for the same price, probably the lowest you can get right now, you would get a smart phone and have more minutes.

    My point is NOT that government should give away phones. My point is that if you are judging people for having a phone (or possibly other modern conveniences, such as a car that is reliable and can get them opportunity to work) you may be doing so with inadequate information.

    And to try to bring it a little ways back to the topic at hand, maybe standing in holy places means that instead of sitting in a seat high above everyone else and looking down and judging them, you meet them at their level and help them dig themselves out of the mess.

  16. Rockwell says:

    Oops. I had intended my last to be factual and not editorial. The last paragraph doesn’t really belong with the rest. It’s a bit ironic that in encouraging people to not be judgemental I also implied they were setting themselves above others, an argument that could now be applied to myself, perhaps. I’m chagrined.

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