Feast upon the Word Blog

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D&C Sunday School Lesson 10: “This Is My Voice unto All” (D&C 25: virtue)

Posted by BrianJ on March 13, 2009

I’m a substitute teacher this week. My lesson will probably focus on “virtue” in D&C 25:2:

A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion.

What is virtue? I found the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia quite interesting. Briefly, it organizes and divides virtue into:

  • Intellectual Virtue
  • Moral Virtue
      Temperance (of which, abstinence, sobriety, and chastity are subordinate)
  • Spiritual Virtue

I’ll leave that skeleton summary for now; the value of the document for me was not in its careful detailing of definitions, rather it was that by meticulously characterizing and subcategorizing every aspect of “the excellence of perfection,” the authors reveal an expansiveness of virtue.

What other scriptures discuss virtue?

2 Pet. 1: 3, 5
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; [Following the Catholic Encyclopedia, the first use here seems to be “virtue” in the broadest sense, whereas the second more specifically refers to moral virtue; i.e., “…add to your spiritual virtue moral virtue; and to moral virtue intellectual virtue.” If I’m right on that reading, what should be made of that seeming progression: Spiritual –> Moral –> Intellectual?]

Philip. 4: 8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. [This seems to mean “virtue” in the broadest sense.]

(You may be asking, “What about Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, and Luke 8:46?” I left them out because in those verses, the word translated “virtue,” dunamis, is more often translated in the Bible as “power, strength, mighty work, etc.” The scriptures I cited above translate the word arete as “virtue.”)

Alma 31: 5
And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. [I think “efficacy” is the actual meaning of “virtue” here…]

Moro. 9: 9
And notwithstanding this great abomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum. For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue[I have trouble with this verse because 1) I don’t think it’s possible to take away someone’s virtue—their excellence/goodness—and 2) I definitely do not believe that victims of sexual violence are made less chaste or virtuous. I address this concern by trying to understand Moroni’s intent, which probably was to emphasize that the Lamanites were mistreated in the cruelest manner in contrast to the supposed “bravery” of their Nephite tormenters (Cf. verse 10).]

Abr. 1: 11
Now, this priest had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time, who were the daughters of Onitah, one of the royal descent directly from the loins of Ham. These virgins were offered up because of their virtue; they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed upon this altar, and it was done after the manner of the Egyptians. [Worth noting that “virtue” in this verse is not immediately related to the women’s virginity (i.e., chastity), but is related to their religious conviction—the Catholic Encyclopedia would describe this as a combination of Justice and Fortitude (I think).]

Okay, lots of verses in the D&C, some of which use “virtue” to mean “by way of,” “efficacy,” or “power” (D&C D&C 68: 21; 121: 41; 132: 7) but most use it to refer to the “excellence of perfection” we’ve been discussing: D&C 4:6; 38:4,24; 46: 33; 88:40; 107: 30; 121:45.

Connection to D&C 25. Several verses in Proverbs 31 tie this discussion of virtue into other parts of D&C 25:

5 And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.
14 Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride. Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him.

Proverbs 31:10-28 (just highlighting some key words)
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

  • trustworthy
  • does good
  • worketh willingly
  • bringeth delicious Thai food from afar
  • industrious and resourceful
  • works vigorously
  • knows her business and follows through
  • charitable
  • well prepared and therefore confident
  • speaks wisely and kindly

Well, maybe that connection isn’t quite as clear as I had hoped. Basically, I’m saying that what the poet wrote in Proverbs sounds a lot like the instruction to Emma in D&C 25.

2 Responses to “D&C Sunday School Lesson 10: “This Is My Voice unto All” (D&C 25: virtue)”

  1. Anon this time said

    I’m puzzled by this series. Were these notes prepared for the LAST time Sunday School focused on the Doctrine and Covenants? Because the lessons, including this one, don’t match up at all with this year’s lessons. “Virtue” doesn’t find any place at all in this year’s lesson 10, and the lesson title is different.

  2. BrianJ said

    My bad on the title—I was following Robert C’s title and he focused on that phrase. The reading assignment for this year is all of D&C 25, and I chose to focus on the word virtue found in 25:2; the manual focuses elsewhere. But I will fix my title! [fixed!]

    BTW, the manual has been the same since 1996, which is part of the reason I usually focus on something different within the same reading assignment.

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