“Home-Study Lesson: Doctrine and Covenants 36–40; At the Ohio (Unit 9)” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Home-Study Lesson: Unit 9,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
The Lord did not just instruct the Saints to move to Ohio, He also counseled them how to treat each other. In this lesson students will learn about Jesus Christ’s command to be united and to value others as we value ourselves.
Divide the class into two groups and give each group an assortment of objects that can be used for building (these could include such things as small blocks of wood, paper cups, or small empty boxes). Ensure that one group receives more objects or larger objects than the other group.
Write the following on the board: Build a tower as tall as you can using these objects. Do not say anything about this activity being a competition or make any reference to building two towers. Students will likely assume that the two groups are competing against each other. If they ask questions about whether they should work together or as separate groups, simply restate the objective: They are to build a tower as tall as they can.
Give the students one minute to complete the task. Following the activity ask them to evaluate who “won.” After students share their opinions, inform them that in order to determine how well they succeeded in this activity, they will need to study the counsel the Lord gave the Saints as they prepared to move to Ohio. Invite students to look for insights into this activity as well as to their lives as they study the Lord’s directions to the early Saints.
Ask students to recall why the Lord commanded the Saints to gather to Ohio. (If necessary, encourage them to review their notes in Doctrine and Covenants 37–38 and their scripture study journals.) Students’ answers should include references to the dangers the Saints were facing in New York as well as the blessings the Lord promised to give to His people when they had gathered in Ohio.
Explain that as the Lord instructed the Saints regarding their move to Ohio, He gave them counsel on how they were to view one another. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:23–25 silently, looking for a phrase that teaches how we are to view other people.
How did the Lord say we should view others?
What do you think it means to esteem our brothers as ourselves? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: We are to value others as much as we value ourselves.)
What happens when people think they are of more value, or better, than others?
What blessings could come to us as a Church and individually when we do not consider ourselves to be of more value than others?
Hold up a piece of fine fabric and a rag. Ask students which material they would want to be clothed with. Explain that to help the Saints understand this principle, the Lord gave them a parable.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:26 aloud. Ask the other students to follow along, looking for how the man in this parable treated his sons.
How would you feel if you were the son who received rags?
What could the son who received robes do to improve this situation? (He could share what he has with the son who received less.)
What do you think is the Lord’s message to us in this parable?
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:27 silently, looking for a principle the Lord wants us to understand from this parable. Write the following principle on the board near the first principle you wrote: If we are not one, we are not the Lord’s people. You may also want to suggest that students mark the words in their scriptures that teach this principle.
In the context of verse 27, what does it mean to “be one”? (To be unified with others and the Lord in righteousness.)
How might valuing others as much as we value ourselves help us become one with each other? How might this help us become one with the Lord?
Why do you think we cannot be the Lord’s people if we are not one?
Explain that the early Church members who were called to gather to Ohio came from varying backgrounds. Some owned successful farms and were respected in their communities, while others had little property and were considered to be of a lower social status.
How might the principles on the board have blessed the Saints as they gathered with other members of the Church in Ohio?
Refer to the activity of building the tower from the beginning of the lesson. Ask students to restate what the objective was (to build a tower as tall as they could).
Did we build a tower as tall as we could? (If both groups combined their pieces together, they would have done so. If the groups worked separately, they may claim that they built their tower as tall as they could given what they had.)
Based on the Lord’s counsel to the Saints in Doctrine and Covenants 38, what would be the best way to go about building a tower as tall as we could? (To come together as one group and combine what we have been given to build one tower.)
What are some situations in life where we may be tempted to think of our own interests rather than looking to build and lift those around us?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for how the commandment to be one relates to God’s commandment for His people to gather together. You may want to prepare copies of this statement so the other students can follow along.
“We know from experience that joy comes when we are blessed with unity. … [Our Heavenly Father’s] desire is to grant us that sacred wish for unity out of His love for us.
“He cannot grant it to us as individuals. The joy of unity He wants so much to give us is not solitary. We must seek it and qualify for it with others. It is not surprising then that God urges us to gather so that He can bless us. He wants us to gather into families. He has established classes, wards, and branches and commanded us to meet together often. In those gatherings, which God has designed for us, lies our great opportunity. We can pray and work for the unity that will bring us joy and multiply our power to serve” (“Our Hearts Knit as One,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 69).
According to President Eyring, why does the Lord want us to gather together?
What are the blessings he said unity would bring us?
How does President Eyring’s statement help us understand why we gather together as families? As Church members? As a seminary class?
In what ways have you experienced the blessings that come from gathering together with others?
Invite students to spend a few moments writing in their scripture study journals about what they can do to be one with their families, with the young men and young women in their quorums and classes at church, and with the Lord. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share what they have written. You may also want to share your testimony of the blessings of being one with each other and of valuing others as we do ourselves.
Invite students to review who James Covel was and what happened to him by reading the section headings to Doctrine and Covenants 39 and 40. On January 5, 1831, James Covel was commanded by the Lord to be baptized (see D&C 39:10). However, he failed to keep his promise to obey God’s command.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 40:1–3 aloud. Ask students to recount why James Covel rejected the invitation the Lord gave to him. Invite a few students to share what they learned from these verses about the importance of keeping the covenants they make with God.
To prepare students for their study of Doctrine and Covenants 41–44, you may want to invite them to consider the following: What are the dangers of lust? How are we supposed to teach in the Lord’s Church? How will death taste to those who are righteous? Explain that in the next unit students will have the opportunity to learn the Lord’s answers to these questions as well as learn about the Lord’s law of consecration.