Joseph Smith received revelation within the context of the culture of his time. This directly impacted the translation of themes and ideology that came from God and subsequently served as the underpinnings of the restored gospel.
For example, the organizational paradigm that drove society during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was that of hierarchy based on a monarchical model. As a result, the primary metaphors and stories used to teach revealed truth centered around movement from bottom to top, with the greatest blessings reserved for those who climb the pyramid the best. Hence, the celestial kingdom is at the top of the "reward" pyramid while the telestial kingdom is at the bottom. The prophet is at the top of the "authority" pyramid followed closely by other General Authorities, stake presidents and then bishops. Women, who hold no priesthood, are at the bottom.
This particular cultural imperative has less relevancy in today's egalitarian society and, as a result, fails to connect with many devoted members of the Church. Other doctrines grounded in the mores of the nineteenth century are equally outmoded and through "continuing revelation" have been swept aside with varying degrees of success as they impede the core message of the Gospel.
I often wonder what the Gospel and the Church would be like if they would have been revealed today within the cultural context of our time rather than that of two hundred years ago.
- Would women administer ordinances in chapels as they now do in temples?
- Would fathers and mothers actually preside co-equally over the family and would single mothers be allowed to preside over their families in righteousness?
- Would greater emphasis be placed on faith in Jesus Christ and less on obeying church authorities?
- Would heaven be a place where all of God's children will be blessed with happiness according to their desires and aptitude rather than a society that demands eternal unions and conjugal relationships with members of the opposite sex as the only path to true happiness?
To expect that any man (or woman) can receive and then convey pure truth untainted by culture and experience is asking more than is humanly possible for any person--even one called and ordained of God.