(RNS) — This previous weekend at Normal Convention, Elder Allen D. Haynie of the Seventy reiterated the necessity for exacting obedience in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He recounted a narrative of sitting within the church’s cafeteria in the future when President Russell M. Nelson smashed his empty water bottle to flatten it. President Dallin H. Oaks requested why, after which, glad with President Nelson’s rationalization, smashed his personal as effectively. President Henry B. Eyring adopted swimsuit.
This was, Elder Haynie stated, an instance of the mandatory “immediate response” the church is on the lookout for in following the prophet. Too many individuals waffle or query or doubt.
The enemy can sneak in when church members deviate in even small methods from the trail. There isn’t a place, he stated, for “quiet neglect” of the gospel or “whispered criticisms in response to prophetic counsel.” His sharpest rebuke was reserved for fogeys whose children are questioning the religion.
I’m going to be a kind of individuals who waffles, questions and doubts. This discuss oversimplified one thing that ought to, for devoted church members, be critical enterprise. And that enterprise is how we wield our company.
In case your children are beginning to ask questions on what they’ve been taught in several areas of their lives, that’s an indication of religious development and doable maturation. Shutting that down with out giving it a good listening to shouldn’t be the gospel manner. Whereas I agree with Elder Haynie that small selections and habits add as much as massive ones, it’s not essentially the case that “whispered criticisms” are an indication that an individual is strolling “dangerously close to the sting of the covenant path.”
Reasonably, it might be an indication that they’re pondering for themselves and aren’t keen to accept the church telling them “Don’t fear your head about this. Another person has performed the pondering for you.”
So we should always ask ourselves: What’s the finish aim of our life within the gospel? Is it to supply obedient drones whose solely query when the prophet says “soar” is “how excessive”? I’m positive that’s not what Elder Haynie meant, as a result of the top aim is for church members to change into like Christ. The entire goal of getting prophets on Earth is to level to Christ.
And what did Christ do? When you’re scouring the New Testomony for examples of all of the occasions that he obeyed the non secular authorities of the day with out a lot as a whimper, good luck. Typically he criticized. He did the sudden. He opened folks’s eyes to radical concepts and strategies they hadn’t thought of.
And he was, in all of it, obedient to the need of God the Father.
We as human beings usually are not Christs. Not even shut. However now we have a job to do on this life and that’s to change into like him, therapeutic the place we will and loving our neighbors. I’m not the primary to level out that there have been occasions in Latter-day Saint historical past when the counsel of our prophet was not loving and did not contribute to therapeutic.
When he was serving because the prophet, Brigham Younger declared that “this folks which are generally referred to as Negroes are youngsters of Cain” and that anybody who held “the African blood” was undeserving of the priesthood. A number of different LDS leaders by means of the years adopted with racist rhetoric from the pulpit as they justified horrible exclusion insurance policies as the need of God.
None of these issues are present teachings of the prophets. Quite the opposite, President Nelson has spoken of the necessity to repent of racism and has joined in partnership with the NAACP, one of many very organizations that earlier LDS chief Ezra Taft Benson stated was a part of a communist conspiracy.
So the query for church members shouldn’t be “How excessive ought to I soar when the prophet tells me to?” however “Is what the prophet is asking me to do or consider the fitting factor?”
That needs to be adopted by a litany of different questions: Who could be blessed or harmed if I adopted this piece of prophetic counsel? How does it line up with the Scriptures? With the teachings of previous leaders? And most of all, does this instructing convey the love of Jesus Christ for all God’s youngsters?
There have been many occasions in my life once I’ve adopted a directive from the First Presidency and felt that my life or religious outlook was improved by it. This weekend, I used to be moved by President Nelson’s discuss “Peacemakers Wanted,” which included counsel to embrace extra loving communication in polarized occasions. Particularly on-line, I’m too typically tempted to make rash assumptions about folks, to reply angrily to judgment or to fail to decide on the upper manner of peacemaking. As he spoke, I felt the Spirit. I consider what he stated about how we should always deal with battle, and I wanted to be reminded to redouble my efforts in residing out that perception.
However, there have been occasions once I’ve sat in Convention and identified in my bones that one thing a church chief was saying was flawed for me to obey. After they have denigrated God’s people who find themselves LGBTQ, or urged me to disclaim them civil rights, I’ve spoken up in protest. One of many earliest columns I ever wrote was a pointed and frank criticism of Boyd Ok. Packer’s October 2010 Normal Convention discuss on homosexuality. Talking my objections so plainly was acutely painful and garnered me my first style of how very succesful orthodox Mormons are of writing incendiary hate mail, however I’ve by no means regretted talking out.
Dissenting voices are onerous to listen to. Nonetheless, they don’t essentially impede a corporation; analysis reveals they will in truth make it higher, as Charlan Nemeth explains in “In Protection of Troublemakers: The Energy of Dissent in Life and Enterprise.”
This isn’t a church that needs to be instructing folks to obey with out pondering — or, worse, that they are going to be blessed for obeying a church chief after they know the chief is flawed. I’ve heard that exact piece of heresy spoken aloud within the church, as if we’re ever absolved from the burden of our personal ethical company.
As I used to be researching this column, I got here throughout this related quote from the church publication referred to as The Millennial Star from 1852:
Now we have heard males who maintain the Priesthood comment, that they’d do any factor they have been advised to do by those that presided over them, in the event that they knew it was flawed: however such obedience as that is worse than folly to us; it’s slavery within the excessive; and the person who would thus willingly degrade himself, shouldn’t declare a rank amongst clever beings, till he turns from his folly. A person of God, who seeks for the redemption of his fellows, would despise the thought . . . . Others, within the excessive train of their almighty (!) authority, have taught that such obedience was vital, and that it doesn’t matter what the Saints have been advised to do by their Presidents, they need to do it with out asking any questions.— The Millennial Star, Vol 14, # 38, web page 594; italics and punctuation within the authentic
I used to be skeptical concerning the attribution of this 1852 quote to Joseph Smith Jr., who died in 1844. (As Abraham Lincoln famously stated, it’s vexingly troublesome to confirm the attributions of random quotations on the web.) A useful historian from the Joseph Smith Papers challenge confirmed to me that the citation is certainly from The Millennial Star however Joseph Smith was most likely not the creator. It’s in an unsigned editorial.
I’m guessing that whoever made a meme of this extremely meme-able quote hooked up Joseph Smith’s title to it so it could have extra gravitas; who might be extra of an authority as regards to prophetic authority than the primary prophet of the restoration? Taking part in the “my prophet trumps your prophet” sport is widespread sufficient within the church — a lot in order that Elder Haynie particularly weighed in on it, contending that the phrases of the residing prophet all the time win. As you possibly can think about, that remark has engendered no small quantity of hypothesis and hand-wringing on-line.
Whoever wrote it, it’s an essential counterweight to any facile concepts we would have about Mormon obedience. There are, and needs to be, limits to such obedience. These will likely be totally different from one particular person to a different. Some persons are merely pure skeptics, and that must be accepted for the holy reward it’s. When these folks do give their allegiance, it would have depth and endurance, as a result of they’ve already studied it out of their minds.
Associated content material:
Why we want Mormon dissenters
Mormons and the issue of selective obedience