The Problem with ‘Yeah, but’ Discipleship

yeah, but discipleship
Opinion

muttering mormon small

 

 

In recent months, the Church has issued statements on three issues of public concern. The first dealt with Syrian refugees, the second with handling same-sex marriages involving Church members, and the third with the occupation of a federal building in Oregon by an armed militia composed partially or totally by members of the Church.

In each case, the Church’s statements were unambiguous. And in each case, some Church members were rubbed the wrong way by what our leadership had to say. I’ve spent some time (more than the situation merited) reading comments online from purported members of the Church regarding all three of these statements (one a letter, one a change in the Church handbook, and one a press release), and I’m surprised at the level of “Yeah, but” discipleship that those responses reflect.

The Church says to love and support the refugees. “Yeah, but, I think Muslims are all terrorists, and I can’t support this invasion of America. The Church leaders are being naive.”

The Church reaffirms that same-sex marriage is inconsistent with Church doctrine and puts rules in place for handling children of such marriages. “Yeah, but, I think Church is behind the times on this. I think people have a right to marry who they want.  The Church leaders are being homophobic. And this isn’t consistent with how I think the atonement works.”

The Church unequivocally states that an armed takeover of a federal building is contrary to revealed scripture and inconsistent with Church teachings. “Yeah, but, I only need to support Constitutional governments, and I don’t think that the federal government is complying with its own laws. Besides, the federal government was nasty to the Church in the 1800s, so they should be supportive of what these patriots are doing. The Church leaders don’t understand their own scriptures.”

There is nothing new about “Yeah, but” discipleship. All of us engage in it at some level or another. “Yeah, I’m supposed to love my neighbor, but that guy is such a jerk!” “Yeah, I’m supposed to pay my tithing, but I’m broke.” “Yeah, I’m not supposed to cheat on my wife, but this is only pornography.”

Or, my own personal weakness: “Yeah, I’m supposed to go to high priests’, but those meetings drain my soul like a dementor’s kiss.”

All of us doing it, however, doesn’t make it right, and “Yeah, but” discipleship is a particularly dangerous form of doctrinal diversion. It amounts to a rejection of core elements of what makes us Latter-day Saints.

First, it demonstrates a distorted view of our relationship with God. The Plan of Salvation is our Heavenly Father’s plan by which we have the best (and only) opportunity to become like Him. The rules of the mortality game are well-established by our Father, but our arrogance and pride elevate our self-image to the point that we believe we know a better way.

We are wiser, more modern, more progressive, more compassionate, more “whatever” than our Father in Heaven, and consequently we demand that He conform to our expectations of Him. It is the equivalent of Christ entering the room and us demanding to see his driver’s license. But our progression in this life is determined by our following the path that the Father has set out for us, not by blazing new trails based upon our limited view of the landscape.

Second, it rejects what we teach about priesthood authority and acting within the scope of our stewardship. Too First presidencymany well-intentioned members of the Church believe that they have had more relevant revelation on certain topics than the established priesthood leadership. They invoke overused hypotheticals (what if the prophet claimed to have a revelation that you should jump off a cliff/kill your neighbor/marry a monkey?) and conclude that not only should we seek personal confirmation of what priesthood leadership tells us, but if we don’t get such confirmation, we need to convince our leaders of the error of their ways.

Church leaders are too old, too white, too stodgy, too bald, and too male in order to really know what they are talking about. I, on the other hand, am educated, enlightened, and good looking. Therefore, I know the way. Such is not the “wisdom and order” that our Father in Heaven has established for His Church. While asking questions, even challenging questions, is wholly appropriate, imposing our own answers on the Church is not.

One of the interesting things about “Yeah, but” discipleship is that expressions of its dogma are almost always followed with the word, “I.” It becomes, “Yeah, but. I” discipleship. I think differently.  I don’t agree. I have had more relevant experiences. I understand the scriptures better. It is an unequivocal announcement of our own pride, in which our views, thoughts, and opinions are placed higher than the expressed word of the Lord. It is a declaration that we have written and intend to follow our own preferred plans of happiness and expect to get the same result (or better) than we will get from the Plan set forth by an all-knowing and all-loving Father in Heaven.

GethsemaneNo mortal ever has been faced with a more difficult celestial chore than Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. If ever there were a time for “Yeah, but” discipleship, this was it. “Yeah, but there has to be another way!” Instead, our Savior demonstrated perfectly how to respond to difficult directives: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Even the Great I AM placed His will second to that of the Father. If Christ was unwilling to overwrite God’s instructions, we should be far more hesitant to do so.

California Native. Texas lawyer. Long-time Mormon. Zen master wannabe. Confident that Mormonism is about more than casseroles and plodding music, and insisting that the Gospel isn't as hard as some people make it.

80 COMMENTS

  1. The author used a line I hear often: “I think people have a right to marry who they want”. For the record this is not true. People DO NOT have a right to marry who the want. The think so is crazy and unworkable. People DO have a right to marry any adult who wants to marry them. There is a difference.

  2. Part of the problem with “yeah, but ..” descipleship is that in this day and age of electronic public communication their voices have become too loud. You can have questions of faith and struggle with it. Don’t drag others into it. The YB members are becoming a serious stumbling block. I’m glad you called them out. Silence is consent.

  3. Perhaps Jesus’ disciples gave the best example of how to handle hearing something we don’t understand or feel we can’t accept when they asked, “Lord, is it I?” In order to become like Christ and feel comfortable living with him, we must become meek and submissive to God. When we have bad feelings about an official policy or doctrine, the first and most important question is to ask if we are wrong. “Am I the one who doesn’t understand? Is there more to this?” If you ask sincerely, because you want so much to become a follower of Christ, you will get an honest answer. If you don’t get an answer, it may be that you don’t really want to hear the answer. Nephi’s brothers told him that God didn’t make things known unto them, but that had more to do with their attitude and expectations upon praying than it did with God not answering them. When I’ve gone to Heavenly Father with many of the concerns that people have mentioned in these comments, it is always I that feels the need to change, either my attitude, my beliefs, or my behavior. Sometimes I don’t know why something is not the way my mortally-limited mind thinks it should be, but there is an unmistakable confirmation that the prophet’s words are right and mine are wrong. Sometimes it takes a while to get an answer, which leads me to more scripture study, prayer and humility. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced getting a spiritual confirmation that it isn’t just blind faith or imagination. You have to feel it for yourself. In every policy, God’s work is to make his children happy in the long run (maybe not right now.) Our character is strengthened when we learn from God, who knows so much more than we do. Things that make no sense to us now will some day make perfect sense. It is important to ask the questions and to seek the answers, and it is important to learn from the One who knows all. In my personal, private struggles, I have come to know that Jesus Christ, through His church, offers absolutely the only real happiness in this world. Whether I still have questions to be resolved in the next life or not, this knowledge is irrefutable to me. For me, there is no other peace or comfort than within the fold of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As Elder Holland once mentioned that the Church is made up of imperfect people; but in its safe harbor, I find so many others who are truly striving to do the right thing. I’m surrounded by people who want to change, who want to love and accept and learn and serve. There have been times when I felt left out or unwanted, but that inner conviction and knowledge that the Church provides the ordinances and principles that will lead me back to God’s presence overcome all other considerations. I will not leave the Church because I know it is true. This is not a result of “blind faith,” but of study, desire to know, and looking for the signs of God’s love and answers. No matter who you are or where you find yourself, you can feel this same conviction. God will answer those who truly seek.

  4. My trouble with the church policy on gay marriage is not a support of gay marriage, I agree with the church. This policy seeks to visit the sins of the gay marrying fathers on the child. It does not say that the church will bar the fathers (because it doesn’t have too – I get it. Instead it says we will limit the access to the Gospel to the child, because it had the bad luck to be born or adopted by gays. Like the Muslim refugees, my heart believes that that son or daughter of gay parents needs to be engulfed in our love, not shunned like an Amish kid wit a Camero.

    • I also was supposed to wait until 18 to be baptized. My parents were totally assimilated, non-religious Jews, but they were against my baptism. The objections of one parent are enough for the Church to withhold baptism until maturity. This is a very old policy, not a new one. With completely supportive gay parents, baptism can be earlier, but the child in maturity still has to support Mormon doctrine of eternal marriage.

      • The difference with yours and that of a gay child is that the first presidency has to be consulted for the child of gay parents to move forward in service in the gospel, regardless of the age of the child. I, as a child of non-members, had to postpone my baptism until I was 18, but after that, all callings, including a mission were made by local leaders without needing to consult the top level Brethren. I assume the same was true for yourself, but as the policy reads for children of gays, they will forever be held back by their parents’ choices.

    • If this church is led by the Savior (which I believe is the case), then the policy change comes from the Savior and not from the mortal heads of the church on the earth. If the Savior directs this policy change, then His atonement is sufficient to cover these children and their circumstances. Based on many articles and memoirs I have read that were written by adult children of gays (people mainly in their 30s and 40s who were raised by same-sex couples, and who, upon the death of their biological parent, have spoken against same-sex parenting of children), it is evident that children are intensely dependent upon their parents for survival and emotional stability. And so children will support *any* living situation in which they are raised, finding justifications for it, even vocally supporting it, because to do otherwise would bring emotional separation from the people the children *must* have support from in order to survive.

      Baptism is a sacred, binding covenant, not a mere social ritual. It would harm the child’s spiritual development to be baptized into the church, but then raised by parents who deliberately flout church authority and teachings. So, for the *child’s* psychological well-being, the church is not placing minors in a situation where obedience to church doctrine would include repudiating their parent/guardian living arrangements. The church – by long-standing policy – recognizes the intense psychological needs of a child to have parental approval and support, and does not try to subvert that, waiting instead for the child to become an independent adult and to take responsibility for making up their own minds about things and being able to bear the consequences.

      Many of the authors of pieces in the edited book “Jephthah’s Daughters” (ed. Robert Oscar Lopez) talk about how they had supported same-sex marriage and adoption when they were children and young adults, but as they got older and matured (gaining emotional independence, as well as financial), that they saw the ways their upbringing handicapped them and harmed their psychological and social development. But they did not start speaking openly until their gay biological parent died, because they knew it would hurt their parent’s feelings and they love their parent and their parent’s partner (who wouldn’t?). Ultimately, understanding the church’s policy change depends not just on recognizing psychological ramifications for the children, but also recognizing the Savior’s authority and power, that it is His church, and He is able to extend His atonement to cover circumstances we have never imagined.

      • It’s not about what I think: it’s about how far you can take the “yeah-but-equals-bad” thesis. You could say exactly the same thing about the 9-11 terrorists: had any of them said “yeah, but…” to Osama Bin Laden, would that have made them worse people? (If yes then what’s to condemn in what they did? If no then where’s the “yeah but” argument now?)

        And it’s no use saying: “Their God was not the Real God because he told them to do nasty things, whereas our God only tells us to do nice things.” Anyone who makes that argument has obviously never read the Old Testament.

  5. Great article! There’s man’s way and the Lord’s way. Why would anyone choose man’s way!? Whilst I’m certainly not perfect, I can look back over my life and recognise the blessings both temporally and spiritually that have come when I’ve followed the Lord’s will (and his ordained servants) and not mine.

  6. Wow. So many straw men, so little time. Your characterizations of people’s doubts are mind-blowingly condescending.

    Anyone who has doubts is going to say “yeah, but”. To do otherwise is to be dishonest with yourself. At the point that you suppress all “yeah, but”s, you have really become rather mindless (which some people advocate, and you seem to advocate that as well), or you already have such faith in the source of the new information, that your doubts pale in comparison.

    Now, we can certainly see that having that much faith might be a virtue. However, I see two issues with your position here.

    First, faith is not magically born overnight. You cannot lecture people on their need to be more faithful and expect it to just happen, nor are you standing on firm ground when you say that people who do not yet have such faith are necessarily bad disciples. We all start from a low point building our faith. The thing that makes us good disciples is not where our faith is at right now, but the choices we make to build it up (or not to).

    Second, prophets and apostles are not infallible. Since they are fallible, and will sometimes make mistakes, it therefore follows that our faith in prophets should not be such that we believe every word that comes out of their mouths without question. This has been taught repeatedly. Noticing that they have said something wrong, however, does not mean that we need to reach out and steady the ark, so to speak.

    Obviously, you have had some bad experiences with people who are making the wrong choices. People who say “yeah, but” and then write to the 1st presidency to convince them that they are wrong are probably not being good disciples.

    Our faith should be centered in God and Jesus Christ. We should also have faith in prophets, but we need to have faith in true principles. Prophetic infallibility is not a true principle. Prophetic authority to speak for the Church and to guide the Church is a true principle. The promise that God will never allow his prophet to lead His church astray (i.e. knock the Church off the path that the Lord has declared, to building Zion, offering the ordinances of salvation, bringing us closer to God, and probably other stuff as well) is also a true principle. Thus, I can read a statement issued by the Church that I consider to be factually incorrect, search my soul and ask God for guidance. Then, whether the Lord answers me or not, and whether his answer confirms my former understanding or corrects it, I don’t have to make the mistake of steadying the ark.

    • Refraining from the “yeah but” phrase doesn’t make someone mindless. It isn’t dishonest to yourself. “Yeah, but” discipleship is exactly what Laman and Lemuel did. Nephi had doubts too, but he went to the Lord asking to know if what his father said was true without any “yeah, but”s. Nephi wasn’t mindless.
      You may not have realized, but what the author is saying is that “yeah, but” discipleship is really just a way to justify not changing. Kind of like your comment: “Now, we can certainly see that having that much faith might be a virtue. However, I see two issues with your position here.”
      Now, we can certainly see that having that much faith might be a virtue. = Yeah
      However, I = but I
      “[Yeah, but I] is an unequivocal announcement of our own pride”
      Sean, don’t be so quick to discount the advice in this article.

    • Faith is a choice! Believe it or not, but it can magically happen if you decide it. Also, If one truly has faith in Christ, one would trust His chosen prophets and leave the correcting of His prophets to God. God and his prophets go together like choices and consequences. You can’t take one without the other.

    • Excellently put, Sean. These were my exact feelings when I read this. I am not a sheep and have been told repeatedly to pray for guidance. The Syrian refugee has been a big hot button I can’t shake, and loving my neighbor all the way up to the slaughter’s blade (and after) seems naive and wrong to me.

      Soo…thanks.

  7. “Joseph Smith married a 14 year old…my morals say that isn’t appropriate and God wouldn’t ask him to do that.”
    “Yeah, but…”

  8. Soooo what do you say when people bring up the church’s sketchy past?

    In my experience, most members say “Yeah but…”

    • It’s easy when you understand the culture and don’t view things through presentism. When you’re educated on local culture and folk traditions in some cases it’s not “sketchy”.

      It’s always been a key point to sociology to judge others based on their cultural traditions in their own sphere rather then mine. Judging a common marriage age on the frontier(which in the case of Joseph seems to have been a celibate marriage to tie families together) by a 14 year old now a days that hasn’t been living with that level of responsibility is as silly as judging tribes in Papua New Guinea on differences in parenting, hence judging them as abusive.

      The article wasn’t referencing all situations where the phrase might be used, just pointing to a common problem with murmuring.

  9. This is nothing new. People did it all throughout the scriptures. From Aaron and Merrium in exodus, to Sherem in Jacob, to Hyrum Page in the D&C. It is the combination of pride and misunderstanding of the purpose and function of priesthood channels. There is no doubt that prophets are humans who can make mistakes. We have records of prophets who did so in the scriptures. After preaching to them, Jonah begrudge the repentance of the people of Ninovah. Moses, out of frustration, disobeyed the Lord’s instructions and was denied entrance into the promised land. Through Joseph Smith’s Negligence 116 pages of the Book of Mormon were lost. Who corrected these prophets in their errors? Never the people. Only God did. He did it directly, and we can see that he personally made sure that each of these mistakes did not negatively affect the people called to follow these prophets. No one in the scriptures is ever led astray by following the prophet. I trust the Lord and his perfect love enough that I don’t have to worry about him working through fallible servants. As he has directed repeatedly, I will follow the council of those he has placed in athority in his living church. I trust them because I trust him. By the power of the Holy Ghost he has told me that he called them. Therefore, the debate, for me, is over.

  10. I am OK with fallible leaders. I’m OK with things I don’t know or understand; there are a lot of them. I’m OK with Joseph Smiths imperfections. I have studied the Book of Mormon and the principles therein are mighty to save if adhered to. The spirit of God is powerful to the enlightening of heart and mind. The gem that is the gospel of Jesus Christ is not deminished in the least by imperfect mortals in any position of leadership or not. We all need the wonderful gift of repentance. So let’s try to leave behind any spirit of contention and repent.

    Thank you for this article.

  11. Because this is more common than we realize (Pride is the hardest to see in ourselves) I think we need to be aware of when (not IF) these statements come into our lives, that we should use this as an opportunity to study, pray and ponder about what we thought we already knew, even if we think we know better at first. No matter where I am in life in the church, whenever I get conflicted between what I thought I know and what Christ taught, I see this as a great opportunity to draw closer to God and have His spirit teach me. I have grown so much that I could not have learned any other way that did not began with the “Yea, but…” statement.

  12. I agree with the principles you are stating. The only concern that I have is not in what is said but the way in which some interpret what is said, particularly with reference to refugees. I am in absolute agreement with helping real refugees. Unfortunately their are many who claim to be refugees but in actual fact are not. Refugees are legally deemed as such by the UNHCR or by the authorities of the country in which they are seeking refugee status. By all means love and care for any and all if you so choose but don’t criticise those who would carefully share their limited resources with only those legally deemed as refugees.

    • The Prophet never said that we have to bring the refugees here. We’ve been asked to help them. If they are here we do what we can for them here. If they ae somewhere else we do what we can for them where they are.

  13. Amen to this article.

    Following the prophet is a core part of Mormonism. I didn’t say follow blindly. But if this church is true, then the prophet is a prophet of God.

  14. Solid article Rob. The “yeah but” mentality is exactly what each of the 3 witnesses fell into. They had seen an angel and had handled the plates but all eventually left the church because they thought they knew better than the prophet. Prophets have predicted a sifting of the LDS would happen. I see it happening frequently, someone is opposed to what one of the leaders of the church has said, and they let that overshadow their testimony. I welcome the sifting. I’m sure many EQP and HPGL and RSP would be glad to rid themselves of the dead weight. Remember, “Some must push and some must pull”, and the majority of those being sifted do neither, because they are all too often offended by the words of the prophets (the guilty taketh the truth to be hard). I am a parent, and I will stand before God, and Christ and be held accountable for the principles taught to my children. They will be taught the truth, not a post-modern interpretation of it. I welcome and embrace the name calling, shaming, and ostracism that will be hurled at me for supporting the Church, God’s Prophets, and specifically the family proclamation in these last days. It is what we all did in the pre-existence; and I will try hard to do it here on earth.

    • Thanks for the comments and perspective, Chris. Although I fear someday’s that I’m the one the HP group would like to sift out.

    • I agree with the article. On the subject of “dead weight,” while I understand we may get frustrated with those of opposing views, perhaps we can remember that “unto such shall ye continue to minister.” A good friend is one of those struggling with issues addressed by the article, and if he leaves the church, it will be devastating to him, to me, to his family, and to countless others. None of us will be glad to be rid of him, and I’m sure the Lord would not either. These people who struggle with following the prophet are not the enemy. But, in all sincerity, I commend you for your strong faith in the prophets.

  15. “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it…

    The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.”

    • There’s an important doctrinal issue to stand on. Someone’s opinion of space travel. Because my salvation hinged on the Apollo program.

      You aren’t accomplishing much by proving that prophets make mistakes. One perfect guy, and it hasn’t been our prophets. And I said nothing to suggest that they don’t. But if you decide to live contrary to the gospel because you think you have a superior understanding to the president of the Church, I think that is foolhardy. I’ll take my chances with Thomas Monson over SamYam or the Muttering Mormon.

  16. “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it…

    The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.” – Joseph Fielding Smith, May 14, 1961

    Yeah but…

    • You just described the LDS double standard PERFECTLY. It’s a shame more people can’t see the church for what it is.

      • Its very unfortunate that you and SamYam don’t fully understand what a prophet is. Now before you get too upset, bear with me while I explain. Prophets are people like you and I. Before their call they live a life full of experiences that result in biases and prejudices that are part of mortality. During the course of that lifetime the gospel, along with the influence of the spirit, allow them little by little to draw nearer to God. (this same process is available to us too) These individuals become wise and full of charity, which allows them to become worthy of a special calling. God uses them to further his purposes and reveal his doctrine. They do not automatically become all knowing, and throughout all history, not all prophets have the same things revealed to them. When they are speaking on behalf of God, it is our duty to listen and do our best to follow. There are other times when they are simply commenting on other things. They are not declaring doctrine and are entitled to their opinion based on the vestiges of their life experience and wisdom. This is the pattern established since the beginning. If we find fault with the prophet because we don’t like what he says, we do so at our own peril.

    • Joseph Fielding Smith was not the Prophet at the time and this was said as a personal opinion. All 3 points mentioned in the article were not the voice of a single person ( as is the case with your example) but the combined voice of the Prophet, his counsellors and the Quorum of the 12. Therein lies the significant difference.

  17. Great article. We have many issues facing us. I do not have all the right answers…wish I did. How I feel in my heart over things is not an attempt to mitigate (or condone) my feelings if they do not correspond with the Church. I feel the way I do because of the experiences in my life. I am no better than the person to the left of me or the right. We ALL have our trials and until we walk in their shoes, we should not judge.

  18. “From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.

    Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God’s rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous. Modern Israel has been similarly directed.

    We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this are, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.” – First Presidency Letter to Dr. Lowry Nelson – July 17, 1947

    Yeah, but …

  19. Another example was when Christ went into the Deseret to fast and pray 40 days and satan tried to temp Jesus by saying “If yes be the son of God do this and bahbah bah.” Yeah but, if, what ever are all satans way of getting under our skin and taking us over. So we should be wary of those saying. But, I’m glad the people who are saying these can because it proves all the non-Mormons wrong that think of us all of just sheep blindly following our leaders. We don’t, we have the freeagentcy to say hey time out. I have a question wait a min. While we can talk about it. That has to be the best reason to be a Mormon because we can do so.
    The thing I’d would really like our leaders to stop doing is quit preaching to the choir!! Stop yelling at the members on topics that don’t mean anything. Heck, if we’re going to church you know we much be trying to live the gospel! So quit yelling at us at church like we all have the problem.
    I’d like to know answers to some of the hard questions that have been poping up lately. Such as, in Lds.org in the article called “the
    translation” where it states joe smith didn’t translate the Book of Mormon by using the golden plates, he translated them by reading out of his hat.???? Or, why in a place called Panco Panco in Brazil they found samanian writing also the same on a pot but no Hebrew writting or Jewish writting. Why in the Pearl of great price j smith wrote the Books of Moses and aberham, yet modern day science says it’s a funeral procession not the other books. Anyone can see that! Come on, have we all been lied too? So is that’s why we just get consently yelled at church now? The church used to be loving and kind, brothers & sisters, today I no longer see that. I just get yelled at, or betrayed every time I go.
    I had 7 children because our prophet said “Do not curtail the number of your children.” Then, today, all of the leaders kids went to BYU or other schools and became doctors and lawyers and are all leaders in relief society or young women’s yet they have no kids. Didn’t want them. So why was I dumb enough to listen to the leaders to have kids but the leaders own kids didn’t have to? It’s all becoming so confusing! I’m sick of it all. Every general conference the leaders get up on that pulpit and yell at us all, yet their kids do anything they want and get away with it. Deals gone bad. I just can’t take any more of it.

    • Only to the extent that the followers of prophets in the Old Testament, or Christ in the New Testament are cults. In fact, virtually any organized religion would meet that definition.

      • I’m not sure it’s quite that simple. I would still not consider the LDS church a cult by any stretch, but I do think there’s been a shift in rhetoric towards telling stories that put the living prophet in a good light. How many conference talks have you heard where speakers shared anecdotes from the life of President Monson rather than their own experience? (They are not few.)

  20. So if you’re not suggesting blind faith, what are you suggesting? If someone sincerely prays about the brethern’s decisions for the church and doesnt recieve a confirmation, what should they do? Why does the church ask for oppostion in general conference, but then imply that any opposition or criticism is from Satan? I’ve been wondering what the middle way looks like but, for me, it just seems like there are so many contradictions in the organization of the church. How would you suggest I reconcile my moral convictions with anothers revelations? Would you mind helping me find scriptures that support that type of thinking?

    • Certainly, hope these scriptures help 🙂

      But first I think a major point that is often overlooked in these kind of discussions is that we aren’t debating morals or personal beliefs or who is right and who is wrong. What we should be doing is asking ourselves if the course we are taking in our life is heading in a direction that will ultimately lead us to a state where we would make the same choices that our Savior Jesus Christ would make if he were in our specific situations (remember WWJD? Because he being perfect would obviously make the only perfect decision for each scenario). This is how Christ and the Father are “one” and this is the only way to 100% guarantee true lasting happiness. Anything contrary to what the Savior would do could still turn out okay and not seem as bad as the brethren make it sound when they use words like “apostasy”, but okay only leads to the terrestrial and telestial kingdom, which are still great places to be and everyone who goes there will be happy! But as latter-day saints, we are not striving for okay, we are striving for the far more difficult end result of perfection. So the brethren have to lay down the law so that we understand the high expectations the Lord has for those who hope to literally become like he is. So when we pray about any given thing, we should not be seeking for God to give his stamp of approval on our ideas or desires which are often okay and seem fair, but what we should be doing is in essence saying “Heavenly Father this is a real issue for me so I’m willing to lay aside my ideas for now if you can help me understand your ideas and how I can make them happen.” Try that and see if you don’t get an answer. But remember, if you approach a prayer not expecting to get an answer, you won’t. If you believe that God will tell you exactly what he wants you to do whatever that may be, then he will, I promise! 🙂
      Also if you haven’t already, read “the lectures on faith” they can be found online or there is even a free app you can download. Read specifically lectures 1, 2, 3, especially 6, and then 7. They opened me up to ways of thinking about religion I never would have thought of.

      anyway scripture time!

      Isaiah 55: 8-9
      Mosiah 4: 9 (God sees a bigger picture than you an I)
      Alma 5 (just read the whole chapter but pay attention to these verses 15-17, 24-25)
      Ether 12: 6 (just as a refresher on faith and how the all too common term “blind faith” is not really a thing, just an inaccurate phrase with a negative connotation to it similar to how people use the word “cult.”)
      D&C 121: 34- 36 (I love the lesson taught that the reason we don’t always understand the ways of God and are thereby not “chosen” is because God knows that deep down our hearts we care too much on worldly issues and we too often aspire to get praise or attention from others both of which grab our time and attention away from our relationship with God. He in essence says we cant possibly understand his ways unless we make an effort to be like him)
      D&C 1: 38
      D&C 82: 10 (try this out for yourself and see if it works)

      There’s tons more but this post is too long, sorry. Remember, the brethren aren’t suggesting that those who aren’t perfect are doomed to everlasting misery (study up on the plan of salvation in Preach my Gospel and remember that all people will be resurrected into a degree of glory far greater than the Earth we live on and no one in the categories mentioned in this article come close to becoming perdition). The brethren are merely the Lord’s instruments to remind the world that if you want to be exalted, you must choose to keep the commandments. This is how to do it, anything different simply won’t work. But if your goal isn’t exaltation by all means disregard what the brethren say, live your life the best you know how and you will be happy wherever you end up because remember, you and everyone else chose to be where you end up based on your actions here on earth.

      • So, the basic conclusion I see is that, if I or Danielle or any one else has not received a confirmation of this or any other policy or teaching of the brethren, we have obviously not asked the right question, or asked it in the right way, or we are too worldly to get the right answer, or similar. Yes, these are all possibilities, but is there not also the possibility that the brethren are wrong on a specific policy or teaching? I am not sure your points fully answer Danielle’s question — how does one reconcile one’s own moral convictions with another’s revelation when either one of you might be in error?

        • If we really believe and have a testimony that President Monson is the Lords mouth piece then we wouldn’t have to question if he’s making an error or not.

          • So, it’s an all or nothing kind of thing? We cannot believe that the 1st Pres. and Quorum of the 12 are both prophets, seers, and revelators — and believe that they make errors in policy and doctrine?

    • Danielle, in the BofM Alma teaches “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true”. I want to draw specific attention to the part where it says faith is “not seen”. There is an element of blindness in faith! It is part of God’s plan for us to find our way by faith and that will never change. —- During any conference, ward, stake, or general, we are asked to sustain those who have callings. It gives us a chance to show our support for them. They ask if any one is opposed so that if someone really does know something about the person being called that would disqualify them, they have the opportunity to put forth their objection publically. Typically, the person presiding would then meet the one who objects privately to discuss why. Those who have objected in General Conference recently, have done so to protest doctrine and or bring attention to their cause. Their motives are not to strengthen the church but to bring it down. If you have further questions on this, the best resource is your bishop or stake president, not the internet.

  21. I have my own mind and I use it. That said, I wish that more people would have practiced “yeah but” discipleship when blacks were refused the priesthood or when polygamy and polyandry were practiced, or when…my point being that people are given agency and with agency should come the ability to make decisions or have opinions that may differ than others. If I have studied it out and believe that the prophets are making a mistake then I feel no need to blindly follow- doing so goes against my sense of agency and the Lord’s intentions. lasly, I’ll say shame on you for perpetuating the myth that everything we hear from SLC is perfect and that we must blindly follow like sheeple.

    • It is interesting that what I said is so different from what some people read. I haven’t suggested that the leaders are perfect or that we follow them blindly. What I do think is that our arrogance in assuming that we know God’s will better than they do might be better placed in the back seat rather than the driver’s seat. I have very real disagreements sometimes with what I hear in a meeting or even conference. But I am willing to put that on hold sometimes in order to give what I’m being told a chance. I’d think that putting blind faith in yourself is no more wise than putting it in someone else.

      • If you believe that it’s God’s will that little children be denied baptism and welcomed into the church because of the way their parents were born, then you need to check your morals, humanity, and manners. I’m amazed that more LDS people haven’t show outrage at such un-Christlike behavior.

        • I wanted to join the Church at 16, and this was many years ago. I was told I had to wait until 18, because my parents were Jewish and objected to my baptism. Although they finally relented and allowed me to be baptized, their reticence made life difficult in our home and kept me from participation in full fellowship in the Church. The “new changes” are not new, they just see the possible discord in homes where families are not structured in ways that coincide with church doctrine. It is the same in any home where the parents cannot give full support to their children who wish to be part of the Church. It’s OK to wait.

        • Careful James Sneak, your ignorance about the church policy is showing. IF you really care about this problem, I encourage you to visit your local stake president. There is not room enough here nor is it the proper forum to help you understand this sometimes complex issue.

      • Rob, your article was clear. It was basically the approach that shows social we are a prideful bunch. There is not enough breath in your lungs to follow down every rabbit hole of decent. If people well fight against prophecy, you have no chance. I love the gospel. Every general conference I listen and feel the love of our leadership. If ever member fell away, I wouldn’t. I gained my testimony the old fashion way, it is part of my heart and soul because I sought my own directives from God. We are a people whom believe in opposition, and it is sad so much opposition comes from within. I do think every soul is valued by God, therefore valued by me. It is easier to fight dead men’s wars they submit to the will of God in our own lives. I would be quite content if we as members could love more present centered versus returning to the faults of fallible good men and woman, I try to grant those who now only walk in the halls of history mercy. Because the Lord knows I will need the lens of mercy as well. Loved your article, keep up the good fight. Some one said if God is with you it doesn’t matter who is against you.

    • “I wish that more people would have practiced “yeah but” discipleship when blacks were refused the priesthood or when polygamy and polyandry were practiced” You act as if those were hiccup revelations that were given. That’s what the entire point of this article is. Even when we don’t understand revelation we should strive to understand it first before holding to our own knowledge above the light of revelation from God’s prophets.

      Wilford woodruff said in the official declaration 1 “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”

      Don’t forget what was said when the policy on polygamy was changed. “I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write.”
      I believe revelations through the prost are from God. I believe that sometimes god is going to command is things we don’t understand. Christ himself said, “no prophet is accepted in his own land. ” it’s easy to accept revelations in retrospect, but it’s the current revelations that petting to our lives that’s sometimes is hard to swallow. That explains the 40 years in the wilderness. That explains the Laman and Lemuel experiences. That explains any difficulty any prophet has had ever saying what the Lord revealed to them. Many timbres revelations supports what we currently know, other times it changes what we think we know. That’s the whole point of revelation.

    • You perfectly demonstrated the point of the article.
      Well done.
      Read the Book of Mormon and do your home teaching for a change. (Note: People who leave comments like yours do neither.)
      Lots of people didn’t like following the prophets. You aren’t the first. You won’t be the last.
      Just another brick in the wall of faithlessness.
      Following the prophets NEVER goes against the Lord’s intentions. Never, dude. Never. There is no “agency test” or “true righteous test” that includes going against the Prophets. Go to gospel principles class or call the missionaries and have them explain both agency and prophets to you. You clearly understand neither. You may want to read up on obedience, too.

      • From Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 7:282):

        “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race-that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favorable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion.”

        From the LDS.org essay on Race and the Priesthood:

        “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

        So which is it? Was Brigham Young wrong about the priesthood ban, or is God a racist?

        • You can read, right? Brigham Young was wrong. I assume you never have been. Congratulations on your Messianic accomplishment. If, as a result, you have rejected the priesthood organization of the Church, that’s your call.

        • It’s hard for God to have a chosen people and then claim that he was not a racist. So if you are any kind of believer of the bible, which I doubt, you have to claim a racist God.
          To answer your other question, you’ll notice the church never disavowed it’s past revelations or policy decisions. Instead they chose to use the term “theories”. As we’ve never seen the original revelation, members and non members have done a lot of theorizing as to why the ban was in place. The revelation ending the ban is public and canonized to this day and rather enlightening. And if racial views are a concern for you, good luck finding any person, church, people, or country not guilty of racism in some degree(past or present) and enjoy your self righteous high horse ride around town.

        • The church was not wrong and never waiverd about the priesthood ban. Read the revelation given to Pres. Kimball, “the long promised day has arrived”. The church had been praying about this for a long time, and the blessing was finally given. What some leaders had been doing that WAS wrong was theorizing and teaching their own ideas as to why the priesthood was withheld and when it would be given to all worthy members. That is what Bruce R. Mckonkie apologized for and admitted he and others were wrong in doing. He never said the church had been wrong in the policy. The church was not wrong. The priesthood was to be given to all IN THE LORD’S DUE TIME, and it was.

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