Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Obedience -- The Root of All Evil

In my experience, obedience is the foundation of the Mormon faith. I think it's impossible to overstate the significance of this concept to Mormons, not just to the "laws of God" as is popular in general Christianity, but to Mormon men who outrank you. An upcoming lesson from the Spencer Kimball manual captures it well in the statement:

[Kimball] underwent that complex operation not because it was deemed to be reasonably safe in the opinion of his medical advisers, but because he was obedient to...the leaders of the Church—regardless of personal risk.

Last year's manual included these gems from Wilford Woodruff:

The Lord will lead [the President of the Church] where he wants him to go. We know God is with him, and has led him all the time. … It requires [the prophet] to tell us what is right and what is wrong in many things, because that is his place and calling. … A perfect channel exists between the Lord and him, through which he obtains wisdom, which is diffused through other channels to the people. That we know. We have got to learn to bring this knowledge into practice. 12

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.


What is obedience? I will use the following definition: ipso facto compliance to a source of authority. In other words, compliance solely because of the authority vested in the source. In the church world, it's using leaders as the primary justification for an action (e.g. not wearing double earrings because Hinkley said not to).

Why is obedience necessary? For children, it makes a lot of sense. They don't have the rational faculties or experience to understand all of the dangers that surround them, so if a parent says, "hold my hand in the parking lot," they will obey or face grave danger. Parents usually encourage obedience for this very purpose--to protect their children. It's also part of developing the inhibitions that we call maturity. Obedience is very important in small children.

But what about in adults? Does obedience serve a good purpose? It might in situations of serious, immediate peril, such as serving in the armed forces. It's also convenient if you don't like having to think a lot. It's always simpler to do what you're told, rather than think through the issue yourself.

Do either of these conditions properly apply to matters of ethics or faith? Of course not. So, why would a religion need to harp on obedience, unless its precepts were not clearly good ones to adhere to?

For example, the golden rule is a teaching that stands on its own--an adult does not need to be told to obey his leader and thereby live the golden rule, because the golden rule makes sense after rational examination. If two earrings were a bad thing, it would be obvious (or at least could be made obvious through explanation.)

In the Book of Mormon, even God, when telling Nephi to decapitate a sleeping man, explains the reasoning for the commandment. And that's God. Shouldn't we hold humans to a little higher standard than, "your wish is my command?"

After all, obedience is a coin-toss. Obedient people can do great good or great evil--it all depends on who they're following. That's why I worry about teaching my children to follow and obey, rather than to think critically and question (not defy) authority. I understand how the church inherited this core value--pressure to obey is the only way it would have survived in its earlier cult-like days. But now that it's grown up a bit, it's time to move on. I'm just doing my part to help out.

16 Comments:

Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

In my experience, obedience is the foundation of the Mormon faith.

I agree. As well, as every other religion in the world, obedience is a major cornerstone to faith. Part of showing and exercising our faith is through obedience. I can see where to someone as yourself that has lost or never had this faith, obedience to the leadership may seem blind. But, we keep coming to that don't we? Whether you believe or not has a lot to do with the motivation behind what you do in the Church.

It's also convenient if you don't like having to think a lot. It's always simpler to do what you're told, rather than think through the issue yourself.

I love these tired, worn out insinuations from the masses that to follow your faith, and to be obedient to its precepts and teachings, reduces the believer to a mind-numb, brain-washed zombie follwing blindly with no desire or ability to choose or think for himself. I think you know better as a life-long member of the Church. I look around at the members I know, and I see extremely intelligent people. Many are succesfull business owners or professionals. Most have an enormous understanding of the teachings of the Church. Many are converts to the Church who examined the Church thoroughly before joining. You are way off base to assume these are non-thinkers just following in lock step. But I don't blame you. This attack has been in existence for a long time. It's a fairly easy arrow to pull from the quiver. For example, I believe this was Korihor's tactic as well when brought before Alma:

27 And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.
28 Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God—a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.


Of course, I imagine to you Korihor probably seems a hero and a martyr. He was a "free thinker" who was willing to "rationally examine", who had been taught to "think critically and question".


If two earrings were a bad thing, it would be obvious (or at least could be made obvious through explanation.)

It's not obvious to you? Really? Are you trying to tell us that the Prophet just came out with that and offered no explanation for it? It wasn't included in a talk that discussed modesty and refraining from partaking of the things of the world, and allowing ourselved to slowly and incrementally be lulled into becoming of the world, and how two piercings can lead to three, and how that could lead to other body piercing and tattoos etc? That doesn't make any sense to you?

Honestly, to point the finger of blame at a religion and its folowers for demonstrating obedience to the teachings of its leaders is a lost point on me. It all comes back to what I've said many times in response to your posts.

I have a testimony. I believe in the Prophet. I TRY to obey the teachings of the Church. I assure you that I am not a brain washed zombie that does everything the Prophet says without question. I am a free thinking person that regulary examines and questions authority. But, I place more emphasis on my heart and the Spirit, than just on critical thinking and examination. I beleive in answer to prayer. As I choose to follow the counsel of the Church I do so in accordance with my faith and testimony in God. I see the fruits of the Gospel all around me. I see the happiness it brings to the lives of my fellow man. (except all the ones being discriminated against of course) These are things I take into account as I make the choice on a daily basis to continue in the path I am on. So far I don't feel I've been led down a path of deception that has led to unhappiness and despair. Quite the opposite actually.

June 14, 2007 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I find it interesting that SS admonishes Uj about pulling the same tired, worn out insinuations, right after he uses one himself:

I can see where to someone as yourself that has lost or never had this faith, obedience to the leadership may seem blind.

Why is it that when someone chooses to look at the church with openness and honesty, they are found "lacking" somehow, or it is openly suggested that they have never had faith, or that they have LOST something they should have kept?

This is dismissive and insulting, really.

As for the thought Uj had about it being simpler to do what you're told, rather than thinking through the issue yourself...this is completely true. That's why it's a lot easier being a child than being an adult. That's why CEOs of companies get paid the big bucks compared with the person who simply does what the boss tells him to do.

And the earring thing: Gosh. So by SS's argument, by piercing my ears only ONCE, I'm allowing myself to slowly and incrementally be lulled into becoming of the world, and one piercing may lead to two, and then to three, and before I know it, I'll be piercing parts unknown!! Oh my. Can you see how funky this "reasoning" is?? Why is ONE okay, but not two or more? Makes no sense.

I feel like if that's the best our modern-day PROPHETS can come up with by way of revelation from God, then I'm not impressed. Not even a little. If I'm going to place my eternal life in someone else's hands, I'm gonna find someone with something more relevant to add to my life than dumb rules about my choice of adornments.

June 14, 2007 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Obedience - The Root of All Evil

So, when a man disobeys an order from his commanding officer and begins firing on innocent civilians, who was he obedient to that he committed such evil?

The statement is simply too far-reaching. It also suggests strongly that you think obedience to the commandments of the modern prophets IS evil, since your immediate comments talk about following faithfully those very words.

To SS, I think you have written well. SML, you may have a somewhat valid point in saying that you are insulted by the part of SS's comments you were. Do you honestly think, though, that the "best" the modern prophets have come up with is the earring rule? Family Home Evening, self reliance, continuing to seek all education one can, staying out of debt... none of those are as "good" as the earring rule? If you do have a problem with wearing earrings, you don't have to do it. I've certainly never seen the attraction to punching holes in one's own body. But I can see the reason for the rule. I do not, however, think it is even typical of the quality of guidance one can receive from just one General Conference. So much more teaching comes from one session that really touches the heart and wakens the soul, to dismiss the church and its prophets for such a thing is overmuch, I must say.

I will be out of town and probably away from the Internet for the next two days, in case you wonder why I don't comment to any replies.

June 14, 2007 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

SML - I was not trying to say UJ is a lesser person. I'm just stating the fact that he has decided not to believe in the Church anymore. His first post on this blog very bluntly states and describes his falling away. The fact that you are insulted if I say you don't have faith or have lost it when talking about the Mormon Church is very interesting to me. What's really going on inside you? If you accused me of not having faith in Islam I wouldn't be insulted by it. Why should UJ or you be insulted by me stating you don't have faith in a Church that you both actively deride on the internet on almost a daily basis? I do apologize however if that insults you. What would you have me say then?

As far as the earrings: Robert did a great job of pointing out that this is not a major prophecy or the most you can get out of modern day prophets.

Let me explain why I defended it the way I did though. In reality this issue doesn't matter much to me. I was responding to UJ's comment that basically Gordon B. Hinckley just tossed this out there with no explanation or obvious reasoning behind it, and just expected us all to obey with out question, or reason.

If two earrings were a bad thing, it would be obvious (or at least could be made obvious through explanation.)

I was just pointing out that in my opinion the reasons for this admonition are obvious within the context of when he said it. At the time everyone knew he was discussing modesty and being of the world You can disagree with it and say that piercings aren't relevant to morality or modesty. That's fine, pierce away.

Uj is making it seem as if he came out with a nonsensicle message......blue socks are now forbidden in the Church.....without offering any rhyme, reason, or explanation, and just expecting people to obey.

June 14, 2007 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Boys, thanks for caring when you thought I was insulted. I'm not insulted, however. I am just saying it sounds dismissive (which is where the insult comes from)...I am not offended by any of you. It takes a helluva lot more than that to offend this chick.

As for the modern day prophets giving you much by way of inspiration...nope. Look at all the "inspiration" Joseph Smith was able to eke out of God. He prayed over every little thing, and the day after, we had a new section in the D&C. So why isn't it still this way? It's not. It seems to me the church leaders (Prophet and Apostles) are more concerned with their corporation than with coming up with new inspiration/revelation from God. You will argue that each thing they do is from God, inspired by the Almighty himself. I wonder how many of the old boys prayed about that mall in SLC...can you imagine? I'd be embarrassed to pray out loud to my God about spending tithing money on a profit-making scheme like a mall. Wow. Yet you don't question this because you are taught that the prophet will not lead the church astray, even CANNOT do so. God won't let him. So we won't question why they bought a two billion dollar mall. It must be a plan by God. He CARES about malls in downtown SLC. He MUST. Yet if an evangelist down South were to buy up a mall using two billion (that's two thousand million!)dollars of tithing proceeds, he'd be ridiculed by our fellow church members as unethical ~ a sure sign he's not "of God."

If these are the dreaded "Last Days," the ones in which Satan will be stronger than ever, you'd think the old boys could come up with a bit more substance that is relevant to everyday life. I don't need to hear about pickles. Or earrings. Earrings, in my humble opinion, matter squat. One of the most noble, moral, kind, Christlike, and giving people I know has multiple earrings in each ear. She is my daughter. She's beautiful. And if she chose to get a tattoo, I'd support her, since art is important too, as is her self-image. I couldn't care one hoot about what any Mormon thinks about my daughter because she has two earrings in each ear. She's an amazing woman, and I'm not saying so because I'm biased. The earring "prophesy" is a load of bunk.

I'm reminded of when one misguided General Authority said in conference that "No good thing happens after 11:00 p.m." My dad, being the obedient priesthood holder he is, implemented this "revelation" as gospel in our home. You should have seen me leaving the church dances a half hour before they ended!! Sheesh.

Robert, Uj already used an example of military where obedience is necessary. But religious obedience is what he's calling the Rood of All Evil, I believe. And I agree. Just think how many immoral acts have been done throughout history in the name of God and righteousness.

June 14, 2007 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

SS

I can see where to someone as yourself that has lost or never had this faith

I prefer to use the term, "emerged from the cocoon of faith."

I love these tired, worn out insinuations from the masses that to follow your faith, and to be obedient to its precepts and teachings, reduces the believer to a mind-numb, brain-washed zombie follwing blindly with no desire or ability to choose or think for himself.

Ah, my faithful negative amplifier. If you love those insinuations, find a blog that makes them. You did not read that here. Intelligence is irrelevant to obedience. Plenty of intelligent people are obedient. Do some reading on Stanley Milgram's work. In his experiments, a majority of people did things that they would otherwise consider immoral, simply because an authority figure was telling them to.

Of course, I imagine to you Korihor probably seems a hero and a martyr.

To me, Korihor is one of the least plausible characters in the book. A supernatural being, glowing with light, appeared and told him that God didn't exist? Exactly what did exist then, now that supernatural entities had been confirmed? Bizarro.

I see the fruits of the Gospel all around me. I see the happiness it brings to the lives of my fellow man. (except all the ones being discriminated against of course)

Good catch--but that's why you said fellow man, right? Really, testimony-bearing is so tired and worn-out...it's such an easy arrow to pull from the quiver when facing a difficult mental challenge.

Robert

who was he obedient to that he committed such evil?

No one.

The statement is simply too far-reaching.

You're right--I should have called it, The Trunk of All Evil. The root is obviously an evil leader. Obedience doesn't come up with ideas--it's just the connection between the leader and the branches (or fruits). But that doesn't have that catchy biblical sound to it.

SS Again

Uj is making it seem as if he came out with a nonsensicle message......blue socks are now forbidden in the Church.....without offering any rhyme, reason, or explanation, and just expecting people to obey.

Let's run with that analogy.

Hinkley: My good brothers and sisters, what a marvelous people you are! There are so many of you here. How good you look. I must say a word concerning modesty. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, said: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Many in the world would have you show your body, as if it were your best feature. Keep yourself dressed in such a way that those around you will notice you first as a follower of God. Short skirts and sleeveless tops are not womanly. As for men, you do not need to wear wildly-colored socks. Black socks are sufficient.

In short order, other apostles would begin telling stories about young men who had recently purchased blue socks but purged their drawers or about young women who watched disapprovingly as men they were dating failed to heed the Prophet. (They would end those relationships, not because of the socks, but because of the failure to obey.) Anti-blue-sock blurbs would find their way into the New Era, Friend, Ensign, and other youth materials.

If you don't believe me, look into earrings on LDS.org.

I don't think religions are the only things that abuse obedience. Communist regimes were able to slaughter millions through obedience. (But much of that obedience was probably brought on by threat of violence, so that's not quite the same thing.)

Church leaders have a lot of better things to talk about. In Faust's recent talk on forgiveness, he didn't say, "forgive because we've told you to." He discussed why it makes sense to forgive. These principles are timeless, and religion can serve a great purpose in reinforcing them. But obedience is a timeless trunk of evil. It should not be reinforced. In religious life, people should not be expected to do anything purely out of obedience.

June 15, 2007 at 4:54 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I do find it ironic that Faust's statement demonstrates exactly what I was referring to in my earlier comments that there are definitely good things coming from the general authorities. He may not have said "you should forgive because we tell you to" but he was demonstrating how forgiveness heals a soul more than revenge, and by explaining it he was doing something very much like Christ explaining principles of faith through parables. He was helping us see why obedience to the requirement of forgiveness (Christ taught we must forgive all men) will bring us closer to Christ and make us happier, better people.

As for the quip about the parable of the pickle, I found that talk from Elder Bednar to be an excellent analogy to explain how a person goes through a process to become something new when they are purified and become exalted.

So, do you still listen to General Conference, SML? That comment made me wonder. I can tell from Uj's comment that he clearly does. Both of those talks were in the most recent conference, and I found them both beautiful. Elder Bednar's talk in the October conference was also one of the most repeated talks in the months that followed because it taught how taking offense to what others say and do hurts ourselves and not those we are offended by. If we take retribution, then it may hurt them, but it still harms our soul for taking that action. That was another wonderful example of apostles today teaching us why obedience to principles is good - and that would again show why it is not the root of all evil. It may be the trunk that connects evil acts to evil edicts, but disobedience can just as easily connect those evil acts to good edicts. Does that seem like a semantic argument or mincing words? Perhaps, but I think it is not. Obedience has wonderful qualities, especially when done by someone who chooses it thoughtfully. Blind obedience to evil is definitely wrong, but I do not agree the church teaches evil.

June 17, 2007 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Sideon said...

Obedience is something I'm not remotely interested in, even in the context of BDSM.

Carry on.

June 18, 2007 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

I'm not trying to prove a specific point with this comment, or trying to disprove anyone else's.

There is a great parable about obedience that I remembered hearing while on my mission. You guys are maybe familiar with it. I heard it again yesterday and thought that it might provide a bit of explanation as to how I and other "believers" view obedience.

A man was awaked one night in his cabin by God surrounded by light. God told the man he had a task for him to perform. There was a large boulder outside the front door of his cabin that God would like for him to push.

The next day the man threw himself against the large boulder with all his might but it would not budge. Day after day he struggled with all his strength pushing and pushing and pushing against the unmoveable stone, but the rock never moved an inch.

Satan looked upon the scene and saw his opportunity. Satan came to the man and told him he was wasting his time. Why did he continue to push against the rock? He had done his best and still the boulder never moved. Why would God give him such a ridiculous task? Especially since God must be aware that he can't move the rock. Satan told the man he had failed and that he should cease his struggle, for it was in vain.

Discouraged the man prayed to God and asked him why he was asked to do the impossible. Why had God set him up to fail?

God appeared to him and said, "My son, you have not failed. Your task was never to move the boulder. I only asked you to push against it, and this you did with all your might. Your task was to be obedient, and you were. You have done well. Now behold your strength! Behold your arms and legs are thicker and muscular. Your back is broad and your shoulders are round and strong. You have done your best and are stronger for it, and behold now I shall move the rock."

Take it for what you will. I love this parable. Part of obedience is surrendering your will to God. There are those who may ridicule this kind of "blind" obedience but that's what humbling yourself and becoming like a child is all about.

June 25, 2007 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

I have no doubt that if God were to appear and have a conversation with you and ask you to do something, it would be wise and good to do so. My concern is for "unquestioning" (in the functional infallibility sense) obedience to another person or organization of persons. Particularly when they have shown poor judgement in the past, such as discriminating against other humans.

June 25, 2007 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

And it seems the church is always bringing out parables that lead members to believe there is purpose to unquestioning obedience. It will make you stronger. You will be rewarded in heaven for enduring it without complaint. You will learn things you'll need when you hit the next life.

Pretty lame reasons, if you ask me, especially considering what Uj said about following leaders who have shown poor judgement in the past. Or in the present.

June 27, 2007 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

My concern is for "unquestioning" (in the functional infallibility sense) obedience to another person or organization of persons.

I agree that "unquestioning" obedience to another person is not a wise thing. On that note I don't really think the Church or the leadership expects unquestioning obediece out of us. How often are we advised from the pulpit to pray and seek out the answers for ourselves concerning the governing priciples of the Gospel and the Church? I don't feel as though I'm expected to obey without question. I don't think the Church or The Lord for that matter want a bunch of mind numb zombies that obey without reason. In fact Heavenly Father lost a third of his children in the war in Heaven to prevent such a thing taking place. The best result is obedience out of understanding and out of faith and love.

On a second note: In the context of the Church the people who make up the leadership positions have attached to them more than just an authority position, but an authority position that is considered divinely inspired by those who believe. I take into account more heavily what my bishop says because of the spiritual apsects of his calling than I do the words of my boss at work.

If you refuse to see your Church leaders as inspired and being called of God than yes, I can see where you are in a pickle and feel the need to rail against the system. If to you, your bishop is nothing more than a pretty good guy that has some leadership capabilities, then he becomes nothing more than your boss at work. You might like to hear what he has to say, but in the end you figure what he has to say can't hold any more meaning than what you can come up with on your own.

So here you are...left to complain on the internet of the apects about the Church that from your point of view are faulty and wrong. Abondoning faith, you have decided that your own intellect is sufficient for deciding the path you will walk. In the meantime you describe the action of those who choose to excersise their faith as possibly taking the simpler or more convenient way, especially for those who don't like to think.

June 29, 2007 at 12:41 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hi SS,

I don't feel as though I'm expected to obey without question.

Yes, they do expect that from you and all members. You are asked to fast and pray over matters of concern, but in the end, aren't they really expecting you to come up with the same conclusions/answers that they have taught you are "correct"??

One example: My brother was taught his whole life that he should go on a mission at age 19. There is extreme pressure on all boys that this is expected, and a commandment from God, really, since the prophets and GAs have all said Every Young Man Should Serve A Mission.

However, he prayed and felt he was not to serve a mission...do you think that was supported and accepted within the church leadership or his peer group? Nope. And furthermore, he was found lacking in some way by them. "He must not be in the right place spiritually. He must have sin issues he's working out. He must not be very faithful. Wonder what he's doing wrong in his life that he's not worthy to go?? Hmmmmmmmm."

Any bishop will sit such a person down, and tell him he needs to pray further, search the scriptures more deeply, look deeper into his heart, until he comes up with the "right" answer that God is trying to give him. The fact that his answer was first Do Not Go has no bearing whatsoever.

This mindset comes from Faithful Obedience to All The Leaders Teach. It can be very harmful on people's sense of self-worth and it can lead some to suffer poor treatment in the name of righteousness and concern.

The truth is, we are asked to pray and seek out truth from the pulpit, but they are actually admonishing us all to find a way to agree with and believe all they have said. Don't deny this is what they are actually doing.

June 29, 2007 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

Well, of course the Church leadership are coming from the point of view that the scriptures are true as well as the words of the prophets and the principles of the Gospel. And I agree to an extent with you that when they ask you to pray about it they are hoping and expecting that you will see it in the same light and manner that they do and come to agreement with them. This however is not an expectation of unquestioning obedience.

It would be like if I were teaching one of my kids basic math and told them that 2 + 2 = 4. As a parent I'm not satisfied if my child just shrugs his shoulders and takes my word for it without ever testing it or finding out truly for himself that two plus two is four. I'd be much happier to see my child apply his own intellect and thinking abilitites to determine on his own, and see for himself the truth that I've taught him. And after he applied his knowledge he kept coming up with three instead of four, I wouldn't condemn him or wash my hands of him. I'd continue to work with him and help him until he was able to see it for himself. But, being a small child and humble as they are, this is possible. As adults we tend to come to our own conclusions and aren't usually humble enough to recieve further instructions or help on the matter.

When the Church leaders preach from the pulpit to pray and pondor out things for ourselves, I believe they are merely expressing Heavenly Father's desire to us to find out the truth for ourselves, so that our obedience to the priciples of the Gospel becomes obedience out of knowledge and understanding, rather than blind acceptance. But, sometimes this requires humility and long-suffering to accomplish.

Another example is in the mission field, would-be converts have to go through a baptismal interview before baptism. If it's discovered in the interview that this person doesn't have a true testimony of what's been taught, baptism will be put off for the time being until concerns can be resolved. If the Church was merely interested in blind followers, or acquiring one more tith payer, then they wouldn't have this policy.

I'm sorry about what happened to your brother. I will admit that there is a tendency to be judgemental amongst some members of the Church. This is a destructive culture within the Church that the leadership has warned against. We can read about pride in the Church amongst the Nephites and how destructive it was for them.

It might make you feel better to know that a few years ago the Church altered its stance on "every young man" serving a mission. The First Presidency acknowledged in a letter that a mission in this day and age is not for everyone. And that only young people who feel a strong desire, and are truly prepared should serve missions.

It will take a while for this attitude to fully settle into the mainstream of Church culture, but policies are already being implemented in the wards and branches to help along this new attitude towards missionary service.

Just throwing this out there. I myself wouldn't be here if my dad had gone on a mission. And he was worthy. He chose marriage over a mission, and he's walking proof that one can make that choice without being damned.

June 29, 2007 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I stand as a strong testimony to the fact that one can feel things different from the standard answers SML is talking about. When I first joined the church, I was still young enough to serve a mission, but just barely. When they asked me, "Do you think you will serve a mission?" I knew already the answer was no. I had prayed and knew it was not right. I had other "missions" to accomplish in my life. The next question was "Will you wait to be married in the temple?" Soon after my baptism I was engaged to a wonderful LDS girl, and we both were sure we should wait for the temple. We felt pressure from both sides of that issue but knew we should wait. Until we prayed about it, that is. When we prayed we knew we should be married as soon as we could. We did not understand the answer, and we were definitely questioned about it variously by a branch president and bishop at the time, but we stood firm. Once we received that answer we knew it was right. We were married that summer (instead of the next summer, as we'd originally planned). Because we went ahead, we were sealed sooner, and our daughter was born in the covenant about a month after we would have only just gotten sealed if we'd waited as we thought we should. We knew once she was on her way why we got the answers we did. We joke to say that she was impatient to come down here, but in truth it was that our family needed to start. We did not need to wait and risk temptation or keep ourselves apart any longer because we knew we would be sealed as soon as we were allowed. We were, five days after the anniversary of my baptism.

I have seen people receive non-standard answers to prayer and have it accepted by leaders. It sometimes takes a strong leader to be willing to listen to those types of answers, but it can and does happen. We can all stand to learn to listen to the Spirit more strongly and be open to the possibility that both standard and non-standard answers can come.

I must say, I have found SS's last two responses extremely poignant, and I think he has really made some excellent comments. I do see where Uj and SML are coming from, but I do not see your two points as accurate representations of my own experiences in the church. Blind acceptance and obedience is not at all what I see in the church. The LDS Church encourages its members to learn and grow as individuals more than any other religious group I've ever observed. I am sorry you have both felt wronged by the church in some way, I truly am. I think it is unfortunate that such intelligent people as yourselves have felt left out (or pushed out) of the church for one reason or another. I don't know how much more I'll be able to write on here, though, so I just wanted to say I've enjoyed the opportunities I've had to explore my faith and to understand your feelings. My business and family needs in the past weeks have been very demanding but in wonderful, positive ways for the most part. I expect those needs to increase rather than decrease in the coming months, and that is the reason I am not sure how much more I'll be able to read and write on this (or any other) blog for a while. Do not think that I have left over offense or because I feel defeated or even that I feel you two are mindless idiots. Such is simply not the case.

SS, Uj, and SML, thanks for the dialogue.

June 29, 2007 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Well said, SS. I like your example too, and it makes some good sense, as Robert said.

Wilford Woodruff said, "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."

How do these words get interpreted when you consider how Brigham Young as prophet taught multiple times that he had direct revelation from God that Adam is God the Father, the father of Jesus Christ? But then Spencer W. Kimball later taught that all Adam-God theories should be discounted as "false doctrine." Something doesn't jive here. You can see where this could cause someone grave doubts.

Robert,

You wrote, "I am sorry you have both felt wronged by the church in some way, I truly am. I think it is unfortunate that such intelligent people as yourselves have felt left out (or pushed out) of the church for one reason or another."

I haven't felt left out (well, not in any way different from any other woman who's left out of many things in church simply because of her gender), or pushed out of the church. I googled my way out of the church, humorously enough. There are so many things that the church changed or left out about its history just to make itself look better. Learning about Joseph Smith, the man who was attracted to women and young girls who were not his wife, to the point of seeking after them and promising their families eternal salvation if they'd let him have their daughters in plural marriage, was shocking to me. Abhorrent, really. No lesson manual ever lists anyone but Emma as his wife. Not impressive to me at all, considering how much the church expected honesty, honor, integrity, divine nature, individual worth, accountability, and more, from ME.

Anyhow, thanks for the dialogue as well. It won't be the same without you here, Robert. So try to just give up all other blogs EXCEPT this one, OK? I will miss you if you really do stay away.

Best wishes, my friend.

June 29, 2007 at 9:14 PM  

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