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The Church Did Something You Don’t Agree With: Now What?

The recent uproar by some LDS members over the newly released policy on same-sex marriages is just the latest reminder to me that many of us have lost sight of some of the most basic principles of Mormonism.   By that I am not referring to the Church’s characterization of homosexual relations as sinful.  Instead, I am talking about the concepts of revelation, priesthood authority, and personal humility.

This is not the first time that followers of God have been given instructions with which they are not comfortable and which, by their own reasoning, seemed absolutely wrong.  Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Nephi was commanded to slay Laban.  One ancient prophet was commanded to marry a prostitute.  Peter was given instructions about the cleanliness of foods (and people) that went against all he ever had been taught.  Hearing something from the Lord that doesn’t fit nicely within your own ideas, ethics, or political opinion is nothing new.  The question is, how do you deal with it?

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are supposed to believe both in revelation that guides the Church and personal revelation that can confirm revealed truth.  Unfortunately, too many members of the Church would prefer to hang a suggestion box on the door of the temple.  They campaign for changes to doctrines, policies or practices with which they don’t agree, confusing the gospel with a glee club.  We do not believe in a “bottom up” gospel in which the Church bases its doctrines upon opinion polls.  Much of Christianity operates that way, and as a result countless churches have backed away from traditional Christian expectations that no longer comport with the behavior of their members.  Very few Christian churches place conditions on membership.  You can do what you want and still represent yourself as a member.

The LDS Church just doesn’t operate that way.  Yes, changes have been made in our practices, but those come on the Lord’s time and initiative.  Perhaps the two most visible changes relate to polygamy and the ordination of black men to the priesthood.  Had those changes been responses to a desire to be more popular, mainstream or modern, they would have been made years or decades before they were.  But the Church does not hold synods, councils or committee meetings whereby the general membership dictates changes to doctrine.  If you have a testimony of the restored gospel, that should carry with it a testimony that the Church should not operate as churches that do not recognize or hold priesthood authority.

When we are baptized, we are interviewed to ensure that our beliefs are consistent with (in our parlance, we have a “testimony” of) the basic tenets of the Church.  When we are interviewed for a temple recommend, we confirm that our beliefs and conduct are consistent with what the Church teaches.  At all stages of our discipleship, we are held accountable to adjust our lives to the teachings of the Savior through His authorized representatives.  We are fundamentally misdirected if we believe that the Church is supposed to conform itself to fit our personal beliefs, expectations or preferences.  The Church never has been a “come as you are and stay as you were” organization.  We are all about striving for something more, to become one with our Father in Heaven and Christ, our Savior.  We should strive to think as They think and act as They would act.  We strive for perfection as the Lord defines it.  We don’t set that standard for ourselves.

Because of that, it is inevitable that there will be collisions between how we would do things if we were in charge and how the current priesthood authorities do things.  Some of these will be minor fender benders; others might be five car pileups.  What are we to do in those moments?

The pattern is set out for us in the scriptures:  We obey and humbly seek confirmation of the source of the instructions we are given.  Usually, it is only after we have shown a willingness to patiently obey that we receive personal confirmation from the Spirit.  In other words, we receive the witness only after the trial of our faith.  Abraham went where he was told to go.  Only then did he find the ram in the thicket.

Stated bluntly, we have two choices when a Church policy is announced that doesn’t fit with our personal opinions.  We can get up on our high horse or get down on our knees.  We can be divas or disciples.  It is remarkable to me, and very disappointing, that a change to the handbook can be announced on a Thursday, and by Saturday some people are resigning from the Church.  In my view this reflects what my bishop recently referred to as the “drama of Babylon.”  We are more interested in feeling and expressing outrage at “Church leaders” than we are in reserving judgment and seeking harmony with the Lord, whose church this is.

The only way we can avoid being rubbed the wrong way by a doctrine or policy is if our thoughts and desires were perfectly aligned with the Lord’s.  None of us is there, no matter how much we think we are.  Therefore, we have to seek to respond with a broken heart and contrite spirit, being willing to accept the possibility that the Lord’s thoughts are higher than ours, and that through patient prayer we can harmonize ourselves with the Master.  He does not expect blind obedience.  As with the eleven apostles following the resurrection, and the thousands of Nephites upon His visit to the Americas, He invites us to see Him, come to Him, and touch Him:  To verify for ourselves the reality of what we have been taught.  But as dangerous as blind obedience can be, blind disobedience is more poisonous to our souls.

Slow down.  Calm down.  And kneel down.

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92 thoughts on “The Church Did Something You Don’t Agree With: Now What?

  1. Love it. Great line: “We can be divas or disciples.” I’m gonna stick with “disciple”. “Diva” is just not a good fit for me. Ha-ha. Keep these coming, Rob. Thank you.

  2. Great treatment! However, I did want to request a correction. You state:

    “Perhaps the two most visible changes relate to polygamy and the ordination of black men to the priesthood.”

    Technically, the two most visible changes relate to *plural marriage* and the ordination of *all* men to the priesthood. In the former case, the Church has never practiced unfettered polygamy, only the subset known as plural marriage. In the latter, the use of the term “black” reinforces the popular misconception that the Priesthood was ever denied anyone based on his skin color.

    Again, great treatment, and sorry to get bogged down in details; I’d just hate for anyone to get the wrong idea.

    Thanks! 😊

    • Fully agree with the article completed by your comment. I actually know members of the Church in Europe who, in their youth, were denied the priesthood because of their lineage, even though they were as white as one can be.

      • The priesthood denial was based on whether one had African ancestry. During President McKay’s administration, black members in the Pacific were allowed to be ordained to priesthood offices since he presumed they weren’t descended from Africans. In Brazil, patriarchal blessings were used to determine if one had enough African ancestry to preclude ordination.

  3. I completely agree with your thoughts to calm down and pray. In my own reconciliation with “the church did something you don’t agree with” situations, I have to leave open the possibility that they are wrong. I think they were wrong about blacks and the priesthood and I think they are wrong about this. I really don’t think that completely aligning with the Lord will equate to completely aligning with all church leaders, because church leaders are human and don’t even always align with each other! However, I can personally still believe that they are prophets, even if they are wrong about some things.

    Consequently, I think it is important to not categorize people who choose to leave the church as being divas rather than disciples. They may truly believe that they can follow Christ better elsewhere and it is possible that they are correct.

    • Christ didn’t ordain any black males to the priesthood, nor women ..neither did Moses were they wrong? im not asking mean im literally just asking:)

      • I’m not entirely certain Christ didn’t ordain any black men to the priesthood… there is Simon who was a Canaanite… aka Simon the zealot… I honestly don’t know if this has any reference to skin colour or possibly a descendant of Cain, but it leaves, at least the outside chance, in my mind that it is possible. Someone set me straight on this if you know please.

      • maybe we don’t know because it didn’t matter to Christ, or the apostles, or those people that were writing the scriptures? If racism was such an important part of the gospel I’m sure Christ would have included explicitly in His teachings instead of hiding it in phrases such as “love thy neighbor”.

      • From one lineage, Adam them Noah, the plan of God was preach to people through patriarchal authority, the only authority at the time. But soon (from the beginning), people went away from the pure teaching, and finally, at the end of the patriarchal age, the Lord chose a specific lineage to keep his covenant as pure as possible (Abraham, son and grand-son). Then we had the age of the first prophets (meaning “prophet” as called of God to lead a “church”, because those before were also prophets in the sense that they had the spirit of prophecy) from Moses to John the baptist. And during that time the teachings were kept by that lineage.
        During his ministry the Lord himself said to a Samaritan women that he was sent only to the people of Israel, and not to her.
        Then after the resurrection, Peter received a revelation that they had to preach the gospel to the Gentiles too.
        So that’s the question : was peter more “christ-like” than Jesus-Christ ?
        I do not understand everything, but there is a lot of confusion around last week’s announcement. There are at least 2 different things to consider:
        1- the policy regarding children raised by LGBT
        2- the confirmation that the practice of homosexuality is a sin (not the fact to be attracted by the same gender which is a burden but not a sin).
        Two things that are totally different. One is a policy and the other one is a doctrine.
        But even if the first is a policy, it can still be the result of revelation. Was the commandment given to Noah to built an arch a doctrine or a policy ? As far as I can tell, it was a policy, but how crucial ! And it was the result of revelation too.
        Are we discussing only the first one, a policy ? We could by that still be opposing the Lord’s will. Or also the second, a doctrine ? That could lead us to much spiritual trouble.

    • Thank you for stating the reasonable response to the flippant name-calling as we all struggle with these issues–yes, they may be wrong, we have to consider that in our struggle as life-long truth-seekers–heck, I may be wrong, or I may be right, or maybe I’m in the process of figuring it out. Christ left his apostles with the charge to go ye into the world, etc. but, then he had to really get Peter to understand that that was going to be broader than he could even imagine. Through direct revelation (multiple times) He finally raised up Peter’s vision to do the unthinkable and bring the gospel to the Gentiles (gasp). While God’s ultimate vision, desire, purpose is the broadest spreading of His love to all, sometimes it’s us who are the ones building up barriers, resisting His final vision, because we can’t conceive of it with our biases, backgrounds, politics, social pressures. But, hey we’re just humans mucking around here trying to figure it all out. Right now, I feel there are a couple of possibilities as I struggle with this new and highly significant theological change in our church. Maybe I am the one to learn to do the unthinkable and reduce my love and caring for those brothers and sisters and follow the line drawn by the church. Or maybe, with this backward moving (less expansive) policy change, the church will understand the struggle to do what some find unthinkable, and accept without conditions these brothers and sisters.

      • I’m with you, khomer. I like your example about Peter and I think it is so helpful to think of ourselves and others as “humans mucking around here trying to figure it all out.”

      • This is an excellent article by the Hunsakers. I especially endorse these two questions they posit: “Aren’t we supposed to work on aligning our will with His? Is God making progress toward us, or are we making progress toward Him?”

        Indeed, His ways are not our ways. In my long life (75+ years), through many, many “challenging” experiences, I’ve come to realize that the way to find answers to life’s difficult challenges is to get my own personal relationship with the Savior — to personally access the Atonement; to go to Christ to get confirmation of whatever policy or doctrine is at issue. As time goes on — as we get closer and closer to the Second Coming — I believe that our personal relationship with Christ is going to be paramount. We are all entitled, if we are worthy, to personal revelation. At the same time, I do emphatically keep my eyes and ears tuned to the living Prophet(s). Whether they are (or aren’t) God’s spokesmen here on earth is something we each have to discover for ourselves.

      • Hi Robyn, thanks for your thoughts. I drew a conclusion that the brethren were wrong, but not because it doesn’t match my own agenda and not because of public opinion. I drew the conclusion because it doesn’t match up with Christ’s teachings and because the logic is faulty in many respects. When I think about the church “making progress” I think about the brethren doing better about following Christ’s will and not letting their own human opinions get in the way.

        Your phrase “I’m concerned” was meant to be kind but was rather condescending. I’ll throw it back to you. I’m concerned because you seem to think that anything that comes from the mouth of a church leader is automatically correct. This is impossible because they are human. There have been many changes in policy over the years and for many of them (but not all), it logically must be that someone was wrong–either the people who made the first policy, or the people who made the change.

        Please note, I don’t think that these inconsistencies have to shake your faith. Just make sure that you put your trust in God before your trust in humans, even humans who are called by God.

      • You’re being way kinder to her than I could be. Maybe that’s why she actually published your comment instead of cherry picking the supportive ones. All 80 of them on a post that has gone viral.

    • Mischelle, I don’t think there’s any mention of Christ or Moses excluding people because of their skin color.
      Early on, Christianity was open to only Jews but I don’t really know if they just didn’t think of including others or if they were instructed by God.
      I do know that in Moses’ time the priesthood was limited to Levites. Once you open it up to everyone, though, exclusion based on skin color doesn’t make sense. There could be black people who are of the tribe of Levi, even, and they were excluded. People who had black ancestry were allowed the priesthood as well as long as their skin was light enough–it was just based on skin color, not on ancestry.
      What do you think?

    • Thank you. THAT was a well thought out comment and not one aimed at making every single person that doesn’t blindly believe this latest policy change is wrong in so many ways.

    • K I love what you said you spoke from your heart thank you I apostated from the church a few years ago I have no bitter feelings toward any members or the church itself but I do believe that power corrupts Authority corrupt 4 with this power we have the ability to be interpreters of scripture if you truly read scriptures you will find the scriptures are to be interpreted by individuals for themselves and everyone can have a different way of looking at it that is the beauty and Enlightenment of religion not the hierarchy and the discipline that one’s in power seem to impose on there congregations. Jesus Christ had no labeling individuals and their importance within his teachings so why is it that every church congregation that follows Jesus seems to do just the opposite of what Jesus taught by labeling individuals setting hierarchies importance within the church secrets and special things that they only know and no one else can because they’re not worthy at least that’s what the ones in Power subscribe to Jesus would never have wanted his teachings to become the bloodthirsty power mongering that it is today remember we are all children of God before we are Mormons or Christians or Catholics or Protestants or Jews we all stem from the same spring God bless

  4. Thank you are you well worded & inspired response. This week has really been testimony strenghtening. I just hope & pray that I can continue to stay strong & keep a firm grasp on the iron rod.

  5. Thank you for articulately addressing the bottom line of this issue of obedience to the will of God when it does not line up with our will. This is after all the #1 test of the School of Mortality! It may not matter what other tests of this life we pass, if we fail this one!!

    I hope everyone who reads your insights will want to share it with others through social media. I am going to.

    Leonard Grover

  6. Thank you for your post. I agree that a fundamental part of Mormonism is that changes will come and often we may struggle with those changes. I also agree that in these situations, the best choice is to seek a personal answer from God, after all, this is one of the key principles that the church was founded on, and there are quotes from Joseph Smith and other church leaders that support that we are not expected to follow our leaders blindly and that we are indeed entitled to personal revelation.

    However, you should rethink your statement about “bottom up” gospel. The church is full of examples of changes to policy or doctrine that began at the local level. The church has also used many opinion polls or focus groups that have driven changes to the garment, the temple ceremonies, curriculum, etc. In fact I believe that Primary organization and the 3-hour block schedule both came from “bottom up” movements that were later adopted by the whole church.

    In addition, I don’t think that using the polygamy ban and priesthood ban support your point. The history of both of these changes is very messy and really detracts rather than adds to the central point you are making.

    Overall, I agree with your central point of seeking personal revelation rather than just reacting. In my opinion, seeking personal revelation should also include making a sincere effort to empathize and comfort those who are hurting, rather than wasting our time trying to provide justifications for our leaders.

    • Well said, thank you. but I think whatever changes in the church, we need to calm down and pray more about this or whatever comes our way . This is no different to time of christ when he was on earth and other time in the history of the world even in the history of the church ,People find it hard to believed and follow the directions of the church.when we really close to our Heavenly Father,that will really help us to find his will,if we don’t n thats whats gonna happen.love yous all, God bless.

  7. There is a difference between doctrine and policy. Marriage between a man and a woman is doctrine. Giving the Priesthood to all is a policy and learning about the history of that policy is crucial for understanding it. LDS.org and Fair Mormon are good places to start on that. Not baptizing children of same-sex marriages and polygamous families is policy and again must be understood. Listen to Elder Todd Christopherson’s statement to the press and listen very carefully. Wanting to be informed and to understand is far safer ground than denouncing what the prophet declares.

    • You can reread our modern understanding blacks and the priesthood and believe it as policy, but that is not how it was understood in the past. Brigham Young and other church leaders until the civil rights era taught this as doctrine, not policy. It wasn’t until David O. McKay did research on this subject that the blacks not holding the priesthood became policy.

      • What is the difference between policy and doctrine? It’s quite simple, the Lord himself taught to the Nephites what the gospel, which includes the doctrine, was (3 Ne 27). We can say that the doctrine is the mechanism by which we can obtain Eternal life. All the rest is policy.
        For example, the age for baptism is to be responsible, not to be 8, which is a policy. The age to receive the Mechisedek Priesthood is to be responsible, not to be 18 which is a policy (the mission pdt who set me appart long ago had been ordained at a younger age himself). And there is no doctrine about the age to be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, which is received without a covenant (epistle to the Hebrews), but a policy about 12, 14 and 16 years of age. The fact that the Priesthood is divided in two parts is a policy, not a doctrine. The priesthood quorums will most likely not continue in the eternities. The doctrine concerning the Priesthood is related to family, patriarchal (and certainly matriarchal) order. This is why the real name of the Priesthood refers to the “son” of God.
        So there are many things people see as doctrine that are not. But the fact that things are policy and not doctrine doesn’t mean they are not important, and cannot last for quite some time…
        And did you know that : to wear a tie to pass the sacrament is not a doctrine 🙂 The Melchisedek Priesthood holders of the Otavalo tribe, pure Lamanites, never wear one… even when they are called as full time missionaries !

  8. My difficulty w the revelation isn’t motivated politically or via pop culture. Mine is a personal experience & 1 of missionary work. Thank goodness a neighbor invited me to church when I was just 7 yrs old. My mom & dad were & still aren’t religious. It brought light to me & eventually to my family… not conflict. If i were excluded from baptism i fear that may have been a sad deterrent. I’ve had many opportunities to b valiant. As church members I think this is our greatest asset… standing strong & being valiant in an otherwise very cloudy & murky society. [And it is not a stance of superiority] I think it’s crucial to recognize these opportunities to inspiration amid an otherwise hostile environment & turn them into an engaging & unifying moment. The bonus is most of us r already prepared since we usually simply testify w our daily actions. I don’t know yet how to express to folks this current revelation. Most members understand. My constant struggle is how to help & express to non members my genuine joy & faith for this church & the appreciations of revelations that sadly seem contentious. At best, I just want my many non member friends to simply ‘Get it’ or at least appreciate my convictions.

  9. It would be cruel to urge a child to enter into a covenant, and then not fully support her in keeping that covenant. With the church teaching the standard of marriage as defined in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” and parents at home teaching by precept and by example another form of marriage, it places the child in a state of conflict over her covenant. This policy is about doing what’s best for children and about respecting the rights of parents to be their child’s most important teacher.

    • My first reaction was What?!?! , to the news. But like you, I came to the same conclusion. Where much is given, much is expected. So, wait till the child is an adult, and give them the opportunity to learn about the gospel with a mature mind. If the child does not make it to adulthood, then they can be taught on the other side. I know that the church frowns on tearing families apart. Have the duality of what is right would start that process. If it is that important to the parent to raise their child in the gospel, then they can take the steps to make that possible.

    • How you have explained it is exactly how I see it: plain and simple and in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel. It makes sense to me and I keep wondering how people miss this or disregard it as unimportant. The church wants to keep families in harmony-even if those families that don’t meet the Lord’s standard of “family.” The family unit is the most important structure of God’s plan, and this policy only reiterates that.

  10. I wish more of our Brothers and Sisters in “crisis” would read commentary such as this. Too many of us seem to have fallen asleep during all the many, many conference talks which have warned us repeatedly that the ways of the world, and the ways of the Lord, would continue to diverge — even to the point of the world turning against us, as it so often has in the past. I think the upsurge of members in the 1990s, and the general softening of public perception of Mormons as a whole, gave a lot of members false hope that the church could finally be “normalized” according to the standards and expectations of the time. But the message from the First Presidency hasn’t change for as long as I can remember: the ways of the Lord are not the ways of Man. The point of the gospel is not to bring the Lord down to Man’s level, but to elevate Man to the Lord’s level. This means we (the members) are going to have to endure some things we might not like — especially the unkind scrutiny of people who think the Lord needs to “conform” to the ways of Man. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the early Saints endured in the 1800s. People need to buck up, do some soul-searching, and put some iron into those testimonies — in addition to all the usual warm fuzzies.

  11. The priesthood ban was not inspired. It was racism. (See “Race and The Priesthood” lds essay). Calling it anything else is disrespectful to those affected by it. It finally ended thanks to the discomfort of the leadership with a terrible mistake approaching The Lord and asking that it be lifted.

    How do I respond when I disagree with something the Church did? I recognize that this is a policy (not doctrine) and it is how they are choosing to administer the Church. I leave room for the idea that the leaders aren’t perfect and that God isn’t necessarily micro-managing every policy and practice set forth. For me it’s unfair to our imperfect leaders to do otherwise. I can sustain and support them without having to gain a testimony of policy.

    Heaven help those poor members pre-1978 who treated the priesthood ban like it was some mandate from God that must be good, so we need to defend/uphold/celebrate it! I hears so many defenses and justifications of that terrible practice. Think of all the hurt these members caused others. That won’t be me.

    • I agree. I have a hard time hearing so many church members imply (or state directly) that in order to be faithful, you must accept everything church leaders do and say as the word of God.

      • Only the prophet has authority to speak for Christ. The apostles usually do but are not under the same mantle as one who speaks for God to men. Thus the children’s song: follow the prophet.

    • I agree! I went to the church’s website to research how other policies were put into place. After reading about “Race and the Preisthood” I had a bad taste in my mouth. I was shocked to find out that black men had been given the priesthood in the first days of the church and then the ban went into place AFTERWARD. I had assumed my whole life that black members were never allowed the Preisthood from the very beginning.

  12. First of all I am not a diva! Second I have fasted and prayed about this. Your assumptions of everyone who is upset about this decision is that we are unrighteousness people. We are told that we all have the ability to receive personal revelation. I do feel that we need to continue to express our feelings about this decision. And that’s ok because we are a church not a cult. A cult would forbid us to object to this decision but we are a church.
    Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion

    • I’ve made no such assumption. I’m talking about being patient and not flying off the handle as soon as a decision is made that we question or disagree with. Many of the comments to this post that I haven’t published demonstrate just that kind of reaction.

  13. “The recent uproar by some LDS members over the newly released policy on same-sex marriages is just the latest reminder to me that many of us have lost sight of some of the most basic principles of Mormonism.”

    That first sentence is so, so much of an understatement. I am so sick and tired of hearing about this fake and manufactured controversy. The Church’s position is the same now as it’s always been. If you don’t like it then that’s too dang bad. If you were ever expecting something different then you A) don’t understand/believe in the prophetic call of the General Authorities of the Church and/or B) completely fail to comprehend the Church’s teachings on marriage and the family and how they fit into the larger plan of salvation. For endowed Mormons this is particularly bizarre, as all of these things are explained quite clearly in the temple, which means that they either went through it for the wrong reasons or simply don’t pay attention to what is being taught there.

    Stop trying to reconcile the values of the world with those of the Church. The Church is right; the world is wrong. It’s that simple. There’s no reason for anyone to be confused or conflicted about anything when we have more resources available to us to clarify things than any other church on the face of the planet.

    • Wow. Sure hope you live a perfect life with no need for compassion or mercy because your remarks don’t sound like you espouse those principles. As you judge so shall ye be judged also. According to Pres. Uchtdorf it is our obligation to question and to search and ponder for our own answers to the truth of things. Please give some space, respect and compassion to those who are still searching.

    • your statement,” the church is right; the world is wrong”, scares me. There are tons of reasons why someone could be confused and conflicted with this new concept and policy. To have no idea why this is causing an uproar to the average person means that you A) don’t understand/believe that the church is not perfect and run by humans who are doing the best they can and/ or B) completely fail to see that this is discrimination very similar to what was happening prior to 1978.

      I must confess that I am not a member of the church, I left the church over a decade ago. While some of you will find the new policies and revelations strengthen your faith and give you the warm and fuzzies, I see this as another confirmation of why the church is not right for me and why I believe it is not true.

      Maybe this is just a test that “god” is giving to his members of the church to see who is really faithful and then will change is mind in a not so far off distance, like he did with Abraham, maybe he won’t. Nobody really knows, you just have to have faith in what you believe but also have an open mind. We are all humans living together on this earth, it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

    • I’m not trying to reconcile this new policy change with the “world”, rather I am struggling to reconcile it with what I’ve been taught in the gospel and in the church for decades. I disagree with your statement that this is nothing new. This is absolutely a new and significant change in theology and doctrine for our church. To deny baptism and any saving ordinances to someone because of someone else’s actions is a huge change. To require someone to leave their home and family in order to be baptized is unchristian and very different from what we have taught. I understand the idea of getting permission for children to get baptized from their parents. The assumption here is that the parents don’t want them to. What if a SSM couple wants their children to be baptized (maybe they were when they were younger and they appreciate it)? This policy is drawing a line in order to build our gated community and shut us from the world. When Christ said, “Go ye into the World” he meant it.

      • Actually the exact same restrictions have been in place for other groups for a long time, most notably for children raised in polygamist households. I learned of that policy a month ago and wondered why they didn’t have a similar one for sane sex couple households. I’m still working to understand both of them because it feels jarring my different from how I understand the gospel. I am learning piece by piece about the timing of the Lord, however, and many good people are often required to wait for a promised blessing for reasons beyond their control. I firmly believe they will not be punished for having the patience to keep waiting, as hard and possibly senseless as it may seem.

  14. It all comes down to what we decide we’re going to be. Do we want to be the wheat or the tares? We already know what will happen to the tares in the end. Love this line, “too many members of the Church would prefer to hang a suggestion box on the door of the temple. They campaign for changes to doctrines, policies or practices with which they don’t agree, confusing the gospel with a glee club. We do not believe in a “bottom up” gospel in which the Church bases its doctrines upon opinion polls.” Sadly, there are a small percentage of Saints who think that they can force the church to change its policies to fit what that particular group thinks is the best way. It is the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints–not the church of the philosophies of men and women. The church does and will always run how the Lord sees fit–even if it’s not popular to the dictates of that day or age.

    • But maybe each of us should ask ourselves “Lord, is it I?” Am I the wheat or the tares? It’s common practice in our culture that defending leadership is the righteous thing to do. But again, this is a policy to administer/organize/run our church. Not a revelation. Not doctrine or scripture. Have you considered that the Brethren may have wrestled with this policy? I imagine it must have been a difficult thing to do, knowing it would pain some of their flock.

      Does mourning it and feeling for those affected by it make me me the tares? Does wishing aloud for a better way make me the tares? Does questioning the decision and the motivations behind it make me the tares?

      What about not mourning it? Going quickly to defense and justification mode. Not putting yourself in the shoes of another. But obedience! you may say. Policy! Procedure! Order! Loyalty! Does that sound like wheat to you?

      Again, it’s a policy. I’ll save my loud defenses for matters of doctrine. And I’ll have compassion for the Brethren as they create policies to help govern our church as I imagine it’s a difficult task. Maybe they’re grateful for the voices of confusion, anger, and sadness. Maybe they feel it too.

      • I think that one aspect of emotional maturity is not ascribing evil intent to every act that we disagree with. I find that most people are trying to do right by others, even if their efforts are clumsy, criticized, or unappreciated. They are good people with good intentions, and you give them credit for that. What bothers me here is that people within the Church, who really should know better, are quick to assume that the General Authorities are up to no good, when their conduct in the past hasn’t justified that conclusion.

      • Many of the active members who are confused and hurt by this new policy aren’t “assuming the General Authorities are up to no good.” Most of the response I’ve seen from members conflicted with this policy is one of confusion and heartbreak. I doubt any strong member who attended the temple last week is one that’s spewing vitriol today – I suspect most of those folks were already out or almost there anyway (many for valid reasons). Instead I’m seeing discussion about revelation and how it relates to policy and administering the Church. And our well intentioned leaders have been wrong on policy as well as upholding incorrect traditions in the past (priesthood ban, women not praying in general conference) so I don’t think we can categorize members questioning these things as lacking in faith and obedience.

        You can still have a strong testimony while voicing empathy for the pain this policy causes our gay brothers and sisters and their families.

        You can still sustain the prophet while questioning this policy. You can obey the policy even while wondering if it was truly inspired or more of a solution to an administrative dilemma. Questioning is good. Just ask 14 year old Joseph!

        It doesn’t mean you have less faith, it may mean you are trying to have an authentic faith. The kind where you allow yourself to feel the hurt and pain (empathy!) Where you’re honest with yourself about conflicting principles you may see in this policy. This path can build a stronger faith, in my opinion.

  15. I think what you said made perfect sense. The fact that others are picking the post apart, paragraph by paragraph, proves your point. I believe when our leaders, who I absolutely believe are prophets, tell us to do something, it should be done. Yes, they are mortal men, so was Alma, Mormon, Lehi, Moses… Still, they did as the Lord commanded. Those who murmured against them were wrong and many suffered because of their “stiffneckedness”. Why publicly disagree and make yourself look like an idiot? Go somewhere else, where whatever the controversy of the day is, it’s going to be fixed by the church changing their stand on the issue. You want to be involved in a church that advocates and practices gay marriage? Go. No need to tear down this church before you go. I am saying though, before you make such a hasty move, you should pray about how you feel, and be honest about the feeling you have in your heart afterwards. Of course if the LDS church is so out of date and and actually led by a prophet, you will deny any feelings that come from the Holy Ghost or God himself. Of course, if that’s the case, you lost the presence of the Holy Ghost a long time ago and you probably do belong somewhere else.

    • This is not new to me. When Jesus was here on earth, most people did not believe that He was the promise savior. When Noah built the ark, people did not believe him. There’s always poeple who will opposed the truth. So sad. I will just follow what the prophet says because I know he os called of God and he is the only one who can received revelations for the church.

  16. This has been a challenging announcement for me to process. So I thank you for your attempts to help. I really enjoyed your run-down of scriptures relating to revelations that just didn’t make obvious sense at first! The answers are coming to me, bit by bit as I seek the Lord to find peace and search to learn His intelligence on this. Though I agree with earlier writers that there is error in both your logic and history regarding polygamy and the priesthood, I found your overall perspective illuminating!

  17. This is well-written. Thank you. Having been up close and very personally acquainted with several members of the general Church leadership,, the members at large have no idea about how so many of these changes happen. These good men have given up everything–their time, years of training for amazing professions, financial rewards, time with their families, etc. to serve the Lord until they die. They do NOT go looking for reasons to create issues. They are instruments of the mind and will of the Lord. In the end, it is between me and my Father in Heaven to confirm that. I am so grateful for that!

  18. The church did something I don’t like, so now what? Now I talk to my bishop and stake president about why I think this policy was poorly thought out, just like we are supposed to do when we have a problem. There have been some amazing, loving discussions happening. Policy can change if it isn’t working the way it was intended to.

  19. Those leaving immediately had reasons that pre-date this policy which for them was the final push and they are in a minority. The majority are simply overwhelmed with compassion and concern for those who will be affected and are somewhat taken aback . Give them time to work through it please before affixing judgemental labels like ‘diva’ to them. One thing I can guarantee with certainty is that none of the apostles will be delivering a verbal spanking to those who are struggling to reconcile the policy with their own tender feelings, because they are a truly humble group of men and understand the process. Spiritual one-up-manship is not the game we should be playing if we seek to follow the Saviour’s example. He did not chide Lazarus’ sisters for their tears even though He knew he was about to restore his life. Instead He wept with them for the grief they were feeling at that moment.

  20. Here is my problem. The title of your article and thus the premise. I don’t agree with a lot of what the “church” (and you need to look in the D&C for a definition of that term because you are using it incorrectly according to Christ’s words) decides, meaning more specifically, what the appointed leaders decisions are for the saints. But as you point out, what my opinion is-is irrelevant…However, I have a problem when their decisions don’t agree with the scriptures. Moroni 8:17 Matt 19:14 Moses 6:54. 2nd AofF Sing with me…Hold to the Rod…The iron rod…
    I think the church (using the correct usage see D&C 10:67-68) has a problem when the leaders declare something that is not in harmony with the scriptures, specifically Christ’s teachings in the scriptures. That is different than not agreeing with me. That is not agreeing with Christ. That is sketchy territory to say the least.
    Just sayin…

  21. Thank you for this article! In reading the comments, it is almost “unlikely” that someone will not find offense by it or by anything. I can tell you were inspired by reading this. My simple testimony is that I know the prophet of this church leads and guides us. I know that this decision did not just “happen”. It was not decided by a few apostles. It was a well prayed about, thought out decision by our leaders. Yes they are “man” and not perfect. However, we have a prophet who gets revelation from our Heavenly Father and I am confident that is exactly where this came from. Only they can see ahead what we can not see.

    I love the leaders of our church. They carry a heavy burden that we can not begin to understand. They are mocked, beaten down, ridiculed, just like those prophets of old and what is worse is that it is also being done by our own members.

    As the scriptures foretell, lines are being drawn. We will have to decide which side of the line we will stand on. May we all hold tight to the iron of rod and know that the path is narrow but big enough for al!

    • Yes they carry a heavy burden and this policy may be one of them. As you said, they likely did not come to this decision lightly. Those choosing to shout their defenses of this policy and the leaders while judging those members struggling with this decision may actually be causing our leaders more sorrow.

      If I had just implemented a policy I knew would cause pain, confusion, and anger to so many I’m pretty sure it would only make me feel more burdened to hear criticism of the very feelings I myself had just felt.

      Let’s err on the side of compassion for all. Our gay brothers and sisters. Our hurting active members. Our burdened leaders.

      Slow down. Calm down. And kneel down.

  22. “Priesthood,” Millennial Star 14/38 (13 November 1852):
    Because of…the apparent imperfections of men on whom God confers authority, the question is sometimes asked,—to what extent is obedience to those who hold the priesthood required? This is a very important question, and one which should be understood by all Saints. In attempting to answer this question, we would repeat, in short, what we have already written, that willing obedience to the laws of God, administered by the Priesthood, is indispensable to salvation; but we would further add, that a proper conservative to this power exists for the benefit of all, and none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood. We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do any thing they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God, who seeks for the redemption of his fellows, would despise the idea of seeing another become his slave, who had an equal right with himself to the favour of God; he would rather see him stand by his side, a sworn enemy to wrong, so long as there was place found for it among men. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty (!) authority, have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their Presidents, they should do it without asking any questions.
    When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience, as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves, and wish to pave the way to accomplish that wrong; or else because they have done wrong, and wish to use the cloak of their authority to cover it with, lest it should be discovered by their superiors, who would require an atonement at their hands. [1]
    Joseph Smith

  23. The church is for the people, not the people for the church.
    There is an important difference between a policy and a commandment: Given the circumstances the proper authority can permit an exception.
    Happened to me – I was 17 when I wanted to get baptized. Dad said no (you don’t leave the Orthodox church if you are Greek, even if you don’t really believe).
    There has been a policy for a long time, that children under 18 cannot be baptized if the head of the household does not permit.
    However, a General Authority authorized it and I did get baptized, and it turned out to be the right thing at the right time.

  24. I agree that denying the priesthood to some was racism of a kind and not by church leaders. There were black priesthood holders in Joseph Smith’s day. The racism was by those attempting to destroy the church, who could not abide seeing those whom they felt should be enslaved holding any position of authority. And so as policy to keep the church organization from being destroyed over this issue, the priesthood was not given to the blacks. It is my understanding that this policy was also enacted with people of other skin colors in other areas of the world for similar reasons. That is why, when the policy was changed, the wording was “all worthy male members”. Those denied the priesthood before were obviously worthy. That was not at issue. The issue was the social ramifications and danger to lives because of the wickedness of the world. That is the same motivation for enacting the newest policy regarding children raised in same sex unions. Their worthiness is not the issue. It is placing them in a situation of less confusion to do it this way.

    • so, racism is for their own good? Denying people the saving ordinances is for their own good? Can we consider that maybe some people who should have known better were just run-of-the-mill racists just like everyone else around them? And that shouldn’t affect us or damage our own faith? And maybe, they handled their social situations that way a hundred yeas ago, but now we can handle things our own way now? And hopefully we do better now that it’s our turn.

    • I think that a major problem for members is that many are still subconsciously digesting the fact that for 125 years or so black men were denied the priesthood and now we learn that was not the will of God but a result of the church being influenced by the sentiments of the society at the time – that’s what the essay on race says. So I think it’s natural that so close to that disclosure people wonder whether the church is being similarly affected by the homophobia of American society particularly the Christian right who have been very vocal and vile let’s face it. It’s hard to accuse people of being unfaithful if they struggle with the policy ( not doctrinal) change when all those who struggled with a racist policy ( and we now learn that it was due at the very least to going along with the racism of the world) were similarly smeared as not being obedient or faithful when in fact they were in tune with the underlying principles of the Gospel more than the policy was. We can’t ignore that worry or try and pretend that no admission of error has been made on what was a pretty huge mistake that stood for 125 years approximately and which , moreover, was a error compounded by the subsequent litany of ever more offensive excuses why the policy was in place. I have no problem at all with human beings making mistakes . For me it makes zero difference to my testimony even though it breaks my heart thinking of the real people who have suffered or will suffer as a result because you don’t have to go any further than the new testament to read that the greater the trial the greater the blessing so that in an eternal sense those discriminated against by policy are WAY ahead of those who did the discriminating or those who made or make excuses for it by stretching underlying principles to breaking point or absorbing the misinformation of the world into policy making because it happens to chime with one’s own fears and lack of understanding on a given subject. Make no mistake we will be judged on where we stand or stood on such issues as these two policies address whether we ever voice our position or not ( our thoughts will condemn us ) but it is now clear that to have not recognised the racism of one as being fundamentally against the teachings of the Saviour means many were not as in tune as they thought they were and to prematurely condemn those who seriously consider that societal homophobia may similarly be influencing another in our day is harsh and unnecessary reaction. Who knows in 125 years they may be proved right, again.

  25. Hey, comment dude. Instead of mischaracterizing what I wrote, maybe take a look at my previous post. My concern isn’t with negative reactions, it’s with over reactions. People are willing to leave the Church hours after a policy is released. That’s nuts. Policies are just that, and the likelihood of tweaks, revisions or even reversals is pretty high. I’m just saying that folks need to tap the breaks. This doesn’t justify self-immolation on Temple Square.

  26. Thank you for putting this together! This policy is perhaps one way the Lord of all nations is sifting the tares away from the wheat. I am so grateful for modern prophets to lead and guide us when there’s conflicting ideas of right and wrong. Following the prophets will never lead us astray, not in this dispensation. I can only imagine how hurt the Lord is when the members of His kingdom dissent from the His gate of respite.

  27. Please, pick up better examples : “a rebellious kid who went against the authority”… A kid whose family as a whole did not belong to a specific church and who asked : “which church should I join?” Rebellious question ?

  28. Why do we have to comfort ourselves with the idea that maybe God is testing us by giving us kooky unthinkable new policies, in order to separate the “wheat from the tares”? That’s like saying, maybe He’s trying to see how really goofy we are. He already knows that. He knows we are capable of crazy obedience–we’ve proved that for centuries. What if he said, “all redheads are banned from church” just to test our obedience. That’s crazy and abusive. Look, the real test is as simple as He has always said, “Love one another” (including the sinner, the enemy, those who spitefully use you, those who bear false witness against you, Samarians, Gentiles, etc.) and all that that means for our lives. That is a life long struggle, but in that struggle we become something new and better. Our test isn’t pass or fail on some ridiculous contrived obedience quiz–it’s what we become as we live, love, seek truth, all with faith–Life’s a Journey . . . Peace.

  29. There was this address, October 2009, by Richard G. Scott. “. . . However, the Lord will not force you to learn. You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you. . . .

    The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. . . .”
    Now, you can read this as instruction to everyday members to just wait until the Lord sets us straight. But Elder Scott was talking about how Prophets, Seers, and Revelators receive inspiration, and how it is exactly the same as for the rest of us. The Lord will not force them, either. And just as racism was a contributor to the ban on priesthood for black people of African decent (like it makes it less racist because it was limited to Africans), it is entirely possible that culturally fed fear of homosexuals has caused this doctrine which we share with every mainstream church to stand unquestioned, even though we acknowledge that THEY are all in apostasy!!!!

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