There was seldom anyone who the Savior rebuked more, aside from Lucifer himself, than the Pharisees. In particular, He condemned the way in which they weaponized the word of God. Today, this is a very popular tactic used by those disaffected with the church to push social, political, and economic agendas. These detractors know it is an effective tool, as they know they can take advantage of those with faltering testimonies in a non-confrontational culture that suggests they are not living up to their standards. Like Satan, they often combine a half-truth with lies in order to deceive the most vulnerable. All arguments follow this formula:
Scripture/Phrase taken out of context + Progressive agenda = Justification
Baptismal Covenants in Mosiah
By far the most common scripture passage that has become popular among progressives within the church and those that have distanced themselves from it is the baptismal covenant Alma teaches at the Waters of Mormon:
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
Using the formula laid out above, let’s solve for x.
Mourn with those that mourn + Church doctrine is harmful = Church doctrine must be changed to avoid mourning.
If one simply took the rhetoric used by enemies of the church, they might see how there is hypocrisy in those who will not permit every lifestyle choice imaginable. By simply reading the remainder of this passage of scripture, one can understand that not only do we covenant to bear one another’s burdens, but also to stand as witnesses of God by keeping his commandments, so that we may have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost (sound familiar?).
Danny also has another terrific thread addressing this topic prior to this tweet.
Is Mourning Ever Inappropriate?
Imagine you come across a cannibal discouraged at the idea that eating humans is prohibited. If that’s too difficult for you, a racist weeping over the denouncement of white supremacy by church leaders. Should we as members of the church weep with them even though these practices blatantly go against church teachings? Of course not! This standard is illustrated at the end of the Book of Mormon.
Mormon, upon initially seeing the mourning of the Nephites, was overjoyed. However, when he found out that their mourning was of worldly sorrow instead of godly sorrow, he did not weep with them.
Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi.
And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.
But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.
And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.
Why did Mormon not mourn with the Nephites? Was he not upholding his baptismal covenants? Was HE in the wrong? Or, perhaps, there is more to mourning with others than simply being sad with them? It is commonly taught that Christ saves us FROM our sins, not IN our sins. Likewise, we can mourn FOR people who choose to deviate from the covenant path the Lord has laid out like Mormon, but we cannot mourn WITH them. Elder Christofferson once said:
“There’s no kindness in misdirecting people and leading them into any misunderstanding about what is true, what is right, what is wrong, what leads to Christ and what leads away from Christ”
This is not to discount the importance of helping to bear the burdens of those who are struggling. Walking with others who may be beaten down along life’s troubled path, either temporally or spiritually, is something I am working on improving myself. The Savior suffered for our hardships, and as his disciplines, we should do all we can to help others return to Him.
- “Humility: Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall” -Elder Dallin H. Oaks, BYU Devotional June 1992
- “Standing by Our Promises and Covenants” -Elder Ronald A. Rasband, October 2019
- “Shepherding Souls” -Elder Gary E. Stevenson, October 2018
- “The Comforter” -President Henry B. Eyring, April 2015
You can follow TheTrueAggie on Twitter at @TheTrueAggie.