Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to listen to General Authorities of the Church reveal God’s will to his children. Several reaffirmed doctrines caused angst among some members of the church. These included President Oaks’ remarks during the Women’s session and his statement at General Conference Leadership Meetings about The Family: A Proclamation to the World given to leaders of the Church on Wednesday night, updated and clarified temple recommend questions, and Elder Bednar reasserting the Church’s stance on the sanctity of human life.
Immediately, some took to social media to criticize the Church with comments such as calling President Oaks the “Prince of Shade,” stating that sustaining their leaders meant telling them when they were wrong, and promising to lie in order to keep/obtain a temple recommend.
These reactions are not exclusive to General Conference only. In May, the Church publicly opposed the Equality Act, which would essentially diminish religious freedom in the name of “equality.” This decision set Latter-day Saint social media ablaze with disapproval from even active members of the church. Boyd K Packer warned about these people years ago:
“There are those within the Church who are disturbed when changes are made with which they disagree or when changes they propose are not made. They point to these as evidence that the leaders are not inspired. They write and speak to convince others that the doctrines and decisions of the Brethren are not given through inspiration. Two things characterize them: they are always irritated by the word obedience, and always they question revelation. It has always been so.”
I began to think, what is our reaction when the church says/does something we disagree with? Do we let our ideology or politics dictate our faith, or the other way around? In my experience, there are three paths we can choose to take:
- Declare the church is ill-informed and wrong. These statements look something along the lines of, “If only X General Authority was in charge, things would be different,” or “I’m an active member BUT I disagree because…” or twisting the words of apostles to say something like, “We’re SUPPOSED to be different!”
- Ignore the statements/actions of the church as if they never happened. In other words, you see the Gospel as a buffet, where you are free to pick and choose whatever beliefs you align with. This may include actions such as skipping General Conference talks where you don’t like the speaker, or avoiding scheduled church lessons you find sensitive.
- Humble yourself, seek learning through study and faith, and align your beliefs so that they reflect those of the Savior, as it is HIS church. Instead of logging on to social media for better understanding, you seek to understand the Lord’s prospective through diligent study of the scriptures, fervent prayer, and, if necessary, discussing any issues you may have with your priesthood leaders. Harold B. Lee described how Marion G. Romney lived this:
“In the political field where so much pressure is exerted on men to compromise ideals and principles for expediency, party workers early learned to admire Marion G. Romney’s intense loyalty to his own conscience as well as to the advice of his Church leaders, whose pronouncements on vital issues affecting the welfare of the nation he accepted as divinely inspired even though it frequently brought him into sharp conflict with leaders of his own political party. On one such occasion when Church leaders in a tersely worded editorial had denounced the trends of the political administration then in power, he confided in me something which it might be well if all loyal Church members in public life could emulate: ‘When I read that editorial,’ he told me, ‘I knew what I should do—but that wasn’t enough. I knew that I must feel right about following the counsel of the Church leaders and know that they were right. That took a whole night on my knees to accomplish.’ I submit in that statement the difference between “intelligent” and “blind” obedience. Marion G. Romney, while never disloyal to authority over him, could never be rightfully accused of being ‘blindly obedient.’”
There is nothing inherently wrong with not understanding certain practices, policies, or doctrines of the church – anyone who has studied the Gospel has had questions. When doubts arise, where you turn for answers will have significant consequences.
“The Power of Sustaining Faith” -President Henry B. Eyring, April 2019
“Sustaining the Prophets” -President Russell M. Nelson, October 2014
“Called and Chosen” -President James E. Faust, October 2005
“Revelation in a Changing World” -Elder Boyd K. Packer, October 1989
“Criticism” -Elder Dallin H. Oaks, LDSSA Fireside, May 4, 1986
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