10 October 2010

Follow the Prophet

Since last weekend's LDS General Conference there has been quite a bit of discussion on President Packer's talk about standards of morality and the power of repentance. Opinions have been shared and debated and protests have been staged because the talk was seen as a step backward for the church as regards the way we approach the LGBT community.

I have my own opinions on the matter that I don't really feel the need to express here. Suffice it to say that I have been in theater long enough (and in the world long enough) to have made several friends who associate with that community. I've enjoyed and treasured their friendships and valued the mutual respect that we've had for the beliefs we share or disagree on. This is true of every friendship I've had, really - the need for mutual respect and understanding even when you disagree.

I don't wish to discuss the political ramifications of President Packer's talk. Members outside of the LDS community are not always in a position to understand our beliefs as well as we would and they can't be blamed for that. What makes me nervous is when members of the church start calling the Presidency of the church and the Apostles 'out of touch' or 'misguided' or 'misinformed'. When they start asking for the Presidency to re-think or re-phrase what they have said so that it is more comfortable to hear. That is dangerous.

The Lord has made it very clear that he speaks through his prophets. There is no room for debate on this. Blaming age or so-called naivety for the reasoning behind any official message of these men is a sign of a lack of understanding or faith in that doctrine. Are these men perfect? No. Would the Lord allow them to make statements on His behalf that were contrary to His plan? No.

I understand when people outside of the church misunderstand or misread what the apostles say because they do not hear with the same experience that members of the church should. They listen to these words as politics because - for most other churches/religious organizations - that's how messages are given. But when members of the church willingly say "well. . . I follow the Prophet, but sometimes he's a little out of touch. . . " - that is dangerous. The Lord did not tell us to follow the Prophet when it was comfortable. He did not tell us to follow the Prophet only if we understood everything that He said. He did not say to follow the Prophet, but you can pick which members of the Apostles are crazy - He said:
"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

As members of the church we have a responsibility to be kind and understanding to all of God's children. We can't be comfortable with naivety about the state of the world. We have to associate with and love those who do not share our beliefs. We also have to recognize that the doctrine of this church is not always comfortable. It does not fit with the standards that the world would set or the way that knowledge is constructed and categorized in this world. The gospel is manifest in ways that can't always be measured or seen - but it can be felt and understood.

So there it is. The Lord does not excuse Himself from what needs to be said, and it is not my responsibility to excuse Him (or his servants) either.


Autumn Lynn said...

Joni, I appreciated this. I ,too, have many dear friends from that community and I understand how the statements could be misinterpreted.

However, I have been a little disturbed at how some members have taken the statements considering we sustained him to his position.

I hope things are going great for you,

jm said...

I appreciated this. Thank you.