Oh, the Vaunted Priesthood of God-Making the Sabbath a Delight

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***Alert***

If you are an active Mormon male.  If you have no interest in seeing priesthood meetings improve.  If you are only interested in judging the messenger (me).  Then….

***DO NOT CONTINUE READING***

Priesthood Meetings

Hopefully, this post won’t sound too angry.   Rather, I’m expressing disappointment, sorrow and sometimes disgust at what I often witness in my own priesthood meetings.  Over the past couple of decades, I have worked to encourage change.  No results.  Over the past 5 years, I’ve talked to local leaders.  Little to no results.  Over the past 2 years, I have communicated numerous times about the issues described below.  This past Sunday highlighted every single problem and more.

I have been a little nervous posting this critique in full view of the public eye. But, I figure I’m risking little. The issues I’m raising have been of slight or no concern to my priesthood brothers. So, talking about my concerns in the open shouldn’t give anyone pause.

Bullet Points for Last Week’s Priesthood Meeting

  • A visiting high councilman gave a talk in Sacrament meeting.  Pretty darn good.  His message centered around this phrase:  “Open your eyes to what’s around you.  Then open your heart.  Then open your arms and serve.”  Love the sentiment.  Badly needed.   Over the past 2 years, my observation is that we are willfully closing our eyes to what is going on around us.  Especially regarding those who most need open hearts and arms.  And, to what goes on in priesthood week-in, week-out.
  • Priesthood opening exercises, start 10 minutes late. I’m totally good with that.
  • No pianist. Well…fine.  But, why don’t we give this some forethought.
  • We sing one verse. My favorite part of all meetings are the hymns and musical numbers.  So, this is always a disappointment that we cut it short.
  • No hymn books. Here’s where things start to go awry for me.  This IS a big deal.  Here’s why.  It excludes anyone who doesn’t know the words.  And just who are we excluding?  1)  All the youth.  That’s not cool.  Don’t we want them to have a meaningful experience in priesthood?  What are they left to do?  Horse around, of course.  2)  Investigators.  Isn’t that just peachy?  Start them out with a very mediocre and exclusionary experience.  3)  New members.  Five weeks ago, a 70 year old man was baptized.  Great.  During our 1 verse, hymn-bookless hymn, I scanned the room.  There sat the fledgling member….all alone.  He doesn’t know any hymns.  He just stared at the front of the room.  So happy are we when someone is baptized that we make sure they’re excluded from worshiping with us in song!  Our ward has sister missionaries.  Would they observe our disregard for their new convert with relish or with broken hearts?
  • Quorum reports are called for. Only one was given.  It was from the president of the deacon’s quorum.  “I don’t know what’s going on.”  Well, I know what’s going on.  A clear complacence regarding the import of the priesthood and its offices.   This has become the go-to report for our kids.  Just eliminate the reports already!  It demeans the meeting, the kids, and the priesthood.  Frankly, I think it demeans every man sitting in the room.  Why tolerate the degrading of something that should be so consequential?
  • Off to high priest meeting. What happened next is truly heart rending for me.  Our new 70 year old convert was ordained as a priest.  At least, I think that is what happened.  Damnit, it’s making me cry as I write.

Twelve years ago, I was the ward mission leader.  One night the full time missionaries introduced me to a delightful inactive member.  Here, I’ll call him Marty.  He was always upbeat, humble and sincere.  We hit it off.  About 15 years my senior, Marty seemed amenable to coming back to church, but worked on Sundays.  I asked the High Priest Group Leader to assign him and me as home teaching companions.  For the next 5 years, we visited our families like clockwork.   Retirement came and he started attending after 4 decades of absence.  His age would have dictated attending with the high priests.  Marty preferred the elders.  The church knowledge and experience of those in his age group were a bit intimidating.

This brings us to last Sunday’s new member ordination.  The recent convert is a neighbor of Marty’s.  He was instrumental in the conversion.  As a result, the ordination was performed by my faithful former home teaching companion.  A circle of men gathered around and laid on hands.  The ordinance began….and then an abrupt silence.  The silence continued.  Awkward silence.  Whispers in the circle.  Then louder whispers in Marty’s ear.  He is coached word for every word.  It reminded me of a parent and child during testimony meeting.  Not in a good way.  The blessing was mercifully short.  My heart ached at the embarrassment Marty must have felt…my good elderly friend who I have spent so many hours with over the years.  And what of the new convert’s thoughts?  Alone in the opening.  Left out during the singing.  Confused at the ordination.  Yep.  I’m so glad we all take the vaunted priesthood so seriously.

I doubt that Marty will ever read this.  But, just in case….I love you brother.  You may not know this, but you have been a great inspiration to me over these past years.  I marveled at how hard you worked to provide a living for yourself.  Many a night, I sat in awe as you built relationships with the families we visited.  Every time I see you at church my heart lights up….there’s my good friend, whom I love.  You may not be happy with the ordination that you just performed.  Don’t fret, my friend.  Just your presence invited a spirit of love and humility into that room.  What you did was pleasing to our Savior.  Thank you for being my friend.  I treasure our friendship.

  • The priesthood lesson was centered around the concept that it is ok to serve in the shadows without recognition. Good message.  Until I considered the scripture quoted in the manual by President Hunter:  “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

As I contemplated this scripture, a picture I’d just passed in the hallway, flashed like a neon sign in my mind.  It was a photo of a large group of LDS men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  They had traveled there to help flood victims dig their homes out of the mud.  A wonderful and laudable service.  And…their Mormonism was prominently on display.  The now ubiquitous flashing neon yellow shirts, unmistakably trumpeting alms for the whole world to see.

I didn’t make a peep during the lesson.  Priesthood leaders have instructed me to only make comments that support the teacher.  My question would have been, “How do we square the contradiction of what we teach versus what we do with regards to trumpeting our service?  What did Christ mean when he called people hypocrites that sought recognition in church and in the public square for their good deeds?”

  • The lesson referenced some of our history from the Kirtland era. I won’t go into details.  But, the material presented was a whitewashed and inaccurate version of events.  Richard Bushman recently said that the “dominant church narrative is not true.”  He hit the nail on the head regarding this part of our priesthood lesson.  I bent over in my chair and looked at the floor.  I didn’t want my utter disappointment and disapproval to be broadcast by uncontrollable facial features.

Summary

So, there you have it.  An open and honest report of what commonly occurs in the weighty, serious and consequential gatherings of the priesthood.  Fortunately, I have found that no one really cares about any of this…but me.  Well….and a few others, who have decided to quit coming altogether.  Oh, yeah…and a few others who don’t dare talk about it in the open, fearing our judgmental culture.

I dare talk about it because I do care.  I care about my personal worship of Jesus Christ.  I care about my priesthood.  I care about our kids.  I care about new members.  I care and love my friends like Marty.

And this….I really care about my gay brothers and sisters, and their families.  I love you guys!!

Finally, I really, really care about those who are questioning in lonely silence.  I love and feel a great kinship with you.

Behold My Mother–I Stabbed Her in the Heart

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My Mother

I was born on November 26.  Three days later, at exactly 22 years old, my mother brought me home on her birthday, November 29.  Often she has told me that it was her best birthday ever.  Little did she know that this innocent newborn babe would grow up to stab her in the heart.

She suckled me, changed me, bathed me, swaddled me in baby oil.  She helped me learn to walk and talk.  And after all her loving toil, a knife to the heart was in her future.

When sick she ministered to me.  When healthy she encouraged me.  Three meals a day she prepared for me.  Bought my clothes.  Washed and ironed my clothes.  As I aged, my innocence faded.  Never would I have suspected that I’d do what I did, after I grew.

Kindergarten, grade school, then, Jr. & Sr. high school.  A mom always constant in love and care.  As the stabbing grew closer, neither one of us remotely aware.

Finally, off to college.  Interrupted for 2 glorious years of mission in Guatemala and El Salvador.  Every week a letter from my sweet mom.  Frequent ‘care packages’ were much anticipated and even more appreciated.  But, not remembered enough to prevent the blow to my mother’s heart that I soon would strike.

Graduated college.  Moved to Texas.  Fell in love.  Asked my sweetheart to marry.  Cried when she accepted.  Oh that sweet & innocent puppy love, unencumbered by the coming distractions of children, bills, and the adjustments of living together. Those months of engagement were heaven on earth.  The final months leading up to my inevitable deed.

The fateful September day arrived.   My fiancé had never been to the temple.  She & I traversed the endowment ceremony without parents or siblings or friends.  Together, yet alone, among a room full of strangers.  Afterwards she recounted her fright and intimidation during that first temple experience. The knife was poised…about to plunge.

I and my gorgeous fiancé were ushered into the sealing room.  With no mothers or fathers present, we were pronounced man & wife……and the knife……was finally plunged deep into my mother’s heart.

Outside the temple walls my mother stood.  Sobbing silently in her wounded heart.  Excluded from the crowning event of her first born’s coming of age.  UNWORTHY to witness the wedding.  UNWORTHY?  Certainly she should be the most worthy!  No, it’s the judgement that was unworthy of my worthy mom.  Oh, the humiliation and indignity she must have felt.  How many wondered what she could have done?  What horrible sin caused the temple to not let her in?  Her shame and dishonor only drove the dagger deeper.

The Damage Comes Home to Roost

My dear mother resigned from the church…three months ago.

After the fact, we discussed it at length.  The first fissure in her faith was slashed open 38 years before.  Outside those cold…stone…temple walls.  She was stabbed in the heart by her first born son.  Bruised and bloody within.  Stoic and stout without.  I didn’t realize what I’d inadvertently done.  At the time, I gave no thought to her plight.  Of course not.  In just a few hours, it would be my wedding night.

And what of her great unworthy sin?  Now the knife boomerangs back into my own heart.  My parents finances had been stretched thin.  A choice was made between full tithing or continued support for my younger missionary brother.  My mother chose to keep my brother preaching rather than fully tithe.

I’m sorry mom!  I’m sorry you have carried this wound for your entire 86 year life.  If I could do it again, so differntly I’d do.  We’d marry outside to include all.  Especially for you to stand proud and tall.  I’d unselfishly wait for 12 month to transpire.  Only then would I enter the holy house to be sealed to my sweet spouse.

I’m sorry mom for my naive arrogance.  It was hidden then, but I plainly see it now.

Such a Simple Solution

For the vast majority of the world, a mother holds a lovely, prominent & honored place in the wedding celebration.  Are we the only religion that bars “UNWORTHY” parents from their beloved children’s weddings?   To me, this truly is an unholy practice.  And…wholly unworthy of the Church of Jesus Christ.

This dreadful pattern only plays out in the United States, Canada and a few other lands.  In most countries, the marriage ceremony is performed civilly outside of the temple.  Then the sealing follows at a convenient date.  In the U.S., if a couple makes the choice to marry outside the temple, they are not permitted to be sealed for at least 12 months.  Unfortunately, stigma, rumor and gossip accompany the mandatory waiting period.

Marriage in the temple is not a saving ordinance.  Only the sealing.  So, why do we have the 12 month probationary period in the U.S. and Canada?  I’ve asked many.  No one can give a reason why.  The only speculation I’ve heard is that our exclusionary approach brings in more tithing.  Certainly that can’t be the reason…can it?

Our wedding exclusion policy only does harm.  How many more mothers will be silently stabbed in their tender hearts?  How many non-member parents will be supremely disappointed in their exclusion?  How many mothers will weep in their unworthiness?  Unworthy?  Really?  Every year our exclusive policy creates hard feelings and wedges among 1,000’s of parents and family.  To what end?  It’s a bad policy that has ended in most places around the world.  It’s time that it end here as well.

Voting In Disapproval

Over the past year, I have voted in disapproval at all 4 of the conferences where sustainings are conducted: Ward, Stake and both General Conferences.  I vote because I care about the church.  I care about the commandments and the loving gospel of Jesus.  I care about those among us who are in pain.

Here are the reasons I vote in opposition.

  1. The Law of Common Consent.  This is the beautiful law given by Jesus that mandates how His church is to be governed.  Today, the church is in open and blatant disobedience to this divine commandment.
  2. The exclusion policy of gay couples and their children.  It was dictated to the church in November 2015.  Never has it been put to the vote of the general membership.  Our doctrine, the law of God and the pronouncements of past prophets demand that it be presented for a general conference vote.
  3. The U.S. wedding waiting period.  Another policy that has never been put to the required vote.  Certainly, my fellow church citizens would soundly reject the continuance of the injury this policy promulgates.

Please, Apostles…Let’s live by the Law of God…the Law of Common Consent

Please, my fellow church members…Let’s live by the Law of God…the Law of Common Consent.

Other Resources

  • Common Consent Scriptures & Doctrine, click HERE.
  • Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove, click, HERE.
  • Disturbing membership Trends, click HERE.
  • Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
  • The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
  • My personal sadness over friends and family leaving, click HERE.
  • “Tear Down This Wall.”  More on marriage exclusion, click HERE.

A Mammoth & Moving Spiritual Experience

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Last Sunday I visited my daughter’s ward.  The annual primary program was being presented at Sacrament Meeting.  Three of my precious grandchildren were on the program.

I literally WEPT the entire meeting.  A couple of times my emotions had to be reined in, as I verged on trembling.

Why the cry?  The ward has a huge primary.  60 children were at the front of the congregation.  They sung their songs.  Recited their lines.  Some squirmed.  Some monkeyed.  All were beautiful and cute.  But, my attention was soon diverted by haunting questions.

Tears for the Rainbow

Among these 60 innocent, lovely and dear children…….how many are gay?

Is it 3?  Is it 4?  Or is it more?

What do they face in the coming years in MY church, the church of the gentle Jesus?

What of their coming teenage years?  Will their self-esteem be destroyed?  Only to be recovered after years of pain?  To be reclaimed only after leaving the beloved church of their youth?

Will their family disown them?

Will their friends turn away?

In the past, my church has not been gay friendly.  Even less so this past year.

Oh, that I could know who the gay children were.  That they might be spared the fate of so many gay children who have gone before.  What problems, what pain, what agonies await?  Yes, I sobbed!

Then I heard the spirit of Jesus whisper, “Sam, keep that rainbow on your lapel.  It will touch my little ones.  Likely, they won’t remember you.  But, they won’t forget the image of the ribbon you wear.  When the time comes, they’ll take comfort that someone in MY church cares.”

Tears for Safety

I thought about their parents.

Which children have parents who are struggling in the lonely silence of questions and doubt?

These innocent children have no concept of the pain their questioning parents will suffer…alone.  The children feel safe at church.  How could they possibly comprehend that their parents could feel unsafe?

Which are the children whose parents will agonize and finally leave?  Making that choice without any consultation with their active member friends?

Which of these little ones will be gone in 6 months?  In a year?  In ten years?

If current trends continue, at least 60% will eventually depart.  60% will be gone?  Why, oh why?  These tender children of today, gone tomorrow.

Oh, that a safe place existed for their parents.  A safe place, before their parents made their fateful choice to pull out and pull out their children with them. Yes, I sobbed!

Then I heard the spirit of Jesus whisper, “Sam, keep pressing forward to make a safe place inside my church.  It’s MY church, Sam.  Soon there WILL BE a safe and loving spot for discussion & deliberation.  My apostles are now openly addressing this in public.  But, sometimes nudges from my sheep are necessary.  You are on the right track.  Please don’t stop working for it.”

This sacrament meeting, filled with the voices of innocent children, will be recorded as one of the most precious spiritual experiences of my 63 year journey through life.

 

I am a Non-Believer?

hiding-catOver the past many months, some members of the LDS Church have called me a non-believer.  Mostly it happens on social media or behind my back as gossip.  Not much opportunity to engage in a heart-to-heart as to what I believe.

Then, yesterday, I had a conversation with a very close friend who is also a member.  As we rambled, he casually referred to me as a non-believer.   It caught me off guard.  It took me aback.  I questioned myself, “I am a non-believer?  How can I possibly be viewed as a non-believer?”

After this friendly interchange, I got in my car to drive away.  I contemplated how others look at me.  Tears began welling.  How can it be that I have faith in Jesus Christ, but am considered a non-believer in the Church of Jesus Christ?  How has it come to this, that faith in Jesus is not enough?  How is it possible that good church members could make this kind of judgment?  It does not feel right.

Jesus Christ.  I believe in His gospel.  I absolutely adore his teachings and example.  They reach into the core of my heart.  So much so, that I’ve decided to place my faith in Him and only in Him.  His way is a true and wonderful way to live a good and fulfilling life.  My goal is to emulate the Savior in word and deed.  Not always an easy task.  ……..So, I am a Non-believer?

The Book of Mormon.  This is a tremendous book of scripture.  It contains teachings of Christ.  It elaborates and elucidates the doctrines of Christ.   It’s another witness of Christ.  It beckons me to follow Him.  The Book of Mormon has blessed my life, my family and the lives of many others.  ….So I’m really just a non-believer?

The Apostolic Leaders of the Church.   I recognize and sustain them as prophets, seers and revelators.  They are good men.  I listen and pay attention to their loving direction.  However, I view them as men, fallible men.  Modern day prophets and apostles can and have led us astray.  That does not invalidate their calling or station.  It validates that they are men.      ….Is it this that makes me a non-believer?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.    I have been a member all my life.  It has served me well.  I have served it diligently and for tens of thousands of hours.  My callings have been full of many treasured experiences.   The church was a vital part of the upbringing of my children.  I love the church.  I am happy that my children and grandchildren still embrace it.   …..Thus, I am a non-believer?

Isolation

Over the past year, I have become acquainted with many active Mormons whose faith has transitioned.  They presently serve in various ward and stake callings.  Yet, they are in hiding.  They suffer or stew in silence.  Some say they are “hanging on by their fingernails.”  Others express that they don’t know how much longer they can take it.  Some have decided to leave when a certain life event occurs.  Still others simply continue in support of a spouse or parent.

So, why don’t these good people broach their concerns and conclusions within their own wards among their own friends?  Why:   IT….IS….NOT….SAFE.

I have been very open about my faith and beliefs.  By many, I have been judged as a non-believer.   That does not make me feel safe.

Some of my active & secretive church friends only believe parts of the LDS gospel.  Some have moved all the way to being atheist.  I can only imagine how unsafe they must feel if someone like me is deemed a non-believer.

Why can’t we come out of isolation, hiding and hurt?  Why can’t we all just be members who are attempting to follow the teachings of Christ?  Without the constant, nagging worry that we will bear a judgmental blot of stigma for our beliefs?

Do YOU view me as a non-believer?  Feel free to comment with a yea or nay.

Common Consent: Scriptures, Doctrine & Congressional Testimony

scriptutres

I’ve been asked for a succinct list of references that can be shared with family and friends. Here you go.

Scripture

D&C 28:13–For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.

D&C 26:2–And all things shall be done by common consent in the church.

D&C 124:144–And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference.

D&C 121:39–We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

1 Samuel 8:7–And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee.

Mosiah 29:26–Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law–to do your business by the voice of the people.

Doctrine

Lds.org–Click HERE.  Particularly note this paragraph:  “Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints (see D&C 26:2).”

Congressional Testimony by President Joseph F. Smith

Proceeding of the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States in the matter of the protests against the right of Hon. Reed Smoot, a senator from the state of Utah, to hold his seat. Vol I, p. 96-98 (To link to the actual proceedings click HERE )

Mr TAYLER:  You have already touched upon the subject of revelation, and if you have anything further to say about it I think this would be as good a time as any, as to the method in which a revelation is received and its binding or authoritative force upon the people.

Mr SMITH:  I will say this, Mr. Chairman, that no revelation given through the head of the church ever becomes binding and authoritative upon the members of the church until it has been presented to the church and accepted by them.

Mr WORTHINGTON:  What do you mean by being presented to the church?

Mr SMITH:  Presented in conference.

Mr TAYLER:  Do you mean by that that the church in conference may say to you, Joseph F. Smith, the first president of the church, “We deny that God has told you to tell us this?”

Mr SMITH:  They can say that if they choose.

Mr TAYLER:  They can say it?

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir, they can.  And it is not binding upon them as members of the church until they accept it.

Mr TAYLER:  Until they accept it?

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir.

Mr TAYLER:  Were the revelations to Joseph Smith, jr., all submitted to the people?

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir.

Senator OVERMAN:  Does it require a majority to accept or must it be the unanimous voice?

Mr SMITH:  A majority.  Of course only those who accept would be considered as in good standing in the church.  (Sam’s comment:  JFS elaborates on this comment further down.  He makes it obvious that you CAN disagree with a revelation and remain in good standing.)

Mr TAYLER:  Exactly.  Has any revelation made by God to the first president of the church and presented by him to the church ever been rejected?

Mr SMITH:  I do not know that it has; not that I know of.

Senator HOAR:  That answer presents precisely the question I put to you a little while ago.  “Not that I know of,” you replied.  Do you know, as the head of the church, what revelations to your predecessors are binding upon the church?

Mr SMITH:  I know, as I have stated, that only those revelations which are submitted to the church and accepted by the church are binding upon them.  That I know.

Senator HOAR:  Then the counsel asked you if any revelation of the head of the church had been rejected.

Mr SMITH:  Not that I know of.  I do not know of any that have been rejected.

Senator HOAR:  Do you mean to reply doubtfully upon that question, whether some of the revelations are binding and some are not?

Mr SMITH:  There may have been; I do not know of any.

Senator HOAR:  That then is not a matter in which you have an inspired knowledge?

Mr SMITH:  No, sir.

The CHAIRMAN:  But you do not know of any instance where the revelation so imparted to the church has been rejected?

Mr SMITH:  No, sir; not by the whole church.  I know of instances in which large numbers of members of the church have rejected the revelation, but not the body of the church.

Senator OVERMAN:  What became of those people who rejected it?

Mr SMITH:  Sir?

Senator OVERMAN:  What became of the people who rejected the divine revelation; were they unchurched?

Mr SMITH:  They unchurched themselves.

Senator OVERMAN:  Oh, yes.  They were outside the pale of the church then?

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN:  They unchurched themselves by not believing?

Mr SMITH:  By not accepting.

Mr TAYLER:  Then if you had a revelation and presented it to your people, all who did not accept it would thereby be unchurched?

Mr SMITH:  Not necessarily.

Mr TAYLER:  Not necessarily?

Mr SMITH:  No, sir.

Mr TAYLER:  I should like to have you distinguish between this answer and the one you just gave.

Mr SMITH:  Our people are given the largest possible latitude for their convictions, and if a man rejects a message that I may give to him but is still moral and believes in the main principles of the gospel and desires to continue in his membership in the church, he is permitted to remain and he is not unchurched.  It is only those who on rejecting a revelation rebel against the church and withdraw from the church at their own volition.

Senator HOAR:  Mr. Smith, the revelations given through you and your predecessors have always been from God?

Mr SMITH:  I believe so.

Senator HOAR:  Very well.  As I understand, those persons who you say reject one of your revelations but still believe in the main principles of the church are at liberty to remain in the church.  Do I understand you to say that any revelation coming from God to you is not one of the main principles of the church?  Does not the person who rejects it reject the direct authority of God?

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir.

Senator HOAR:  In good standing, if a moral man?

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir.

Senator HOAR:  Although disobeying the direct commandment of God?

Mr SMITH:  Would you permit me to say a few words?

Senator HOAR:  Certainly.  We shall be glad to hear you.

Mr SMITH:  I should like to say to the honorable gentlemen that the members of the Mormon Church are among the freest and most independent people of all the Christian denominations.  They are not all united on every principle.  Every man is entitled to his own opinion and his own views and his own conceptions of right and wrong so long as they do not come in conflict with the standard principles of the church.  If a man assumes to deny God and to become an infidel we withdraw fellowship from him.  If a man commits adultery we withdraw fellowship from him.  If men steal or lie or bear false witness against their neighbors or violate the cardinal principles of the Gospel, we withdraw our fellowship.  The church withdraws its fellowship from that man and he ceases to be a member of the church.  But so long as a man or a woman is honest and virtuous and believes in God and has a little faith in the church organization, so long we nurture and aid that person to continue faithfully as a member of the church, though he may not believe all that is revealed.

I should like to say this to you, in point, that a revelation on plural marriage is contained in that book.  It has been ascertained by actual count that not more than perhaps 3 or 4 per cent of the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ever entered into that principle.  All the rest of the members of the church abstained from that principle and did not enter into it, and many thousands of them never received it or believed it; but they were not cut off from the church.  They were not disfellowshipped and they are still members of the church; that is what I wish to say.

Senator DUBOIS.  Did I understand you to say that many thousands of them never believed in the doctrine of plural marriage?

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir—

Senator DUBOIS:  You misunderstand me.  I do not undertake to say that they practice it.  I accept your statement on that point.  But do you mean to say that any member of the Mormon Church in the past or at the present time says openly that he does not believe in the principle of plural marriages?

Mr SMITH:  I know that there are hundreds, of my own knowledge, who say they never did believe in it and never did receive it, and they are members of the church in good-fellowship.  Only the other day I heard a man, prominent among us, a man of wealth, too, say that he had received all the principles of Mormonism except plural marriage, and that he never had received it and could not see it.  I myself heard him say it within the last ten days.

Other Resources:

  • Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove click, HERE.
  • Disturbing membership Trends, click HERE.
  • Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
  • The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
  • My personal sadness over my friends and family leaving, click HERE

Do I Really EXPECT the Mormon Church to Change?

followjesus

Short Answer:  Absolutely YES!!!

If you have followed my blog at all, you know that I have started to live the Law of Common Consent.  The church as a whole has not.  At least not as it is mandated by Jesus is the D&C, or declared as doctrine on the LDS website, or witnessed by a prophet of God before the U.S. Congress.

Over the past 6 months, I have now heard similar discouraging statements from by both those who are true-blue-believing Mormons and by members who are disillusioned.  They go something like this:

    • The Church will never implement Common Consent (CC).
    • The Church is too big to use CC.
    • The leaders will not give up their power by implementing CC.
    • We are a worldwide church and CC is not feasible.
    • CC is antiquated.

Until recently, this is how my response normally went:

 “I don’t know if the church will ever embrace common consent.  If they ever do, it may not be in my lifetime.  What I do know is that by voting in disapproval, something beautiful has already happened.  MARGINALIZED MEMBERS have taken notice.  There are people in our pews struggling in silence.  Just the act of witnessing an opposing vote has brought them hope & encouragement.  They recognize that there are members who love and care about them. There are people willing to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.  Those who struggle in silence fit in several marginalized categories.  Certainly our LGBT children are at risk.  If one gay person postpones suicide, my vote will have accomplished more than I could have ever hoped for.”

Epiphany

This weekend, an epiphany struck me with encouraging enlightenment.  A local leader posed this question, “Sam, do you really expect the Mormon Church to change regarding Common Consent?   I proceeded to give my standard response.

But, as I drove home, his phrasing rattled around my brain, “Do You really expect?”  Expect???  Well….the expressions of my expectations have been pretty low.  Was I being cynical?  Was my approach hypocritical?  Cynic?  Hypocrite?  I don’t like or want either title.

Cynical?

Webster:  “Believing that people are generally selfish and dishonest.”

I have placed my faith in the teachings and example of Jesus.  Am I being cynical by assuming his commandments would not be followed in His own Church?  Am I being cynical by not giving the apostles the benefit of the doubt; that they would be honest in following Christ’s system of governance; that they would be unselfish in acquiescing to accountability?  My reasoned conclusion was ‘Yes,’ it IS cynical to put my faith in Christ, and then not trust His leaders to start leading with His Law of Common Consent.

Hypocritical?

Webster: “A person who claims to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.”

Well, I’m certainly not acting hypocritically.  At least not by this definition.  I believe in Common Consent and behave in agreement with those beliefs.  But…I might be hypocritical to press forward, feasting on the word of Christ, yet having little confidence that the feast will be fulfilled.

A New Answer, A New Attitude

Do I really expect the church to change and live by Common Consent?

“ABSOLUTELY!!!  This is Christ’s church.  Of course, I expect HIS church to obey HIS law. Anything else would be cynical & hypocritical on my part.

This is Christ’s church.  Of course, I expect His laws to respected.

This is Christ’s church.  Of course, I expect its leaders to acquiesce to God’s law.  They are good men.  I trust that they WILL follow Jesus.”

No longer am I alone in my expectations.  There are now 311 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have decided to openly and actively live the divine law of church governance.  To all who have put their honor and good names on the line…THANK YOU!  What you are doing is not in vain.  You have already made a difference in the lives of many.  I fully EXPECT that your courage will bring the changes to the church which the Savior desires.

If you are a member. If you disapprove of policies, major decisions and other important matters that have never been ratified by the general membership, consider embracing the Law of Common Consent. Here’s a place to start:  The Common Consent Register.

Christ is the Way.  Consent…IS…His way.

We….CAN….Change….the Church. 

 

Other Resources:

  • Information on LDS.ORG regarding Common Consent, click HERE.  Please take note of this paragraph:  “Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints.”
  • Scriptural information about Common Consent, click HERE.
  • Disturbing membership Trends, click HERE.
  • Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
  • The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
  • My personal sadness over my friends and family leaving, click HERE
  • Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove click, HERE.