Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Core Issue

There are still many, many angry and hurt people out there arguing against the church.

I move on and then stumble upon yet another article.

Two things I think are important to keep in mind:

Almost every single article I've read from someone who is decrying the church can be traced in one way or another back to John Dehlin. It appears he is single-handedly trying to destroy the church, and it is important for people to realize this is a manufactured "crisis" from a self-proclaimed religious leader who was censured recently. It appears he is trying to get revenge, single-handedly trying to destroy the church. I'm sure he thinks he's succeeding.

Whether it is even possible to succeed depends on the second thing.

That is, the entire debate actually boils down to NOT what Dehlin is saying ("The LDS Church is a bully"--that's what he wants you to think the issue is).  The entire debate boils down to who do you believe is actually in charge of the LDS Church.

If you believe the church is run by God with the understanding that He uses imperfect people to do His work, but He is still very much in charge, that completely determines your reaction to any statement, policy change, rule, or doctrine. Your perception of God becomes significant in determining your reaction. My personal understanding of God as someone who loves us deeply leads me to always ask, when something perplexes me, "Could this be God's way of showing love to us? If I try to see from God's perspective, would I see this as loving? I trust that it's loving and will ultimately make people happy eternally even if I don't understand."

If you believe the church is run by a team of men with minimal involvement from God, then you see power-brokering, control, corporate resistance to change, big-company money, etc. You see men who are trying at all costs to try to maintain control without letting people in on it, so they will keep following. You see compulsion and manipulation in everything they do.  Perplexingly, if this is what the Mormon Church is, then it is exactly what other churches supposedly are, too, so I don't see why people who dislike how the men of Mormondom run things don't just go someplace where they like how the leaders run things.

Of course, there is more subtlety to the way it's discussed, with varying degrees of God being involved. But ultimately the question boils down to that one question: WHO is actually in charge? God or Men?

Watching all these debates play out, D&C 121 comes to mind frequently.  Here are verses 33-46:

"How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

"That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

"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. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

"Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever."

This is an interesting analysis of the subject. One thing I find particularly interesting is that the righteous leaders do not need to exercise power or maintain power or exercise control in order to stay in charge. This is directly related to what the discontent are saying: They are accusing the brethren of exercising unrighteous dominion, trying to manipulate people into staying and force them to remain subservient (and tithe-payers).  The reality is that, for a righteous leader, the people follow without compulsory means. They don't have to be manipulated or controlled.

How you answer the question "Who is in charge" determines how you see what is going on, whether you are following willingly or you feel you are being compelled.

1 comment:

Catherine Carlson said...

John Dehlin is without question a modern day Korihor and I wish him the same fate.