What Would You Do?

So yesterday in Church something bothered me, I’m not going to go into specific details, those are not important, and I’m not looking for a fight or a debate this time of year. I’m just looking for some direction on how to handle a situation.

The Relief Society teacher taught something that was doctrinally incorrect, and bordered on heresy in my opinion. No one said anything. Not even the president. I almost had to leave the room it bothered me so much.

I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know how with out being obnoxious (I’m still working on that these days). What do I do? I am really bothered by this…REALLY!

What would you do? What would Jesus do? I know it’s not my place to correct, but seriously, it was doctrinally wrong.

Help.

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About Joyce Anderson

Joyce is a mother, wife, sister, school teacher, Bulgarian speaker, conservative, lover of good music, social media junky and a two time culinary arts Grand Champion bread baker. She and the family reside in a remote mountain community where great discoveries have been made. When not changing the world, she enjoys the occasional bowl of chips and salsa. She can be found at: http://pinterest.com/TheAtomicMom

23 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. I have found myself correcting incorrect doctrine in a very gentle way several times in the last few years. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with raising your hand and saying (very politely and with a sweet spirit), “I don’t think that’s correct, and here’s why…” or “I think it’s important to remember…(and then you contradict what the person said without using the words ‘you are wrong.’)”

    However, now that the class has passed, probably nothing you can do that would be worthwhile.

    Let me say one other thing that I think is important. My wife had a relief society teacher who said doctrinely wrong things every week. I mean really, really wrong things that were insulting to about three-quarters of the people in the class. For the entire hour. My wife gently mentioned the situation to the bishop, and he said others had complained and that he would handle it. And he did.

    But the important thing is that there are SO many people who let themselves get really worked up about things that people say in a class that are “wrong.” Now, I’m not justifying anything, but in my experience about 90 percent of the time you can just let it go and the problem will go away on its own. But I don’t think you want to be one of those people who goes around being mad all the time at the “wrong” things people say. You can choose to just ignore it, and as I say 90 percent of the time the problem will go away. Does this case fall in the 10 percent? Only you can decide that.

    Joyce, by saying “you” I mean people in general, including myself. I think it’s important to train yourself (and myself) to just let things go. Life is a lot better that way.

  2. Ya, I knew that I’m at the point of needing to letting it go….

    But how to in the lesson? You’ve given me some good insight. Thanks.

  3. Talk to your bishop if you have lingering concerns.

    I had a situation while attending a summer institute class where the instructor brought up some obscure historical information and tied it to doctrine that does not presently exist. I shared my concerns with the director of the institute and he took care of the problem.

  4. The ideal would be that you are friends enough with this sister that you would feel comfortable disagreeing with her publicly and she would feel comfortable hearing your disagreement. I know that’s easier said than done, but worth the effort….

    For times when that’s not possible, how about raising your hand and asking, “I don’t understand that doctrine the same way; can you or others in the class explain why you believe that way?” They can explain or clarify it and you can offer your reasons for believing otherwise. That’s even less confrontational than what Geoff suggests—and it also prevents you from correcting someone in a situation where you, in fact, are wrong. I’ve never seen any teacher take offense or even get flustered when I’ve done that (and yes, in many cases I’ve determined afterwards that I was wrong).

  5. It is important to respect proper roles of stewardship. Privately speak with a member of the bishopric about it and then leave it in their hands to decide if, when, and how to correct it. I have done this on a number of occasions.

    Once a sister called to teach the teachers training class in our ward ignored the entire church issued manual and instead taught specific principles from Scientology without identifying them as such. I recognized them and reported it immediately to the first counselor of the bishopric of our ward and they corrected it within a couple of weeks.

    Once while visiting the ward of a family member, a counselor of the Bishop perpetuated a false, folkloric story that the brethren had specifically repudiated. I looked up the letter from the first presidency declaring the story and the doctrine it taught to be false through the internet on my phone and privately approached the bishopric with it after the meeting. The counselor was humble and admitted his mistake and offered to publicly correct himself over the pulpit the next week.

  6. Recently a teacher in RS made some incorrect assumptions that cast Joseph Smith in a really bad, really false light. I let the first two speeches go by unchallenged because I didn’t think it was my place to correct her. But when she repeated it the third time and nobody else said anything, I raised my hand and explained what she misunderstood. I would have been more gentle had I had more time to think about it because I’d like to respect the teacher’s position and give her an easy way to save face. Eight — count ‘em, eight — sisters, including the RS president, thanked me for the correction, either in person right after class, or by email, and in one case by paper mail. They all felt the teacher was wrong, but they didn’t have the necessary information to correct her and didn’t know what to do, either.

    Of course, had it been the peach pit thing, the whole situation would have been different.

  7. It was neither peach pit nor cherry pit…and it does not matter what it was. I am not going to spread what was taught, you will just have to trust me (or not) that it was wrong.

    But thanks for all of the thoughts on the subject.

  8. This wouldn’t work in your situation, but my Father has a saying that would apply. He would say,”Chapter and Verse!”. Which means that if you are making a claim, you need to be able provide a source. (like wikipedia does).

    He woudl also say, “Look it up!” when a question on the definition of word came up. We had an 8inch thick fine print dictionary on hand to halp us out.

  9. And an experience from a couple of years ago while visiting my parents ward…
    The teacher was a young university student and a large part of the class were well seasoned in the church (ie 60+). The teacher referred to a talk by one of the apostles saying that god’s love was not unconditional. It caused a bit of a stir. The teacher did not have the article to clarify his statements but he knew which ensign it was in.
    After some interesting debate at home we called him up and got the reference and looked it up on lds.org. Sure enough he was right. Elder Nelson was saying that God’s Love(ie richest blessings) was conditional because we must qualify for them.
    In the end we decided that is was a matter of conflicting definitions. I would say that his love (the feeling) is unconditional. But Eternal Life (which is the blessing) is very conditional.

  10. Brother Jones, I think I would have gotten along with your Dad. I always used to direct my students (when I was still teaching) to look up words.

  11. One of the greatest blessings our family ever received was a really wacky early morning seminary teacher. Our kids would regularly report nuggets of folklore and outright false doctrine that had been shared in their class. It became the source of some truly great dinner conversations, where we shared our own research and understandings of the erroneous teachings our teens were getting each morning. I did convey my concerns to the bishop and seminary coordinator, but the approach we encouraged our kids to take was a respectful “what you just said is very interesting to me. Could you give me a reference where I might learn more about it?” Being normal teens, I’m pretty sure our kids over-played their hand a few times and the seminary teacher was on to us. But she provided an opportunity for our family to grow together spiritually during a period when the natural inclination would have been toward less family communication. I don’t think that was the purpose for her calling, but the lemonade produced from her lemons was quite tasty.

  12. I’m surprised so many comments have suggested going directly to the bishop for this kind of problem. Of course you would talk to the bishop about misinformation conveyed in a sacrament meeting talk or in seminary, but shouldn’t auxiliary leaders be approached about teachers under their supervision? This seems particularly true about a RS lesson where the president is in attendance and the bishop is not. Let’s spare our overworked bishops and let designated leaders fulfill their stewardships.

  13. I was actually going to mention going to the RS Pres or the Edu Councelor before I’d go to the bishop.

  14. “Honestly, should it matter what the false doctrine was?”

    I actually think the solution to the problem hinges on *what* the false doctrine was–not so much as to subject matter in and of itself, but more as to the egregiousness of the statement and its potential for harm. For example, if the RS Pres taught that Shem was also Melchisedec, my feeling would be to let it lie. Who’s going to be harmed by that bit of speculation? But if the RS Pres taught that we should all build endowment houses in our back yard in anticipation of Jesus’ second coming, which will occur in the year 2012 as per ancient Mayan calendars, then I’d probably get the bishop involved.

    Stated simply, I’d say the subject matter here is important.

  15. Boy. I was going to post something like this, but I guess I’ll just put it in the comments.

    Here’s something that happened and how it sort of backfired:

    A member of the class stated “Satan doesn’t know the plan of salvation – he’s clueless and therefore we have the upper hand. Satan actually thinks he’s going to win.”

    I raised my hand and added something like this comment: “Rather than say he doesn’t know the plan – after all, he was there when the plan was presented – I think it’s more accurate to say he doesn’t really understand the plan. If he truly understood it, he wouldn’t have opposed it in the first place.”

    My intent was to not invalidate the person’s point (though I could have done that), but instead re-phrase it a bit so that it became more doctrinally correct, thus saving face and avoiding public arguments over what Satan does and doesn’t know.

    It kinda sorta backfired though, because the next commentator loudly proclaimed “I’ve heard some strange doctrine in my time, but to say Satan doesn’t understand the plan of salvation is false and pernicious. He understands it all right, and anyone who says differently is spreading lies and deceit.”

    Of course, it all went way off topic as that same brother in the gospel then ranted about the evils of hunting for 5 minutes before the teacher managed to gain control of the conversation and move it into safer territory.

  16. Tell the bishop when someone teaches false doctrine? I’ll need the names and numbers of all of your bishops. :)

  17. Egregious false doctrine needs to be corrected.
    1) Ask the teacher to clarify their position.
    2) Ask them for the scriptural references or lesson manual quotes they are using for their position.
    3) Politely express disagreement.

    There’d be far less false doctrine taught if we challenged it every once and a while. I honestly see no need for the high priest attitude of “see no evil, hear no evil, correct no evil” by falling asleep. Doctrinal matters are important, and the spirit can only testify to truth. If our meetings contain more philosophies than truth and spirit, can we expect our members to grow?

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