Why Loyalty to the Church as an Institution is Part of the Baptismal Covenant

A cross-post from my blog.

As I survey the “Bloggernacle”, I see and hear many disparate voices competing for attention.  The most strident of these voices are those who seem to have a bone to pick with the Church, whether administratively, constitutionally, or with doctrine or policy.  Some of these voices continue to express dismay over the composition of the leading officers of the Church (e.g., not enough persons of color, too old, too many millionaires, not enough women, etc).  Some continue to complain that the Church hasn’t issued an apology for its past institutional “sins”.  Some argue that it is necessary for grassroots “agitation” in order to get the Church to “change for the better”; a bottom-up agenda as opposed to the current centralized, top-down management of the Church.

This is just a mere summary of the critical nature of many, many sites of the “Bloggernacle”.  One could be led to conclude that many, many online Mormons are intensely or at least partially dissatisfied with the Church, whether with its doctrines, practices, composition of the leadership, or its style.  This leads me to ask the question: why this intense dissatisfaction?  Is loyalty to the Church simply out of the question for the “Bloggernacle” at large?

When people are formally baptized, they gain admission to the Church as a “member”.  A record is actually physically created, their names go on the books, and they then become a claimant to the blessings and privileges of membership in the organization.  They get the benefits.  They get to participate.

Yet membership also implies certain duties and obligations.  As a member, I am expected to contribute my time and talents in support of the organization I join.  For example, it would be silly to join a national chess federation if I did not plan on playing chess, watching games of chess sponsored by the organization, or pay my dues to support its functions.  Likewise, I would not join the organization and then spend the balance of my life telling people how lame the group was, or how insipid, or out of touch the governing board of the federation were.

My point in bringing this up is to illustrate an attribute of membership that doesn’t get a lot of attention or focus.  It’s also a word that does not merit a whole lot of respect in our early 21st century culture.  This word is an ideal that we humans seek to share with each other in many contexts and situations.  The word is Loyalty.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, loyalty is an Old French word.  The definitions are as follows:

1.1 Faithful adherence to one’s promise, oath, word of honour, etc.; †conjugal faithfulness, fidelity. †Also in phrase by my loyalty.

2.a Faithful adherence to the sovereign or lawful government; spec. of government employees. Also, in recent use, enthusiastic reverence for the person and family of the sovereign.

2.b attrib. in †loyalty loan; loyalty oath U.S., an oath, usually mandatory, required of a prospective public employee or other person in which he swears to abstain from subversive activities.

In consulting the OED, the world’s foremost authority on English, we are struck by how the word really leaves no room for prevarication or ambivalence: you are either loyal or you are not. No shades of grey or nuance there.  It actually requires you to choose.

The LDS ordinance of baptism possesses within itself sacerdotal powers.  For example, when one is baptized, one receives a cleansing forgiveness of sins.  Numerous scriptures tie baptism with sanctity and describe it as entering a gate towards salvation.  Thus, the spiritual benefits are numerous and need no further exposition.

However, there is another aspect of baptism that requires our attention: when one is baptized, one is essentially submitting to several salient facts.  Allow me to enumerate:

  1. Through baptism, one is submitting to the notion that the Church possesses authority to perform the ordinance.
  2. You acknowledge tacitly that the Church is a “top-down” hierarchy.  For example, you cannot be legitimately baptized without approval from the ward bishop and witnesses.
  3. Thus, by its very nature, you agree that the Church sets the terms. The bishop is vetted by the stake president, who acts as the bishop’s “boss” as it were.  The stake president is advised by an area presidency, typically seventies or area seventies.  Those seventies are in turn supervised directly by Apostles – the men who hold and use the keys of the priesthood itself.

It seems remarkably incongruous to hold membership in an organization in which you no longer believe in.  And, dare I say, it is hypocritical?  Here is a disturbing truth to some: membership in and of itself implies loyalty.

Having therefore set forth the aspects of baptism, membership, and loyalty, I am thus led to ask myself a serious question: why do some active members of the Church continue to agitate, criticize, find fault, complain, murmur, cast aspersions, or engage in subversive activities detrimental to the Church?

Why?

36 thoughts on “Why Loyalty to the Church as an Institution is Part of the Baptismal Covenant

  1. For many, I believe it is their way of “finding their way”. I enjoy discussing many things I don’t agree with as a way for me to make sense of many things that don’t jive with what I was taught growing up.
    For others though, your point is valid. Many whine and complain about things, not separating the humanness from the divine. Many don’t even want to. They inherently find fault, criticize and murmur whether they think they are happy or not.
    I also think something can be said of your “top-down” rule. For many, including myself, personal revelation plays a big role in how I find my way. If I am trying to be submissive to the Spirit, yet find I have an issue with such and such, I feel personal revelation will trump anything else, especially if it comes to policy or administration issues.

    Valid point overall though, once you get through the weeds and acknowledge that there are many out there that want to talk through their issues and make sense of it all and try and continue to build the puzzle that is called our evolving church.

  2. Excellent. The more imperfect the church is, the more real and humble the submission required. God will have a humble people. We reject the wisdom of men for the foolishness of God.

  3. Some argue that it is necessary for grassroots “agitation” in order to get the Church to “change…. This idea comes from President Hinckley.

    David Ransom: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church…Is it possible that the rules could change in the future..?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: He could change them yes…But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it.

  4. Those who believe that the Church is some sort of grass roots organization that can be influenced by protests and activism do not understand the character of the Church. They have a false perception. And one cannot have a testimony of something that is false. Therefore, they lack a testimony of the truth; they have not been converted unto the Lord.

  5. I think you hit a nail on the head. Across the “bloggernacle” I also see competing voices by so many that seem to be trying to pick at the Church. I too wish there would be a little more loyalty. Great article.

  6. A: because many of them do not believe that their actions or words are, in fact, detrimental to the Church. To the contrary, the motive fueling much agitation is a desire to make the church better.

  7. There certainly is a noticeable dissatisfaction with the church which is more visible and perhaps affecting more members now than 15 years ago. I think you’ve oversimplified the predicament dissatisfied members find themselves in. Many became members at the age of eight where there really was no choice in the matter. As members find out more and more about the church, there are things that bother them. High on he list is that members reaching adulthood find that they have been baptized, ordained, married in the temple, all of which include significant commitments of loyalty, then find that they did not have all the information they felt should have been provided to them before making those commitments. I’m sure every member has several things they are not happy with about the church. Most are not too vocal about their issues which are probably minor. For those with significant beefs with the Church, I think it is human nature to try to change our surroundings to match our vision of how things should be. It’s not surprising that there are members who try to do so. Especially when you consider that simply terminating membership is much more involved and painful than letting your membership to a chess club lapse.
    So given that some find themselves to be members of an organization with commitments made before fully understanding them and termination of membership simply out of the question, is it surprising that you find many griping and some trying to influence change? Even with the Church’s rigid hierarchy, do you really think this is a bad thing?

  8. The actual content of the baptismal covenenant in Mosiah 18:10 is to serve God and to keep His commandments. Neither our baptismal covenants nor our temple covenants require us to obey a human. We can obtain our testimonies of different principles taught in the church directly from God. When we decide to act in accordance with religious teachings, we are trying to obey God, not some human.

    I have seen many cases where loyalty to the organizational hierarchy was placed above loyalty to one’s own conscience, placed above loyalty to the well being of one’s own family members, or placed above loyalty to the principles of gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned. Institutional loyalty can also be a snare.

    There is a book called “Women who love too much” Its corollary is “Members who love the church too much.”

    In my opinion, cooperation is a better word for what our relationship with the church should be. Loyalty is for our relationship with the Lord.

  9. “So given that some find themselves to be members of an organization with commitments made before fully understanding them and termination of membership simply out of the question, is it surprising that you find many griping and some trying to influence change? Even with the Church’s rigid hierarchy, do you really think this is a bad thing?”

    Actually, I do, because I think this is an illusion of a solution. I think trying to change the Church will often wear people out, or cause them to miss opportunities to either gain a strengthened testimony or look inward and start deciding what they really want in a religious (or non-religious) life.

    I’m not trying to encourage people to leave, just to not abdicate their lives to choices they they really don’t want to make and to not spend their lives trying to change someone or something else to somehow fulfill their expectations. Such a choice usually abdicates power and puts happiness on hold until something outside of their control changes. Things outside of ourselves rarely change as we would like them to. I call it the illusion of control. It’s just a fact of life, imo — a hard one, to be sure, but still a fact. The healthiest people I know accept this reality. The flip side is also true.

    BTW, I get that sometimes the idea of loyalty can be taken too far (responding to Paul). But I think the Church has a pretty long leash for individuals compared to most organizations, imo. An employee publicly badmouthing a company could very likely be fired. It’s not a crazy idea, imo, to expect that Church members show some respect and loyalty to the Church in how they talk about it.

    I don’t think loyalty means never struggling or asking questions or seeking personal revelation. But I also think it means showing respect for the organization and the people who value their membership, and not demanding the impossible (e.g., expecting it to cater to every personal exception or caveat or opinion or current cultural trend in order to be worthy of our support.)

  10. Three cheers for Paul 2. I think he hit the nail on the head: you can be loyal to the Lord and therefore the baptismal covenants, and respectful and cooperative with the church, without completely submitting our will to whoever is higher in the hierarchy than us. As a matter of fact, I feel my spiritual obligations to the LORD require me to ask questions and push back if something in the organization seems wrong. Ours is a religion that (thank heavens) asks us to get personal witnesses of gospel principles or revelation that pertains to us: we are NOT asked to blindly trust anyone but God.

  11. Don’t we all love semantics! I’ve never felt a need for bind loyalty or obedience, but I do believe revelation for the Church is a top down principle. Too many members want to substitute their personal revelation for that of church leaders. In almost every instance of church disaffection, the writer expresses the idea “this is how I think things ought to be run.” Leaders don’t have a problem with members questioning and offering suggestions from time to time. But, when the questions and suggestions morph into a prideful “I am smarter and am more knowledgeable than you,” then it becomes a problem. I understand Paul 2′s position, and ultimately, our loyalty should be to God and Christ. However, the OP has merit. Being baptized should bring about your loyalty to the church as an institution absent the most extreme and eggregious circumstances. In 32 years as a convert, adult member, I’ve never seen such circumstances exist.

  12. Jenn and Paul 2, I would suggest it is more complex than this. Personally, I don’t like “obeying” anybody, and my natural reaction is to rebel against authority. However, the Lord has set up His Church on the Earth, and the way He has chosen to do it is to speak through His chosen representatives, who are prophets, apostles, stake presidents and bishops and, yes, even your quorum leader. Luckily, these representatives have never asked me to do anything that outrageous. If you study what they say, it boils down to: become a better person, love the Savior, keep the commandments, be kinder to the people around you, go to the temple, go to church, do your calling, do your home teaching, pay your tithing, love your wife and family, pray more, hold FHE and family prayer, hand out books of Mormon. I don’t see any of that as in the least controversial. Very, very occasionally the Church may ask you to do something controversial, like support Prop. 8 if you live in California. I know people who didn’t support Prop. 8, and they are still members in good standing, so it seems there is space for polite disagreement. (I also know a LOT of people who did not support Prop. 8 who are not members in good standing and in fact have since fostered a spirit of rebellion).

    There may come a time when you are asked by Church authorities to do something really, really difficult. If you study Church history, this is clearly true. During Joseph Smith’s time, the primary test seemed to be: will you be loyal to the prophet? Joseph Smith was just a man, but the Lord clearly wanted people to show loyalty to this man as a symbol of showing loyalty to the Lord.

    So, saying that members should not be loyal to the “hierarchy,” which is a very incorrect description of how the Church works, but whatever, is problematic. There are times when yes indeed you should be loyal to the Lord’s representatives. As I say, 99 percent of those times are likely to be completely noncontroversial. But there is a chance that the 1 percent may come along, and your loyalty to the Lord will likely be tested through your loyalty to Church representatives.

    (I would add that when the 1 percent time comes along, it is always a good idea to fast and pray and then submit your will to the Lord.)

  13. To Jenn and Paul 2 — personal revelation or witnesses of the gospel would not lead one to question the vehicle that those gospel principles are conveyed through (the institutional Church). To put it another way: the institutional Church is the means whereby the Lord chooses to dispense the keys, powers, and blessings of the restored Gospel. There is no other way to receive the necessary ordinances.

    I believe that the statement “completely submitting our will to whoever is higher in the hierarchy” is a completely inaccurate statement of what actually happens when you follow your Church or priesthood file leader. You actually choose, via agency, to follow counsel. It’s not about submitting your “will” to a person — making it sound like some freaky Scientology thing.

    “Ours is a religion that (thank heavens) asks us to get personal witnesses of gospel principles or revelation that pertains to us: we are NOT asked to blindly trust anyone but God.”

    Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly. That being said, however, God would never give someone a revelation to go out and publicly criticize the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, for example. It just goes against the order of how the Lord operates in our dispensation.

    IMO, the dichotomy between “loyalty to the Lord” and “loyalty to another human” is a false dichotomy in this context. Nobody is suggesting that you blindly follow anyone that has fallen off their rocker. There have been, after all, many bishops and stake presidents who have erred and sinned over the past many decades, and who were summarily removed their their offices by the leadership of the Church.

    But what I’m referring to is a systemic agitation in favor of constant and sustained criticism of the Church. Something that clearly transcends a temporary kerfuffle with a ward leader.

  14. I’m not sure how hierarchy is an incorrect description, and it’s not exactly pejorative, but… I guess that’s neither here nor there. And I also don’t see that we’re in disagreement- after all, you acknowledge that in cases like prop 8, there is room for polite disagreement. That’s really all I’m saying.
    I can say I believe President Thomas S Monsen has the authority to receive revelation for the church as a whole, while it can be adjusted for individuals. The church as a whole believes men should “provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children”… yet our family, after much praying, has those roles reversed. Modern, personal revelation allows for individuals to adjust how they apply principals for their own circumstances.
    There are many things that leaders in the church have done that I disagree with…. but I also realize the only things I need to worry about are the things in my stewardship. I also recognize that many things they do are not in the roles as priesthood leaders, but as mortals within a human organization.
    And sometimes I will do differently with the things within my stewardship than my priesthood leader would do for his stewardship… I don’t view that as disloyal.

    On a side note, what do you do when the priesthood leaders over you are patently wrong? Like the mission president who told my sister that her illness (juvenile arthritis that sent her home from a mission with a fused lower spine) was because of her unrighteousness as a missionary (he was never able to “catch” what she was doing wrong, but he knew she must be doing something wrong). She knew she had given her mission her all, God knew it, but her mission president, who was in a position to make decisions regarding her (and frankly, make her life miserable) was wrong. She ultimately submitted to his decisions, as a good missionary would, but was also completely in the right to agitate for change among the right channels, to defend herself, and disagree with him about his judgment on her (even if it was just within her own mind- she knew she hadn’t sinned the way he said she had). I have countless similar examples (one which happened to me recently) when the “mantle” of priesthood leadership gets something about an individual very wrong, and it can sometimes be very damaging. There IS room for error, even among righteous priesthood leaders. Which, again, comes back to the wonderful idea that we are responsible for the things in our stewardship and God WILL give us guidance for those things (and sometimes that guidance may be a departure from the church line on something).

  15. “mormonchess,
    I’m curious about your reaction to this article. It seems related to your topic.”

    John C, I am completely not interested in getting into a discussion about Utah or Provo politics. I don’t live in Utah and I am not conversant with the issues in Provo. Quite frankly, I don’t care about it.

    If you want to talk about the points I raised in my essay, you are welcome to do so.

  16. “That being said, however, God would never give someone a revelation to go out and publicly criticize the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, for example. It just goes against the order of how the Lord operates in our dispensation.”
    This is where it gets slippery. What if, as a citizen of Kirtland, God had told me not to invest my money in the Kirtland Antibanking society (because I would lose my life savings in it- maybe because God had need of me having those resources later on to help the poor saints)? That would have been a legitimate personal revelation that contradicted Joseph Smith’s revelation for the church.
    What if God DOES tell me to be, say, a pro-Gay Marriage activist (not necessarily criticizing the church directly but certainly publicly being in disagreement with it)? I’ve had very strong personal spiritual confirmations about my beliefs in the role of government and laws and how far they should extend. I feel very strongly that the most Christ-like thing I can do is fight for the idea of free agency of others. I’m not going to tell other Mormons to follow me, that my revelation counts for them, but I also won’t be silent about why I am an activist, and I’ll hope my speaking up encourages others to seek revelation for themselves on the topic. And if they get different revelation from me, well, that’s fine- we each are in charge of ourselves and our stewardship.

    I know that most Mormons don’t think it is possible to receive revelation that directly contradicts revelation priesthood leadership has received, and until recently I would agree, but I’ve now seen firsthand that it can happen. What do you do when a member who is righteous and worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost, gets a legitimate prompting from the Holy Ghost, to contradict a priesthood leader? I’m not talking about disrespect or chastisement, but polite disagreement.
    TBMs will say its moot because it doesn’t happen but I’ve seen firsthand that it does and I’m afraid that when it comes to my own stewardship, personal revelation trumps church-wide revelation.

  17. Jen asks, “What if God DOES tell me to be, say, a pro-Gay Marriage activist?” I think that is a good question.

    The church is not required to be perfect. It’s OK for the prophets to make mistakes. It’s OK for us to disagree with them. But we must understand that we should only advocate for change within the proper priesthood lines of authority. If we have a complaint, we can bring it up with our priesthood leaders.

    When President Kimball was contemplating changing the policy on blacks, he studied thousands of letters written on the subject by members of the church to church authorities. Many of these were moving pleas to change the policy, and he appreciated the sentiments in these letters. But whenever he read criticism of the church in the Tribune, he got upset, and said that agitation against the church outside of the priesthood was more likely to extend the ban than anything else.

    Good priesthood leaders should be concerned about the complaints of lay members, and let them be open about them. They should seek to resolve these concerns as best they can. We are a passionate people. That passion should not be squashed. We should all work together to try to make this the best church possible.

    But in the absence of resolution, we are under covenant to sustain our leaders. Humility is a key principle of the gospel. So is patience and submission.

  18. Likewise, I would not join the organization and then spend the balance of my life telling people how lame the group was, or how insipid, or out of touch the governing board of the federation were.

    But what if the organization was lame and insipid and the governing board of the federation out of touch? I’m sure we are all grateful that Joseph Smith possessed the discernment and wherewithal to remain loyal to God rather than to the existing institutions, and the restored Gospel requires those who would follow Him to do likewise.

  19. Jenn, reading your comments, it appears we are mostly in agreement, so I will not nitpick. My position is: it is the Lord’s church, and there will be times when you will be asked to follow his representatives on controversial things. That has not happened to me personally, but it has happened to people I know, and when they have submitted their will to the Lord’s, good things have happened for them. If you find yourself constantly chaffing at the Church, disliking the ward leaders, disliking what the prophets say and do, then it is you who needs to change. If you encounter one wacky priesthood or quorum leader in 10 years, and you feel it necessary to ignore/complain about this wacky person, then I would say you are probably in the right doing it.

    If/when, you are asked to do something controversial (like support Prop 8), and you fast and pray and get the answer you should not do it, then more power to you (imho). Church leaders have made it clear there is room for disagreement on this issue for loyal Latter-day Saints. However, I would point out that there probably will be times when your loyalty will be tested, and your default position should be: follow the Lord’s representatives. My personal advice is: if you are constantly complaining, murmuring and not following the prophets, the problem is with you, not them.

    As for the hierarchy issue, this is not an accurate description. Leaders are servants, not bosses. The world sees leaders as potential dictators, the Church sees them as suffering servants. It is not an “honor” to become a leader, it is instead a calling that may potentially be burdensome (but usually very enlightening and spiritual as well). It seems to me from your comments you misunderstand this crucial distinction, but perhaps not.

  20. Hi Nate, the essence of my comment was that we are not under covenant to sustain our church leaders. I have never made a covenant to do so. Covenants involve promises to obey God’s laws. Submission to church leaders is not a key principle of the gospel. Submission to the Lord’s will is.

    I can give you one example of a time that I disobeyed a church leader and felt justified in my disobedience: A bishop repeatedly refused to report a case of sexual abuse of a child, so I disobeyed him and reported it. I can give you an example of a case where I obeyed a church leader and regretted it: My mission president yelled at me to get me to falsify a report going to the area presidency. I obeyed him but have regretted doing so. Now that I am more mature, I am willing to do what I think is right and if I were under pressure again I would refuse to do what I believed to be wrong, no matter the consequences to me personally.

    If I am wrong, could you point out the wording of any ordinance where I did make a covenant to sustain my church leaders?

  21. Paul 2, if you have been to the temple, you have made a covenant to uphold and sustain the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church is represented by its leaders. There is room for some leeway on this (see my comments above), but bottom line: there is such a covenant.

  22. Further point: I have been a member of the Church for 15 years or so. There was a time when my bishop gave me advice on a personal matter. I prayed and fasted about it, and the answer I got was the my bishop was wrong.

    This is the only incident I can think of where I did not do what a person with priesthood authority over me asked me to do.

    Now, it is possible that I am extraordinarily lucky and that I have been blessed with extraordinary leaders who are always guided by the Lord with regard to me (except for this one incident). I tend to think that human beings are fallible and that I have found a way to accommodate my personal views to the guidance I have received, with the default position being, “follow your leaders.”

    My experience is that people who claim they should not follow the “hierarchy” do not have a default position of “follow your leaders,” but instead have a default position of, “my leaders are probably wrong.” This is about attitude as much as anything else.

    So, as I say, there is room for occasionally disagreeing with your leaders (after fasting and prayer), but this is really not what mormonchess is discussing. He is asking: “why do some active members of the Church continue to agitate, criticize, find fault, complain, murmur, cast aspersions, or engage in subversive activities detrimental to the Church?”

    If you do not continue to do these things, this post is not aimed at you. If you occasionally disagree with a leader and do so with attitude of humility, this post is not aimed at you. It is really aimed at other people.

  23. I guess my point was that we can’t know what drives someone to “agitate, criticize, find fault, complain, murmur, cast aspersions, or engage in subversive activities detrimental to the Church”. It is possible that these activities are in line with that person’s view of what God wants them to do, and who are we to say they are wrong? People associate with mormonism for many reasons- I don’t think it’s fair to say “if you don’t like what the Church does then why do you want to be a part of it?” What the baptismal (or temple) covenant means to you, it may not mean the same thing to someone else. And that’s ok, you only need to worry about yourself. Assumptions and implications that we get out of covenants may not be universal.

    It’s not our place to say whether or not they are breaking away from covenants they have made. We can say “well, from what I understand, it’s not what I would do” and leave it at that, and turn our attention to the things we are responsible for. We can even engage with them on items we disagree on, to try to understand where they are coming from or get them to come to our point of view. But don’t question their claims to whatever part of the church they want to claim.

  24. I believe that a covenant towards the church is primarily towards its members, as in Moroni 6:4: “And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and finisher of their faith.”
    We are primarily to uphold and sustain the spiritual lives of those members who are around us as we together rely on the merits of Christ.

    I am currently serving as a bishop and I would instantly trade every flattering comment I get and every respectfully offered phrase for members to forgive each other and for the development of kindness and understanding.

    I appreciate the chance to sound off here. I do think it is important to cooperate well with local church leaders and to carefully and prayerfully consider the teachings of the leaders of the church. But I don’t think it is a covenant. Hopefully my attitude won’t prevent me from acting righteously.

  25. Geoff:

    you have made a covenant to uphold and sustain the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church is represented by its leaders.

    I would be interested in seeing the logical connection that necessitates this relationship. What about matters of (lower-case) “church” and upper-case “Church”? What about the fact that the CoJCoLdS isn’t actually a legal entity but exists only in the abstract? It seems far from obvious that consecration to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in any way necessitates across-the-board obedience to the current Church leaders.

    RE: sustaining, as you are most likely aware, defining that action is also problematic. I think that current Church leadership is mostly concerned with “whose team are you on”. Yet at the same time, there’s not a clear line that separates honest critique from antagonistic subversion, and third-party judgement of such behavior is likely to be incorrect.

  26. When a cut on your body gets infected, it needs attention. Normally, other components of your body would take care of the problem without any conscious attention to it on your part. But if that fails, you need to attend to it. In fact, it becomes paramount that you give it priority. Sometimes, you might need the assistance of others, even a nurse or a doctor. Of course, you can’t neglect everything else — like eating, exercising, sleeping, etc. — or that’ll just cause greater problems.

    Being members of the body of Christ, we have responsibilities, including making sure “harmful infections” don’t cause grave — literally and metaphorically — problems. Yet at the same time we have other responsibilites that can’t be neglected to focus on the infection. And we have the help of other members of the body who perhaps have greater knowledge and power to heal.

    Ultimately, though, we have the Lord. Only he can save us.

  27. mormonchess,
    I apologize for bringing up the topic then. I posted a link to an article that described a situation in which people were being asked to choose between their loyalty to the church and what they appear to believe were their rights as members of a community. That seemed related to the post, but I’m obtuse.

  28. Government agitation preceded OD1, civil agitation preceded OD2. When you consider President Hinckley’s quote in comment #3 above it appears that agitation plays a significant part in LDS church reform revelation .

  29. Paul 2: I appreciate your comments, and while we probably don’t have the same viewpoint on a few issues I respect where you are coming from.

    Howard: The Agitation Meme is very alluring to those who fancy themselves as agents for change within the Church. However, I believe that it is based on several faulty assumptions. And I think using Pres. Hinckley’s off-hand, in passing, comment to a reporter as a liberal wedge to force people into accepting oppositional agitation to the leaders of the Church is pretty farcical and disingenuous. You are using it as an “easy out” from faithful, dedicated, sustaining of our priesthood leadership.

    Trevor: I actually agree with you (for the first time) with respect to “honest critique and antagonistic subversion”. We must absolutely be cautious in judgment.

  30. Mormonchess,
    Liberal wedge? Not offered as a faithful explainaton? Respectfully, your strongly loaded and somewhat dismissive response fails to explain what President Hinckley actually meant if it wasn’t: lacking agitation he saw no reason for change.

  31. Are promises made in answer to the standard questions in a baptism interview considered covenants? I think so.

    Are promises made in answer to the standard questions in a temple recommend interview considered covenants? I think so.

    One of those questions is “Do you sustain (current president) as prophet, seer, and revelator of the Lord? (paraphrased, I don’t have the exact questions in front of me.)

    I think sustaining, in that question, logically equates to following. And if one follows the prophet, then one logically should follow those whom he delegates authority to, from him all the way down to local priesthood leaders.

    Also, I think the caveat that one follows the prophet/apostle/stake-pres/bishop/etc when he’s speaking as prophet/etc, and not necessarily when he’s speaking as just a man.

    I think I’m with Geoff B on this. Any “following” that needs to be done, that doesn’t seem to fall in line with what we already know to be true, is subject to confirmation through personal prayer and personal revelation.

  32. Great post Mormonchess. The way I understand things is this way: I believe the Lord works thru prophets he has called, and thru revelation for my local leaders. I raise my hand to sustain them, and by sustaing them I sustain the things they say and teach me. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that when they teach me, they are teaching me the things the Lord wants me to know and do and say. The test is this, if it testifies of Christ it is of God and if testifies not of Christ, it is not of God. There have been some issues the Church has been very clear about, and we need to support the Church and the leaders of the Church, regardless of our personal beliefs or feelings. There are things that I have issue with in the Church, but I have made covenants to be obedient, so I do them, with the hope that one day, my heart will change. I don’t begrudge this, but I am trying to do what is right, with the knowledge that my ways are not the Lord’s ways and my thoughts are not his thoughts.

  33. I liken agitation to the whining child. Sometimes, when the parent finally gives in and gives the child what he wants, it is detrimental and becomes a hard lesson learned. Before I would attribute a thumbs up from President Hinckley I would have to read the whole quote and its context. I don’t remember him as being in favor of the equivalent of civil disobedience as a way to bring about changes to church doctrine or policy.

  34. IDIAT,
    Whining is pejorative, your likening it to this example is incorrect, agitation is persistent urging not wining. President Hinckley chose the word agitation to address the question of women becoming priests. Do you really think he expects them to whine to get it? Was it detrimental to give black men the priesthood?

    It may be that we must show significant desire for change for it to be granted.

  35. I see where many of you are coming from in determining that much of what the church is about is at the top, but for me it’s an “all politics is local” thing. If I go back to Alma (who in Mosiah is doing something extraordinary in converting from a monarchical/priesthood conflation to a church) I see him saying: “if you’re willing to bear one another’s burdens …”

    That to me is the whole of the matter. If we bear one another’s burdens we throw a cloak of mercy over the public things and create an unlimited private relationship with God. We engage in fellowship and share the principles of repentance and forgiveness with one another, publicly strengthening one another for the private relationship that sanctifies. Bearing one another’s burdens means that I help my neighbor, and perhaps I forgive my prophet, and I stay on the job until the master comes to pay everyone.

    In that vein, it feels like family communication to me. We aren’t silent if we love one another, but we also don’t engage in snide public denunciation. Do we really think that our leaders are so separate from us that we can hurt them without hurting ourselves? Public attack of the apostles seems like the hand stabbing the eyes. Geez. One body. Bearing one another’s burdens.

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