Since when is quoting the prophets intolerant?

A friend of mine on Facebook put up several quotations on Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday) from prophets reminding us what prophets have said about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Among the quotations he cited were:

“Now I understand that my behavior on the Sabbath is my sign to the Lord of my regard for him and for the covenant under which I was born. If, on the one hand, my interests on the Sabbath were turned to pro football games or worldly movies, the sign from me to him would clearly be that my devotion would not favor the Lord. If, on the other hand, my Sabbath interests were focused on the Lord and his teachings, my family, or the sick, or the poor, and the needy, that sign would likewise be visible to God. Our activities on the Sabbath will be appropriate as we consider them to be our personal sign to him of our commitment to the Lord.” —Russell M. Nelson

It turns out that I watched part of the Super Bowl on Sunday. In fact, a family that I home teach invited me to come over, and my wife and I went and we had a nice time. I’m not that interested in professional football anymore, and we could only stay for an hour because we had to get the kids to bed, but the point is that we did indeed watch part of the Super Bowl on Sunday.

I do not feel guilty about it. I am pretty sure if I were to stand in front of the Lord tomorrow He would be OK with me watching the Super Bowl. I could always be a better person, but for the most part I feel like I am OK with the Lord. I have repented and changed my life for the better in many important ways, and I am taking steps to continue to improve myself. So, as I say, I don’t feel like watching the Super Bowl is a sign that I am on the wrong path.

I also have no problem with my friend quoting the prophets say we shouldn’t watch football on Sundays. I had never seen that quotation before, so I enjoyed reading it.

But my friend got a fair number of negative comments from people who did not like him quoting the prophets on this subject. That I do not understand.

My friend is not a bishop or a stake president. So, to be frank, who cares what he thinks? He is not giving advice to specific people; he is simply expressing his opinion. His opinion is that people should do a better job of observing the Sabbath. That is probably true for all of us. I know I could certainly be a better person. I observe the Sabbath more faithfully now than I did a decade ago. I will probably do an even better job observing the Sabbath later in life. So, if my friend reminds me that the prophets have asked us not to watch football on Sundays, I consider that a very good reminder.

Here is the point: you don’t have to agree with my friend. Your important relationship is the vertical one with the Lord, not the horizontal one with other people on Earth. There are certain people whose opinions really do matter (your spouse, your bishop, your stake president), but my friend is not one of those people. So, if he wants to quote the prophets on this subject, how is he being intolerant? He is not calling you out by name. He is simply expressing an opinion, and if you feel good about your standing with the Lord, and you happen to like watching football on Sundays, then who cares what my friend believes?

It is not intolerant to quote the prophets on Super Bowl Sunday. But, depending on how you respond to somebody expressing an opinion, it may turn out that you are intolerant of people expressing opinions you do not like. Take out that beam from your own eye and stop concentrating on the mote in my friend’s eye! (And, yes, this post is not just about Sabbath Day observance and football — this is a general commentary on how people respond to opinions they do not like).

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

53 thoughts on “Since when is quoting the prophets intolerant?

  1. I don’t think it would be problematic except for the fact that he’s doing it on Super Bowl Sunday. He may have good intentions at heart, but the vibe I get (as someone who’s never met him) is “I’m not watching the Super Bowl right now. Most of you are. Therefore I’m more righteous than you are and all of you need to repent and stop watching it already!” That may not be what he actually meant, but that’s the message many people are going to receive.

    Of course this all begs the question–what is he doing on Facebook on the Sabbath? That’s definitely a violation. 🙂

  2. Intolerant? No. But I could see where people call that self-righteous. If I saw this quote on facebook, I would have assumed the author was was implying a kind of “As for me and my house…” message. The problem is how he posted it. Hopefully I can illustrate this.

    Take these two scenarios: I have a friend who is a generally good Mormon but struggles with a coffee addiction. I know that he is currently sitting in the nearby Starbucks drinking a cup-a-joe. (A) I could go to him and try to tell him that drinking coffee is a sin. I could then exhort him to not drink any more coffee. OR (B) I could go to the coffee house and louldy declare to no specific person, knowing he would nevertheless overhear me, that coffee is a sin and people shouldn’t drink it.

    Maybe this isn’t a very clear distinction, but I hope you can see that there is, or at least could be, a difference. It has to do with how I go about telling my friend the error of his ways. It has to do with my intent. Maybe your friend doesn’t realize the message he was sending when he posted the quote, but I do think that we need to be self-aware of when our instructions to others come off as self-righteous, and we need to realize that being self-righteous is a vice.

  3. I must always keep missing that part of the scriptures were we’re told that tolerance is a virtue instead of a vice. Oh wait, that’s because that’s part of the liberal gospel, not Jesus’s.

    I could imagine this same post describing Jesus cleaning house at the Temple. “Can you believe this guy? Quoting prophets at the temple-workers? How intolerant. Couldn’t he have withheld his criticism until after they were done for the day? They’ll feel so judged. This Jesus obviously isn’t very loving or tolerant. This Jesus guy must think himself pretty righteouss to quote scripture. He’s also self righteous ..” etc. ad nausseum. In this case, Jesus went over and swapped the coffee out of your friends hands, “Your body is a temple of God, that you defile with that vile substance.” Yup, pretty intolerant.

    There’s gonna be a huge shock to all of this “sin a little, lie a little” crowd on the last day when they find that God is not willing to look upon sin with the LEAST degree of allowance. Our God is a pretty intolerant God. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be worth worshipping.

    He’s also very merciful, but for those who go around purposefully committing sins, they are outside of grace.

  4. DavidF,

    I get what you are saying. However, why is saying something that may be perceived as self righteous more offensive than openly disobeying prophetic admonitions regarding proper observance of the Lord’s Day? Let’s say that the intent was self righteous. Even then how is denouncing their self-righteousness substantially different that denouncing lax observance of the Lord’s Day, seeing as they are both vices?

    Ultimately standing up for any kind of ideal or creed by definition means that the person believes it is preferable or superior to the alternative. Otherwise, they wouldn’t advocate or promote it. If taken to its logical conclusion, the fear of offending those who do not live up to an ideal or the fear of appearing self-righteous would automatically stifle all testimony.

    Those who are confident that their behavior is acceptable to the Lord have no inclination to be offended by those who suggest otherwise.

    As members of the church we should not fear or hesitate to stand for what we believe to be true just because people may not like what we have to say.

  5. J. Max Wilson,

    Denouncing sin isn’t a bad thing in itself. Geoff B.’s friend isn’t doing something wrong pointing out that quote. But the way we go about denouncing sin, or promoting good for that matter, really does matter.

    Let me offer a kind of parallel example. Suppose I see a bunch of pharisees giving loads of money to the poor. I am inspired by these great men, which is what they want, and then I give my money to the poor. Do we praise the pharisees or do we condemn them?

    Admittedly, hypocracy isn’t self-righteousness. Hypocracy is when you want others to think you are on a high moral pedestal. Self-righteousness is when you want to feel like you are on a high moral pedestal. But they are both just different kinds of pride.

    With the above example, I hope to show that trying to inspire others to give charity isn’t a bad thing. Trying to get others to keep the Sabbath day holy isn’t a bad thing. Intent matters. Method matters. I’m not trying to justify the negative comments people said to Geoff B.’s friend, but I think that when we exhort others, we have to be mindful of the circumstances.

  6. Good thing there are no quotes about facebook on Sunday! Cause that’s a much better use of time.

  7. People have choices in how they will respond to the opinions of others. We can choose not to see things as offensive or self-righteous if we want to. If somebody quotes a modern-day prophet in a way you consider offensive you can choose to simply give the person the benefit of the doubt. I could have been offended at my friend’s quotation, but I chose not to be, even though I watch the Super Bowl. If you are secure in yourself and your relationship with God, there is no reason to be offended by somebody quoting from a prophet.

  8. Geoff B.,

    “If you are secure in yourself and your relationship with God, there is no reason to be offended by somebody quoting from a prophet.”

    Well, I suppose one could argue that there is no reason to be offended no matter what, but leaving that argument aside for a moment, I’m not sure I agree with the above statement.

    Suppose I’m playing solitaire. Someone comes up to me and calls me to repentance. I ask why. I get told that we shouldn’t play with face cards. I am then handed a quote where Elder McConkie rebukes those who play with face cards. Now, I could be mistaken, but I think Elder McConkie is the only GA to condemn face cards. Maybe Joseph Fielding Smith did as well, but no GA has gone after face cards in decades. It smacks of his personal opinion, but then again, he is a GA and he did speak out against it. Is it possible for me to be secure with my relationship with God AND be annoyed? Or to parody J. Max Wilson’s similar statement above, can I feel like solitaire is acceptable before the Lord but still be offended that someone would try to guilt me out of playing a harmless game? The point is, I don’t think that someon’s taking offense is a good measure for determining whether the activity is appropriate.

  9. As for the super bowl, I did not watch it as I view it and pro football as nothing more than the bread and circuses of our day – a purely commercial enterprise (examples: the half-time show and the expensive ads), with few-to-no redeeming moral values. Many of the players are alleged to have criminal and/or immoral backgrounds or habits, but they are good at playing the game. I laughed when I heard that the lights went out and left people and players partially in the dark, a wonderfully apt description of the whole affair. So how can I justify watching an event whose values are not mine and certainly not those of the Church?

  10. David F, I think your example supports my point. In your example, we have three choices: 1)pick a fight with the person because we take offense or 2)politely tell the person that we disagree or 3)just ignore the person. It seems to me 2 or 3 are the preferred methods. 1 is definitely NOT the solution, yet this is what people on-line love to do when confronted with somebody quoting a prophet or a scripture they don’t like.

  11. Geoff B.,

    I agree. I think most comments, even if they are offensive, are best left alone.

  12. I think the relevant question here is, “Why is it self-righteous to invite others to take into consideration the written, consistent, and repeated words of multiple prophets and apostles when making our decisions about how to spend the Sabbath?”

    I am Geoff’s friend. My intent was not to condemn any individual’s decision, because it is not my place to determine whether any individual person has violated the Sabbath. If someone considers the words of prophets and apostles, and decides that their situation warrants and exception, that’s fine with me. I don’t think the invitation to consider those teachings and weigh them while making our decisions is, itself, self-righteous (although it can be done in a self-righteous way).

    Also, there is no comparison to Elder McConkie’s comments about playing cards. These were quotes specifically mentioning professional sports from Spencer W. Kimball, Gordon B. Hinckley, James E. Faust, and Russell M. Nelson. And there were more that I did not post. That is consistent, current, and direct instruction from prophets and apostles, who specifically lamented the fact that Latter-day Saints participated in and viewed professional sports on the Sabbath. I think posting the quotes, as a commentary on general practice (but with no specific condemnation of any individual’s behavior), is perfectly appropriate.

  13. I thought of this post while reading Mosiah 13:4,
    “… And again, because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad.”

  14. I guess if he would haves said this over the pulpit, he would have offended the entire congregation. I guess that Elder Nelson must be very self-righteous, in some peoples eyes, as must the rest of the General Authorities.

  15. These are some interesting points. For those who disagree with me, what do you think it means to be self-righteous? Can you speak the truth and be self-righteous? Is being self-righteous even a bad thing? I it even possible to know if someone is acting self-righteously?

    Also, just so there isn’t any confusion, I don’t think LDSPhilosopher is self-righteous, and I believe him when he says coming off of as self-righteous was not his intent. But I can also see why his quote came across that way in that context. And personally speaking, even if our goal is to persuade others to do good, I don’t think the ends always justify the means. This, to me, is a borderline case.

  16. What I really want to know is in what forum can someone present these quotes and not be considered self-righteous? If facebook is too public, what about a blog? If that is too public, what about sacrament meeting? Wait… too preachy. Home evening?

    It basically seems to me that people simply don’t want unsolicited reminders of prophetic instruction and counsel—unless it’s counsel that people generally practice already. Counsel that is generally disregarded, when repeated in any public forum, is typically labeled as self-righteous.

    What makes the difference? Well, self-righteousness, as typically understood, is a “I’m better than most” attitude. If a particular piece of prophetic counsel is generally practiced, it *can’t* be considered self-righteous to repeat it over the pulpit, because nobody who follows it can consider themselves “better than most.” But if counsel is not generally practiced, then those who *do* follow it *are* in the minority, and suddenly it becomes very easy to assume a “I’m better than most” attitude in those who repeat it.

    The problem here, though, is that this sets up a cultural situation where the only prophetic counsel that is deemed appropriate to repeat in public forums is counsel that is already widely followed and generally accepted. And “against the grain” counsel is automatically precluded, by virtue of the fact that it is “against the grain.”

  17. ldsphilosopher,

    First, thanks for thinking through and responding to my questions.

    “What I really want to know is in what forum can someone present these quotes and not be considered self-righteous?”

    That’s a good question. But suppose you were to J walk across a street and a complete stranger said to you, “You shouldn’t J-walk, that’s against the law.” What kind of conclusions would you appropriately draw on this? Do we encourage our children to offer unsolicited advice to others, like adults at the grocery store, even if they are right? Why do we discourage that kind of behavior?

    And yet we aren’t against people correcting others in a general way. We do want people to know that J walking is illegal. So is one way of informing a person that J walking is wrong more appropriate than another? I hope that you agree that this discussion closely parallels your situation, but if not, I’d be interested why.

  18. I think in your scenario, singling out a specific person, and confronting them, is a very different approach than creating a blog post or making a status update on Facebook (where few to none of the people I am addressing are strangers, and none of whom I am singling out).

    There is a difference between (1) general principles and (2) how we translate those principles into our lives. For example, I’m in no position to know if *any particular person* is sinning by watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, so I can’t really confront any individual person and say, “What you are doing is wrong.” Neither did I. But I *can* conclude that prophets disapprove of the general, widespread practice. Is it self-righteous to make a comment in a forum full of friends, colleagues, and family, inviting them to take prophetic counsel into consideration as they make decisions unique to their situation (decisions which, on an individual level, I cannot personally critique)?

    In a further example, there might be all sorts of appropriate reasons to j-walk—all sorts of contingencies that warrant a violation of the law in this regards. But a general dismissal of the law, however, is probably inappropriate and potentially dangerous. So let’s say I’m driving along, and almost hit a j-walker who comes out of nowhere. Am I being self-righteous if, later in the day, I make a general remark on Facebook reminding my friends, family, and colleagues of the specific law and the general importance of safety and caution when crossing the street? Am I passing condemnation on everyone (or anyone) who disregards that law?

    I do feel like our present constellation of social norms generally prohibits *any* public, negative commentary on the behavior of others that has a religious spin on it. In other words, we can no longer—without being accused of self-righteousness (a sin, apparently, greater than any other)—publicly comment on large-scale deviations from revealed truth and righteous living. But is that really how we want things to be? Isn’t it those same social norms that led ancient civilizations to cast out, stone, and revile prophets who moved among them, commenting on large-scale deviations from righteous living?

    I do not have the authority to speak as a prophet. But I don’t believe that it is, itself, a sin to repeat their words in a public context. Again, if the quotes were an invitation to a generally accepted practice, *no one* would have accused me of self-righteousness. It’s only because the quotes were an invitation to abandon an generally accepted practice that I was labeled self-righteous. I submit, therefore, that it was not the forum, or the manner of presentation, that people were annoyed by—it was the content itself.

  19. I think Cobaryn brings up a really relevant point. If it’s self-righteous to recommend or discourage certain practices, why aren’t the general authorities self-righteous when they do it all the time? A person might say “authority,” but that seems like a vague, problematic distinction. A general authority is someone who’s authorized to say self-righteous things? Or, self-righteousness is when you recommend or discourage things, even if you’re quoting someone who’s authorized to do it? I think “self-righteous” is being really overused, to the point that it’s encompassing important actions that we sometimes ought to do.

    With the cards example, I think there are several responses that don’t involve offense to any degree, nor impure motives. I’ve had these kinds of encounters, and it’s easy to remain affable and chatty about it. I say, “Hmmm, interesting. Can you show me the quote?” If the person is really motivated and does find one to show me, I walk him through the process of understanding some of the subtleties of listening to the prophets. I help them ask the questions, “What setting was it given in? What audience? What publication? Does it apply universally? Were there historical factors that aren’t present anymore? Even if it’s not a commandment, is it still really good advice?”

    That last one is a totally valid position. “Look, Nathan, I know it’s not a temple-recommend item, and it hasn’t been brought up in any kind of recent Church publication. But let me tell you why I think there are serious moral perils from playing with face cards.” Even without the weight of authority, I’d find that kind of follow-up approach immensely personal and appealing, even if I never agree with them and don’t adopt their practice/abstention. And in none of that exchange am I ever trying to justify my practice; I’m simply asking about how he came to that conclusion, and sharing how I came to mine, to whatever degree my friend is interested.

    At no time in the whole exchange am I justified in assuming that my friend is motivated by self-congratulation. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that self-righteousness is frequently not the motive. People really do want to see their brothers and sisters take full advantage of the blessings of living the gospel. I know from experience in many of such conversations that that love and concern is very often the real motive.

  20. I want to make one other point: even if (and I’m sure it’s true) there is a overwillingness on the part of some to correct others in inappropriate or confrontational ways, I feel like there’s an even more widespread unwillingness to humbly receive, consider, and weigh correction when it is given us. I suspect that the prophets and apostles are more concerned about widespread dismissal and ignorance of divine commandments than an overzealousness in following and speaking about them.

  21. Cool timing for me — I read an article at last night by Dallin H. Oaks on this topic. In his talk, “Balancing Truth & Tolerance,” Elder Oaks addresses how we as members of the Church might display & explain our values. He admonishes us to be firm in our committment of truth, while being tolerant of others. He talks about various areas where members might have to think about how to convey their values to others. As to Sabbath observance, he says:
    “On Sabbath observance, we should perhaps explain our belief that our observance of the Sabbath, including our partaking of the sacrament, restores us spiritually and makes us better people for the rest of the week. Then, to other believers, we might express appreciation for the fact that we share common ground on what is most vital: each of us believes in God and in the existence of absolute truth, even though we differ in our definitions of those fundamentals. Beyond that, we should remember the Savior’s teaching that we should avoid contention (see 3 Nephi 11:29–30) and that our example and our preaching should “be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41).

    “In all of this we should not presume to judge our neighbors or associates on the ultimate effect of their behaviors. That judgment is the Lord’s, not ours.”

    [Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Balancing Truth & Toleration” from a Church Educational System fireside address delivered on September 11, 2011.]

    My personal take-away is that your Facebook friend is being a little bit officious. It’s like the proverbial tattle-tale: what they’re saying may be correct; how they’re going about it isn’t.

  22. Could not, for example, posting a quote on Facebook be fulfilling Elder Oaks assertion that “our example and our preaching should “be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness”?

  23. Hunter, it is interesting that two people can read Elder Oaks’ talk and take away exactly the opposite things. I see my friend as being a gentle warning voice (which the prophets ask him to do) and you see him as being officious. I really think you are taking the wrong approach to this because what my friend did was offer a general warning (which Elder Oaks asks him to do) not a specific condemnation of a single person (which would be judgmental). If my friend had posted on a specific person’s Facebook wall saying: “Hey Joe, I hear you are going to watch the Super Bowl today. Remember it is the Sabbath and take a look at these quotes from the prophets….” your takeaway would be correct. But given it was not specific at all and all he did was quote the prophets I simply can’t agree with your take.

  24. This discussion reminds me a lot of discussions I had with other missionaries when I was serving.

    Is it pride that causes people to get offended or feel that someone is self-righteous when quotes are posted on Facebook? Yes. But posting quotes on Facebook doesn’t help them overcome that pride.

    I think that humble testimony requires more than quote-slinging. When you post a quote without personal context, it is officious because it assumes that whoever reads the quote will interpret it the same way you do.

    If one wants to share quotes from General Authorities in a way that does not trigger pride in others, I have found that it is helpful to give it personal context. For example:

    I have often found it difficult to keep the Sabbath Day holy, especially during major sports events. When I read the below quote from Elder Nelson, it made me think it would perhaps be better to record the sports game and watch it later. As I’ve done this, I have been able to use my time to focus on my family and service in the Church. I’m grateful for how Elder Nelson’s words helped me reevaluate my priorities.

    [insert quote]

    And if one hasn’t had personal experience, I think one should refrain from preaching about something unless one is specifically moved upon by the Spirit to speak to another person in a personal, one-on-one setting. Then, the personal nature of the relationship can carry the love necessary for righteous reproof and calls to repentance.

  25. I should add, people should refrain unless they’ve been given a calling or stewardship. That changes the nature of the preaching, as well.

    But either way, preaching via weapon is not the Lord’s way. Teaching via the Spirit and with love, patience, and meekness is the way He has asked us to teach. And if your intent is truly to inspire change, and not just to feel superior, it is good to take a step back and evaluate how the approach might be cutting the message off at the knees.

  26. “I should add, people should refrain unless they’ve been given a calling or stewardship. That changes the nature of the preaching, as well.”

    I adamantly disagree we should refrain from repeating prophetic counsel and initiating conversation about gospel principles unless we’ve been given a calling or stewardship. I consider the baptismal covenant itself a calling to stand as a witness of God (and His teachings) at all times and places.

  27. Thanks for your comments. Yeah, that’s my personal take-away from Elder Oaks’ talk. (Go read the whole talk by the way, and maybe you’ll see why I concluded that your friend is being a bit self-righteous.) But, I’m glad we can disagree about what Elder Oaks intends here. That’s not the point. I’m sharing my personal take is all. It would be inappropriate of me to tell you that my self-selected quote from one of the prophets means that you all should act and think in a certain way, right? Kinda like assuming that I may know the mind and will of the prophets as it relates to watching the Super Bowl and that I need to “remind” people what the prophets have said.

  28. What I mean by that is that if we’ve been given a calling or stewardship, we have a particular job. For example, a full-time missionary has a duty to invite to the Gospel whether or not they’re feeling particularly inspired that day. It doesn’t remove the need for Spiritual direction, but certainly provides a reason to speak up and open one’s mouth even if one isn’t particularly feeling it at the moment.

    Standing as a witness of Christ is not the same thing as voluntarily and without Spiritual direction going around telling everyone what they are doing wrong.

  29. I’ll go read it, and I’ll let you know what I think.

    One thing:

    “Kinda like assuming that I may know the mind and will of the prophets as it relates to watching the Super Bowl”

    I don’t see how there’s any controversy on this issue, as they have stated their mind on the matter. The mind of the prophets is not difficult to discern when they openly speak their thoughts on the matter. I do get a little impatient when people can hear a slew of direct comments on a subject from prophets, and say, “We can’t pretend to know what they think about this.”

  30. SilverRain,

    I agree that we need to seek the Spirit. But you and I have had conversations about this before, and the impression I get is that you believe that invitations to come unto Christ and live a better life should *only* be extended when specifically prompted by the Spirit to extend them. I tend to believe that invitations should be a matter of habit, and that we should be constantly seeking the Spirit to warn us in those moments when we shouldn’t.

  31. Not exactly. I believe that we should develop a relationship with the Spirit that can prompt us to speak when and how will be most helpful to the Lord’s work. I believe that if we do this, the Spirit will be able to prompt one to extend invitations when they will actually do good and not harm.

    Perhaps the difference is that you don’t think that invitations ever have the power to do harm, where I believe that the manner and timing of invitations can actually hurt people and make them less receptive to the Spirit.

  32. Hunter, some quotations from Elder Oaks’ talk:

    (The entire talk is here:

    “Our tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs does not cause us to abandon our commitment to the truths we understand and the covenants we have made. That is a third absolute truth: We do not abandon the truth and our covenants. We are cast as combatants in the war between truth and error. There is no middle ground. We must stand up for truth, even while we practice tolerance and respect for beliefs and ideas different from our own and for the people who hold them.

    While we must practice tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs, including their constitutional freedom to explain and advocate their positions, we are not required to respect and tolerate wrong behavior. Our duty to truth requires us to seek relief from some behavior that is wrong. ”

    and we get this:

    “Living in the mission field, I often hear the name of the Lord taken in vain, and I also have acquaintances who tell me that they are living with their boyfriends. I have found that observance of the Sabbath is almost obsolete. How can I keep my covenant to stand as a witness and not offend these people?”13

    Profanity, cohabitation, and Sabbath breaking—excellent examples to illustrate how Latter-day Saints might balance their competing duties to truth and tolerance in their own lives in these difficult circumstances.”

    and we get this:

    “As President Thomas S. Monson taught us in the conference where he was sustained as our prophet: “My young friends, be strong. … The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that façade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain. You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that. The character of transgression remains the same. If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone.”14

    and we get this:

    “Our obligation to tolerance means that none of these behaviors—or others we consider deviations from the truth—should ever cause us to react with hateful communications or unkind actions. But our obligation to truth has its own set of requirements and its own set of blessings. When we “speak every man truth with his neighbour” (Ephesians 4:25), and when we “[speak] the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) as the Apostle Paul taught, we are acting as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, doing His work. Angels will stand with us, and He will send His Holy Spirit to guide us.”

    It seems to me that my friend was following the prophets’ words *with exactness.* But as I say people can read the same talk and come to different conclusions.

  33. Ldsphilosopher, I wasn’t talking to you. Don’t twist my words. Of course it’s folly to take a relativist position and say that we can’t ever pretend to know what the prophets think on a given subject. I’m not saying that!

    My point was simply that we both read Elder Oaks’ quote but came to different conclusions. In light of the greater discussion, then, I think Geoff’s friend might have to learn that the quote he was sharing may be interpreted differently by some, and that it’s not his place to presume that quote-splattering on Facebook is going to be the best way to convince others that his interpretation is correct. It’s a reality that is hard to learn sometimes. Even Alma had a hard time learning to balance his manic zeal to be proclaim the gospel as an angel and speak with the trump of God, with learning to be content with his place. I repeat: what the friend was saying might be correct; the way he was doing it was not.

  34. You were talking to me, since (as stated earlier in the conversation) I am Geoff’s friend.

    I disagree with your conclusion. Several recent quotes from prophets and apostles, all specifically lamenting the participation in and viewing of professional sports on the Sabbath, speaks to an undeniable interpretation that, in general practice, the prophets and apostles believe that such activities should be avoided.

  35. Geoff, as someone who has long respected your comments here and elsewhere, I’m honored that you’d take my quotation of Elder Oaks seriously enough to delve into the talk, even if your interpretation doesn’t exactly match up with mine. (Great talk, by the way, huh?) But I have no interest in getting into a tit-for-tat with you on the talk. I think I’ve explained my response to your Facebook friend’s approach, and I think I understand (and respect) your position, too.

    Oh, and I’m glad that, like you, I do not feel guilty about watching the Super Bowl. I suppose your friend should probably queue up the G.A. quotes about being past feeling about now, right? (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)

  36. Hunter, I don’t understand why you would assume that of me. Again, the assumption is that if I disagree with your actions, and make my case using several quotes from prophets, I’m a self-righteous prick who’s going to indefinitely keep throwing quotes at you on everything.

  37. It does seem though, that you’ve used a single ambiguous quote from Elder Oaks’ talk to condemn my actions, when there’s far more passages that might seem to condone it.

  38. SilverRain,

    I liked how you phrased a theoretical rewrite, where there’s a testimony at the beginning. It leaves much less room to be misunderstood concerning intentions, and makes the witness much more peaceable (but no less bold).

    My definition of self-righteousness may be too broad. As I thought it over today, I concluded that the clearest way for me to tell someone’s sincerity is whether they use the “I” language of testimony or the “you” language of command. Sharing a quote without comment kind of teeters on the balance, but when the quote is an affronting one, it spills over into the “you” language of command (from my perspective). I believe ldsphilosopher had truly good intentions. I think a brief, sincere testimony would have shown that better.

  39. David,

    That’s an interesting take on it. I like it. Question: Would you consider it a “you” example (as opposed to an “I” example) is someone used SilverRain’s format, and then followed it up with an invitation to readers to consider if and how such prophetic counsel might their lives too?

  40. SilverRain,

    As per your earlier comment: “Perhaps the difference is that you don’t think that invitations ever have the power to do harm, where I believe that the manner and timing of invitations can actually hurt people and make them less receptive to the Spirit.”

    That’s not the difference, since I agree there. For that reason, as I said, I believe we should seek the Spirit, and a relationship with the Spirit, such that the Spirit will warn us when we shouldn’t default to our habits of invitation.

  41. So perhaps it is only a difference of approach. I prefer to err on the side of not injuring people, and you prefer to err on the side of fulfilling your duty. Which is probably fitting, considering that you are likely of those called specifically to spread the gospel, and I am not.

  42. SilverRain, in the future, I’m going to make a deliberate effort to try your approach to sharing insights more often. (The personalizing/testimony/”I” approach)

  43. Thank you. I’m glad something I said could help.

    I relate, you know. I have a tendency to offend people, too. And be often misunderstood in my intentions.

  44. ldsphilosopher,

    You’re welcome. I tend towards being really tolerant of other people, but I’ve seen this backfire on me. Put another way, I’m a conflicted liberal.

    I personally think an invitation would be alright (depending, obviously, at least partially on the tone). I think no matter what someone is going to take issue with these sorts of things. But I suppose that just happens no matter what with things like football.

  45. I do think Jeff makes a good point about the tendency where “the only prophetic counsel that is deemed appropriate to repeat in public forums is counsel that is already widely followed and generally accepted. … Counsel that is generally disregarded, when repeated in any public forum, is typically labeled as self-righteous.”

    It’s hard to believe there would have been such a response to the quotes posted if they had been on, say pornography, or adultery.

  46. I didn’t read through all but read most of the comments here, but I think that some of this is going way past the mark. The writer stated several times that posting Elder Nelson’s remarks about Sabbath Day worship was the opinion of the Facebook poster.

    From where I sit this isn’t the Facebook poster’s opinion, this is a statement from a prophet, seer, and revelator. If you sustain him as a mouthpiece for the Lord then technically the Lord wouldn’t be pleased with you watching the Super Bowl.

    The doctrine is quite clear that we are to keep the Sabbath day holy. Can you please describe for me what part of Beyonce’s booty shaking, the irreverent tv commercials, loud laughter, and levity are in accordance with keeping the Sabbath Day holy? What part bought anyone closer to Christ or showed forth His love?

    Have you read Elder Oaks’ talk on good, better, best? Surely, it isn’t a grievious sin, but we could be spending the Lord’s day doing something better.

    My husband, who is a bishop, btw has used similar quotes to remind people about proper Sabbath Day observance, but just like Elder Nelson’s quote it is taken as opinion and not prophetic counsel. If it’s not a deal breaker for a temple recommend then hey, it doesn’t matter. There’s a quote that often gets tossed around, “Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles.”

    I don’t think the question is, “since when is it intolerant to quote a prophet?” I think a better question is, “since when is okay for disciple of Christ to disregard the prophet’s counsel or break God’s commandments?”

    I don’t consider it self-righteous. I consider it an eternal truth, something that President Uchtdorf taught last month doesn’t change whether you agree or not. We are to stand for truth in righteousness in all times, in all places.

    Bottomline: we all have free agency. The prophets reinforce the Lords commandsments through their prophetic counsel. We can either follow the prophet or follow the adversary. Allowing “just this one little thing” makes us susceptible to other “little things” that can eventually lead to “big things”.

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