There is nothing ‘brave’ about challenging the Church

Of all the silly arguments made by supporters of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, the silliest of all is that they are doing something “brave.” If you do a search for “John Dehlin brave” or “Kate Kelly brave” you will encounter dozens of sycophantic followers claiming they are “brave” for standing up to the Church.

There is nothing courageous about it. In fact, contradicting the Church in this day and age is so certain to please the crowds that even the basest coward can do it.

Elite media have turned Dehlin and Kelly into heroes. Nothing would be known about their disciplinary councils if Dehlin and Kelly didn’t immediately run to the press to let them know because the Church does not release details on such councils. Dehlin and Kelly, however, emit press releases and try to turn private, sacred events into circuses by ginning up public support. In Kelly’s case, it involved protesting General Conference. For Dehlin, it is an attempt to ask his supporters to hold a “vigil” at a stake center during his disciplinary council.

Since when it is “brave” to take actions certain to be applauded by the mainstream media and supported by crowds of people?

The truly brave people are those who do what is right even when the crowd disapproves. Today, that means maintaining God’s standards even in the face of overwhelming public disapproval. For example, here is a brave man:

“Our doctrine—not just belief, but doctrine—that sexual relations are only appropriate and lawful in the Lord’s eyes between man and woman legally and lawfully married is unchanged and will never change.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve

It is a certainty that maintaining such a position will become increasingly unpopular in the coming years, and Church leaders will not cave and will indeed be courageous.

It is not easy being brave when the faced with persecution. Peter himself denied the Savior three times, and I think this story is in the Bible to remind us that even the elect can succumb to worldly pressures. The Church reminds us that Joseph Smith, desperate for worldly approval, allowed Martin Harris to take the 116 pages even though the Lord counseled him not to. This experience, and the horror Joseph felt afterwards when part of the Book of Mormon was lost, show us the difficulties inherent in following the Lord. Joseph, ever the human prophet, considered fleeing to the West before going to Carthage. But in the end he allowed himself to be taken to that jail where he was eventually killed by mobs.

The mobs will support the cowards and hate the truly brave. You can imagine the Carthage Greys and the rest of the mob, filled with hate, talking about how “brave” it was to storm a prison to shoot at Joseph, his brother and his loyal friends. The mobsters were so “brave” that they immediately ran into the countryside afterwards, fearing reprisal from the Saints in Nauvoo. The attack never came because the Saints truly were brave enough to forgive and wise enough to know that more killing would not bring Joseph and Hyrum back.

To the academics who have sympathy for Kate Kelly and John Dehlin, I ask them to do something truly brave. Go get a t-shirt printed up that says “I am a Mormon and I oppose gay marriage” in big, bold, black letters. Wear said t-shirt around campus for a week, making sure it is seen by your supervisors, students and any potential members of the committees that decide whether or not you will get tenure. Now THAT would be brave.

Instead, most of the academics in the Bloggernacle will take the cowardly stance of contradicting modern-day prophets. I can just see them at faculty parties admitting, yes, they are Mormons but pointing out quickly that they of course oppose the Church’s positions on social issues.

It is obvious that it is much more popular these days to go along with the mob that opposes the Church and its “backward” positions. The sure crowd-pleasing position is to sympathize with Dehlin and Kelly and their “progressive” policies. Can we agree that if you are taking the stance that is crowd-pleasing you are not being brave?

Do you want to know what is truly brave in 2015? Admitting that you have same-sex attraction but choosing not to act on it because you are trying to follow the Lord. It is probably a sign that you are brave if all of the politically correct groups vilify you.

So, let’s dispense with the idea that there is anything brave about Dehlin or Kelly opposing the Church’s policies. If and when they repent and come back to the Church, they will indeed be brave, and I will salute them for it. Repentance and humility are brave, very brave indeed.

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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.

29 thoughts on “There is nothing ‘brave’ about challenging the Church

  1. What is brave today and always is the choice not to publically disclose difficult or challenging private details in your personal life simply for the sake of public recognition or notoriety, but just dealing with them privately, without public fanfare.

    One of the few public condemnations we read from Jesus counsels against public acts “to be seen of men”. He notes several times, “They have their reward”.

  2. I think it was expressed best by Andrew Lloyd Weber and the musical Evita, “Oh what a circus! Oh what a show! The best show in town was the crowd Outside the Casa Rosada crying, “[John and Kate]” But that’s all gone now As soon as the smoke from the funeral clears We’re all going to see how [they] did nothing for years!”

    Great post Geoff.

  3. Surrounded by liberal Gentiles in my work, it takes a lot of bravery for me to stand up for the church, and I usually fail to do it with much enthusiasm. It’s lot easier to go the John and Kate route. But if you are surrounded by a conservative LDS culture, it might take courage to leave. However, it doesn’t take much courage for me to stand up for liberalism here at Millennial Star. Just a bad habit.

  4. The Book of Mormon shows time and again those “brave” people that opposed Nephi and Lehi, Alma and Amulek, and other BoM prophets. There always was a Sherem, Nehor, Korihor, or Gadianton seeking to usurp power and religion, claiming that their method and form are the ones God approves of, and that the prophets of God were the evil ones.

    Moses, Noah and Enoch also had the same struggle with those who would violently take the kingdom of God. But their enemies ended up being swallowed by earthquake and Flood.

    Isn’t it amazing how that pattern continues. And as the Eagles’ song says, they follow their own gods home. They do not hear the voice of their Shepherd, nor the voice of His prophets. His pattern has been out there since Adam, yet there always are those in each generation, who believe they are smarter than God and his Anointed.

  5. Its the murmuring class that the Scriptures constantly spoke out against. The Lord sometimes cursed them. However, like the Scriptures, they rarely repent of their gnashing of teeth because of narcissism and self-congratulations public elitist enlightenment. They believe they are brave because of remaining in the fold while fighting, but quickly fade when self-fulfilling prophecies are met. Once the Church does its duty, they are like dead soldiers who are quickly forgotten to the public and press.

  6. Great post Geoff! Those two are not brave, they are just suffering from chronic pride disorder or big ego-itis, priestcraftiness syndrome, and media and followers adoration disorder. It’s not likely they’ll survive these illnesses.

  7. It would only be “brave” (or fool hardy) if one cared about one’s Church standing. By his actions I don’t think Dehlin cares about that, so I agree what he is doing is not “brave”.

  8. How brave an action is seems to be related to the amount of risk or ostracism one will receive from a group.

    With relation to the readers of national news organizations or most academic institutions, this post is dead on in assessing a lack of bravery because it aligns with the majority. No risk and probably a lot of support.

    With relation to active LDS members and family, on the other hand, there is bravery because they are promoting ideas that are contrary to those espoused by the majority and leadership. High risk and great likelihood ostracism. There were relationships at stake and they put them on the line to say what they have said.

  9. It would take great bravery for Dehlin, Kelly, Brooks and their acolytes to repent, forsake their sins, and thereby lead many souls back into the fold of God. Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah did it. The Apostle Paul did it. So can they. So can we.

  10. “With relation to active LDS members and family, on the other hand, there is bravery because they are promoting ideas that are contrary to those espoused by the majority and leadership. High risk and great likelihood ostracism. There were relationships at stake and they put them on the line to say what they have said.”

    Matt, if we were talking about a secular organization, you might have a point. But the Church is led by people who by their very nature (and the very nature of the doctrines of the organization) are encouraged to forgive and NOT to ostracize. In such an environment, where the bishop is encouraged to bring back lost sheep endlessly and to forgive endlessly, there is zero risk for Dehlin and Kelly to oppose the Church’s policies. It is also clear whose opinions they care about (i.e., the world’s, not the Church’s). If they cared more about the opinions of their peer group they would not publicize their church disciplinary councils. People who actually care what their peer group think would be ashamed of the councils and would attempt to keep them under wraps. Dehlin and Kelly have done the exact opposite.

    So, I don’t see any bravery here, just a spirit of contention and self-righteousness.

  11. Fantastic post, Geoff! Thank you for writing this. These have been my thoughts the past few years, but I didn’t know how to express them as well as you just did. Thank you!

  12. It seems that when such a matter can be shown to be linked to an un-related controversy, there should be a way to address such abuse. That said, I don’t know what that mechanism would be in this particular case.

  13. I looked up the web archive for this site:

    On January 16, 2015, Dr. King had 5 ratings, with an average score of 4.2. The only other capture of this page was in 2012, before anyone had rated Dr. King using this site. Given that he now has 9 ratings and an average score of 3.2, it appears the new reviewers (completely anonymous “to protect confidentiality”) each gave Dr. King average scores of 2 (where 1 is the lowest score possible). Or he was given one score of 5 and three scores of 1.

    Since January 16, 2015, was still well after Dr. King’s involvement in John Dehlin’s disciplinary matters had been made public, it’s possible that the January 16 rating of 4.2 could have already been negatively influenced by the connection. In particular, if the first four ratings had given Dr. King 5 stars each, then a fifth rating that gave Dr. King only 1 star would have dropped the rating from 5.0 to 4.2.

    So a midrashic reconstruction of these events would be:

    Dr. King is a fine physician practicing sports medicine. His bona fide patients give him a 5 star rating.

    John Dehlin tumbles across the fact that Dr. King is widely respected, as evidenced by this 5 star rating. John Dehlin gets busy and does a review, dropping the score to 4.2.

    Encouraged by how easy it was to significantly degrade Dr. King’s rating, John posts a link to Dr. King’s page at healthgrades. In the meantime, three of John’s sychophants are willing to lie to tear Dr. King down even further. One other reviewer gives Dr. King another 5 star rating.

    On Dr. King’s behalf, I’d like to quote some verse Eliza Snow wrote in 1842:

    It is no trifling thing to be a saint…
    To stand unmov’d beneath the with’ring rock
    Of vile apostacy, when men depart
    From the pure principles of righteousness–
    Those principles requiring man to live
    By ev’re word proceeding from the mouth
    Of God.–To stand unwav’ring, undismay’d
    when the base hypocrite, whose face is garb’d
    With saintly looks assum’d and thrown
    Around him for a mantle to enclose
    The black corruption of a putrid heart.–

    [Issues a] blast that strikes at [professional] character
    With floods of falsehood from a vile wretch
    That feeds his sordid selfishness
    Upon the peace and blood of innocence–

    …Then let me be a saint, and be prepar’d
    For the approaching day, which like a snare
    Will soon surprise the hypocrite [and] expose
    The rottenness of human schemes…

  14. JimD, where does Dehlin link to Dr. King’s account? I could not find it.

  15. So Health Grades is another not hard to manipulate, not very meaningful ratings site, but even when the stakes are low gamers are going to game, just out of habit.

  16. Or there is no relation at all to Dehlin and the Healthgrade ratings and some actual reviewers gave him low ratings.

  17. Geoff, thank you for this. My husband and I just read it together and had a great discussion about what you wrote. The thing that stood out to us were the black painted faces of the mobs at Carthage who thought they were so “courageous”. Real courage is a 14 yr old boy not backing down and going forward, amidst the hissing and mocking of adults telling him he didn’t see a vision and to be quiet about it. That takes guts and Joseph’s legacy lives on while the mobs are mentioned only in passing and with disdain.

  18. While I do agree there’s little brave about challenging the church, the reasons I suspect people say that is because of family pressure. So I think we don’t understand why people say this if we only think of how most people don’t care and for a certain secular group this is praised.

    The reason this is important is that from a fellowshipping perspective (since we don’t want anyone to leave the Church and lose their blessings) it’s important to understand what’s going on.

    That said most of these high profile figures have been attacking the church long enough that I just don’t think family pressure matters. Any member who was likely to pressure them would already have been offended by their actions.

  19. If John D. did post the link to Dr. King’s ratings page, I agree that that is despicable. But when I did a search I could not find such a posting. I did find a posting of the link more than once at “recovery from Mormonism” sites.

    Those sites are so full of vitriol. It’s sad to see them. Let’s not mirror them in off-the-cuff condemning comments. The worst comments posted here are nowhere near as bad as many of the comments there, but a few of the things I read on M* make me sad, too.

  20. Delightful. So we know that John Dehlin’s press release on January 16 linked to Dr. King’s profile. It is impossible to confirm using the Wayback Machine that January 16 marked the beginning of the slide in Dr. King’s approval rating, but the data we have is fully consistent with the possibility that four “one star” approval ratings occurred directly as a result of Dr. King’s ecclesiastical role rather than his physician role.

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