Note: The events of recent months have prompted some significant wrestles for faithful members of the Church with sincere questions about vaccines, even leading some to the edge of estrangement. That has compelled me to write this. Although directed primarily at Latter-day Saints cautious about some of the dominant public health messaging about COVID-19 over the last year (and sympathetic to alternative, more natural approaches to healing), I hope some of it might help foster more understanding among those who are neither of these things. Where we disagree strongly about important matters, I keep feeling like the Lord wants us to keep reaching for each other, with love, gentleness, and curiosity.
Come along with me, for a moment, on a little imaginary thought experiment. It’s General Conference, and President Nelson is mid-way through a fall 2020 message on “letting God prevail in our lives.” Then he pauses, and says the following:
As a prophet of God, I must raise my voice about another matter. We are sincerely grateful for new inventions and technological discoveries that have improved the quality of life for so many, including in matters of health. Too often, however, I fear the degree of trust we place in external interventions can unintentionally lead us to discount the Lord’s power in our lives, along with simple adjustments He can inspire us to make in order to improve our health. For instance, scripture and science are both clear on the value of improving what we eat and getting better sleep – with abundant evidence that less stress, and even a little more physical activity can help boost our immunity against disease. Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, may we relish the benefits of greater faith, and inspired daily repentance, including in how we take care of our bodies. Even when we need additional assistance from competent medical practitioners, may we continue to appreciate and explore ways to better care for the “temple of our spirits” – including in serious periods of pandemic.
Furthermore, brothers and sisters, I would add that we need to be cautious about too much power being consolidated into the hands of a few unelected officials to dictate health policy. Although I tend to trust the prevailing recommendations of the health community as a doctor myself, I recognize there are many other wise experts who have raised questions worth taking seriously. And, in this case, I do believe there is reason to be cautious. Just because any particular organization or individual says something, doesn’t make it true – or in line with God’s will. Indeed, the opposite has often been the case in human history, with some of the most popular conclusions being widely promoted as obvious, frequently what followers of Christ need to question the most. So, let’s think for ourselves and make sure to be careful about what we decide to believe and follow.
At that point, the Prophet transitions back to speaking about other matters, before concluding his talk. The conference session ends, and you get up to stretch your legs, and grab your bowl of Kale chips to munch-on as you begin to fry up some organic, pasture-raised, cage-free, non-GMO eggs as part of a late family breakfast (no, I’m not teasing you! We’re suckers enough to pay double for the same eggs). (:
And it’s to you hippie, alternative, natural healing-loving Saints (along with any others with legitimate questions about prevailing public health dictates over the last year) that I’m writing today – not as someone talking down to you, but to someone very much among you. We’re among the many millions, of course, who have harbored serious questions over the last year about dominant messaging around COVID-19 and how to best respond to it. By comparison, if you are one of the many who just (honestly) wish Americans would be more compliant to updated guidelines from the CDC or Dr. Anthony Fauci, this (mostly) isn’t for you.
So, back to the thought experiment. How would that kind of a surprise inclusion at General Conference make you feel, personally? Yes, it might shock your in-laws or neighbors, both of whom look towards modern medicine as an unremitting miracle from God. But, wouldn’t it be somewhat relieving to you – and actually kind of exciting to hear?
If you’ve come to appreciate more natural and complementary approaches to healing as much as my wife and I have, you’d likely come away from such a general conference talk mighty gratified and heartened: “Hey, it’s not every day you get to see the prophet endorsing your own line of thinking, while encouraging others to be more open about it too. What a change from some of the pressure and judgment you’ve been sensing lately! And how cool to see the prophet encouraging us to trust our ability to seek revelation including in health matters, and not just accepting everything we are hearing.”
Okay, time to snap back into reality! As unusual as that kind of public message might seem, I’m aware of leaders in other denominations giving talks just like it. One Baptist pastor, in particular, went viral last year after he dedicated the bulk of his talk to encouraging his congregation to essentially ‘look into the background of Dr. Fauci and his close affiliation with one pharmaceutical company’ as an explanation for why he was hesitant to place so much of our entire nation’s trajectory in his hands. (I would reference his sermon more directly, but it’s been scrubbed off respectable internet forums by Those Who Know Best what we all need).
Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ, of course, have taken a very different approach than this pastor: not raising concern about dominant messaging around COVID-19, and also very much not staying neutral. But very clearly coming down on the side of social distancing, masking, and this spring, in vigorous support of the COVID-19 vaccinations.
To any Saint of the Latter-days with sincere hesitancy about any of these larger directives, this has been a confusing and challenging period, to say the least. To everyone in that camp, I would return to the thought experiment in asking you this:
If the Prophet had felt prompted to share a message like this (more in line with your own concerns and beliefs), what would that mean for the distinctive MISSION OF THE CHURCH – to gather Israel by bringing the fullness of the gospel to those prepared to receive and embrace the covenant pathway of exaltation?
“Well, wouldn’t declaring that truth still be a great thing?” you might wonder – emphasizing all the potential health benefits this could unleash for Church members – from all the missionaries with health problems, to the relief society sisters still praying for something more than just “managing” depression. “And to have a single institution proclaiming all this truth to the world – however unpopular. Let the persecution come!”
Persecution is right. Given the degree to which natural healing (and any critique of mainstream medicine) has been not only stigmatized, but increasingly purged from the internet – it’s not hard to imagine (especially in 2020) what perceptions of the Church being “in line” with natural healing would have meant. I’m confident it would have lead to acute spikes in religious persecution and undoubtedly limitations placed on our social media and online presence – to say nothing about the added skepticism this would bring to many potential investigators and new ammo to our critics (“Hey, check this out: they not only believe in angels, they’re encouraging members to ‘question science’ and mainstream medicine – while being open to quacks and fringe medicine!).
Could this be one reason that some of what you and I believe to be true about healing doesn’t exactly find itself promoted within the Church of Jesus Christ and its leaders today? In other words, that God knows well what would happen if ALL TRUTH ABOUT EVERYTHING were somehow consolidated in a single place?
Ask yourself, honestly, what would it mean for the willingness of people to be gathered to us IF the Church of Jesus Christ became known not only as “those people who are really nice, and earnestly believe that God talks to humans today, and that family can become heaven on earth, and in another book of scripture”…not only THAT – but also “alternative-medicine lovers” and (gasp!) even measurably more “vaccine hesitant.”
Follow me here: IF that’s what this Church became known for publicly, and if ALL truth about ANYTHING had already gathered together under its umbrella…well, honestly, how many people living in this fallen, polarized, fearful world be able to stomach it?
You know the old joke – that “all the Prophet needs to do to make every member fall away is to teach them that God wants us to eat less sugar.”
Maybe it’s no joke! Imagine if God taught His people even harder things than tapering off Ben & Jerry’s?
Could these kinds of reasonable limits-on-what-any-community-can-handle be the reason Joseph Smith used to hint that there was so much more he wanted to say, but sorrow that he couldn’t?
In any given time and place, there will always be larger societal convictions that may not be entirely correct, and which hold incredible sway, but nonetheless which are not central to the gospel message. Think of how many Americans have embraced the prevailing public messaging around COVID-19 over the last year – the vast majority of people everywhere. Do we honestly think dissenting from ALL OF THAT as a Church would increase the chances of people taking our core message seriously?
Not on your life. Because it wouldn’t. You realize that, right?
In other words, if God did as you wish He would – and sent an angel warning the prophets about some Fauci-led-government-pharma-health intrigue threatening the country…if THAT happened (and they spoke out against it), it might well fatally harm the Church’s ability to continue fulfilling it’s distinctive, singular mission right now.
Which is not to simply preserve physical health as long as possible, or to defend ALL truth anywhere, or to warn against (true) conspiracies. It’s really not. That’s sometimes how we see and think of the Prophets – as if they have a sacred responsibility to stand up against ALL that is wrong in the world. And as if everything they say-about-anything (from antidepressants, to vaccines, to masks, to “I heard Elder Uchtdorf kinda likes Joe Biden!?“) reflects the unadulterated Mind and Will of God.
That’s not what Joseph or any modern day prophet has claimed. Yet I respect those who believe that – and follow that. These are the same people who might understandably wonder if this kind of an inner conflict isn’t exactly the kind of moment to show where your heart is, and demonstrate whether you are willing to simply trust and follow the prophet in something that runs contrary to your own biases. I appreciate that too, since the God we worship does and will “wrench our very heartstrings” as John Taylor taught, to prove us. Yet neither President Nelson, nor previous prophets, nor God Himself in scripture, asks people to obey something they cannot feel peace or have their own confirmation of truth about, right?
I also sincerely respect those who would warn us about the slippery slope those last two paragraphs were. Because they are. It’s the very “I’ll follow the prophet as long as he agrees with me” slippery mentality many a family has embraced after adopting the popular narrative of sexuality in America – which so often cuts people simultaneously off from precious prophetic guidance (“one day, they will love gay people as much as I do now.”)
That’s the last thing I want to see, and precisely one of the reasons I’m writing today: to plead that dear brothers and sisters to step away from that edge. Similar estrangement is happening on these health issues too often as well, among those persuaded that the Church, by virtue of encouraging vaccinations, is “cooperating with Bill Gates and the UN” and even “falling into apostasy.”
No, they’re not. Have you felt the thrilling power and reassurance of President Nelson’s core messages at conference in recent years? Please don’t cut yourself off from that! However hard it is to conceive why the Church would take such a direct position on some of this, please recognize that when it comes to these (less central) matters of policy and temporal affairs, these presiding leaders are earnestly doing what they feel will best help the Church as a whole fulfill it’s mission.
EVEN IF you’re right about the vaccines (and they introduce more risk than benefit), I’m simply pointing out that these authorized servants of God might still be exactly right (and inspired) to openly, publicly support the prevailing health recommendations.
Remember that it was Jesus Himself who famously taught that there are times when it’s not right to “resist evil” (not a favorite scripture of culture warriors today).
But could that really apply here? Certainly, the Lord doesn’t call His followers to be push-overs either. We’ve been encouraged to stand up for what is right, even if it’s unpopular. But you might sensibly read Jesus as saying, essentially, “don’t try and fight every battle. Try and be wise – and not inadvertently rile people up needlessly when it’s not central to our mission.”
And maybe this isn’t our battle…even if it’s worth fighting on other fronts? That is, if there are problems to come with the vaccines (unintended side effects or long-term effects), maybe it’s really not what God wants us to fixate on as a people, nor these leaders to warn people about generally.
The gathering of all truth. To reiterate, I respect that many other Saints believe all truth is already gathered into our own community. I would simply point to the increasing numbers of statements about the “ongoing nature of the restoration,” as Elder LeGrand Curtis Jr. wrote in 2020. In 2014, President Dieter Uchtdorf likewise taught the following in General Conference:
Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal” (Articles of Faith 1:9). The exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Of course, these are the same statements that some activist elements like to leverage to insist they know what the Prophet will be teaching in a few years about sexuality…want to hear?
So, let me be doubly clear: I honor the prophetic mantle to unfold the message of salvation. No one else possesses it in its fullest expression. While I believe with all my heart that part of our mission is, yes, gathering ALL truth, goodness and power into this community of Saints – I’m simply pointing out that it’s hard to read justification in prophetic teaching for that being complete. Instead, I read scriptural statements like the following as clarifying that the fulfillment of this Zion (and the gathering of all good ideas in one) is something we will yet witness in the days ahead:
It is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world.
Have we arrived at that “whole and complete and perfect union” of powers and truth? I don’t see anyone making that argument. Once again, while we rightfully believe that the keys of this total gathering are here, I don’t know that anyone has ever claimed more than that.
Not yet, at least. Instead, what I personally see happening is that different communities of thoughtful, good-hearted people are gathering around different areas of truth all around the world. While we gather people around the fulness of truth in terms of spiritual, eternal redemption, there are inspiring other bodies of people gathering around what many of us consider higher truth in matters of health (and other areas too).
If so, rather than pretend that our faith community has become the receptacle of “all truth,” ours can be the joyful mission, as Brigham Young once taught, to continue to “gather every item of truth… found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion.”
As Dr. Richard Williams taught us so well as undergraduates at BYU, the apostasy was not confined to the religious realm – with all areas experiencing a falling away from truth. He went on to suggest that the discipline of psychology itself needed a legitimate sort of “restoration” – and that we shouldn’t simply accept prevailing teachings in the field as right and true.
That’s what I’m talking about. Those who embrace these disruptive higher “truths about psychology” are not the same ones – generally speaking – as the people who have embraced the “higher truth” about religion. And likewise, those who have embraced “higher truth” in terms of mindfulness practice, are not the same as those who have embraced the truth of the restoration (many of whom continue to see mindfulness as devilry). Although there clearly are some overlaps in all these groupings, more often these communities see each other with great skepticism.
I would say the same thing about Christ-centered energy healing, natural healing for cancer or heart disease, and a more sustainable approach to helping people find healing from depression/anxiety. I have followed for years many inspired thinkers who have advocated mental health approaches and practices that I have a testimony can lead people to deeper, more lasting healing. I’ve written about this often over the years (even recently) – while watching our own faith community continue to follow a remarkably conventional policy (most missionaries with mental health problems in my parents’ mission were encouraged towards medical management).
Do I believe this is a mistake? Yes, I honestly do. But an understandable one, in a society where prevailing narratives encourage everyone in this direction, and larger systemic imperatives make it very risky for any large organization to deviate from the so-called “best practice” of dominant medical dictates (I say “so-called” because as my own research is confirming, many of these best practices have been shaped by undue influence from Pharma funding. Very few best practice guides, for instance, pay any attention to non-medical interventions – or to the long-term outcomes of the medical interventions they inevitably recommend as “first line” treatment).
Although I continue to be saddened at how few Saints seem open or interested in these possibilities (and how much they suffer while embracing the same philosophies, systems and interventions as everyone else – see here and here and here), it no longer surprises me. Once again, I believe the fullest expression of truth is being received in different communities, to differing degrees.
Which brings us back to COVID-19, and the consistently status quo approach we have seen leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ take towards masking, social distancing, lock-down, vaccinations, etc. On one level, this perhaps shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows of Latter-day Saint commitment to be “subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
But what happen when the dictates of prevailing authorities turn out to be harmful – and lead people in a risky, or even dangerous direction? That’s certainly what many of us suspected about some of the directions America is going with both our health and economy over the last year. What then?
In that case, wouldn’t God warn the presiding leaders of His Church and Kingdom on earth?
Once again, maybe not. Not if doing so would complicate and interfere with the singular mission He needs this body of believers to perform in the Latter-days: not proclaiming a message of physical healing (however important that may be), but instead, raising the message of eternal salvation to all the world…with an eye laser-focused on that message, undistracted by other (otherwise noble) causes and efforts.
Remember, this is the same Lord who told both his ancient and modern day disciples to “care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.” Even though we know the Lord certainly cares about temporal matters of health, it doesn’t appear to be His top priority, right? So, should we be surprised His Church and Kingdom isn’t on board with all the various health crusades of our day? (many of which we may personally still find inspiring, necessary, and right?)
If you’re still unpersuaded, check out this passage from Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s book, Things as They Really Are:
The living church will not be unmindful of political [we might add “health”] movements (righteous or unrighteous), but these will not be the focus of its activity and its energy anymore than Jesus Christ was drawn off to use his perfect talents and energies in settling the disputes between the Rome and the Jews anciently. There were surely wrongs to be remedied, but Jesus had more important things to do then and now…. So it is with the living Church today….its mission is to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ and to perfect a people.
Maybe God doesn’t want his prophets poking at every sacred cow…For the Lord’s own purposes, maybe he’s not only okay if His servants take for granted a few things in larger society, he needs them to.
Not just out of naivete. But out of wisdom, and celestial strategy.
At least according to God’s designs. To be clear, I’m not arguing President Nelson and other leaders are consciously shying away from important truths “strategically.” I believe they’re sincere in what they see and advance as the best for the Church. I’m simply suggesting that God (who knows more than all of us) is deliberate about what is revealed (and is not revealed) in order to further His work.
All this to keep us focused on the most important matters. Remember what President Nelson reiterated more recently, that “the gathering of Israel is the most important thing taking place on the earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty.” (And yes, he means it: nothing compares in importance to this – not even convincing them to stay away from GMO products, exercise more, or warning people about potential side-effects or unknown long-term effects of conventional treatments).
Harder questions to face. Fair enough, you say. So, maybe this simply isn’t part of the mission of Christ’s Church on earth today. Not yet, at least – not at this stage (anticipating a day when all truth comes together in one). And maybe you’re right that attempting to do so prematurely would complicate our ability to do exactly that.
So, if these matters are so external to the Church’s singular mission, why say anything about them at all? Why not stay a little more neutral, kind of like we do with politics, where before every election, the membership is reassured that “principles of truth may be found in many political parties.”
That’s a good question. Could not a similar approach be taken towards the many competing philosophies of health? I would think so. But instead of that, the Church has come out strongly in favor of conventional approaches – encouraging members to trust “competent medical practitioners.” They have also taken strong public stances against alternatives – adding official policy statements against “energy healing” that have become over-interpreted to condemn all such practitioners as a categorical threat to healing. (Especially after seeing such statements give license to other members in piling on natural medicine and venting about how evil and “inspired by Satan” energy healing is, I’ve written in this same venue to encourage people to appreciate meaningful diversity among such healers, many of whom are humble followers of Christ seeking to receive the spiritual “gift of healing” and with total commitment to the the Lord and His Church).
Precedent in our sacred tradition. While yes, Latter-day Saints seek to follow the living prophet first, above any other counsel in the past, it’s worth acknowledging the diversity of perspectives in these matters looking back. That is, it’s not hard to find in our own sacred cannon and history, encouragement towards natural healing approaches, alongside pointed critique towards mainstream established medicine of prior eras (which share strong resonances with mainstream health philosophies today) – from the New Testament woman who “had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,” to the Book of Mormon statement:
And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land — but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate.
Joseph Smith and Brigham Young both had strong reservations about conventional medicine of their day (which likewise prioritized giving people synthetic compounds with assurances of immediate positive benefits to ensue, without other adjustments to their lives). Consider this statement from the prophet’s records:
I preached to a large congregation at the stand, on the science and practice of medicine, desiring to persuade the Saints to trust in God when sick, and not in an arm of flesh, and live by faith and not by medicine, or poison; and when they were sick, and had called for the Elders to pray for them, and they were not healed, to use herbs and mild food.” (Joseph Smith – History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sunday September 4, 1841,Vol. 4:414)
Joseph Smith later warned members about those physicians “going about the country pretending to cure you of all diseases, and you swallow what they give you like young robins, without knowing what it is. I wonder you don’t die, taking their nostrums!”
As you see in the notes, the Prophet himself practiced this in his own healing. In a detailed historical summary, John Heinerman has noted that “Throughout his entire life, the Prophet [Joseph] endorsed ONLY men of botanical medicine” and “surrounded himself with the very best herbalists of his day; he made them his intimate acquaintances”– adding that Levi Richards was appointed “surgeon-general of the Nauvoo Legion” simply because he “prescribed no calomel” (recall that calomel-induced mercury poisoning is what killed the prophet’s older brother Alvin, administered with assurances it would cure his condition).
It would be a joy to many of us if the health-ideological diversity of committed disciples (both past and present) were more acknowledged by leaders today. That would surely create an environment encouraging the pursuit of truth “wherever it comes from,” rather than adding more pressure to accept the prevailing approaches to healing around us.
One woman told me recently about how much pressure she had received from fellow members and leaders to get vaccinated, with strong insinuations that failing to do so was a failure in having “faith in the Prophet.” In some wards, there are constant reminders in bulletins and from the pulpit that those unvaccinated needed to “mask-up” – and even calls to repentance to those who dissent. Needless to say, those harboring questions about any of these dominant medical and public health dictates have had some unique challenges navigating Church interactions of late. Rather than simply being seen as holding a different philosophy of health, the vaccine question has turned for many into a question of being “faithful” enough (or “loving” enough or “honest” enough in our lives).
Those are hard accusations to live with – even if we know they’re not true.
And it’s to these people I’m writing today. To those deeply troubled and trying to reconcile what they believe to be true in matters of health and faith. I’ve made the case for why it may be expedient that things unfold this way, and highlight a place where you can stand.
It’s true, some may read all the foregoing as simply elaborate rationalizations for not heeding strong prophetic counsel about COVID-19 vaccination, similar to excuses for people come up with on other challenging teachings. They might wonder, “how can you resist vaccination when the Prophet has been so clear?”
Respecting those for whom the questions are black and white, it’s simply not so clear for some of us. Nor have we been able to find peace about following this medical recommendation. So, what are we to do? Should this really become a new litmus test for who is faithful enough?
I would certainly hope not, because God doesn’t ask us to follow what we don’t have our own confirmation and peace about (especially when it comes to something clearly not “core” to our doctrine, like matters of sexuality and family are). Nor, however, does he want us to jettison all the amazing goodness and beauty in the Church if we happen to find ourselves disagreeing with a certain policy or position. To the critics, then, who might ask, “how can you continue to support an organization that disagrees with one of your convictions?”
This is how. And my explanation for how I’ve reconciled it.
Rather than seeking to justify disobedience, a disregard of prophetic counsel, or “cafeteria-style religion” my overriding intent is very much in the other direction: encouraging a continuation of trust in the sacred mission of the Church, even if (after serious prayer and consideration) you can’t get on board with the vaccine. For many of the people deciding against the vaccine, it’s painful not to be following the prophet’s counsel. Describing two other women in our neighborhood who have made this same decision, my wife said “these are the kind of women who took out their earrings during President Hinckley’s talk where he counseled against double-piercings.” As one person said on Facebook, “I won’t be getting it either and this has absolutely NOTHING to do with my faithfulness in following a Prophet of God.”
Even harder questions. So, even if you’ve been persuaded of the foregoing, you might still wonder: how can any of this really be okay? To have the prophet we love encouraging members in a direction that many of us find so concerning?
I’m not going to pretend this has been easy, but one day as I was contemplating this all, the experience in the Garden of Eden came to mind, specifically, the time where Adam and Eve had been given two conflicting commands – and not by accident.
Multiply and replenish the earth…and DON’T eat the fruit of that tree that would get you there!
How could a God of order, and clarity, and light, and love possibly put them in such a dilemma?
Maybe because He’s not as worried as we are about us squirming and struggling – and facing challenging questions. Maybe because He knows that’s how we’ll grow the most….and precisely what we need to expand our minds and hearts.
I know I’ve learned a lot as I’ve been sitting with this – especially about how to seek revelation and hear Him for myself, as President Nelson has been pleading with us to do. I’ve also thought a lot about how different it is to “hold questions humbly” – even and especially serious ones, compared with holding them angrily, bitterly, and starting to cast aspersions at the other side.
We’ve unfortunately seen plenty of that in recent months. Just look at the comment section of the Desert News on any vaccine article, and you’ll see the bickering, the ugliness, the dismissiveness, the attacks.
There is another way. I’ve written about the unique challenges of pursuing that elsewhere (Is Vaccine Dialogue Even Possible?). Moving this direction might not be as dramatic, and exciting, and get as many emoji’s on Facebook. But you sure can sleep better at night.
Core to healthy dialogue is granting that however passionate any of us might feel, those who disagree with you or me do so because they’ve concluded that is the right way to go. They’ve thought about it. They’ve examined. And they’ve reached a different conclusion.
Is that okay? (A challenging question for folks on both sides of this!)
To some, this whole piece may be hard to hear – at least without judging me as being ignorant, selfish, or reckless even in writing this. (I imagine some might question the wisdom of saying anything that might reassure those with vaccine concerns that they have space to hold them. Shouldn’t we keep the pressure on? No. The pressure has been incredible, and relentless. Any more borders on coercion).
As I emphasized recently, vaccine skeptics are becoming the most persecuted
minority in America – and responsible (in the prevailing view of health), for setting at risk the entire collective health of the country.
These are serious concerns, and I don’t begrudge brothers and sisters who hold them sincerely. I would simply ask you to respect space for people to see and feel differently than you.
All this being said, let me be clear: When the prophets of the Latter-days give counsel, our first, sacred obligation is to consider it humbly, prayerfully, and seriously. That’s what I hope everyone will do, about anything our presiding leaders say.
If after that, however, you cannot find peace to move forward…don’t bolt! Don’t run away from us. There may be reasons the Lord has led the prophets to speak as they have, and act as they do – reasons that go beyond our understanding.
With humility and love, I’ve tried to articulate what some of those may be in this case. Certainly, these won’t be compelling to those who have been able to embrace prophetic counsel about vaccinations fully. To them, they rightly wonder whether the ideal shouldn’t still be attempting to embrace that counsel fully, and with our hearts.
I agree that’s the ideal – and I do aspire to that like all Latter-day Saints. I’m simply saying here that if you can’t, maybe there’s a reason for the Church taking a different direction than your own conscience.
And maybe that’s okay.
Jacob Z. Hess, Ph.D., writes about the implications of competing socio-political and health narratives – and what it takes to preserve public conversation where open exploration of truth in these matters is still possible. To read more, visit: http://unthinkable.cc
 “Wednesday, June 14 (1837). I continued to grow worse and worse until my sufferings were excruciating, and although in the midst of it all I felt to rejoice in the salvation of Israel’s God, yet I found it expedient to call to my assistance those means which a kind Providence had provided for the restoration of the sick, in connection with the ordinances; and Dr. Levi Richards, at my request, administered to me herbs and mild food, and nursed me with all tenderness and attention; and my heavenly Father blessed his administrations to the easing and comforting of my system, for I began to mend in a short time, and in a few days I was able to resume my usual labors.” (DHC 2:493)
I’ve heard from several concerned about my writing this. I want to be clear this has not been an easy thing to write, and that my wife and I have grappled over the question in our own family – and have sought to be prayerful and humble. I also waited six months after President Nelson’s counsel on purpose, so I wouldn’t be actively influencing anyone considering his direction. By this point, those who have received the vaccination have done so – and those who have not, are still hesitant. I have not shared this on social media, and don’t plan to – hoping, instead, that it finds its way to the people in distress over their faith, and in a way that is reassuring that they can still very much be a part of us! In response to push-back and concern raised, I would also add this:
Can disciples of Christ disagree about the best philosophy of health and healing, while still being united in their loved of the gospel and our living prophets? It was people concluding no – I can’t be a part of this Church anymore if I disagree with the prophet’s counsel on vaccination – that prompted me to finally publish this piece. To those who have reached out with concerns, I want to say I hear your frustration and worries. I really do. And I’m glad you trusted me to hear it too.
I’m well aware of how delicate a conversation this is – and how easily my own suggestions may be taken as another Mormon Building Bridges-style “let’s appreciate all the ways we know better than the prophet.” That was not my intent. I wanted to reassure fellow brothers and sisters to KEEP trusting the prophet and this beautiful Church, even IF they grappled with their presiding direction on vaccination – encouraging them to consider why God may have inspired a course of action they may feel personally uncomfortable with. It felt like the right thing to do – and still does.
I don’t believe what many of you do about the medical orthodoxy of our day. If you had experienced what I had in my life, you might feel similar reservations. Thank you for trying to respect the space for me and others to follow our conscience in these matters, as we seek to do for you too.
I especially appreciated this evaluation from a professor I greatly respect at BYU, especially his last sentence: “Bravo. This is the way such problems must be pondered. It may be that the Church had no choice but to line up with the mainstream on this one, or spend all of its social capital on one issue.“
Thank you so much for this post!! I wholeheartedly agree.
Thank you for presenting this in such a sensitive and wise way. And there are those of us with vaccine hesitancy who are not just the hippie natural health types. Some of us actually have medical backgrounds as well.
I have no problem with those hesitant with taking the vaccine. I do have a problem with those who have denied the dangers of the Covid 19 virus, and have scoffed at using social distancing, masking in public places, etc. As a Libertarian, I believe we are free, as long as we do not do harm to others.
That the hospitals in America are not straining under massive numbers of patients due to Covid, means that the vaccines do work. I agree there is concern for long term issues, such as those being studied right now (brain clots for women, heart issues for some groups). Guess what, people? Every medicine we take comes with a risk. Ever read the warning sheet that comes with the medications you take? Scary.
We’ve had almost 600K deaths directly or indirectly related to Covid 19 in the past year. So far, bad side effects for the vaccines are minimal in comparison. Hopefully that will continue.
As long as you do not put others in danger, feel free to live your lives.
That said, the statements from the prophets may or may not be fully guided by a big revelation. More likely, President Nelson, a heart surgeon, used his medical expertise as well as the Spirit to guide his decisions on these things, just as Pres Oaks used his judicial experience to teach us about the Constitution, and that “black lives matter is an eternal principle.” None of this required a big revelation, just wisdom and spiritual connection.
That said, members (including sometimes GAs) tend more towards personal experience and bias than the Spirit on things. God teaches us to the level we are ready for, which is probably why there was a priesthood ban which lasted for over a century. You’ll note we don’t quote from the Journal of Discourses as we did 40 years ago. Our biases often cloud the spiritual experience we seek. Joseph asked God 3 times if Martin Harris could take the manuscript. He got the answer he sought that supported his bias. The Nephites gathered in Bountiful didn’t recognize the voice until the third time.
There are commandments from the Lord, and then there is guidance. The Word of Wisdom once was guidance. Brigham Young made it a commandment. For decades, most members read it in such a way to disallow caffeine drinks. I’ve had members look down on me for drinking Dr Pepper (there was a time when I looked down on some, too). People criticized Mitt Romney for drinking diet Coke, saying he shouldn’t have a temple recommend. The Church finally had to step in.
We should all be responsible in our decisions. Take or don’t take the vaccine, but don’t risk others’ health by not taking the vaccine and then not take the precautions to protect others (social distancing, masking, etc). We each are our brother’s keeper. That is more important than doing your own thing.
Jacob, very well done indeed. You make a lot of good points, but I want to reiterate two that I think are especially important: 1)the Church will not always support your political views or views on health or views on other issues, and we need to remember that the Church is not about worldly considerations and that God allows us the freedom to find our own paths on these issues and 2)a lot of the mortal test will be how we treat other people who disagree with us during these times of stress.
The “milk before meat” principle has always been a tough one for me.
I don’t think you understand the motivations behind vaccine hesitancy among those of us who haven’t yet taken the vaccine, and don’t plan to in the near future. It has nothing to do with alternative health or natural healing, and everything to do with the growing mistrust of public institutions.
Outside of the church, our leaders have opportunistically and cynically used this pandemic, and public fear of it, to push their various agendas (remove Trump from power, increase government power, expand the surveillance state), and tens of thousands of people have died unnecessarily as a result. The internet and social media infrastructure that governs so much of our public interaction has been exploited to create a nightmare dystopia, where stories that contradict the established narrative regardless of whether or not they are true are artificially suppressed, using tools that would have made George Orwell blush.
For example, nine months ago the Wuhan lab leak theory was verboten, and any public discussion of it (most notably by Zerohedge) led to censorship, throttling, and even outright bans. Now, it increasingly looks that the theory is not only plausible, but the most likely source for the outbreak. Another example: a couple of weeks ago, a Project Veritas whisteblower in Facebook made public documents showing that Facebook is building a program that scores posted content (currently in comments, but it is in process of being expanded across the site) based on “vaccine hesitancy,” in order to prevent skeptical discussion of the vaccine. The documents explicitly state that stories which are true but lead to vaccine hesitancy will receive a higher score and thus be throttled or banned.
I am not into alternative health or natural healing. I have close family members who work for Bayer/Monsanto, and I spent a summer working in their warehouse. No problem with GMOs at all. We make bread with sourdough, homemade yogurt from a natural culture and we use cast iron cookware, but that’s about as lovey dovey hippy dippy woo woo as we get. Our 1 year-old daughter is getting all of the standard vaccines and we’re following all of the standard health advise. However, we are not getting the covid-19 vaccine and here’s why:
1) We all had this virus back in January. Therefore, we already have natural immunity.
2) Safe, tested, and widely available therapies for this virus already exist. When we had it, we used a combination of vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc to mitigate the worst of it, and got through it just fine. Barring the emergence of a deadly mutation that can bypass natural immunity—and the science (the actual science, not the “science!” pop-culture garbage that subjects actual scientific history to the daily ten minutes of hate and exalts figures like Anthony “I am science” Fauci to the status of cult leader) suggests that mutations are likely to make the virus less deadly, not more.
3) The vaccines are experimental and have not been long-term tested.
4) Adverse reactions to the experimental vaccines, up to and including death, are several orders of magnitude higher than other established vaccines, and appear to be more common among those who have already had the virus. Which is not surprising, given the experimental nature of the vaccines.
5) There is a coordinated effort among the press to suppress this data, up to and including publishing actual lies.
6) There is a coordinated effort among the Big Tech platforms to suppress this data as well.
7) Aside from the church, all of the public figures and institutions that are pushing to get everyone vaccinated have cynically lied to us throughout the course of the pandemic, from the very beginning.
At this point, the church is, in my opinion, the only institution that has not impeached itself by its response to the pandemic. In fact, the changes that the Brethren made in 2018-2019 that transitioned us to a home-centered, church-supported church were very clearly prophetic and divinely inspired. The fact that the Brethren have all gotten the vaccine confirms to me that the crazier conspiracy theories—for example, that the vaccines are designed to kill or sterilize most of the world’s population, and the virus was engineered deliberately in order to create the health panic necessary to drive widespread adoption of these population control measures masquerading as vaccines—are false. Otherwise, based solely on the way our political leaders and public institutions have cynically and repeatedly lied to us, I would have to consider such theories to be plausible, because if there’s anything that this pandemic has repeatedly proven, it’s that accusation is projection is confession, and if they tell us something is false, we should take it as confirmation that it is true.
Thank you for the time and energy you took to write this. I needed it. I’ve not struggled with my faith in, or testimony of, the Church taking such a strong stance on the vaccines, but definitely been curious why they have, and have asked myself many of the questions you’ve raised. Thank you for bringing these questions to light, and for bringing some light to these questions.
Just as you’ve felt to think about Adam and Eve’s conundrum, I have felt the counsel to “be not weary in well-doing,” to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause,” and to not wait to be compelled. Not every battle is the Church’s to fight (“fight” isn’t the right word here but you know what I mean). But that doesn’t mean that we, as Saints, aren’t still called and individually inspired to be anxiously engaged in good causes. I felt during Pres. Oaks’ recent conference talk on the Constitution, that that was exactly what he was urging us to do – to be anxiously engaged in good causes, even if those causes are ones the Church will not, or cannot (for whatever inspired reason) take up.
You have done a fine job of following his other counsel: “On contested issues, we should seek to moderate and unify.”
Joe, I think you may be surprised how many people agree with your sentiments. I would estimate that half of the people in my ward and most of my friends and family outside of church agree with your comment. The only point I would make is that Jacob is aware of this position, so he understands it. He has a different approach, and there is room for a big tent of people in the “vaccine hesitancy” camp.
By the way, I am going to say this because it is basic common sense: these vaccines are brand new and have not gone through the usual long-term trials that all other vaccines have gone through. They have still not gotten full FDA approval. People who are at high risk from COVID should consider getting the vaccines, and I would imagine almost all of them already have. Those of us who are not at high risk (especially those of us who have already gotten the virus and have developed antibodies) should not be condemned for waiting to see which vaccine is the safest and most effective.
One thing not mentioned is those that have vaccine hesitation due to the cell lines used from aborted fetuses. There are those both in the Catholic Church and ours who have concerns about this.
Thank you to Rita, who brought up the ethical problem of taking vaccines where aborted fetal stem cell lines were used in testing (and with J&j even in production). This is very troubling to me and adds fuel to my resistance to taking an untried vaccine using new technology. The spike protein they use is nasty, sticky, and goes directly to female reproductive organs (oddly it doesn’t do the same in males). We need more information and drug companies need to stop using fetal cell lines.
I am an active member of the church and I have a child who is gay. I have been on the receiving end of a lot of uninvited advice from members taking an exact obedience stance about my child and by extension my family. At one point, that was painful and hard to navigate. Then COVID-19 happened and I’ve watched those same members string along a new story line of “I follow the prophet, but…”. What was that thing they used to warn me about? It was something about cafeteria style religion. Honestly, it has been so clarifying for me. Those members loved exact obedience when it didn’t make them uncomfortable. I’m so appreciative that their true colors shined through and it has helped me to strengthen my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. This new situation we find ourselves in is kind of comical. It’s also interesting that there is concern that these members be treated with a special level of sensitivity. I would have loved that same treatment. Ah, well.
A Mom, can you please state what the exact guidance from the prophets has been on COVID-19? Not just prophets doing things (like getting vaccinated themselves) but prophets telling members what THEY should do. What is the guidance?
Thank you, Joe. Ever since working for a government department in the late 80s, I lost much of my “faith” in government provided health care. While asserting over and over publicly that Agent Orange was absolutely not responsible for cancer, or any long term damage caused by exposure to AO was false. Hmmmm. I wondered and even asked a coworker why all veterans exposed to AO had their charts very prominently designated as such. The whole this was beyond repugnant to me, say one thing, do another. My coworker, a Vietnam veteran himself, told me to “forget about it” and “don’t make waves”.
Draw your own conclusions, but I haven’t trusted the government 100% since then.
Thanks for the comments everyone. I appreciate the points you reiterate, Geoff – and how you summarize them. Joe & Elizabeth – I have tried to clarify the scope and diversity of concerns among Saints declining the vaccine – aka, “And it’s to you hippie, alternative, natural healing-loving Saints (along with any others with legitimate questions about prevailing public health dictates over the last year).”
To “A Mom who Loves her Kid and Finds this All Kind of Funny” I agree it’s an interesting contrast. I’m sorry you haven’t always felt the support or love you and your child have needed. Christ wants us all to aspire for that more. As I pointed out in the piece, I do think there’s a difference in that vaccinations are not a core doctrine like family and sexuality are – and I agree with the concerns against “cafeteria style” religion.
I’ll admit I’ve struggled with this a little more than I thought I would and I do understand a lot of your points. I think the Lord is as practical as He is pure and sometimes let his Prophets lead by the former for the long term benefit of the latter. I’ve not ruled out getting this shot, but timing is huge for me. I am not an anti-vaxxer, but I do think the industry needs some common sense overhauls.
A few extra thoughts.
I realize gene therapy has been around for years, and that dictionaries are descriptive, rather than prescriptive, but a year or two ago this shot technically didn’t fit the definition of a vaccine. That bugs me a bit. I wonder how many who have already had the vaccine would still have done so if it was exclusively referred to as gene therapy.
I feel like it’s been impressed upon me in recent months that the destroying angel may not only take the form of tobacco industries, beer companies, and other drug enterprises, but may also occasionally be hiding behind some of the more good intentions of pharmaceutical companies. I do think it possible that living the WoW and keeping other covenants may filter out all but those good intentions more often than not.
More @rameumpton. Early on in this pandemic I realized if I wanted to stay as close to truth as possible, I was going to have to avoid limiting my data to epidemiology alone. My decisions have been informed by broader medical science, nutritional science, psychological science, social science, economic science, and criminal science, among others. I’ve tried to check any selfish motivations at the door at all times. I’ve actually come to the conclusion that for all but the most at risk and their primary care-givers, wearing a mask does more harm than good, and that a case could be made to make wearing them (especially in youth) illegal. However, the libertarian in me says that’s not a good idea, nor do I think those that wear them are selfish. I’ve never doubted it for a moment actually. I just wish more would actually entertain the idea that those who don’t wear masks may have come to that decision through selflessness as well. Truth be told, I do wear them where asked. It’s left me wondering how far I’m willing to compromise to make others feel comfortable even if I don’t always think they’re becoming safer.
My friend (I have spoken about her before) is very upset about the recent email saying that wearing a face covering is a sign of Christlike love. She does not believe that there are benefits to masks …. All the things. I am less passionate about it – I will wear one when asked – don’t seek it out for sure – but I respect that Covid has had some horrible consequences for some – but so have lockdowns, etc… I am waiting and seeing as far as the vaccine goes – unsure about so much. I don’t want to be flippant about something God may have inspired – but …. I don’t feel right about it either at this point.
Anyhow I try to tell her they aren’t calling you un-Christlike ….. but of course she doesn’t buy that response-the email was pretty direct. I did point out to her that it was also pretty specific to going to the temple. Just wondering what others thought about the email I guess.
Kristin, I live in Colorado and i did not receive that email. Maybe it was only sent to people in your area? Just curious.
I just went to the temple for the first time since February 2020, and no masks, no social distancing, no temperature checks. We had to make an appointment, so you can’t walk into the temple from the street without appointments. And of course we are only doing baptisms and live ordinances at this point — no endowments, no initiatories, etc.
Geoff B and/or Jared:
Could one of you guys do a post on the Delta variant from India ?
I’ve read a little about it, but can’t trust the news source.
What worries me, ___if the reports are true___, is that it is more transmissible (higher R0) and is causing hospitalizations among the under 30’s and under 40’s in Britain. It’s causing a more severe illness than the original strain, …. allegedly.
I can’t tell if this is merely because most over 40’s in Britain are vaxxed, and becasue they did, or are doing, it by reverse age order, the under 40/30 cohort just hasn’t reached herd immunity like the over 40’s have.
If travel between US and UK is open, then it seems likely we’ll get the delta variant too.
Is this a thing to worry about for us? Aren’t we less vaxxed than UK at this point?
Or is the news over-playing the reporting from the UK ?
And which of our 3 vaccines is best against the delta variant? which should an unvaxxed person get at this point?
Can we trust the report that the JJ vax is 60% effective against the delta variant, and the two mRNA ones are 88% after the two doese?
Book, I think we are going to have to wait and see a bit on this issue. You are correct to be skeptical of all information the medical establishment is pushing right now. As you can see if you do any kind of search (i don’t use Google), there is a major push on right now to scare people about the Delta variant. My default opinion is that this is mostly not about health and is mostly about finding a new excuse to lock people down, get them all wearing masks again, forcing people to take the experimental vaccines, etc. My default opinion is to not believe most things pushed by the medical establishment, and lo and behold, I have been right since the beginning of this pandemic. However, there is always a possibility that the delta variant really is something to worry about. So, let’s follow the news and see what happens. A trustworthy source is the DarkHorse podcast from Bret Weinstein. I would highly recommend listening to some of his recent podcasts that have featured, among other things, the inventor of the MRNA technology used in some of the vaccines. Weinstein is currently taking Ivermectin but has not been vaccinated. He knows more about this subject than just about anybody you will ever encounter, certainly more than I do and more than the anti-science medical establishment defenders who lurk and troll this blog. (By the way, Weinstein predicted back at the beginning of the pandemic that the virus was the result of gain of function research taking place in Wuhan labs, and of course he got canceled for saying this, but of course he was also correct).
Book, as a friend, I would encourage you to remember the following quotation from Carl Sagan:
“At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes–an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”
You will notice that there are people, including many LDS “scientists,” who will defend to the death whatever the medical establishment is saying. These people are almost always wrong and never scientific because they don’t accept new ideas and are quick to call anybody who disagrees with them a conspiracy theorist. They would have loved persecuting Galileo.
So, do your own research and continue to be skeptical of the establishment. I said from the beginning that the best defense against COVID was a strong immune system, Vitamin D and a healthy lifestyle of being out in the sun and getting exercise. I was open to hydroxychloriquine and I am open to Ivermectin. I am open to getting vaccinated — eventually — after the results are in from the current worldwide human vaccine experiment that the establishment is foisting upon us. As for variants, let’s wait and see and be very, very skeptical.
Here’s the thing, Church leaders didn’t need to say anything about this. They could have stayed out of it and allowed everyone to do their own study, ponder and prayer – then focused on hearing HIM. As of June 4th, 2021 there have been 329,021 reports, including 5,888 deaths submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System for the US. Bare in mind, studies show less then 1% of adverse reactions, including deaths, are reported. How many of those injuries and deaths were from people that put their trust in the leaders? Are those injuries and deaths justified for the sake of spreading the gospel?
“As long as you do not put others in danger…”
Obese people have weaker immune systems and shed viral particles by several orders of magnitude.
Fit people (multiple hours of exercise weekly) have healthier immune systems, get sick less, and infect others less.
If we’re going to play science, let’s tell the whole story.
Ban alcohol. (WHO says there’s no safe amount to consume).
Tax anyone with a BMI over 25 to cover additional medical costs on society.
Require anyone with a BMI over 30 to wear a mask on public.
Too much to ask of your neighbor? Get fit, you’ll be fine. Whatabouts the frail, etc.?
Well, it’s clear where the problem lies that affect all society more than even covid has.
All of human history seems to be bad actors externalizing their problems and pathologies onto the rest of society.
The problem with playing science and politics is the science is always lacking and we can always limit liberty by focusing on one data point and ignoring or being ignorant of another.
Let’s make decisions on principle that allows individuals to govern themselves.
I got covid from overweight people the week they got vaxed (who went a year without infection until getting vaxd). I know several others the same.
I was in close proximity to 10 others who didn’t get sick. Because my body fought off the infection like a healthy body is designed to with no long term effect other than some fingernail strain. I was working out (solo) the very week I was infected.
This is not to shame anyone. It’s understandable why 80% of our country is in the path to diabetes. We need to focus on what works and makes us stronger. For a year we focused on the wrong thing. Newsflash vaccines and masks will not make you healthy. Sunlight, exercise and drastically less sugar and starch will.
Maybe those are liberties we need to direct society towards….
Re: About Pres. Nelson’s views? He’s as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. He’s not giving the secret combinations any reason to tear down the church and members. Let the building built without a foundation eventually fall on its own. If that includes getting a needle to the arm instead of nails to the hands, so be it.
I think public health officials have acted in good faith, generally speaking, in matters of masks, distancing, and vaccines. Of course, there may have been some overreach in some cases, but I generally prefer local officials making local decisions rather than national officials making national decisions, especially in a country as large and diverse as ours. I am glad that church leaders, very early on, set good examples for us regarding masks, distancing, and vaccines.
found 2 stat resources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_the_United_Kingdom
The recent uptick in the UK is likely being over-hyped. It could be explained by the fact that 20-somethings are the last group to get the vax there, combined with the delta variant opening that group to more infections than the primary strain did.
Book, you were correct that the UK situation has been WAY over-hyped. It turns out that hospitalizations are way down in the UK. The Delta variant has proven to be less dangerous than other variants, but unfortunately it is being used as an excuse to keep up the lockdowns, the mask mandates, etc. More information here:
@Geoff: There’s a glaring faulty analysis in that Blaze article. A case could be made that the reason why the fatalty rate of unvaccinated people getting the virus is lower than the fatality rate of vaccinated people getting the virus is….. the vaccinated people consist of the older and at-risk population, and the unvaccinated people are younger and healthier. The young got the jab last, and not as many, percentage-wise, got it as compared to older people. So naturally, the younger and healthier had a lower fatality rate.
The total vaccinated population of the UK is at least twice the size of the total unvaccinated population, but had only 1/2 the infections, and about the same number of deaths.
I’d say that that was evidence that the vax worked and prevented deaths. If the older population had not been vaxxed, there would have been at least 4x as many infections and an even greater increase of deaths among the older age groups. (The vax reduces the severity of the illness in those who still get the virus.)
IMO, the article’s author used false logic or faulty reasoning. He essentially compared young vs old (apples and oranges) while making it look like he was only comparing vaxxed versus unvaxxed. In other words, the comparison analysis did not control for age or at-risk status.
So my conclusion is that not just at-risk people need the jab, but also all care-givers and health-care workers.
Where exactly does the first quote you use from Pres. Nelson come from? You indicate that it’s from Oct. 2020 GC, but I have yet to find it (pasted below).
“As a prophet of God, I must raise my voice about another matter. We are sincerely grateful for new inventions and technological discoveries that have improved the quality of life for so many, including in matters of health. Too often, however, I fear the degree of trust we place in external interventions can unintentionally lead us to discount the Lord’s power in our lives, along with simple adjustments He can inspire us to make in order to improve our health. For instance, scripture and science are both clear on the value of improving what we eat and getting better sleep – with abundant evidence that less stress, and even a little more physical activity can help boost our immunity against disease. Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, may we relish the benefits of greater faith, and inspired daily repentance, including in how we take care of our bodies. Even when we need additional assistance from competent medical practitioners, may we continue to appreciate and explore ways to better care for the “temple of our spirits” – including in serious periods of pandemic.
Furthermore, brothers and sisters, I would add that we need to be cautious about too much power being consolidated into the hands of a few unelected officials to dictate health policy. Although I tend to trust the prevailing recommendations of the health community as a doctor myself, I recognize there are many other wise experts who have raised questions worth taking seriously. And, in this case, I do believe there is reason to be cautious. Just because any particular organization or individual says something, doesn’t make it true – or in line with God’s will. Indeed, the opposite has often been the case in human history, with some of the most popular conclusions being widely promoted as obvious, frequently what followers of Christ need to question the most. So, let’s think for ourselves and make sure to be careful about what we decide to believe and follow.”
He made it up. As noted, it was a “thought experiment.”
Oh…duh. THANK YOU! How’d I miss that?!
Perhaps this article is correct. Is it not also possible that the secret combs that have institutionalized wickedness and corruption into all the governments of this world, have also been working to do likewise in the church? How can we continue to partner with the UN for example? Do we justify this by saying it helps us look more mainstream and accepted? Helps spread the gospel? Did Christ organize His church likewise when He was here? Did he court the Sanhedrins or Roman help to spread His gospel?
How can the kingdom of God and the kingdom of satan be partners? They’ve joined together to vaccinate the world and spread peace and love? Is that true? Does the truth not always matter? Additionally what does the Book of Mormon & Isaiah say? By the power of the key holders lips we can know the truth of all things? Where is that written in any of Gods written word? Nowhere in Gods word it is a primary song’s lyrics.
The most likely explanation is probably the correct one. President Nelson is a medical man by profession. Clearly, he has not questioned the veracity of the pandemic or the vaccine. It probably hasn’t occured to him to do so.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints because I have my own witness that it is the Lord’s church. My testimony is not based on Russell M Nelson. He is a man, who at times, has obviously been inspired. The rest of the time he is doing his best, but subject to error and bias. He was not wrong however, in my opinion, when he stated that if we do not receive our own revelations, we will not spiritually survive the coming times. He has warned us not to take his, or anyone else’s word for it, now how prophetic is that turning out to be!
What does the spirit tell you about the vaccine? Have you honestly opened your heart and petitioned the Lord for an answer?
Follow the prophet, not the man.
Josh, whenever the prophet speaks through official church channels he is speaking as the prophet, not as the man.