Why I Do NOT Believe That Prophets Are Perfect, That Believing Prophets are Fallible Is A Valid Reason To Tell People To Leave The Church, Or That God Kills Prophets If They Make Mistakes
Facebook is an interesting place. A lot of self proclaimed, "defenders of the faith" and usually political conservatives, seem to have taken Romney's idea of "self deportation" from the campaign trail, and started applying it to everyone in the church with whom they disagree. In a period of 72 hours, I have been invited to leave the church almost 20 times. Most often the calls for my "resignation" from the church come because I believe that prophets can be divinely called, and the spokesman for God in earth, while still being human enough to make mistakes. Several times I have felt prompted to share my testimony that every person, except Christ, makes mistakes every day of their lives. Every single person needs the power of the Atonement, and no one should ever be asked to leave a church they believe in, simply because there are areas of the gospel that are still not clear, and call for personal inspiration and revelation, to decide how best to live our lives.
|Locking others out is not the way to create a Christ centered community!|
In sharing those things, I have been able to better explain my testimony and its direct connections to gospel teachings. I have no desire to be seen as attacking those who disagree with me, or who have told me that they think I do not belong in the LDS church. I don't want to embarrass them, or make this post something that could be seen as a personal attack on anyone. The quotes I am using are from a thread of friends, discussing the frustrations of dealing with people who are so quick to invite others to leave. Curtis's comments were said as a tongue in cheek response, to the sentiments that others have repeated, ad nosium, mocking those who do not believe that every word of that comes out of a prophet's mouth is automatically what Christ would say if He were in the same situation. Natcat's comment adds clarity to part of what I say earlier in the post, and is a reflection of what I believe is the heart of the matter. Both have given their explicit consent to have their thoughts used in this blog post. (All of my quoted thoughts are in purple.)
I have a strong testimony that prophets are fallible men, who continue to make mistakes, repent, learn and grow for their entire lives, *including* the time they are prophets. Anything else would be saying that our Heavenly Parents take away the Plan of Salvation from people when they become prophets. Why would the rest of us have the blessings of the Atonement available to us, and prophets have their agency taken away when they are called? There is nothing in the gospel that would lead me to believe that Heavenly Father loves the Prophet less than He loves me.
"But Julia, the Lord would never let a prophet lead us astray!"
I do not believe God kills prophets for their mistakes, even in church administration matters. I believe that He is just as patient with the prophets and Apostles as He is with us, giving us as much time as possible to do as much good as possible. I believe that Apostles and Prophets are called of God, and have the authority to administer the affairs of the church, but they are men, and as such, it is unfair to expect that they will have their free agency taken away, so that they are forced to be perfect or killed if they have made, or are about to make, a mistake. (If that were the case, then Ezra Taft Benson would have been killed after the first political conference talk that the other Apostles had to censor, or when he directly went against direction given to him by the First Presidency at the time.)
"Julia, although your opinions are entirely based in scripture, Church teachings, and common sense, it sounds like a sure and subtle way to apostasy."
After sharing the first parts of my testimony, one woman singled me out, saying that if my testimony was so weak, that it would be better for me to leave the church and start my own, because the church and its organization is perfect. She asked me why I didn't just leave, and leave the church alone, if I didn't believe that the church was perfect. What follows is my response.
My testimony has come at a high price, and I value it more than anything in my life. I shared a portion of it earlier, because I have "wrestled with angels" over how and why there have been so many changes to church doctrine and practices, as well as understanding and accepting why some personal experiences of local leaders, not following the directions of church in how to deal with sexual abuse survivors.
Those experiences have led to a great deal of soul searching, personal revelation, and a deeper understanding of the Atonement than I would have had otherwise. I would strongly encourage you to take a step back and think before questioning the testimonies of those who are involved in respectful and doctrinally sound protests. They are likely to have deep, abiding testimonies, tempered and strengthen through the fires of trials, including members who do not try to understand us, inviting us to leave a church that we have given all that we have, to be part of.
The LDS church has an open cannon, we believe the heavens are open and that there will be continuing revelation until Christ comes and finally restores all. Whether I *desire* change or not, change has come in the past, came just this month with mormonsandgays.org and will continue to come.
I have no quarrel with the church's core doctrines, only with a culture that encourages people to equate culture with doctrine. There is nothing doctrinally wrong with wearing pants to church, seeking personal revelation, asking questions, (after all most of D&C is the answers to questions people asked at the time) or wanting more revelations that relate to issues where there has been historical confusion. For many people, the confusion about the Eve we learn about in the LDS scriptures and teachings, and the Eve we encounter in the temple, are an area that additional doctrinal clarification would be welcome.
The only response that I got to this was that obviously I did not understand the gospel, and that I couldn't possibly be sincere.
I assure you, my readers, as well as my Heavenly Parents, that I most definitely am sincere, and I believe that God wants each of us to seek out answers for ourselves, so that the Holy Ghost can confirm their truth. I testify that you cannot get answers to questions that you refuse to ask, and that only through personal revelation can you truly find peace and happiness!
I'll close with a thought from Natcat. Natcat Lance:
"I agree we have made prophets (and some leaders) to be gods (as in perfection and above err). All have free agency in mortality. We have to use our holy ghost to know the truth of what they say...that is our confirmation that will bring to our remembrance all that we once knew before mortality."
I invite no one to leave the church, but instead I invite all to Come Unto Christ, in whatever way He leads you to Him, and His gospel.
I invite you to come if you have not already.
I invite you to stay if you are here and desire to continue as a member of the church!
I invite you to leave, only if it is what your personal revelation leads you to believe is right, and even then, no especially then, I invite you to remain friends! I want to hear your story, your reasons for leaving. I don't want you to ever feel that no one cares why you felt/feel you must go.
There is no one that I would send away from my life, as long as they are living their lives with integrity to their personal beliefs!
|There is so much beauty and wonder in the universe. |
Surely there is a place in it for all us us to love and serve each other, without pushing each other away!
Please consider making 2013 the year you begin opening your hearts, arms, and the doors of your home and congregations!
Instead of trying to send people away, instead invite, even the least of these among you, to come unto Christ!