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isacarrot

Should I correct my stake presidency member/institute teacher on sensitive topic?

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Hi all, looking for advice.

Last night at Institute we were discussing Elder Oaks' talk from last GC titled 'Cleansed by Repentance.' Our teacher, a member of our stake presidency, had us read Mormon 9:14, which reads:

Quote

And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.

Our teacher expanded upon this and explained that those who are happy upon death will be happy for eternity, and those who are unhappy will be unhappy for eternity.

My stomach tightened. A few people got up and left as he continued talking. I half-raised my hand to challenge this, but put it quickly down. I didn't have the courage to speak my thoughts; I felt ill-equipped in the moment to recite relevant doctrine in front of the two stake presidency members present.

However, I feel that something should be said.

First, am I wrong to think the teacher was wrong? Give me a sanity check. If I am unhappy upon death - not suddenly unhappy because I'm about to die, but an unhappy person generally, even depressed or suicidal - is there any official doctrine that necessarily damns me to eternal unhappiness? It seems like the Church has sent the clear message that we cannot be the judge on this matter, and that we should hope for the best. See Elder Ballard's October 1987 GC talk titled 'Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not', or Elder Holland's October 2013 GC talk titled 'Like a Broken Vessel'.

Second, should something be said, and if so, how? I think false teachings ought to be corrected or clarified if they have the potential to cause undue suffering. That was the point of Elder Ballard's talk: to correct and comfort those who held false notions about the postmortal state of suicide victims. I'm thinking about sending an email to that presidency member to briefly note what he said, give some links to what the Church has taught, point out the discrepancy and possibly the hurt that caused for some in attendance, and suggest that next week he offer clarification. From the little that I know about this individual, he did not intend harm with what he spoke and would be happy to offer clarification.

I'm a pretty young inexperienced guy so I'm hoping to benefit from your experiences and opinions. Let me know if you need clarification on anything.

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Guest Mores
19 minutes ago, isacarrot said:

Hi all, looking for advice.

First, was there actual false doctrine taught?  Or was your interpretation of what was taught sound false?  I'm asking because I wasn't there to hear his exact words or tone.

Second, are you just picking at nits?  It is possible that the specific words he used were quite incorrect.  But the overall message was still pretty much correct.

Third, are you likely to make any changes at all?  Will anyone be edified by your correction?  Will someone who heard it become confused and not go and look things up themselves and get correction another way?

Edited by Mores

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I think you should say nothing, I wasn't there but was any irreparable harm done? not likely. Second, think about what he said and then think about what you heard, lastly think about what he ment.

This member of the stake president does not speak for the church this was his opinion and you may not agree with it (so what) no doctrinal boundaries were crossed. You might have raised your hand and asked him to clarify exactly what he ment but that moment has passed and so now you need to do nothing.

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18 minutes ago, Mores said:

First, was there actual false doctrine taught?  Or was your interpretation of what was taught sound false?  I'm asking because I wasn't there to hear his exact words or tone.

Second, are you just picking at nits?  It is possible that the specific words he used were quite incorrect.  But the overall message was still pretty much correct.

Third, are you likely to make any changes at all?  Will anyone be edified by your correction?  Will someone who heard it become confused and not go and look things up themselves and get correction another way?

Thank you for your response!

1) I paraphrased him. This is what he said, word for word, as best as I can remember: "When you die, if you're happy, you will be happy forever. If you're unhappy, you will be unhappy forever." This was in the context of explaining that we should stop causing our own sadness by guilting ourselves obsessively and denying the blessings of the Atonement of Christ, and that we should choose happiness. EDIT: I may have not answered your question. I talked with a handful of friends afterwards who were all convinced he had spoken incorrectly.

2) That's what I'm asking. I'm not sure that I am.

3) I think the most likely result is that he sends back an email thanking me for my thoughts and nothing more is done. In this case, I think that he might be edified in the sense that he is more aware of the effect of his words. Less likely, but still possible, is that he offers clarification next week, which could be edifying for those who mourn friends who've taken their lives. I think a more sensitive treatment of the topic and the humility exemplified by the teacher offering a clarification to his own teachings may bring the Spirit and edify all. You bring up a good point with your last question. As I did, I'm sure others have looked up official doctrine to know what's up. I'm worried about those who may not do that, but maybe my worry is misplaced.

Edited by isacarrot

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20 minutes ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

I think you should say nothing, I wasn't there but was any irreparable harm done? not likely. Second, think about what he said and then think about what you heard, lastly think about what he ment.

This member of the stake president does not speak for the church this was his opinion and you may not agree with it (so what) no doctrinal boundaries were crossed. You might have raised your hand and asked him to clarify exactly what he ment but that moment has passed and so now you need to do nothing.

Thank you for your response!

You have a good point. Very likely there was no irreparable harm done. As Mores pointed out, many people likely looked up official doctrine later if they were confused.

I verified what I thought he said with others afterward and from what I could tell we had all heard him the same. However I'm confident he did not mean to make any doctrinal declaration about suicide victims, much less a damning one. However, that's one of the reasons I would like to say something: so he can be more aware of his wording in the future.

I appreciate that last thing you said. I wasn't sure what to say in the moment. But I think from now on, if this or something like it were to happen again, I would simply ask for clarification. It's a good way to go in case I'm completely off base.

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I will take the less popular opinion here and say that you should speak to him.  But what you are offering is not a correction, and her certainly wasn't teaching any false doctrine. What his statements needs is a brief statement of nuance.

I have used that same scripture to make the same exact point. However, I always add the caveat, "barring cases of mental health and/or depression, those who find themselves happy in this life are likely to find themselves happy in the next."

The important part is to focus on the behavior of doing our best to live the gospel and repent--doing so brings lasting joy through eternity.

While I have no doubt that your stake presiden(t/cy person thing) would agree, I believe that words are important. Especially when they can affect some of our most vulnerable saints.  Adding that one simple caveat is, I feel, a reasonable protection to keep those with mental health struggles from further despair.

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Guest Mores
38 minutes ago, isacarrot said:

"When you die, if you're happy, you will be happy forever. If you're unhappy, you will be unhappy forever."

Think big picture. 

Benjamin Franklin was painted as a Deist and sometimes an atheist.  And it was true that in his younger adult years he went through those phases.  But as he got older, his experience had taught him differently.  By the time the Constitution was signed, when he was in advanced years, he was famed for saying

Quote

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?

Should we call Franklin an atheist for having been one in his younger life?  Or a believing Christian for having testified as much at the age of 81?

This general idea is what the statement means.  That is what the scriptures mean.  I think it is a stretch to take either of these to refer to "the moment" of death or even "the day" of death.  That doesn't stand up to much scrutiny at all.  If you believe that the instructor gave that impression, you may want to simply give him the benefit of the doubt and realize that he was not up there to give every detail, exception, condition, etc.  He was making a general statement about "who you are" at death vs. who you are at younger years.  Nothing more.

38 minutes ago, isacarrot said:

3) I think the most likely result is that he sends back an email thanking me for my thoughts and nothing more is done. In this case, I think that he might be edified in the sense that he is more aware of the effect of his words. Less likely, but still possible, is that he offers clarification next week, which could be edifying for those who mourn friends who've taken their lives. I think a more sensitive treatment of the topic and the humility exemplified by the teacher offering a clarification to his own teachings may bring the Spirit and edify all. You bring up a good point with your last question. As I did, I'm sure others have looked up official doctrine to know what's up. I'm worried about those who may not do that, but maybe my worry is misplaced.

Forget about the stake presidency.  I'm sure they'll be fine.  But if you're discussing it with your friends, I'll tell you that to explain what I've written above may be edifying for them.  The reason I say this is that I've been reading a lot of stuff about people who are disaffected with the Church.  Many of them have doctrinal issues with some things they've heard.

The sad part is that far too many of them have a problem simply because they started out doing what you're doing now.  The are misinterpreting what they actually heard.  Sometimes it is misreading/misunderstanding a single word.  Sometimes, it is because they take a general statement (without any mentioned exceptions) and they will then focus on the exception so much that they must insist that the overall message was wrong.

NO!  The overall message was right.  But there was no reason at the time to go over all the exceptions and conditions and everything that you would choose to think about at any given moment.  Sorry!  To cover all that would take way too much time in any given lesson period.

I've just been speaking with someone who read something in the D&C.  And without any thought (specifically: benefit of the doubt) given, it sure sounds bad.  But to one with a testimony, and the Spirit guiding them, they realize the passage was about a specific condition, for which the wording may have been a bit off to our 21st century ears.  But it really was addressing what needed to be addressed.  We're just thinking of different things as we read them.

I know I seemed to have gone all over the place.  But the bottom line is that if you start with the idea of giving them the benefit of the doubt and realize that he wasn't addressing ever single person in every single circumstance in a perfectly exact and literal setting, then you may come to realize his overall point was correct.  And you actually agree with him.

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On 6/13/2019 at 10:24 AM, isacarrot said:

Hi all, looking for advice.

Last night at Institute we were discussing Elder Oaks' talk from last GC titled 'Cleansed by Repentance.' Our teacher, a member of our stake presidency, had us read Mormon 9:14, which reads:

Our teacher expanded upon this and explained that those who are happy upon death will be happy for eternity, and those who are unhappy will be unhappy for eternity.

My stomach tightened. A few people got up and left as he continued talking. I half-raised my hand to challenge this, but put it quickly down. I didn't have the courage to speak my thoughts; I felt ill-equipped in the moment to recite relevant doctrine in front of the two stake presidency members present.

However, I feel that something should be said.

First, am I wrong to think the teacher was wrong? Give me a sanity check. If I am unhappy upon death - not suddenly unhappy because I'm about to die, but an unhappy person generally, even depressed or suicidal - is there any official doctrine that necessarily damns me to eternal unhappiness? It seems like the Church has sent the clear message that we cannot be the judge on this matter, and that we should hope for the best. See Elder Ballard's October 1987 GC talk titled 'Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not', or Elder Holland's October 2013 GC talk titled 'Like a Broken Vessel'.

Second, should something be said, and if so, how? I think false teachings ought to be corrected or clarified if they have the potential to cause undue suffering. That was the point of Elder Ballard's talk: to correct and comfort those who held false notions about the postmortal state of suicide victims. I'm thinking about sending an email to that presidency member to briefly note what he said, give some links to what the Church has taught, point out the discrepancy and possibly the hurt that caused for some in attendance, and suggest that next week he offer clarification. From the little that I know about this individual, he did not intend harm with what he spoke and would be happy to offer clarification.

I'm a pretty young inexperienced guy so I'm hoping to benefit from your experiences and opinions. Let me know if you need clarification on anything.

I won’t go into detail of the doctrine cause I just don’t want to, but to me, the teacher’s interpretation and explanation was grossly  over simplified and missed a greater explanation that could lead to repentance. I would probably be incredibly annoyed by the ignorance of the comment had I been there.

As far as correcting our teachers and leaders. I don’t know about you, but I am a member of the the Church of Jesus Christ, not the church of *insert leader name*. If anyone teaches false doctrine, it is our duty to correct it. Now of course respect is needed and there is multiple tactful ways of going about it. I would not want to do it out of spite, anger or frustration. Otherwise I too would be caught in sin.

But yes... if my stake president teaches false doctrine and I can say something and pull up a direct reference from a direct church source, I will. And I will do it both unapologetically and respectfully.

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Think about this for a second for that is all it should take.  Would a loving God condemn you to an eternity of unhappiness if you died unhappy?

If that is what we are believe in this church, I surely want no part of it.

Everything that I have ever read indicates that Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be happy.  Causing us an eternity of unhappiness does not fit this narrative in the slightest.

Now without being in the meeting, I don't know what your best approach is, but you could pull him aside on day and ask him for clarification.  But I would not out right tell him that he is wrong.  You could tell him what you have always believed and thank him for his clarification.

And if he still seems wrong, then take it up with the stake president and ask him.

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On 6/13/2019 at 11:24 AM, isacarrot said:

Hi all, looking for advice.

Last night at Institute we were discussing Elder Oaks' talk from last GC titled 'Cleansed by Repentance.' Our teacher, a member of our stake presidency, had us read Mormon 9:14, which reads:

Our teacher expanded upon this and explained that those who are happy upon death will be happy for eternity, and those who are unhappy will be unhappy for eternity.

My stomach tightened. A few people got up and left as he continued talking. I half-raised my hand to challenge this, but put it quickly down. I didn't have the courage to speak my thoughts; I felt ill-equipped in the moment to recite relevant doctrine in front of the two stake presidency members present.

However, I feel that something should be said.

First, am I wrong to think the teacher was wrong? Give me a sanity check. If I am unhappy upon death - not suddenly unhappy because I'm about to die, but an unhappy person generally, even depressed or suicidal - is there any official doctrine that necessarily damns me to eternal unhappiness? It seems like the Church has sent the clear message that we cannot be the judge on this matter, and that we should hope for the best. See Elder Ballard's October 1987 GC talk titled 'Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not', or Elder Holland's October 2013 GC talk titled 'Like a Broken Vessel'.

Second, should something be said, and if so, how? I think false teachings ought to be corrected or clarified if they have the potential to cause undue suffering. That was the point of Elder Ballard's talk: to correct and comfort those who held false notions about the postmortal state of suicide victims. I'm thinking about sending an email to that presidency member to briefly note what he said, give some links to what the Church has taught, point out the discrepancy and possibly the hurt that caused for some in attendance, and suggest that next week he offer clarification. From the little that I know about this individual, he did not intend harm with what he spoke and would be happy to offer clarification.

I'm a pretty young inexperienced guy so I'm hoping to benefit from your experiences and opinions. Let me know if you need clarification on anything.

If it's any help, I would have raised my hand and said, "That needs clarification."

I'm not sure getting overly upset about it is necessary, but I do think that the idea that whatever our emotional state is exactly in the moment we die is the emotional state we're stuck in forever is ridiculous. But I'm also quite certain that's not what the SP meant.

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On 6/13/2019 at 12:37 PM, MarginOfError said:

I will take the less popular opinion here and say that you should speak to him.

That may not be the less popular opinion.

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On 6/13/2019 at 11:24 AM, isacarrot said:

Hi all, looking for advice....

If I were there in the class directly, I would have said something, not from  a "you're wrong!" standpoint, but from a sharing a perspective.  

Honestly, I don't think the teacher's viewpoint was literally "if you died unhappy, you're forever unhappy".   Having you say something would have been a great opportunity for class discussion and him to clarify his actual thoughts (which were probably not what was being communicated).  

As to what to do now... if this is really getting to you, perhaps talking with him in person could be a way to do things.  Or perhaps this goes down as a "better way of handling things next time" lesson for you.

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Hi @isacarrot

1) We all have a responsibility to make sure correct doctrine is being taught.

2) We all have a responsibility to seek to understand what our leaders/neighbors are actually trying to say. I remind you of Moroni's words when speaking with the Lord and talking with the Lord regarding his weakness in writing. We all can read and understand what the Lord said to Moroni.

3) Not everything though needs to be corrected in public or private. There are times where one might say, "I would have used a different word, but I understand what he was meaning." Remember, we can always ask for further clarification without saying "You're wrong!" An easy raise of the hand in this situation would be, "Hi, I am not sure I am understanding your statement, can you clarify what you mean by unhappy forever, or forever unhappy"? At times, this may provide the teacher an opportunity also to think through what he/she said.

 

Edited by Anddenex

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16 hours ago, Anddenex said:

3) Not everything though needs to be corrected in public or private.

The worst is during a blessing or ordination some know it all tries to correct the poor brother speaking:
"By the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood..."
vs.
"By the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood..."

Another example is after the sacrament is finished and a member of the Bishopric stands up and says:
"We would like to thank the Priesthood for administering the sacrament today..."
vs.
"We would like to thank those brothers holding the Priesthood for administering the sacrament today..."

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5 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

We would like to thank the Priesthood for administering the sacrament today..."
vs.
"We would like to thank those brothers holding the Priesthood for administering the sacrament today..."

Vs

don't thank anyone, just go on with the meeting

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