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Vort

Do people's attitudes affect what the Church teaches and how it operates?

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Recent comments in other threads as well as a new thread started by @Carborendum have led me to ponder on how God responds to people's hard-heartedness and inability (or refusal) to hear his teachings. It reminded me of an Ask Gramps question and answer from last year, which I've cut-and-pasted below. What do you think?

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Question

Gramps,

With the United States going through cultural change such as women’s rights, abortion, and LBTGQ issues, are we Mormons resistant to change in the public’s eye? It just always seems like we’re one step behind in these issues.
Daniel

Answer

Daniel,

Before I answer your question, let me preface my remarks what should be a needless disclaimer:

I speak for myself.

This is true, even when I speak forcefully. Ask Gramps is not an official representative of the Restored Church, its doctrines, or its policies, no matter how much some readers may look to it as such. That doesn’t mean that what I write is wrong; obviously, I believe I’m right, or I wouldn’t say what I do. But whatever I say, please measure it by the yardstick of the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles. I will not hold back (much) in giving my views on this question. It is your duty to consider my words in light of prophetic teachings, and seek the Spirit to guide you in the paths of truth.

With age and experience comes some measure of wisdom, along with years of perspective by which we consider matters that come before us. As a grandpa with his fair share of experience, let me share my perspective with you.

Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin famously said (or didn’t, depending on whose history you believe),

“There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

I see this phenomenon throughout politics, and I often wonder about how often it must affect us on a more personal level. How many parents have watched their own children leave the gospel path that they, the parents, have spent their lives trying to teach and live by? How many such parents have compromised on the principles of their household—regarding Church attendance, perhaps, or drug usage, or maybe even sexual activity—in the hope of not losing their wayward children forever? Too often, such well-intentioned compromises are disastrous. But in some few cases, some wise compromises may be helpful, even necessary, to lead and reclaim the erring sheep.

This is dangerously thin ice upon which we tread. If ever a parent needs the guidance of the Spirit in making such decisions, this would be such a case.

Is it possible that this same phenomenon, this same stark choice, might affect even the very kingdom of God? Many of us would like to believe that God’s kingdom never compromises on any principle, ever. But consider a bishop leading his ward. What if the congregation members refuse to follow his lead? What does the bishop do? Stick to his guns and let the consequences follow, or try to find some way of getting out in front of his flock and helping them? If the individuals in the ward simply will not follow the bishop’s exhortations to minister to one another, should the bishop leave them to their despair? Or does he instead change his approach, modify his expectations, and try to lead them by the hand?

What does the Lord do for us?

In most cases, the Lord has given us commandments and expects us either to follow them or to accept the consequences of disobedience. In some cases, it seems to me that the Lord takes mercy on us in our fallen foolishness. God literally cannot bless us in disobedience, but in some cases, he may modify certain expectations to allow us to eventually succeed despite our weakness.

This may even come about due to circumstances beyond our own disobedience. The commandment for plural marriage was removed about 60 years after it was first given, not because it had served its purpose, nor even (as I have so fondly supposed) because the people were incapable of living it correctly. According to the testimony of the prophet, the commandment for plural marriage was rescinded plainly and simply because the Church was going to be wiped out and effectively abolished from the earth if plural marriage continued. For some reason, God didn’t save his people from their persecutions, but instead withdrew his commandment for which they had sacrificed so much and instructed his prophet to tell the people to stop doing the very practice that they believed made them unique and holy to God. I cannot help but have a little sympathy for those who found this too much, to be required to abandon the practice they believed would exalt them after their lifetime of sacrifice living it. These spiritual ancestors forgot that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Just one generation ago, apostles and other Church leaders begged women to “come home”, to use their labors to build the home and fortify it against the evils of the world, and not to waste their efforts in the vain pursuits of money-making or career-building. But I haven’t heard any such thing in probably three decades. Is this because we no longer want women to stay home building the home? Did we decide that women maybe really are of more benefit out making money and building their career? Did God change his mind? Or shall we assume that the leadership of the time was just old-fashioned and out of touch, and that today’s apostles have finally synced up with the times?

Or is it more likely that the Church fought for the ideals that would best help the Saints and their families until the tide of decadent societal change became overwhelming and unwinnable in the near term (short of isolating ourselves from Babylon and giving up on the worldwide Church idea), and decided to turn its efforts to helping and supporting a generation that was growing up in a society created by those who had largely rejected that prophetic counsel?

That last possibility is what I believe. The principles have not changed. The doctrine underlying our practice cannot change. But the teachings are presented to each generation in a way that will be meaningful and helpful to those of that generation. We still prize above almost all things those women and men who put the well-being of their families above any other worldly concern. But for many people today, the situation looks different from what was faced by their parents and grandparents.

Don’t look for the Church ever—EVER—to approve of or sanction things such as elective abortion or homosexual “marriage”. Simply put, that will never happen. But now that homosexual “marriage” has been imposed by judicial fiat as the law of the land, expect the Church simply to not worry about it, but rather to teach its members that legal sanction for perverse relationships does not imply divine sanction. Elective abortion has been legal across the US since 1973, a nightmarish horror for which we most certainly will answer to God—but the Church has not decided that elective abortion is okay after all, just because it is widely and even casually used. It is not okay. It is the killing of a human being, an act like unto murder. That underlying doctrine will not change.

To answer your question directly: No, the Church is not “one step behind in these issues”. It looks to me like the Church is pulling at the cart rope with all its might to keep the horse from sliding further downhill, with the horse pulling so hard the other direction that the Church has to step further down to regain its footing and keep on pulling uphill. And as for “the public eye”, of course the Church is foolish in the public eye. It always has been and always will be. The mockers will mock, because that’s what they do. That is of no moment, and should be of no concern to any Saint.

Gramps

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25 minutes ago, Vort said:

To answer your question directly: No, the Church is not “one step behind in these issues”. It looks to me like the Church is pulling at the cart rope with all its might to keep the horse from sliding further downhill, with the horse pulling so hard the other direction that the Church has to step further down to regain its footing and keep on pulling uphill.

Outstanding answer by Gramps, just outstanding.
The visual at the end is absolutely spot on.
Thank you Gramps!

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

It looks to me like the Church is pulling at the cart rope with all its might to keep the horse from sliding further downhill, with the horse pulling so hard the other direction that the Church has to step further down to regain its footing and keep on pulling uphill.

This leads us to believe that "The Church" is not here to "teach doctrine" as much as "point the direction."  Teaching doctrine is merely the method used, often times, to point the proper direction.

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I would say the Apostasy is evidence for and confirming the title of this post. I would also say the introduction of the Law of Moses is also confirming and evidence for the title of this post.

If we look at the beginning of the Church, the simple reality that we are not living the law of consecration (or the United Order) is also evidence for the title of this thread.

My true concern is when the Lord stops speaking on subjects. My initial thought:

Why is the Lord no longer speaking so directly? (We have some members who think that a statement made (by more than one apostle and prophet) 50 years ago is no longer valid because the modern prophets and apostles haven't shared the same). If the Lord hasn't instructed the apostles and prophets there are some meanings behind that that concern me greatly.

Edited by Anddenex

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I used to buy into the narrative that the church is behind on everything.  But now that I look at how crazy our society is becoming, I have to admit that I stand corrected.

Edited by Phineas

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Yes and no.

Does the gospel change?  Does the Lord Change?

If the answer above is no, then the teachings themselves do not change.

However, the Church itself is not the gospel.  The Church is a vehicle operated by men to carry the gospel forth.

How that vehicle operates may change depending on how the people operating it change. 

Today I see a great deal of pride and hatred in the church.  There is a lack of love and true concern for one's neighbor.  Many members will portray themselves as righteous on the surface, or that they care about others, but when you dig deeper they have no true love for others around them.

They will condemn, they will mock, and they will do all manner of things to put those not in their gang down rather than express true love. 

The Book of Mormon shows us this cycle happens regularly.  Every generation or two it occurred. 

The last REAL soul crushing event that hit the membership of the Church extremely hard was the Great Depression followed by World War 2.  That was right before I was born and my generation. 

Ever since then pride has been growing and I would say today the pride and hatred in the Church exceeds any other time in our Church's history and is on par with some of the most prideful times of the Book of Mormon.

Wealth is equated with righteousness.  Individuals accuse anyone they do not like of being against the church if they do not subscribe to their particular brand of Politics.  Political idolatry where political ideals replace that of the teachings of the Lord are worshiped and taught as doctrine instead of the gospel are seen openly in the church today.  It is to the extremes that members and local leaders come out blatantly and directly against statements of the Prophet and Apostles online (just read comments against the General Authorities in comments of facebook and other areas under where those General Authorities have their statements written to see this in action), just like they did in the Book of Mormon times.

Instead of humbling ourselves and begging for salvation, many members feel a superiority complex instead.  Pride is truly running rampant in our generations after WW2.

This obviously has an affect on the way the church is being run from location to location.  It does not change the Gospel.  It does not change the Lord. 

It may mean things that were once given are taken away due to our iniquity which is our loss, including perhaps even valuable things  of great sacredness, but it does not change the teachings or gospel. 

The Church may change how it operates, but any changes in the way it teaches or operates is more the choice of men rather than any changes of the teachings or gospel itself.

I have seen many obvious, plain, and simple teachings and items removed from what is commonly known during my lifetime and the time I have been a member of the Church.  In the past decade I've seen much removed.  I expect as we grow more wicked more items that were once easily known will no longer be taught openly or remembered except for those who might dig into past teachings of prophets and apostles.  This is not because teachings change, but how they are presented and remembered may be.

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22 hours ago, Carborendum said:

This leads us to believe that "The Church" is not here to "teach doctrine" as much as "point the direction."  Teaching doctrine is merely the method used, often times, to point the proper direction.

I disagree. "The Church" is here to do both.

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I imagine for the first few decades of the church, and The first few decades as it became a world wide church, the focus was on hashing out the doctrine clearly and unapologetically so no one questioned where we stood.

Today, we have all the doctrine laid out before us. But it is up to use whether we will partake. The church is creating a culture where we can partake at will and when we are ready, we can leave the milk section and partake in the steaks that lay waiting further down the buffet line.

 

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12 hours ago, mirkwood said:

I disagree. "The Church" is here to do both.

Of course it is.  My point is that the greater/primary purpose is to point to the Saviour. 

I believe the primary reason we teach doctrine is because one cannot be saved in ignorance.  We teach doctrine so we can understand the WHY and HOW of the Atonement of Christ, so we can have a greater appreciation for His sacrifice.  With greater appreciation comes greater faith and acceptance.

Edited by Carborendum

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On 3/13/2021 at 10:55 AM, mirkwood said:

I disagree. "The Church" is here to do both.

I am not sure if I agree or disagree.  But for me it seems that "The Church" was restored so that we could "receive" the Gift Holy Ghost in these Last-days and that through the exercise of that divine gift we will KNOW the truth of all things - line upon line upon line and precept upon precept upon precept.

 

The Traveler

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On 3/12/2021 at 11:15 AM, Vort said:

.....

Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin famously said (or didn’t, depending on whose history you believe),

“There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

.....

Thank you for this quote - for me this is a slightly different view or expression of leaving the safety of the flock in search of those that are lost.

 

The Traveler

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On 3/12/2021 at 1:15 PM, Vort said:

With the United States going through cultural change such as women’s rights, abortion, and LBTGQ issues, are we Mormons resistant to change in the public’s eye? It just always seems like we’re one step behind in these issues.

I think the Church focuses on moral issues and gets involved politically when cultural issues encourage immorality.

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12 minutes ago, CV75 said:
On 3/12/2021 at 10:15 AM, Vort said:

With the United States going through cultural change such as women’s rights, abortion, and LBTGQ issues, are we Mormons resistant to change in the public’s eye? It just always seems like we’re one step behind in these issues.

I think the Church focuses on moral issues and gets involved politically when cultural issues encourage immorality.

I agree. To be clear, I didn't say that.

Edited by Vort

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

Oh yes I understood hat --

Mostly for the benefit of others.

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Well, the first thing that came to my mind was the Savior's words when He said:

"Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so"

So I would say yes, the attitude of the people can affect teachings and operation.... To a certain degree. I don't believe that God surrenders to our opinions and sins and make compromises. However, I do believe that God adapt the church to work so as many as possible can be saved without violating the celestial laws

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On 3/20/2021 at 1:13 PM, Nordic saint said:

Well, the first thing that came to my mind was the Savior's words when He said:

"Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so"

So I would say yes, the attitude of the people can affect teachings and operation.... To a certain degree. I don't believe that God surrenders to our opinions and sins and make compromises. However, I do believe that God adapt the church to work so as many as possible can be saved without violating the celestial laws

I think this example is a good discussion point.  I view it as another example of the Samuel Principle.  People mistakenly believe this means that we can "change the mind of God" if we simply complain or disobey enough.

No.

All this means is that the Lord recognizes that even if He were to continue commanding us and teaching us, we would still disobey anyway.  So, why continue teaching the truth when we refuse to hear it.  It just places us under greater condemnation.

Does it make it right?  No.  If it is an eternal principle, it is still wrong no matter what.

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