Last week I wrote about revelation. Today I’ll talk about a unique subset of revelation that deals with the future. We call these prophecies. God telling the Prophet that church should be 2 hours long is a revelation, God telling that prophet that he should sell City Creek mall in 2025 before a big financial crises hits is a prophecy.
One aspect of prophecies I find infesting is what I call “post-dated” prophecies. For example, what if I told you that I was looking in an old bookstore, and found a hand written diary from a truly prophetic woman named Martha. Martha lived 1850 to 1910. In her 1905 writings she predicted the following. My comments in parentheses
- In 5 years a great celestial light would move through the skies (Hailey’s Commit, 1910)
- Within ten years a great war would encircle the world (WW1, 1914)
- Another great war would happen about 25 years after the first one.
- Man will walk on the moon in less than 75 years
- In the 1970’s a child shall be conceived in a laboratory
- In 2005 a great tempest will devastate the Southern USA. (Hurricane Katrina)
- In 2020 a great plague will overtake the earth with millions of deaths
- Someday we’ll get man on Mars
- There will be a big war in the Middle East after 2025
- New energy sources will be discovered by 2100
Isn’t this amazing? She nailed all these big event so precisely! Oh, you might notice that all the prophecies that she wrote after the date I purchased the book seem vague compared to the early ones, but still, she nailed those early ones!
Or you could conclude that this is a fake, and that it was probably written in 2020, as that seems to be the cutoff of precise predictions vs the hazy ones.
Lets apply this same logic to the Book of Mormon and see what we come up with.
The Book of Mormon correctly predicted the coming of Jesus, his mother’s name (Mosiah 3:8) , his date of birth, his baptism, crucifixion and resurrection (1 Nephi 11:33). All very precise.
The Book of Mormon also predicted that it would be brought forth by a man named Joseph, whose father’s name was Joseph. Columbus would discover America:
And I looked and beheld a man among the gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many water; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.—1 Nephi 13:12
This is pretty good, right? Now lets look at the prophecies that would be in the “future” for Joseph Smith, post 1830.
15 And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—
16 Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.3 Nephi 20: 15-16
What it implies is that is that if gentiles do not accept the Book of Mormon (blessing), the house of Jacob (Lamanites) will rise up and overtake them. In 1830, this was a real possibility, as the fight with the Native Americans (Lamanites) was ongoing. Today, where only 0.2% of the world’s population has repented and accepted that “blessing”, it seems that we are ripe for a takeover by the Native Americans, which seems improbable or impossible.
Another example is the Jews will not inherit the land of their inheritance until they accept Christ.
7 But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.
8 And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance.2 Nephi 10:7-8
In 1948, they returned to the land of their inheritance, Palestine, without converting to Christianity.
Finally, 2 Nephi 10: 11-14 says that there will never be a king upon “this land”, and it will be a land of Liberty. Being that “this land” at that time meant all of North and South America, I’m sure that the people that lived under dictators were wondered when the Lord was going to free them. Jorge Rafael Videla (Argentina), Hugo Banzer (Bolivia), Joao Baptista Figueiredo (Brazil), Augusto Pinochet (Chile), Fidel Castro (Cuba), François Duvalier (Haiti), and Manuel Antonio Noriega (Panama), just to name a few, were all dictators, (much worse than kings in my opinion), and took away “Liberty” of the people in one form or another. Yet many of them prospered in “this land” and lived long lives.
Also, the Book of Mormon missed the Holocaust, which considering Israel’s prominence in the book, seems like a real critical omission.
What other examples of “post dated prophecies” can you think of, in or out of the church?
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Bishop Bill….you are a master at thinking of the talking points.
My first thought when I read this was a book I read in my youth: Prophecy: Key to Future By Dwayne S. Crowther. I read that book over and over, wanting to know where the world was heading next according to what the prophets have taught us. I can not find the book in my collection. But some of the highlights I recall: White horse prophecy. It was full of E. Benson comments of World War III and Russia. The gospel taught in ALL nations/peoples. The gospel will be taken to the Jews (hard to do if signed a non-missionary clause with Israeli Government). The return of the lost 10 tribes. Build of Temple Zion in Missouri ( the current KCMO temple is not where prophesied). Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Lamanites skin turn white per SWK. The Lamanites will blossom as a rose (why does Latin America have more poverty, outside of Africa than the rest of the world ?) The return of the 116 lost pages of BOM. New additional scriptures. Man will never land on moon. Boston/NYC/Albany destroyed. SLC will become a wicked city–(OK that one is happening–JK).
The past 20 years, the Glen Becks and the types brought some of it back to memory. The church distances itself from many of its own prophecies but it is all tied back to a prophet with the original quotes. The church rebuts “they are only a prophet when acting as such.” But then Deseret Book reaps the rewards of selling the ideas.
Members love to talk about pestilence, famine, earthquakes, wars and such every time they happen—- “The LDS church is true !!! ”
The biggest one is what every Mormon generation is told, ” You are the greatest generation, saved for this last day, this last hour prior to the return of Jesus Christ.”
Then there are patriarchal blessings….personal prophecy……..well ……………you can interpret what you want out of the vague sentences of wrote and platitudes.
After reflecting on this, I ask myself what is the purpose of a prophecy? When most are never completed, a few partially completed, and many are never completed. For the faithful, it keeps them tied to the organization. It lets them think, that I know secrets that others do not know since I am a member of this church and it has perks.
But many of these prophecies are Doom and Gloom. How about a series of prophecies about positive future events, but the near future and not having to wait for the positive in the after-life. There are positive things happening everyday. In the future both positive and negative events will happen. But when we focus on the negative …..”the world will be judged and destroyed”…” If you are not in the boat and part of the church you do not have God’s protection”.
…….If I am going to be deceived and told 1/2 truths…..tell me the prophecy about how good tomorrow is going to be.
This has nothing to do with LDS post-dated prophecy, but if you haven’t read Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, you need to. It’s all about trying to decipher apocalyptic prophecies, and you will laugh your head off.
The newest post-dated prophecy concerns the pandemic. God sent the church the Come Follow Me program in early 2019.But he somehow forgot to include some instructions in the manual that would have been helpful right from the start: mask-wearing, social distancing, and toilet paper hoarding.
There’s an interesting and demonstrably false prophetic answer to prayer for a vaccine floating around. I’ve heard two people publicly state at Church the Coronavirus vaccine was the result of the worldwide fasts called by Pres. Nelson last March and April.
That would be nice, if true. It turns out the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were developed in January of 2020 (in a couple of days) and by March 2020 they were working on clinical trials. Thus, by the time fasts were announced the vaccine was already done. That doesn’t mean the fasts didn’t produce other significant results, they just didn’t produce the vaccine, as some are claiming.
While not the forward looking prophecies mentioned in the OP, there are members publicly trying to retrofit the worldwide fasts and the amazingly fast vaccines. I suppose once that faulty connection is made in the minds of some, that can then be bootstrapped as evidence of prophetic ability to include predictions about the future.
Having long-since tired of both vague and false predictions, along with Merriam-Webster and others I gave up thinking of “prophecy” as being necessarily a subset of revelation (though it is clearly sometimes used that way):
“Definition of prophecy
1 : an inspired utterance of a prophet
2 : the function or vocation of a prophet specifically : the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose
3 : a prediction of something to come”
Merriam-Webster’s definition of “prophet” is similarly not limited to one who makes predictions.
I appreciated Dot’s book recommendation. I’m guessing I’ll like it a lot better than Crowther or any of the multiple end-times dreams and visions I keep hearing about from an A.V.O.W. reader.
This would be a good time for someone to tell us of a specific LDS prophecy in the last 50 years that really made a difference. It’s easy to make general claims about the world becoming more evil or the benefits of sound life management. What I’m asking for is a General Conference talk or official Church statement that warned the membership of a future event that nobody else saw coming.
I remember on a certain chaotic 11th of September in the mission office when we were trying to get transfers figured out, our mission president’s wife said she heard President Hinckley tell a recent youth conference that “hard times were coming, but if you are faithful things will be okay.” It seemed striking at the time as the attacks back home were still unfolding, but now as I think back on it I’m not sure what to make of it. Aren’t hard times *always* coming? When has it ever been claimed that we’ll be okay whether we’re faithful or not?
I guess even the gospel-truth of “the world is getting more evil” rings untrue to me now. Sure, small groups are actively (and violently) resisting progress, but on the whole I think the world is moving in a positive direction on many fronts.
@josh h: I’m glad you provided an example of what you’d like to see. I think many of us would like to hear something like that, though I might remove the “that nobody else saw coming” part. Even Martha in the OP saw Katrina and Covid coming apparently. @Buddhist Bishop said in his post “Prophecies, Visionaries, and the Prophetic Imagination” that such things are rare. Said he, ” [Prophecy] is rarely about specific forecasts.”, with which I agree.
If such a prophecy were given in a few weeks here, would that change your opinion of the prophet?
bwb, my behavior might not change, but I would be able to say, “He told us to wear surgical mask, wash our hands, and stay 6 feet away from other people.”
bwbarnett: I’m not looking for signs. And my expectations are quite low. It’s not as if I would hope for a 9/11 warning on 9/10 or a Covid warning in 2019. But honestly, most of the “warnings” I see are so general that anybody could have made them. I see no advantage as a Church member to any unique information.
foxinhikingshorts: I too reject the narrative that the world is becoming more evil. Every religion likes to state this and every generation believes the world is in major moral decline. Some of it is a simple question of “good old days” rhetoric. We are all somewhat nostalgic.
OR, maybe the world is becoming more evil in some ways, but less evil in others. For example, income inequality appears to be increasing in the United States, but from what I understand, we’re in the middle of a worldwide decline in (some definition of) violence that’s been ongoing for 20+ years.
Most of the unfulfilled prophecies of the church that I can think of have to do with the last days/end of the world. I believe this actively influences the mindset of members in a few ways:
1. Members expect and look for “signs of the times” as confirmation that the timeline of history is winding down, including—as noted above—widespread moral decline even if it doesn’t reflect the actual state of the world.
2. Members see the end of the world as inevitable rather than something we can stave off through our collective efforts. Calls for action against climate change, for example, don’t carry much weight if you think the world is ending anyway.
3. Members also see the end of the world as a good thing (because it ushers in the millennium and ends suffering for the Saints) in spite of all the widespread destruction and death it would cause. This plays into the larger problem of worshipping a God who prefers one people over another, who sanctions and even causes widespread human suffering. I believe this blunts the empathy of an otherwise very altruistic and service-oriented people.
I realize not all members buy into Biblical/D&C apocalyptic prophecies in such a literal way. But many of them definitely do (my in-laws for example) and I truly believe it makes them see the world differently.
It appears that most of the commentators here only want good feeling prophecies. They apparently consider any prophesy about hard times or sacrifices to be false. This is faulty thinking.
Life is about more than sitting around in sweatpants and crocs watching hot dog eating contests on television. Life is about effort and growth. True prophecies will relate to growth through struggles, not personal ease and comfort.
The masses must stop judging a prophecy by whether it makes them feel good about themselves. That has never been the test for whether a prophesy is true, and it never will be.
My bishop is obsessed with the End Times…
Post-dated prophecy = Word of Wisdom? Probably a whole post right there including the Prohibition situation in Utah in the early 1900s. Also, can someone please show me a healthy (pre-Covid) ward dinner?
The prophecies from Church leaders have certainly become less apocalyptic over time. In the early days, there was a heavy influence in preparing for the end of the world. That continued through most of the twentieth century.
Now there is a clear absence of apocalyptic prophecies. Things like two-year food supplies have fallen by the wayside. Part of this can be explained by Church growth outside of the USA where hoarding food is illegal.
This change is good. It allows people to use their resources wisely to improve their communities now, rather than using them to hoard goods for an apocalyptic day that may not come in their lifetimes.
I’ve been thinking about this post all day. In important ways, it’s all about our reaction to prophesy. If a verse of scripture refers to whole cities being swallowed by the sea how do we feel? If there is a proviso attached, like because of the wickedness of the people, we might try to do our best to not contribute to the wickedness ourselves and go out and preach the word. Or we might think it inevitable and shrug our shoulders.
A climate scientist might tell us that, based on the data and the way things are going, 95.5% of the habitable land in Long Beach, New York will likely be flooded by the year 2100 how do we feel (an actual assertion)? We might try to lower our carbon footprint, recycle faithfully, and get others to do the same. Or we might think it inevitable and shrug our shoulders.
Or we might, as has been mentioned, remember BY’s prophesy that “the world has enough and to spare” before it is destroyed, renewed, and receives its paradisiacal glory. That was my response when I was cutting across the University of Michigan campus as a missionary and landed in an Earth Day event.
Honestly, I can’t think of any scriptural or modern-day prophesy that has been fulfilled in my lifetime (barring general predictions that many informed people have made). Every global or personal prophecy that has come true, in my experience, has indeed been post-dated. In some instances, the goalposts have been moved: think the stone that fills the earth from Daniel. Until very recently, the impressive growth of the church was cited as evidence of the fulfillment of that prophecy. Now that the growth has stalled, that narrative has changed to the influence that we few have will fill the earth and that the church was never meant to be a large percentage of the population.
To me, the primary benefit of prophecies, such as they are, is to get us thinking. They are seldom specific enough to dictate a plan of action. They also have the downside of enabling us to take ourselves off the hook for things like climate change and equality issues. If we ignore these things while we’re waiting for the millennium to come it might end up being a Mad Max world after all.
The Family Proclamation is an example of prophetic foresight. Who would of thought in 1996 that the doctrine restated in the FP would ever be controversial. Both major political parties, our media, academic, and business establishments generally were against gay marriage and the normalization of transgenderism. Heck, even Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act.
The FProc has given the LDS church and it’s members a guidepost to follow, as much of the Western world has lost its morals. Fortunately, the LDS church is not alone in holding to traditional family relationships. The principles in the FProc are still consistent with prevailing morals in much of Africa, South America and the Middle East.
The export of corrupt morals and the destruction of cultural family relationships by white-majority, Western countries is a modern form of colonialism. You all need to check your privilege, re-read your copies of White Fragility, and get ready for the day when the LDS church is lead by people who don’t look like you and who still hold views in line with the FProc.
We had a prophetic declaration of sorts from our Stake President around September 2020 for every family to have a 6 month supply of food and necessities, and we went through a big push as a stake to gather information resources and get the word out. But now that the election and inauguration are over…crickets. But you’re right, when I was growing up there was constant talk about needing a year’s supply of food; that it was “as important as the ark was to Noah’s family.” And now the rhetoric has changed to much more sensible [and generic (and likely to prove useful)] advice about getting out of debt and becoming self-sufficient.
Another thing worth pointing out is how the prophecies in the Book of Mormon talk exclusively about events that early 19th-certify white US inhabitants talked about. There are no post-dated prophecies about what would happen in Canada or Mexico or other parts of the Americas.
I think prophets aught to be able to guide us to be on the right side of history. We should not be defending racism 20 years too long, or now opposing gay marriage, and equality for women.
They should not be part of conservative culture to the point where overseas members support the conservative side of politics which is often bad. Or where 70% of members vote for trump lies. Conservative culture is not consistent with the gospel, in so many ways.
Imagine if the church and leadership were progressive. Imagine if RMN had advised the governors of Utah and Idaho that the way to deal with the virus was to shut the borders to interstate travel. That anyone coming from outside, or returning had to quarintine for 2 weeks.
You could then looked down the figures for the virus in US states, and when you came to Utah, and Idaho you would see no new cases, and 4 deaths for each state instead of 1000 new cases, and 2000 deaths. People might ask what Utah and Idaho were doing right. RMN could look like a prophet.
There was an election in the state of Western Australia, where the premier of that state has a centre left government, did those things, has no new cases of community transmission for months, and a total of 9 deaths. The economy is open, schools are open. He also maintained a budget surplus even this year. He won by a landslide.
He was not generally supported by members of the church, because he is not republican enough. We were on the wrong side of history again. The party our members supported was in government before 2017, with 38 out of 69 seat parliament. They now have 7 seats.
If it weren’t for the conservative culture of the church, we could be on the winning side, which is more likely to be the moral side too. We could be leading on climate change and other social issues. Do you for example know that the rate of rapes for the US is 27/ 100,000, but for Utah is 52, how can that possibly be? Surely mormons should not rape at twice the national average?
@Geoff-Aus: History, or the story of the human family, is not always on God’s side. So rather than talk about us being on the right side of history, I’d rather look at it as us being on God’s side. The church does a good job at being on God’s side. Conservative culture *is* consistent with the gospel in so many ways. The radicalized conservative culture does not represent the vast majority of us conservatives. Regarding your commentary on the handling of the corona virus, the scientific data has been so politicized it is unbelievable. The data has been so “spun” by the liberal media it is unbelievable. The truth has been cast aside for political and economic gain by the powers that be. Scott Atlas is one of a few voices with the courage to take a stand. I appreciate and trust his words – https://stanfordreview.org/scott-atlas-the-last-word/
Thankfully, the conservative culture of the church has kept us on God’s side, which is the moral side.
@bwbarnett as time passes, the values of all cultures change, including the culture of the church. An encouraging trend across much of the globe is that ethnocentrism and tribalism are declining in favor of egalitarian inclusivity. I believe humans, on the whole, are on a continuing trajectory of learning to love and tolerate one another better. That’s what we’re talking about when we say, “the right side of history.” The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. Are we ahead of the curve? Or behind?
Also, if God is love, then to be on God’s side is to be on the side of love. The church has unfortunately not always been on the side of love, so I believe it’s absolutely incorrect to say the church has always been on God’s side.
@bwbarnett: You forgot to mention George Soros and the Illuminati. Maybe you did by implication, but spelling it out would be helpful.
@Kirkstall: I agree that as time passes, the values of all cultures change, and I agree that to some degree the culture of the church changes. I’m no historian by any means, but my general understanding is that all civilizations in the history of this world have gone through these cultural changes you speak of and then they all eventually crumbled and were destroyed because the cultural changes were not sustainable, as Elder D. Todd Christofferson talked about in his “Sustainable Societies” talk last October. I would like to think that we, as humankind, are learning to love and tolerate each other better, but that’s only half of the equation. The other half is to love God. As we all know, the two great commandments are to love God and love our neighbors. And God tells us how we can love Him – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”.
So we can go ahead and learn to love and tolerate each other better and we can continue to allow cultural changes to occur, but if the cultural changes we allow/support/promote are in opposition to God’s commandments, i.e., we don’t love God, then we will experience the same fate as all other civilizations throughout the earth’s history.
I’m not too interested about whether we as humankind, as a nation, a church, a political party or however we want to “group” people are ahead or behind the curve of the moral universe as defined by humankind. Humankind’s moral universe changes, just like cultures change. It’s a moving target. I’m more interested in whether we are on Christ’s side or not. And the best way I know of to be on Christ’s side is to show my love for Him by keeping His commandments. And the best institution I know of that teaches Christ’s commandments and gospel is the church He restored through Joseph Smith, and the church He leads today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
@jaredsbrother: Sorry bud, you lost me on the George Soros and Illuminati comment there…
God is not racist.
God is not sexist.
God is not homophobic.
God is not an unrestrained capitalist.
And God does not take sides.
If you really think God just so happens to perfectly align with your political beliefs and approves of your particular life circumstances and choices, and that the “conservative Church culture” has kept Church on the “side” of God, you may want to ask yourself whether you along with your straight white male conservative leaders have inadvertently made God in your own image.
@bwbarnett, the commandments to love God and love your neighbor are never in conflict. They are not, in fact, two separate commandments.
The commandment to love your neighbor is HOW we love God. That is why it is “like unto” the commandment to love God. That is why inasmuch as we have done it unto the least of our brethren we’ve done it unto God. God is telling us: I am your neighbor. So love me by loving your neighbor.
Any commandment that alienates us from our neighbor, that would cause us to harm our neighbor, violates the commandment to love our neighbor and therefore also violates the commandment to love God. It is not a true commandment.
I realize this conflicts with what Oaks and other church leaders have taught. I believe they are wrong and in conflict with the mission and teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe they are scared of change, and that they believe that the way they were taught is the only way. But we know that Jesus Christ is the way.
I came to that conclusion by reading those teachings directly in the New Testament, and realizing that our emphasis on purity codes over loving our neighbor, and of acting like there would EVER be a conflict where we have to choose God over our neighbor, puts us in the category of the pharisees that Jesus criticized so heavily. How you could read the New Testament and not see that is really baffling to me. It seems you are only reading with the lens that your Church leaders are giving you. We all see through a glass darkly, I will fully acknowledge that … but that view is truly distorted.
@Elisa, Hi Elisa 🙂
God is not racist. Agree
God is not sexist. Agree
God is not homophobic. Agree
God is not an unrestrained capitalist. Agree
And God does not take sides. Disagree. God is our righteous judge and as a judge is obliged to take sides. Perhaps I don’t understand what you mean here??
I don’t think God aligns with me, that would be silly of me. I strive to align with God’s will, though I often fall short. Regarding the making of God in my image (along with the church leaders), I can only speak for myself, and I have not made Him in my image. On behalf of the church leaders, I don’t believe they have either, but we’d have to get them to answer the question. What I have done, and what I believe they have done, is to trust the descriptions of God as found in the scriptures, one of our primary sources for learning who God is.
For the most part, I like your description of the two great commandments. However, it is we who alienate ourselves from God by not keeping His commandments. So if God gives a commandment and we feel alienated, we are the one’s alienating ourselves from God, not God from us. One of the big “culture changes” that concerns me is this idea of “not taking responsibility for our own actions” but pushing the blame to someone else. There’s a big “I’m the victim” mentality being promoted rather than owning the consequences of our choices. This statement about alienation that you made seems to fit into that category from my perspective. Parts of your statement resonate with me, while other parts don’t.
I don’t believe the church leaders are wrong in their teachings on these subjects nor do I believe they conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ. I definitely don’t believe they are scared of anything, including changes. If there are changes that people want to see in the church and the leaders don’t make those changes, it’s not because they are scared to make them.
I love your “Jesus Christ is the way” comment/quote. I 100% believe that! He stated it Himself and showed us *the way*. It is my desire to follow Him.
You’ll recall I’m sure from your reading of the NT that Jesus believes in purity codes AND loving our neighbor. You can do both, though I agree some people have a hard time with it.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Evidence of Jesus’ belief in purity codes AND the treatment of people with kindness and mercy.
@bwbarnett thanks for the response. It’s hard for me to understand how you can say that God is not racist, sexist, or homophobic, but that a Church that has promoted / still does promote racist, sexist, and homophobic teachings and practices is somehow “keep[ing] us on God’s side.”
I can certainly agree that, despite those problems, the Church does many good and valuable things and has many good and valuable teachings — I am still active after all. But I would never argue that the Church is a bastion against moral decay in those areas in which I see it as attempting to preserve millennia of immoral hate against the ever-expanding light and love of God spreading through the world and teaching us to discard old prejudices and more fully embrace all of God’s children.
If you are a man, and you say “I can only speak for myself, and I have not made *Him* in my image,” I may have to suggest that you *have* made Him in your own image (although I understand that you got the idea of God being a man from … other men who did it first).
I don’t view judgment in the same way that you do but that would go down a big rabbit hole. I like the Givens’ view that judgment is where we see ourselves clearly so that God can heal us completely. Not so that he can side against us or measure our worth. Most certainly, God does not take the side of conservatism — or liberalism.
As to your example on purity codes vs. loving neighbor, I think that commandments against adultery fit into the category of things that harm our neighbors (disloyalty / harm to a spouse). Indeed, if we are truly keeping the commandment to love our neighbors, that’s the *furthest thing* from abdicating responsibility for our actions. We are required to think about how our actions impact other people and to refrain from actions that do harm. Commandments to that end are true commandments. Even a lot of purity-code commandments probably serve our neighbors — for example, arguably following the Word of Wisdom can help me be a better wife / mother / friend because I’m free of addiction and dependency. But any commandment that *actually* would pit us against a neighbor in order to serve God (like the prohibition against gay marriage and any mistreatment of gays whatsoever) is not.
Jamil: “The Family Proclamation is an example of prophetic foresight. Who would of thought in 1996 that the doctrine restated in the FP would ever be controversial.” I can’t imagine a LESS prophetic document. It’s basically just a political statement putting the Church on the conservative side of the culture wars by doubling down on anti-LGBT beliefs and gender roles. And yes, it was controversial, even at the time (given the gay marriage case in Hawaii which is why it was written), and even Chieko Okasaki pointedly remarked that it would have been different if ANY of the women leading the Relief Society had been consulted, which they were not.
As to prophecies, the problem is that we remember when they are right, and we forget or overlook when they are wrong. That’s how our brains work. We seek confirming evidence. I own a hardback copy of a book called The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility. It’s about a huge luxury liner, the largest of its day, described as “unsinkable,” that hits an iceberg and sinks in mid-April. The book describes great loss of life (nearly 3000 souls) due to insufficient lifeboats, and that the boat sank despite its 19 watertight compartments belowdecks. The North Atlantic iceberg strikes this fictional boat on the starboard side, near midnight, while the ship is going 25 knots. The novel was published in 1898, 14 years before the Titanic disaster. https://www.historyonthenet.com/the-titanic-futility Was it a lucky guess? Was this kind of disaster inevitable, given the contemporary hubris and short-sighted ship building? Any way you slice it, that novella was pretty uncanny in its accuracy, far more than the majority of things we reckon as prophecies.
Ultimately, though, I think we do a disservice by being too focused on prophecy. It can foster a sign-seeking mentality. As others have pointed out, conservative talking points about how everything is getting worse (progress is scary) are only true if you overlook all the benefits of progress. Circumstances in the world are always going to be a mix of bad and good, so it’s easy to cherry pick.
@Jamil, I totally disagree with you that the family proclamation was prophetic. And some parts might be moral (to the extent they encourage love and kindness in families) but others most certainly are not (to the extent they exclude certain individuals from families). I’m not sure what countries you’re talking about, but the Central American & West African countries I’ve spent time in had very different views of the family than what’s in the family proclamation (polygamy, beating wives and children, etc.). And we’ve heard a lot of talks in recent conference addresses about how cultural practices inconsistent with the gospel need to be discarded. So much for your argument that Western liberalism is somehow more colonial than Mormonism.
That said, that’s certainly an interesting point about how white liberals asking for people of color to be in leadership might find themselves disappointed if those people of color bring with them cultural notions of the inferiority of women and gays with them to layer on top of the version we’ve got in the US. I will have to sit with that one.
@Elisa There are definitely some questions that need answering regarding race and gender. The fact that there are unanswered questions, though, is not a legitimate argument, in my opinion, against the church keeping us on God’s side as I claimed. It’s not surprising that with all the different types of people out there, that there would be a variety of reactions to these unanswered questions. Some people learn about the church’s history with race and the priesthood and never join the church, or they leave the church. Others learn about it and still get baptized – like Calyann Barnett (no relation) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3ajMLIHJ2c
I, like many others, have chosen to trust that there are answers, answers that make sense, and I look forward to hearing them someday. I, like many others, have chosen to “follow the prophet”, “stay on the Old Ship Zion”, and all the other little phrases that some folks here like to mock, because I trust that God will give us the answers to our questions someday. Who knows, maybe He will say that the church was in error for 100 years regarding men of African descent and the priesthood. And then we’ll ask Him why He let it go on for 100 years, and He’ll tell us, and we’ll all understand and accept it. Well, maybe not all will accept it, but I think at least we’ll understand it.
Regarding God, I did not get the idea about His gender from other men who thought that way first. The idea that God is male is taught throughout scripture from the beginning chapters of Genesis. I would think you would know this, so I am confused why you said what you did.
I’m fine with your categorization of adultery as a commandment that harms our neighbor(s). But by that same token of categorization of commandments, there are commandments which when we break offend God and are considered sinful in His eyes, even if our actions have not harmed or offended a neighbor. A commandment can still be a true commandment even if our breaking of it does not cause any of our neighbors harm.
@BWBarnett yes, I’m aware that you and others got the idea of a male god from Genesis … which was written by (drumroll please) … men.
If you study ancient religion & history and the history of the bible, you will see the ways that the divine feminine was systematically erased from religious texts, including the bible. The earliest versions of deity were female. There are many resources that discuss this in detail. Gerder Lerner’s “The Creation of Patriarchy” is one such source, or you can listen to a summary of it on the excellent podcast “Breaking Down Patriarchy.”
Anyway, I certainly understand your position. It is a common position in the Church. I appreciate that you get on forums like this and explore different views (which is a less common activity in the Church). But we clearly disagree about the meaning of prophets, Church, and being on the Lord’s side, and I’m quite sure (and I think you’d agree) that there’s nothing anyone could say here that would convince you otherwise because you’ve got a predetermined conclusion that you use to filter arguments and sort your life experience into. That’s ok – so do I. I do try to revise my views based on new evidence, information, and experience, and I’ve managed to do so a time or two, but I can be quite intractable myself (obviously ;-).
@Elisa, well said! 😉 I suppose I am pretty set in my ways, but as you suggested, I do enjoy learning about other’s views. And to tell you the truth, I expect that I will be quite surprised about quite a few things when I die and have more truth available to me — both things that I thought I knew correctly and things that I never knew here in this life.
Elisa- Just cause men were prophets in the Bible does not in any way indicate that they write scripture to benefit men. I mean polygamy … wait never mind.
I mean how many times can we use the fact the Abraham practiced polygamy to justify the great restoration of the holy practice?
Bwbarnett, Above you quote, if ye love me keep my commandments. In the same talk Christ clarifies ch15
“12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
You can go a step furthur; “be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect” is preceeded by verses about loving our fellow men. It is not about obedience either, it is about loving as God does.
You seem to be happy to outsource your moral judgement. I am pretty sure we are each here to become morally responsibe, and the Nuremberg defence will not be acceptable.
We had an elders quorum lesson on Sunday about the correct understanding of the Godhead. Most of the lesson was taken up ridiculing others, but when we got to our understanding in the last 10 minutes we agreed that elohim is a plural noun, that mother in heaven is a God for this world, that she and father in heaven make up elohim, so there are 4 people in the godhood, and they are not all male. Is the holy ghost female? We may have gender equality in the Godhood?
Because we have been, and the church still is patriachal, we choose not to see all the godhood.
The church leaders at some point chose to attach conservative American culture to the church. Without it we would be much more Christlike, and would not discriminate against women or gays. Discrimination does not come from Christ/the gospel, it is purely conservative culture.
We do not have that extreme conservatism in Australia, as I have tried to explain. I live in a society where there is no political party, or anyone else, that opposes abortion, gay marriage, or equality for women, or universal healthcare. The only organization I know that discriminates like that is the church. We stand out like a bigoted sore thumb. And not in a more Christlike way.
Perhaps there is some redeeming feature to extreme conservatism, but I can not see any. What benifit does the church get from it? What benifit does anyone on less than $400,000 a year get from it?
@Geoff-Aus Hi Geoff!
You say: “You seem to be happy to outsource your moral judgement.” Why do you think this about me? What have I said that makes you think this?
You imply I will use the Nuremburg defense, Why? What have I said that makes you think this?
I’m glad you have lively EQ discussions and that in the end it appears as though you all come to agreement. I may be wrong, but redefining the Godhead is probably not something a quorum of Elders should be doing, but that’s just me.
I prefer to think of myself as a disciple of Christ rather than a conservative. I agree with you that discrimination against women or gays (or blacks or handicapped or bald or overweight or …) does not come from Christ/gospel. But to say that discrimination is “purely conservative culture” seems disingenuous. Discrimination can be found across all political parties, across all sectors of society. The recent rise of the “cancel culture” certainly did not originate with conservatives.
It sounds like you think it is a good thing that you have nobody in your society that opposes abortion, gay marriage or universal healthcare. I would consider that a bad thing. I agree though that equality for women is a good thing, but I think people differ on what “equality” means, or perhaps not what it means, but how to implement/enforce it. For the most part, the church has remained pretty constant in it’s views/teachings/policies about things while the world around it has changed. This is part of why some people, like you, think it stands out like sore thumb here in the year 2021. I agree with you that it stands out, but not like a sore thumb — more like a refuge from the storm or just something constant, an anchor, in an ever changing world. Don’t get me wrong, in principle I’m not afraid of change. But change just for the sake of change is at best risky, at worst disastrous. When Christ came, He changed lots of things. The changes He made were great. I worry about some of the changes we are experiencing right now. Many of them are the risky and disastrous types, they take us away from Christ and His teachings.
We’d have to define “extreme conservatism” before we could discuss its merits/benefits.
@bwbarnett, since we have your attention and you seem willing to consider other perspectives … would you just sit for a minute with the idea that the people who created (or recorded) the rules about men and women are all men, and those men happened to put themselves in charge?
I used to defend patriarchy. I used a lot of the same arguments you probably used. I understand them. But when the lightbulb went off where I just detached myself the tiniest bit from any preconceived notions about priesthood patriarchy and considered the fact that the people who made and continue to preach and enforce that priesthood patriarchy are the same people who benefit from it – the same people those rules keep in power – I realized that some skepticism was probably warranted.
That’s not to say I think the Q15 are selfish and bad. I don’t think that. I think they grew up in a system that worked for them, that made them and their families very happy, and so they have very positive associations with and feelings about that system. But that doesn’t make it right, and I think one must be skeptical when the rule makers make rules that have the (perhaps not consciously intended, but nevertheless true) consequence of keeping themselves in power.
I think that’s probably why a lot of the comments that you make here are not met with a ton of agreement. They are arguments that keep certain people in power and certain people out of it, and many of us have come to view such arguments with intense skepticism.
(And I would add that’s not specific to patriarchy … when a person claiming to be prophet says “follow the prophet” … well I have to be a little skeptical of that. They aren’t a disinterested party.)
@Elisa – Great question! I understand to some degree where you, and others like you who share your views, are coming from and the conclusions you have come to regarding patriarchy, rule makers, and power. It’s a pretty broad topic to try to cover in a comment here, but I’d like to address the specific question you posed – that the rules governing men and women were created/recorded by men and that men chose to put themselves in charge.
Your “lightbulb” experience where you detached yourself a tiny bit from preconceived notions seems a bit off to me.
1. I agree that there are men who preach priesthood patriarchy. I also know that there are many women who preach priesthood patriarchy, and not just because they are afraid of negative consequences that some think would come to them if they chose to preach against it.
2. The idea that these men, the Q15, preach priesthood patriarchy to “keep themselves in power” seems short-sighted to me. When I think of men doing things to keep themselves in power, I think of abusive husbands who use physical strength and threats. I think of ruthless dictators who use lies, armies and taxes to stay in power. The Q15, and for the most part all leadership under them down to our local bishops, are not “selfish or bad” as you correctly stated. Wanting to stay in power (and doing things to ensure it) is a selfish and bad desire so there is a contradiction in your statement, I think. The Q15 and other priesthood leaders for the most part are just trying to do their best to follow Christ and invite others to Him. With a few exceptions, they aren’t selfish, power-hungry men, they are selfless, humble men trying to do God’s will.
3. Those who preach and enforce are “the same people who benefit from it.” You failed to mention here that they are not the only ones who benefit from it. The vast majority of people benefit from it. Outside of “priesthood patriarchy”, the patriarchal hierarchy in general society is to be credited with much of the peace, prosperity, opportunity, etc. that we enjoy today. It seems to me a great ingratitude when people speak out against it, under the framework it has provided them to be able to speak out against it, without fear of personal harm.
4. Using “benefiting from it” as a reason to propagate it is a weak argument. Wicked husbands and dictators definitely benefit by propagating their authority, but for righteous leaders, it is a tremendous load to bear. There is very little “benefitting from it” in the sense that I think you meant it. King Mosiah gave us a hint. I wish he would have expounded a bit more:
Mosiah 29:33 And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them, unfolding unto them all the trials and troubles of a righteous king, yea, all the travails of soul for their people, and also all the murmurings of the people to their king; and he explained it all unto them.
Where’s the “benefitting from it”?
“Keeping certain people in power and certain people out of it.” – While I disagree with the use of the word “power” as it can have negative connotations, I know what you mean here. At a ward level, I remember a time when someone was upset that another person had been called as the president of an organization. This person wanted to be the president, not the counselor or secretary again. I understand frustrations over not being the “one in power”, and I know it’s not enough just to say “follow your leaders”, but the truth of the matter is that there are probably thousands, tens of thousands, maybe more, who are capable and willing to serve in positions of authority in the church, but there are a limited number of authority positions. Some of these people are totally fine with the idea of never holding a position of authority and others not. I don’t have any ideas on how to resolve this.
bwbarnett: Replies to your points.
1) Yes, some men & women attach themselves to those in power as a way to have their needs me, even if they have no access to direct control over their needs.
2) The assumption than men lead and women are dependent on men is an assumption of patriarchy. “Keeping men in power” is just what patriarchy means. Most Church leaders operate under these assumptions. That doesn’t mean they are power hungry or evil (although patriarchy is certainly not an optimal system).
3) Are you really suggesting that women, who are barred from positions of authority, should be grateful to patriarchal leaders for their largesse in permitting women to speak? That sounds an awful lot like Phyllis Shlafly thanking her husband for allowing her to speak at conferences.
4) You don’t have to be an evil abusive monster to benefit from patriarchy as a man. Any system of power protects itself and those within the system to some degree, but patriarchy does benefit men more than women by assuming that male voices are authoritative and women need to support the system to be welcome in it and protected by it. It also creates rules and norms based on men, not women. For a slightly trivial example, all air conditioning is based on men’s bodies and how male bodies perceive and regulate their temperature. Women’s bodies are completely different from men’s in this regard, and it’s why men and women seldom agree on the correct temperature for the thermostat. But all thermostats are based on variation that works best for men and was designed for men, not women. For a more sinister example, consider the teaching that modesty is something women must perform to prevent men from uncontrollable lust and temptation. Would a woman have created that mindset about women’s bodies? No, absolutely not. But in a patriarchy, women who want the protection of men will uphold modesty rules and police other women to be afforded that “protection.” Personally, I would rather wear what I want, what suits me, and never give a single thought to what men think about it (or other women for that matter).
@BWBarnett, thanks for your response. It’s good to hear your perspective.
I disagree that a priesthood patriarchy does not benefit men at the expense of women. I think we probably understand benefit in different ways. I certainly do not suggest that our Church leaders are enriching themselves via the patriarchy, but we have a system that preferences men’s voices and experiences over women’s. And that’s harmful (to both women and men). I could write many pages on how I, personally, have been harmed by the patriarchy in the Church, but I’ll spare you that. And I very strongly disagree that patriarchy has been good for society. I think we probably do not see history in the same way.
I really cannot recommend the podcast “Breaking Down Patriarchy” enough–at least the first few episodes, which give a history of patriarchy (which was not inevitable but the result of social and economic forces). Or the book it’s based on, “The Creation of Patriarchy” by Gerda Lerner. One takeaway is that Christianity certainly did not *invent* patriarchy — it took what was already in the misogynistic cultural milieu and rebranded it. Understanding that actually helped me forgive the patriarchy that’s in Christianity and in our Church (they came by it honestly), but it also helped me realize that patriarchy doesn’t come from God – it comes from man. To me, religious patriarchy is a perfect example of “the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.” Patriarchy is a philosophy of men that developed long before the Bible, Christianity, and other religious texts. Christianity inherited it, and I think it is our job as disciples of Christ to root it out.
@Angela great example re air conditioning. A (literally deadly) second example is that until recently we defined the symptoms of a heart attack in terms of how men experience them, which is not the same as how women experience them — leading them to go undetected in women. So many examples like this.
@Angela & @Elisa: I have some thoughts to share regarding your comments, but they’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.
@Angela & @Elisa: The issues we are trying to discuss are complicated and discussing them in general terms and sometimes subjective terms like “patriarchy”, “benefits”, “power”, can sometimes be futile, especially in a forum setting. For example, @Elisa’s comments, “I think we probably understand benefit in different ways” and “I think we probably do not see history in the same way” are spot on.
To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if we have more in common that we may think. Of course, there are differences of opinions on some things, but I would guess our commonalities, even on some weighty matters, outnumber our differences.
I don’t know what the ideal system looks like. I know for me though that my wife and I have spent 33 years so far going through incremental changes trying to better meet each other’s needs, to become less selfish and more selfless, and to be more interested in the other’s happiness than our own. And I’ll be the first to admit that I had a longer way to go than she did (and I still do).
Although I’m “the man of the house”, I try to make sure she has all the autonomy she wants and that all family decisions are just that, “family decisions”. We discuss things together as often as needed and make decisions together. I don’t want to be what has been cast as the proto-typical domineering male who thinks he has all the best answers and ideas and that he doesn’t need help and input. We are a team, she and I, equals you might say. We each have our own set of talents and abilities and we try to maximize those shared talents and abilities for the benefit of our family and extended family.
bwbarnett: Your final paragraph sounds like you are trying to compensate for a default assumption. For example, YOU try to make sure she has all the autonomy she wants. Is SHE in a position to say the same of you? If not, that’s not an assumption of equality; she is your subordinate, and you can congratulate yourself on being so generous. I honestly don’t even know what that means in the context of a marriage. It sounds more like what an employer says of an employee. How does autonomy apply in a marriage? What do you mean by autonomy? It’s great that you don’t want to be domineering or self-centered or arrogant about your ideas. Those would definitely be terrible qualitied in a spouse or even a business partner. One of the classic questions about “autonomy” in marriage relates to how much one spouse can spend without consulting the other. Is this amount the same for both of you? If not, maybe that’s something you should consider. Spouses who consider the money to belong more to one than the other (or for the wife to have an allowance or budget of the husband’s money) are usually less equal marriages.
I also don’t really understand this phrase “the man of the house.” You’re a man, you live in a house, fine. What does this phrase mean to people in 2021? I honestly don’t understand the use of certain phrases in a contemporary context. I’ve watched shows like Father Knows Best, and they bear zero resemblance to anything I’ve seen during my lifetime. A marriage is a partnership. You are pooling your resources and talents as a couple (and money) and building a life together. That’s what an equal marriage looks like to me. Concepts like “the man of the house” carry a whiff of toxic masculinity (it sounds defensive) that just doesn’t fit that description at all. I honestly don’t know what the phrase means in this context.
@Angela: I don’t know what you’d prefer to hear from me. I don’t consider my wife my subordinate or employee, she’s my partner. She has talents and abilities I don’t have and vice versa. Through the years we have tended to rely on each other’s talents and abilities to help us make wise decisions about purchases, homes locations, child rearing, education, employment, etc. Where she is strong, we lean toward her thoughts/ideas. Where I’m strong, we lean toward mine.
The “man of the house” phrase was probably a poor choice on my part as it carries with it negative connotations as you pointed out.
@BWBarnett, thank you for sharing that. When I’m talking about patriarchy I’m really talking about systems / institutions and not individuals. I don’t doubt that you personally are as egalitarian in your marriage as you know how to be and that you’ve worked with your wife to develop a relationship that suits you both; I do think there are constructs about marriage that we *all* inherit that can perpetuate inequality whether or not we intend it. Never throughout this dialogue did I ever think of you personally as sexist or misogynistic, only that you made statements that support sexist and misogynistic *systems*. But I try to be hard on systems/ institutions, and gentle on people. I think most people are doing their best with the assumptions and systems they’ve inherited. I do think we must question those assumptions and systems if we are presented with evidence that they are harming people *even if* they work well for us or our families.
In my comments I was really addressing this statement that you made: “Outside of ‘priesthood patriarchy’, the patriarchal hierarchy in general society is to be credited with much of the peace, prosperity, opportunity, etc. that we enjoy today. It seems to me a great ingratitude when people speak out against it, under the framework it has provided them to be able to speak out against it, without fear of personal harm.”
That’s a *really* broad statement, and one I think is totally wrong. But we may have totally different understandings of what some of those terms even mean, and you’re right that we probably overlap a lot more than we think if we agreed on terminology and other basic assumptions.
I think a full discussion of the history of patriarchy and its impact on global civilizations and individuals is not going to be had in these comments. I appreciate you considering some of the questions I raised as they were helpful for my own self-reflection, and thank you for helping me understand your perspective as well (even if, I must admit, it discourages me that really good, loving, generous people in the Church have that perspective and believe it comes from God – but I do try to remember that doesn’t make them less good, loving, or generous).
bwbarnett: I don’t need to hear anything from you. Just pointing out some assumptions that to me sound a little off-key. I agree with all that Elisa has said.
@Angela: Right, I didn’t want to say *need* because I knew there really wasn’t anything you *needed* to hear from me. I was curious what you *preferred* to hear, along the lines of what could I have said that wouldn’t have been a little off-key to you.
You said: “A marriage is a partnership. You are pooling your resources and talents as a couple (and money) and building a life together. That’s what an equal marriage looks like to me.” That’s probably the answer to my question about what you’d prefer to hear. I thought that I had pretty much conveyed that, but I can see I did it poorly.