General Conference is the gift that keeps on giving. In his Saturday night’s talk, Elder Renlund tried to justify not having any more information on our Mother in Heaven with the following paragraph:
Ever since God appointed prophets, they have been authorized to speak on His behalf. But they do not pronounce doctrines fabricated “of [their] own mind” or teach what has not been revealed. Consider the words of the Old Testament prophet Balaam, who was offered a bribe to curse the Israelites to benefit Moab. Balaam said, “If [the king of Moab] would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.” Latter-day prophets are similarly constrained. Demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive. Instead, we wait on the Lord and His timetable to reveal His truths through the means that He has established.Women’s Session, 2022 Elder Renlund
While I could do a whole post on the statement that prophets “do not pronounce doctrines fabricated “of [their] own mind” (Adam = God anyone?), I’d like to focus on his declaration that “Demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive” If you look up the word “Strawman” in the dictionary, this is the textbook example.
What Elder Renlund is saying is that there are only two ways to learn about Heavenly Mother. One is we can just wait for revelation (the right way), and the other is we can demand an answer (arrogant and unproductive). There is no middle way. Asking is not allowed. Wait or demand.
The response to this just writes itself.
If any of you lack wisdom, let himJames 1:5
demandask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given
Was Joseph Smith arrogant and unproductive then he asked God which church was right? Was Spencer Kimball arrogant when he asked God about giving blacks the priesthood?
Was the brother of Jared arrogant when he “did cry unto the Lord”? Cry is a strong word. In other verses in the book of Ether the brother of Jared “inquired of the Lord”, but in some cases he cried to the Lord. Sounding a lot like demanding?
It seems Renlund is “upbraiding”  us, while God would never do that just for asking, as James 1:5 tells us.
What are your thoughts on the “demanding” declaration by Elder Renlund? Is this just sexism, since it is women asking, so they are demanding, while Joseph, SWK and the brother of Jared are men so they are asking? Does this perpetuate the stereotype of the “shrill woman yelling (demanding)”?
 find fault with (someone); scold.
Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay
I’m willing to suspend my demands if the Q15 is willing to ask (and answer) tough questions for me. If I’m not allowed to ask about Heavenly Mother, I expect one of the 15 prophets, seers, and revelators to do it for me.
The problem is, they aren’t asking. They aren’t asking even though it’s on everyone’s mind. Same with blacks and the priesthood/temple. We are dying to know if the ban was the Lord’s will or just Brigham Young’s agenda. And we are kind of curious about polygamy too. Was that really the Lord’s idea? And finally, what about LGBTQ folks? I’ve heard DA Oaks say that “we just don’t know” when addressing why we have LGBTQs among us. You don’t know why? Then ask.
The Book of Mormon was written for our time, right? Why doesn’t it address these issues? So if our “fullness of the Gospel” scriptures don’t answer these questions, and the 15 won’t answer these questions, I guess I’ll demand some personal revelation after all.
I actually think it is quite arrogant and unproductive that the “prophet” claims to receive revelations from God that affects so many people in very personal and harmful ways. I get that the top dog of a religion, corporation or whatever has to make decisions and regulations to keep it running and solvent, but to claim on a regular basis that he is speaking for God is unbelievably arrogant. He’s God for Pete’s sake. We are all little ants on this earth. I get that they were raised up to believe that if the thought or idea came into their head it must be from God, but I believe this is what God was referring to when He said not to take His name in vain. I can see why that commandment was thrown in along with don’t murder, steal, commit adultery etc. Those commandments are telling us not to hurt one another. And it can hurt people sometimes very badly in convincing them that God thinks badly of them in ways when in reality God doesn’t feel that way at all! It seems to me the more humble a man becomes the more aware he becomes of his fallibility. That’s why Jesus said the beggar, while looking down asking for mercy was in a better place than a man looking up thanking God for making him special. I’m just venting here. We don’t need a middle man in trying to communicate with God. We need to just do our best in trying to love one another. End of sermon haha!
I find it amazing the Russell M. Nelson declares something a divine revelation and then that policy is reversed a few short years later.
1. Nov. 13, 2015 – Same-Sex couples are apostates and children are barred from baby-naming and baptism ceremonies
2. Jan. 10, 2016 – Pres. Nelson in Worldwide devotional – declares that 2015 Same-Sex policy was divine revelation
3. April 4, 2019 – 2015 Same-Sex policy is reversed. Couples are not in apostasy and children can be named & baptized
The more the Q12 and FP talk, the more I just see people shrugging them off. Sure, there will always be a contingent that hang on their every word. But more and more I’m finding even stridently faithful TBM’s starting to say things like “asking isn’t demanding” or “current leadership doesn’t like the queer community but the next generation of leaders hopefully will” or “getting vaccinated is a mere suggestion” or “while it’s nice to see the church changing their tune on treating abuse victims more kindly, they refuse to acknowledge they were wrong and that hurts people” or “does X city really need a third temple?”
While these folks are still all in, at least having them acknowledge that we can do better is a huge step in the right direction.
In the meantime, like Josh, if they won’t ask the tough questions, fine. I’m not afraid to do so myself.
Happy Easter Eve.
Is it our arrogance to ask?
Is it their arrogance that they find it distasteful to be asked?
Or is it simply fear that we will determine that they don’t have any better conduit to the divine than we do?
I think it’s the latter. Being the sole conduit to revelation writ large is their only real power over us. It is used to fill us with bliss – “289 new temples~oh my!” Make us tremble with fear – “its end times ~ we prepare ye, we will prepare ye.” Close your eyes, adore us, and keep those checks coming.
For once I agree with cachemagic. Well, I wouldn’t use the same wording and say I’m “amazed”, because I think there is a simple explanation, but I do think it’s a rather jarring situation.
It is instructive to list the things that Nelson claims have been revealed vs those that haven’t. I won’t do that here, y’al are welcome to make your own lists.
It is important to me that the FP and Q15 avoid claiming revelation where it doesn’t exist, or where it is ambiguous. For example, when the meet and discuss things and get a nice feeling about something, I would prefer that acknowledge that i while it might be inspired, they are really just saying what they think right. This is why I don’t really want them to expound some new doctrine of heavenly mother. (On the other hand, I don’t want to deny individuals their right to state a belief in heavenly mother, or pray to her, or whatever.)
If I were to have my way, as a start down the right path the FP would acknowledge that the following aren’t really revelations:
– Family proc
– location of temples to be built
– destination of every single mission call
– changes to the handbook of instructions
-general policies and practices relating to gay and transgender people
And many more.
There’s an order to things. There are many wonderful things that individual members may learn through direct revelation–so long as “they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men.” In other words, it’s possible that one might be instructed from above on the mysteries of the Divine Feminine–so long as he doesn’t shout what he’s learned from the rooftops. The Lord knows what his people are able to bear collectively–and he will dispense that portion of his word through his apostles.
That said, I’m of the opinion that if enough of the saints petition the Lord on a particular subject–in a spirit of meekness–it’s quite likely that he will hear them and respond to them collectively through his prophets–with the understanding that they (the saints) must be willing to submit to the Lord’s timing (which includes a willingness to take “no” for an answer).
Matthew 7:9-11 would appear to be relevant:
“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Forget demand revelation…how about demanding kindness and civility within the LDS church. They are thrown under the bus in the name of sacrifice and obedience.
Josh H is correct on this one. We want members to seek after revelation, and that includes asking for it.
I do not believe that God wants a Church of ignorant members who are incapable of thinking and are capable only of following. Members must be able to think or they will never be able to respond to the countless difficulties that arrive each day. The Prophet can’t be everywhere at once. Members must be able to think and ask for revelation for themselves.
The whole history of the Church is based on Joseph Smith specifically asking for revelation. Over and over again. That is irrefutable fact.
Members should prepare for revelation by study, prayer, and hard work. Then they can ask and receive. It is not enough to sit around playing violent video games and watching explicit TikToks and somehow expect that revelation will come from just asking.
Many members have already received personal revelation reenforcing their relationship to their Mother in Heaven. They are now waiting for modern prophets to ask and hopefully receive a similar response. For Mormonism to fully involve women in the institutional church, it is critical that the role of a Mother in Heaven be further defined.
I think what Elder Renlund is saying is this: “We’re not interested in knowing anything more about Heavenly Mother. So we’re not asking. Period.” And most mainstream LDS aren’t that interested either, so it’s a non-starter.
Adapting Elder Christofferson’s point a bit, let’s remember God is not a Revelation Vending Machine: ask a question, He spits out an answer. It’s revelation, not ask-alation. God reveals, and He does it (or doesn’t) in His own due time. And let’s not forget God’s revelation through Fleetwood Mac: “But don’t ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to.”
Dave B’s take on the matter is a good one:
//I think what Elder Renlund is saying is this: “We’re not interested in knowing anything more about Heavenly Mother. So we’re not asking. Period.” And most mainstream LDS aren’t that interested either, so it’s a non-starter.//
You have to ask for revelation with ‘real intent.’ If the Brethren don’t really want to make any changes based on a revelation they might receive, then they don’t have ‘real intent’ that is necessary to get a revelation. I know when I’ve thrown a matter open for any alternative from God, I’ve gotten much more expansive and Godly answers than when I just ask God to confirm what I’m already thinking. As JCS says, it takes some personal preparation to pray like this. I typically only get this sort of inspiration after months of ‘studying it out in my mind’ and praying, but failing to get either a ‘burning in the bosom’ or a ‘stupor of thought.’ If you’ve asked many times and not gotten any sort of answer, maybe you’re asking the wrong question.
It’s risky to pray with an open heart. I’ve found out some things I never expected, and even been prompted to grow and develop in ways I never thought I would be asked to. Those experiences are both frightening and glorious.
“Oh Well” was my personal theme song for years precisely because of the line Dave B quotes. (If anybody cares, it’s been replaced by “Party Down the Hall” by the Stone Coyotes, which captures me just a little bit better. And if Dave B has inspired you to listen to “Oh Well”, be sure to listen to the long version.)
But I disagree with his characterization of mainstream members as not being that interested. In my thoroughly orthodox ward, either Heavenly Mother or Heavenly Parents have gotten a shout out in two of the last three sacrament meetings, today by none other than the bishop’s wife. The interest is there and it is not going away..
I think it’s important to note that most women in the Church are smart enough to know that any so-called revelation that comes through a privilege-biased, polygamy-practicing, male hierarchy about Heavenly Mother is going to be pretty terrible. Nobody I know wants them to say anything on this topic any more than we want them running the women’s meeting. You don’t ask men who don’t respect women to talk to women about women.
What @janey said. You have to ask with a sincere heart and real intent.
Church leadership has no appetite to dramatically reshape the way the Church or organized, so no, they aren’t going to be told that women should be ordained to the priesthood or that HM should have a more prominent role in our worship. It’s against their personal interests, and it’s generally very difficult to be open to revelation that’s against one’s own interest.
In other news, this argument is also a straw man because I know of no one who is “demanding” anything. I know women who are experiencing HM and incorporating Her into their spiritual practices, but they aren’t “demanding” anything. How would one even “demand” something from Church leadership? Is there a hotline we can call and make our demands?
No, women aren’t demanding anything. It’s just that they have the audacity to publicly share their desires and experiences and THAT is what the leadership doesn’t like – people publicly sharing beliefs and experiences that they find threatening.
The sad reality for me these last number of years is to come to understand that our leaders don’t have any more of a pipeline to deity than the rest of us. So all of our practices and policies follow dogma that’s been around for centuries that have been compiled, interpreted and tweaked here and there – but nothing substantially changes within religion because it’s not there in actual existing ‘scripture’ that the leaders rely on. Like who where these people who wrote the texts we use, and which of them had an actual pipeline to a God? And then we have the compilation of these texts and the translation which was often sloppy, decisions about what was incorporated and what was not. I have less and less trust in any of it. There is so much to know and understand now and yet certain groups are still not fully welcome at ‘God’s’ table – according to his prophets.
I really don’t want president Nelson telling me that Heavenly Mother’s love for me is conditional and then suggesting that I can never be good enough to earn her love. Nope. I like my own revelation about Heavenly Mother, that she is much kinder and gentler and loving than what the church portrays their male God to be. Nope, I am just not very fond of the church’s polygamist, conditionally loving, God who prefers his sons over his daughters and I don’t want the church to turn Heavenly Mother into a subservient 1950’s housewife, who is eternally pregnant popping out children that she isn’t even allowed to talk to. Thanks, but no thanks.
My ward’s Easter sacrament meeting was OUTSTANDING! We had three brief testimonies and four or five musical pieces, including a solo His Hands by a beautiful young woman who I learned is a professional singer, and a trumpet solo I Know That My Redeemer Lives by a fine young man. It was all focused on the single most important act in the history of the world, the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am glad I attended.
Demand is quite a bit different than asking. I don’t think Renlund was suggesting that we don’t ask, nor do I think he was suggesting that they (Q15) don’t ask.
Demand: ask authoritatively or brusquely. Synonyms: order to · command to · tell to.
https://wikidiff.com/ask/demand — As verbs the difference between ask and demand is that ask is to look for an answer to a question by speaking while demand is to request forcefully.
@bwbarnett: Thanks for mansplaining the definition of “demand” and clearing everything up. Looking forward to hearing you speak at the next women’s conference.
@bwbarnett, sounds a lot like tone-policing.
Women get told all our lives we are bossy, aggressive, shrill, demanding when we don’t fit exactly the mold we are supposed to fit. So his comments fit right with these “angry woman” stereotypes. That’s exactly why they are so problematic. They are straight-up classic sexism.
The way I look at it is revelation between God and man is it can be a fallible method of communication.
Church leaders will be held accountable for their decisions and responsibilities.
I will be held accountable for my responsibilities and decisions too.
Merely applying blind obedience to mortal beings isn’t the smartest thing to do. I don’t think we will necessarily be absolved of bad decisions by saying “ he told me to do such and such.”
Besides patriarchy the thing that bothers me the absolute most is the church leadership stance on LGBTQ+ issues. Most of the readers here will know that there are actually only 3 scriptures in the whole Bible that could be considered to refer to homosexual relationships. Delving further it is obvious that translations to English substantially changes the slant on what was actually said. And yet here we are with such firm positions – and not just from our church. The Proclamation on Family isn’t scripture or doctrine. The church has put themselves in a position – from previous positions on making homosexuality not fit with their rituals. How can we promote so called saving ordinances/rituals if they are not for everyone?
And @Dot – don’t ya just love mansplaining 😂😂😂😂
Yep. James 1:5 is a pretty clear and simple response to Elder Renlund’s talk. And I feel like most of the membership recognizes that.
I’m curious to see how it all plays out. I feel like there has been a push recently for church members to seek personal revelation since President Nelson’s April 2018 talk about seeking personal revelation. In my mind, it’s almost like Elder Renlund’s talk and President Nelson’s talk will battle it out in future discussions.
I am a little worried that in future Sunday school lessons when James 1:5 or the topic of personal revelation comes up, people will quote Elder Renlund and say “But be sure not to demand a revelation.” That would be a tragedy.
I’m more hopeful that the sentiment of this post and the comments will be repeated throughout the church, and when anyone talks about “Not demanding a revelation” people will speak up and remind everyone that we can and should ask for revelation and quote James 1:5.
Renlund chose the word “demand” deliberately. He wanted a negative connotation. He could have said request, petition, entreat, etc. but used loaded language to control and shut down the discussion. And it will play out over and over and over just the way he wants it to.
I think “demanding” revelation is closely aligned with the attitude portrayed in the Martin Harris story… to ask repeatedly even when the answer was given.
It was an effort to get God to change His mind.
Seeking revelation properly is seeking to know the mind and will of God concerning oneself, or in the case of the First Presidency, to know it for the entire church.
For the record, I have sought to know more about heavenly mother. Alas, I was told it was none of my business.
I think Renlund chose that word deliberately because that’s what he was warning against. There’s nothing wrong with requesting, petitioning, entreating, or even requiring (as per the BoM). But when we cross the line and start making demands then we’re on shaky ground. That places us in the position of counselling the Lord rather than receiving counsel from him.
Who was “demanding” the bros get a revaluation on Heavenly Mother? I have seen heartfelt pleas but have not read of members demanding a revelation. Marching on temple square – nope.
Renlund created a false equivalency by characterizing these requests as being demands. Of course demands would be inappropriate. So his statement becomes a dodge and avoids addressing the actual issue. This is disingenuous at best. At worst, he’s demonizing these enquirers. It’s a technique to distract from the real issue and dismiss both the questions and the questioner.
I gotta disagree you. I don’t think there was anything disingenuous in what he said. Even if you’re right–and there’s no one making that specific demand–it’s perfectly reasonable for him to warn against making demands in order to mitigate what might be perceived as an unhealthy trend headed in that direction. Even so, there are a lot of folks–both in and out of the church–who are constantly pressing the brethren to make changes in order to suit their own social/political/philosophical/religious sensibilities. And there’s no question that some of those requests bump right up against demands. Honestly, I don’t know how church leaders are able to cope with the endless stream of complaints and criticism coming from both in and out of the church.
It’s Monday morning in Kansas – otherwise known as “reality..” A big beautiful moon is falling in the west. Have a nice day!
Meh, who needs to demand revelation from church leaders when there is personal revelation? Now of course, leaders generally don’t like the concept of personal revelation, except for when an individual claims it about making a career decision or claiming affirmation (and only affirmation) that something the leaders said is indeed true. They most certainly don’t like people claiming as true ideas, beliefs, and doctrines that are diametrically opposed to and mutually exclusive with the teachings of the church leaders on the basis of personal divine revelation. They don’t like people saying, “I received a revelation from God herself that Warren Jeffs is the true prophet or that Christopher Nemelka is the reincarnation of Hyrum Smith who revealed the words in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon to us.”
But we should bear in mind that Nemelka and Jeffs also claim to be receiving revelation. How do we know that they’re wrong? Personal powers of reasoning to deduce that their “fruits” are bad? Well, I don’t think that Joseph Smith or Brigham Young fare too well on that test. Or do we need personal revelation to “know” that Jeffs and Nemelka aren’t true prophets? Furthermore, what can’t we claim or disclaim on revelation? It seems like we can claim anything to be true or untrue on that basis.
I remember when President Nelson claimed revelation to justify to PoX policy. And then a few years later he claimed revelation to reverse the PoX policy. God must be a tricky, difficult to understand, entity. That being the case, shouldn’t we be relying more on solid reasoning to reach important decisions and less on flimsy feelings that may or may not be revelations, but hard to know for sure?
I think Jack’s first line in his first comment nails it. “There’s an order to things.” For a mostly white, entirely straight (presumably?), all cisgender, 100% male group, the GAs have little empathy for issues that don’t directly affect them. What is the afterlife going to look like? Well, if you’re a righteous priesthood holder, we have some answers, but if you’re a woman who’s worried about being a polygamous wife, as Dallin H. Oaks showed a few conferences ago, your questions are laughable. Because who among the GAs would care?
So the problem Renlund is raising is that the GAs don’t care about things that don’t affect them. To ask for revelation on the eternal status of women or on Heavenly Mother would be out of order (as Jack explains) because men’s eternal destiny matters and Heavenly Father matters, but women are a footnote at best. The GAs aren’t going to ask about Heavenly Mother for the same reason they aren’t going to ask about the eternal status of pets. Or houseplants. It’s just not important to them. The same goes for single people, or people who want to have kids but can’t. Concerns are waved away with “It will be worked out in the next life,” but needless to say that such a dismissive answer would never be given to righteous priesthood holders, because they matter.
In sum, it’s only “demanding” revelation when it’s on a topic the GAs don’t care about.
The church’s response to questions about women’s priesthood ordination and Heavenly Mother reminds me of Laman and Lemuel’s approach to receiving revelation. When Laman and Lemuel are having trouble understanding their father’s words, Nephi asks them, “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” Laman and Lemuel answer, “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” 1 Nephi 15: 8-9
I think that seeking revelation about these issues is scary for the leaders of the church, because they could receive answers that don’t fit with their worldview or patriarchal power structure. Elisa said it well, “it’s generally very difficult to be open to revelation that’s against one’s own interest.”
You want a revelation
You want to get it right
And it’s a conversation
I just can’t have tonight
Jack: “Honestly, I don’t know how church leaders are able to cope with the endless stream of complaints and criticism coming from both in and out of the church.” Yes, poor them, Imagine having to hear complaints from the people you are oppressing, dismissing, and treating with derision. Women are treated like an actual joke, and LGBT people are made to disappear, outlawing even identifying oneself on BYU campus. Remind me again whose “sensibilities” and “political pressures” are causing this?
Another meaning of the word “demand” is “to necessitate.”
Certain questions demand answers regardless of the tone with which they’re asked. Questions about gender, race, sexual identity and orientation—they demand answers because the stakes are high and they impact our wellbeing day to day. If the Q15 refuse to address these questions, they shouldn’t be surprised if members seek—and find—answers elsewhere.
A few years ago I jotted down this regarding Heavenly Mother from Rebecca J. at By Common Consent. (Does the Thought Make Reason Stare?)
“I would rather believe she doesn’t exist than that she doesn’t matter.”
Seems like the church wants to not talk about her to the point of not mattering.
Kirkstall, some of those answers can be found in the proclamation on the family–but we won’t receive them. I don’t know what answer could be more authoritative than a document signed by all fifteen apostles. I think sometimes we demand the answers that we want rather than seeking to understand “things as they really are.”
Et al, our collective gainsaying is proof positive that the apostles are duly ordained of God. The saints have had a bad habit of second guessing the Lord’s prophets in every age. I love the church and the community of the saints–but sometimes I wonder if we’re really no better than the children of Israel who complained against Moses at every turn.
Elder Renlund said if we read the Gospel Topics essay on Heavenly Mother we would know all he knew about Her. This was disappointing to me: in the footnotes of that essay are rich resources, including an important BYU Studies article with pages of quotes from general authorities about Her (A Mother There). If he had read that, he would have already known much more about Her than was in the Gospel Topics essay itself.
Further, I have not seen any women asking, let alone demanding. I think they realize that cishet men will not or cannot reveal the Divine Feminine. I’m fine with them not.
Finally, the Hebrew Bible if full of people demanding and yelling and cursing and arguing and wrestling with God. And God can take it. The thing the God of the He rew Bible doesn’t take is when you place other gods before Him, or treat the poor and immigrant badly.
An educated person knows there is much to be gleaned from accessing footnotes. Footnotes are part of the essay. Elder Renlund is an educated person.
Your comment that cishet men can’t “reveal the divine feminine” makes as much sense as a claim that cishet women can’t reveal or testify of God the Father. This sexual division throws up a barrier to understanding and if accepted could be extended to limit wisdom and compassion in the Church between various groups. What would we call this? Tribalism? It would be a step backwards.
An assumption that has been made by many is that church leaders, male and female, are somehow failing to contemplate the attributes of Deity, the roles of men and women in the eternities, etc. Hence, leaders are unable to receive revelation on this subject. I doubt this is true.
I believe a more likely scenario is quite simply that God has not revealed the information in question in a manner (beyond private intimations) that would expand our collective knowledge as a church beyond what we know from the essay.
Jack, just because the Proclamation establishes the church’s position on family and gender roles doesn’t mean it satisfactorily answers any questions. That document has nothing to say about the destiny of God’s LGBTQ children in the eternities. It has nothing to say about women’s destiny in the eternities. It doesn’t clear anything up about eternal polygamy or the racially motivated Priesthood/Temple ban. It doesn’t teach us anything about Mother in Heaven. It doesn’t even clear up anything about whether Nephites existed or how transparent the church should be with its finances.
The church has a mountain of unresolved issues on its hands. It’s losing members by the 10s of thousands over these questions. Show me where the Q15 has ever attempted to address the issues by anything other than the Renlund Method—namely, throwing up hands and saying, “Sorry that’s all we know. Stay in the boat and keep being obedient.”
Jesus said we would know prophets by their fruits. In this case, the church has little to offer except a decorative bowl of wax fruit, meant to stay firm forever but bereft of nutritional value.
I like what you call the “Renlund Method.” The church is honest about what it doesn’t know. And I like the wiggle room that that limited knowledge gives the saints as they seek to understand the things of the Kingdom.
The main purpose of the church is to bring the family of Adam and Eve into the New and Everlasting Covenant. We don’t need to know precisely where the Nephite civilization was located in order to accomplish that task–though I hope to know those details at some point in the future. What we need are the basic teachings and ordinances of the gospel–which the church provides handsomely. And it is in witnessing many faithful members of the church growing in their knowledge, faith, and love, that I know the Holy Ghost is at work in the church. Those are the fruits that matter–IMO.
“I don’t know what answer could be more authoritative than a document signed by all fifteen apostles.”
The Family Proclamation isn’t signed. Only one name is at the bottom (GBH’s) and he is listed as having “read” the proclamation, which makes it at least possible that they are not his words.
Jack, maybe you don’t need to know the eternal destiny of women and LGBT people, but some of us do. I just cannot believe in a God who doesn’t care about his daughters or LGBT children. So, for me to even believe that the Mormon God is God and not some idea constructed by males with egos, then I need that revelation you seem to think is so unimportant. Since the Mormon “prophet” says he can’t get such revelation, then to me, obviously he isn’t a prophet at all, just the figurehead at the top of the Mormon hierarchy, with no more authority to speak for God than Warren Jeffs.
And on the idea of demanding things from God, my experience is that when I am desperate enough to demand an answer from God, He/She has never ignored my demands. My demands have been at times when I am angry with God, or on the brink of suicide, and I have not always been polite in my requests. If He/She is any kind of God at all, then He/She understands my desperation, and can handle my anger.
So, since God doesn’t mind demands, then it must be mortal men who are uncomfortable with women demanding answers they don’t have. Perhaps because they know their inability to get real answers is proof of their lack of being what they claim.
Thanks for the correction. Even so, the proclamation opens with these powerful words:
“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim…”
“Appeal to authority is a common type of fallacy, or an argument based on unsound logic. When writers or speakers use appeal to authority, they are claiming that something must be true because it is believed by someone who said to be an “authority” on the subject.” https://www.softschools.com/examples/fallacies/appeal_to_authority_examples/430/#:~:text=Appeal%20to%20authority%20is%20a,%22authority%22%20on%20the%20subject.
I believe that everyone, including women and LGBT people, who love God with all of their heart, might, mind, and strength, will inherit everything He has.
I too have made desperate demands at times–and the Lord has answered me. He knows our hearts–and will respond (IMO) to our sincere soul cry at times even when our request may come across a bit presumptuous.
That being said, what we don’t want to do (IMO) is make our commitment to God conditional–based upon how he meets our demands. Even though the gospel covenant may be a free gift we must enter into it on his terms–not the other way around.
The buck’s gotta stop somewhere. I believe the Lord speaks through his apostles–especially when all fifteen of them are unified.
It seems to me that a fundamental part of Jack’s (and other staunch TBM’s, I’m looking at you bwbarnett) argument is indeed an appeal to authority as Angela has outlined above. They sanctify this appeal based upon some ineffable experience they have had with the “spirit” which they describe as spiritual. Their epistemology elevates the words, policies, pronouncements, teachings and actions etc. of the Q15 to the level of the divine.
I and many others on this blog have a diametrically opposed epistemology. Our lived experience leads us to consider with skepticism the same words, policies, pronouncements, teachings and actions.
Who is right? Whose epistemology is correct? Who knows?
What I do know is all of us on both sides of the argument have a strong bias that precludes us from really seeing and considering a counter position. Instead we go through life gathering the data that prove our point of view, while dismissing those data that challenge our worldview, or more likely not even seeing or hearing them in the first place.
And so we talk past each other, rarely carefully reading or listening to the other side, but instead, skimming the content and quickly responding with another bias driven argument.
The only thing I am truly confident about is that everyone is wrong about everything. This means me, it means you, it means your family, it means your co-workers, it means the democrats, it means the republicans, and it also means the apostles and the president of the church.
The only question is how wrong? Very few people are 180 degrees wrong on anything. Rather we usually are ten degrees or twenty degrees or thirty degrees off. But if our understanding and knowledge propels us down the path of life in a certain trajectory, how far off the mark can ten or twenty degrees take us?
The only way to build a people of one heart and one mind is to have the temerity to rigorously question our own biases and the resultant perspectives and beliefs and consider something new.
Tevia from Fiddler on the Roof did this throughout the movie. When is daughters made decisions contrary to his world view he would reconsider with the brilliant line:
“On the other hand.”
When his youngest daughter decided to marry outside the faith he ended the argument with himself and his precious relationship with his daughter by foolishly thundering:
“On the other hand, on the other hand, on the other hand, THERE IS NO OTHER HAND!
And having given in to his biases, his epistemology and his world view, everyone lost.
I’m going to borrow a line from Robert’s comment to respond to Jack’s endless comments:
//What I do know is all of us on both sides of the argument have a strong bias that precludes us from really seeing and considering a counter position. //
I have considered the counter position. For most of my life, I was a staunch supporter of the Brethren, kept all the commandments, humbled myself to take callings I didn’t want and believe things that rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve been Jack. I understand Jack’s reasoning and positions. Jack believes that the reason we haven’t admitted that we agree with him is because he hasn’t phrased his comments the right way (based on his comment on Back in The Boat).
The reason I stopped believing like Jack does is because of my life experiences. I encountered questions and situations in which following the Brethren and the Gospel made things worse, much worse. When I abandoned my testimony, the situations got better. Because of this, because of experiences I’ve had, I quit believing like Jack. Jack will never have the experiences that I’ve had, so it’s unlikely he’ll ever adopt my opinions and worldview.
I’m just feeling exhausted by Jack’s constant barrage of “oh, do you disagree with me? it must be because I haven’t explained myself well enough. Let me rip your comment apart and respond with my faith and testimony and my assurance that if you would just agree with me, then we wouldn’t disagree anymore!” Jack, the truth is that I disagree with you. I disagree with anyone who thinks the Brethren have some special connection to God that wins out over common sense and compassion. It doesn’t matter how you phrase it or how sincere you are – I disagree with you.
I come to W&T because it’s therapeutic to be here. That lifetime of faithful Mormonism left some painful scars. Talking to people who have been thru similar experiences is healing for me. We can complain together, reassure each other that we aren’t crazy, point out the problems and heave a huge sigh of relief that we don’t have to defend our experiences over and over and over again. The acceptance here is balm in Gilead to me.
Jack, like others have said, people with differing opinions are welcome here. But could you read the room? Maybe if you’ve made 7 comments on a thread, back off. I’ve never seen you let anyone else have the last word. Stop with your so-kind-and-concerned battering people over the head with your testimony and good intentions.
I had this BIL who figured that if you disagreed with him, it was because he hadn’t talked long enough. So he would talk. And talk. And talk. And let you speak only to give him more material for rebuttal. When you finally walked away, he thought he’d won the argument. He didn’t see it for what it was: exhaustion.
I can’t thank you enough Janey for writing your comment. The words Balm of Gilead also came to my mind when I think of W&T. I too find this space a place of healing. I’ve chosen not to be authentic with my extended family and several neighbors which makes this space special because it’s just me. Unfortunately for me, Jack’s comments have ruined that for me. Which sucks. Because I want to believe this blog is big enough for the both of us. But maybe it’s not, and that makes me sad. Because I feel like I lose either way.
Being a father of five daughters (and one son) I very much empathize with Tevye. Remember he did come around in the end. So who knows? There may be hope for me yet! 😀
Re: On the Other Hand: While I agree that we need to be flexible and accommodating — and certainly there’s no better way to learn how to be backbreakingly flexible than through parenting — each one of us has a thing or two in our life that we simply can’t compromise. The Book of Mormon says:
“And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.”
The BoM tells us (in so many words), “there is no other hand.”
I’ll try to make this my final comment at W&T.
Janey, with regard to my suggesting that I may not be expressing myself clearly in my comments (on the other thread)–that had mostly to do with some ghastly things that one of the commenters was implying about me personally. They were rather frightening. And so instead of telling that commenter to please end the sophistry I opted to give him/her the benefit of the doubt and blame it on my poor writing–and there’s no question that my writing can be poor at times.
“Jack will never have the experiences that I’ve had, so it’s unlikely he’ll ever adopt my opinions and worldview.”
True enough. But Jack has had the experiences that Jack has had–and some of them have been horrific. My faith has been tried to the core. So please — and maybe I’ve misunderstood you on this point — try not to assume that because I’m a “TBM” that I haven’t “stared into the abyss.” I live with constant suicidal ideation–but enough on that. I’ve talked about it elsewhere.
“I come to W&T because it’s therapeutic to be here.”
I know that I’ve been disruptive. Even so, you shouldn’t be surprised that when criticisms — some of which are very heavy handed — are leveled against the church in an open domain folks like me will show up once in a while to counter.
Re: My Endless Comments: Yeah, I have a tendency to overdo it sometimes. On the other hand, I can get a lot of responses (here and at other places) because of my orthodoxy. So I don’t always know when to stop.
@Chadwick, thank you for your comment. I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one.
@Jack, I’m going to quote and disagree with your comment and I’m going to rely on your promise that you’re done commenting. I get the last word on this.
From your comment, in which you quoted the less applicable portion of my comment and acted like that was the real issue:
//“Jack will never have the experiences that I’ve had, so it’s unlikely he’ll ever adopt my opinions and worldview.”
True enough. But Jack has had the experiences that Jack has had–and some of them have been horrific. My faith has been tried to the core. So please — and maybe I’ve misunderstood you on this point — try not to assume that because I’m a “TBM” that I haven’t “stared into the abyss.” I live with constant suicidal ideation–but enough on that. I’ve talked about it elsewhere.//
The experience that you CAN’T identify with is this line from my comment: “I encountered questions and situations in which following the Brethren and the Gospel made things worse, much worse. When I abandoned my testimony, the situations got better. ” You are a TBM because you haven’t had THAT experience.
And this one:
//I know that I’ve been disruptive. Even so, you shouldn’t be surprised that when criticisms — some of which are very heavy handed — are leveled against the church in an open domain folks like me will show up once in a while to counter. //
Are you claiming that you only show up “once in a while”? Because I’m not sure you know what “once in a while” means. Once your name appears on a blog comment, the discussion is over and the rest of the thread is just you arguing about why you’re right and everyone else is wrong. You do this on Almost. Every. Single. Thread. If you just showed up once in a while, it wouldn’t be quite so exhausting.
Thank you for this one:
//Re: My Endless Comments: Yeah, I have a tendency to overdo it sometimes. On the other hand, I can get a lot of responses (here and at other places) because of my orthodoxy. //
You just outed yourself as a troll. Good-bye, I will not miss you.
I write to the Church regularly “demanding” (lol) that the leaders seek more revelation about Heavenly Mother.
According to what the prophets have said about Her, we know the same amount of info about Her as we do about Heavenly Father, so I worship both! I’m guessing that Jesus told his apostles to “pray to the Father” and that there is some scripture missing here. King Josiah had the female taken out of the temples, I dont doubt he took the female out of the scriptures as well.