One of the big announcements coming from last weekend’s General Conference was a new-and-improved For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet. I have a post-in-progress comparing and contrasting the most recent (2011) and new version of the pamphlet—which is by nearly every measure a major improvement. Put your second piercings back in, ladies! Freedom!
But that post isn’t done yet, and anyway, I wanted to talk about something specific that I noticed when reading the new pamphlet that doesn’t really fit into that larger discussion. It’s this section:
“Is it wrong to have questions about the Church? How can I find answers?
Having questions is not a sign of weakness or lack of faith. In fact, asking questions can help build faith. The Restoration of the gospel started when 14-year-old Joseph Smith asked questions with faith. Seek answers in the scriptures, in the words of God’s prophets, from your leaders and faithful parents, and from God Himself. If answers don’t come right away, trust that you will learn line upon line. Keep living by what you already know, and keep seeking for truth.”For the Strength of Youth: A Guide to Making Choices
While I appreciate that nod to questions (faith-building questions …), it troubles me that there is a qualifier to “parents”—kids should seek answers from “faithful parents.” There is no qualifier whatsoever in front of prophets or leaders, by contrast. I guess we recognize that parents can make mistakes, but not Church leaders …
I’m concerned that this may add to discord in families because it suggests that less active / non-member parents aren’t qualified sources for answers to questions. I have friends who have renegotiated their relationship with Church (including many of those quiet quitters I wrote about last week) and now face judgment and derision from their own children. A Church that inserts itself between parents and children (unless there is actual abuse going on) is the opposite of pro-family.
Ironically, the Church’s purported reason for the 2015 exclusion policy was that it didn’t want to come between parents and children with differing beliefs. I don’t think that was ever the full or truthful story, but if there was any doubt, this line certainly suggests that family harmony isn’t as important to some Church leaders as orthodoxy.
I also wonder about the “why” for this text, which I suspect was intentional. I’m sure people pored over every word in this pamphlet and it would have been natural—and better parallel structure—to simply say “parents.” It sticks out. I don’t think it was an accident. So why?
I don’t know, but I wonder if the Church is concerned about the children of parents who are checking out. It would seem a good response to that would be to try to re-engage parents, but the Church has been hell-bent on focusing on youth at the expense of adults for years now. I’ve heard from a CES employee that the Church has basically given up the over-40 crowd. The people like me who heard one version of the gospel and are now disillusioned—that’s a trust crisis that the Church has not been successful at repairing (because it is unwilling to face it head-on). Instead, they are trying to avoid those mistakes with younger kids who they hope won’t reach disillusionment.
Apparently, they’ll do that even at the expense of telling kids to trust their parents.
- If you read the new FSOY pamphlet, did this stand out to you? Have you seen instances of the Church inserting itself between parents and kids, or do you think this is pretty rare?
Elisa, this is a fascinating catch. In the seminary doctrinal mastery stuff, they don’t put a qualifier on parents specifically, but they add a whole paragraph about identifying unreliable sources. That second paragraph essentially states that sources are unreliable if they are interfering between you and “the Lord and His appointed servants.” So, yes, I do believe the qualifier/caveat is purposeful in the FSOY about parents.
Paragraphs from Doctrinal Mastery:
As part of the Lord’s appointed process for obtaining spiritual knowledge, He has established sources through which He reveals truth and guidance to His children. These sources include the light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, parents, and Church leaders. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—the Lord’s prophets upon the earth today—are a vital source of truth. The Lord has chosen and ordained these individuals to speak for Him.
We can also learn truth through other trustworthy sources. However, sincere seekers of truth should be wary of unreliable sources of information. We live in a time when many “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Satan is the father of lies and seeks to distort truth and persuade us to turn away from the Lord and His appointed servants. As we turn to the Lord’s divinely appointed sources for answers and direction, we can be blessed to discern between truth and error. Learning to recognize and avoid unreliable sources can protect us from misinformation and from those who seek to destroy faith.
@MaryAnn “The Lord’s appointed process for obtaining spiritual knowledge …” how do you “appoint” a “process”? Sounds like such legalistic jargon.
And yes. The litmus test for truth and sources seems to be whether or not they align with The Brethren.
Personal revelation is legitimate as long as what is revealed agrees with the Brethren.
Obey (and listen to) your parents unless they are out or PIMO or inactive…then just obey and listen to the Brethren.
Get an education and learn from books unless those books disagree with the Brethren.
Study the scriptures and learn from them unless they disagree with the Prophet.
The church has long preached a subtle message of blind faith in its leaders, which is to trump belief and trust in any other figures, that it continually denies is the case. It pretends that praying about it is the way we find true answers except for when perceived answers to prayer come in conflict with what the leaders are saying. If that’s the case, then the person saying the prayer has been misled.
The changes to the FSOY are minimal at best. Still the message in it is that while “Father in Heaven trusts you,” the church leaders do not. And hence they have taken it upon themselves to write this ridiculous pamphlet and preach it as if it is scripture and pretend as if it continues to apply well into adulthood. And if you think otherwise, well, modern-day Pharisees (who sometimes say racist things) John Bytheway and Brad Wilcox will ridicule you and call you out.
I haven’t read any version of FSOY. But it seems to me that the Rusty-Gordy argument continues. Mormon! Victory for Satan! Single earrings! Whatever! It’s almost as if they make it up as they go along.
It is good that some effort is being made to cast a net over the youth, and to step back from the backward policies that have driven so many youth away from the institution. The problem remains, however, that the very people driving policy change are the same people whose tactics repel the youth in the first place. Consider how Wilcox (no doubt a good man) speaks to the youth like they are stupid children. Does he realize they know more about sex than he does? They see through the infantilization and out-of-touch word games. There really needs to be a comprehensive overhaul, a change of the old guard; fresh Latter-Day Saints outside of the reprehensible Utah culture ought to be recruited to reprogram the absolute failure of the institution. The CES is at the heart of the problem—a magnet for Pharisee types. The bureaucracy of the institution is an abomination—it resembles a nightmarish Kafka novel. The placebo effect of printing brochures and coining a new marketing campaign directed at the youth is little more than a cheap band-aid. The fact that a majority of the youth leave the Church before age 25, is not solved by entrenching missionary work, nor is it useful to devise schemes of idiocy, such as “moral agency,” in order to mechanize guilt upon children by social pressure against their own conscience. This junk comes from the institution, not the congregation. Utah can’t solve Utah culture, nor can the institution remedy its own sickness.
What lacks is meaning and value in the teachings of the Gospel. The institution runs on the idea that belief systems will save us—which is another patent idiocy. Belief systems are the problem. Read Come Follow Me carefully: they are horrific, almost brainwashing manuals that aim to plant suggestive beliefs into the hearts and minds of the congregation. There is no food for thought. Kids are too smart nowadays. The youth recognize that the pizza being offered is simply dyed cardboard box—it doesn’t taste good, it is hardly edible. Yet the adults and the institution continue to offer it with gleaming smiles—Come! Partake!
The General Conference, in my view, was the best in years. It gives me hope. The leaders of the institution have destroyed the Church by neglect and by focusing too much on fortune-making, gain-getting, and preserving a false image. They have starved and neglected the true treasure—our youth. There is nothing left but hope. My hope is they will fire themselves and find replacements to feed the flock.
At least in the text you’ve quoted, I don’t see any mention of the word “truth.” According to this excerpt, the only point to asking questions is to build faith, the truth be damned. So it makes sense that they would want to discourage kids from talking to parents who might give them a nuanced or a historically accurate answer rather than a faith-promoting one.
Once again, they’re continuing the troubling trend of stamping out curiosity and isolating people experiencing doubt. It won’t help anyone in the long run.
Travis, your comment reminded me of a dream I had a couple of weeks ago.
I was attending an event at our stake centre. There were many people milling around the building. The building itself was decaying, crumbling plaster, exposed wiring, ceilings partially fallen. Everyone seemed to be oblivious of the problems with the building. I saw my father (deceased) dressed formally in mourning attire hurrying into the cultural hall, and I dashed after him. He had climbed a ladder and was trying to fix a internet communication system apparently located near the ceiling. I looked around the hall. There were tables laid out with cloths, but offering nothing. Like the rest of the building the hall was decaying. Everywhere children were in danger and no one could see it; from exposed wiring, poking there heads through great tears in the curtains of the stage whilst swinging back and forth, laughing and shouting. I exited the hall from the other side to a corridor leading to the kitchen. In our stake centre the kitchen can be accessed both from that corridor and the RS room on the other side. I negotiated obstacles in the path. What I found was that the kitchen and RS room had been knocked together, creating a single large office, laid out with desks. There was no one in there.
I found it very disturbing. No doubt it says something about my feelings towards the church at the moment.
Eliza, I have long felt that the church tries to insert itself into family by ordaining all the men, and the associated hierarchy of priesthood structures in the church. It’s no surprise that they’re extending their reach to children. CES have long been scathing about parents and families. That’s the whole reason for seminary, which outside Utah interferes severely with family life, and those organising FSY make no secret that they have no respect for the parents of the kids who’re attending.
This is nothing new. I began attending church at the age of 7 (in the late 90s for reference) with my aunt and uncle, so I grew up hitting all the right church milestones but with one completely inactive and one nonmember parent.
It was clear to me from a very early age that my family was considered to be inadequate. All through my teens and leading up to my temple wedding (I was 21 years old when Ingot married) I heard about how important it was for me to have a faithful spouse so I could “finally have a forever family” or “know the blessing of a home where the priesthood resides”. When I finally decided to step away from the church last year and my husband did not, an in-law chalked it up to my inferior upbringing and expressed that God would be more merciful to me because of it. And the priesthood remains intact in my home so no worries, I guess?
The church does not care about families generally (just ask any LGBTQIA person). They want to lift up one very specific type of family at the expense of others.
On a side note, the shift to allow couples to be married civilly before a temple sealing without the one-year wait was one of my final straws in the church. It was a much-needed change, but it came too late for me. I knew it was done differently in other countries when I was preparing for my wedding, and I begged to be allowed to be married with my family present before the sealing. No luck, because this was the way God wanted it and I would be blessed for my sacrifice. Then the change came. Turns out God didn’t care, some old white guy just got it in his head that punishing people by making them miss the wedding of a loved one might just force them into activity.
On the other hand, parents are also fallible. I don’t mind the implication that they are not infallible sources of truth. But neither should it be implied that church leaders are.
@E, of course parents aren’t infallible. But this reads that only parents who are following leaders are trustworthy and suggests that they are subordinate sources of truth to leaders. That’s not my definition of fallible.
Mountain out of a molehill. The advice isn’t about the value of non-faithful parents in general or the guidance that they can give their children. It is about the very specific question, “who can help me if I have questions about the gospel or church?” It would be very odd indeed if the faithful answer was to seek guidance from disaffected or antagonistic people.
@mike that’s true if you define “faithful answer” as “faithful to the leadership of the Church”.
If you define “faithful” as “faithful to God” then there shouldn’t be an issue at all with disaffected parents who may have a lot of faith in God – maybe even for whom their faith in God has caused a rift with the Church.
In addition, why should we insulate teens from conflicting information? Why can’t they get their parents’ input on things and weigh things themselves? I’m not talking about situations with abusive parents. I’m talking about a situation involving loving, healthy parental relationships where the Church is inserting itself in between kids & parents simply because the parents aren’t adhering to the party line of the Church.
Your comment confirms the intended meaning of the line and how problematic it is from my perspective as a loving, invested, spiritual, God-connected parent who according to this line my kids shouldn’t be listening to about Church matters because what I say may not jive with what Nelson says.
This pamphlet and it’s celebration has been hard for me and my family. While I’m very happy for many families that the progressive changes will be helpful, the language that queer youth will be held to a different standard than non-queer youth does not feel right to me, my wife, or my children. This is beyond the point of this post so I won’t elaborate further.
With respect to this change, I didn’t notice it but my wife did. It just hurts. Lucky my kids are smarter than this and I would imagine most kids being raised with “less believing” parents will be smarter than this too. Just because I’m less faithful in these matters, doesn’t mean I can’t add value to the discussion and doesn’t mean I’m constantly looking for opportunities to tear down anyone else’s faith. Whatever happened to “if we have the truth it cannot be harmed?”
@chadwick stay tuned for next week where we’ll talk about the issue you’ve raised re queer youth!
You may be right re kids raised with less-believing parents, but what about mixed-faith marriages / households? Seems to be potential for more conflict. Those are already hard enough.
Forcing them into activity isn’t the point. Rather, forcing tithing is the point.
@alice ii, thank you for sharing your experience. Yes, this is exactly the problem. It’s not new. I’m just sad that it’s persisting, intentionally.
@elisa, Odd. When I read the line, I took faithful to be faithful to God. Indeed, if for example a parent devoted to God but, baptist, Muslim, non-denominational, etc. would have useful and relevant advice to give to their children. I don’t see anything in this section in the FSOY that goes against that.
If we narrow the focus a bit to simply the church, it’s administration, and it’s truths claims, then I find it extremely odd that anyone would expect to be given advice to seek guidance (not just information or knowledge, but guidance) from people antagonistic to those things. I cannot think of any other context where people would expect such advice.
@mike sanders if someone cared about the pursuit of truth over the pursuit of loyalty to an institution and its set of claims, then I imagine they’d recommend seeking information from a wide variety of sources. That is clearly not the objective of this paragraph. It is to perform lip service to the fact that doubts are OK but ensure that people only look to correlated resources when seeking truth.
@Eliza, you are criticizing the church in ways that you do not demand of any other organization or group.
When someone complains about misogyny in the workplace, do you suggest that they ask for advice from r/redpill? Or if not advice, at least go and browse some of the posts so that they can obtain more information and make their own informed opinions?
Can you provide an example of another group that you expect to advise people to take guidance from people antagonist to the group?
This paragraph exactly illustrates why I and my husband are not participating in church, nor are our children. I feel like I could probably participate in the church in a nuanced way – after all I see many positive benefits to participation. However, I cannot in good conscience take my children to a church that will teach my children that, as a nuanced member and a non-temple recommend holder, I am “unfaithful” and therefore not a good person or parent. It feels like the church prefers to strain my relationship with my children in order to maintain their authority over my children. And, as a result, we are not participating.
@Mike, I expect organizations that purport to be pro-family not to insert themselves between kids and loving parents — whether or not those parents are loyal to the organization.
So I understand your example, but it’s off point. (For a lot of reasons, but in particular because of the parent / child point.)
Mike Sanders: Why are both of your questions about finding “authorities” for truth? This is a bizarre way to seek for truth & understanding. There is no infallible single source for truth on planet earth. Truth isn’t about an authority figure. Truth is about learning to see when a narrator is reliable and when it’s unreliable. It’s about recognizing that someone can be right on one thing and wrong on another. It’s seeing that all human sources have biases and blind spots. To claim that one human is a “bad” source–for everything–while another is a “good” source–for everything–is to in fact fall into error as far as actual truth goes. Even the original twelve apostles disagreed with each other, over incredibly significant policies.
Elisa: This insistence on putting loyalty to institutions above all else is starting to sound really familiar to other propoganda machines. I just returned from Romania where I visited the Communist Museum in Brasov. The museum featured stories from people who lived through it. One paper talked about how excited they were as young teens for the start of sex ed classes at school, but how soon disappointed. (This was a joke people told). The teacher stood up and said “Love between two women is immoral. Love between two men is illegal. Love between a man and a woman is OK, but it is nothing compared to the love one has for country, and that is what we will be talking about for the rest of the year.”
@Mike Sanders. My church experience has not been great and I have had to put up some boundaries sometimes. I still engage with the organization when I can on my terms. I don’t follow all the rules. I still enjoy engaging locally when I can and appreciate many of the people I’ve met at church. I would probably by definition not be considered a faithful parent. But I want my kids to have options. I want them to know they can fully engage, or partially engage like me, or not engage at all. I also want to make sure they have informed consent. Based on my read of the pamphlet, my children should not engage with me about my faith. That seems both sad and unnecessary. Perhaps I’m being too sensitive. But words matter.
As for your second point. That is literally how I engage with everything in life. I am a registered Democrat, but in keeping up with current events I peruse both CNN and Fox News. I have worked for the same company for 17 years but I fully recognize that my organization is not the best career path for everyone and would not tell interviewees to stay away from negative fishbowl reviews in deciding if they should accept any employment offer. I’m on the board of three non-profits and when I seek new member involvement or donations I’m not afraid to tell people some of the aspects of the organization that I wish worked better. If I or my family were to every join a new faith tradition, I would want to gather information from all sources.
My family is smart enough to realize what information is fair and how to fact check contrary information. My goal, as stated above, is for people to have information to make the best possible decision for themselves, or informed consent. YMMV.
@hedgehog, I agree with your comment about the church inserting itself into the family. About CES – the organization gives me a queasy stomach so my teens who don’t want to add seminary to their school schedules got no push back from me. I would like to know more about what you hear CES saying about parents. About your FSY comment “those organising FSY make no secret that they have no respect for the parents of the kids who’re attending.” I would like to know more. My teens will likely be pressured to attend next summer and if FSY is anything like EFY, I can’t support it. It seems like FSOY isn’t the only place where people working for the church feel like the need to come between parents and kids.
Elisa- I might be speaking from a place of ignorance or misquoting and if that is true, I apologize. But I overhead that Holland something close to : no license has ever been given to say something that might lead children astray. This really made me wonder what he was trying to say. Because it seemed like he was saying we don’t have license to say things that MIGHT do whatever….but as parents, how do you know what MIGHT lead children anywhere? How could we possibly know what will or won’t lead children to faith?
I thought we do have an obligation to teach our own children. I can’t be worrying about what MIGHT happen. I can only teach my kids what I know is true and tell them if I don’t know everything. I’m not loving where the church is going lately with the way they talk about anyone who doubts or doesn’t have perfect faith or perfect children.
It is interesting to me that for years I have been hearing from non-CES church employees that CES “is its own church.” Well, I was not baptized into the CES church. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ. I have faith in no mortal being. I have faith in Christ. I accept our painful historical realities, the messiness of our scripture and the human frailties of our leaders. And I do not believe any true member should let black-and-white thinking, false dichotomies, misinformation and faulty ontology/epistemology reign unchallenged in the Church, especially in the minds of our youth.
If we’re just talking about the insertion of the adjective “faithful” to describe parents, it’s hard for me to say what was intended here by the FSOY authors/Church. Some possibilities:
1. I totally agree that the intent could be exactly what Elisa described–children should only look to parents if they are “faithful” to the Church institution/leaders.
2. It could have just been intended to be a compliment to parents. Teens often are reluctant to talk to their parents about things, so a positive adjective was added to “parents” so that teens might be more willing to talk to them. Perhaps better choices of adjectives would have been “caring” or “loving” instead of “faithful”, but honestly I’m not sure some of the people responsible for writing/editing Church manuals are capable of making a distinction between “faithful parents” and “caring parents”–to them, these are exactly the same thing. However, as the OP notes, they clearly are not the same thing.
3. It could just be Mormon-speak. Church leaders and Mormons in general have a certain way of speaking and using words that is different from the general US population (all groups, religious or not, do this, but Mormons do it pretty heavily–go listen closely to a few GC talks and try to imagine what a non-Mormon might hear without all the Mormon cultural baggage). In Mormon-speak, “parents” and “faithful parents” are interchangeable because, well, what other types of parents could there possibly be in Mormonism?
Unfortunately, if I had to pick, I would have to agree that #1 is the most likely reason the word “faithful” was added to describe which type of parents children should talk to, but it’s just one word, so it’s hard for me to draw any definite conclusions. I have not yet read the new FSOY pamphlet in its entirety, so maybe a careful reading of the word choices in other parts of the document would help.
I also find it disappointing to see which obvious sources to go to when searching for answers to faith questions are missing from the list. The list tells teens to look to scriptures, prophets, church leaders, “faithful parents”, and God for answers to their questions. What about looking at primary source historical documents? What about peer-reviewed articles about Mormon topics in academic journals? What about reading books written by authors that attempt to present a balanced view of the issues? If we’re talking just about issues faced by all Christians or people of all faiths as opposed to Mormon-specific issues, what about sources that weren’t written by Mormons (heaven forbid)? It’s not even clear that the Church’s own essays on controversial topics published on lds.org would fit under scriptures, prophets, church leaders, parents, or God. Just take one example–consider a teen that has questions about how polygamy was practiced in Church history. If they restrict their search to scriptures (very little info), prophets (I guess there would be some interesting info from the prophets that actually practiced polygamy–does the Church really want teens reading what Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, etc. said about polygamy?), and church leaders (many church leaders don’t know much about how polygamy was practiced), parents (many parents don’t know much), and God (which isn’t going to work in this situation where details of polygamy are desired since the Mormon God typically only provides binary answers–a yes or a no–based on how the seeker feels when they pray/ponder), then they aren’t going to get much of an understanding of how polygamy was practiced in early Mormonism. These answers can only be obtained by looking at primary source documents, books written on the topic, etc.
It’s also notable that the one place where most teens absolutely are going to go for answers first–the internet!–isn’t mentioned at all. Of course, the internet has a lot of bad/biased information (on any topic, not just Mormonism), but a short discussion on how to locate reliable information on the internet might be a good idea. Does the Church think that by not mentioning the internet at all in FSOY that teens will not look at the internet at all for answers to questions? Was the internet not included in the FSOY list so that teens would feel guilty or could be shamed if they ever do find information that troubles them on the internet? I think it’s very interesting that the Church doesn’t even mention Church-owned internet sites are good sources of information–are they afraid if they mention looking for answers on lds.org that teens might also feel its OK to look at other websites as well?
@Mike Sanders: “you are criticizing the church in ways that you do not demand of any other organization or group.”
What other organization or group treats its highest leaders as nearly infallible demigods whose words and actions we must not question? Sure believing leaders and members insist, just insist, that they don’t see the highest leaders as infallible. But then you ask them to name something that a recent prophet has said that they openly disagree with and more often than not you get radio silence or passive aggressive “well, we’re not supposed to talk about that/we shouldn’t speak ill of the Lord’s anointed.” So basically whatever disagreements believing members and leaders have of the leaders they will not air. In essence they are treating them as infallibles.
On that same note, I love the irony of believers telling critics of Joseph Smith to give brother Joseph a break and then when asked “a break over what” cannot bring themselves to actually generate a coherent response. A break over cheating on his wife repeatedly? A break over drinking alcohol? A break over fabricating history? Because according to commonplace apologist narratives, which are widely accepted and promoted by believing leaders and members alike, Joseph Smith didn’t violate any moral code by plural marriage or shacking up with Fanny Alger, the Word of Wisdom was just a suggestion at the time, and Joseph Smith did his best to magically “translate” plates through revelation even if he had to fill in the blanks sometimes, because, ya know, revelation can be a bit hazy. Except, of course, when it comes to all these so-called Hebraisms. Those were word-for-word (totally not lifted from the KJV) and came out as weird in English but would have sounded completely normal in Reformed Egyptian. To most believers, Joseph Smith isn’t perfect (the ex-Mormons are expecting him to be perfect for heaven’s sakes!!), but how dare they try to dwell on at any significant length what those imperfections might be.
Well put, Old Man.
mountainclimber479 has a point. It’s entirely possible that referring to parents as “your faithful parents” is just a Mormon-sounding affectation like saying “even” (such as “to Jesus, even the Christ,” or “In our time, even these latter-days,” etc etc). But let’s not kid ourselves, the Church does 100% only want you to promote faith by questioning, and particularly faith in church leaders and fealty to the organization. This sentence might have just been kind of aspirational, like calling parents “loving” or “long-suffering.”
@angela yes, or maybe they cribbed it from some evangelical preacher’s sermon! Who knows.
In other places in the pamphlet and elsewhere parents are just called parents, so it seems too big a coincidence to use the qualifier in this context.
@angela, @elisa – Wouldn’t it be interesting to get the source document for the new FSOY with history tracking and comments enabled? I imagine that the original was written by a committee of Church Office Building full-time employee peons (working off of high-level instructions from above) and then passed up the chain of command somehow to the Q70 and Q15 (and, fingers crossed, to some of the female general officers as well, but that’s always unpredictable with this Church. While female involvement is uncertain, I *can* say with 100% confidence that no LGBTQ members of the Church were consulted on this document–looking forward to Elisa’s post on that). It would be very interesting to be able to see which GAs made which comments/edits and why they made the changes as the document evolved. Maybe the addition of the “faithful” adjective to parents was a last minute addition by Nelson himself. Maybe there was originally some talk of internet sources, but some other GA deleted it. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the COB…
For more information about why so many people have commented so passionately about the addition of this one “faithful” adjective to the FSOY, see Janey’s post from today about “trust crises”–a lot of us (myself included) just have a hard time trusting Church leadership these days.
mountainclimber479 and Angela C, regarding the affectation theory, if you do a search for the term “faithful parents” on the general conference library on LDS.org, the many of the results are talks dealing with promises made to faithful parents whose children stray from the church–i.e. parents who stay in the church while their children leave (and presumably become unfaithful). This seems to support mountainclimber479’s first interpretation. A search for “unfaithful parents” returns no results.
James E. Faust: “Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement.”
Richard Winkel: ““The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity.” (Faust uses this quote too, which is attributed to J.S.)
Henry B. Eyring: “the faithful parents who honor the temple sealing to their children: “Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold.”
Faust again in a separate talk: “Obedient children do bring honor to their parents, but it is unfair to judge faithful parents by the actions of children who will not listen and follow.”
Eyring again in a separate talk: “You have seen faithful parents sorrow over children who have rejected or who have chosen to break their covenants with God. But those parents can take heart and hope from other parental experiences.”
So when you have questions about the organization, you should only ask those loyal to the organization about them. Hmmm. And if you’re questions aren’t answered, just shelve them. This is the kind of confusing “advice” that just made it all the more easy for me to leave. As others have mentioned, what about finding a more nuanced, balanced view? Not that there aren’t some nuanced members, but neither should all outside advice be considered anti-Mormon. I precisely did not go to a Mormon therapist before I left, but I knew they wouldn’t see things the same way as me.
In regards to Jesse’s comment. Elder Faust’s son was the bishop of my YSA ward at the University Of Utah. Then one day out of the blue one Sunday, we had a new bishop. Six months later I found out from one of the other YSA members in leadership that Bishop Faust had been having an affair that came to light a few days before that eventful Sunday. It seemed to me that many of Elder Faust’s GC talks after that time were about wayward children and “faithful parents” and both those quotes of Elder Faust shared by Jesse seemed specifically aimed by Elder Faust at his adult son. To me there is both longing for his son to return and anger at that rationalization used to justify the affair.
When I read @mountainclimber’s 3 possible meanings re: the intent of the wording in this part of the new FSY, rather than choosing one, I felt like all three could apply by different people, in differing contexts toward different individuals— or all could apply simultaneously, in differing degrees. In fact, the two more innocent possibilities offer a degree of plausible deniability to shield the church from messy scrutiny/accountability for the more malevolent intention in the first one — that of fostering a lack of trust (by teenagers) in their “wayward” parents, as examined in the OP. I own being a mistrustful cynic, but I gotta admit it’s a clever use of terms.
Now I need to go read the conversation about trust. I can’t keep up with y’all.
Even if we interpret “faithful parents” to mean “faithful to God” rather than “faithful to the church,” that still implies that children of agnostic or atheist parents shouldn’t take their questions to them.
Prejudice against atheists runs deep in our society (not just in the church). For many people, the underlying assumption is that belief in God is morally superior to atheism. It isn’t. Belief in God is morally neutral. But that doesn’t stop people from using the word “godless” as a pejorative or saying things like, “Leave the church if you must, but make sure you keep your relationship with God.”
I don’t think my (recent) RM child is ready yet to hear from me (age 52) re: the depths of my disillusionment – see Janey’s post from today about “trust crises.”
Kirkstall, we could be incredibly generous and say that “faithful parents” means the parents are faithful to the children and have their best interests at heart, but we all know that’s not what the speaker intended to say.