You’ve all probably seen the meme of Pam from the Office looking at two identical photos and being asked to choose one. Sometimes at Church, we are told that there is a change to something, but in actual practice, it’s still basically the same thing. It’s just a branding exercise. Other times, we are told that something is totally different, yet it’s not. Or we are told that the “world” does something (bad), but we do something (that’s basically the same thing) that’s the “Lord’s way.”

Here are a few things we are told are different, but let’s be honest; they are basically the same thing.

Law of Consecration vs. Communism. I literally got in trouble in seminary for making this observation, but let’s get real. The United Order is basically communism. This is one of those where some right wing leader is going to say communism is Satan’s version or some such nonsense. I’m not in favor of communism, FYI, but I also don’t want to live the Law of Consecration for similar reasons.

Ministering vs. Visiting/Home Teaching. Basically, these are the same things. The reporting parameters are slightly different, and it’s “officially” okay to count a text (which I did for years before it was cool). But come on, these are the same thing.

Creeds vs. the Articles of Faith. In Primary, these kids are learning these by rote. They are reciting them. They are singing them set to really bad tunes. When I was in Primary, we embroidered them. How are the thirteen Articles of Faith any different from a creed? And yet we are anti-creed.

Vain Repetitions vs. Our Prayers. We are told that other Churches’ prayers are crap because they are full of “vain repetitions,” and yet, we are repeating lots of the same things over and over in our Mormon prayers: “nourish and strengthen,” “the hands that prepared,” and then there’s the obvious hyper-vigilance regarding the sacrament prayers.

There are a few things we are told are one thing, but they are really the opposite, or at least the thing we are calling them isn’t the whole story:

Unpaid Clergy, but….stipends for life.

Women leaders, but…no stipends, temporary roles, and men make all the decisions.

Tithing isn’t used to pay for investments, but…the interest we got from the tithing sure is.

Husbands preside, but….really that just means they ask people to say prayers.

There are things we are currently being told are the same thing that really aren’t.

Policy and doctrine. I have to say, this is a new one with the current administration. It absolutely used to be, not that long ago, that policies were understood to be man-made, not salvation-related, and that disfavored doctrines would eventually be relegated to the category of policy. Now, in the current iteration, we are told that disagreeing with any church policy (which–checks notes–are specifically agreed to be man-made) constitutes apostasy. Riiiight.

Jesus and the Church. This is kind of another new one. Yes, there’s the scripture that says “whether by my mouth or the mouth of my servants the prophets, it is the same.” But that’s not taking things as far as the recent talk did in which we were told that we should just literally substitute Jesus as saying any fool thing any Church leader ever says, even including the Newsroom and PR team.Nice try. I tend to take the scripture’s statement to mean something more like when parents leave the kids with a babysitter. Now, let’s be honest. Some of these babysitters are better than others. As John Mulaney said, it’s putting a slightly larger child in charge of a slightly smaller one, like putting a horse in charge of a dog.

Covenant Path and Spiritual Progression. There’s not actually any spiritual progression required to check all the boxes on the Covenant Path. All you have to do is show up and pay up at the designated times and places and say yes to everything. Not really the same as actually learning and growing as a person or becoming a better disciple of Jesus’ teachings.

President and Prophet. This is one that you could make the case either way, I suppose, but Brigham Young famously said that after the death of Joseph Smith, we didn’t have a capital P prophet anymore, and he didn’t claim that title for himself. Now, he did basically turn Utah into his own fiefdom, acting like a complete autocratic dictator, for sure. It’s kind of a distinction without a different, possibly, but it seems that he was saying that the role went from being spiritual revelator to administrator. But we’ve definitely dialed that one back.

Apostles & “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.” Also not a super new shift, but not that old either. It used to be that only the top guy was referred to as “prophet, seer and revelator,” and until enough other apostles died to get you into the big chair, you were just an apostle. At some point, that shifted to everyone being everything all the time.

Those are all the examples I could come up with off the top of my head. Now it’s your turn.

  • Can you think of any things we are told are different that are really the same?
  • Can you think of things that aren’t the same thing that we are told are?
  • Can you remember language shifting during your time in the Church from calling something one thing to calling it or defining it differently?