Truth

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July 10, 2008
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Q. I’ll throw a quick question at you. How can you claim your church tells “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” if historically they have changed their beliefs because of social pressure? (i.e. polygamy, blacks receiving the priesthood, and even changing the Book of Mormon from “cursed” to whatever they changed it too.)

Good question. The essence of what you’re saying is “if you say you belong to the TRUE church of Jesus Christ, then why isn’t that truth unchanging?” Right?

We’ll get to the “social pressure” in a minute.

Well, the thing is, God commands and His servants obey. Sometimes God tells His servants to do one thing, and then tells someone else to do the opposite. Both things are commandments, though, and both things are right in their context.

Examples?

sermonHow about when Jesus came and overturned the ENTIRE system of Mosaic law? It must have really made some people mad when Christ started saying,
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time. . .
don’t commit adultery,
don’t kill,
divorce is okay with the proper documents,
don’t swear by your own self–swear oaths in the Lord’s name
,
an eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth,
love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say unto you . . .
don’t even lust,
don’t even get angry
,
divorce isn’t okay unless the reason is fornication,
don’t swear oaths at all,
resist not evil and turn the other cheek,
love your enemies.

Talk about changing policy!

You would respond (as I would) that it was the necessary evolution of the religion–that Jesus came to FULFILL the Law of Moses, as part of the grand design of the earth and our salvation. You would say that it is God’s will that Jesus came and taught us the Higher Law. I agree. I also agree that God can keep doing that. When we tell God that He can’t keep giving us higher instruction, we damn ourselves.

How about the revelation that Peter received on the housetop that he should start preaching the gospel to Gentiles? That shook some people to the core. It was such a departure from the way it had been before! But God’s timing was (of course) infallible and the church grew.
You ask about changing beliefs because of social pressure, which I think is an important point to examine. Plural marriage was introduced in the church by Joseph Smith and then discontinued by Wilford Woodruff, the 4th president of the Church. This was the scene in the Church after the Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed in 1887:

“The church was disincorporated, the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company was dissolved, and all property belonging to the Church, with the exception of buildings used exclusively for religious worship, was escheated to the government. Hundreds of men who had contracted plural marriages were heavily fined, and imprisoned. All persons who could not subscribe to a test oath which was provided especially for those who practiced or believed in the practice of plural marriage, were disfranchised [lost political power, voting, etc.]”. (Clark, James R., ed. Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 5:320. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1975).

It seems to me that if social pressure was going to sway him to change course, he would have done it before the Church fell down around him.

saltlakeWoodruff said, “I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write”

The same kind of scenario was repeated with the Priesthood being made available to all worthy male members of the Church. The fact is, not until God said go, did the church go. This is not to say that the Church didn’t uphold the Civil Rights movement, or believe that all people should be given equal rights. This just means that God hadn’t told the Prophet to extend the Priesthood to everyone yet (see the Peter example, above). But it was time to extend it to a broader population. He still hasn’t given the Priesthood to everyone, though. Women still don’t hold the Priesthood and there is plenty of social pressure currently to make that happen, but it hasn’t. And it most likely won’t. The Church doesn’t do things because “everyone is doing it”. We do things when God commands.

So I end this post with a question to you: People may accuse us of “flip flopping”, but can you find a church that is honestly more consistent with the church that Christ formed when He was on the earth? With prophets, apostles, teachers, priests, elders, missionaries, miracles, healing, continued revelations, fasting, tithing, temples, ordinances and priesthood ordained from God?

The only way to really know is to pray about it.

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2 Responses to “Truth”

  1. Thaddeus

    Great article, Jan.

    Eric Snider gave this insight (which Jeff Lindsay put on his site with permission; I hope he doesn’t mind me putting it here, too).

    “I was always uncomfortable with Wilford Woodruff’s conveniently timely revelation that the time to stop polygamy had arrived, until I learned more about it. God didn’t tell Pres. Woodruff that polygamy time was over COINCIDENTALLY just at the time that the church was about to be destroyed by the government; what God said was that because of all the persecutions, he would no longer require the saints to practice it. (See Doctrine and Covenants 124:49 – when a commandment is given, and the saints “go with all their might …to perform that work, … and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.”) Basically, the saints were to keep practicing polygamy until their enemies killed them, or until God told them they could stop. Mercifully, God told them they could stop.”

  2. Steve

    I really enjoyed this article. It was very thought out and nicely put together. Thanks for sharing it with us.