It was a large gathering. John calls it “a great multitude.” They had come to listen to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, hoping to see another miracle. They were not disappointed. Christ had the 5,000 sit on the grassy ground. He took five barley loaves and two small fishes offered by a lad, blessed and broke them, and the disciples distributed the baskets of food to the crowd. When all were filled, the remnants were gathered up, 12 baskets full. John records that those who witnessed the miracle then said, “this is of truth that prophet that should come into the world.” 
The next day the multitude followed after Him. When they confronted Him about why He had left, He answered that they were more concerned with the food that He had provided than His message. Then came the beautiful sermon on the symbolism of the manna from heaven to the Children of Israel.
“I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead…I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever…”
The crowd was mostly frustrated with this teaching. It was to be spiritually discerned, but they could not receive it. When they realized that their physical need, their bodily appetite, was not to be satisfied again, they lost interest. John sadly records,
“from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” Continue reading →
Before the birth of Christ, the Greek influence of Alexander the Great’s Empire permeated every part of the Hebrew society. Increasingly, there was a struggle between those who wanted to live by the word of God and those who wanted to incorporate the Greek philosophies into their lives. Even some of the priesthood leaders of Israel were swayed into mixing the philosophies of the Hellenistic (Greek) influence with the law and priesthood of God. Not all Israelites were so eager to adopt this new blend of philosophy. Among these faithful were various groups of Hebrews who wanted to be found living God’s law when the Messiah came. These faithful groups fled to the wilderness, just as the ancient Israelites fled Egypt, in search of their own promised land.
In more recent history, we see this same pattern repeated by many of the reformers and separatists who left the religion of their country to seek after a more perfect way. America was founded by the families who wanted to have the religious freedom needed to live a more perfect way and our Mormon pioneers left their various homelands to build Zion in the desert.
If you haven’t noticed, the philosophies of men have not ceased to infiltrate every aspect of our modern lives. So, how do we keep our families from falling victim to these lies? Elder Jeffery R. Holland has the answer, “In these last days, in this our dispensation, we would become mature enough to stop running. We would become mature enough to plant our feet and our families and our foundations in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people permanently. Zion would be everywhere—wherever the Church is. And with that change—one of the mighty changes of the last days—we no longer think of Zion as where we are going to live; we think of it as how we are going to live.” Continue reading →
One of the titles that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, carries is the Prince of Peace. It is through him that we find peace, and one of the ways that happens is when we forgive others. Instead of writing about forgiveness in general, I want to talk about a specific type of forgiveness; and that is forgiving those who have not and may never apologize.
One of the most basic teachings of forgiveness is that when someone hurts us, they apologize/repent, and we forgive them. And when we hurt someone, we hope that they will forgive us when we apologize and repent. But what about when someone hurts us, and they don’t apologize, do we still forgive them? The answer is yes.
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10)
There are several reasons why someone might not apologize to us: they might not know they hurt us, they might have moved on before we did, or they simply might not care. Whatever the situation, we forgive no matter what. In President James E. Faust’s iconic talk The Healing Power of Forgiveness, he said,
“Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurt does not bring happiness.”
There has been a lot of talk lately from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who say they sustain the prophet and apostles but actively promote opposition to the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships and try to persuade others to dissent. Can one be true to the faith if they are doing this? Is there a such thing as “loyal opposition” in God’s kingdom?
With this particular issue, we’re not talking about minor disagreements. We’re talking about being opposed to fundamental, coredoctrines of the gospel; namely that marriage is only between a man and a woman and the law of chastity. Put these two things together and one can see how it creates an impasse; and sadly, a wall between them and the prophet.
Social Media is being inundated with some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) declaring their objection to the recent policy updates in the Church. Some have even gone as far as saying that they intend to walk away from their faith. This makes me wonder if they realize that these policy updates have come directly from The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These prophets, seers and revelators are doing exactly what they have been commissioned by the Savior to do: prophesy, see and reveal. Theirs is a unique calling; they are Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by Him. When something this collective is done on such serious issues, don’t believe for one second that they acted rashly, are misguided or decided this without careful consideration, prayer and fasting. Yet without much pause, some are already announcing their intentions to walk away from their faith, their beliefs, and their covenants — and with very public criticism of the Church via social media. In a twist, members are being asked to “mourn with those that mourn”, with perhaps the expectation or inference that we will also “murmur with those who murmur.”
“The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines … It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.” ~ Ezra Taft Benson, 1
The Book of Mormon was written for our day. Ezra Taft Benson pointed out that the ancient people from whom we got the Book of Mormon did not even have the book. The prophet Mormon abridged centuries of records. The Lord guided him to know what needed to be included for our wisdom and safety. Here’s what we can learn about the apostates and their teachings as found in the Book of Mormon. Continue reading →
This is the second part of a two-part article that discusses how our loyalty to the Church and its inspired leaders is similar to our loyalty to a spouse. Click here to read Part 1.
Just as the Savior was loyal to us, we have promised to be loyal to Him and his chosen leaders.
Hitting the public “share” button on a criticism may at times be appropriate at a concert, in a corporate setting, or in some personal settings, but there should be an inherent difference between our relationship to the Savior’s Church and his leaders and, say, the business we work for. And that difference is the covenant we’ve made to the Savior and his earthly Church. In fact, it is much like a marriage relationship. We have promised to be loyal to our (imperfect) spouse, to the (perfect) Lord, and his chosen (imperfect) spokesmen. Unlike an employer and employee, it is not our job to find fault with the Lord’s anointed, regardless of how noble or altruistic we feel our reasons are. Elder Dallin H. Oaks elaborated:
I have given the following counsel to Church members—those who have committed themselves by upraised hands to sustain their church leaders: Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. 1
What If I Think I See Something That is Wrong?
Notice what George Q. Cannon said of whose responsibility it is to condemn the Lord’s servants if they need it, and what the consequences are when we attempt to do it: Continue reading →
This is Part 1 of two-part post on sustaining Church leaders. Click here to read Part 2.
During the past year or so, I’ve noticed a number of members of the Church who, for some reason or another, have publicly vented frustrations about the Church’s doctrine, its leaders, or other goings-on. While I am never happy when someone is frustrated, I think there are better ways to deal with this kind of frustration as Latter-day Saints besides jumping online to share them with the world.
In a previous post, I brought up specific examples of Church leaders who had every worldly reason to be offended at doctrine being taught because of their personal situations, but instead of offense or softening the doctrine, have stood for it boldly. This two-part post will explore what it means to “cling to our covenants” in the social realm when we are tempted to break them. We’ll address covenant-appropriate ways to deal with our “beef” and why dealing with frustrations within the Church should be inherently different than how we deal with them in other settings.
Before I jump into my commentary, let me share with you a powerful parable written by a friend of mine that illustrates some great points about our covenant relationship with the Lord’s Church. Though it is written about marriage, it’s not primarily about our marriage covenants. Like most parables, the main message the author hopes to get across is not explicitly mentioned in the story. I’ll explain the meaning below, but here’s a hint:
From the ‘About‘ section of the FairMormon website: “FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS doctrine, belief and practice.” Mormon Women Stand is pleased to share our collective voice with the FairMormon audience. Among the broad conversations about Mormonism and within and among its members, particularly females, ours’ is a voice that represents, we believe, the vast majority of Mormon women and what it looks and sounds like to be a faithful, covenant women of Christ. Continue reading →
It’s been a few, raw days since we all heard the news about Kate Kelly. Since then some rather disturbing facts have come to light – things that her followers should find alarming. So here’s my question to those who are still hanging on to her cause: Will you still stand with Kate, even though she’s been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? If your answer is yes, then I beg of you to reconsider what that decision means and how it might critically affect your own personal journey of faith – if that’s important to you. Is it? I hope you know that if you were to decide to not stand with Kate it would be perfectly okay for you to stand ‘by’ her; there’s a difference.
To stand with is to agree and desire to defend a person because you believe in them and their cause. For instance, I stand with Jesus Christ; His Prophet and the Church He organized through the Prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith Jr. I stand with them because I have a deep and abiding testimony that this work is true and that an inspired prophet of God leads it.
So if you’re determined to continue to stand with Kate Kelly, why? What has she done for you? And please don’t give her credit for teaching you a better understanding of the priesthood and how you fit in. What she advocates about LDS women and the priesthood is contrary to the doctrine of the Church. There is a quote from Elder Ballard that says “Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce” (M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers, October 1999).
Why would you stand with someone who has lost her birthright by choosing a mess of pottage, so to speak? If you’ve been prompted to study more about priesthood power and authority, it’s because God has taken opposition to His work and used it in His favor. He’s inspired you to seek revelation, not Kate Kelly. Remember, if it comes from God it is good… you know the rest. (Moroni 7:12)
So, a little opposition to your faith has caused you to flex your spiritual muscles and you’re now better educated, and thus your testimony of the priesthood has been increased. That’s great. But again, please don’t credit the works of an apostate, other than acknowledging that perhaps this situation may be similar to the way the Lord used the Lamanites to be a scourge to the Nephites. It caused them to remember Him. Isn’t He brilliant? (2 Nephi 5: 25) You just have to know and trust that no unhallowed hand can stop the work of salvation from going forward. (Joseph Smith)
Let’s make sure that no matter what, we are choosing to be on the Lord’s side and standing with Him, always. No individual has a right to divide our loyalty, which belongs only to Jesus Christ.
But again, we don’t need to abandon Kate because we’ve decided to not stand with her any longer, because we can still stand by Kate (a much better alternative). To stand by a person is to commit to not letting them walk alone and to support them through their trials. This is a great show of loyalty. Therefore, I submit that for many who share a deep compassion for Kate Kelly during these trying times, whether we agree with what she is doing, how she is doing it, what she believes, or even think her an apostate to the Church, we can choose to stand by Kate.
We can stand by Kate to support her efforts to return to Christ and reclaim her membership in the Church. We can stand by Kate and encourage her to follow the counsel of inspired leaders who deeply care about her spiritual progress. We can stand by Kate and teach her by example to trust in the Lord, that His ways are higher than her ways. We can stand by Kate until we can once again, with the blessings of the Lord, stand with Kate as one in Christ – the intended purpose of LDS Church discipline.
As the mother of five raised children and a former seminary teacher, I learned to value the principle that the best teacher is an excellent student. Kelly had garnered a position of leadership/teacher to Mormon women who at times have felt marginalized in the Church for one reason or another (and not because they necessarily desire female ordination). I know this, because many have shared these thoughts with me. Unfortunately, what many of you were led to believe was okay (to publicly advocate for or align yourselves with) have been clearly determined to be acts of apostasy. And, depending on your circumstances, if you plan on continuing, you could potentially meet the same fate as Kate.
It is no longer advisable to consider Kate a leader among women of covenant. Sadly, she’s not. She is clearly misguided in how to petition the Lord and His Prophet. Her cause was never about asking faithful questions. Please don’t be fooled. She believes she knows better than a Prophet of God and has the answer about women and priesthood. Ordain Women advocates a relentless determination to force their will on the Lord’s Prophet. These acts place her and her followers in open rebellion to the Church, its leaders and therefore God.
Kate Kelly has publicly stated that she will continue Ordain Women and has no regrets as to how she has conducted herself up to this point – even when the Church has clearly stated that her actions are divisive. In fact, her most recent counsel to Mormon feminists who share her concerns about inequality in the Church and/or a desire for female ordination is this: Stay in the Church, but raise hell.I don’t know about you, but that’s not a message that is inspired of God.
It might surprise some to know that Ms. Kelly has been mentored throughout the entire journey of organizing and carrying out the work of Ordain Women by a fairly well-known woman by the name of Margaret Toscano. Toscano used to be a member of the Church until she, too, was excommunicated for advocating for female priesthood ordination. Do you see a pattern here? Follow an apostate and you will very likely end up in the same place. Is that what you want? I hope not.
For many years I thought this temple recommend question odd, not understanding it’s importance, and so I just answered “no” and moved on: Do you support, affiliate, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? I now understand what this means in terms of apostates and guarding against personal apostasy. If we affiliate and sympathize with apostates or those whose beliefs are contrary to the teachings of the Church, it usually means that we won’t understand why they were excommunicated or disciplined. Rather, we would think their acts have been misjudged or misunderstood. It means we don’t “get it” and that’s a precarious place to be when it comes to being determined to keeping covenants. In the age of the Internet, with so many alternate voices even within our own Church membership, that temple question could very well become more relevant.
Do you feel Kate Kelly is misunderstood? Do you feel her priesthood leaders were wrong to excommunicate her? If you answered yes to either, or both, that’s probably a red flag and early warning sign. It should concern you that perhaps your faith in Jesus Christ is wavering and that you might be going down the same path. I don’t know. But what I do know is that if you sincerely care about making sure you keep your covenants with God, you may want to reconsider your associations with these groups and prayerfully be determined to realign your will with our Heavenly Father.
If you have questions that you find difficult to ask in Church settings, then please consider taking them straight to the Lord and then heading into the scriptures. This is the approach that prophets and apostles model and counsel us to do, and it is what our Heavenly Father and the Savior want us to do. The temple is an excellent place to receive revelation. Take your questions to the temple, and accompany these questions by much prayer and fasting. The Lord will speak to you and tell you what will help you better understand. I’ve had this experience many times. He may even give you the answer you seek. At the very least, He will speak peace to your heart and give you His Grace that will enable you to bear your burdens with gladness.
We will never find the answers to our deepest questions in a blog post, on Facebook, or in an online forum—and especially not among those who hold contrary feelings toward the Church or its doctrine. So, if those are some of the places you’ve been looking for answers, or support, perhaps you might want to reconsider your strategy and turn directly to the Lord. Trust Him completely. He is your Eternal Father and cares infinitely about your well-being and eternal happiness.
Each of us can carve out a space for ourselves within our individual wards or branches. We do this by taking a humble approach and realizing that most people are in need of others to help them feel comfortable. Our divine differences can be celebrated. We don’t need to find people who think and feel exactly as we do in order to find community among our sisters in the gospel. The gospel makes us one.
If you’ve been away for a while, come back! If you’re thinking of leaving, please don’t! If you’re hurting, the Atonement can heal your heart. If you feel some cultural things in the Church could benefit from some changes, there is still a place for you. Give your fellow Church members a second chance to help you know that you are valued, loved and wanted. There is no ideal, perfect “cookie cutter” Mormon woman. The only idea that we need to desire more than anything else is to keep our covenants with God. You belong and we will stand with you. And together, we will stand for—and with—Jesus Christ.
“Let not any voices of discontent disturb you. Let not the critics worry you. As Alma declared long ago, “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” “As surely as this is the work of the Lord, there will be opposition. There will be those, perhaps not a few, who with the sophistry of beguiling words and clever design will spread doubt and seek to undermine the foundation on which this cause is established. They will have their brief day in the sun. They may have for a brief season the plaudits of the doubters and the skeptics and the critics. But they will fade and be forgotten as have their kind in the past. Meanwhile, we shall go forward, regardless of their criticism, aware of but undeterred by their statements and actions. Said the Lord even before the Church was organized: ““Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”” Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, God Is at the Helm, April 1994.