What I Wish My Prophet Would Say

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Kenneth Merrill graduated from BYU with a degree in Philosophy and now works as a cinematographer in Los Angeles, CA. He’s married, with two boys, and in his spare time he likes to play music, rock climb, practice sleight of hand, and read/write—but mostly he just ends up staring at glowing screens.

It was a warm summer day in Long Island City, an area of Queens just across the river from Manhattan. My companion and I were on our way to an appointment in the Queens Bridge Projects when we stopped to talk to two older ladies on their way back home from the grocery store.

“Hi, I’m Elder Merrill, and we’re out here to tell people that we have a living prophet on this earth today. Would you be interested in hearing more about that?”

With frightening directness, one of the women turned to me and asked, “Oh really, a prophet? What’s he been prophesying lately?”

I probably stood slack-jawed for a decent 5 seconds before the next words tumbled uncontrollably out of my mouth:

“Drugs are bad.”

To this day I’m not really sure why that was the first thing that came to my mind—perhaps a recent conference talk on the Word of Wisdom or something—but needless to say I burned with shame as the two women and even my companion laughed at my idiotic reply. No doubt the blow to my ego is partially what caused her question to reverberate in my brain for the rest of my mission.

At the time I was only angry that I hadn’t prepared a better answer. Surely there was something obvious and momentous that I could point to. The most recent candidate was The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  It had been signed a decade beforehand. Most of the ideas in that document are pretty run-of-the-mill for Christian faiths, but the idea of eternal gender was unique. “Gender is eternal!” should have been my answer, I concluded.

And yet the question still nagged at me. Here I was every day, telling people we have a living prophet who guides us through the troubled waters of modern life, and I couldn’t point to anything groundbreaking that had been said in my 20 years of membership? This may have been what started a long reconstruction of my beliefs about the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Like most of you, I was raised to believe that the President of the Church was the mouthpiece of God. In seminary we memorized scriptures like Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” People would frequently echo the statement by Young Women President Elaine Cannon in 1978, “When the Prophet speaks, … the debate is over.” Or consider Brigham Young’s proclamation, “I have never preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.”

This remains the prevailing philosophy about the Presidents of the Church: that they are essentially modern-day Moseses.  Every word, admonition or command can (should) safely be considered the word of God. And because these days almost everything the Brethren say is simply an echo of what past Brethren have said, thanks to Correlation, there is rarely an occasion for disagreement or critical thinking about the matter.

But for me that has been precisely the problem. It’s difficult to have a testimony that these men are in the same category as Elisha or Isaiah or Daniel when the messages they deliver seem to cover the same handful of topics year after year, conference after conference: obedience, eternal truth, repentance, forgiveness, service, missionary work, etc.—every talk seemingly just a new arrangement of well-worn scriptures and quotes from other Latter-day prophets, with the occasional relief of an airplane analogy.

I happily admit that it is totally understandable that the Lord’s Anointed should have to repeat themselves at us for decades on end because truthfully humans are very bad at self-improvement, and we need all the reminders we can get. The core of the gospel is faith, repentance, baptism, and sanctification.

I can also somewhat buy into the idea that Brother Joseph already did most of the heavy lifting on the doctrine and metaphysics of the gospel—maybe there’s only so much we can know in this life about the mechanics of salvation. But I have to say that I’m a little disappointed in the lack of timely specificity and responsiveness when it comes to crises facing our church, our people, and the world.  The list of challenges to our lives and everything we love is varied and complex.

Suicides among LGBTQ+ youth members. Human-caused environmental catastrophe. The rising tide of bigotry and segregation around the world. Income inequality. Sexual abuse within the church. Even the proliferation of treacherous MLM businesses in the Latter-day Saint community. Has there ever been a more necessary time for a Prophet of God?

And while I wish taking it all back to basics were a powerful enough solution, for some of us the message is not clear enough.   These ills continue to do damage unchecked where we have the power to check it.  Can we at least seek and hear the will of the Lord on the matter?

So, I have made a list of things I wish President Nelson would say at General Conference. None of these things are an alteration of current church policy or doctrine. I believe everything on the list is supported by our shared Christian values and beliefs.  I have to wonder if part of following President Nelson’s invitation to prepare for the April 2020 conference might include the combined prayers of the membership for answers to problems and questions like these.

“It is unacceptable to eject someone from your home or your life because of a difference of beliefs.”

I’ve seen families fall apart because someone confessed that they no longer believe in the gospel or the church. Struggling with a testimony is not grounds for divorce, disownment, or otherwise severing ties with someone God loves. In fact, it is often the fear of what family and friends will think that isolates people with questions and sends them down a path that only makes fellowship and membership in the church more difficult. Let’s just stop it.

“It is unacceptable to eject someone from your home or your life because of their sexual orientation.”

Too many good and decent people have been shut out of their families’ or friends’ lives because they came out as gay, bi, trans, etc.  I can’t think of a more anti-Christian response to such a situation, but it keeps happening. Perhaps some members feel it’s their duty to take a stand on such matters—tough love, as it were—but it is unequivocally wrong. Again, the fear of such responses leaves many people isolated and alone in their own struggles.  Without anyone to turn to for help or support, too many in the church have committed suicide. A word from the Brethren could literally save lives.

“It is our sacred duty to preserve and protect the earth over which we’ve been given stewardship.”

In most of my conversations with members there is a strong push back against environmental concern. Whether or not you believe climate change is influenced by human activity, we should all agree that unsustainable fishing, hunting, deforestation, pollution, and waste are serious issues that will only get worse unless we work toward solutions. As stewards of the earth, we should be thinking about conversation and not relying on the Second Coming to save us from our poor stewardship. I would love to hear a conference talk about sustainable living.

“The Church of Jesus Christ is a home to everyone.  Each of you have something to offer us and offer our Savior, and we need you.”

We’ve all heard the old saying, “the church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.” And yet we often make attendance uncomfortable for anyone caught in “more serious” sins – often defined as sexual or word of wisdom violations. Through mechanisms like disfellowship and excommunication, not to mention more quotidian social stigmatization, we often send the message that if you can’t get with the program, then you really shouldn’t be in the pews on Sunday. This is completely unnecessary and anathema to the mission of the Church. Everyone should be welcomed, no matter where they are on the covenant path. We can use all the hands we can get on Sundays.

“It has come to our attention that some church leaders have abused their positions and committed evil acts against other members. These claims are taken seriously, and we will take steps to make the church a safer place for everyone.”

I am amazed at the lengths the Church goes to in order to preserve their image and the status quo when it comes to leader/member dynamics.  Listening to victims, being transparent about bad actors and practices, offering clarity about doctrine and updating policy, and making abuse hotlines available-to-all (along with other best-practice recommendations) could help root out the quiet problems.  This wouldn’t harm the way we conduct gospel business, it would improve it. At the very least, we should listen to and not discipline those who are calling for—very reasonable—change.

“We are sorry. Some of the teachings and policies of the church have caused great spiritual damage and have not reflected the truths of the gospel or what the Savior would want. We are sorry for the mistakes we have made, and we ask for your help and your prayers as we continue to make the church a better vessel for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

We occasionally hear one of the apostles say that the Brethren are only human and mistakes are made, but I’ve never heard any specific mistakes named, and I’ve never heard an apology for those mistakes directed at the people who have been affected. I honestly think this would go a long way in progressing the church in a world where honesty and authenticity are valued over almost anything else.

* * *

200 years ago, a 14 year-old kid saw God face-to-face because he had pressing questions and concerns.  As I prayerfully prepare for General Conference two centuries later, I’m hoping we can hear God’s voice again. Whether or not the message is anything like what I’ve said above, I hope He can address some of our current struggles. Like Joseph, I’ve found confidence in the assurance that “every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

*Photo by Shridhar Gupta on Unsplash

Comments

  1. It’s probably fair to say also that the 14-year-old boy saw God the Father because HE decided it was time, not on Joseph’s timeline, which is how I feel about most things related to God and his prophets these days.

  2. Hanging in there says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I am sure the Brethren are aware of all of the issues you mention, yet there are no direct mentions in talks from the Prophet or Quorum of the Twelve, or in letters of instruction from the First Presidency. I do admire President Nelson in many ways, he’s a bundle of energy and ideas for a 95 year old. But I wish he and others would talk about the many elephants in the room, and do so with love and compassion.

  3. The Family Proclamation has a specific warning/consequence that I think qualifies as a prophecy. “[W]e warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

    Too many members of the church try to make the Family Proclamation all about gay marriage so that they can ignore the main messages in it that actually apply to them. Families disintegrating–whether due to abuse, driving away nonconforming family members (like the OP mentions), or the government taking young children away from their parents at the border not because the parents are dangerous but because the government wants to send a message–that’s what the Family Proclamation warns against. That’s the prophecy.

  4. Amy Blodgett says:

    The only thing I could possibly add is to say Amen.

  5. The church will never apologize for anything unfortunately. Repentance doesn’t seem to apply to the institution, just the individuals.

  6. “The Church of Jesus Christ is a home to everyone. Each of you have something to offer us
    and offer our Savior, and we need you.”

    I’ve heard this message over the years from various general authorities – “please come back” “we need you” “the Savior loves you” “The gospel of Christ is for everyone” etc.

    “It is unacceptable to eject someone from your home or your life because of a difference of
    beliefs.” “It is unacceptable to eject someone from your home or your life because of their
    sexual orientation.”

    The above can be good counsel in many (maybe most) situations, but not all. For instance, differences in beliefs may be acted out in ways that are harmful and destructive to the family. (I don’t think that simply declaring a loss of faith nor coming out LGBTQ rise to that level). I think the brethren are trusting parents to seek the Lord’s counsel about particulars of their family’s situation and act accordingly, per the parental obligation in the Proclamation on the Family “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs…”

    “Through mechanisms like disfellowship and excommunication.. we often send the message
    that if you can’t get with the program, then you really shouldn’t be in the pews on Sunday.”

    The church is vast, and there are probably lay leaders who have acted unwisely in this area, but generally I have personally seen many members who “aren’t with the program” (as I think you intend that phrase, and especially regarding Word of Wisdom that you mention specifically) that maintain full member status and participate at whatever level they desire.

    Maybe it’s a little presumptive for ANY of us to be discussing what WE think the prophet should be saying. I’m pretty sure that’s the Lord’s role.

    I feel that if we think there are problems of which the prophets and apostles are unaware, we might best take it up with the Lord, and if feeling it appropriate to do so, write some personal letters to them describing what we have experienced and observed firsthand so that they can also address it with the Lord and in their councils.

  7. The post-Joseph-Smith prophets say only “run-of-the-mill” things, rather than anything “obvious and momentous” or “groundbreaking.” The most (or only?) unique idea in The Family: A Proclamation to the World is that gender is eternal.

    Seriously?

    Do you and I even belong to the same church?

    Is there nothing groundbreaking about heavenly parents (plural), the pre-earth life, the attainability of perfection, the idea that marriage is essential to God’s plan, the notion that familial relationships continue beyond the grave? All of these revolutionary doctrines are in that one document alone, and yet the only thing that stands out to you is gender?

    I’ll compare your wish list with President Nelson’s priorities from last October.

    You: rejecting people because of their beliefs or sexual orientation; environmental stewardship; eliminating excommunication; preventing abuse from Church leaders; and, formal apologies for specific mistakes from past leaders.

    President Nelson: the youth battalion and resulting policy changes; the impact on women of everything that happened in Harmony, PA; putting aside the things of this world in order to be guided by the Holy Spirit; the relevance of priesthood to women specifically; eight new temple announcements; serving others vis-à-vis the great humanitarian work of the Church around the globe; personal holiness/individual worthiness for maximizing temple effectiveness; and, preparing ourselves spiritually for the upcoming bicentennial of the First Vision.

    Between these two lists, there’s really no comparison.

    I’m sure your intentions are sincere, and my purpose is not to disparage or trivialize your concerns. But there’s a reason President Nelson is the prophet, and not you or I. We don’t need him to change his message. The only change that needs to take place is in our own hearts, in our willingness to accept what he says without second-guessing him, or wishing he’d said something else.

  8. Kenneth Merrill says:

    @eileen369, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s very presumptive to project our personal philosophies onto the divine will. I do it all the time. So does President Nelson. So did Joseph Fielding Smith. So did Brigham Young. So did Joseph Smith. It’s human nature. And yet somehow we keep moving forward, slowly, generation by generation. I think it takes lifetimes of struggle and divine influence to move cultures closer to God, and sometimes that influence is at the top, in the older and wiser generation of leaders, and sometimes God influences us at the bottom, the young ones, the members. He must start young or else there would be no change. I think it’s a grand dialogue between members, leaders, and God. I’m a presumptive person, but I think that’s by design. Or maybe it’s pride. I guess we’ll see in the end!

  9. @Perry, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you are as well, then yes, we do belong to the same church. I think it’s a “mileage may vary” situation.

    Re: The Family–all of the doctrines you listed are courtesy of Joseph Smith. They are repeated in The Family, but they are not original to Gordon B. Hinckley and co. That’s why I listed the gender doctrine as the only doctrinal revelation in the recent past–it was actually a new idea.

    Re: the comparison of my list vs what Pres. Nelson said last conference–President Nelson seems like a visionary guy. I really really like the direction he’s moving things. And I appreciated his talk last conference, as I appreciate most talks. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with broadening our horizons and talking about some new things that aren’t ever really said. The two lists you made are not mutual exclusive. I don’t see why there’s a conflict here.

  10. “they are essentially modern-day Moseses. Every word, admonition or command can (should) safely be considered the word of God.”

    But was this actually the case with Moses? in the OT in general? Or the NT? Or any other scripture? I argue pretty strongly that it wasn’t. Even moreso, scripture has the advantage of being edited, reduced, boiled down. It’s a highly selective snapshot of prophetic messages and lives. We hardly have 60 years of Jeremiah’s words; it’s a “greatest hits” anthology.

    What this does illustrate is 1) the mistaken traditions LDS tend to have about the nature of prophets and prophecy which are 2) largely shared with the surrounding culture.

    The role of a prophet wasn’t primarily future-telling, but norm-establishing and calling to repentance, e.g. Albert Soggin, Israel in the Biblical Period “It is evident that a prophet, contrary to the common meaning of the term today, was very little preoccupied with the future, concentrating his message on the present and on the interpretation of the past.”

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    I view the term prophet as applied to the president of the church as an honorific. It has precious little substantive content in that context.

  12. I get the feeling your disappointment is the result of pride. I too think there are many important issues in the world other than those we hear about in GC, but I don’t presume that my priorities should supplant those of God or His prophets. If God wants my perspective to be taught in GC, he’ll call me to speak in GC. Until then I will focus on aligning my will with His, incorporating GC messages into my understanding of His will.

  13. I have wondered how those who kick their gay children out of the house can maintain a temple recommend, based on the question about anything pertaining to members of your family.

  14. Kenneth,
    I did not see your response to Eileen, which indirectly addresses my previous comment. The relevant difference between you and President Nelson, BY, JS, etc. is that they were called by God to lead His church while you are not. I suspect that God called these men in part because of their particularities, not in spite of them, and expects their particularities will influence the exercise of their prophetic duties. Instead of complaining that our particularities are not addressed from the GC pulpit, we should be grateful to be led by prophets of God and seek to learn from their wisdom.

  15. Bryan, no one is arguing against prophets past or present or their prophetic callings. You are barking up a tree that doesn’t have a cat in it.

  16. josh harrison says:

    Previous prophets were not perfect and made mistakes.
    The current prophet speaks for God and will never lead you astray (until of course he too is a previous prophet)

  17. Talon,
    I agree that Kenneth is not “arguing against prophets past or present or their prophetic callings.” Either I misunderstand your comment or you misunderstand mine.

  18. Kenneth –
    I didn’t mention in my first post that I really like your comment “if part of following President Nelson’s invitation to prepare for the April 2020 conference might include the combined prayers of the membership for answers to problems and questions like these.”

    I have never really prayed like that in advance of General Conference, and if all members did I’m sure the Lord would bless us accordingly. I feel certain that the Apostles and Prophet pray sincerely and with fervor about many problems, but perhaps if we as members prayed just as fervently about the problems we see, the Lord will provide more specific guidance – whether by inspiring leaders to address those issues in their conference talks, or by personal revelation to those who are earnestly seeking.

  19. @Bryan, I’m not sure what your overall contention is. If you’re calling me prideful, you’re dead right. If you’re arguing that expressing these kinds of opinions–about leadership or things we need to talk about on an organizational level–is inappropriate, then I don’t think you’re correct.

  20. @Bryan, sorry I also forgot to say this:

    “I don’t presume that my priorities should supplant those of God or His prophets. If God wants my perspective to be taught in GC, he’ll call me to speak in GC. Until then I will focus on aligning my will with His, incorporating GC messages into my understanding of His will.”

    I suspect there were many members who expressed similar concerns to mine back in 1977 before our policies around race and Priesthood changed. And there were probably many people who said basically the same thing you have here. I suspect if there wasn’t an ongoing dialogue between concerned members & low-level leadership and the Brethren, then we wouldn’t have seen the change we did in 1978.

    It’s an ongoing dialogue. What the spirit moves the members to talk about will eventually move the GA’s to talk about. It doesn’t always have to come from the top down. In fact, if you read the scriptures you’ll often find that it hasn’t.

  21. Kenneth,
    Thank you for engaging with the commenters. I wish more posters would follow your lead.
    My overall contention is that your post is an indulgence in pride, which you appear to acknowledge and revel.
    I am less concerned with which issues you find under-discussed, your positions on those issues, and your desire to encourage their discussion, than with how you decided to discuss them. If your purpose is to encourage a church-wide discussion of the issues, then I suggest changing your frame. “I know what should be preached from the GC pulpit better than those called by God to preach from the GC pulpit” may tickle the heterodox bone of many BCC readers, but is a distraction and turn-off to the majority of faithful saints with whom you seek dialogue.
    Best,
    Bryan

  22. Also appropriate is Church acknowledgment of the toxic conservatism foisted upon members as a loyalty test by Ezra Taft Benson. Because of this we have not grown as a people but remained largely backward, provincial, militaristic & intolerant. Overwhelming LDS support for Trump is a symptom of something terribly wrong.

  23. The title of this website — by common consent — is an affirmation of one of the original principles of organizing the church during Joseph Smith’s time. I see the OP as very much consistent with faithful commentary on what could help the church better serve its members and the world at large. Thank you for taking the time to put this post together, Kenneth.

    I appreciate Bryan’s and other’s comments on here, saying that Kenneth is prideful, essentially attempting to steady the ark in having the audacity to say out loud what he wants the prophet to say; however, I must respectfully disagree.

    Do we live to live to serve the church and follow the prophet, or is the church and prophet there to help us live the best we can? I know what the “faithful Mormon” perspective, though I come down on the opposite side of this question.

  24. Really great post, I have had many of the same concerns you address.

    I could be wrong, and I probably don’t know as much as Bryan and the others, but I’m pretty sure Heavenly Parents welcome thoughtful concerns being brought up. I can’t imagine their instructions being, “go down there and don’t cause a fuss or ruckus, just do as you’re told by this prophet (even if we take back core teachings once in awhile).

    What if I, as a spouse, never brought up MY thoughts or feelings to my husband?
    What if I never brought up concerns to an employer?
    What if I never told my parents how I felt about things that felt really wrong?
    What if I never told my RS Pres or bishop or Stake President what I or fellow ward members thought?

    Ever grateful to those willing to stick their necks out and say things aren’t going so well in this corner, because I champion those changes wholeheartedly.

  25. I’ve never known of anyone in an LDS family being kicked out. I’ve only ever known the opposite. Children rebelling, leaving, and then coming back to their parents.
    I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but I would be really surprised if it’s the norm, given all of the examples I’ve seen, anecdotes I’ve over heard, and stories I’ve read. I’ve heard it happening from plenty of main stream Christian families, but not LDS.
    I hope you can take some hope from that.

  26. Hear, hear Mike J & Annne!

  27. jader3rd, The fact that you haven’t heard of LDS shunning doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen it only means that you haven’t sought information on this topic. There are quite a number of post-Mormon websites that are filled with these stories of people being shunned for simple unbelief, for lifestyle choices, for gender nonconformity, for supporting political views that are not coherent with LDS norms (ERA, anyone?), and for other non-conforming positions.

  28. Mike J.
    I can’t be ark-steadying because Kenneth is not the ark. If anything, I am ox-steadying. :)

  29. @Bryan, the comments section can be dangerous, but if it doesn’t escalate, then I think it’s super valuable. I really appreciate the back and forth you’ve given me. I see a kindred spirit in you–someone who cares deeply for the gospel and the church.

    I certainly don’t revel in my pride, but I try to be honest about my character, and I’m certainly susceptible to it–probably like anyone else. I usually know when I’m being prideful, and in this circumstance I don’t detect it, but rather I feel motivated by a deep and earnest love for my church and the people in it, particularly my children whom I will answer to for what I’ve done to make their church better and stronger.

    Do I “know better than the Brethren”? I don’t think that’s a charitable way to read what I’m trying to say. I think disappointment is a natural consequence of being raised to expect one thing your whole life and then not really see it happen. Now I see the GA’s as men with limitations and blindspots, just like me. I understand why some things may go unsaid at GC because I have an inkling of what blindspots exist in the general culture of the church and the culture of men who become leaders in the church. I’m sensitive to those blindspots because I used to be as hardcore orthodox as they come. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to get a different perspective over the past few years because it really has changed my life and made me a better person. Unfortunately most people who go through what I’ve gone through simply leave, and so the blindspots in our culture largely remain.

    If there’s a blindspot in our lives, then there are things we will not ponder, and because we do not ponder, we do not pray, and because we do not pray, God will not be able to help us. Perhaps you’re right: my rhetoric can be incendiary at times, usually because I really really care–but the point of my OP is not to say, “I know better than President Nelson.” Rather it’s to say, “I’ve found value in a perspective that’s not commonly expressed in our church. Based on my own experience and those of close friends, this value could save individuals, families, and in some ways the church. Let’s talk about it.”

    A testament to this whole thing is that a close friend of mine who left the church several years ago texted me this today: “Life is funny, that experience drove you to write that beautiful piece, which I’m sure will help many. It will at least makes us feel understood and seen. I would still be in Church if I had encountered more people like you.”

    I want my friends back in the church. And I know there’s no chance of that happening unless the conversation changes. I can’t wait on someone up the ladder to do it for me; so I’m going to start doing it myself. It’s presumptive. It’s a modest effort. But I feel God in the work.

  30. Geoff - Aus says:

    Mike, Bryann, and eileen,
    You have the perception that when Pres Nelson speaks it is as if God has spoken. This is not my understanding of reality. Pres Nelson defined revelation when he said the pox was revelation, as the 15 gathering, and agreeing prayerfully with the prophet.
    In my hp/ elders group are a number of ex bishoprics and stake presidencies. I have been on bishoprics for 20 years. While discussing revelation it came out that none of us had more than 1 or 2 times in our lives when we felt directed by the Lord. The rest of the time we did what we felt was right.
    Most of the older Apostles are politically conservative. So when they have not been directed by the Lord, and are doing what they believe is right it has that filter. We do not claim to have any revelation on gay marriage, or the place of women, so we have apostles teaching their culture as if it is gospel.
    When I was on my mission 68 to 70 there were prophets teaching get married as soon as you can after your mission, and don’t use birth control, because it is of the devil. Because of our obedience we lived in poverty for 10 years, and had we continued would have killed my wife. They then quietly stopped teaching these things.
    There is I think a suggestion in the comments that the proclamation is revelation. You might look up the difference between a proclamation, and a declaration. If it was revelation it would not be a proclamation.
    I would agree with P. I would like to hear a conference talk explaining that there is no relationskip between the church and voting conservative, and particularly that to vote for an evil man on the hope that he might reduce abortions is particularly stupid, because making abortion illegal is not the best way to reduce the number of abortions. Eg US about 20 abortions/10000 women v Germany 5. Places where illegal higher than US.
    I agree on climate change being the biggest problem facing the world, but most members are climate deniers because of the conservative packaging that comes with the church. A conference talk from an apostle explaining the science would be helpful.

  31. Geoff Aus
    It looks like there’s something that you clearly don’t get.
    Whether it is my voice or the voice of my servants it is the same.

  32. it's a series of tubes says:

    Geoff Aus
    It looks like there’s something that you clearly don’t get.
    Whether it is my voice or the voice of my servants it is the same.

    Jon, Geoff and I see eye to eye about almost nothing when it comes to the church, but as to the limited clause you have wrested and taken out of context here, well…

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”.

  33. Yes, Amen to the OP. One of my gripes about most of the messages at general conference is that they are focused on remaining loyal to the church and just how bad the outside world is. Little to nothing is said of the environment, how to accept LGBTQ children, how to accept family members who leave the church, or of abuse of leadership positions. The leaders seem very much aware of the critiques of the LDS church, but seem more concerned about not letting on that these critiques are influencing policy-making and the narratives at conference than addressing the actual concerns. I thought Sam Young had very legitimate concerns and went as far as publishing hundreds of stories of abuse in bishop’s interviews, yet barely anything was done about it.

    Too often the reaction seems to be to burying heads in the sand. Jader3rd’s comment is a perfect example of this. “Ostracism and shunning over someone leaving the church? Never. Only in mainstream Christian churches, not our perfect LDS church.” Nothing could be further from the truth and more uninformed and ignorant. I’ve read hundreds of stories of people being ostracized and even shunned by their families for leaving the church, coming out as gay, living with a boyfriend/girlfriend, drinking alcohol, saying they don’t believe in God, etc. Another instance of this was in an exchange I had about a month ago with Jonathan Green of Times and Seasons about tithing settlement, wherein I told him of instances of bishops placing stress on families at tithing settlement. His response was that these stories were fake.

  34. Eric Facer says:

    Jon Miranda, you would do well to carefully read the entirety of Section1 of the Doctrine & Covenants, not just the snippet of vs. 38 you have decontextualized in your comment. As Julie Smith pointed out in an excellent essay a few years ago, the meaning of no other passage of scripture has been more perverted and distorted than this one: https://www.timesandseasons.org/harchive/2016/03/a-closer-look-at-d-c-138/index.html

  35. Can I add one to your list?

    Many members of the Church support a completely amoral and corrupt individual who has reshaped their longtime political party after his own image of hatred, dishonesty, environmental devastation, and cruelty. If you are listening to his propaganda, please stop. If you are tempted to vote for this corrupt individual, please don’t. If you are watching his favorite cable news station, where misinformation is on the menu every hour, please stop and get your news instead from a variety of better sources. If you are voting for his party because you always have and do not really inform yourself about the issues, shame on you.

    Of course, this will never happen, because most of the Q15 we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators will probably vote for this individual in November. Think about that.

  36. nobody, really says:

    Wally:
    When I was in the MTC, there was a Bruce R. McConkie quote laminated and stuck on the podium for every Sacrament meeting.

    “Three great truths must be included in every valid testimony: 1. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world 2. That Joseph Smith is the Prophet of God through whom the gospel was restored in this dispensation; and 3. That The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the ‘only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.’”

    I would also note that in the now-defunct JournoList where liberal media writers would gather to formulate strategy, one of the commandments was that no news story is valid unless it furthers the policies of Obama. Your screed above seems to follow a modified version of this testimony – that no testimony or belief, on any subject, is valid unless it discredits the claims and beliefs of conservatives.

    I didn’t vote for Trump and am under no obligation to defend him, but your style of testimony here is just downright offensive. Conservatives are generally smart enough to vote in their own self interests, as are liberals.

  37. I also want to echo what others have said about toxic partisanism. I wish something would be more explicitly stated to help get the modern membership out from under the shadow of Eztra Taft Benson’s politics. This is why perfectly valid and what should be otherwise non-partisan issues like the environmental crises are apparently not important to the capital B Brethren. It’s perceived as wrapped up in “the left” making it taboo for church leaders and members to address in constructive ways.

    Making greater efforts to disentangle political and religious beliefs would go a long way here.

  38. Wally is spot on. Mormon support for Trump seems to go against a good number of the values that they’re taught in church. The guy is a conman (who made his name on conartistry) and a criminal.

    nobody, really, Wally is squarely attacking Trump, not conservatism per se. Bear in mind that there are self-identifying conservatives who vote Democrat and a fair number of self-identifying conservative thinkers who left the GOP because of Trump. But if you’re a conservative or a defender of conservatives (as you seem to be), you need to grow thicker skin.

  39. Hanging in there says:

    I really identified with the OP which now seems to have fallen by the wayside and been ambushed by political claims and counter-claims. Going back to the last post by Kenneth Merrill, I appreciate his sincerity, honesty and patience with the comments, some of which I have found to be very judgmental. I signed up to BCC because I thought it was a place where honest gospel questions/observations could be discussed in a mature way by church members who could make an effort to understand each other’s point of view.

    What could be more reasonable than: “The point of my OP is not to say, “I know better than President Nelson.” Rather it’s to say, “I’ve found value in a perspective that’s not commonly expressed in our church. Based on my own experience and those of close friends, this value could save individuals, families, and in some ways the church. Let’s talk about it.”

    Like Kenneth, I have seen (even in the last few weeks) really good, genuine people leaving the Church because they feel there is no place for them and their voices are not heard or wanted. I think the culture of ‘toe the party line, just give the Sunday School answers or ship out’ will sadly see more good people leaving – and it doesn’t need to happen if we can learn to treat people with different opinions within the Church in a Christlike way.

  40. True story: I met several apostles and seventies on my mission a quarter century ago. They were all good experiences. However, one experience stands out starkly different from the rest. It was when I met (you guessed it), Elder (now President) Nelson. Just to be brief, when I shook his hand in the receiving line they had for the missionaries, I literally froze, stunned, with my jaw literally agape. There were a few seconds of awkward silence when he finally asked me my name. I briefly blurted it out, and then maybe a couple more words of pleasantries were exchanged and then it was the next missionary’s turn in line.

    If you had asked me then to describe the experience, I think I would have said in all seriousness something along the lines of “I felt like I just met Moses”. The Apostolic mantle, and now in retrospect, the Prophetic mantle he held/holds was so PALPABLE, I will never forget it. Ever. I am so grateful for that witness. So while I think there are a lot of good things a Prophet could say that he doesn’t, I have complete confidence in President Nelson and his ability to receive revelation for the Church, that I really don’t feel the need to second guess him or the Brethren in what they choose to address or not address.

    I worry more if I’m in tune with them.

  41. “In our day, as in times past many people expect that if there be revelation it will come with awe-inspiring, earthshaking display. For many it is hard to accept as revelation those numerous ones in Moses’ time, in Joseph’s time, and in our own year–those revelations which come to prophets as deep, unassailable impressions, settling down on the prophet’s mind and heart as dew from heaven or as the dawn dissipates the darkness of night.
    Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication.” -Spencer W. Kimball

    Let me say that I fully agree with Jimothy’s thoughts. There should be some authoritative, definitive statements from senior leadership that would disentangle political and religious beliefs. Many kind, good-hearted members of the church, are still under the completely erroneous belief that the church, and the gospel, allow only for their own personal conservative political beliefs, and that those beliefs are somehow divinely sanctioned. As Dr. Erying wisely counseled: “We shouldn’t waste good intentions on bad arguments.”

  42. None of these are prophetic… And some have already been said.

  43. Geoff - Aus says:

    Dylan, exactly. In a year when there is an election in America, when there is also an impeachment proceeding, surely someone in authority needs to make it clear that there is not any requirement for members to vote conservative. Even more so when the conservative candidate is a moral vacume.
    This is also relavent outside the US. In Australia we had a vote on gay marriage in 2017. One of the results was that members were seen, by the extreme right, to be in their group and have been actively recruited. There are no LDS members of federal parliament.
    The problem is the extreme right also oppose climate change, immigration, are racist, and have media that caters to them, are pro tax cuts for big business, and the wealthy, which increases inequality.
    Notice they do not oppose universal healthcare, or gun control, and there is no party talking about abortion.
    My wife and I often come home from church saying why are we associating with these people? I would not join the church because of the conservative political packaging. It is difficult to understand how the gospel can be true when it is associated with conservative US politics, where morality is in short supply. What would Jesus do?

  44. The first presidency and the quorum of The twelve apostles are men that have been set apart to help us navigate the pitfalls of mortality. To ugnore prophetic council is to put yourself in great peril.

  45. Geoff – Aus, the church has made many statements about political neutrality. Here is the church’s official policy on politics if you haven’t seen it in a while:

    https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/official-statement/political-neutrality

    I hear this reiterated over the pulpit from the bishop in sacrament meeting at least every four years when there’s a presidential election and often at times of other elections too. Maybe that’s not done everywhere but it’s been pretty consistent everywhere I’ve lived.

  46. Wondering says:

    Jon Miranda, To ignore prophetic counsel may indeed put one in peril. Ignoring a “prophetic” council [your word] when it issues statements that are not prophetic counsel may not. Some lack the insight or inspiration to know the difference or to distinguish between general principles and exceptions applicable to them (as acknowledge by Dallin Oaks among others). I am sometimes one of those lacking. I wonder if we all are.

  47. I’m wading through Come Follow Me Facebook groups full of active members who still believe people were cursed with dark skin by God (“because the scriptures say so”) and who don’t understand what was wrong with the version of the lesson printed in the manual. What I wish the prophet would say, I wish the prophet would push back against fundamentalist (small f) interpretations of scripture. I wish the Prophet would come out and say what was wrong about the traditional interpretations and give a better exegesis of those scriptures. I feel like we cannot begin healing on this until we stop making the wound bigger.

  48. To Jon Miranda, what prophetic counsel? That is actually my complaint. I am a single, never married childless women at 50+. There are lots of us in fact. The majority of the women in the Church are single, and yet, we continue to get the family speeches. They mean nothing to many of us and are less than useless in helping us navigate this life. Frankly, I do have a hard time believing that the Lord has absolutely nothing to say to the majority of the sisters in the Church.

  49. Lily
    No one is forgotten or passed over. Like President Benson said always keep your eye on the prize which is exaltation

  50. I’m not quite sure where to start. The commenters that have tried to pivot this excellent OP to politics, especially the “please wake up to the evils of Mr. T” contributors ought to be ashamed. This is SO NOT THE PLACE for that, gads. It also is a perfect illustration of why the the Brethren could never even attempt to dip a toe into politics, imagine the chaos! Even in an intelligent and somewhat high-minded group like this one, kindness and tolerance has degraded. I love that KM had serious and even perhaps “controversial” suggestions, yet in the end he said he was prayerfully preparing for conference and thought that would be a fab & powerful thing for all of us. Way to go!! He questions and wants improvements/progress but hangs in there. My strongest criticism would be with his apology idea—in this litigious world, apologizing for anything can really lead to trouble! If you are publicly sorry, then maybe you are sorry for damage you might have caused…then, whoa! Lookout. Somebody and probably lots of somebodys want payola. I hope I’m not in dreamland when I say that there is a good chance RMNelson might make me and KM happy.

  51. what?

  52. Geoff - Aus says:

    DB, Yes they read these here too, but because our opposition to gay marriage puts us at the extreme right of politics, and because it is known many of the senior apostles are registered republicans, the actions drown out the words.
    At this Trump time we need more. If Utah votes for Trump look for the exodus of many moderate members, who will take that as indication that Utah Mormons have no moral compass. If the church does not help with a moral compass, what good is it?

  53. Geoff - Aus says:

    Lily, I have 4 daughters. The youngest is in her 40s, and is at present fighting bush fires 1000k from home. She does this as a volunteer, her day job is as a federal police officer.
    When she can get to church, and particularly conferences, she often asks how that helps her?
    Even the emergency plan at the chapel, says “in case of emergency report to a priesthood holder” there is no emergency that she would not be more qualified to deal with than any priesthood holder. She had to threaten to report to the authorities that the fire extinguishers at church were out of date, to get them fixed.
    Message, you are not included.
    Sorry you too feel this. Perhaps someone in the 15 might too?

  54. donna sorenson says:

    Is this a recent posting? What is the date it was written/published? Thanks.

  55. Agreed to all of the above