Monday, June 23, 2014

"Leave to thy God to order and provide..."

"In a profound way the solution to our community problems, which we call social conflict, lies not in better understanding and better programs of repair and improvement, but in the depth and sublimity of our thoughts and affections, in deeper living and holier values." ~ Thomas Moore

As I sit down to write this post, I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed about the enormity of the issues I am about to address.  I’ve been mulling over the news articles, press releases, scriptures, my own thoughts, and so many things in the past week.   Then today the news came out that Kate Kelly, the founder of the Ordain Women movement, has been excommunicated from the LDS church.   I feel that we, as a society and as a church, are on a dangerous precipice, but with the opportunity to find a better way.

On the one hand, in the United States, we are firm believers in the democratic process.  We are proud of founding fathers who fought so hard to bring to pass religious freedom, the right to worship as our own consciences dictate.  We even believe that they were divinely led to set up the constitution the way it is, paving the way for new churches to develop unhindered, including the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days.

On the other hand, it should be stated that the LDS church is not a democratic entity.  It is, in fact, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is His church, not ours, and so must function under His direction and wisdom, not ours.  Therefore, protests, demonstrations, candle-light vigils, etc. have no place in this religious setting.  And any attempt to force policy or doctrinal changes by these means must be categorized as apostasy, as apostasy is defined as a rebellion, turning away, or falling away from the church, coming out in open opposition to the church, and trying to convince others of the doctrines you’re purporting.

Questions vs. Demands

In a recent press release from the LDS church’s public relations department, we were assured yet again that we are encouraged to have “civil online dialogue…and discuss ideas with one another.  Our whole Church was founded on the basis of sincere questions asked by a 14-year-old boy. Having questions and seeking answers is normal. Within those earnest questions may lie the seeds of faith.”  I believe this whole-heartedly.  I have always had the space within my religion to have questions, even doubts, and to find the answers.  Loving leaders have encouraged me and pointed me in the direction of the scriptures and prayer to find the ultimate answers in my relationship with the Lord.  I recognize that this is one experience among many, and that others have not always been this fortunate.  The truth is that while the gospel is perfect, people are not.  I have heard (and believe) other people’s stories of having their questions dismissed or even silenced by a well-meaning, though mistaken, leader.  From the anecdotal evidence I have found, these situations are few and far between, but do occur.

To that point, I will offer this solace from President Joseph Fielding Smith: “I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.  An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be…”

Friends, we must go back to the source.  Seek and ponder the scriptures in prayer, read past and current conference talks, surround ourselves with the truths we are taught and not let one or two bad experiences color our views of the gospel.

In reference to the “questions” being posed by Kate Kelly and the Ordain Women movement, they are not questions, but demands.  “Non-negotiable” demands as they have themselves stated.  This is the behavior that becomes apostasy and leads people away from the truth into confusing and thorny paths.  May we question?  Yes.  May we demand?  No.

Society vs. God's Kingdom


What we must remember as we hear more and more stories of people voicing their dissatisfaction with the church or its leaders, is that the Lord’s Church is not society, nor a corporation, or any other entity that can be governed by common consent or democratic vote.  It is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In this crazy society we live in, we are dictated to by those who preach sameness disguised as equality.  We have to know that the two things are not the same.  A society that shouts a plethora of contradictions, including: "Embrace my differences, but I demand to be like everyone else."  They use the democratic country we live in, founded on the religious freedom of differences to try to force a change to complete sameness across the board in every sphere, not realizing that "All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light."  (D&C 93:30-31)
Think on those verses for a few moments.  “All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it.”  The Doctrine and Covenants also tell us just a few verses before that spirit is made up of light and truth.  Therefore our spirits are independent in the sphere in which God has placed them.  What is right and good and required of men, may not be so for women and vice versa.  We have separate, but equally important roles.  Also, what may be relevant and good in a discussion of societal organizations, may not be so within a religious context. 
Ask yourself why the adversary works so hard to damage society’s view of women and their roles in the home.  Could it not be that women have a tremendously important job in the raising of the children and shaping generations?
And why would we as women dare say that our roles and the beautiful gifts we’ve been given are not enough?  By so doing, we are putting ourselves down, in essence acting as our own oppressors.  In the letter which Kate Kelly wrote to her disciplinary council, she cited one of her reasons for dissatisfaction in the church as being that “adult men are treated as the standard mold in the church and everyone else is an ‘other.’”  I disagree wholeheartedly on this point.  To say so is to negate the very real and powerful women I’ve had to look up to in the church my whole life from Lucy Mack and Emma Smith to Eliza R. Snow, Sherri Dew, Bonnie D. Parkin, and so many others.  So many strong pioneer women who helped lead the church members to the amazing group we are today.  I will not allow their efforts to be defamed or pushed aside.  Their contributions are real.  Their lives are real.
The problem I see with Kate Kelly’s stance in this matter is that she’s trying to view spiritual matters through the limited eyes of this world and the constructs of our less than perfect society.  She’s lost sight of the big picture and been blinded by the here and now.  She's let society tell her that she is "less than," and brought that mentality into a world where God tells us our potential is unlimited, that we can indeed be goddesses, queens, and priestesses.  We cannot place the limitless capacity of God’s kingdom into the imperfect mold of society.

If we were looking at God’s kingdom like a corporation, think of this…God is the owner.  The prophet and the other leaders are middle management.  They take their orders directly from Him.  So, why do some feel the need to have a “middle management” level human being give them value in the world’s eyes when the Lord (whom we have the ability to have a personal relationship with) has told us how much He values each and every one of us.  What more could we want?  Why not try to make the most out of the role He’s assigned to you rather than trying to usurp someone else’s role?   Our value lies not in the callings we hold.  It lies in who we are inside.

Inside or Outside


These people rallying for change within the church are also missing another important point.  It’s not about the outside scaffolding, it’s about what’s inside.  When we come upon something we feel is a problem, or something which we don’t understand, the first thing we must do is turn inward.  Listen in the quiet confines of our hearts for the Lord to speak to us on the matter.  We’re invited to approach Him in faith and humility.  “Knock and it shall be opened.”   The Ordain Women movement cries, “Change the church, fit it to my wants and desires.  Reconcile the church to me.”  When the scriptures teach us the opposite, that we are to “reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.” (2 Nephi 10:24)  We must go to Him and ask Him to help us to understand and to change our hearts to be reconciled to Him, not the other way around.

We are asked to be obedient with exactness, nothing wavering, not veering by even a few degrees from the path.  That requires faith and trust in the Lord.  One to trust the commandments He gives us, two to trust that the Atonement will make up for our weaknesses.  We can go to the Lord with our broken bodies, broken spirits, broken hearts, broken lives, and even broken faith and He will make them all whole again.  If we are fitting ourselves for the Celestial Kingdom, we must follow the Lord’s way with exactness, to make ourselves one with Him, like calibrating a machine so that all the parts fit together.  He will help us.  We don’t have to do it alone.

"Stubbornness is Idolatry"

 

Recently in a Sunday School lesson I was teaching, we learned about Saul and how fell away from the Lord one degree at a time.  After he’d given up his last chance to obey, the prophet Samuel tells him that “stubbornness is idolatry.” (1 Sam. 15:23)  I thought and pondered on that for a time.  How could stubbornness be idolatry?  But in talking and reasoning things out with a friend, we realized, It is idolatry because to put our wisdom, desires, will or anything before the Lord is to commit idolatry.  Questioning the Lord’s judgment is idolatry because we presume to know better than the Creator of the universe who sees and knows all things.  Who am I to dictate to the God of the universe?  How could I possibly say that I know better than Him with my limited vision?  How could any of us presume to tell Him how His kingdom should be run with our petty non-negotiable demands about anything?

Beyond that, think of things from the Lord’s perspective for a moment.  He’s given us commandments to live by.  Ask yourself how well we’ve done on that.  We as a human race have always struggled with obedience.  In this regard, we are lower than the dust, as one brother in Sunday School stated this past week.  Even the dust obeys the Lord's commands, but we struggle to do the same.  We stand in all our prideful assurance that we are right and just in our outrage over perceived slights, yet will not humble ourselves to ask for Him to change our hearts and our perspective, or to ask Him to "guide our futures as He has the past."  We cannot even consistently keep the basic ten commandments.  What makes us think we are even remotely ready for a higher law? 

"Believe in God"


I would urge all of us to follow the admonition in Mosiah 4:9: “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”  We cannot possibly comprehend all that God can comprehend.  And we’re told often that His ways are not our ways.   Only He can see the end from the beginning.  We don’t even have to know the whys and wherefores of an issue.  Faith requires that we step out a little into the darkness and wait for His greater light and knowledge, usually not knowing the why or the how of what we’re asked to do.   
Those whose souls are harrowed up by this and other issues, I would like to leave you with the words of one of my favorite hymns, which gained deeper meaning for me today.  Follow the guidance in these verses.  Seek the Lord to still your soul, and know that He is God.


Be Still, My Soul

1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
 With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
 Leave to thy God to order and provide;
 In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
 Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
 Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.


2. Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
 To guide the future as he has the past.
 Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
 All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
 Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
 His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

8 comments:

  1. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Rachel - this is so wonderful. i wish i had power to express myself in this way

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  3. This was excellent! Thank you. I hope this post is read a thousand times. :)

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  4. Excellent as always. Your writing is inspired and inspirational.

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  5. I haven't had the chance to comment until today. I very much appreciate you words. You handled this with a delicate grace.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Bri. It means a lot to me.

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