Friday, July 8, 2011

A Version of Lucifer's Plan I've Heard Some LDS Members Advocate

Someone I admire greatly said something in a thread a while ago that really bothered me. It is something I've heard stated previously, and I simply couldn't disagree more. He said:

If a church leader in authority over you asks you to do something, even if you question it (and you can certainly question them or someone "higher up"), you should just do it.

My response was:

No way.

That, in a nutshell, is Lucifer's plan. ("They will do exactly what I tell them to do, and they won't be punished in any way because they just are doing what they are told to do.") It also is in direct opposition to what our own apostles and prophets tell us regularly - **especially in the temple wording to wives and in D&C 121 with regard to unrighteous dominion**.

Let me explain that as clearly as I can:

Women in the temple are told quite clearly that they have NO obligation to hearken to their husbands simply because they are their husbands - that their husbands can be wrong, and, in those cases, they are not required to agree with or accept their opinions. Men are told explicitly in D&C 121 that their authority is gone when they try to rule on the basis of "because I said so".

Now, to be just as clear, I generally accept and do what is asked of me by church leaders, even when I disagree - but I can't support an extreme "just do it no matter what it is" stance. Leaders can fall, and leaders can give terrible advice - and, at the heart, I just don't support Lucifer's plan.

One more thing:

We hear all the time, and rightly so, that little transgressions can lead to little sins and to bigger sins - until, eventually, one can be excommunicated for serious sins. I accept that fully. Conversely, I believe the same applies to imposing meaningless restrictions. The acceptance of arbitrary and relatively unimportant restrictions can lead to an acceptance of more specific and damaging restrictions - until, eventually, freedom is lost and we are enslaved. Again, the fulfillment of this idea is Lucifer's plan.

The real irony of this is that those who advocate most vociferously for total obedience regardless in church generally are the same people who argue most vociferously AGAINST such a standard in politics. Take the quote I excerpted and apply it to political leaders . . .


Glenn Thigpen said...

I agree. Blind obedience brings MMM to mind.


Matt W. said...

This reminds me of David Bednar teaching about the importance of disagreeing with leaders.

SilverRain said...

I have attended the temple often and this; "Women in the temple are told quite clearly that they have NO obligation to hearken to their husbands simply because they are their husbands . . ." is something I've never heard said in the temple.

I agree that just doing what we are told is not God's will, but I don't think that it is "Satan's plan in a nutshell." I think there is a lot more to it than that. I also think that God's plan definitely has an element of subverting one's own will.

I also don't think that MMM was necessarily a result of blind obedience. I think it was a result of people interpreting what they heard to mean what they wanted it to mean.

And as ideal as it sounds to be able to disagree with Church leadership, that becomes a lot trickier when one's own membership is threatened. I'd elaborate, but this comment is already too long.

SilverRain said...

"Subverting" is not the right word. "Submitting" is what I intended to use.

Papa D said...

Glenn, I'm not sure MMM was an example of blind obedience for everyone involved, but it certainly seems to have been for some - especially those who wrote subsequently about not feeling good about it but participating only because their leader told them to do so.

Matt, that is an excellent reference.

SR, as I tried to make clear in the post, I have NO problem with the idea of submitting to God - or even of submitting to church leaders, in general. I just don't like at all the idea that we should do whatever we're told to do just because it's a religious leader doing the telling - and that is exactly what I have heard said too often by too many people.

That also is, im my understanding, the heart of Lucifer's plan - to take away our agency. If we have to do whatever we're told to do **by other mortals**, that is a removal of agency in all ways that matter.

As for the temple wording for women, I believe the message I summarized is very clear - but it does require looking carefully at the actual words of the covenant. It isn't stated that way, obviously, but the final phrase in the covenant makes it clear to me that a woman doesn't have to follow her husband in disobedience or unrighteous dominion - especially in all cases.

SilverRain said...

I understand your perspective on Satan's plan better, now. I agree. I do think that Satan's plan to take away our agency involves more than simply doing whatever we are told. I think he actually wanted to remove the need to be told anything. More to the point, I think his plan had to do with making our successful obedience his success (his glory.) In contrast, the Savior counted His Father's children's successes to the Father.

Not really important to this discussion, though.

I agree with your interpretation of what the final clause of the covenant means, but I don't think that it is necessarily clear. I think it can be interpreted less permissive ways, as well. Particularly in context.

Papa D said...

Amen, SR - to everything in your last comment.

Anonymous said...

Amen,Ray.I've been trying to hold this line in my lonely little outpost,but the message didn't get through till too late.

We too had our recommends put on the line in a situation where the church authority concerned wanted to actively usurp our authority as parents ,insisting that we take our teen for interviewing as he required.Bad times.That young person no longer attends church-at the time attending the temple and praying for our sick child was all we could do-it was a bitter blow to have that taken away from us.Unrighteous dominion gives righteous dominion a bad name.

Papa D said...

I'm so sorry to hear about situations like you describe, Anonymous. I know they occur, but they still break my heart to read about them.

God bless you and yours - and, fwiw, as I've shared in other posts, I believe DEEPLY that our 2nd Article of Faith is MUCH more powerful and broad than most, if not all, of us understand.

I hope that recognition helps somehow in our efforts to forgive those who hurt us in ways like you've described - knowing the unimaginable Atonement was undertaken for them AND for us, equally.

Richard Alger said...

Papa D, Is the following excerpt from Dan Peterson in the same line of what you are opposed to?

On another occasion, President Romney recalled taking President Grant home following a speech in then-Bishop Romney's ward:

"Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: 'My boy, you always keep your eye on the president of the church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.' Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, 'But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'"

Papa D said...

Honestly, Rich, I'm a bit torn about that quote. It mixes two things: 1) a Prophet asking an individual to do something; 2) the President of the Church leading "the people" astray.

I truly don't like the stance of doing whatever someone else says to do no matter what it is. I also believe DEEPLY in the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the ability of God to speak to each and every one of us, if necessary. However, I believe there are lots of things that we shouldn't do in almost every circumstance that are OK to do in some circumstances - and I believe strongly in sustaining and supporting our church leaders as they carry out their responsibilities.

It's a real paradox, in a very real way - but the reflexive, unalterable extreme of "do it no matter what it is when a mortal tells you to do it, without struggling in prayer and contemplation to see if you can accept that it is from God" . . . I can't accept that.

Perhaps, in real life, I would end up doing it if a Prophet asked it of me - but I still believe fully that I would be held accountable for my actions (for doing wrong if it was wrong), even in that situation.

That aspect, God not holding us accountable for doing wrong just because someone else asked us to do it is something I simply can't accept. If I believe I receive confirmation directly from God to do it, and if it turns out to be wrong, I believe it is covered by the Atonement and God's merciful grace. If I don't strive to gain my own witness and just follow "because I said so" . . . to me, that is different. As strongly as I believe in honoring and sustaining our prophets and apostles, they aren't God - and that's an important distinction, imo.

The "leading the people astray" quote is a topic for a different post - and I'm sure I'll get to it at some point.

Papa D said...

I just thought of a much shorter, simpler way to say it, Rich:

I believe it is my responsibility to go to the Lord for confirmation of anything I am asked to do that is contrary to my sense of morality and what I believe to be right.

One option is to ask, "Should I do this, even though I don't think it's right?" Another approach is to say, "I don't believe this is right, but I will do it unless I believe you are telling me not to do so."

Either way (if I choose to do it or not do it), I believe I am responsible for my choice - and I believe I must accept my accountability for my choice. That is my main concern with the statement, "Just do it no matter what it is and how you feel about it." It abdicates accountability, and I think that is wrong.

(Btw, I agree with almost everything Dan Peterson says in that article - and I truly do believe in keeping my eye on the Lord, with the Prophet always within my sight.)

Papa D said...

Sorry, one more point I intended to make:

The Prophet is not "any church leader" - and that is a HUGE point, imo, even if only in degree.

Anonymous said...

Two words: Milgram Experiment