An article I read a few months ago stated that it is a positive thing for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to offer a dissenting opinion about curriculum and rules. Here’s a quote, “It’s difficult for dissenters, but it’s vital that Mormonism has them. The healthiest organizations are not the ones that shut down dissent or pretend that everyone is always in agreement. They’re the ones that allow multiple points of view to inform their decision making process.” (Why we need Mormon Dissenters) I thought a lot about that article. Here are a few of my thoughts:
I agree that members of the church with differing opinions should not be shut down and that we should not pretend that everyone agrees, but sometimes when people disagree about something, it gets blown out of perspective and they forget about the testimony of truths they’ve already gained. If I have, or if someone I love has questions or if we don’t agree with policies and standards in the church or some of its leaders, I think it is important to remember to look to understand the doctrine and reasons. Look for the good, do not pick apart and criticize. The devil will use contention to harden hearts, and dissent is a close cousin to that. That does not mean that you cannot ask questions, seek to understand, seek to be understood, and help to make positive change, but it does mean that you have to be very careful not to miss out on the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store from following the prophets and living His doctrine. It is also important to remember that the Lord’s ways are higher than our ways or other man’s ways and sometimes He may have reasons we don’t understand or know about. (Isaiah 55:9) We should look for the good in those who have questions and concerns. We should love them and help them find faith, remember the faith they already have, and learn together.
We should not to rest on someone else’s revelation and testimony no matter who it is. God gave us the gift of personal revelation because he expects us to ask questions. He expects us to study, think, and come to come to Him. But we need to live and continue to live the gospel standards and doctrine, to come to know for ourselves of the validity of them. When something comes along that I don’t understand, first I try to live it to understand it, like Jesus states, “if any man will do His will he will know of the doctrine.” (John 7:17) I know the Lord’s promises are sure because I’ve tested the Lord’s word from scripture and from past and current prophets and I have received blessings, knowledge, peace, etc. When we have tested God’s words in the past, no future obedience can really be blind obedience because we know His words are sure.
In the Book of Mormon there were many groups of people who dissented from the Nephites (Zoramites, Amalekites, Amulonites, etc.). They stoned the prophets and cast them out from among them. As a result, they lost the protection that comes from listening to and heeding the prophets' words and they were destroyed. The prophets and apostles are not perfect, but they are doing their best. We have to use faith to support and sustain each other. Just as the early Book of Mormon saints had to live the Law of Moses even though they knew Jesus Christ would come and the law would be dead, we may have to live temporary laws that lead us closer to perfection.
If we take a cafeteria approach to living the gospel and dissent from certain standards, policy, or doctrine, that puts us on a slippery slope. We may be able to hang on to part or most of our testimony, but our children and our children’s children may not. They can see our partial obedience and then they most likely will be partially obedient to the things we live. Pretty soon they may be out of the church all together. In the Book of Mormon there are instances recorded where apostasy happened after 1-2 generations.
I want all the blessings that come from having my feet firmly planted on gospel sod (Hymn “I Believe in Christ”) for me and my children. I also want those blessing for everyone I know, meet, and come in contact with.