Friday, August 17, 2007

Good Feelings vs. Personal Revelation

I'm kinda new to this whole blog thing, but there seems to be a trend surfacing in the church especially among the LDS SGA community. I've read a number of blogs that talk about the importance of personal revelation over what is taught by the Prophet and the apostles. In the past week I've been told by someone who I normally respect that "You need to step away from the church to find God." The past Prophets were wrong. I had one friend tell me that Pres Kimball admitted he was wrong about blacks and the priesthood. I went and read the 1978 section and it says nothing about being wrong, it says it wasn't until than the time. I've had another friend tell me that he has had a spiritual confirmation that that he is sure that trying to change would be an abomination before the Lord because this is how God created him.

I was talking to a friend who has left the church about this and he said he thinks this is just a case of cognitive dissonance to the max. I'm thinking of changing my blog title to that. Thank you Josh.

In all these cases I felt the pain and frustration that was leading to these statement. But after wiping my tears and thinking about how many times I wanted to believe everything they said the Spirit told me it simply wasn't true. I can't look or listen to the Prophet and not know with absolute assurance that he is THE Prophet. I can't hear him talk and not feel that in my heart.

It boil down to one very important concept. I think it is very important to distinguish the difference between feelings that make you feel good and relieve conflict and personal revelation from God.

I think that those of us who struggle with this often and sometimes give up hope. We feel that it is a losing battle. But we also know we are good and that God loves us. I think sometimes in desperation we choose a path that while it goes against what we may have been taught to believe, gives us some peace because it removes the inner conflict of having to repress what we want. To some degree this frees us from having to lie about what we want to others and ourselves and so we feel happy. At peace.

First off I'm not saying that I don't believe that a person can't receive Personal Revelations from God about how to deal with an issue. But I also think that these insights will help guide them to follow the established gospel plan not go off on their own. I think we need to be wary of those who begin to separate the church from God and the gospel from the plan of salvation. I think wanting to make some sense out of this struggle can often lead to some false notions that can than lead to some bad mistakes.

Some of us fall away other try to rewrite the gospel. But what it comes down to is faith. And the faith to act. It's pretty simple. We are literal offspring of God, heir to a kingdom. We are a princes, our father is a king and we are brothers. We do have everything we need to become like Him if we humble ourselves and put His desires first and follow His path. It is not up to us to choose another path, that is His job. He is God. He decides after we choose a path how we will spend eternity. Those of us who have been to the temple have been endowed with a power that through our faith will make us worthy to inherit these things. That's what the atonement is for. That is what we have been promised.

It comes down to what we know our purpose on earth is. Is it to live a life free of conflict? Pres Kimbell once said that if the Lord answered every prayer and took away every conflict it would shatter the whole purpose of our being sent here to learn and gain expirence. That would be Satan's plan, to give us the truth and force us to live it. God offers it to us and gives us agency to choose it or another path. He didn't give us the option to repave it for ourselves. Either its the truth or its not.

Yes we choose to act on our feeling. Our even not to act on them but to give up trying. Accept that we are gay. Decide it isn't a trial, its who we are. We can choose to live however makes us feel we are being true to ourself and think that if it makes us happy then it must be what God wants for us. I don't really see he wisdom of using "If it makes me happy" as a measurement of if it pleases God. I can see this becoming selfishness and used to justify anything.

This isn't just a little issue though. If we believe this then it does put our whole testimony at stake. If our bishop is wrong, if our stake president is wrong and if the GA and the Prophet is wrong then they have fallen into apostasy and are misleading the church on this issue. If this is true then the church isn't true and while it does teach us how to be good people, we could get that from any other church or even from just being a member of a service club. If this is true then gender isn't eternal, family's aren't essential to the plan of God, the temple is just a pointless and rituralistc exercise meant to indoctrinate the importance of strict obideance to a church and plan made by man. If this is the case then there has to be some eternal purpose for homosexuality, you had to have been gay in the preexistences and will be in the next. This cuts at the basic purpose of the church and as we believe the plan of salvation and if it is true what we have been taught is wrong for everyone because God is no respecter of persons either that or what is right for one person is wrong for another and we should all step away from the church to find God and to follow him in our own path and leave behind the church and its uniform plan.

I do think we need to be honest with ourselves.

The other thing that is beginning to bother me is blogging in general.

The problem I have with people who claim and hold to personal revelations that do fly in the face of those that are given by the Prophet is that I really do think that if the Prophet is the Prophet, than the Lord would reveal those things said to another individual to the Prophet because of his special calling. I don't think he would tell the Prophet one thing and that person something else and then let the two of them be in disharmony. I do think the Prophet would tell the stake presidents and bishops that the Lord has revealed to him that there are some exceptions and to tread lightly.

I also have issues with people who blog this stuff. If it is personal revelation and you are indeed an exception, then you need to keep it sacred to yourself so as not to "give false hope" to others who too also want to be an exception to the rule and stumble across your blog and find justification in their actions if the Lord has no intentions excluding them from the commandments he gives the rest of the church. I personally am beginning to think these blogs are a dangerous thing because I think a lot of false doctrine is being mingled with scripture and being passed off as the gospel. It's like my patriarchal blessing, its meant just for me. It wasn't meant to be given as revelation to anyone else or shared.

I wrote before about wolves in sheep's clothing but I also think we need to also be careful of those who have struggled and who out of desperation may have accepted things that aren't on course but who may be trying their best to make the best of a situation. We need to love them and stand by them but if we honestly feel they are wrong we need to be careful not to judge them but also not to say anything that may advocate we agree with them. We need to love and understand them and do our best to help them stay as close to the path as possible. We can do that without straying off of it ourselves.


-L- said...

Loved this post.

I've often noticed that there's a lot of sophistry in the blogs I read, but it's impolite to point it out. :-) I guess I should be a little more aggressive at times, but I'm too gutless, I guess.

I believe that the most dangerous opinions are those that are the most plausible sounding but convince people to leave the most fundamental truths of the gospel. Personal revelation will not conflict with the guidance God gives through his chosen leaders.

RealNeal said...

This was indeed a very impressive post. And you hit on some really key points.

I think this scripture from Moroni 7 has a lot of relevance:

" 16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do EVIL, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, AND SERVE NOT GOD, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him."

I added a couple of points of emphasis. What I get from this is that there is really no excuse when we choose evil. We have the power of Christ that is given to every one of us to judge with "a perfect knowledge" whether something is taking us closer to the Lord or away from Him.

I also think its significant what you said about the liberal bloggers. It is indeed one thing to harbor doubts or be struggling with an issue privately, or even to have some false beliefs for a time. It's quite another to publish them for the entire world to consume and be potentially led astray; and even more serious when you actively bounce around to other blogs trying to convince people to agree with you. That is true apostacy.