Am I an Apostate?

Am I an Apostate?
I’m a feminist, a liberal and an aspiring intellectual. I occasionally watch R-rated movies. I support same-sex marriage (which Pres. Monson said is ok) [EDIT: To clarify, I am not claiming that Pres. Monson supports or condones same-sex marriage, rather that he believes faithful members of the Church can be on both sides of the issue politically]. And I stood in line with Ordain Women at the Tabernacle on April 5, 2014, in solidarity with my brothers and sisters pleading for the question of women’s ordination to be brought before God.
The same Spirit that testified to me of God’s unconditional, overwhelming, uncompromising Love and the power of the Book of Mormon, led me there. That same Spirit that brought me to BYU. That helped me find some lost clothes when I was only 8 or 9 years old. That inspired me to go on a mission when I did. That brought countless words and scriptures to my remembrance as I worked with and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Lithuania. That witnessed to me time and again that God loves me and all His children. That guided my words as I gave priesthood blessings. That only a few days ago witnessed to me that Pres. Packer (who’s words have caused me and close friends pain) is a devoted disciple of Christ, that despite our differences of opinion, he acts out of a deep, abiding love for our Savior- the same love that motivates me, that we may disagree, but we want the same thing- a better world, a more loving, righteous, Christ-like community.
That Spirit led me (since my youth, but largely over the past 6-12 months) to support Ordain Women and stand with my fellow saints, who want to more fully participate in the Kingdom of God. If that was wrong, then I don’t know what I can believe anymore. If I can’t trust the Spirit that brought me to where I am today, then everything I believe falls apart.
I’ve been troubled by gender inequality in the Church for as long as I can remember, asking my mom when I was super young if she could ever be the prophet. When she said no, I asked why and I haven’t found an answer that satisfied my soul yet.
Maybe that’s why I feel anxious when others start bashing those that support female ordination as being power-hungry and faithless. As apostates and heretics that don’t go to Church or love their Savior. That don’t understand the doctrine and are working to destroy the Church from within.
I can’t believe that’s the case. Asking for the prophet to pray about something, seems to suggest a clear understanding of the doctrine- that a change like this can only come from the Prophet himself, even if it is the result of culturally influenced practice (like blacks and the priesthood).
I firmly believe that women will have the priesthood one day. I think the temple makes that clear. When will that day come? I don’t know. But if women will have the priesthood in the eternities, why not now? Isn’t this life all about making the Church and the world more and more like Zion, and the life hereafter?
I also think there is something to be said for revelation only coming when the Church can accept it. Look at the members of the Quorum of the 12- they likely don’t agree on everything (historically they definitely have not), so having them all agree on something is sort of a litmus test for if the members are prepared to accept the doctrine.
This may seem a bit offensive– that God would wait to reveal certain truths, even if that means perpetuating unjust and hurtful practices, but to me is empirically proven. Blacks and the priesthood are one example. After all, Joseph Smith said, “Brethren, if I were to tell you all I know of the kingdom of God, I do know that you would rise up and kill me” (Parley P. Pratt in MS 55 (September 4, 1893): 585).
Some may be concerned with acting in a way that is not directly the same as what Church leaders have taught, even obeying the voice of future prophets to neglect the words of current prophets. I have wondered about this, and have a couple brief comments. First, the members need to prepare themselves for future revelation, which won’t happen unless people talk about different ideas that could be revealed.
Also, Doctrine and Covenants 58:26– “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.”
And Article of Faith 9, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

The path I walk is not an easy one, but discipleship was never meant to be easy, was it? I’m torn between the ideals that I feel in my soul and the reality that I see all around me. Yet, within the Church I will stay, working to bring reality closer to the ideals that burn within me. 
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10 thoughts on “Am I an Apostate?

  1. Part 2:
    I take serious issue with your assertion that I, and Ordain Women, would not accept a direct revelation from the Prophet. If Pres. Monson stood up and announced that after prayerful consideration, he had received a revelation that women were not to have the priesthood, I would accept that. It would require lots of prayer, study and effort on my part, but I would accept the Prophet's word as doctrine. I cannot speak for Ordain Women, but from my interactions with others, I can say that my sense is they would also accept the Prophet's word.
    I can understand that the framing of OW's platform as one of inequality could be troubling. However, the pain and sorrow that many have felt due to what they see as inequality is real. While you assert that the ability to be president of the Church has nothing to do with the power of God (meaning Priesthood), I'm assuming you meant this as a hyperbole, since currently, the Priesthood is inextricably connected with the ability to be an Apostle or the Prophet. No, the Priesthood is not just leadership to me, but the connection between holding a Priesthood office and having an ability to be in the uppermost levels of Church authority is undeniable. I think a benefit of OW's actions could be a clarification of the doctrine of the priesthood. There have been a variety of statements concerning what women have in regards to the priesthood, ranging from the blessing, to the power to, most recently, the authority. Perhaps there is a more clear understanding that reconciles these seemingly contradictory ideas, but I don't know quite what that is.
    Ultimately, the Priesthood, to me, is the power of God. It is my ability to act as a proxy for God, touching the lives of others in the way that He would do if He walked among us. Some of my most inspiring spiritual experiences are connected with using the Priesthood, experiences that serve as reminders of the love that God has for all of His children.
    I'm glad that that analogy works for you. However, for me, it is ultimately unsatisfying. I can't help but think of the oft-made assertion that men have some spiritual learning disability that is made-up by giving them the Priesthood, whereas women are inherently more spiritual and therefore, don't need the Priesthood to enhance their spirituality. I cannot accept that. I know that's not what you were saying, but the underlying premise leads to a similar train of thought that doesn't fit with my understanding of people or of God.
    Thanks again for commenting. You're great, JJ. Sometimes I wish I had the pure, childlike faith that you do. It is impressive. Yet, I have never been meant to walk that path. I have too many questions, called to look through a glass darkly, clutching my Liahona.

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  2. JJ- I could never hate you. We've been through too much together to lose our friendship over a few words. For the sake of understanding the framework that I'm using and to clarify what I believe and what I would do, here's some more thoughts.
    First, I agree that Pres. Monson is Prophet for the whole world and not only for certain minority groups. However, a discussion about the process of receiving a revelation concerning women and the priesthood would be of benefit to the entire world. While others have commented on the issue, again, those comments have not addressed the status of receiving revelation concerning women and the priesthood. Now, we'll probably have to agree to disagree about how specific and what sort of commentary would be necessary and from whom to constitute a prophetic response to the pleadings of Ordain Women.
    Again, I agree that my faith is not placed in the men leading the Church, but in our Savior, Jesus Christ. I also believe that in the end God will make things happen the way they need to, but I think that the membership of the Church has a part to play in making God's work a success. We differ a bit in our conception of what needs to happen within the Kingdom for revelation to come. While I do not believe that doctrine is chosen by democracy and changed at the whim of the people, I believe that revelation comes (as I stated before) only when the general body of the Church can accept it. This is likely a time-consuming process. And in my own experience receiving revelation, debate and discussion helps bring to light new ideas and perspectives that allow me to consider issues in ways that I haven't before. I think the members of the Kingdom may have a larger role to play in prepping the Church for revelation than often conceived. It's probably a time-consuming process, after all Prophets were praying about Blacks receiving the priesthood for roughly 30 years before the revelation came. I think a large reason for that delay was that a sufficient portion of the membership wasn't ready, until 1978, regardless of how right and true the revelation would have been, no matter when it had come. Similarly, older members of the Church have been challenged by the Race and the Priesthood statement, trying to reconcile that they taught many of the non-doctrinal theories as doctrine. Again, we'll probably have to agree to disagree on that role, or the extent to which that role is practiced.

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  3. Conor! I’m so happy you didn’t hate me after my first comment. I love you so much. But I have more to say to what you said just to clarify what I believe, so you don’t have the wrong idea.
    Of course I also believe in continual revelation. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I believe in daily, even hourly revelation. I don’t think that even for a second the Lord isn’t thinking of which directions His Church needs to go to move forward and progress in its mission. Because of this, I’m certain that President Monson has gone before the Lord on this matter. You say that President Monson hasn’t said anything on the matter, but he has. Sure, he hasn’t said anything directly in General Conference, but others of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have, and he hasn’t stopped them, or corrected them. President Monson is the Prophet for the whole world, not just a portion of the Church who wants women to be ordained, and when he speaks, he speaks to the whole world, not just to the portion of women who want to be ordained.
    You’re, of course, absolutely right in saying that Prophets are also people subject to making mistakes. However my faith in them is not in their impossible ability to be perfect, but in their ability to prophesy, see and reveal the ideals and plans of the Lord who is perfect. And in the end, my faith is still not even in these fourteen men, it’s in the Lord whom I trust won’t leave us alone to the wisdom of these simple men.
    In your response you admitted to the necessity to submit when a decision has been made. Is there anything that has come out from the Brethren that make you think that they’re still thinking about it? I’m convinced that you and the Ordain Women campaign would never be pleased until the answer you want is given.
    Again, like you I believe in continual revelation. And if the day comes that the Prophet reveals that women are to be ordained to the Priesthood, I will accept it instantly. However, until then, the Church is not a democracy in which the people can mold and shape it to their own ideals by discussing, debating, campaigning and voting. The Church is a kingdom, in fact it’s the Kingdom of God, and the King is the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s appointed ministers through whom He makes his current will known. This is why my faith isn’t in President Monson, but in Christ. Even through the imperfections of men, I know the Lord will still make things happen the way He needs them.
    Then finally, my problem with Ordain Women is that the platforms are based in terms of inequality, or unfairness. In your blog you mention being disturbed upon finding that your mom could never be prophet. Is that what the Priesthood of God is to you – leadership? If so, then you have misunderstanding of the role of the Priesthood, because the ability to be the president of the church has nothing to do with this power of God.
    Claiming that women have an unfair disadvantage because they aren’t ordained to the Priesthood is like the angry parent coming into my classroom yelling at me, asking why it is that my student Frank gets longer time to take an exam than her son Alex. No matter how you look at it, she says, it’s not right that Frank gets a longer amount of time to take his test than her son Alex. I explain that Frank has a learning disability, and to ensure optimum success for him, I’ve given him a greater amount of time to finish his tests. But that doesn’t matter, the mom says, it’s not fair that my son, nor the rest of the class for that matter, not get as much time as Frank to finish his test. But I say to the mother that this has nothing to do with fairness! This has everything to do with what Frank needs and is able to do versus what Alex needs and is able to do. I am not favoring Frank over Alex. As their teacher, they are both just as equal in my eyes with just as much potential and with every bit as much of responsibility to make my classroom work and move forward.

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  4. JJ- first, I appreciate your honesty here. I respectfully disagree with some of what you have to say and here's why.
    First, a belief in continuing revelation is key to our faith and is a piece of our Articles of Faith. I am not demanding that changes be made, simply stating what I have felt to be true. I do sustain the Prophet and that's why I joined with others to ask him to bring the question before the Lord.
    Second, my idea of the role of the Prophets is likely a bit more complicated than yours. I understand that the Prophets are also people, subject to the same cultural biases and prejudices that everyone else is, which can potentially inhibit the reception of revelation (I think this is made clear in the Gospel Topics page “Race and the Priesthood”). Given that understanding, I feel that it is our responsibility to pray and receive spiritual confirmation of what is said by prophets and apostles.
    Third, I don't reject what is being said now. Pres. Monson has said nothing directly to Ordain Women or about women and the priesthood. He has given no response to the status of receiving revelation or that the question is closed. For me, I can't take every word spoken by everyone that has held the mantle of Prophet as doctrine. The history of the Church and its doctrine complicates my view of what counts as doctrine, when Church leaders speak. That reality may be uncomfortable for some, but I think it is, again, proven by the history and is the only way I can maintain faith in the idea of Prophets and Pres. Monson as prophet today.
    Fourth, I guess I have a different idea of sustaining than you do. I think of Levi Savage and the Martin Handcart Company- he told them that leaving that late in the season was a terrible idea (which it was). However, he eventually did as he was asked. Some part of sustaining, for me, involves speaking what I feel dearly to be true. I think to sustain leaders, we need to offer support and ideas when we have them. Yes, we need to ultimately submit when decisions are made, but up until that moment, we have an obligation to share our concerns and worries with our leaders, so we can work together to build a more Zion-like community.
    Lastly, I know it seems unlikely to you (and others probably) that the Spirit of God would lead me to where it has, but I cannot deny what I have felt. I think that there is room for, in fact there may even be a necessity for, disagreement on some issues. The only way we can progress is by working through issues as a community, conversations need to be had.
    I don't think revelation will come until the Church as a whole is ready for it. Indeed, members have a role to play in that preparation. No, they don't receive the revelation for the Church, but they can help the community be ready to receive that revelation.
    I do believe in the Prophet and strive to follow him. I'm not perfect, but like I said, I can't deny what I have felt and if I did, I would lose everything, which I'm not prepared to do. I love the Church and will never leave because it's where I've felt God's love. JJ- love you man. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. My problem with all of this, dear ConorB, is your insistence that you are being led by the same Spirit that helped you choose to serve a mission, love the Book of Mormon, etc. With this kind of language, you are making yourself out to be spiritually superior to the General Authorities; because the spirit that's leading you cannot be the Spirit that's leading the Apostles and Prophets. You're denoting them to be (for lack of a better term) “ordinary” members, rather than Special Witnesses called by God to be His voice; Prophets, Seers and Revelators. You either trust the Prophet or you don't. And if you don't, then yes, to answer your title, you are an apostate. For an apostate rejects the prophets. Not necessarily in whole, but in part, and in great part.
    You insist on quoting what has been said in the past, yet you reject what is being said now. You are like those who “when [they] talk [they] say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out. Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out” (Helaman 13:25-26). Well, a prophet is among us now, revealing the word of God, and you don’t believe him.
    You are rejecting some of the greatest principles of the gospel. These things make you an apostate. Your own intellect is guiding you, and you've made it your own “badge of courage” to be the one to stand against what is being taught by God through His servants. For you, I believe that “the time has come when [you] will not endure sound doctrine; but after [your] own lusts shall [you] heap to [yourself] teachers, having itching ears. And [you] shall turn away [your] ears from the truth” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
    By the sounds of your words you have chosen mammon, for it's the world who wants these things of which you speak. Through your own words you are claiming authority that isn't yours; you are saying that your foresight and knowledge outweighs what the Prophets, Seers and Revelators are prophesying, seeing and revealing (and if you raised your hand to sustain them this past conference, then you were lying). You are literally publishing your opposition to God's prophets.
    In the end, it’s difficult to take what you say seriously because, as I say, the question is not about whether or not same-sex marriage will be recognized or if the sisters of the Church should be ordained to the Priesthood – the question is about whether or not you will follow the prophet, and not just any prophet, but the real, living Prophet on earth right now, this minute.

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  6. Correct, as Lydia said, all I'm taking from the quote is that Pres. Monson allows for members to be faithful and politically support same-sex marriage. It would indeed be twisting his words to suggest that Pres. Monson condones same-sex marriage, but that wasn't what I intended.

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  7. Quote from the above article: “Regarding another question about whether church members could disagree with the faith's opposition to legalizing same-sex unions and still remain in good standing, he said the answer “depends on what the disagreement is.”

    “If it's an apostasy situation, that would not be appropriate. If it's something political, there is room for opinion here and there on either side.”

    I believe President Monson was saying “we are not going to kick people out of the church because they have political opinions. It is only if they start preaching those opinions which are contradictory to the teachings of Christ that would be inappropriate.” I don't believe that President Monson was condoning same-sex marriage in this article and to say so would be twisting his words.

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