Years ago my wife and I were enjoying a private visit with her uncle, Elder Rex C. Reeve, then an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. During this visit I asked him how, precisely, does one become sanctified. He responded, “You must keep all of the commandments of God.” Then he added. “Get the Spirit. The Spirit is everything.”
In my experience, learning to follow the Spirit is much more than merely a simple matter of living worthily and listening. Much, much, much more.
We have to be asking questions.
We have enough Latter-day Saints who simply follow the herd, doing everything very similarly to how everyone else in the church does things. But that is not following the Spirit, that is following the herd.
In each of our lives we have many very big decisions to make. And yet, how many of those big decisions are really sincerely, thoughtfully, and honestly prayed about?
A few examples:
Political loyalties and ideologies. Most LDS people simply vote Republican and follow the popular dogma of our time—a sort of hodge-podge neoconservative tapestry of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. But how many of us really pray about it, study the scriptures to see what God says about it, and study the words of our modern prophets and apostles to see what they have said?
The Book of Mormon is probably the most politically honed book I know of. Likewise, we have been blessed with numerous men of God in our day who have given us inspired direction on the subject. However, most of these men, like Ezra Taft Benson, David O. McKay, and many others, have been flatly rejected and even frequently ridiculed for their testimonies—especially in the Western United States.
Educating our Children. When my wife and I were engaged, we discussed this frequently. We pondered, prayed, and fasted over it. We were directed by the Spirit, very definitely, to home school our children. Why? The Proclamation on the Family gives some very good reasons.
Also, the Book of Mormon and other scriptures tell us, point-blank, “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in His ways and keeping His commandments.” (Mosiah 23:14) There are also many other quotes on the subject.
So many people have told me and my wife, “Oh, I could never do that.” If you think you can, or you think you can’t, your right.
Several have said that they just don’t think that home schooling their children is right for them. Fine. But what I want to know is, how many of these Latter Day Saints have sincerely prayed about it? Most don’t. They just mindlessly throw their offspring to the crocodiles at the public schools—sacrificing them to the false gods of Baal, Elkinah, and Pharaoh. Then, years later, they wring their hands and wail, “Where did I go wrong? What more could I have done to save my little Jimmy?”
I could mention several other bold examples, like electronic media; but I will desist.
I think that there are two reasons why we don’t ask these questions.
First, inspired answers may be too hard to accept.
Second, those who have already long-since made these decisions don’t want to face the pain of having to admit to themselves that they really messed things up. Consequently, our LDS society as a whole tends to ignore them, even though our scriptures, our leaders, and our God, have frequently addressed them.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that unless we are willing to ask God the hard questions, we will never get the hard answers. Sacrifice brings the blessings of heaven, but if we rarely even sacrifice because we never ask God when, where, or how He wants us to, how are we ever to receive those greater blessings?
16 thoughts on “Asking the Hard Questions”
I couldn’t agree more.
Very thought provoking article! Thank you.
Several years ago, Elder Gene R. Cook, who was our area president at the time, came to our stake center on a visit to the stake. In his address that evening, he told us the Church is losing 60% of its youth. They apostasize for one reason or another, drugs, peer pressure, lack of a firm testimony, etc. But I don’t recall his mentioning the reason our two sons, 50% of our living children, left the Church, namely, the utter hypocrisy and unchristlike attitudes of so many of the members in this area, such that the conservative precepts of liberty that are taught in the Book of Mormon are openly ridiculed by them. This problem may not have been so serious if not for the fact that my wife and I taught our children these precepts and lived by them, consequently, we experienced the most outlandish criticism and even persecution by the more popular and more numerous socialist members, whose attitudes mimic those of Mitt Romney and Harry Reid. As was the case with H. Verlan Andersen, the persecution we were subjected to was difficult enough to deal with, but the animosity directed toward our children, which I suppose was meant to hurt us, was far more gut wrenching. Looking back, I wish we had home schooled our children, although the small country school they attended was quite different from a typical public school of today. I really don’t feel that it was a problem. But I well remember one fast sunday when the wife of a councilor in the bishopric stood to bear her testimony, and spent most of her time condemning home schooling, and this coming just after a dear friend of ours had finished bearing her own testimony which included the blessings they had experienced from home schooling. I later saw her crying her eyes out in the foyer that LDS, even prominent ones, could be so blind and so mean and thoughtless. At our oldest sons very first scout meeting, after I had primed him for it by continually reminding him of how great it was going to be to become a deacon and a scout, and all the fun and comraderie he was going to share with his fellow deacons, his deacons quorum president, whose Father was in the bishopric, waited until the meeting was over and no one was watching. He had his two councilors hold our son to the floor while he pummeled him with his fists, busting his nose and lip and tearing his new scout uniform. I cannot think of the words that could adequately describe the hurt and anger I felt when I saw our son in the foyer after the beating, tears mixed with blood running down his face. He was quiet and compassionate by nature. He never recovered from the bewilderment and disillusionment he felt that night, and my very unwise efforts to force him to continue attending his meetings and pursue scouting. He now self-medicates with alcohol. When I called the quorum presidents Father about this incident, he threatened to beat me up for bothering him about it. I only wish he had tried. All is not well in Zion. Some LDS are little more than monsters in human form. LDS socialists are popular, respected, get temple recommends and significant callings. LDS conservatives around here are shunned, ridiculed, persecuted, get only token callings if any at all, and sometimes cannot even get a temple recommend. It is apparent to me that the general state of apostasy that was foretold by Nephi in 2nd Nephi 28:14, and by Mormon in Mormon 8:34-40 and elsewhere has come to pass. Membership in the Church eventually became so painful for my wife and I that we stay home on Sundays now, read the scriptures and other good books, and eagerly await the second advent of our Savior. All is not well in Zion.
Your experience is deeply disturbing.
My advice for you is to leave. Leave Utah. Come out here to Oklahoma! The people here are none too fancy or clever, but on the whole they are true and genuine. Do whatever you need to to become part of a ward family that meets your needs.
The Second Coming won’t do you any good unless you already have known the Savior face to face. You need to focus on that.
Let your adversity fuel the engine which brings you to Christ. That is the key. Don’t let these apostate creeps cause your estrangement from the covenant mechanism of the priesthood, which is church attendance.
I pray that you will find a way to find unity and joy with the true saints of Zion.
Thank you Jared, that was kind of you, and sound advice. I can’t say that I have ever seen the Savior face to face, but I can say that I have felt His presence, and that I have interfaced if you will with the heart and mind of our Heavenly Father by way of sincere prayer. That is one incredible experience. But we only lived in Utah for about 15 months, before our children were born, except for our first son who was 1 year old when we returned to Louisiana. We have been giving some serious thought to moving to Idaho. We have some sweet natured LDS friends there. The problem is that our children and grandchildren live around here. We would be abandoning them. Plus, income opportunities are very slim in the mountains. However, with our country obviously headed toward complete financial collapse soon, it seems to me that the concern about income may be moot. But we just can’t bear the thought of leaving our children and grandchildren. Thanks for the invite. I’ve been to Oklahoma several times, to Douglas and Broken Bow mostly. It’s a beautiful state. What do you think about the warnings from Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Wilford woodruff and other earlier brethren about their claim that the intermountain west would be the only place of safety when the government collapses?
Well now, for some reason I just assumed you were in Utah. I grew up there. I found that the majority of the members there are quite liberal and socialistic.
Idaho is a great place. My wife and I lived in Boise and Caldwell from 2001 to 2009. Great place. But still, there were a lot of very liberal and apathetic members there.
I was also in Wichita, KS for almost two years. Again, same thing. Down here in Oklahoma we have had our best experience so far.
In regard to removing to the intermountain west when the government collapses, I expect that that will indeed be the case. I also expect a mass cleansing in Utah before or just after that happens. I expect that cleansing to take the shape of chemical, biological, or nuclear inhalation hazards. Only those with true power in the priesthood will make it.
I also expect that at some point we will experience a very severe type of bondage. In a way, we are already there. The crooks that have infested our government have established a very tight grip. All we can really do now is wriggle and squirm. They’ve got us by the throat with an iron hand which is impervious to any resistance made by mortal man.
As in the time of Moses, only the power of God can and will deliver us.
And as in the time of Noah, so shall it be in our day, etc…
Thanks again. We hadn’t considered Oklahoma, but I’ll speak with my wife about it. Relative to the bondage we are in to the criminal syndicate in Washington D.C., with the LDS anti-christ Harry Reid leading the way, I decided a long time ago that if I couldn’t defeat them, I at least could stop contributing to them. I could stop feeding the beast. So I did. My priesthood leaders are very upset with me for doing this, but my Father in Heaven has been very supportive. I actually look forward to the day when this whole house of cards comes tumbling down, when socialism once again proves itself to be unsustainable. Again I thank you for your kindness.
Man o man do I feel your pain. Several years ago, my oldest son was in Boy Scouts in the Ward we were attending. One evening as I was walking down the hallway I heard their Scoutmaster shouting at them and I peeked in the gym where they were meeting that night due to the size of the Troop.
The Scoutmaster had a few boys in the floor doing push ups as punishment for not having their uniform complete. At first I didn’t know how to even think about that then I was confused as to why this was such an issue. Then a couple weeks later I was coming out of the Bishop’s office when I noticed my son down in the push up position. I walked up to where he was being made to hold in the down position until he was commanded to go up, just like in Boot Camp. I asked the Scoutmaster what my son’s crime had been. He said that he had missed a line in the Scout Oath and that his uniform was incomplete. He was wearing jeans instead of the scout pants. I told my son to get up and head to the Relief Society where his mom was and tell her I said it was time to go. The Bishop who was a dear friend and a great Bishop recognized the anger rising in my posturing and gently got me by the arm and told me he would handle the situation. As I started out with my wife and son in tow, the Scoutmaster ordered me to stop and come back with the scout and he would have words with me. I gladly obliged and just before blows were struck the Bishop appeared on the scene and explained to the Scoutmaster was was an Air Force Master Sgt. with experience in the field of warfare and was the hand to hand combat instructor that he was making a huge mistake in his actions but if he continued on the present course, we should take it off Church property. I sincerely apologized to the Bishop and those who had gathered around for my anger and started back toward my car. Just as I was getting in the Scoutmaster grabbed the door and asked if he could have a pleasant word with me. I casually got out and prepared for battle. But to my surprise he apologized for his temper, his antagonism and for treating the boys like Air Force Boot recruits. I shook his hand and as I was doing so I noticed that he blanched and started turning pale. So I drove on off and back home still fuming.
I walked in to our home to a ringing phone and when I answered it was our Bishop and he was wanting to know that we had made it home safely. I asked him what he had said to the Scoutmaster to wit he said we would talk come Sunday. Sunday we were met by the Scoutmaster as we walked in and behind him were the Ward’s nosy busy body women with their noses high in the air. The SM apologized again and wanted to know if I could forgive him. I again shook his hand and again he blanched and I told him that I did accept his apology and there was nothing to forgive. I told him he had made a mistake and before I could finish speaking, he interrupted me saying that he had made two mistakes and he was deeply sorry. The high hatted women began to mumble and snort when the Bishop walked up and asked that I go to his office after Sacrament. I complied and got the surprise of my life.
When I got in to the Bishop’s office, and after he had asked that I take a seat, he sat down in the chair beside me and offered a prayer. Then he told me that he had told the Scoutmaster that he had been a gnat’s hair from being removed from the face of the earth and that there was far more to me than anyone in the ward knew and that I would not stop with just a fisticuff. Then when I shook his hand the Scoutmaster felt something of the strength I had and that scared the willies out of him.
Now what does my son’s ordeal have to do with yours you ask?
My Bishop suggested that I change Wards especially since there was one half as close to my home as the one we were assigned to. I asked him what was up with that and he just said that sometimes the Lord places in a position to fulfill 1 task and when that task has been accomplished, it is time to move on. He said that in the Church there are many who do not have a real testimony or even a true belief in the Gospel and that when we encounter them, we have a few choices. One is to move to a different Ward. Another would be to confront the individuals and risk physical altercations and the potential loss of eternal salvation or we could withdraw and become outcasts within the Ward. We moved Wards and found an entirely different mindset of people. They were all country and they were all older but there was a need breed coming in. In that Ward, we found a home where peace for the most part. We have become seasoned in that Ward and now that a younger more liberal mindset of people are coming in, we can more effectively deal with them. In doing so we have made friends with people whom we never would have guessed possible and had those same people come to the old Ward, we would likely never have even attempted to get to know them. But because of two loving Bishops at the time, and because they were truly guided by the Holy Spirit in their counsel to us, we avoided possibly losing our salvation at that time.
Sure there are challenges in our religious progression and no where are those challenges more prevalent than in our own Church. Yet if we but hold to the rod that which we know is true and we follow the counsel of the Prophets, we will move along until we reach the end of our earthly journey and we will be met by the Lord and he will say to us, “Well done my good and faithful servants” and then we can call ourselves home finally.
We lived in Idaho in the town of Rexburg which is a college town but, we grew so much closer to God and our Testimonies grew so much that when we left that area to return home to Georgia, we knew that we were making a huge mistake. It was a great Ward, great Stake, Great little City and the greatest of people whose faith and trust in the Lord was unbelievable at first. But within a couple Sunday meetings we knew that home on earth at last. Good luck with the decisions that you face but remember, work our in your mind what you feel would be the best for you and your family and then pray for that confirmation from the God of all and if he is pleased with your choices he will manifest to you the truth of your wants and desires. You will move to find the place that you can call home on earth and you will begin to forgive those who harmed your son and you will begin to let that memory fade because you are focusing on the will of the lord and you are holding fast that rod of iron.
Rex Reeve was a counselor in the BYU stake I attended while there. I recall him as gentle, spiritual man. Thanks for bringing him to mind.
Most people think that their only options are 1. Public School or 2. Home School. There are other options. In different parts of the country you will find Christian private schools or charter schools where good people actually teach correct principles.
We send our children to a private school of about 160 students where they start with a prayer every day and the standard works of the LDS faith are part of the references in the curriculum. The school started out as a home-school group and kept growing and evolving, adopting the FACE curriculum and a classical education. The school is fantastic. Look around you or get some people together like these people did and start something! Don’t think that you have only two options.
Now I think there could be some solid public schools out there that really try to do things right, but most I think suffer from the poor standards enforced upon them by our government bureaucracies. These are our children and they deserve every sacrifice we can make to provide a good education for them and keep them out of the hands of any abusive system.
Thanks for a fine and thought provoking article. I am sincerely grateful to be able to have the thoughts of the men on this site bot in and out of the articles.
My mind has been going crazy lately. I feel something big is going to happen soon. However, due to my spiritual immaturity (we are all babes) I might just be in a growing stage and my “window is open” so to speak. It is my main effort and focus right now to learn how to take the holy spirit as my guide. I just don’t know if I have enough time…..either way ought to be interesting. God bless us all.
You brethren reflect a lot of what I feel and have experienced. I too have socialist (who don’t really understand what that means) ward and stake leaders, one of whom actually was apologetic about mentioning [radical] Pres Benson. I quickly reminded him that he was denigrating a Prophet of God. I am amazed at how much I antagonize people, when I just inform on my facebook and leave the decisions up to them. They are ill-informed but that does not stop them from trying to dispute what I put up, with no evidence to back up their statements. I have two friends who are totally self sufficient, grow their own vegetables, cook healthily and home-schooled their children, who are all high achievers. I think the time has come for people to seriously consider groups getting together to teach their children or doing it themselves. If not they have to absolutely de-brief some of the toxic information that the kids pick up from state schools. Thanks for your comments.
Kath, thanks for sharing that with us. Helps me feel a little less alone. May the Force be with you.
You said something about praying to get the answer… I look around church and realise that a lot of members don’t want to pray about political views or home schooling because if they get the answer they might have to do it or deny the answer they get. My mom is a convert and said when she was being taught they asked her if she would pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true. She told me that, “I was afraid to pray because I already knew the answer. If I got down on my knees and and words came out then I would HAVE to go by the answer and I would be dis- owned by my family.” This was very hard for my mom, she was only seventeen. I think many of us know the answer, but don’t want to actually pray because we will be held to do what we are told. Some are missing the point, if we know we will be held accountible.
Tom, thanks a million for your taking the time to write such a thought provoking response. It gave me much to think about. I would love to shake hands with you someday. That must be quite an experience. My large cow-milking hands hurt people sometimes too, although I certainly don’t mean to.
I wish we could move to a different ward, but unless we could move completely out of the area, I doubt that a different ward around here would make any difference. My stake presidents have been very unhappy with me for a long time because of my committment to the conservative precepts taught in the BOM and my insistence on teaching those precepts to others. They have forbidden me to preach against socialism, mothers choosing to enter the workforce when there is no economic need to justify it, and so forth. I home taught my last two branch presidents, and could not get either one of them to read the BOM daily, or even weekly, but then both were dependent upon Social Security, and did not at all appreciate my position on such government subsidies, and became quite upset with me when I quoted the words of previous prophets condemning such subsidies.
It seems to me that we are now well within the period spoken of by Nephi in 2nd Nephi 28:14. Presidents Ezra Taft Benson and J. Reuben Clark Jr. in particular were adamant in warning us that these “precepts of men” were not coming from outside the Church, but rather from increasing numbers of our own priesthood leaders at the ward, stake, and even general level. That is a sobering thought, yet it underscores, as you alluded to, our need to approach our salvation and exaltation as an individual thing, based upon our own relationship with our Heavenly Father, and our own determination to remain worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and to respond quickly and correctly to His promptings.
I have in fact forgiven those who caused and continue to cause our family so much grief over the years, but I honestly do not care for their company. Again, thank you for your counsel, and the time you invested to share it. It is most appreciated.