Jesus PLEADS His Case for Common Consent

imageFive short months ago, I decided to start living, in earnest, the Law of Common Consent.  Since then, I have discussed this commandment with many members.  I have been shocked at how few are familiar with it.  Many have never even heard of it. It’s never taught or discussed in church. Yet, it’s one of the most plainly stated laws of the restored gospel.

So, I’m going to write a few posts on common consent.  In this one, I’ll simply quote Jesus Christ.  This is His church.  Certainly, the words that come directly from Him should take precedence over those flowing from the mouths of men.

Mormonism is my religion. We consider Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. We also view Him as the God of the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and of the Doctrine and Covenants. Here’s what Jesus has to say about the governance of His religious organization.

Old Testament

“Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee.” Jesus Christ, speaking to the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 8:7)

Commentary:  It’s hard to get more clear than this.  Hearken means to listen carefully, to listen with respectful attention.  And in this case, to follow the will of the people, even though it may not be what Jesus would have chosen.  As It turns out, God had already selected Israel’s first king.

Book of Mormon

“Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law–to do your business by the voice of the people. –Jesus Christ , through His prophet Mosiah (Mosiah 29:26)

Commentary:  God knows that wisdom resides in the majority.  He plainly stated exactly that, here.  Error and the danger of unrighteous dominion lie in the minority.

Doctrine & Covenants

“And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference.” –Jesus Christ, speaking to Joseph Smith (D&C 124:144)

Commentary:  The Lord had just revealed who he wanted called to various positions in the church.  Even though these names had come directly from Jesus, He still wanted them presented for approval or disapproval.  God values & trusts the opinion of the general membership of the church.

“And all things SHALL be done by common consent in the church.” –Jesus Christ. (D&C 26:2)

Commentary:  Revelation given to Joseph Smith in July 1830.  Only 3 months after the official organization of the church, the Law of Common Consent was affirmed.  This principle of governance was established well before the apostolic leadership was added.  They are both vital components in the administration of the restored church.

“For all things MUST be done in order, and by common consent in the church.” –Jesus Christ (D&C 28:13)

Commentary:  Here, Jesus reaffirms this essential principle of how His church is to be governed.  This time, He leaves NO wiggle room.  His words have changed from the polite “SHALL be done” to the imperative “MUST be done.”  In His words, this is to be the “order” of the His church.

“It is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” –Jesus Christ, through Joseph Smith (D&C 121:39)

Commentary:  Of course, God knows the nature of men.  The great danger to those entrusted with authority is the temptation of “unrighteous dominion.”  Even mere  mortals recognize this principle.  We proclaim it in these terms, “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Jesus has organized His church to provide accountability to His leadership.  Thus, helping to avoid unrighteous dominion and the corruption of power.  That accountability is to the general membership in the form of common consent.

Going Forward

Oh, what a glorious thing!  Our Savior, Lord and King has established His church in these latter-days.  He is pleading with His flock to follow him.  Pleading that his flock stand up, as adult fellowcitizens, and actively participate in the governance of His sacred organization. The very first revealed principle for administering the kingdom is the Law of Common Consent.

It’s time for the membership to respond to the pleas of Jesus.  It’s time that we plead Jesus’ case of common consent before the leaders of the church.

I have pled with my upraised hand in sincere and loving opposition.  Opposition to the continued disregard for the Law of God—the commandment of Common Consent.

Burned at the Stake…Who’s Next?

imageBurned

On Feb 17, 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake.  This scientist and philosopher was accused of heresy by the Catholic Inquisition in Rome.  He refused to recant his belief that the earth was not the center of the universe.  His teaching that our planet rotates around the sun was in direct contradiction to the Vatican.

The Survey Says…

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a survey entitled, “Is Sam Young Racist?” Every question represented beliefs that I actually espoused for 62 years of my life. The survey results:   69% believe I’m racist.   31% say I’m not.

BTW, I no longer believe anything on that list.

Questioning Strangers

Over the past 2 weeks, I have privately posed my survey questions to several people who are not familiar with Mormon beliefs. I asked them to answer as if these were MY beliefs.  Without exception, every single person had a similar reaction to the following question:

Am I racist if, I BELIEVE that a person with brown skin will turn white when they become “righteous?”

They either laughed at the absurdity or scrunched their face in disgust. Then they said something like this, “I’ll pray for your soul.”

Who’s Next?

For most of my life, I believed the “Indians” would turn white if they joined the Mormon Church and lived righteously.  I can remember a prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, making the observation that a child in the Indian Placement program had become “several shades lighter than her parents.”  And, that “these young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and delightsomeness.”

Well…..I don’t believe that anymore.  At best, it’s metaphor.  The skin color of native Americans is gorgeous.  Just the way God created it to be.

To say this in public, might be heresy in my church.  A church that I love.  If I suffer the same fate as Bruno, my white skin is be about to turn several shades darker.

Nude Sailing

imageChildhood Sailing

As a boy, my dad taught me to sail.  I loved it.  We sailed often.  When I married and started raising a family, our first recreational purchase was a 16′ catamaran.  My children will recall many, many exciting memories of sailing through the surf in the Gulf of Mexico.  With crashing waves and strong wind, catamaran sailing is more thrilling & exhilarating than the most extreme roller coaster.  I still have a 19′ Nacra sitting in the garage.

At the not so advanced age of 63, my days at sea are no longer frequent.  But…..with whispers of nude sailing, my windy, watery sport may be winging its way to new life.

Hearing Restored With Nudity

A few days ago, I was outfitted with hearing aids for the first time.  My doctor is an attractive woman, somewhere in her thirties. She applied the miniature devices to my ears.  A round disc shaped object was hung from my neck.  I was seated in front of another and larger disc.  Wires were strung from both these devices, connecting them to a computer.  Testing, programming and fine tuning began.  The doctor: “Sally sells sea shells on the sea shore. How did that sound?” And so it went.

Between adjustments and repeated tests, we small talked.  Until….she said something about sailing.  Rarely, do you run into a fellow sailor.  Once she knew of our mutual hobby, the fitting stopped and she began regaling me of her maritime adventures. They had begun at age 9 on the Chesapeake Bay.  She recounted her sailing history; the lessons, the boats, the storms, the fun, the excitement.  Right up to this past weekend.

Then this: “Last week I was in a NUDE sailing competition with my daughter.” I had been listening with great interest.  Now my attention was riveted.  NUDE SAILING?  What the heck!  She said it so casually that it wasn’t appropriate to drop my jaw.  But, mentally, my jaw dropped completely open.  NUDE SAILING?  A BARE NAKED COMPETITION?

Suddenly, visions were dancing in my head. Not of sugar plums, something else instead.  Naked on a small sailboat?  With others all about?  How do you do that?  What does it look like?  Pulling the rudder, trimming the sails, holding the sheets.  Bending and twisting in the waves and the wind.  Sunscreen?  Tan lines?  Coed?  What??  NUDE SAILING???  And, a competition, to boot?

But, wait, maybe the new devices weren’t working well.  Maybe I just misheard.  Could it have been crude, or prude, or lewd?  Wait a minute.  Now, I’m just thinking of things that might be connected with NUDE.

Not missing a beat, she kept talking.  Then, my thoughts went back 30 years.  My dad, my 3 brothers and I rented a large sailboat in the Caribbean.  For 7 days we sailed from one island to the next.  The little French isle of St. Bart’s held an eye-popping surprise.  We anchored in a small uninhabited cove.  Beautiful water, beach, vegetation.  Another boat pulled into the same protected harbor.  Maybe 50 yards away.

Before long, everybody on our boat had detected something intriguing about their boat. We were clad in swimsuits. They were clad in none. Necked they were.  I didn’t want to stare, with my dad and brothers there.  But….I wanted to stare….just like my dad and brothers, who were there.  So, we all stole furtive glances until sunset.

Finally, my curiosity couldn’t be contained. Timidly, I queried, “The hearing aids might need more adjustment.  I’m sure this can’t be right, but did you say NUDE sailing?”

Her response was a mischievous giggle.  Uh…oh….what now?  I’m just getting hearing aids, right?  I hope?

Chuckling, she replied, “I did say nude sailing. But, that’s N…O…O…D.  It stands for National Offshore One-Design.” We got a good laugh out of the misunderstanding. Now, we both knew that my hearing was crystal clear.

New, but Not NUDE, Couple in the Hood

A few years ago, my wife and I sponsored a get-together for National Night Out.  We distributed flyers, set out chairs & tables, ice cream & treats. Two men walked up our driveway and politely introduced themselves.  They had recently moved into the neighborhood and hadn’t met many neighbors, yet.  They were a delightful COUPLE. That’s right. They were a gay couple. The first one that I’d ever met. And….they had 2 adopted children. Within a few short months they had moved away.

This encounter got me thinking about the Mormon church’s stance on gay people. Would accommodations ever be made to allow room for them in our religion?  My wife and I discussed it.  I don’t know why I spent time considering the issue.  I just did.  Finally, I came to the conclusion that somehow changes would have to be made.  Somehow gay couples would have to be included.  Because….there are children involved!  Jesus made a point to point out that he loves all children. Without the parents, these children would likely remain unreachable.  Children are treasured much more by the Savior than any policy.

Little did I know that the church would soon move in the polar opposite direction.

The New, and NUDE, November Policy

November 2015 held a shocking surprise. A church wide policy was announced.  Gay couples, who have the audacity to engage in legal and lawful marriage, would be declared apostate.  Children of gay parents were to be stripped of their right to baby blessings, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and temple attendance.

A friend of mine is married to the love of her life.  Two women with five children between them.  Their darling family of 7 were active believing members.  In faith, this couple had managed to cope with the church’s stance on being gay.  How much faith does THAT require?  I can only imagine the difficulty.  Never-the-less, their righteous desire was to see their children raised in the church.

November changed all that.  The edict from Salt Lake City crushed their faith. This precious family of 7 no longer attends.  A few days ago, the bishop contacted my friend to schedule their disciplinary council.  Insult added to injury.

This new policy has been dressed up as a pronouncement of love & protection for the little ones with gay parents.  But, when all the rhetoric is stripped away, it’s a just a NAKED program of rejection, exclusion and stigma.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus gently counseled that the pathway to heaven was traveled by reaching out to the “least of these.”  Two thousand years later, we have resorted to casting them out.

The Only True Hope for the Only True Church

imageRating the performance of Our Apostles

Good in many areas.
Frightening in others.

Good
Membership at 15 million

Frightening
Two thirds have left the church
More are leaving EVERY DAY

Good
We have a vast missionary force
Annual baptisms in the hundreds of thousands.

Frightening
Baptisms per missionary has plummeted
Church growth rate has plummeted

Good
I’m still in the church and active

Frightening
My mother and all 5 siblings are out or very limited in activity
Many cherished friends have left

Disobedience

Here’s my take on why the church is in trouble. We are taught that obedience is the first law of heaven. When we openly disregard a plain and precious truth, given by Jesus in a very clear manner, what would we expect?  Choose the wrong and the consequences will follow.  And, they won’t be good ones.

Common Consent(CC)

One of the most beautiful parts of the restoration is the structure for the governance of the church.  Unlike many other rules and standards, the Law of Common Consent is plainly taught in our scriptures.  It is mentioned with clarity and frequency in the D&C. The purpose of this post is not to expound on CC.  That will come soon.

This vital and important law establishes a counter-balance to the power, and the temptations of power, that surround the apostles.  Today, the high leaders, as well as the general membership have relegated this Law & Commandment into irrelevancy.

The Blunt Edge

Sometimes bluntness is offensive or downright rude. But, I love my church and it’s founder, Jesus Christ, enough to be blunt. We as the membership as well as the apostles are thumbing our noses at an indispensable commandment.  We are thumbing our noses at obedience. As a result, nobody really knows if we are following God’s will or not.  We don’t know what policies or doctrines are of Christ.

Divine Plan of Church Governance

The Savior has specified how doctrine, policy, scripture, callings, and every other matter that affects the members, are to be established. Encapsulated in four simple steps, Christ’s plan bears witness of His great trust and love for EVERY member of His church.

1. The prophet is to listen to the people in all things.
2. The prophet and apostles present proposals to the people.
3. Whatever is accepted by the people is accepted by God.
4. Whatever is rejected by the people is rejected by God.

This is only happening with regards to callings.  I recognize and sustain President Monson because he was confirmed by common consent.  I accept the inclusion of the blacks in the priesthood, as it was confirmed by common consent. The exclusion of blacks was never confirmed by common consent. It was never the will of God.

Without common consent, we are left with a dictatorship.  That is not in any way, shape, or form God’s plan. We are left to the inevitability of the errors of men, subject to being led astray, justifying doing things that are wrong just because a prophet said so.

It also leaves our prophets completely open to the temptations so common to men in authority.  Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely. According to our scriptures “unrighteous dominion” almost always results when just a little authority is given. If the apostles have unfettered & unaccountable authority, what kind of risk does this pose to these very leaders?  Let alone to the church?

Jesus knew His apostles and prophets would be imperfect men. His solution was to establish the Law of Common Consent.  Disobedience to God’s law by the entire church is wreaking it’s havoc already.  More havoc is to come.

Solution or Destruction

The solution to the problems in The Church of Jesus Christ is in plain view. We as members should demand that “all things MUST be done by common consent.” We as members must consider the policies & doctrines that have not been confirmed as God’s will and weigh-in on them.

This morning, I discussed this with my wife.  She said that the challenge is that we are all so busy that we just let the apostles handle everything.  Of course, she’s right. There’s the problem.  We are so busy that we don’t care about our important place in the governance of God’s earthly kingdom.

This will ultimately result in the destruction of the LDS church.  Maybe not complete destruction.  But, the church has already been destroyed in the lives of two-thirds of the membership.  The vast majority have already fled.  More took flight during the time it took to write this article.

Where are the Good Men?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

Where are the good men who will do something?
Where are the good men who will demand that we follow Jesus?
Where are the good men who will demand that the church obey the law of common consent?
Where are the good men who love the church enough to stay the course, so that His church changes course?

Emotions

As I write, my eyes fill with tears.  I try to hold back the sobs.  The words I type are blurred as I cry.  Can the church of my youth, the church of my adult years be saved?  Can it be redeemed before it’s destroyed in my life and the lives of so many others?

 

Interview with an Apostle

image

First, A Parley with an Apostate

Last week, I was in Utah and had an extended chat with an apostate. Terrible word. He’s also been excommunicated. Another terrible word. In a couple of weeks I’ll provide a link to our conversation. For the time being, he’ll remain anonymous.

Until the past 2 years, I really didn’t know any apostates or excommunicants.  I find them to be wonderful people.  Intelligent & thoughtful, open & understanding. Plus, they’re kind and loving.  Who would a thunk it?

While in Utah, by happenstance, I ran into an apostle.  He’ll also remain anonymous. A reliable record of our conversation is recounted below

The Apostolic Interview

Apostle:  It’s very nice to meet you.

Sam:  I’m honored and a little nervous to meet you, sir.

Apostle:  Before we start, I’d like to ask you a question. Sam, how do you think I look?

Sam:  You look great….except….for….. . . . Well, there’s a booger hanging from your nose.

Apostle:  (Pointing to his nose) Do you mean this big, fat, green booger?

Sam:  Um…y..y..y..yes?

Apostle:  Don’t worry about it. It was sent from God.

Sam:  What does that mean?

Apostle:  It’s a booger filled with love.

Sam:  This isn’t making any sense.

Apostle:  This beautiful juicy booger is filled with love for gay people and all of their children.

Sam:  Well, it kind of upsets my stomach when I look at it.

Apostle:  I’m sorry about that. Everybody else has told me that my booger of love is really handsome.

Sam:  You’re joking, right?  Who, in the world, would tell you that they like your booger?

Apostle:  I visited your stake conference last April.  One thousand and one members were at the meeting.  I asked the congregation to tell me how I looked.  One thousand people raised their hands in approval of my appearance.  Only one person didn’t like my booger.

Sam:  That was me!

Apostle:  Here’s what I want you to do, my dear friend, Sam.  Go read the scriptures and then pray….about my big, fat, green booger. Before long, you will know that it is delicious to the taste and very desirable.

Sam:  I’m not going to pray about your booger. I already know that it’s disgusting.

Apostle:  Now, now, Sam.  When you get home I want you to go talk with your stake president.

Sam:  Ok.

**Note: This morning I asked my adult daughter, “Suppose you were meeting with one of your clients, someone in upper management.  If they had a booger would you tell them?” She replied, “Nope.  I’d only tell someone really close, like my sisters or a best friend.”

Moral of the story:  when our friends have a booger, we point it out.  If we don’t, what kind of friend are we?   The booger is the policy of excommunicating gay couples and excluding their children.  It was announced in November 2015.

Divorce or Disobey?

Hint: Adam and the Mormon Temple say……..DISOBEY.

image

A Tender Text

Today, my youngest daughter sent me this message:

Dear dad,

Thank you so much for putting mom and our family before yourself. Today I met a Mormon couple that is getting divorced because the man has left the church. I talked with them for a while and it was apparent that he just wasn’t willing to make sacrifices for his wife’s happiness. I am so glad to have a father who is able to see the importance of family above everything else.

Love, Emily

BTW, I have not left the LDS church.

Divorce

Over the past couple of years, I have come in contact with many members who have left the church. Their prior faith obliterated by history, doctrine & policies that they had only recently discovered. This includes good friends and family.

Sometimes, married couples depart from the church together. Sometimes, it’s only one spouse whose faith transitions. Unfortunately, I have heard and read many stories of couples divorcing when only one leaves the church. Often, the believing partner is encouraged by bishops and stake presidents, family and friends, to divorce the non-believing spouse. The family is broken. Children confused, scared and heartbroken.

All this over belief & church.  Is marriage less important than belief?  Is family less treasured than church?

Disobedience

For the first time in almost 2 years, I recently attended the temple. I explain here exactly why I decided to go back.  This time, I went with new eyes.  It was fascinating, uplifting, and spiritual.  Lot’s of new understandings.  I have already written about one monumental take-away here.

The temple movie presents a beautiful portrayal of the creation story.  Adam & Eve are placed in the Garden of Eden.  Satan tempts Adam do disobey God.  Our first father will have nothing to do with disobedience.

Eve is Lucifer’s next target for temptation.  She carefully considers the Adversary’s argument. Her rational decision is to disobey God.  Result: Eve was to be cast out of the protected, perfect and paradisiacal Garden of Eden.

Now, it’s her turn to offer the forbidden fruit to Adam. He considers. Refuses.  “I will not disobey Father,” he insists.  Eve persists.  Finally, Adam looks into heaven and weighs the options.  His decision: it’s more important to disobey God than to have their precious union broken-up.

What a tremendous temple statement!  What an amazing example of righteous disobedience!  This, from the very first story in the bible.  The foundational epic of Christianity and Mormondom highlights two “sinful” acts.  Eve disobeyed God in order to bring about the human race.  Adam disobeyed God in order to keep his marriage in good grace.

So, bishops & stake presidents, friends & family, reflect on the temple teachings before you encourage a believer to divorce the non-believer.

1 Corinthians 7:14 “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.”

“The Dominant Church Narrative Is Not True”

image

This, according to Dr. Richard Bushman. I have many friends who have left the church because they, also, have found out what Bushman knows. More friends are on the fence. “The dominant church narrative is NOT TRUE.”

Fireside

Dr. Richard Bushman, is a serving LDS patriarch, former stake president, historian, expert on Joseph Smith, and author of Rough Stone Rolling.  At a recent fireside, he was the featured speaker.  During the Q&A, the following exchange took place:

Questioner:  “In your view, do you see room in Mormonism for several narratives of a religious experience or do you think that in order for the Church to remain strong they would have to hold to that dominant [orthodox] narrative?”

Richard Bushman:  “I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative.  The dominant narrative is not true;  it can’t be sustained.  The Church has to absorb all this new information or it will be on very shaky grounds and that’s what it is trying to do, and it will be a strain for a lot of people, older people especially.  But I think it has to change.”

Not True

Thank you, Richard Bushman, for validating what so many of us already know! “The dominant narrative is not true!”

We have been taught, and are still teaching, things that are untrue. Untrue = false. Teaching a known falsehood = lying.  Either way, unwittingly teaching falsehoods or lying, neither should an integral part of the “only true and living church.”

Somehow, our LDS culture has developed to where it’s improper, stigmatized, or outright forbidden to discuss “new information.” As a result, half truths and falsehoods are commonly taught. Openly discussing our history, doctrine and policies is not permitted, at least not in my locale.

It Can’t Be Sustained

So, why are we trying so hard to sustain & control our current curriculum and discussion?

I think many members are totally fine with the falsehoods in the church. For them, the false narrative feels safe. I’m OK with that.

However, there is a large and growing group of members who will not tolerate a narrative saturated with falsity.  I have joined this group.  Feeling betrayed, many have left.  Feeling betrayed, I stay.  Still committed to the church. Still committed to truth.  No longer committed to false narratives.  Life is too short.  Salvation, too precious to embrace what I & Bushman know to be false.

MoroniAll Truth Can Be Circumscribed Into One Great Whole

I now pay very close attention to the covenants and doctrines of the temple. At the end of the endowment ceremony, we are taught that “all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.” Profound and thought provoking.  The church is violating it’s own temple instruction.  It has circumscribed falsehoods into the “great whole” and consigned much truth into hidden obscurity.

My temple covenants are more sacred to me than circumscribing a narrative that is “not true.”

Driving Members Away

I have been told that we should never discuss our true and complete history and doctrine at church.  It can cause people to lose their testimonies.

What a weird thing to say!  So, it’s better to hide the truth so that a person will continue to believe the “truth” that’s really not true?  I know that there are adults in the church who want to be treated this way.  Not this adult.  In fact, most adults would say this is not adult behavior.  “When I became a man, I put away childish things.”

I now see the other side.  Not discussing our complete history and doctrine at church is causing members to lose their testimony.  It has driven my friends right out of the LDS church. The church whose “dominant narrative is not true.”

Teaching and embracing falsehood is not good…at least, not in my neighborhood.  My church is good, it’s time to get better.