WBMW

Stepping Stones or Stumbling Blocks

With the heightened interest of the public in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wanting to know more about what Mormons think and believe, the media is more open than ever to getting information from members -- as evidenced in my being invited to contribute, just recently, at The Washington Post's "On Faith" blog. This can be both a good thing and a not so good thing. Just as there is diversity in other groups, indeed the same phenomenon is found among active members of the LDS Church.

Gone are the days when reporters, wanting information about Mormonism, found the only resource to be the "official" voice of the Church -- via LDS Public Affairs. Now they have immediate online access to many members, who are encouraged by leaders to speak up about their Mormon faith.

The reason I say "this can be both a good thing and a not so good thing" is because, in my opinion -- of which I don't think I'm alone --  some member-voices out there, speaking about our religion, do not represent how the majority of faithful Latter-day Saints think and feel. In fact, too many of these type voices, that the media is being drawn to, are tending to be that small, loud element within the Church, that would  like to see major changes in policy and even doctrine. It is also my opinion that this movement is taking full advantage of this "Mormon moment" to perpetuate their own personal agenda in these regards. And, as is usually the case, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and true to form the liberal media is drawn to those voices that will create the most controversy for their purposes. What a marriage!

In blogging about Mormonism I am not, nor do I try to be, the voice of the Church. However, like many other members, I do feel a strong responsibility, and desire, to make sure that I represent what I believe to be mainstream Mormon beliefs -- of which some might refer to as orthodox Mormonism. The only agenda that I have is to help others understand and discuss what the LDS Church teaches and faithful members, as a whole, believe. I just find it very unfortunate that too often, as of late, the fringe of Mormonism, within the Church, is being sought out for opinions about Mormon beliefs, practices, LDS history, etc... that do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the general membership of the Church, nor its leaders.

Understandably no two members of the Church will have the exact same testimony or experience, and of course this is not expected. However, you will find some very important points of LDS doctrine and beliefs that the majority of members accept. In my opinion, if any member of the Church is to be considered a credible source, to best represent my Mormon faith, they should be founded on such a firm foundation. 

The basic tenets of Mormonism were laid out by the founding prophet of the LDS Church, Joseph Smith Jr., in what is referred to as the Articles of Faith: Thirteen basic points of belief to which Mormons ascribe. Each of these tenets of our faith spring from the most basic of Mormon doctrine, some of which include:

  • Joseph Smith Jr. was and is a prophet of God and received all keys, powers and authority necessary for establishing and directing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- which continue with the prophet and president of the LDS Church today.

I have no problem when an active member of the LDS Church holds a position that is contrary to generally accepted doctrine and beliefs of mainstream Mormonism.  I do have a problem when they promote it as a personal agenda, publicly, in opposition. These members not only misrepresent the LDS Church, but even more serious they create confusion for those who sincerely want to know what Mormons believe -- meaning, what the Church teaches.

It is my understanding that the Church respects members who might have somewhat oppositional views than what is taught by the Church -- and that such members can still be considered in good standing. That's not only positive, but very important. However, I believe, members cross the line when they set out to promote and recruit others to their way of thinking. I realize that this gets tricky and that we are counseled to be careful in how we judge one another, but clearly this is something that should be of concern. At the very least it should cause those of us, who are concerned, to have a greater desire to speak up about what we think and believe. Passiveness to the condition should not be an option.

Through the invitation by LDS leaders to share our faith, online, we can either create stepping stones or stumbling blocks for those who are seeking the truth.
"The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

For those who truly desire to help others come unto Christ, it is imperative that we use our voices to create stepping stones and not stumbling blocks. Let us be among those who are helping others put together their truth puzzle. As members of the Church we are so blessed to know what we know and to have made covenants to share that truth with others.

When I first began writing this post I titled it "You Really Need to Start Speaking Up for Yourself!" I really liked that. Ultimately I want that to be the message of this post, but felt it was even more important to state the why. Understanding why your voice is so important will hopefully encourage you to become more involved in the ongoing conversations about what Mormons believe, and to let others know that you are proud grateful to be a Mormon -- and what that truly means!


tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

I love how some members are so willing to speak up about what Mormons believe, unabashedly, with all their heart and soul! Talk about "Speaking Up for Yourself"!

Stay N Faithful: Calling Yourself Mormon is a Very Bold Statement By Jesse Stay

"To say you're Mormon like I do takes guts in today's world. It means you believe in modern day revelation. It means you believe there are men today that speak to God, and God speaks to them. It means you follow them because they are normal men called of God, just like Moses, Abraham, and Isaac of old. Many of them are humbled in this calling - they never asked of it. They never wanted it. Yet, God called them. And as a Mormon, you're willing to follow these laymen leading God's Church just like people did in the times of Christ." 


Two LDS bloggers dedicated to celebrating "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" are Jocelyn at We Talk of Christ We Rejoice in Christ and Montserat at  Chocolate on my Cranium!

"This year, we will be joining forces with YOU to bring the world a video presentation of The Family: A Proclamation to the World!"

Mormon Women: Who We AreYou never have to question the message of Mormonism, shared with integrity and candor, by this group of sisters.

StrongLDS.com Learn Truth, Be Strong, Choose the Right! I'm happy to share that WBMW is included in this project. 

"Built to offer the LDS Profiles, Pages, and Blogs a place to integrate their efforts in offering LDS content. We work with many different administrators and blog owners to bring you fresh content, and help inspire you during the day."

MormonVoices.orgA great project to get involved with for speaking up, online, and making sure credible voices of Mormon beliefs are being represented. 


"Our volunteers respond to public discussions and comments from public figures that misrepresent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We encourage and direct Mormons to get involved in online discussions and thereby help shape the public understanding and perceptions of the Church. Please join your voice with ours, and become a member of MormonVoices."

More Good Foundation: An excellent resource for helping and organizing members to share the gospel online. 

"Using today's "Net," we provide the tools, training, and support for Latter-day Saints to share their beliefs on the Internet. We operate over 400 websites, in a multitude of languages, and administer support for a hundred more. We have "joined the conversation.""

19 comments :

  1. You've hit on a real concern of mine. I've been seeing some things from members of the church lately that put a big pit in my stomach. As you said, it's okay to have opinions, but intimating that the mainstream of the church is of the same opinion is borderline.

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    1. Glad to find that I'm not alone in my concerns. Thanks for chiming in.

      It is interesting though, that although these members may not even claim that they are representing themselves as a voice for mainstream Mormonism, they rarely include that their position is not -- allowing the assumption to be made. The mere fact that they are being targeted by mainstream media give the appearance to the unknowing that they do speak with authority about Mormon beliefs, policies, etc...

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  2. This makes some important points, although it isn't just the liberal media doing it--I've seen some nasty posts on Fox, too. Media in general seems to like sensationalism and conflict--it makes a more exciting story.

    Another point of this is that we as members need to learn what our church really does believe. I've seen too many Mormons preaching church doctrine that isn't church doctrine--sometimes they confuse their political party with their church, for instance, or they are teaching old cultural ideas that were never canonized. With everything available on the LDS Newsroom and on LDS.org in general, there is plenty of opportunities to make sure what they are saying really is doctrine. Otherwise, even those with good intentions just make things worse.

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    1. So so true. One thing I learned long ago, when discussing my faith online, it to fact check what I 'think" I know before I go out and discuss it. Today, this counsel is more important than ever. And as you have said, we have excellent resources for doing just that. I am either on the LDS Newsroom or LDS.org daily -- as my go-to resources for what I write about.

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  3. Being LDS does not mean you have to be a carbon copy of every other LDS woman in the church. However, if I was ever confronted by media on what I am as a typical LDS lady, I wouldn't tell them anything different than I would tell my Relief Society President, and if I feel in my heart my Relief Society President would disapprove, I would say nothing at all. Since I am good friends with my relief Society President (she has recently stepped down due to an injury) I'm sure she'd let me know if I was out of line. Now, my point is this..If you cannot say it with a clear conscience, that is, with someone important over your shoulder affirming such things, it might be better to keep silent, for sometimes silence is golden.

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  4. Great post Kathryn - I totally agree! And thanks for including my post!

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    1. Thank you Jesse. I love that post! I wish I had written it!

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  5. I'm curious: In your opinion, at what point does someone cross the line into "pursuing an agenda" territory? I am as devout and middle-of-the-road as any Mormon you could hope to meet. But I cringe when I read things like this, Kathryn, because the underlying implication is "if you don't read from the script you're doing the 'Mormon' thing wrong." People are allowed to ask questions, have conversations, even express concerns or doubts -- all without pursuing an agenda or trying to recruit others to an apostate position. It's the "just keep quiet" mindset that has landed the church in some sticky spots over the years, and simply "agreeing with the majority" is not the same thing as being on sound doctrinal footing. Nor does it make all church policies absolutely correct and undeserving of closer examination.

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    1. I think it is more worthwhile to consider the general concern raised and why. Some will agree and some will not.

      For those who agree I have offered what I believe can help -- and that is to speak up themselves. I've never advocated silence. However, I personally disagree, and find disturbing, with members who take advantage of public platforms, or create them, to advocate positions that are contrary to what our leaders are, specifically, teaching from the pulpits, currently.

      In a nutshell I think this paragraph represents both the "concern" I have, and the "why":

      "I have no problem when an active member of the LDS Church holds a position that is contrary to generally accepted doctrine and beliefs of mainstream Mormonism. I do have a problem when they promote it as a personal agenda, publicly, in opposition. These members not only misrepresent the LDS Church, but even more serious they create confusion for those who sincerely want to know what Mormons believe -- meaning, what the Church teaches."

      BTW, in your opinion: What IS the Mormon thing?

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  6. Great point. My own site is half LDS and half whatever is on my mind. I know when I share things online, someone who can't be bothered to go check the actual source of anything LDS might take my word for what everyone believes. And that is a . . . burden?. . . I gladly carry. What I won't do is share any views that contradict what LDS members believe in. Because honestly, if you are promoting or even complaining about how something should be fixed, you're not really following all of the way. Which is fine, but it's those squeaky wheels that cast the one doubt in someone's head, or captures the media's attention because they want a story, not what anyone could look up and find out.

    What I love about this time we are living in right now, is the fact that we are going to have to stand a little straighter, walk a little taller and be more diligent in our everyday lives and practices of our faith. Yeah the political process is watching us right now, but I think that being on better behavior now, as individuals and a faith, is what is going to save the world, not a politician. Stumbling blocks indeed.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. You makes some great points! I feel that "burden" as well and the responsibility and privilege it is to stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I agree -- it will ultimately save the world. : )

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  7. Thanks for this post, and thanks for the link.

    One of the things I remind myself of is that those who seek can find, and that definitely applies to the internet. Whatever someone is seeking, they can find. If they want criticism, it's plentiful. If they want faith-based testimony, there's plenty of that. I will never stop feeling the "responsibility and privilege" to use this tool to help the work.

    But I feel less fear about it all than I used to. The consumers of information also have a responsibility -- and opportunity -- to do their own homework. They don't have to just rely on others for their opinions. They can search things out (and yes, we hope they will give a fair balance of time to actual church material, teachings, and testimonies from members). And they can get answers from God. It's one of the most wonderful things about the gospel message. You don't have to take our words for it -- not anyone's words! You can read God's word yourself, and seek His guidance directly through prayer and listening for the voice of His Spirit.

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    1. That's an important reminder. I'm not fearful at all, but I do believe that members must step-up and speak out to fulfill their part in the plan. If we don't feel that responsibility, as being part of the big picture, then we won't fulfill it.

      I'm grateful for our leaders who are teaching us how important it is that we become a part of the ongoing conversation that will continue either with us, or without us. We can make a great impact for good IF we will choose to engage.

      I share your testimony that God's words are that which ultimately convert. May we all be about doing our part to lead others to Him.

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    2. " I'm not fearful at all, but I do believe that members must step-up and speak out to fulfill their part in the plan. "

      Yes. And what I meant by not being fearful is not feeling the same kind of weight I used to feel...because of the fact that there are so many online now. There are so many ways for people to find out truth, and it's exciting. There will always be negative stuff, but there is so much positive, that those who seek can find.

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    3. I love your faith. It always calms my spirit.

      However... I will advocate that we need many many more voices of truth -- of which I'm always out campaigning for! ; )

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    4. " I will advocate that we need many many more voices of truth -- of which I'm always out campaigning for! ; )"

      NO arguments here! :) Agreed 150%.

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  8. I love DeanJ's comment: " . . . we are going to have to stand a little straighter, walk a little taller and be more diligent in our everyday lives and practices of our faith. Yeah the political process is watching us right now, but I think that being on better behavior now, as individuals and a faith, is what is going to save the world, not a politician."

    I have felt the pressure in the last 2 or 3 years to do just that -- stand a little straighter and walk a little taller. It's not easy, but in the process of trying I've learned a lot about myself.

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