What to Do Since We're Stuck in Babylon!


Writing about Mormonism, specifically over this past year or so, and what we believe, and stand for, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, brought me to an unexpected, temporary plateau -- a plateau that briefly made it difficult to assess my closest surroundings. I prefer the advantage of standing upon a mount, where all things are in clear view, and making decisions about how to act is made with confidence. But alas, that condition only exists in a perfect world.

I clearly see, now, that this challenge should not have come as a surprise. In fact, it is the great work of the adversary to confuse and muddy the water, so we cannot see clearly that which is immediately in front of us

Satan does not have to work a large area of our lives to distract us from our desired destination. With that in mind, it has become even more important for me, personally, and I suspect all of us, to know, without a doubt, exactly where we are going and how we intend to arrive. In this way, even when our immediate view becomes temporarily clouded, without question or interruption, we can continue to press forward – without fear. 

Our closest surroundings most always include people who believe as we do, or who profess such beliefs -- therefore included within our seeming circle of safety. And to me, this is where the waters have gotten pretty murky lately, and knowing how to continue to act is made a bit trickier. Not that it should be, but it is. 

One encounter, that immediately comes to mind, with this up-close, murky water came about when I wrote a post that identified the apostasy and restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ as foundational teachings of Mormonism. Little did I know, but not all members who claim activity in the Church agree that this is a basic to what Mormons believe. In my desire to share my Mormon faith with others, I was informed that I did not represent another member’s beliefs about the Church of which we both belong. Honestly, that was the beginning of when I realized that my genuine desire to share the gospel, online, was offensive to a small minority of very vocal members -- willing to challenge me, publicly, for standing with the teachings and counsel of living prophets. 

I’m also becoming more and more accustomed to knowing that there are a small percentage of members who do not support defending traditional marriage, and believe that our current prophets are misguided in the positions they take, on most every social/moral issue of the day. As much as I find this hard to understand, I do recognize each individual’s moral agency to have different opinions – and God’s mercy to generally allow it.

What I don’t find acceptable, and/or have difficulty reconciling, is publicly, knowingly, advocating that which is oppositional to the work of the Lord. And in fact, what I do here on WBMW is often in direct opposition to such advocacy. However, when that advocacy is coming from other active members of the Church, it takes on a completely different tone – of which I am not comfortable. It’s much easier to tell a stranger why you don’t agree with them -- because the hope is that you are teaching -- than to tell a family member the same thing. Aren’t families supposed to be unified? How can we call ourselves the “children of Christ” if there is contention, or disagreement, among us?

As I was studying 3rd Nephi chapter 11, in preparation for a recent lesson I was giving in church, I was struck, in relation to these thoughts, that the Savior’s first instruction given to the Saints who had gathered at the temple, was to set in order the mode of baptism, so that there would be no further confusion or contention among the people. I came to understand, with greater clarity than ever before, that it is the Lord and His servants who determine and declare the doctrines, policies and practices that when individually embraced, create the desired and commanded unity of the Saints -- Zion.

Those who oppose their direction have no right to consider themselves unified with the Savior’s work – member or not -- nor are we obligated to make it appear otherwise. As uncomfortable as I know many of us are, with how a small group of liberal members are currently representing Mormonism to the public, via the mainstream media, that fall into this category, we must continue to share, with boldness, that which living prophets have revealed about the moral issues of our day – without apology. We are not in opposition to any specific person/member and where they are on their own personal journey of faith, or how they go about expressing it. However, we are in opposition to everything that opposes the work of the Lord. His plan is what faithful latter-day Saints should be advocating. 

Jeffrey R. Holland, speaking at a recent CES Devotional, seemed quite aware of this current dilemma: how latter-day Saints must live in Babylon, until the Savior comes again, versus fleeing into the wilderness -- as in ages past. For those who have taken the time to listen to the broadcast, which I highly recommend, most have been quite struck with the needed direction he gave to faithful members of the Church -- to boldly, and compassionately, act with charity, toward all.

I took the time to, once again, enlist my mad transcription skills so that I could share some of Elder Holland’s inspired words, here, that I find pertinent to this discussion. But as always, I caution you about re-sharing these quotes, just in case I have not done my job perfectly.

“Some principles are defended and some sins are opposed wherever they are found, because the issues and the laws involved are not social or political, but eternal in their consequence. And while not wishing to offend those who believe differently from us, we are even more anxious to not offend God -- or as the scripture says, "not offend He who is your law giver". 
There is a wide variety of beliefs in this world, and there is moral agency for all, but no one is entitled to act as if God is mute on these subjects. Or as if commandments only matter if there is public agreement over them.

In the 21st century we cannot flee any longer. We are going to have to fight for laws, and circumstances, and environments that allow the free exercise of religion and our franchise in it. That is one way we can tolerate being in Babylon but not of it.

I know of no more important ability, and no greater integrity, than for us to demonstrate, in a world from which we cannot flee, that to walk that careful path, taking a moral stand according to what God has declared and the laws He has given -- but doing it compassionately and with understanding and great charity.

Talk about a hard thing to do; to distinguish perfectly between the sin and the sinner -- I know of few distinctions that are harder to make, or at least harder to articulate -- but we must lovingly try to do exactly that. Believe me, brothers and sisters, in the world into which we are moving we are going to have a lot of opportunity to develop such strength, display such courage, and demonstrate such compassion -- all at the same time."

He went on to further explain how our influence should extend beyond our close associations…

“All of us should care for the welfare of others and the moral safety of our extended community. Elder Quentin R. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve, devoted an entire General Conference talk to this very subject a few years ago.  In speaking of the need for us to influence society, beyond the walls of our home he said, "In addition to protecting our own families we should be a source of light in protecting our communities. The Savior said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven". In our increasingly unrighteous world, he continues, "It is essential that values based on religious beliefs be evident in the public square. Religious faith is a source of light, knowledge, and wisdom and benefits society in a dramatic way".”

He then gave counsel as to how we should go about accomplishing this…


“Without being naive or Pollyannaish about it, we can live our religion so broadly and unfailingly that we find all kinds of opportunities to help each other, help families, bless neighbors, protect others, including the rising generation. I've not uttered the word missionary in this context for fear you would immediately think of white shirts and name tags. Don't limit me on this one -- stay with me on the big picture -- the huge need to share the gospel always, yes as full-time missionaries, but also when you're not in full-time service.  
Latter-day Saints are called upon to be the leaven in the loaf, the salt that never loses its savor, the light set up on a hill never to be hidden under a bushel… If we do right, and talk right, and reach out generously with our words and our deeds, then when the Savior cuts short his work in righteousness and says, "time is no more in this last great dispensation" and then comes in His glory -- He will find us, you and me, and all of us, doing our best, trying to live the gospel, trying to improve our lives and our church and our society the best way we can. 
When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith, and doing something good if I can.  I want the Savior to say to me, ‘Jeffrey, (because He knows all of our names) I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you're trying to live and the standards you're trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you've tried to make things better first, and foremost, by being better yourself, and then by declaring my word, and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could. I know you weren't always successful (he will certainly say) with your own sins or with the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me.' I so want to have something like that encounter, someday, as I want nothing else in this mortal life, and I want it for you. I want it for us all.

God is calling us to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, personally, in small ways as well as large, and then to reach out to those who may not look or dress or behave quite like we do, and then where you can go beyond that -- to serve in the widest community you can address."

In other word, and in my opinion, Elder Holland is teaching us that God is no respecter of persons, member or not, in or outside of the Church, in expecting us to stand for revealed truth -- kindly, compassionately, boldly – with charity. I think we can do that. I think we can continue to reject any lie, intended to distort God’s plan, wherever it may be found, and whoever might be advocating it. And most importantly, if done by the Spirit, we can feel confident that we have the Lord’s blessings as we do so.

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

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Watch Video: Jeffrey R. Holland, September 2012 CES Devotional -- HERE.



29 comments:

  1. It's very hard these days, that's for sure. While I know what is right, I sometimes find myself back peddling in order to not hurt feelings. Somehow I have to find a way to exhibit charity without the back peddling.
    Tudie Rose

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    1. And isn't it comforting to know that even an Apostle of the Lord finds this challenging, and knows that he won't, either, get it right -- every time.

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  2. Our world is increasingly angry. Where anger used to just make people exclude others or take some kind of mean stab at them, anger now does that plus vilify others, and post hateful things about them on all kinds of social media to humiliate and hurt them. I admit that it makes it a scary place to say or defend things that we know to be right, but we know might offend. I loved Elder Holland's boldness and testimony, and as you pointed out, his humanity. I also loved when he said, "We do not dumb down the doctrine." His talk helped me to identify some of the angst I've felt about this current environment, and it strengthened my resolve to practice steadfastness, curtail my own anger, and learn more Christ-like compassion for those who oppose.

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    1. Excellent points, Stephanie. Wouldn't it have been easier if he were to have counseled members to turn away from dealing with conflicting opinions and told us to focus on our own family? But he didn't.

      He basically challenged us to be bold, to speak out, but to do it with compassion and charity. He actually has challenged each of us, to better develop Christlike characteristics in the face of opposition. Indeed, he has raised the bar for our activity in the public arena. Onward...

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    2. It's like a fight. If you go into a fight reconciling yourself to the fact that you will sustain some blows, possibly a black eye then you can move past it and address what's in front of you without wincing. My Husband shared that little nugget with me. he is the fighter in our family but he bolsters me with his courage and his bold, unwavering position as a faithful member of the church. The blows we sustain can be ministered to by our circle of close friends and church members, but most especially the Lord. I don't like being on the front lines either but then perhaps I need to accept the fact that I either must stand for what is true or fall for what the world would have me believe in just so feelings aren't hurt. It is very hard to endure. I wish you all the best with standing upright and staying strong.

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  3. Thanks Kathryn for posting. I too am finding some 'members' who to my great surprise are not as believing as I had understood, with regards to some basic doctrines. It's not not just the topical issues of the day - such as same sex marriage, but worryingly also, I've had a few say that they don't believe the Book of Mormon is an actual historical record of scripture, rather a bunch of philosophical stories - "much like the bible" is their analogy! What is going on? How can some 'members' (thankfully a small minority I believe) be at such opposite ends of these fundamental gospel truths, surely the adversary and his 'fiery darts' is cunningly bringing many down with false precepts. Even the faithful it seems need to be constantly reminded to be steadfast, we must not be lax in our homes to teach our children correct principles, not to compromise our standards, values and beliefs. FHE, Daily Family Scripture Study, Family Prayer etc are the bedrocks of protecting our families our homes from this onslaught by the adversary in these latter days. Thanks for the great work you do. All the best from across the pond. John.

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    1. John, I almost brought that concern, about the Book of Mormon, up in the post, but decided not to go there. It's a great concern.

      For me, personally, the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, as an inspired record, is at the very foundation of my personal testimony that the Church is true, and that we are led by living prophets. It becomes very obvious that for those who minimize the BOM, it is then very easy to reject the counsel of our prophets.

      We can only hope and pray that for those who struggle in this area, they will find through their own journey of faith, that indeed, it is from God.

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    2. This CES devotional is now online at: https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/watch/ces-devotionals/2012/09?lang=eng&vid

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    3. Thanks, John. The link is actually already on the post -- at the bottom. I would love to have posted the actual video, but when I did, it auto-played immediately. I'm not a fan of that feature. Maybe that could be changed?

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  4. Dear Sister Kathryn, So very blessed by your tweet directing me here to read your profound words of truth. Thank you for posting these feelings you have & the talk by Pres. Holland. Words that lifted me and touched my heart. I'm so sorry that someone would find their way to you and even when they've found even slightly a different path and then try and reach-out & to pull you in the same direction... it's to me so obvious where their influence is coming. I receive stenght in your testimonies. I'm not a tweeter so much and rarely post comments, but you're wonderful and I'm always grateful to see your tweets, Good News, and uplifting words. We are here soaking it in! I know you will be blessed by your efforts. And I love and admired how you've stood and continued in your devoted work to spread the Gospel. Again, thank you dear sister.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, and taking the time to reach out in your comment. I,too, have been greatly strengthened by Elder Holland's teachings and counsel. We are living in treacherous times, and as members who faithfully desire to hearken to the words of the Lord, we need each other if we are to stand strong.

      Thanks, also, for following me on Twitter. : )

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  5. Thank you so much--love the words spoken and the thoughts.
    You, me, Elder Holland, Captain Moroni, all trying to do our best and stand as witnesses and more concerned with offending God, than being politically correct or dumbing down the doctrine!

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    1. When we choose the Lord's side we are in the best of company!

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  6. You comforted my heart this morning. thank you

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  7. Wonderful post. I asked my father once why there was not unity in the church and how were we ever going to get to the City of Enoch state of one heart and one mind. He believed it was because of spiritual immaturity, likened unto rebellious teens testing the boundaries, before growing up and accepting adult responsibilities and gaining wisdom. I must add that being deceived by Satan has to be another reason for the dissent within the church. Too many have gone to world class universities and have inculcated the worldly philosophies of men, not even mingled with scriptures, as those are banned as myths and fairy tales. Our family is reading the Book of Mormon and we are in Helaman, just prior to the Savior's first coming. It sounds like a description of today! Please, please Keep up the good work!

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    1. Great analogy, Rozy. I think your dad got that right!

      To be learned is good, only if we are willing to hearken to the counsel of God.

      Enjoy your family scripture study. How exciting that you are teaching your children from the Book of Mormon. Yes, it is incredible applicable to our day.

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  8. Very nice post. We are a very different and unique people. You and I are different. I still like what you said about the gospel of Jesus Christ and applaud sharing our faith with others within the church and in the world.

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  9. This was a well written post and amen to it all. Continue to stand firm and unmoveable in your convictions of living and spreading the good news.
    Loved this one!

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    1. Thanks, LeAnn. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. : )

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  10. This post couldn't have been timed better. At least I know I'm not alone in this struggle. Lately I've been having my faith and happiness challenged and it has been very hard to endure. It's very isolating and depressing. Having a supportive husband has helped me deal with this challenge plus our new ward is very much active and you can feel the Spirit there. It is very strong unlike our last ward (sadly). Getting a blessing from the Bishop has been a big help as well. I aim to ask a blessing from Husband too. The blessings are always available so my recommendation: ask for them often. Help our priesthood holders exercise their authority by giving them the opportunity to help fortify your spirit!

    With the rise in popularity of secularism in this country and having acquaintances and friends of differing or no beliefs, my own faith was getting rocked pretty hard. I am always learning about the teachings of the church but when my basic practices fall short, doubt and cynicism creep in and take hold. Even though I have professed a faith in Christ all my life it is still vulnerable to the subtleties of the adversary. Alone I am weak. But if I reach out to Husband, and church members and, like you wrote, surround myself with strong, positive influence and believers then I am fortified. I think that is a good practice for all members.

    Defending what is moral and right according to the Lord is only uncomfortable if one is more concerned about losing a connection in this world versus amplifying what is true through non-judgmental words and actions. Most of us are not as practiced in that as we could be so it is uncomfortable at first until we let go of worrying about the consequences. It feels like the times we are living in are becoming more "put up or shut up" where it comes to beliefs and practices. Fence-riders don't win buckles. The world and those of it aren't backing down. Nor should we. Fortify!

    Thanks again for the post Kathryn. You're an inspiration ;-)

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your challenges. Though It seems you are not alone -- which I suppose is only good to know in so far as it helps to understand that the Lord is aware that many of those who choose to follow Him would face great opposition to do so. I'm glad to hear you have a supportive husband and bishop. I think that can go a long way in helping you to move through this period in your life.

      You bring up very important facets of how we can meet the opposition of having our faith challenged. And I suppose we should expect that the Lord would allow this -- sticking to the basic foundations of our testimony. For me, I was blessed with a strong spiritual conversion, prior to my deeper study of the gospel -- and the secular challenges to it. I continually return to the feelings in my heart that confirm to me that this is God's Church. Listening to that Spirit, deep within me, enables me to dismiss much of the noise that would challenge what I know, by the Spirit. I think all of us can be weak. I think it comes down to a decision as to who's voice we will give our time to. I choose to seek out those voices that support the positive feelings that the Spirit brings. I ignore those that pull me from that influence. That's my guide to truth.

      "Defending what is moral and right according to the Lord is only uncomfortable if one is more concerned about losing a connection in this world versus amplifying what is true through non-judgmental words and actions."

      Boy, you got that right. And how sad is this when we must face such a challenge among professed Saints. Like I said, it gets trickier, but should not. Onward my friend... ; )

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    2. My working goal right now is to immerse myself in the core teachings of the church and its prophets and to attend Temple more often. Basically, to practice what is preached! Lol

      Thanks again Kathryn for always taking time to acknowledge my input and for your regular posts.

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    3. That is an excellent plan! And thank you for taking the time to almost always comment on what I write. Your feedback is so appreciated. You are one wise cowgirl! Much love. : )

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  11. First time I've visited here - recommended by a friend. I'm impressed! I was recently reading some of what you describe online: A professional Mormon who is leading others astray by interpreting doctrine falsely. I was shocked and upset because SO MANY members commented with relief that she was validating their sinful behavior! It made me sad. Thanks for your strength. I will try to be more bold myself and encourage others to do the same! You rock, Sister!

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    1. Welcome! Thank your friend, for me, for sending you. : )

      The main reason I decided to write this post and share my own concerns for the liberal Mormon agenda, within the Church, is because it appears as though "SO MANY" members support their professional efforts. That is a misperception that the media is assisting them to perpetrate. Even if 100 people/members comment in support of their efforts, that does not represent the majority of faithful members, who in general remain silent. We can't let this seeming silence fool us into believing this myth.

      Elder Holland's counsel is clear on this, and I am so grateful for this clarity. Onward...



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  12. the wheat and the tares are being sifted.

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  13. There is no new frontier. (I was either born 100 years too early or 100 years too late) And we have to stand fast 'in place' as you indicated.

    I'd be surprised if 10 percent of active LDS people actually knew what the church teaches in any depth at all. Even people who 'read the Book of Mormon and Standard Works' usually don't study and internalize it and struggle to UNDERSTAND. Which is why you see the pro-choice/anti-bishopric/anti-general authority people. They don't get it. And maybe at some point they will.

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