Put Your Life in the Hands of God

People who have problems living the moral code of the church, whether it be the Law of Chastity, the Word of Wisdom, or a decision by a Stake President that all men and boys helping with the Sacrament wear white shirts and ties, have a problem that is more basic than self discipline. They haven’t made the decision to put their lives in the hands of God. They are still living the law of “I”, the law of “me”, and not the law of God.

We all live the law of “I”, the law of “me”, but the time must come when we live the law of God if we are ever to become like Him. Once we make the decision to live the law of God, once we really make that decision and not just lip decisions, we begin to move away from the need for self-discipline and begin to have self-conviction. Most of us probably (I know I do) ripple between the law of “I” and the law of God throughout our lives. We still need self-discipline, but that discipline should be to live the law of God and not to just live a particular moral code because our Priesthood leaders have said we should do that. Moral codes are but stepping stones to our living all of the law of God and becoming more like him.

I assume that in our pre-earth life, we chose to follow Christ as he followed our Father -in-Heaven, because we wanted to become like our Father-in-Heaven and live with Him in Eternal Glory. That was our goal then, to become like God, and it must be our goal now if we are to succeed in becoming like Him. Our obedience to God must be because we love God not because we are obedient to Him. Obedience is a stepping stone to self-discipline, self-discipline is a stepping stone to love, and love is a stepping stone to becoming like God.

Let us have obedience and discipline, but let us remember those are but stepping stones to a greater law. Let us keep our eyes centered on God. Let us serve in the Church, let us serve God’s children, because we love God and His children, not because we are commanded to give service. Let us always remember and live righteously because we truly love God and want to become like Him. We read in the Book of Mormon that the Nephites for about 170 years lived the law of God and became like God as much as mortals can be like God “because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” (4 Nephi 1:15) The Nephites became like God, because of their love of Him, and we can become that way too.


20 Responses to Put Your Life in the Hands of God

  1. Taylor says:

    How is obedience to a leader the first step to acheiving “love”? Please don’t mis-understand, I’m not trying to be confrontational. I’m trying to remember why I used to think in certain ways.

    Is it because of the belief that the leader speaks to you as an intermediary to God? In other words, the Stake President will not allow a boy in a blue shirt to pass the Sacrament, therefore, God will not allow the boy to pass the Sacrament. Is that the line of thought?

    As a side note, I never found any of this difficult. I’m still a cultural Mormon in every way. I actually have always preferred white shirts. I live the Word of Wisdom, etc…

    So, my question doesn’t come from personally disagreeing with white shirts, the Word of Wisdom, etc…but from the idea that religious obedience to men is the first step to loving God. It seems like a non sequitur.

    • Allen says:

      Hi Taylor,

      Here is an example of obedience being a stepping stone to love. Pretend I’m a new member of a ward. I’m assigned families to home teach. I accept the assignment. I don’t know the families and accept the assignment as an act of obedience. I visit the families as acts of obedience. As I visit the families, I get to know them and to love them. My visits become acts of love toward the families. Later, I’m asked to visit different families, people that I know and love. My acceptance of these families is through love.

      I believe my Stake President can be an intermediary to God in terms of the church. He isn’t, of course, in terms of my private life. I believe my church leaders aren’t infallible. This means that sometimes they act under inspiration and other times they act for themselves. Wearing white shirts is an example of the latter. The new church handbook states that PH leaders shouldn’t require specific types of clothing. The book states that men and boys helping with the Sacrament should wear appropriate clothing but not any specific type of clothing. Yet, my current Stake President has directed that all PH leaders wear white shirts. Is he being inspired of God in giving that directive? He could be; I don’t know. It is likely, in my opinion, that he is speaking for himself, and that’s OK. Not being infallible means that he speaks for God on some occasions and for himself on other occasions. How is one to know when he is speaking for God? By the spirit and by the scriptures. The color of shirts that PH leaders wear is a minor thing, and if I were a PH leader, I would wear white shirts to be obedient to my PH leader. On the other hand, if my Stake President were to say that a person could be saved without repentance, I would know he was speaking for himself since the scriptures teach that repentance is required.

      Concerning religious obedience to men being the first step to loving God. Sometimes that is true. Obedience to PH leaders is part of being active in the church, and church activity can lead to greater love of God. However, scriptural study is more likely to lead to love of God, in my opinion. Service to God’s children is more likely to lead to love of God, in my opinion.

  2. Taylor says:

    Thanks. I understand what you are saying a bit better now.

    I certainly believe obedience to God can help us know and love God better. I believe it’s important to test any human’s request for obedience against Christ’s teachings, conscience, and where the Holy Spirit directs us in our lives. If a leader’s request goes against these 3 things, then we really shouldn’t obey just for the sake of obedience.

    For example, if a church leader asked me to wear a white shirt and tie, I would probably say, “I am wearing a white shirt and tie!” (- : I would be fine with that. My closet is full of those. My belief for myself is generally to not rock the boat and not create a distraction for leaders. If a pastor or minister gets tizzied because people don’t wear ties, then I’ll wear a tie so he can focus on something important, like the gospel of Christ. But I certainly don’t need to agree with him on the importance of ties, and I’m certainly not going to hold anyone else to my principle of conformity on this matter.

    If a church leader asked me to withdraw certain blessings of participation from members of my stewardship (let’s say I’m a Bishop or a minister of some kind) who are not wearing a white shirt and tie, I would probably ignore him. I don’t mind being the victim of some kind of unintentional spiritual abuse, but I’m also not going to propagate it. I think Jesus was pretty clear that the only time he really cares what people wear is when their clothing is meant to be some kind of claim to worthiness or righteousness.

    I guess my point is I believe we have the right and obligation to say “no” to any man if his requests are not in line with Christ’s teachings, conscience and the dictates of the Holy Spirit. This is the only way I can see to put myself in the hands of God. If I accept a man’s will as God’s will, and the man (perhaps a Stake President or a minister) has one of those moments when he’s speaking as a man, and I obey him solely out of some kind of obedience idealogy, then I’ve not really put myself in God’s hands, but in man’s hands.

    I now find it strange that I ever thought otherwise.

  3. Taylor says:

    I hope my last post didn’t come across as argumentative against the church. I’m not against the church, but I am interested in seeing how the “obedience” debate pans out within the church. It’s still in its infancy relatively speaking, and I think there’s still much to be hashed out regarding obedience to leaders vs. God, deciphering when a man is speaking as a man or as an inspired leader, etc…

    Even as an active LDS I thought this was an interesting topic. The principle of obedience to men was one of my major disagreements that brought me out of the church.

    • Allen says:

      No problem, Taylor, with your posts. If I had thought you wanted to argue, I would have deleted your posts.

      First, a comment about my Stake President. He is a good man and hasn’t forced his ideas on us. He said he thinks the AP boys doing the Sacrament, as well as all PH leaders, should wear white shirts since that is what the GA wear, and they are examples to us. That is a reasonable attitude. I was a Membership clerk, in my family ward as well as in a singles YSA ward, and I wore non-white shirts (I just like color). Nobody ever told me to change my shirt. I was just released from my YSA calling, and I’m waiting for a new calling. I’m still wearing my non-white shirts. However, if I’m given a leadership calling, I’ll switch to white shirts since that is what the Stake President has requested. I’ve never had a problem with church leaders giving their opinions about some things. As I’ve mentioned, I use the scriptures as my guide, along with personal prayer and promptings of the spirit, to help me discern when personal opinion is being given.

      The question of obedience to church leaders is interesting. Some LDS believe that everything a church leader says while he is officiating in his/her calling is the word of the Lord. Yet, they say the church leaders aren’t infallible. So, not all LDS would agree with me, and I don’t agree with all of them. This is fine. I form friendships based on the positive things I see in others. I can be good friends with LDS who believe everything said by a church leader is from God, because our friendship is based on what we have in common, not what we disagree on. Right now Book of Mormon geography is a hot discussion. That along with the lack of direct physical evidences for the Book of Mormon. If other people give their opinions about these things, I listen to their reasons but don’t argue with them. The Book of Mormon doesn’t tell where the people lived and the Lord hasn’t revealed that information. So, I expect that people will have differing opinions — in fact I would be concerned if all LDS believed the same about this.

      Back in Brigham Young’s time, the GA were eager to talk about things not clearly explained in the scriptures. Hence, Brigham Young’s comments about moon-men, for example. Today, the GA have learned to focus on their mission and to let the things not clearly explained by the scriptures or by new revelation to the prophet remain “mysteries”. One of the GA said they focus on their mission to bring people to Christ and leave science to the scientists. I believe in evolution, because that is the best explanation the scientists currently have about the creation. The scriptures concern the “why” of the creation but not the “how”. Evolution is a “how”.

  4. Taylor says:

    I think I understand what you are saying about obedience. I actually think we have a similar philosophy. Paul teaches that we should be obedient to Christian leaders, but in the same paragraph he taught that sometimes we have to set up our tent “outside” the camp if we want to follow Christ. Christ, his followers, and John the Baptist, were openly defiant to their religious leaders. So, there are caveats to “obedience” and mine are outlined in my previous post.

    As a side note, I noticed in your book store that you have ancestors in Cedar City. I love Cedar City. I went to SUU and lived in Cedar for over 10 years. It’s a beautiful place and I would love to live there again someday. Have you ever been there?

    I do think it’s good to leave science to the scientists. I don’t think science has to “destroy” spirituality as some religious people claim it’s doing. I actually think it can enhance our spirituality by teaching us the workings of God. I also think it can enhance our spirituality by helping us eliminate false thoughts and beliefs. Science can’t disprove that there’s a God, for example, but it can give us some insight into what God is not, and by knowing what God is not, we can more fully know God.

    Obviously for Book of Mormon and Old Testament history literalists, science can be problematic because none of the former and only a portion of the latter is scientifically possible by any known findings. As scientists learn more about DNA, biology, geography, anthropology, time, etc…we are becoming less and less able to interpret these histories as factual. I know there’s a faith that, “Someday they will discover that it’s all true,” but objectively, I don’t believe this is likely, as all findings indicate the opposite. Whether or not the scriptures are inspired is a different topic. I don’t believe a narrative has to be historical to be inspired.

    Moon-men? Did Brigham Young teach that? I’ve heard a few strange things he taught, but haven’t studied them fully. But I’ve never heard of his teaching about moon-men. Even as an active LDS I thought Brigham Young left disaster in his wake (actual disaster and doctrinal disaster) that church leaders have been trying to clean up (or just forget) for over a century.

    • Allen says:

      I was born in Cedar and lived there through high school and a couple of summers during college. http://geezerlooksback.org tells of my early life in Cedar as well as some of my college and missionary experiences. My two paternal great grandfathers were Francis Webster and Samuel Leigh. My grandfather was Henry Leigh, oldest child of Samuel Leigh, and he married Amy Webster, oldest child of Francis Webster. http://welshleigh.org/ and http://webster-family.org/ are my two web sites about those two branches of my ancestors.

      You’ll enjoy browsing through http://convergencesciencereligion/ which is my blog about science and religion. In the left side bar is a link to a paper I presented at a conference of Mormon engineers in California a few years ago. That site has several pages telling why I believe in evolution and why I don’t take a literal interpretation of some Biblical events, such as the flood. That site has a link to a book I wrote about science and religion. One chapter is especially interesting concerning evolution and the Fall of Adam. I believe Adam was the first man, as the Bible states, but not the first man chronologically since science has good evidence of humans going back hundreds of thousands of years. If Adam wasn’t the first man, chronologically, what was he first in? My paper on evolution and the Fall of Adam gives my answer to that.

      Brigham Young said he thought there people living on the moon. In saying that, he was only repeating what scientists at that time believed. Of course we know that wasn’t the case until Neil Armstrong, and it is obvious that Brigham Young wasn’t speaking for the Lord. This is one example why I think our prophets sometimes speak for the Lord and other times speak for themselves. While I was a missionary in West Virginia in 1957, I encountered members of the Reorganized church. I didn’t know much about what happened after the death of Joseph Smith, so I started reading LDS church history. I came upon a difference of opinion between Joseph Fielding Smith, who was church historian and an Apostle, and B. H. Roberts who was a General Authority and a member of the First Council of the Seventy. I don’t remember now what that difference was, something in church history. I realized that even though both were General Authorities, they both couldn’t be right. Either one was right and one was wrong, or they both were wrong. I continued my studies and came upon a statement by John Taylor who said that the church can’t be judged by the statement of any man. I interpreted his use of “any man” to include General Authorities. Elder Taylor said that the church can only be judged by the standard works of the church, the four books of scripture. I thus formed my way of looking at our General Authorities that has served me well for 54 years.

    • Allen says:

      Ops… I forgot I no longer have the domains for two of the web sites I referred to. The correct links are http://geezerlooksback.blogspot.com/ and http://convergencesciencereligion.blogspot.com/

      Concerning the science and religion site. There are three types of post. Posts that give basic Mormon doctrine begin with Mormon Belief: Posts that give my personal views begin with Parallel: and the remaining posts are from the scientific literature and have the title of the article as the title of the post.

  5. Taylor says:

    “The church can’t be judged by the statement of any man.”

    I’m trying to wrap my brain around this. There are many things taught as doctrine in the church that are not found in the standard works of the church.

    For example, D&C section 89 was not meant to be a commandment, but a word of wisdom. And section 89 actually endorses drinking “mild drinks” made of barley: beer. I could quite successfully argue that the modern interpretation of section 89 is not doctrinal and win a debate about beer, if our test is the scriptures alone.

    Also, there’s nothing in the LDS canon that requires anyone be married and sealed at the same time, but currently young couples are penalized for a year (in the United States) if they want to do this. This practice and penalty are not doctrinal, if the scriptures are the standard.

    There are others too. But my point is that LDS doctrine is not based only in the scriptures. Arguing and teaching just the things I mentioned above could get a person disciplined, even though the person is doctrinally correct.

    LDS Doctrine is an evolving body of teachings, both scriptural and non-scriptural. And because it’s hard to pin down due to its evolving nature, I had to come up with criteria for defining LDS Doctrine: Any idea, belief or practice generally endorsed by the current General Authorities, and which would not incite correction from church leaders if expressed openly.

    I hope that makes sense. So, if I were in a meeting and said, “In section 89, God tells us it’s okay to drink beer” I would probably be corrected by any leader present. But if I say, “section 89 tells us not to drink alcohol” this would be an accepted statement, even though it’s not a true statement. Furthermore, if I drink the kinds of alcohol allowed in section 89, there would be penalties and withdrawal of certain kinds of participation.

    Am I wrong about this? Let me know what you think.

  6. Allen says:

    Thank you, Taylor, for recognizing that the scriptures themselves are not sufficient to define Mormon doctrine. We have to (and I do) include official statements from the prophet. It is true that beer was considered a “mild drink” in Joseph Smith’s time. Alcohol and tobacco were considered as medicines at that time. However, Section 89 was made a law of the church by Brigham Young (I think he was the one) and has been continued as a law of the church by subsequent prophets, and the use of beer was no longer accepted. Some people say this is an example of the changing doctrine of Mormonism. Of course Mormon doctrine changes as the people change. That’s why we have and need modern prophets. The official list of forbidden substances is alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea, and this list has been accepted by all LDS prophets since Brigham Young. The use of other drinks, such as colas, are up to the decision of each member.

    The one-year delay in going to the temple is a policy not a principle. Church leaders have felt that people need that year to become more mature in the gospel and to prepare themselves for the covenants that they will make in the temple. It’s possible that in the future the one-year policy may change

    I mentioned policies and principles. Policies change as people change. Principles don’t change. Mormon doctrine is a combination of policy and principles. When I grew up, we had PH meeting and Sunday school in the morning and Sacrament Meeting in the late afternoon or evening. Primary was during the week. Now we have all of those meetings in a three-hour block. Jr. Sunday School has been eliminated. Song practice during Sunday School, along with 2 1/2 minute talks, has been eliminated. We will see a lot of changes in Mormon policy in the future. The basic principles of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost do not change, although we might see temporary suspension of some of those principles due to political and/or legal actions against the church. For example, we might see members living in non-Christian nations being prohibited from baptism. Church ownership of property is currently prohibited in China. I have a friend who lives in China (for business reasons of her husband), and she said LDS meetings can be held in the open but must be in a building in which someone lives. I didn’t ask her about baptisms.

  7. Taylor says:

    My opinion is if a practice of the church denies someone the right to eternal blessings, then that practice should be considered doctrine. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll use an analogy; If I were married to a person who witheld normal spouse support for no other reason than, “Well, that’s just what I feel like doing right now. It’s a practice. And in the future, maybe I’ll provide what you need, if I want to, and when the time is right. But it all depends on you” I would label the behavior “abusive”. That’s why these kinds of practices, in my opinion, must be labeled as doctrine, because otherwise they would have to be labeled as abusive if they are merely practices.

    In short, if one is going to practice witholding blessings from his followers, one should claim his judgement of who is faithful is based on doctrines, not mere practices. I guess this is my opinion, but I believe it’s a soundly reasoned one.

    My point was to indicate that if the church is to be judged only by the 4 standard works, then one might argue, as some break-away groups do, that the LDS church is in a state of apostasy.

    I remember being taught my whole life that the words of the current prophet trump the words of the previous prophets. That’s why I’m surprized to see someone state the church should be judged only by the standard LDS scriptures, which were written 100 years ago, and not by the statements of current and recent leaders.

  8. Allen says:

    The question of what is Mormon doctrine and what isn’t is a difficult question to answer. We’re discussing three terms: practice, policy, doctrine. Here is my take on those words.

    Practice. The actions of particular persons, whether General Authorities, a stake or ward leaders, or a lay members. Practices vary from individual to individual. An example being whether a Stake President wants white shirts worn by those who administer and pass the Sacrament. Some Presidents do and some don’t care.

    Policy. Official statements from the church defining how the church and its members should be governed. Policies change as the needs of people and other aspects of the church change. An example being the change in our Sunday meetings, as I discussed previously. The official church handbooks define church policies. Also, statements by the General Authorities, especially the President, define church policies.

    Principle. Eternal nature or characteristics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Examples are the first principles (faith and repentance) that Joseph Smith gave in his Wentworth letter. Principles are defined by Jesus Christ, and this is where the importance of the scriptures comes into play. Coupled with that is the importance of statements by the current prophet. Of course, not all statements in the scriptures or from the current prophet are principles, such as Paul’s statements about women covering their heads when in worship.

    It isn’t clear whether particular things are policies or principles. For example, polygamy is considered a policy by some (including me) and a principle by others (those who espouse polygamy today). This distinction, however, is critical since it involves whether policies are being changed to better meet the needs of people, or whether eternal principles are being violated by a church in apostasy.

    Concerning the teaching you received when you were younger about the words of the present prophet trumping the words of previous prophets. That is true concerning practices and policies. However, I don’t think it is true concerning principles, since principles are eternal. Unfortunately, some parents and teachers don’t differentiate between policies and principles. I think the differentiation is “change”. Things, ideas, concepts that can change are practices or policies.

    Thanks again, Taylor, for your perspective and comments concerning the importance of statements by our latter-day prophets.

  9. Taylor says:

    Thanks for trying to explain what you mean. For clarification, are you saying practices, principles and policies all fall under the umbrella of doctrine, in your view?

    If so, the philosophical conclusion would be something like this: “God reveals to the LDS president whatever the people need for eternal life at a given time and a given cultural structure. God gave the people polygamy in the 19th Century because it would help them acheive eternal life (the celestial kingdom). But we don’t need polygamy any more…In short, official doctrine is whatever the current prophet supports as far as practices, principles and policies, even if those things contradict what past prophets supported or taught.”

    Or is doctrine something else?

    I appreciate your time.


    • Allen says:

      Practices are behavior of individual people, and they are not doctrine, although they may be based on doctrine. You gave an example of a parent who abuses a child. That is a practice and is not doctrine and is not based on doctrine. Loving parents who honor their children as children of God. The behavior of those parents is a practice that is based on doctrine and principle.

      Policies are official “rules” that are given to people to meet their needs. Policies change as the needs and behavior of people change. I would consider policies to be doctrine, although doctrine that is only applicable to the people in a particular area of the church. For example, if a Stake President states that white shirts should be worn, that policy is only applicable to members of that stake. Another Stake President may not have that policy in his stake. Because policies change, policies reflect doctrine that change. We shouldn’t be surprised that such doctrine change. Polygamy is such a policy. When it was stopped in 1890, that action only applied to the US, and some members went to Mexico and continued to practice polygamy. I think it was 1912 (or a time close to that) when polygamy was stopped everywhere.

      Principles never change and are doctrines that never change. To me, this change is a key way to tell policies from principles. Examples are the need for faith and repentance and the need for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Since baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost are ordinances, I need to include some ordinances as being based on principles. Example: the way that a blessing of the sick is performed. The manner in which Olive Oil is applied to a person’s head and the words used may change are are based on policy. The need for a blessing of sick people doesn’t change and is based on principle.

      “In short, official doctrine is whatever the current prophet supports as far as practices, principles and policies, even if those things contradict what past prophets supported or taught”

      What you said is true as far as doctrine based on policies are concerned. Your statement is not true for doctrine based on principle. Some practices are based on policy or principle and some aren’t. The church shouldn’t be judged by the practices of the people. It should only be judged by its policies and the principles given in the scriptures. Since policies can be declared by people in various levels of the church, any judgment should only be applied to the particular levels involved.

  10. Taylor says:

    Thanks for your response. Just to clarify, my example of parents who abuse their children was an analogy I applied to the Church. If a parent or a spouse were to treat a child or spouse in some of the ways the church treats its members, it would be considered abuse. The church should not engage in abusive behavior. I don’t exempt an organization from abusive action just because it’s not a “person”. I wasn’t trying to justify abusive parenting styles, but I was trying to illustrate a point. I don’t think the church would support most kinds of abuse in a marriage or parent-child relationship, which I believe is ironic.

    • Allen says:

      Thanks, Taylor, for your clarification. I hope you’re able to distinguish between the practices of individual members and leaders and the official policies and principles advocated by the church. Because the church has a lay priesthood and a lay leadership in the Relief Society and Primary, the leaders have a lot of latitude in doing their church-work, and there will be some who abuse their callings by abusing the members under their stewardship.

      I’ve been fortunate in my 76 years of church membership that I’ve never had abusive leaders. Well, there was one time in my life when I had priesthood leaders who may have been slightly abusive. That experience is described in my essay on church leadership. I don’t think that was a case of intentional abuse. I think it was a case of my priesthood leaders focusing on their assignments and not being sensitive to my needs. Also, I was at fault for not requesting a meeting with my leaders to discuss my situation. I learned from that experience that I am responsible for my relationship with God. This is not my leader’s church but is God’s church. We all error in our behavior toward God and toward others, but the church is not to blame for our actions. We, as individuals, are to blame.

  11. Taylor says:

    I understand your way of thinking. Fortunately, I’ve got no problems with any of the local leaders I’ve ever had. The people are the most beautiful aspect of the LDS Church.

    The abuse I’m talking about is systemic. I won’t go into any more detail about it.

    However, getting back to the topic of the essay, I believe the structure of the church is designed to make members believe placing your will in the hands of God and placing your will in the hands of priesthood leaders are, if not synonymous, are at least intermingled, and one can’t be separated from the other. I take issue with this because it’s false.

    If a church leader, of any level of authority, says to do something, we have the obligation to obey God regardless of what the church leader says, even if it means overtly disobeying the church leader. Even if it means telling them they are wrong and facing church discipline. It’s a time for courage.

    But please know that I have nothing but love for the beautiful people of the church. It would have been much easier to leave the church had the people been a bunch of jerks. I left because I realized the falsehoods that occur are systemic, and that the people are actually not to blame for the abuses that occur due to a corrupted system. Blaming the people instead of the system is abusive behavior, as I’ve stated before, and the system is what teaches the people to blame the people instead of looking at the system. There’s a severe lack of introspection at the systemic level, much like certain patients with antisocial personality disorder completely lack the ability to see that their own behaviors (and not the behaviors of others) are the problem. Eventually their abused spouses and children, after years of thinking they are bad, stupid, fatally flawed, and/or crazy, finally have a moment of awakening and say, “Wait a second, I’m being abused!”

    I’ve probably worn my welcome on your site. But I appreciate your time, and your explanations. You’ve helped me with my feelings and thoughts regarding the church.



  12. Taylor says:

    If the goal is to create an environment for open political discussion, that is good. The church’s moral idealogies are not what concern me about the church. I have fairly conservative values.

    My concerns go deeper than values, to the heart of the individual relationship with God, where the church insists it must mingle and for which it takes alot of credit.

    • Allen says:

      I agree with you, Taylor, that a church should not be abusive. I guess we’ve had different experiences in the church and different perspectives about the church, because I don’t think the church is abusive. I look at my relationship with God from two perspectives.

      First, the church is an earthly organization and is concerned about things that affect ones membership in the church: baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordinations, classes to enhance our learning, youth activities, Sacrament Meeting talks, excommunications, health laws, etc. I think that type of involvement in my life is appropriate since I’m a member of the church.

      Second, I have my own relationship with God. This relationship is based on scripture study, study of other good books and conference talks, and my personal prayers. Church leaders encourage me to to do things that will bring me closer to God and to avoid things that separate me from God, but the church and its leaders don’t get involved directly with my relationship with God. That relationship is between me and God.

      For example, my wife and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple. The church built that temple and maintains it, and it is appropriate that I be interviewed by my Bishopric and Stake Presidency to gain entrance to the temple. In the temple, my wife and I were “sealed” for eternity, but that sealing is only a promise of what might happen in the future. The actual sealing, if it happens, will be when we stand before God and are judged according to our works. The church will not be involved in that judgment. It will be a matter between us and God and his son, Jesus Christ.

      Thanks for taking time to discuss these things with me. You said the discussions have been helpful to you, and I know they’ve been helpful to me. It’s been a win-win situation. If you ever want to discuss this in more detail, please feel free to email me at the address given in the AboutMe page, and we can continue our discussion in the privacy of email.

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