Thank you so very much for giving me some new and true perspective I had never thought of before. It really helped soften my heart. You are a phenomenal writer to be able to do what you did. I’m at peace now, thanks to you!
We need to keep in mind that God is good at choosing his battles. He allows us to believe certain cultural false assumptions in order to not distract from the more important messages. It is also important to understand that this is a world wide church trying to persuade leaders of nations that the church is always supportive of the governments of the countries they are allowed to participate in. Think of the message they need to send to all the leaders of all those nations. We also need to remember that the church wanted all members to feel safe at church. Those of us who are aware of the bigger picture can deal with a little inconvenience to make those less informed feel safe and avoid a major controversy which would be counterproductive to the church's mission.
Ever since the prophet came out with the letter encouraging getting the vaccine, people have been treating it , and seem to keep insinuating that this was a revelation and so we should all follow. No where has it been said that this is a revelation. It is a suggestion from the presidency. You are still a member in good standing if you choose not to get the vaccine.
I will add my voice with that of Charles McClelland. He stated my opinion exactly.
It's not about pros and cons. It's about truth vs lies. Good vs evil.
Thanks Duane, you have always had such a thoughtful approach, and serving with you before I know first hand of your loving concerns to present all the facts in a non- judge mental thorough way that meets the approval of the Lord. What a wonderful article, and wider perspective that can help heal divisions and feelings. The Lords ways are always higher than our own, and it’s wonderful to have our living General Authorities to guide us and lead us in these Latter Days.
It's worth noting the fact that President Nelson spent many years as a successful, brilliant cardiac surgeon. And a humble one, which isn't the norm for cardiac surgeons. He helped develop the heart/lung bypass machine, without which millions of people around the world would have died. He knows more about the workings of the human body & health than those who suddenly became infectious disease experts last year thanks to the Internet. He has a vast store of knowledge, in addition to the presence of the Spirit.
I am completely fed up with those who are putting their biases as their god. This month in fast & testimony meeting, a brother stood up & basically told us all that the First Presidency are false prophets because of what they recommend regarding COVID. And this was before the latest letter. He & his wife have always been rabid anti-vaxxers. So apparently this is the hill they choose to die on. I'm all for agency, if they choose to leave the Church they should go. But I feel really sorry for their children.
Long time Duane! Your article tracks with my thinking about the need to protect the church from destruction politically. I've been thinking of the concept of the Lord commanding his prophets in the scriptures to employ stratagem. Abraham saying Sarah is his sister. Elijah leading blinded syrians to Samaria. Stratagem in Book of Mormon wars. Captain Moroni said deceit, decoys and trickery not a sin in war. Alma 43:30. Could 1st Pres be employing stratagem in our war against Secret Combination here? Flattering Caesar to misdirect and preserve Church's 501c3 status and privileges in spreading gospel? Don't have your new phone#. My old contact info is still good. Please give me a call to discuss/catch up.
I appreciate the points and examples used in this article. Very well-written. Very illuminating and grounding. Thank you.
This is a wonderful article. My concern is not with members decisions to get the vaccine or not, but of how they treat those who choose differently than they do. We see in the Book of Mormon over and over that contentions arose among members because of pride. This is what we are seeing. The love of God is not in many of our hearts instead we have pride and judgment against those who believe and choose different. Our opinion matter more than love for our neighbor. Especially concerning the prophets current statement. You even see it in these comments. In such a critical time that we should humble ourselves and all unite in our faith in Christ despite little disputations Instead we are seeing contention and separation among His flock.
This article and some of the comments intimate that the prophet has given us a commandment, but he hasn't. He has encouraged us in one direction while leaving the opposite direction open and trusted our personal revelation and agency. Just like not getting the vaccine because of fear is the wrong choice, getting it "because the prophet did" is also spiritually and physically irresponsible. We are to seek revelation for ourselves and our stewardships.
From my perspective, the Lord has been assisting us. Global pandemic, yet people have been inspired to create the technology over the last few decades to effectively and safely address it, just when it's needed most. And just when there's a global pandemic, who has the Lord called as His prophet? A medical doctor.
This is a wonderful article and echoes all of my feelings on Covid mitigation in particular, and on following the Prophet and the Brethren as a whole regardless of the issue, in general. How can we call ourselves good Latter-day Saints in Jesus Christ's church and do less?
Consider the following:
And these signs shall follow those who believe-
And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them;
I am considered to be medically fragile. I have been in the hospital for surgery twice and to multiple medical facilities since the pandemic began.
I am blessed with a good immune system and am seldom bothered by colds of flu. So far I have been blessed to have been protected the Covid virus other than losing my sense of taste and a few snuffles for a couple of days.
Getting any of the vaccines fills me with terror as I've viewed articles that reveal what is in them or the conditions that some are manufactured in. But I cannot deny the words of Scripture.
I must follow the prophet and have faith in what the Savior has promised.
I don't understand the controversy. Do or Do Not. Live with it.
I have always appreciated counsel from our prophets who have warned members against accepting anything taught by them on blind faith. Rather, we have been counseled to make their teachings a matter of serious study and prayer. Then be open to the personal revelation that will come by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost directing how we are to individually respond. Agency comes down to individuals who must act according to the light and knowledge they receive for themselves in their particular circumstances and within their own spheres of stewardship.
I wonder how many people put following the Lord first? Because if you asked Him in prayer and received an answer...no matter what that answer was...you'd follow that direction...not man
Many years ago I was in a stake conference in Arizona in which Elder Mark E. Peterson was speaking. He told stories of how the leaders agonize over wording in letters such as the one last week. He said when a letter says "We recommend", then all they're doing is recommending, nothing more and nothing less. Last week's letter "urged" us to do something; it did not "command" us. Take that letter with you into your private prayers and let the Holy Spirit guide you; that's what I did. The Spirit instructed me on what to do, and even though it's not what I want to do, I know better than to not follow the Spirit - or the prophet.
Thank you. When one believes that we are lead by a living prophet, to stay on the covenant path means acceptance of counsel and obedience. I find it a complement when I am classed with the"sheeple" by the anti-maskers and anti-vacsers because I follow the the counsel of our leaders.
I was very happy to read so many wonderful, positive responses. For the life of me I cannot understand how anybody that claims to be a member of the Church speaks negatively about the First Presidencies encouraging message to wear a mask and get vaccinated. If we only prayed about this subject earnestly, we would get an answer from the spirit in the affirmative. It is a great blessing to have a living Prophet on earth in these troubling times, the Lord has not forsaken us and left us in the dark, the Prophet is His mouthpiece on the earth and so are his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve. I love, honor and sustain these brethren and I thank the Lord for them daily. Thank you Meridian Magazine for your uplifting articles, you are part of my life as are the scriptures. Thank you for spreading light and truth. God bless and continue to shower you with inspiration. Great big thank you to Duane Boyce for an excellent and lovingly presented message!
I'm certain there were many who thought Moses had gone loopy when he held up the brazen serpent and so they refused to gaze upon it, which was exercising their God-given agency to not follow the prophet, and we all know what happened to the "anti-gazers" don't we? I remember President Faust saying how much we would jump at the opportunity to work on the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple, but then asked if we would simply perform our home teaching duty. I'm at a loss as to why the extremely simple wearing of a mask or getting a vaccine (that the Prophet says was a literal God-send) would be so controversial and why anyone would believe information on the internet or social media over their own doctor's advice. But people refused to gaze at the brazen serpent, too, so I guess we're not all that different from the ancient Children of Israel, are we?
Thank you for helping me reorient. I am ashamed of myself and will get vacinnated right away. Waiting for Novavax might come too late. Stubborness and pride have always been my achilles heel and throw in health, patriotism, civics, and all my cherished values and it is a perfect test. Some will be tried for wearing masks and others for not! Commit your body to Almighty God.
From the official church handbook: 38.7.13
"Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life. Members of the Church are encouraged to safeguard themselves, their children, and their communities through vaccination.
Ultimately, individuals are responsible to make their own decisions about vaccination. If members have concerns, they should counsel with competent medical professionals and also seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost."
This article is thought provoking for sure and presents insights that had not occurred to me before. However as someone who has sought counsel with multiple competent medical professionals and also sought the guidance of the Holy Ghost as per direction from the First Presidency, the instruction I have received is different from many but right for me. Could this be an opportunity for the members of the church to have confidence in each other for doing the work of research and receiving spiritual guidance and show respect each other even if our answers might look different?
Thank you for this inspired article! I didn't know which way to go about wearing a mask again, but this article helped me to decide to always obey the brethren and get my own confirmation as well. I have now gotten it.
Having a hard time figuring out what the big deal is here. President Nelson did NOT say we have to wear face masks everywhere. He counseled us to wear them in public meetings where safe distancing is not possible. Also, he has been encouraging us to get immunized for a long time--nothing new here.
Masking has been shown through peer-reviewed research to reduce transmission even if people don’t understand the scientific review process. The brethren shut down in-person worship before the government did.
Vaccines are safe and effective as the First Presidency stated in their recent communication. There are copious amounts of data saying that this is so. What makes this announcement so confusing?
If we want temples to be open we need to do whatever we can and masking and vaccination are our best tools in this war with COVID
It is my firm belief that the General Authorities knew over 2 years ago that the pendemic or some other major problem would affect the intire world and make church meetings hard to have or even impossible.
As a result they made the change to our Sunday services and made the Church of Jesus Christ a "home centered religion." While many churches faltered ours continued agains all ods.
I firmly believe that more problems for the Church are coming and that the First Prisidency knows what lies ahead and is working diligenty to position the Church to be prepared to face whatever comes.
If you have doubts do what we have been told time and again "not to accept a position of the First Presidency "whole cloth" but seek your own aceptance by prayer and Personal revolation.
Thank you for this article and the many insightful reader comments, most of which express gratitude for the wonderful inspired leadership of the First Presidency. I wonder if there's another lesson we need to learn through this pandemic experience - we seem to have lost the ability to rationally and calmly discuss things with each other, and wonder why everyone else seems to be so confused. One of the discussion points in this last week's 'Come Follow Me' was that Jesus Christ is the source of all light and truth. If we find ourselves needing to listen to a particular network or commentator or politician to find out what we believe about a particular issue, then maybe we've fallen prey to 'conspiring men' who distort things for their political or financial gain, and we need to reconsider our sources. This time it may only have mortal consequences, but next time it may be everlasting.
Perhaps Pres Nelson doesn't want to have to close the temples again?
So well written. Excellent points and examples. Thank you for your insight.
Great read, very well written. I for one got the shots when the General Presidency got theirs at the beginning of all this. I felt like if they were doing it, that was enough for me.
President Benson’s 7th Fundamental in Following the Prophet:
The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
“Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear,” complained Nephi’s brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:1, 3). Or, to put it in another prophet’s words, “Hit pigeons flutter.”
Said President Harold B. Lee: You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]
But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones” (Instructor, 95:257).
Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. .... And so the list goes on and on.
How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.
Good article Duane, but I think we need the Lord’s work to continue and expand which it can’t do while Covid 19 is spreading and killing so many people. Temple and missionary work nearly stopped during the early stages of the pandemic and now with vaccines both are returning to normal. I am glad we have a prophet to guide us through this pandemic.
"Follow the Prophet, he knows the way"
Thank you for this article. For many reasons, I have been rebelling quietly against mask mandates and other violations of our freedoms during Covid lockdowns. So when my Bishop read the letter from the First Presidency yesterday, I was still rebelling. I had to tell myself over and over why the First Presidency would ask us to do this. My reasoning included many of the above things mentioned in the article and I concluded that the Lord would not lead us wrong. If I believed in the church and our prophet, then I could do anything that is required.
So, if a little thing like wearing a mask is involved and I did not want to obey that, then how can I be expected to obey the big things? This personal questioning was hard, especially when I was masked shamed from a fellow church member the previous week for not wearing a mask after our area seventy let us know that it was okay for us not to. I just kept thinking that the Lord would not lead us astray, so I put the mask on, but this little effort has been one of my hardest battles.
It turns out that for me, it is not about fighting for our freedoms, but fighting against Satan who is striving to get all of us to rebel against our Lord. Actively obeying what the Prophet is tell us, and our Lord's representatives, is among our greatest fights for our freedoms here on earth.
I felt a great peace throughout the rest of my Sunday knowing that I am obeying the Lord, even if it is a small thing like wearing a mask that our prophet asked us to wear.
This is an excellent article. Although this isn’t one of my hot buttons—I believe the rapid vaccine development was one of the answers to our world-wide fast last year—I have faithful family members who continue to resist the vaccine and masking on political and even scientific bases. I have considered these principles on other issues that concerned me in the past, and the bottom line is always “Follow the Prophet.” Sometimes there has eventually been obvious validation. Other counsel still requires faith. “I thank Thee, Oh God, for a Prophet!”
How do we console to the tens of thousands who have died from an experimental vaccine side effects when there are proven functional health protocols that drastically reduce deaths more so than the CDC protocols from all over the USA that are being censored by our "trusted" government health officials
Hugh B. Brown: Official statements of the First Presidency that have not been submitted to the membership of the church for its approval are matters of temporary policy only. Under present conditions, for example, the First Presidency may say, ‘We recommend this or that.’ But conditions may subsequently change, and when they do the First Presidency may wish to make a statement which may not be in complete harmony with a former statement. We have to keep our theology up to date by submitting everything that is intended to become a permanent part of the gospel to those whose right and privilege it is to so interpret and then by having it sustained by the people as a definite rule of the church so that all things may be done by common consent. (An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, ed. Edwin B. Firmage [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999], 124-125)
This is a great big-picture discussion that stays out of the political muck and focuses on principles.
Excellent article. Others may wish to read the BYU Devotional talk by Elder Ezra Taft Benson (February 26, 1980) on "Fourteen Fundamentals to Following the Prophet.
I believe the work of salvation must continue on both sides of the veil.
President Nelson and his counselors have shown us the way to accomplish this. Wearing a mask and getting vaccinated is a small price to pay to keep the temple open and performing ordinances for both the living and the dead.
Thank you for this insightful article. It’s nice to know I'm not the only one with these questions as I want to support and be guided by the Lords authorities on earth but feel I was/am directed to "go north". There are so many ways to feel like an outcast at church and now this is one more way. The narrative that "going north" means you are endangering those around you is exactly how this is playing out. I appreciate your supportive and informative words as I strive to "survive spiritually" through the influence of the Holy Ghost and feel I am doing the spiritual work to hear that Voice frequently and more clearly. I sure didn't expect to need it about a church "policy".
Did I miss something? All I thought they said was to get vaccinated if you hadn't done so already, which they had already advised previously, and to wear masks in public or large gatherings, even if you have been vaccinated. With this extremely contagious delta variant, that's just common sense, so what are people upset about? I don't particularly like wearing a mask, but it sure beats getting COVID.
What a great commentary about following the Brethren even when we do not always understand the why behind some of the direction. I am so grateful for the wonderful gift of living prophets and Apostles. The Lord knows better than I do what lies ahead and therefore is perfectly qualified to lead me according to what is best. When I follow the prophet I follow the Lord.
Thank you Brother Boyce,
Those are pertinent points, that we as a church have to exist within our host societies, and the Lord is not choosing this hill to die on.
I have to say I felt super uncomfortable yesterday wearing a mask at church, with all the feelings swirling around my head of hating masks, not trusting corrupt government leaders, not wanting to appear as “virtue signaling” better than others.
But I do want to follow the prophet. I do believe he is directed by God. So I put the stupid thing on.
And I appreciate your calm, rational treatment of the facts, and your offering of new thoughts I had not considered.
I did not start wearing a mask until it became mandatory. I resisted the vaccine at first because of the many negative things I had heard about it. When I learned that the prophet and the apostles got the shot, I decided that they would know if it is as dangerous as I had heard. So, I got it. I still believe that the issue is more political than it is medical. We have been told that a prophet is entitled to his own opinion on any subject that the Lord has not revealed the truth concerning. We have also been told that the Lord will never allow His prophet to lead us astray. I accept that the prophet can, at times, express what is just his own opinion. However, whenever the church issues a statement signed by all three members of the First Presidency, I take notice. If we believe that these three men, especially the president, are prophets, seers, and revelators, then we need to heed what they say. No matter what the controversy may be, when they speak as a group, the controversy is over.
As a missionary in Norway from 1966 to 1968, we passed out a pamphlet entitled, "A Church for all The World". President Nelson leads that church for all of the world and must consider, with the Lord's direction, all of the places the Church must further the work of Salvation. We must also individually live our religion. That includes Article of faith 12 which says, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Recommending vaccination does not interfere with my personal agency. I still have my choice on the matter. But, it does further the work of the Lord by respecting all the various governments worldwide. The work will roll forth to every nation, kindred, tongue and people with or without us.
Powerful true message Duane! Thanks! Smile :-)
Thank you for this. It has helped me remember a lot of what I had forgotten. The Lord is in charge and is guiding us through our prophet. I sustain him, his counselors and the Quorum of the 12 at each conference, it's past time I remember that and what it means to ",sustain".
Again, thank you for this article.
I am reminded of a story where a man is stranded on his roof in a flood and prays for God to save him. God sends multiple ways of help his way including a boat and a helicopter. He refuses because he’s waiting for God to save him. When he drowns, he asks God why his prayer wasn’t answered. God explains that he sent him help (boat and helicopter, etc.)
Are we taking advantage of the lifesaving methods God has inspired men with? The leaders in the church have reaffirmed that these are the methods that will save lives. If you go back and listen, this isn’t the first time they’ve mentioned that masks will save lives, etc. they also set the example earlier in the year by publicly getting their vaccinations. (Follow the Prophet) I am so excited about the mRNA technology in the vaccines. They have been working on it for years and it is said the technology could lead to even a vaccine for MS eventually. A disease which I have. God inspires men and directs them in our lives whether they belong to our church or not. Look at all of the technology we’ve been given to better our lives. Do you think it was just invented by chance?
Then the masks. What a simple thing to save lives. Take charge of your own life and grab onto these methods that the Lord has provided us with. I just got my third booster shot two days ago since I am immunocompromised. I am so thankful to God for providing these ways for me to choose to grab hold of in order to save my own life and the lives of those around me.
Thank you for the additional hindsight and perspective to consider. The Lord’s work has always been about the bigger eternal picture than the thoughts and mindset of the individual(s). I’ll continue to pray for my own confirmation one way or another.
I am surprised that anyone was worried by that announcement. We prayed as a people for quick development of vaccines and were rewarded with miracles. It would be churlish not to accept the miracles that the Lord has granted us.
Excellent, timely article that I hope will be read by those who are struggling with this decision by the General Authorities.
I am absolutely at a loss to see how President Nelson and the rest of the First Presidency asking Church members to get vaccinated, wear masks, and socially distance is a BAD thing! This is to assist in curtailing the spread of a deadly virus and its variants all over the world. Why on earth would a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints protest this? This seems like insanity to me to be against protecting our family, neighbors, and the nation/world at large. And the cry of "personal freedom" is a strawman when it comes to a worldwide health crisis. Do we claim "personal freedom" when it comes to speed limits, seat belts, etc.?
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