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The following is excerpted from Latter-day Saint Philosopher. Author Jeffrey Thayne has a political standpoint on a recent issue that is at odds with an official statement from the Church. As a result, he explores the important things for any faithful member of the Church to consider when prophets disagree with their politics. To read the full article, click here.
1. I am grateful prophets don’t always agree with me.
If prophets always agreed with me, then things would be easy. But things are not supposed to be easy. There’s no spiritual growth in that. And I’m grateful they don’t, because it gives me occasion to demonstrate loyalty, to demonstrate to God my willingness to set aside my own predilections and to follow counsel from divinely appointed servants. I am a Latter-day Saint first, and a civil libertarian way down on the list, after husband, father, and a few others. When prophets disagree with me, it gives me occasion to show God where my ultimate loyalties lie. And it’s not with my politics.
Saints of every generation have been asked to do “hard things” by God’s servants, and I think this is by divine design. So it must be that prophets and apostles occasionally invite us to do things that I don’t already want to do. Things that might go against my natural inclinations, that work against my own reasoning and preferences. And it’s those moments where we spiritually mature the most, where we learn the humility to set aside our own preferences and seek instruction from a power and authority higher than our own. Neal A. Maxwell taught:
Discipleship includes good citizenship; and in this connection, if you are careful students of the statements of the modern prophets, you will have noticed that with rare exceptions—especially when the First Presidency has spoken out—the concerns expressed have been over moral issues, not issues between political parties. … But make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions (see 1 Kings 18:21).
President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, or political life” (CR, April 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ.
I believe this is true, and so it is that I delight when the prophets turn out to disagree with me — precisely because it gives me an opportunity to show that I am not ashamed of them, and that I truly believe they are men of God.
2. The God we worship is a divine Person, not an political ideology.
I don’t want to place my own political ideologies over instruction from God’s servants. When we evaluate the teachings of God’s servants against our ideological worldview (whether it be liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, or any other perspective), we risk elevating our own ideas over God Himself.
To read the full article, click here.