The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been getting a lot of negative attention lately. That is not news. What is news, and what is sad, is that more and more of that negative attention is coming from within the church, from people who were once solid members. Satan is very clever. He has a way of injecting worldly logic and reason into spiritual issues to make religious matters sound foolish. So it is with current LDS issues. The result is personal apostasy, and the potential loss of eternal blessings, over what many will ultimately see was deceptive nothingness.
Haters will hate the church regardless of the truth. Haters don’t have truth. They have hatred. They cannot base their bitterness in fact. It is purely emotional.
We all choose to believe things we cannot physically verify. Today many latter-day saints are losing their faith over internet documents that discredit the church. A great many of these documents cannot be verified for their accuracy or authenticity. Documents such as journal pages from people in the mid 1800s making claims against Joseph Smith’s integrity or fidelity. People are accepting these as true, without being able to trace them to their source. They don’t consider the motivation that put those documents on the internet. It most likely wasn’t neutral. Yet people choose to accept them as factual.
Those who are honest in heart before God will go to God for their answers to tough questions, rather than persecute the Church. I have seen many people lately – some of them members of the church posting comments and articles on Facebook and other locations, openly criticizing the Church for its stand on various topics. They do so with no regard to God’s reasons for these decisions or policies. This is an obvious sign of personal apostasy, whether they can admit it or not.
Do we choose to be a Nephi, or are we a Laman in the way we react to tough questions in the Church?
“16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
“18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.
“21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 2:16, 18, 21)
Those who have solid faith will do as Nephi did, and will go to the Lord for their answers. Those who do not have that strength will do things like post critical remarks on Facebook, align with pseudo-Mormon support groups, etc.
To me, this is where the great "sifting of the wheat from the tares" in the last days begins.
One of the temple recommend interview questions goes something like this: “Do you support, agree or affiliate with individuals or organizations whose teachings are not in harmony with the Church?” The answer “yes” would render a person unworthy of a temple recommend until they can answer “no.” In this sense, it is as the Lord told Nephi: “They shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (1 Ne 2:21)
So ask yourself:
When the Ordain Women movement gained attention, did you jump on their bandwagon, post your support on Facebook, quit going to church, etc… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?
When the church took a stand in defense of the family and the definition of marriage as ordained by God, did you post a rainbow profile picture on your Facebook page, make publicly critical comments about the church, quit going, etc… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue? Maybe read, ponder and pray about “The Family – A Proclamation to the World?”
When you heard all the “news” about Joseph Smith and all of his apparent wives and alleged adulterous activity, did you post critical remarks on Facebook? Did you run to a support group full of other Mormons who also refuse to go to their Heavenly Father for answers, thinking that would strengthen your faith… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?
When you heard all the supposed evidence against the Book of Mormon, such as DNA evidence (which has since been debunked quite convincingly, I might add), or considered all the bones dug up by Paleontologists who summarily and prematurely conclude that their bones constitute proof of evolution, did you believe their findings – all of which you cannot personally verify… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?
And most recently, when you heard all the recent stir about the church’s policy regarding the baptism of children who live in a same-sex household (which was not a new policy at all), did you immediately disagree with what you heard or thought of it, and share your disapproval on Facebook… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?
And if you say you prayed for your answers, how long or diligently did you pray? Did you stay on your knees all day long and into the night, as Enos did (See Enos 1:4)? Was this an important enough topic that you stayed on your knees as long as it took, or did you do it until you felt like you had prayed enough? In other words… on YOUR terms? How badly would you want to know? How important is your faith? At what price can it be bought by Satan?
The truth about these issues can be had. It comes from God, not from worldly opinion, not from the internet, and certainly not from Facebook posts. From God. Through revelation, the answer to prayers. Through His prophets. Through a witness of truth from the Holy Ghost – which is the Holy Ghost’s purpose, by the way… to testify of truth.
There are those who say they didn’t get the answer. They don’t believe in the power of the Holy Ghost because they say it didn’t answer them. My response is that they didn’t try hard enough, or they insisted that they get their answers on their own terms, and not on the Lord’s terms. Try again. Try longer. Be more humble and sincere. The answers come if we submit to the Lord and don’t demand it to be on our own terms.
The common denominator of haters, persecutors and antagonists who once belonged to the church is that at some point along the way, they lost the companionship of the Holy Ghost. They quit reading their scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon. They quit saying their prayers. They became sloppy in their spirituality in other ways. They became spiritually out of shape, much like an athlete would if they quit working out. As a result of spiritual sloppiness, they stopped listening to the Spirit’s promptings. Or perhaps they never learned to recognize them in the first place. Either way, they are without that essential communication from God that allows us to know His mind and will. Instead, the mind and will of the world – Satan – fills that void in them.
The reality of that spiritual witness cannot be refuted by the haters and disbelievers. Millions upon millions of people have testified of the answers they have received regarding many issues ranging from the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the reality of the mission of Joseph Smith, the blessings of the law of tithing, divine protection, and others. Many of these people have seen these witnesses repeated hundreds of times in their lives. Those who try to argue against the validity of these experiences simply look foolish to the many millions who have actually witnessed them. It's as silly as arguing that Tahiti (or any other place) doesn't exist simply because you have personally never been there and never made the required effort to go.
There is no other possible explanation for people who once had testimonies of the church to suddenly become its adversaries, than to lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Logic, fact, reason, etc, are not valid answers, because no physical evidence against the church’s teachings can be verified. To the contrary, only God’s word can be verified, through the witness of the Holy Ghost. That is the only source of verification that exists. Further, its validity can be tested. Millions and millions of people testify of the blessings they receive for obedience to various laws and principles of the gospel. This is solid evidence. It’s even more solid when it happens to us, and we don’t just read the accounts of others.
Haters cannot experience this. It takes genuine faith, humility, sincere desire and effort. Haters mock what they cannot understand or cannot experience. The Apostle Paul understood this:
“11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-14)
Haters don’t have any proof. They have simply chosen to blindly believe something that they cannot verify. Instead of putting God to the test and proving Him, they choose to believe the counterfeits and distractions. And sadly, they shall have their rewards.