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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Should "Mormon" Church Members Question?

Of course!  Questioning is how we learn. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in these latter days because a young man questioned the traditional Christian teachings. Joseph Smith prayed and asked God what church was right? Which church should I join?

But many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are very concerned that they are showing a lack of faith if they question their leaders. Though we are warned to follow our leaders to help us be safe in these perilous times, that does not mean that we are to blindly follow them like unthinking robots.  We each have a responsibility to carefully study the things our leaders say, then we must pray to know what they are saying is right.  It is only after own own effort that we can gain our own testimony, our own witness from God, of the truth of what our leaders are saying.  It is only when we act on what we have learned to be right,  that we will grow and progress.

Some members can feel OK about asking for a confirmation that what leaders are saying is right, but feel that they are doing something wrong if they question Church doctrine.  What confuses members and is causing their concern is that there are seeing two different things. One is the honest questioning of a person who is looking for answers. The other is people who are looking merely for a quick way to discount the Gospel teachings and live a less demanding life.


For example, two people hear that they should save some of their money each month. Both are unsure about doing it. One really wants to know if saving some of his money will help him be happier. He studies financial advice, and counsels with financial advisors; he observes people who save and those who don't; he examines the consequences of saving and of not saving.  After all this, he decides  that he will be happier and feel more secure if he saves some money for future expenses.  Now look at the other man.  He has already decided that he wants all of his money each month "to have fun and enjoy life". He pauses for a moment and thinks he remembers that "somebody" said that saving is a bad thing to do.  Maybe he even takes five minutes to read an article that has been written about people who lost their money when the stocks crashed, or a bank failed.  Firmly, he declares, "See, I told you saving was a bad idea!"  Feeling that he has "thought about it" and even "done research", he proceeds to do what he had always intended to do.  The first person was sincerely looking for answers, and his questioning led him led him to a happier life.  The second man will certainly have fun in the moment, but he will have to suffer the consequences of his decision in the future.  One man used questioning as a tool to help him learn, the other man just wanted an excuse to do what he wanted and to remain where he is and not grow.

Sincerely questioning is how we grow in understanding the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It takes time and effort. It isn't easy, but it is worth it.  It also means that, like a freshman student,  we are not prepared at that time to understand the answer, or even that all answers are not known to us right now. All serious students know and accept  that we understand so little about the universe, how our bodies work, or the creation of the world. Learning is a lifetime quest, not a social media post.

In the dark ages, scriptures were kept in Latin so that only the priests could read them. To maintain their power over the people, they killed anyone who translated the Bible so that the people could read it.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages questioning and learning. They have provided  manuals, scriptures in many languages, Church leaders' talks, study helps, explanations of doctrine, historical records, and scholarly essays, all available on LDS.org.

For six years I answered the feedback that people sent into LDS.org.  Many times I was confronted by a person who angrily declared, "How could you believe such a thing!!"  I wondered how could anyone possibly think that we believed that?  But they didn't want to hear anything I had to say. They didn't want to read any Church materials. "Somebody" had told them. They had the excuse they needed to close their mind, and that was that.  A wise man one declared that "I don't want to drink where the cattle have muddied the water.  I will go to the source."

I have lived a life of questioning for 67 years. My questions brought me to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and led to my commitment to be baptized. As I have asked questions, and truly searched for the answers, I have grown. Sure, learning is hard work, but it is also so exciting, and it is what life is about. The Lord has told us that "the truth shall make you free".  Don't be afraid to question. The answers are there if you are willing to work to find them.

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