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Rob Bowman

Of earrings and obeying the prophet

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I just ran across this and am interested in comments on it. Apparently, some years ago President Hinckley told Mormon women not to wear more than one pair of earrings at a time. What interests me is how this instruction was expected to be received:

A few years ago President Gordon B. Hinckley told the young women of the Church, "You do not need to drape rings up and down your ears. One modest pair of earrings is sufficient" ("A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth," Ensign, January 2001, 7). The next day in seminary, some of the young women and young men were upset at what the prophet said. They said earrings just weren't that big of a deal. They refused to obey the prophet of the Lord or accept the truth of his words. Later in class that day, as I welcomed a sister with long blond hair, I asked her if she had heard President Hinckley's talk. She said she had. I then asked her what she thought of his remarks. Without hesitation she pulled her hair away from her ears. Where she used to wear two pairs of earrings she now only wore one pair. She looked up and asked, "Does that answer your question?" Here was a young woman who had received the truth and obeyed. Other students responded the same way, stating that they didn't realize that's how the prophet felt. They received the truth and obeyed. I wanted to jump up and down and shout for joy at their response, but I controlled myself until I got home.

http://www.ldsliving...t-as-your-guide

Just prior to President Hinckley's fireside for youth, one of my nieces had pierced her ears a second time. After the fireside, she went home and took out the second pair of earrings. She admitted that she didn't really understand why wearing an extra set of earrings was a problem, but that if the prophet asked her to do it, that was good enough for her. Removing those earrings may or may not have eternal impact for this young woman, but her willingness to obey the prophet will. And if she'll obey him on a relatively simple issue, how much easier it will be to follow him when greater issues are at stake.

Sheri Dew, No Doubt about It

Now my serious question is this: If I understand the context correctly, President Hinckley's remarks about women's earrings were not made in General Conference, but in a "fireside for youth." Yet his remarks appear to be treated as equivalent to any prophetic revelation--as "the truth" that must be "accepted" and "obeyed." Is that correct? Whenever a prophet speaks in an instructional context, whether in one of the standard works or not, whether in General Conference or not, his word is "the truth" and anything he says to do is to be "obeyed"?

Also, I am curious to hear some comments on the fact that one of the girls is reported to have said that she agreed not to wear a second pair of earrings even though she didn't understand why it was a problem. I have read many statements from Mormons in this forum to the effect that members are not expected to accept blindly what their leaders say but are supposed to pray about it, study it out in their minds, and accept the prophet's teachings after becoming convinced in their own minds that they are correct. The young lady in the second story, in particular, does not seem to have gone through any such process. The prophet spoke, she immediately obeyed--without having any understanding of why. Is this an admirable thing, as the story seems to assume?

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Here is an interesting General Conference address in which the speaker advocates "unquestioning obedience" to the Prophet while denying that this means "blind obedience." Yet he also acknowledges that this sometimes means doing something when we don't understand why we should do it:

Elder R. Conrad Schultz, "Faith Obedience," Ensign, May 2002, 29-31.

Schultz says, "The question is simple: Do we trust our Heavenly Father? Do we trust our prophets?"

My question is focused especially on whether this "trust" and "unquestioning obedience" extends even to statements made by the Prophet outside the standard works and General Conference addresses.

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Now my serious question is this: If I understand the context correctly, President Hinckley's remarks about women's earrings were not made in General Conference, but in a "fireside for youth." Yet his remarks appear to be treated as equivalent to any prophetic revelation--as "the truth" that must be "accepted" and "obeyed." Is that correct? Whenever a prophet speaks in an instructional context, whether in one of the standard works or not, whether in General Conference or not, his word is "the truth" and anything he says to do is to be "obeyed"?

As I recall he did make similar remarks at GC. I remember hearing them. He also said that men were not to wear them. Women could have one pair.

Also, I am curious to hear some comments on the fact that one of the girls is reported to have said that she agreed not to wear a second pair of earrings even though she didn't understand why it was a problem. I have read many statements from Mormons in this forum to the effect that members are not expected to accept blindly what their leaders say but are supposed to pray about it, study it out in their minds, and accept the prophet's teachings after becoming convinced in their own minds that they are correct. The young lady in the second story, in particular, does not seem to have gone through any such process. The prophet spoke, she immediately obeyed--without having any understanding of why. Is this an admirable thing, as the story seems to assume?

WE are to study it out and ask in prayer. Are you going to fault the whole of us if a few don't do that?

I remember thinking on the counsel of the prophet, I recall he first stated this back in 97 as I had a girl freind that liked to wear lots of ear rings. I knew there was wisdom in what President Hinckley was saying. I am constantly reminded fo the scriptures in Isaiah and how the daughters of Zion.

16

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Here is an interesting General Conference address in which the speaker advocates "unquestioning obedience" to the Prophet while denying that this means "blind obedience." Yet he also acknowledges that this sometimes means doing something when we don't understand why we should do it:

Elder R. Conrad Schultz, "Faith Obedience," Ensign, May 2002, 29-31.

Schultz says, "The question is simple: Do we trust our Heavenly Father? Do we trust our prophets?"

My question is focused especially on whether this "trust" and "unquestioning obedience" extends even to statements made by the Prophet outside the standard works and General Conference addresses.

To me it does not, however I don't automatically dismiss something if it is said out side of GC. At teh same time I don;t automatically accept something just because it is said at a GC.

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Perhaps she had read this scripture from 1 Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

Whatever the reason for the admonition, some youth apparently trusted the prophet enough to follow his counsel. I personally think it was to keep our youth separate from the youth culture of the time. I don't see a problem with a young person who has faith in her parents or church leaders following their recommendations without making a big deal of it.

It's not that you necessarily pray to question the right or wrong of a prophet's words but you pray to get a testimony that what is said is correct and you are on the same page as the prophet. Furthermore, often the words are for a general audience, but it will not apply to a specific situation. One may either disregard the counsel as not applying or may see the general principle and pray as to how it might be applied in that situation.

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Mola,

You wrote:

WE are to study it out and ask in prayer. Are you going to fault the whole of us if a few don't do that?

No, that wasn't my point. In the second story I quoted, a girl was commended for acting on the prophet's word without questioning it or even understanding it. I am asking if in your view she acted properly.

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"You do not need to drape rings up and down your ears. One modest pair of earrings is sufficient" ("A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth," Ensign, January 2001, 7).

Is there something untrue about that statement? Or is it true?

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Rob Bowen:

Very relevant

I am pleased to assure ... that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.

The Prophet Joseph Smith once said: "I want liberty of thinking and believing as I please." This liberty he and his successors in the leadership of the Church have granted to every other member thereof.

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Vance,

I'm not debating the wisdom or truth or Hinckley's comments. Your question is irrelevant.

"You do not need to drape rings up and down your ears. One modest pair of earrings is sufficient" ("A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth," Ensign, January 2001, 7).

Is there something untrue about that statement? Or is it true?

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thesometimesaint,

Thanks for sharing your perspective. By the way, my last name is Bowman.

Rob Bowen:

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The position on earrings and tattoos is a curious blend--sort of the like the position on the prohibitions of the word of wisdom before it became an absolute requirement for joining the Church, receiving a recommend, or holding certain callings.

Probably the best statement is the one in True to the Faith. The first paragragh is not written in terms of commandment:

Latter-day prophets strongly discourage the piercing of

the body except for medical purposes. If girls or women

desire to have their ears pierced, they are encouraged to wear

only one pair of modest earrings.

Yet the second paragraph suggest that it is very very strong encouragement:

Those who choose to disregard this counsel show a lack

of respect for themselves and for God. They will someday

regret their decision.

The absence of tattoos (or a requirement to remove them) and the absence of piercings (except for one pair of earrings for women) are not requirements to be baptized or to enter the temple. Yet. I have known several men who participate in Church and wear earrings. Some wards and bishops frown enough on it that eventually they stop wearing them (or stop coming to Church).

It would not surprise me that some of the FP and 12 would like to make the counsel something like a TR requirement. I suspect others are simply happy when a pierced or tattooed person attends or continues to attend Church. Just as there was a difference of opinion among the Brethren about how important the prohibitions of the word of wisdom should be before President Grant made them largely mandatory for practicing Mormons.

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My question is focused especially on whether this "trust" and "unquestioning obedience" extends even to statements made by the Prophet outside the standard works and General Conference addresses.

Any time that one wishes to rationalize the councel of the Prophet, he does so at his own spirtitual peril; no matter the venue in which the councel was given, or the state of understanding the individual has of the councel given.

That's the teaching of the church per my understanding as a lifelong member.

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I just ran across this and am interested in comments on it.

I am more interested in what you mean when you say, you "just ran across this. . . " You posted quotes from two entirely different sources. It appears more likley that you are busy researching a nit-picky issue, and trying to make something of it. In other words, you didn't' "just run across it." You were looking for it and found it. Is that not true?

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I am more interested in what you mean when you say, you "just ran across this. . . " You posted quotes from two entirely different sources. It appears more likley that you are busy researching a nit-picky issue, and trying to make something of it. In other words, you didn't' "just run across it." You were looking for it and found it. Is that not true?

It's possible he ran across this pre-compiled argument made by someone else.

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In the second story I quoted, a girl was commended for acting on the prophet's word without questioning it or even understanding it. I am asking if in your view she acted properly.

First of all, I don't think it's clear that the girl "didn't question" the advice. She says she's not sure why it was given, but that's not quite the same.

Why did the girl follow the prophet's advice on this matter? Probably because she had followed his advice on other matters and found it to be good. Possibly because she asked about this specific matter and received a spiritual confirmation.

"Unquestioning obediance" isn't what was commended here.

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It would not surprise me that some of the FP and 12 would like to make the counsel something like a TR requirement. I suspect others are simply happy when a pierced or tattooed person attends or continues to attend Church. Just as there was a difference of opinion among the Brethren about how important the prohibitions of the word of wisdom should be before President Grant made them largely mandatory for practicing Mormons.

That really is entirely possible. The WofR: Word of Respectability

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Vance,

I'm not debating the wisdom or truth or Hinckley's comments. Your question is irrelevant.

Of course not. It is OBVIOUSLY a true statement.

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I am more interested in what you mean when you say, you "just ran across this. . . " You posted quotes from two entirely different sources. It appears more likley that you are busy researching a nit-picky issue, and trying to make something of it. In other words, you didn't' "just run across it." You were looking for it and found it. Is that not true?

Hey! You do know that he has to earn his salary as a professional anti-Mormon somehow, right? No need to question his sincerity just because his pocketbook would suffer if he doesn't produce this stuff.

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Mola,

You wrote:

Mola Ram Suda Ram, on 07 February 2011 - 10:14 AM, said:

WE are to study it out and ask in prayer. Are you going to fault the whole of us if a few don't do that?

No, that wasn't my point. In the second story I quoted, a girl was commended for acting on the prophet's word without questioning it or even understanding it. I am asking if in your view she acted properly.

We don't know what the young lady did in reference to wearing or not wearing the earrings. She may have prayed and felt not having them on was the right thing through prayer. Knowing what the right thing to do is not the equivalent of a rational (rational in the sense we understand it) explanation as to what to do.

She also may have felt that earrings aren't really that important to her and if someone she trusted said "dont' wear them", she would naturally take them off. How important earrings are to people versus how important advice is from the prophet is only one aspect of the situation. Others are personal prayer, personal revelation, and sometimes parental involvment. All of these elements come into play on various levels for the outcome.

I see the question of trust and levels of trust, but do not see an element of "unquestioning obedience" in the example given.

How do we approach Abraham and Isaac as christians when it comes to "unquestioning obedience"?

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I view President Hinckley's advice to the youth as good advice, but not as a commandment to the Church as a whole. Very similar to Paul's advice to women in the NT.

I'd look kinda silly with an earring, and don't find tattoos, other than for hiding birthmarks and such, unappealing. But that is just my personal choice.

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Anyone who thinks that President HInckey's advice was about earrings is probably missing the mark. It was about attitudes, self-esteem, priorities, modesty, etc. And the advice was given as a simple opportunity to be blessed and to learn something deeper about oneself. Those who listened and obeyed without question were undoubtedly blessed for it. Those who did not may not have been necessarily punished, but they likely missed out on some blessings they could have otherwise enjoyed.

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Mark,

You wrote:

I am more interested in what you mean when you say, you "just ran across this. . . " You posted quotes from two entirely different sources. It appears more likley that you are busy researching a nit-picky issue, and trying to make something of it. In other words, you didn't' "just run across it." You were looking for it and found it. Is that not true?

Nope. I was looking for something else. When I ran across the story and searched for documentation, I found the two sources I cited.

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Senator,

You wrote:

It's possible he ran across this pre-compiled argument made by someone else.

Absolutely not.

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Vance,

My pocketbook would fatten considerably if I were to do something else entirely. I have the unpaid student loans and medical bills to prove it. Your ad hominem simply makes you look bad.

Hey! You do know that he has to earn his salary as a professional anti-Mormon somehow, right? No need to question his sincerity just because his pocketbook would suffer if he doesn't produce this stuff.

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