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Of earrings and obeying the prophet


Rob Bowman

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Jason,

You wrote:

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.

But Conrad Schultz did commend "unquestioning obedience," did he not?

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Elder Bednar related this experience once while speaking at BYU:

Sister Bednar and I are acquainted with a returned missionary who had dated a special young woman for a period of time. This young man cared for the young woman very much, and he was desirous of making his relationship with her more serious. He was considering and hoping for engagement and marriage. Now this relationship was developing during the time that President Hinckley counseled the Relief Society sisters and young women of the Church to wear only one earring in each ear.

The young man waited patiently over a period of time for the young woman to remove her extra earrings, but she did not take them out. This was a valuable piece of information for this young man, and he felt unsettled about her nonresponsiveness to a prophet

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Mark,

You wrote:

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

What do you mean nope? You just confirmed it. You heard or read a story about earrings, and went searching for the documentation you posted. Now, perhaps you were not specifically looking for a story about earrings when you first heard about it, but it is likely you were looking generally for material to form a criticism of the Church or its members. It is unlikley you "just ran across this" reading about the Super Bowl. My point is, it is disingenous for you to suggest that this nit-picky issues just fell from the sky into your lap without you making an effort to search out such. You seem to be well-established as a professional anti-Mormon, and you would enjoy more credibility if you didn't try to mask your efforts as something else.

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Mark,

Does the term ad hominem mean anything to you?

When I ran across the story about Hinckley and earrings, naturally I looked for documentation. What, should I repeat such a story without documentation? Give me a break! And as for what I was doing when I first ran across the story, I was researching some issues that came up in my study of Gospel Principles. I have been going through the entire manual for over a year and analyzing its teachings, noting both points with which I agree and points that I consider to be contrary to biblical teaching. I have no interest in "nit-picky issues."

For the record, I am not a "professional anti-Mormon." I am a professional evangelical Christian biblical scholar, theologian, and apologist. I have written a dozen books, none about Mormonism. I have taught courses in biblical studies, apologetics, systematic theology, world religions, and new religious movements. I am better known outside Mormon circles as a critic of the Jehovah's Witness religion, on the strength of the four books I wrote about their teachings (published 1989-1995). I am currently doing a lot of research and writing on LDS topics, that's true, but those efforts should be seen in the broader context that I have just briefly summarized.

In any case, my own background, employment, and motivation have nothing to do with the issues raised here. Ad hominem criticisms always can cut both ways. Those who depend on them undermine their own credibility. You will do your side a service by abandoning this line of criticism and by dealing thoughtfully with the issues, as some of your fellow LDS are trying to do.

What do you mean nope? You just confirmed it. You heard or read a story about earrings, and went searching for the documentation you posted. Now, perhaps you were not specifically looking for a story about earrings when you first heard about it, but it is likely you were looking generally for material to form a criticism of the Church or its members. It is unlikley you "just ran across this" reading about the Super Bowl. My point is, it is disingenous for you to suggest that this nit-picky issues just fell from the sky into your lap without you making an effort to search out such. You seem to be well-established as a professional anti-Mormon, and you would enjoy more credibility if you didn't try to mask your efforts as something else.

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Tattoos and body piercings are both a form of self-mutilation that amount to placing the dictates and whims of fashion above a respect for the body as God's creation, a temple for the spirit and a component of the soul. That contemporary society has come more and more to rationalize and embrace them does not make this any the less so. One of the functions of prophets of God is to put a restraint on the march of rampant societal senselessness. President Hinckley's declarations about tattoos and piercings

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Rob, President Hinckley's words were "prophetic counsel", they contain no doctrine as such. As early as the time of Brigham Young, prophets have been helping members to avoid getting drawn too far into the fashions of the world, which can lead to excess, pride and covetousness. There is not much there to pray about, it's not a big commandment or a big sacrifice, and we're not even being commanded to do it, although some members think they are, and some can even be judgemental if they see women not obey that counsel (I've made that mistake before).

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Elder Bednar related this experience once while speaking at BYU:

Members of this forum typically pride themselves with their ability to discern whether a Prophet is declaring doctrine, or expressing his own culturally influenced fallible opinions. President Hinckley's phrasing seems to intentionally place his words in the "culturally influenced counsel" category, and even a few seconds of thought would reveal the absurdity of a God who is accepting of women who pierce each ear once, but not more than once, and is not bothered by a woman who pierces an ear but objects to a man who does it.

Situations like this make interesting changes to our attitudes towards God. Traditionally, we view God as an omnipotent being who is revealing truth that will help guide us to be like Him, and the Prophets as men who are chosen to reveal these commandments. We typically hear analogies such as a parent telling a child not to play in the street, or otherwise imparting helpful wisdom that carries objective benefits even though they may not be evident to the child or person with limited understanding.

I don't understand how we can go from a God that inspires His Prophets to impart useful counsel to a God that inspires His Prophets to focus on trivial and superficial matters, the result of which only seems to allow others to place judgment based on these arbitrary measures.

Don't know if members "pride themselves" on knowing the difference between revelation and advice. But I do think we have some very good guidelines that we tend to follow. My view is the advice is sound, but the key component is how important earrings are to you versus the advice given. In other words the earrings are merely a vehicle to help us understand where we are relative to the counsel given.

I wonder if, in a few years the discussion will be tongue studs? Would that be a signpost to how far we have come or not come? Is the question really the triviality of earrings? Is mud in your eyes a trivial act that makes no sense or was there a greater reason or cause than the mud in the eye?

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Tattoos and body piercings are both a form of self-mutilation that amount to placing the dictates and whims of fashion above a respect for the body as God's creation, a temple for the spirit and a component of the soul.

then shouldn't it be no earnings at all or anyone or is a little self mutilation ok?

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Does the term ad hominem mean anything to you?

I am well familiar with the term, and am not nearly so distraught at being accused of of engaging in such as you apparently are at being being the subject of such an attack.

Your protestations to the contrary, your credentials as a professional anti-Mormon are established. You tout yourself as the Director of Research for IRR, and even a cursory exploration of that website reveals its overwhelming obessions with Mormonism.

That being said, I did deal with your issue in this post, and you conveniently ignored it.

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Vance,

My pocketbook would fatten considerably if I were to do something else entirely.

That doesn't change the fact that you are employed by a decidedly anti-Mormon institution to produce anti-Mormon material.

I have the unpaid student loans and medical bills to prove it.

Unpaid loans and bills say absolutely NOTHING about your ability to earn more money doing something else. It only speaks to your current situation.

Your ad hominem simply makes you look bad.

Is it ad hominem to simply declare the facts of your employment? Is there something about your employment that calls your character into question? If so, whose problem is it?

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Mark,

You said that I "conveniently ignored" your post in which you said the following:

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.

You didn't answer either of my questions in the above paragraph, which is why I ignored it.

Nice to know that it doesn't bother you that your more recent posts were ad hominem in approach.

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I wonder if, in a few years the discussion will be tongue studs? Would that be a signpost to how far we have come or not come? Is the question really the triviality of earrings? Is mud in your eyes a trivial act that makes no sense or was there a greater reason or cause than the mud in the eye?

Why tongue studs? As far as I can tell, there are very, very few people who even want them. The more common, painful and drastically expensive vanity is elective plastic surgery. That would be the logical signpost to how far we have come.

Only, we have already arrived, and the only question will be how long until SLC takes notice.

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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.

You need to stop the name calling now. This will be the last warning on this matter.

Nemesis

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Why tongue studs? As far as I can tell, there are very, very few people who even want them. The more common, painful and drastically expensive vanity is elective plastic surgery. That would be the logical signpost to how far we have come.

Only, we have already arrived, and the only question will be how long until SLC takes notice.

Years ago there were very few people who wanted multiple earrings and that is my point. I put unnecessary plastic surgury with the tongue studs. But the location of such makes the discussin a bit more delicate to bring out in general conference. :P

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Mola,

You wrote:

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.

Oh, Sorry Rob. I think she did act apporpriatly. I state that some times good advice is just that, good advice.

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Jason,

You wrote:

But Conrad Schultz did commend "unquestioning obedience," did he not?

THis is interesting. Sometimes I struggle when I hear comments like this. I don't think that having "unquestioning obedience" is really such a bad thing, but it can be I guess it depends on what it is.

I am not really sure what else to say here Rob.

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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.

Was God's command to Abraham, to sacrifice his son Isaac, about God's need for a blood sacrifice or was it about testing Abraham's obedience without question?

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