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Of earrings and obeying the prophet


Rob Bowman

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As to the discussion or question whether everything stated is revelation or not, everything stated is "not" revelation. Consider the following incident.

The late BYU Professor Dr. Sidney Sperry (one of the greatest LDS scholars of the last century) initially believed that Cumorah was located in upstate New York but changed his position upon further study.
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It just seems to me that when leadership begins to micro-manage personal behavior, it is a sign that they have lost touch with a previous prophet's councel to, "teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves".

Unfortunately this (if one assumes that Joseph Smith did not include specific instructions in the teaching of correct principles, but only general abstract ideas) only works with individuals mature enough to understand how to apply principles to specific actions, something that is learned over time.

As an example, let me point out that with teens simply teaching the principle of chastity and not specific details of what is and isn't chaste will cause one to end up with a whole lot of confused teens including some pregnant ones.

When one teaches the principles of math, the best way to do it depends on the age and experience of the student. For the least developed, starting out with concrete, specific examples and then after a firm foundation of those has been established, moving on to teaching the principle behind the examples is better than starting out with the principle as one is most likely to get a clueless look. However, hopefully by the time someone reaches college age the concepts have been taught enough the individual can draw conclusions from the general to the specific on his own, but even there general knowledge is best learned by including many, many specific examples; this is also how familiarity and understanding of the general principles are tested.

So depending on the capability of the individual (and the general teachings of the prophets are often pointed toward the less developed---I don't mean economically--of the Saints), teaching correct principles should also include a lot of specifics.

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It just seems to me that when leadership begins to micro-manage personal behavior, it is a sign that they have lost touch with a previous prophet's councel to, "teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves".

I believe the counsel being discussed is a correct principle as well as a good example illustrating the broader principle(s). As has been pointed out, a much larger list of aesthetic changes or decorative excesses that one can do to one's body is not supplied. Of course the saints govern themselves; such practices as have been discussed on this thread do not disqualify one from membership, and God is the ultimate judge with regards to one does.

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We often discuss how Prophets, even at the pulpit, can oft times be speaking "as a man", or may be expressing their personal opinion based on cultural conditioning and not even realize it (see: the FARMS response to every GA quote used by Meldrum).

The tentative wording of President Hinckley's counsel really seems to indicate he meant it as a general guideline, not an edict or expression of divine will (or a litmus test). I suspect it's the specificity of the counsel (you can actually put a number on it), the outward indicator of it (you can see everyone's ears), and the fact that it's usually the fringe of Church members that would desire to pierce or tattoo in that way that have combined to make some people really over-do it.

There is a precedent for the Lord expressing His divine will as a general guideline (such as D&C 89, which was "sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint..." given "for a principle with a promise..."), and His prophets can still express these kinds of things in His behalf. As far as "fringe membership", it seems the counsel was inspired to curtail a slippery slope -- there are many things that many saints struggle with today that I suspect were worse than fringe, completely taboo and hardly requiring specific counsel in earlier decades. Maybe it was time for Him to express His will on this as a means to protect our youth from evolving into making the same mistakes as their elders, to the detriment of understanding their true relationship with and value to their bodies ("Man is spirit"). I think we can tell if anyone is speaking as man if we listen with the Spirit (apologetics aside).

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I think the good question of Mr. Bowman is being lost on the specific advice given by Pres. Hinckley. Is it really admirable to obey without question? If Pres. Monson announced tomorrow that girls and boys should, from now on, choose their spouses from amoung their siblings, would it be commendable to say, "Well, I don't understand it, but the prophet said it, so I will do it." Where does the responsibility of discernment on the part of the individual come into play?

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If Pres. Monson announced tomorrow that girls and boys should, from now on, choose their spouses from amoung their siblings, would it be commendable to say, "Well, I don't understand it, but the prophet said it, so I will do it." Where does the responsibility of discernment on the part of the individual come into play?

Why would you postulate something that would never happen? Presenting this kind of scenario doesn't have anything to do with the reality of a prophet of the church suggesting modesty and decorum, which prophets have done since OT times.

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I think the good question of Mr. Bowman is being lost on the specific advice given by Pres. Hinckley. Is it really admirable to obey without question? If Pres. Monson announced tomorrow that girls and boys should, from now on, choose their spouses from amoung their siblings, would it be commendable to say, "Well, I don't understand it, but the prophet said it, so I will do it." Where does the responsibility of discernment on the part of the individual come into play?

Apples and oranges. Advice about what is appropriate in the way of numbers of earrings, and a formal commandment to marry your siblings, are completely different things. Please pick a better example.

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It goes to the premise of Mr. Bowman's question. You can choose to ignore it, if you like, but the example is perfectly valid.

Deborah-

You can say it will never happen, but I am sure many Saints didn't believe that the LDS Church announcing the practice of polygamy in 1852, would ever happen either.

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Unfortunately this (if one assumes that Joseph Smith did not include specific instructions in the teaching of correct principles, but only general abstract ideas) only works with individuals mature enough to understand how to apply principles to specific actions, something that is learned over time.

As an example, let me point out that with teens simply teaching the principle of chastity and not specific details of what is and isn't chaste will cause one to end up with a whole lot of confused teens including some pregnant ones.

When one teaches the principles of math, the best way to do it depends on the age and experience of the student. For the least developed, starting out with concrete, specific examples and then after a firm foundation of those has been established, moving on to teaching the principle behind the examples is better than starting out with the principle as one is most likely to get a clueless look. However, hopefully by the time someone reaches college age the concepts have been taught enough the individual can draw conclusions from the general to the specific on his own, but even there general knowledge is best learned by including many, many specific examples; this is also how familiarity and understanding of the general principles are tested.

So depending on the capability of the individual (and the general teachings of the prophets are often pointed toward the less developed---I don't mean economically--of the Saints), teaching correct principles should also include a lot of specifics.

I had a feeling this wonderful ideal would get trumped by technicalities! :P

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It goes to the premise of Mr. Bowman's question. You can choose to ignore it, if you like, but the example is perfectly valid.

Completely invalid, more like it: No one in the Church will be disciplined for wearing more than one pair of earrings, it will never be a condition for holding a temple recommend, and the topic is not about to come up repeatedly in general conference. I don't ignore it, I refute it as unqualified.

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When I was serving my mission in Brazil, I met a woman who had gone to that meeting while she was investigating the church. She wouldn't be baptized for a few more months, yet she stopped wearing multiple earrings. She did it because she felt something while listening to President Hinckley. Would you call what she did blind faith or blind obedience, especially considering that she wasn't even sure if the church was true yet?

As for the question "The prophet spoke, she immediately obeyed--without having any understanding of why. Is this an admirable thing, as the story seems to assume?" I think it is an admirable thing. But I also believe she didn't blindly obey.

I'll try and give an analogy why. Every day, I get up and except gravity to be there. I expect that if I jump, that I'll come back down; if I place a foot on the ground, that it'll stay there; if I put down an object, it won't float away. Do I understand how gravity works? No. I have some ideas, I've read a little, but I've never fully taken the time to completely study why gravity works and from my reading there are some aspects of it that we still don't understand. Yet, I trust gravity to always be there and to function as it does. Why? Because experience has shown me that I can trust it to be there.

Same with the prophet. Over the years, I've taken what they've said and have proved it to myself. I'll ask Heavenly Father about. I'll test it out. For some of the prophet's counsel, I have ideas on why it was given. For others, I have no idea. But I've come to trust that their counsel is good. I still try and figure out why some counsel was given. But I also have learned through experience that it is usually good and so I'd rather do it immediately without waiting for an understanding because I like good things.

So, to sum up, I don't blindly follow them just because I'm supposed to do what they say. I follow them because I've had previous experiences that make me believe it will be beneficial. Or as Elder Shultz phrases it, I have "Faith Obedience".

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I had a feeling this wonderful ideal would get trumped by technicalities! :P

If you can come up with a way actually teach a behaviour without using concrete examples, please let me know. It will save me a ton of time tutoring kids and adults in math and other subjects and I'm sure my sister the elementary teacher would much prefer to spend her time doing fun stuff with the kids rather than nitty gritty teaching.

But then it usually is much easier to idealize something and ignore how it is acted upon in real life.

In case it wasn't clear from my previous post, I am not suggesting that one not teach correct principles and then let others govern themselves by these principles, I am addressing how one goes about teaching those correct principles...this cannot be done in a vacuum.

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Where does the responsibility of discernment on the part of the individual come into play?

100% of the time, according to mortality's test. Sometimes discernment comes easily, sometimes not so much. The godly attributes that accompany immediate discernment are worthy of emulation. Mormon was "quick to observe" because he was a "sober child," not because he was an automaton. He was able to see what was going on around him and was faithful enough to be trusted to do the right thing about it. Because of this, supposing what one would do if the Prophet gave such-and-such a command, when the supposition is not divinely inspired itself, is not something someone in tune with the Spirit really entertains. It is like the Savior submitting the proof for the "If-prefixed" challenges He faced in the wilderness after His 40 days of fasting.

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If you can come up with a way actually teach a behaviour without using concrete examples, please let me know. It will save me a ton of time tutoring kids and adults in math and other subjects and I'm sure my sister the elementary teacher would much prefer to spend her time doing fun stuff with the kids rather than nitty gritty teaching.

But then it usually is much easier to idealize something and ignore how it is acted upon in real life.

In case it wasn't clear from my previous post, I am not suggesting that one not teach correct principles and then let others govern themselves by these principles, I am addressing how one goes about teaching those correct principles...this cannot be done in a vacuum.

Argh! No more rep points for today! You deserve a few for pointing out that this often-quoted statement by Joseph Smith doesn't say "I dump correct principles unto the people, and let them do what they want with them". The actual statement includes the word teach and the word govern. You are absolutely correct that we should carefully consider how the teaching is done. Likewise, we should consider what sort of governing we are doing, if any.

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You can say it will never happen, but I am sure many Saints didn't believe that the LDS Church announcing the practice of polygamy in 1852, would ever happen either.

Yes, I can. Once again your comparison is invalid. Plural marriage was and is a valid lifestyle throughout history.

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Yes, I can. Once again your comparison is invalid. Plural marriage was and is a valid lifestyle throughout history.

blink.gifValid? The Lord, on multiple occasions, condemns the practice. Joseph and Hyrum fought the practice. I can believe the Lord, and Joseph, and Hyrum- or I can believe Brigham, Heber, and John.

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blink.gifValid? The Lord, on multiple occasions, condemns the practice. Joseph and Hyrum fought the practice. I can believe the Lord, and Joseph, and Hyrum- or I can believe Brigham, Heber, and John.

You obviously are unfamiliar with the history. Joseph and Hyrum fought the practice but obeyed. Likewise Brigham and the others were opposed to it but they also eventually obeyed. The practice is condemned only when the Lord doesn't command it or approve. Abraham and Jacob all practiced plural marriage. Are they condemned? On the contrary they were the great prophets of Israel through whom the nations of the earth came forth and they were blessed with wealth and prosperity.

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If you can come up with a way actually teach a behaviour without using concrete examples, please let me know. It will save me a ton of time tutoring kids and adults in math and other subjects and I'm sure my sister the elementary teacher would much prefer to spend her time doing fun stuff with the kids rather than nitty gritty teaching.

Perhaps not all avenues of human learning take the same route. Perhaps the ways and means in teaching/learning mathematics is different than the process we learn/teach morality, ethics and spiritual faith.

Perhaps the closest we need get to specifics is in the parallels drawn from hypothetical parables. (Maybe one of the reasons Jesus taught in parables was to ward off the temptation of a legalistically minded people from taking idealistic virtues and turning them into statutes.)

Perhaps, instead of codifying against every specific false move in dogmatic fashion, the idea is inescapably driven home with the simple, yet comprehensive, "he that even looketh upon a woman to lust after her, denieth the faith".

I don't know. Just some thoughts.

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You obviously are unfamiliar with the history. Joseph and Hyrum fought the practice but obeyed. Likewise Brigham and the others were opposed to it but they also eventually obeyed. The practice is condemned only when the Lord doesn't command it or approve. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all practiced plural marriage. Are they condemned? On the contrary they were the great prophets of Israel through whom the nations of the earth came forth and they were blessed with wealth and prosperity.

So Joseph and Hyrum were liars AND hypocrites? They simotainously (sp?) practiced plural marriage while publicly preaching against it, not to mention kicking men out of the church for teaching it, and suing men at law for accusing them of doing it? (which would mean they committed perjury also). They were lying, hypocritical, perjurors? God forbid!!

Show me anyplace in scripture where Isaac had more then one wife.

Examine the experiences of Abraham and Jacob with polygamy, they were utter disasters. Hardly familial or God approved.

You are apparently the one unfamiliar with history, good sister.

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Vance,

This one's too easy. I would rather not rob you of the joy of discovery. Try to think of the relevant difference between Abraham's situation and that of the girls who heard President Hinckley's counsel.

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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So Joseph and Hyrum were liars AND hypocrites? They simotainously (sp?) practiced plural marriage while publicly preaching against it, not to mention kicking men out of the church for teaching it, and suing men at law for accusing them of doing it? (which would mean they committed perjury also). They were lying, hypocritical, perjurors? God forbid!!

Show me anyplace in scripture where Isaac had more then one wife.

Examine the experiences of Abraham and Jacob with polygamy, they were utter disasters. Hardly familial or God approved.

You are apparently the one unfamiliar with history, good sister.

They were not utter disasters. I note that all had children and wives that loved and obeyed him. They also gave birth to whole nations. And this is a disaster how? I would also like to know where God disapproved of Abraham's marriage, or Jacobs for that matter. I would be interested in seeing the context of the scriptures that spoke to these issues. God has not always approved of polygamy, but God has not always condemned it, and God has sanctioned it with Joseph Smith, Hyrum and Brigham Young et al... so no, not disasters and certainly not universaly condemned.

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Show me anyplace in scripture where Isaac had more then one wife.

Doesn't say particularly as far as I can tell. It does say this though:

Genesis 25:6

But unto the sons of the aconcubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and bsent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the ceast country.

Why would he send them away from his married son?

There is also this, again non explicit, could mean something else:

Genesis 26:24

And the aLord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: bfear not, for cI am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy dseed for my servant Abraham

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