many Latter-day Saints, there will be times when we disagree with a
Church leader or even with a Church policy. This is natural and
inevitable. We do not believe in the infallibility of anybody or
anything other than God, so even inspired prophets chosen by God are
prone to mistakes, as are the rest of us in the Church.
we sometimes forget that infallibility is not doctrinal. As a result,
when there is a difference in views, we tend to find that our own
opinions are (surprise!) much superior to those of the Brethren or
anyone else who disagrees with us, and forget to consider that we
might be wrong, just this once.
the other hand, those who disagree with the leaders in the Church on
some particular issue may be right. We actually may understand
something better and have more scholarly or “real world”
insights and more progressive views than those in charge. They real
question is what to do next.
The natural man in us is always
anxious to criticize and proclaim our moral superiority. After all,
to bring about needed change, don't we need to create awareness and
public pressure to help enlighten the Church? Aren't we doing God and
the Church a favor by turning up the heat on human error, including
antiquated perspectives and aging doctrines that need to be
refreshed? Isn't it all about spreading Truth?
I offer my
experience that those who begin to publicly criticize the Church,
even with good intentions, in many cases swiftly find themselves
caught up in currents of hostility. They develop a mindset, enhanced
with abundant social reinforcement, which increasingly looks down on
the Church and its leaders. As they become more vocal in criticizing
its leaders, past or present, the beauty and power of the Gospel
becomes a faint echo drowned out by louder voices or, in some cases,
Step back and consider this: If the Restoration
really took place, if God really did authorize living but fallible
prophets in our day, what attitude would He expect us to take in
light of apparent mortal error from His servants? Can there be any
doubt that He would expect us to be patient, forgiving, lenient, and
still supportive? Could He possibly be the inspiration behind snide
remarks, name calling, anger, and public denouncements?
the impact of our criticisms on those investigating the Church or on
those struggling with the Gospel or, perhaps, on our own family
members, especially children. Ponder the impact of campaigns of
criticism on our own relationship with God. Is what we are doing
really what He would ask of us? Is it the humble, loving, Christlike
thing to do?
Consider the problematic case of Abraham. Yes, a
great prophet, but also a mortal man with mortal issues. There are
many unanswered questions and some moments that seem to justify harsh
criticism, such as sending his concubine and child out into the
desert without adequate supplies and other symptoms of the challenges
when his name comes up in the New Testament, it is with respect and
deference. James writes that Abraham was called "the friend of
God" (James 2:23). Christ speaks of him with respect. His
problems are left between him and God and not made the subject of
the same kind of respect, in spite of knowing of his mortal
weaknesses, is something we should have for the Prophet Joseph Smith
and others, including our own Thomas S. Monson, an amazing man but
still a mortal. We might disagree with the Church and its current or
past leaders on one or more issues important to us, but may we be
very careful in how we express that criticism, if at all, that we may
be acting the way God would have us act in building up His kingdom
and advancing His purposes, and not our own proud will.
think each of us needs to be aware of the dangers of taking our
differences too far and being too confident in our own wisdom, too
sure of our own agenda, and too harsh or unforgiving in our attitudes
when we think others have erred. Faith and patience may be more
important in the long run than boldness and activism, even when we
are right, and also when we, due to our own mortal weaknesses, are
Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his
LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on
the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton,
Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra.
He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.
He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent
Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.
Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering
Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US
patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications.
Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.