Finding Strength through Unity

The rejection of Kate Kelly’s appeal regarding her excommunication made me reflect on what made me so uncomfortable with the movement and its means. I am in support of many positive changes to ensure that women are more included in wards, councils and etc. Indeed, I believe that the leaders of the Church are well aware of the need for positive change and are actively seeking to improve the roll of women in the church. Nevertheless, I strongly oppose the protests and other organized efforts of Ordain Women. Perhaps, most of all, I detest the efforts to smear the Church in the media undertaken by representatives of Ordain Women.

Today in Elder’s Quorum we discussed Lesson 20 in the Joseph Fielding Smith manual and I came across a quote that helped confirm in me my dislike of efforts to draw the world’s attention to warts and weaknesses in the Church:

“I believe it is our solemn duty to love one another, to believe in each other, to have faith in each other, that it is our duty to overlook the faults and the failings of each other, and not to magnify them in our own eyes nor before the eyes of the world. There should be no faultfinding, no back-biting, no evil speaking, one against another, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We should be true to each other and to every principle of our religion and not be envious one of another. We should not be jealous one of another, nor angry with each other, and there should not arise in our hearts a feeling that we will not forgive one another our trespasses. There should be no feeling in the hearts of the children of God of unforgiveness against any man, no matter who he may be. …

…We ought not to harbor feelings one against another, but have a feeling of forgiveness and of brotherly love and sisterly love, one for another. Let each one of us remember his or her own individual failings and weaknesses and endeavor to correct them. We have not reached a condition of perfection yet, it is hardly to be expected that we will in this life, and yet, through the aid of the Holy Ghost, it is possible for us to stand united together seeing eye to eye and overcoming our sins and imperfections. If we will do this, respecting all the commandments of the Lord, we shall be a power in the world for good; we shall overwhelm and overcome all evil, all opposition to the truth, and bring to pass righteousness upon the face of the earth. For the Gospel will be spread and the people in the world will feel the influence which will be shed forth from the people of Zion, and they will be inclined more to repent of their sins and to receive the truth.”

This type of unity that Joseph Fielding Smith described is one that is unfortunately at times illusive. Certainly, the vitriolic anti-Ordain Women responses from some members of the Church also fell short of the standard espoused by President Smith. We need to love each other as fellow saints. Seek charity, patience, and the guidance of the spirit in our interactions.

And yet, a couple things stood out to me. We are to be united in order to overcome our sins and imperfections. We are also to do so while respecting all of the commandments of God. The teachings of Christ and of the Prophets and Apostles must be our rallying cry and our message to the world. When instead, we display division, contention, and disagreement about the divine teachings of the Prophet and Apostles, we lose power and influence as a Church. The world focuses more on the division and less on the incredible things that unite us as disciples of Christ. When the world sees protests on gay rights or ordination of women, they see a house divided against itself. They see our mortal failings rather than our divine strength.

In the recent marriage synod, deep divisions among the cardinals of the Catholic church spilled out into the open for all the world to see. I am so grateful that the brethren that lead this Church follow the principles espoused by President Joseph Fielding Smith. They are unified and speak with one voice. Even though they may disagree with one another, they abstain from criticism and vitriol. They are dedicated first and foremost to the advancement of the Church and Kingdom of God. I believe it is precisely this unity that gives the members of the Quorum of the Twelve such spiritual power and exactly that kind of unity that we need in the Church in order to be able to invite others to come unto Christ with spirit and power.

I wish that members of the Church more fully hearkened unto the teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith and sought to build zion and improve themselves rather than found fault in others or in the Church.

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2 thoughts on “Finding Strength through Unity

  1. Just stumbled on your blog and was wondering something. Since you were a convert from Judaism, there must have been things about Judaism that you didn’t like. Before you left, would you have felt uncomfortable having other Jews discuss the shortcomings of Judaism? While there are many critics of the church who are looking to do it harm, I believe there are others who love the church and want to find ways to improve it. I don’t feel ignoring problems really helps anyone, especially if those problems are causing real pain. Thank you.

    • Good question.

      I generally do not have a lot of criticism of Judaism. Perhaps the one critique that I might offer is actually the lack of unity on doctrinal topics. I loved quite a bit about Jewish culture and faith (and still do). I think I would have been (and indeed am) uncomfortable with broad attack on Judaism especially in the mainstream press. I think members should seek to improve the organization that they are in, but they should work within the organization rather than against it.

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