Patience and Faith

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This is a topic that has been commented on quite a bit lately, but I thought I might weigh into the discussion with some thoughts of my own. (I am technologically challenged so I can’t reference those blogs here)

I recently heard someone say that the late 60?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s and early 70?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s were a difficult time for her at university, especially as it related to the Church and it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s position on Blacks and the priesthood. I remember those times well, and the angst that we all felt as it related to the issues of the day. These times were explosive in a number of ways.

God had been declared dead in 1960 (I believe that?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s the year I read it in the headlines), free love was on the move, mini-mini skirts were a fad, women?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s rights were coming front and centre, marijuana was the recreation of choice, Martin Luther King came to the forefront, J. Edgar Hoover was pointing his finger at just about everyone, JFK was assassinated, then MLK, then Bobby Kennedy, war protests were going on everywhere, cities were being torched, music was undergoing a revolution (hootenannies were a big thing in the early to mid 60?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s). These were not the best of times and the anxiety level of many was high.

With that as a background let me return to the concerns of my friend. It was a trial of faith and patience for her to be a member at this point in time.
There are two ways to look at this issue of faith and patience as she described it. One is to be patient with impatience that the Church is going to see the light and change its ways; or two, the Church is directed by the Lord and change comes in His time, and our faith and patience is demonstrated by our trusting Him even if no change is made.

At the same time, we need to consider the fact that we live in the present and should be aware of the issues. Being aware also causes us to have thoughts and feelings, one way or the other, as we become informed. Would our feelings on a particular issue influence our testimony with respect to the Church and the Gospel, or, as free agents are we able to rally for change and still maintain membership without being patient with impatience that the Church will change to fit the times?

Now, this isn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t about whether or not the priesthood should have been given to all worthy members at that time. There can be no question of its rightness. I remember teaching a family in England in 1968, where the father was Jamaican. They asked me if Blacks would ever receive the priesthood. I will never forget the impression I received at that time ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú I answered that I believed that they would receive it in the next 10 years.

That was one of those occasions where you walk away shaking your head saying where did that come from. I also remember driving down the highway in 1978 and heard on the news that the Church had announced the proclamation on all worthy male members. I instantly burst into tears and felt such a swelling of joy.

The issue, however, is, in my mind: Should the Church change it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s position on doctrine and practices based on public sentiment and the changing social mores espoused by various groups in and out of the Church ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú and should we be part of those voices – or as members do we exercise our faith and patience by enduring public ridicule (even if we agree with public sentiment) and trust the Lord even if nothing is done?

At this particular time, what challenges is the Church facing and in whom, or what, should our faith and patience be focused?

15 thoughts on “Patience and Faith

  1. Good points, Larry. It took a faith shattering experience for me to realise that the Lord does things on His own time. He has concern for me and my welfare, but He extends His hand of mercy when he feels the time is right. Not when I think the time is right.

  2. For the record: I’m grateful to have been raised in the post-OD 2 era (I was born a few years before it was issued).

    Being raised in the correlated/sanitized era allows for testimony growth without significant challange (until the flood gates open). For my generation, I’m not sure that we really know how to patiently wait for the Lord.

    And to your question about the church changing it’s position to accomodate public sentiment: Justin B.’s (Mormon Wasp) recent post on birth rate and birth control would suggest that at least on some issues the church does.

  3. I remember being a brand new member when the church gave the “blacks” the Priesthood. As a very new convert and trying to absorb all the new rules and do’s and don’t’s I did ask why they didn’t have the Priesthood already and to this day no one ever answered me to my satisfaction. But I remember the very next Sunday there were several new families in our ward that had been waiting to be baptized so they could get the Priesthood as well. I didn’t understand that either. Could you not be a member without holding the Priesthood?

    I am a perfectionist.. hmmm wonder where Kim got that from… and one of the things I have had to struggle with the almost 27 years of my membership was and still is that Heavenly Father works on his own time frame and 99.99% of the time it never matches mine. When they handed out patience as a virtue in the Spirit World I must have been in the lineup to the library reading a book or on the playing field watching hockey :)

  4. One of the traits I find most intriguing among people, myself included,in and out of the Church is the inability to appreciate that there are always at least two opinions that can be held on any particular issue. Where issues like Blacks and the priesthood were never a real concern of mine while the restriction was in place, my friend was of a different mind-set.
    The problem was and is, if I had really been self-aware would I have felt the same way she did or would I have remained only a dogmatist without any real answers but smug in my beliefs. Or was there a third option of feeling the pain, but knowing that the Lord was in charge and He would perform His work in His own time?
    This is a dilemma that I wrestle with within myself now that controversy comes up with regard to issues I care deeply about (having become more self-aware) and the position of the Church.
    As you are probably aware, Smiles, a number of years ago there was a big hue and cry over VLT machines. The Church became heavily involved and eventually the anti-VLT lobby won – in the short term.
    At the same time the issue of child porn and sexual abuse came to the fore because of a court decision in B.C.. Nothing from the Church.
    Now we are faced with an attack on the definition of a family. A lobby was organized by some members and they wanted to get the Church’s approval and support. A definitive “no” came down from the powers that be.
    My dilemma came in trying to reconcile the huge effort, centred around the Church, re: VLT machines and the stony silence that surrounded more important issues in my mind.
    So when we talk of faith and patience, am I being patiently impatient that the Church will come to the rescue of issues I think are important, am I smug in my rightness, or am I really exercising faith and patience and trusting the Lord and His time frame and His handling of the issues through the appointed priesthood authority?

  5. Larry I am sorry but I do not know what these VLT machines are that you are talking about. Is this an American thing or shortened acronym for something else? I think, and this is my opinion only, that when the church is faced with an issue that seems to be world wide they not only have to think about what the members will think of their Leaders for the stand they take or not take, but also they have to think of how the world itself will perceive their actions. Like in every newspaper article that pertains to a member….. they are always labeled as “the Mormon”.. did this or that. When someone else does something they are not labeled “the Jew or the Catholic or the Protestant, or the Muslem” etc. THe world watches us and I am sure that is a big reason why out leaders seem to sit on their hands while we the people, as you put it, impatiently patiently wait for a decision. I am also positive that our great Leaders when they pray have their prayers answered on the Lord’s time and not their own. But that was a good thought provoking issue. My husband can always tell when I have been on Kim’s site cause I will be bugging him about something or other and he’ll say you were arguing theology with Kim again weren’t you lolol. I firmly FIRMLY believe that you learn by listening to ALL thoughts and ideas and then making you rown mind.. hmmm wonder where I heard that from before…

  6. This is a tough issue. As I look back over my own life I’m begining to see the wisdom in certain things happening that at one time I thought were calculated to bring about certain ends. When, in fact, they did NOT bring about those ends I began to think that perhaps I had forfeited my birthright and lost the blessings. Now with a little hindsight I’m begining to see that they were calculated to shape me in ways that I did not comprehend at the time but make a lot of sense to me now. My guess is that everyone has had or will have similar experiences in their own lives. If so, can we assume that this sort of thing happens on a macro-level? On a church-wide level?

    For the sake of argument, if we side with the idea that the priesthood was made available to all worthy males right on schedule according to the Lord’s will then let’s consider a few factors: what if the change had come sooner–say by forty years? How would that have effected the church? Was the overall membership REALLY ready for such a change? Was the world around us ready for such a change? How would the south have faired in the U.S.? What if the change came 20 years sooner–right down the middle of cultural upheavel? Would this have sent a signal that the church embraced everything that was going on in the sixties? We can certainly see the wisdom in the change not occuring any later than it did.

    For me, this issue has been a source of deep frustration as I grew up with many black friends. But even so, it may be that over time I will look back and begin to see that the Lord is the perfect husbandman, that He knows precisely how, when and where to prune His vineyard.

    On the other hand, it’s possible that we may have slung a little mud in our own faces (speaking of the church collectively) by allowing the cultural influences of the world to dictate policy in the church to such an extreme so as to lead us to be exclusionary in our efforts to exalt all of God’s children. It’s quite an ugly thing to contemplate–I hope there’s a better answer.

    Jack

  7. Anonymous,

    That was on my mind as I wrote this thread. Good points.

    Kim – I believe that even though there were the few that did receive it, it was abandoned as a practice almost immediately.

    Smiles – VLT’s are video lottery terminals that are placed in bars and other establishments so patrons don’t have to go to casinos to gamble. The gov’t receives revenues (taxes) from these.

  8. It wasn’t abandoned immediately. Blacks (at least some) were receiving the priesthood at least until the 1930s.

    Eljah Abel is the most famous of the black who held the priesthood. He served three missions for the Church, the year before he died. He died at the end of 1884.

    His son Enoch was ordained an elder in 1900, Elijah’s grandson Elijah Jr. was ordained an elder in 1935.

    As well, the popular notion og witholding the priesthood from the black didn’t happen until 1847, three years after Joseph Smith died and 11 years after Elijah Sr was ordained an elder.

  9. Kim,

    I understand that you’re making a rhetorical statement, but it is begging some big questions.

    Are you implying that putting an end to the blacks receiving the priesthood was uninspired? I personally believe that such is entirely possible. However, those who would like to believe that such is the only plausible solution to the puzzle are in the unfortunate position of having to prove a negative. You have to prove that Brigham Young was speaking only as a man when he declared that blacks were not to receive the priesthood–which he did on a number of occasions even invoking the name of the Savior as a seal on at least one such occasion. I think we can easily believe that most of the reasoning behind such a policy was fuel by the concurrent idealogies of the day. However, there still exists the possibility that it may have been the best thing to do for a time–regardless of the silly reasoning that some may have used to justify it. Now I’m not suggesting that it would have been wrong for the blacks to have the priesthood per se, but that perhaps the church (and the world at large for that matter) simply was not ready for that kind of conjoining of races. So, inspired or not, to me it seems to boil to a racial problem regardless, which sadly, is not a wonderful commentary on the human race.

    Jack

  10. Kim, I was responding to this comment:

    “At 6:20 PM, Kim Siever said…
    ‘what if the change had come sooner–say by forty years?’

    It had—one hundred forty years sooner.”

    That’s a loaded statement, Kim–one that deserves a good response. And if I ever learn how to give a good response, you might one day agree with me that it is also a rhetorical statement as it evoked an answer to question that was not specifically asked.

    Jack

  11. I don’t know where to post this comment, so this thread will have to do. (if that’s OK?)

    Kim,

    This is a pretty dang good blog. Why in the world were you considering shutting it down? I hope you never have thoughts like that again. (especially now that you have my buddy, Larry, on board)
    Keep up the good work!

    Jack

  12. “That’s a loaded statement, Kim”

    I don’t consider it. I was simply addressing your question of what would happen if it came sooner. Your question was moot because it had happened sooner. Blacks were given the priesthood before 1978.

    No rhetoric and no loading. Simply addressing the question asked.

  13. Well done guys. Nobody has paid this much attention to anything I said since I was a kid.
    Thanks for the support Jack. You’ll find Kim is very informed and not afraid to mix it up. I like his direct style and I appreciate your support.

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