01 August 2011

Blind Obedience & Levi Savage

After watching 17 Miracles last night, I've been thinking a lot about what I would do if I were in Levi Savage's shoes. He knew that the Willie-Martins would face trials if they continued west. He knew it would be terrible; people would die. But he also knew that the Lord had commanded these saints to Zion and they wanted to be there badly, not to mention that staying and waiting was nearly impossible. He informed them of the risks and traveled with them on their dangerous journey, committed to their cause.

As latter-day saints, we are commanded to obey the Lord and his prophets, for they speak his word. But what happens when we disagree? Or have doubts? Is it okay to doubt their words? Is it okay to pray for yourself and to receive your own confirmation of the Lord's will? 

When first reading the Book of Mormon we are commanded to pray and to come to a knowledge for ourselves, to gain our own testimony.  We are to gain a testimony, through careful prayer, of the current prophet and his role as such. And when we gain a testimony, is it not clear that they are speaking as the Lord and we should obey? 

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."1

Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945

And we know this: 

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Wilford Woodruff, Excerpt regarding Manifesto/between Official Declarations #1 and #2) 
 So if the Lord will not allow the prophets to lead us astray, then we need not think over what they have said. And the church is based on obedience. We sing Follow the Prophet. We Obey the Lord's Commands. 

And yet we are taught to pray and to know for ourselves. To gain our own testimony. 
President Joseph F. Smith said, "We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never." (Journal of Discources (JD) 16:248)
 How do these line up? What is a latter day saint to do? It seems to me that we are to judge the counsel given and to decide for our own selves. Yet we have sustained the prophet. We should have prayed of his calling and have a knowledge of its truthfulness. So when he speaks, should we not obey? Or do we obtain knowledge and pray and study and then obey?

What do you think? And if you were Levi Savage, what would you do? And what happens if you don't agree? don't believe? and don't want to follow the command?   

1 comment:

Beth said...

We are entitled to know for ourselves, and to have an answer for ourselves. Some things are hard, and even though we will follow, simply because we choose to obey our leaders, we are still able to pray and ask for an understanding or witness. If everything else is true, you will receive the same answer, but when you have your own testimony of any doctrine, commandment or calling, it is easier to obey. Just my two cents.