9 Things I Consider When Prophets Disagree with My Politics

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In recent days and weeks, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has urged members in Utah to vote against Proposition 2, a state referendum what will decriminalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes under certain contexts. The Church has clarified that it is not against medicinal use of marijuana per se, but that it has grave concerns about the referendum as written, and has pointed to documents prepared by its lawyers for some reasons why.

If it weren’t for the Church’s advocacy, I would fully support Proposition 2.

I’ve weighed arguments on all sides, and there are rational arguments on both sides. I think people of sound mind exist on both sides. However, absent the Church’s statements, I find the pro-Prop 2 arguments — on a strictly rational level, at least — more persuasive. Let me explore why, just briefly:

Freedom almost always works best. I consider myself a civil libertarian, and as such, I believe the burden of persuasion is always on those who wish to restrict our freedoms. Government is force, and we should not use force for light or transient reasons; only grave and serious reasons should warrant the threat of fine or prison. And those who oppose medical marijuana simply haven’t reached this threshold yet (on a rational level).

Marijuana seems safer than other substances that are perfectly legal. This includes alcohol and tobacco, which have destroyed millions of families. It also includes opiates that are leading to an epidemic of addiction and death in the U.S. today. Yet we recognize that the medicinal effects of opiates outweigh the risks of legal (but supervised) use, and that completely criminalizing them might do greater harm for patients everywhere. So why is marijuana singled out as so especially dangerous as to be illegal?

It is often a victimless crime. Some will say it has victims, and they are certainly right — there are many cases where marijuana use has led to documentable harm to others. But it can also be used in ways that do not (seem) to harm others, any more than social drinking. And when people are hurt, it is usually through secondary crimes that are themselves punishable already; when someone commits sexual assault or violent crime under the influence of alcohol, we punish the crimes they committed, not the drinking itself.

Criminalization of marijuana has led to mass incarceration and the growth of the police state. More and more tax dollars have gone into law enforcement, militarizing local police departments to empower them to enforce federal laws that have dubious constitutional provenance. This has led to an erosion of 4th amendment rights against unlawful and unwarranted search and seizure, giving law enforcement pretext to conduct invasive searches on a whim. Dangerous precedence has been set in the enforcement of these laws.

Marijuana does seem to have legitimate medicinal uses. I think that supporters overstate the benefits and understate the risks. But some patients have been tremendously helped by using marijuana and its extracts to treat a variety of symptoms. My inclination is to allow them to enjoy those benefits without fear of prosecution. A grandmother should not be sent to federal or state prison for growing a plant in her garden for her dying husband’s pain. Loving and otherwise law-abiding parents should not fear prison for treating their child’s seizures with THC.

The Constitution is silent on the issue. Some argue that Proposition 2 is problematic on the grounds that it conflicts with Federal law. I believe strongly in the 10th amendment, which enumerates the power of the federal government. We needed a constitutional amendment to give the Federal government the power to criminalize alcoholic drinks during the Prohibition. Yet since then, we’ve decided the Federal government has the constitutional power to regulate all medical drugs and services? This is almost certainly a state’s rights issue.

All that said, if I lived in Utah I would still vote no. So then why I am listing these reasons? Because I think it’s important for people to know that those who support Proposition 2 are people of sound mind and good hearts, and I think the weight of reason and even evidence is actually on their side. Advocates of marijuana decriminalization aren’t (usually) some evil cartel intent on stealing our children for a drug-addled life in hippie communes. They are often civil libertarians, constitutionalists, and even small-government conservatives who see inconsistencies in the way conservative thought has treated these issues.

So then why in the world would I vote no? And why would I encourage others to as well? Well, here are 9 things I consider, or 9 different ways to look at the issue:

(1) I am grateful prophets don’t always agree with me.

If prophets always agreed with me, then things would be easy. But things are not supposed to be easy. There’s no spiritual growth in that. And I’m grateful they don’t, because it gives me occasion to demonstrate loyalty, to demonstrate to God my willingness to set aside my own predilections and to follow counsel from divinely appointed servants. I am a Latter-day Saint first, and a civil libertarian way down on the list, after husband, father, and a few others. When prophets disagree with me, it gives me occasion to show God where my ultimate loyalties lie. And it’s not with my politics.

Saints of every generation have been asked to do “hard things” by God’s servants, and I think this is by divine design. So it must be that prophets and apostles occasionally invite us to do things that I don’t already want to do. Things that might go against my natural inclinations, that work against my own reasoning and preferences. And it’s those moments where we spiritually mature the most, where we learn the humility to set aside our own preferences and seek instruction from a power and authority higher than our own. Neal A. Maxwell taught:

Discipleship includes good citizenship; and in this connection, if you are careful students of the statements of the modern prophets, you will have noticed that with rare exceptions—especially when the First Presidency has spoken out—the concerns expressed have been over moral issues, not issues between political parties. … But make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions (see 1 Kings 18:21).

President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, or political life” (CR, April 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ.((Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” BYU Devotional, Oct. 10, 1978.))

I believe this is true, and so it is that I delight when the prophets turn out to disagree with me — precisely because it gives me an opportunity to show that I am not ashamed of them, and that I truly believe they are men of God.

(2) The God we worship is a divine Person, not an political ideology.

I don’t want to place my own political ideologies over instruction from God’s servants. When we evaluate the teachings of God’s servants against our ideological worldview (whether it be liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, or any other perspective), we risk elevating our own ideas over God Himself. In other words, the problem is not libertarianism, liberalism, conservatism, or any other belief system. The problem was with –isms entirely, when those –isms lead us to prioritize abstract ideas over ongoing revelation.

This can lead to something I call ideolatry, which what happens when we elevate an abstract system of belief (or ideology) to the level of “absolute truth.” This is especially the case when we become dogmatic about our particular political perspective, or hold to them with a fervor that defies correction by God or His servants. When we do this, we have supplanted the living God with an idea (or set of ideas). The God of Israel is not an abstract, universal, immutable set of ideas or laws, but a living, dynamic Person who communicates instructions tailored to our specific time and situation. Latter-day Saints can — and must — be flexible in matters of abstract belief while being resolute in matters of loyalty to God.

(3) Prophets are watchmen on the tower.

We can think of prophets as watchmen on a tower. As one Ensign article explains, “Watchmen were sentries stationed on a wall or in a tower in order to look out for and warn of dangers approaching from afar. They were employed to protect cities as well as vineyards, fields, or pastures.”((“Watchmen on the Tower,” Ensign, April 2016.)) From their vantage point on the tower, they have an elevated view that helps them to see things that the rest of us cannot see. It allows them to warn of dangers while the danger is still far off, so that we can prepare ahead of time.

If we only heed the warnings of prophets if we too can see the danger, then what is the point of the tower? The whole point of the “tower” in the analogy is so that we can be warned of dangers we cannot see. So insisting that we be able to personally see or understand the dangers before taking heed of the warning neuters the entire purpose of having prophets, seers, and revelators at the head of the Church. President Harold B. Lee taught:

There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).((Chapter 9: Heeding the True Messenger of Jesus Christ,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (2011), 78–87.))

So it is that when we heed the warnings of the “watchmen on the tower,” we can be protected and insulated from the powers of darkness that threaten us as a community. And this means precisely that we heed those warnings just as much when we don’t see the dangers as when we do. Because that’s what they are for: to see what we don’t see. That’s part of what makes them seers.

(4) Prophets are fallible, but this doesn’t mean we should trifle with their words.

None of this should be misinterpreted to imply that prophets are infallible, or never make mistakes. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “[T]here have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.”((Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join With Us,” Ensign, November, 2013.)) However, prophets can have a divine commission while also being mortal, imperfect people. King Benjamin expresses this perspective clearly:

I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view. I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people. (Mosiah 2:9-11)

Here, King Benjamin says three things: (1) People should not fear him as they might fear God, because he is a mortal man, subject to imperfection. (2) People should not trifle with his words, but should open their ears and hearts to what he has to say. (3) This is because he has a divine commission from the people and from God to be their teacher. This is what it means to treat prophets as authorities: we recognize their mortal fallibility, but we do not trifle with their words. This means taking them seriously when they urge us to do something, rather than blithely dismissing them if their instructions do not line up with our preconceived notions.

(5) I recognize the inherent fallibility of my own reason.

Prophets are fallible. They can make mistakes. They can have biases. They can sometimes (gasp!) mistake their own predilections for inspiration. But so can we. The problem is that my politics are as man-made as any other. The inspired elements are mixed in with uninspired elements. Libertarians (I consider myself one, so I refer to myself in this too) often take pride in the advancing their conclusions as the product of rational deduction from first premises. But reason cannot take us nearly as far as we think, and our premises are not nearly as “self-evident” as we pretend.

The antidote is epistemic humility: an acknowledgement of our own fallibility, the limitations of human reason, the possibility that others of sound mind might arrive at different conclusions from the same “self-evident” premises, or even take *different* premises as “self-evident” altogether. It’s recognizing that prophets are fallible, but so are we. And so we cannot, without great hubris, claim some special access to the truth of the matter that the prophets have somehow missed. Great political ideas should always be adopted provisionally, subject to higher authorities than man’s own reasoning (such as the Spirit and Christ’s spokesmen).

(6) Following the prophet on this matter is not blind obedience, if we know them to be men of God.

The divine commission of a prophet is established differently than the authority of secular scholars and experts. Prophets generally do not have a diploma that establishes their divine stewardship, and there is no (mortal) third-party accrediting agency that verifies their authority. Rather, we must seek personal revelation from God to know whether they are genuine prophets and apostles. If we continually seek confirmation from the Spirit that these men are indeed God’s servants, it is not blind obedience when we follow their instructions.

Seeking personal revelation from God to confirm the divine stewardship of His servants is a kind of “independent verification” that is vastly different from the peer review processes valued by Western thought. When we engage is such prayer and seek such confirmations, we are not comparing the teachings of the prophets against scholarly consensus, nor are we examining their methods and replicating their reasoning. We are instead asking a simple question of God: “Are these men commissioned by you? Are they indeed prophets and messengers with a divine calling?” Brigham Young famously said:

What a pity it would be if we were lead by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are lead by him. … Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the path the lord dictates or not.((Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, 150.))

Some have misread this quote, and think Brigham Young feared that people could be led astray unless they independently verify each of his instructions. However, when read in the context of his entire sermon, in the first sentence of this quote, Brigham Young was mimicking what others (non-believers) had said about the Saints. He is saying that he does not share the fears held by non-believers, but fears more that people will not heed the teachings of the prophets with the conviction that comes the Spirit of God.

(7) Inspiration doesn’t always come with reasons attached.

Most spiritual promptings don’t come with reasons why. We might feel prompted to visit a friend, to not board an airplane, to spend some time in the temple, and we might never find a reason for it. That same is true of inspiration received by Church leaders. In the past, reasons have been speculated over and given for policies and practices, and those reasons have later turned out to be wrong. Without disavowing the priesthood ban itself (a practice of unknown origins), the Church has completely disavowed the reasons that were typically attributed to it.

If the First Presidency’s reservations about Proposition 2 are inspired, I wouldn’t expect them to come with reasons attached. So it stands to reason that the Church must turn to knowledgeable third parties to supply those reasons, if it is to supply any reason at all. The arguments supplied by these third parties (Kirton McConkie, in this case) could be quite flawed, or even spectacularly wrong — and yet the reservations of the Church could still be divinely inspired. Even if I disagree with some of the arguments made by Kirton McConkie, it doesn’t change my opinion that the Church’s warning should be heeded.

(8) There may be good reasons for the Church’s reservations I don’t know about.

A decade ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vocally support Proposition 8 in California, which would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Church not only expressed reservations about same-sex marriage, it urged Latter-day Saints to spend time and effort persuading California citizens to support this proposition. At the time, there were a lot of bad reasons given for this — lots of arguments that ultimately didn’t hold water. Many in the Church have since concluded that there were no good reasons at all. I was almost one of those.

But then I stumbled upon the excellent writings of Catholic thinkers Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, in their book, “What Is Marriage?” They supplied tremendously insightful reasons why marriage should be preserved as a conjugal man-woman institution, separate and distinct from the companionate romances of same-sex unions. Some of those arguments are summarized at www.discussingmarriage.org. The point here is that, with patience, strong and wholly rational reasons can often be found for the Church’s policy preferences. Just because faulty reasoning is being advanced in our often low-information political discourse, doesn’t mean good reasons don’t exist or will never be articulated.

(9) We cannot see what would have been.

It’s precisely because of what I don’t see that I need prophets and apostles. This particular debate has played out before. President Heber J. Grant strongly supported the Prohibition, and strongly encouraged the Saints to vote against its repeal. However, despite this, many Latter-day Saints voted in favor of repeal. The arguments tracked similar lines: Enforcement of the laws was leading to violence and being used as a pretext to expand police powers; drinking was often a victimless crime; there was a thriving black market that empowered dangerous people and victimized the vulnerable; etc. And had I lived then, and with the political inclinations as I do now, on a rational level, I’d probably feel the same as I do about Proposition 2.

But what gives me pause is the millions of lives and families who have been destroyed by alcohol since 1933 (repeal of prohibition). Some estimate that 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes. Multiple that a few times to represent the families ruined by this — and then extrapolate this back through the years (although the number will go down as we go backwards, if for no other reason than population increases over time). It represents millions of children without fathers or mothers. And this doesn’t even take into account non-death ruin of families to alcohol-related issues, including abuse, divorces, rape, infidelity, etc. It’s entirely possible that this is the reality that President Grant did — by inspiration — foresee when he urged Saints to oppose the repeal of the Prohibition.

We simply don’t know what our nation would have looked like today had the Saints heeded President Grant’s warning. It’s almost certain that black markets would have continued to thrive, and that enforcement of these laws would continue to have major problems. It’s almost certain that some of those alcohol-related deaths would still have happened, with perhaps some more deaths related to gang violence and enforcement that didn’t happen in our world. But given that the Prohibition did succeed in dramatically reducing the number of people who drank and the number of alcohol-related deaths, and did help foster a culture of temperance that lasted even decades after repeal, it’s entirely plausible that those numbers could have been dwarfed by the reality we face today.

So even if we don’t see our current reality as some sort of dystopic version of events, this may only be due to its familiarity. It may be that in an alternate realty where the Prohibition was retained, people would be shocked to learn about the alcohol-related deaths, assault, and divorces that we take for granted as normal. We don’t always know when prophetic warnings are fulfilled; we might simply think it’s life as usual, because we cannot see what might have been. And so it is that when seers warn us, I take heed; it’s their job to see what we do not.

If you do vote Yes on Proposition 2, be wary of the dangers.

I think that Latter-day Saints should vote against Proposition 2, for these reasons and more. But that doesn’t mean that I think you are an apostate if you disagree. But there are dangers to be aware of. It’s one thing to disagree with the Church and, based on our own spiritual impressions and reasoning; and another thing entirely to publicly agitate against the Church for its position on the matter. Loyalty to prophets and apostles does not require agreement; but it might require that we do not actively seek to undermine their projects and initiatives, or that we publicly urge others to disregard them.

Further, we should be wary that we don’t diminish in our own eyes (and in the eyes of others) their spiritual and moral authority as spokesmen of God. The danger is that with each act of personal defiance, we step further into a worldview and lifestyle where instruction and correction from divine servants is treated lightly (“trifled” with), to be followed only when we are already inclined to do so. When the ship (the Church) is disconnected from its rudder (prophets and apostles), it becomes less responsive to course changes. And when this happens, we — as a collective body — are less able to avoid the storms of life, as our pilots are less able to steer the ship around them.

And so if for some reason you feel compelled to vote “Yes” on Proposition 2, take extra effort to be more sensitive to prophetic direction in all other areas of your life — and especially in areas where you are inclined to disagree. After all, if prophets never surprised us or disagreed with us or only told us things we already knew, then they’d be redundant. What use would they be? We should expect prophets to tell us things we weren’t expecting, things we couldn’t arrive at through reason alone. Else what’s a prophet for?


  1. I can agree with much of what you have said here, but I do not agree with point 6. I have read much of the Journal of Discourses in my studies and I have read this. My initial reaction was to wonder at how you provided no support for your assertion that Brigham Young was not speaking his own thoughts, but “was mimicking what others (non-believers) had said about the Saints.” To assert that the context shows this to be true, and then fail to expand upon that thought by providing the needed context struck me as odd. Having read the essay in question, it didn’t strike me that way when I came across it.

    So, I went back and reread it. I have to say that I still can’t see what you are talking about here. It seems abundantly clear that Brigham Young was speaking his own mind.

    Certainly you are right that there are some who have misapplied the quote (misread seems unlikely). Brigham Young did not say that one has to independently verify each claim made by an authority. There is a balance between two extremes that people don’t seem interested in carefully articulating. Brigham Young is right that we can’t provide our leaders with the right kind of “influence” (his word), or “support” (if one prefers to think of it that way) if we just blindly accept without wrestling with doubts vigorously. Having questions and then working them out is not “trifling”. There are, in fact, two ways to be trifling, (treating without seriousness < talking or acting frivolously, wasting something < deceiving) if one gives it much thought. One can have a doubt and then reject the prophets blindly. One can also have a doubt and then accept the prophets blindly. Both of these are to trifle with the words of the prophets, which should be taken seriously.

    The reason why these are both trifling is not just that the prophet could be wrong (and he certainly could), nor that you could be wrong (also a possibility), but also because you may have misunderstood. You cannot obey and support the prophet effectively if you aren't even taking the time to make sure that you understand.

    Take home teaching for example. Many members of the church trifled with the words of the prophets regarding home teaching; worst of all, many times, the people who were supposedly trying to implement it. False doctrines and misunderstanding regarding home teaching became so common that now, it seems they decided to rebrand it, in order to shake the false doctrines loose. And yet, these were people who putatively accepted home teaching.

    I have found, when asking church HQ for clarification on policy or instruction, that sometimes even they don't know what was meant, but, gosh-darn-it, some committee, that was formed by appointment by a prophet came up with it, so its right, and it is therefore wrong to wonder about its correctness, or even its clarity. You can't do a whole lot with "don't know what it means, but it's correct, you heathen".

    When the prophet says something and it sounds wrong. It is trifling to reject it. It is also trifling to accept it unquestioningly. Instead, where these conflicts occur (and not every time the prophet utters anything, which would be rather impractical), it is important to study it out, to gain context and background, to go to the Lord and ask for direction. It is important to find out the Lord's perspective. It's important to get a second witness, even if that second witness simply rounds out the perspective, which should be uncontroversial. Whether the prophet is just wrong, whether you were just wrong, whether you misunderstood, whether you are an exceptional case, or whether something else may be affecting the apparent problem. These little conflicts should not be cast aside lightly.

  2. Marijuana is not safer than tobacco. If you weren’t LDS I would suggest you go smoke both and learn it for yourself. But you’ll just have to take my word for it 🙂 I trust people behind the wheel of a machine smoking a cigarette but not while smoking a doobie.

    Good article Jeff!

    1. True about operating under the influence. My only response would be that since tobacco is one of the leading causes of preventable death — even above alcohol and other drugs — I doubt that marijuana would overtake it. So the “double standard” argument holds water still, I my mind. But it’s immaterial since all these considerations are, for lack of better term, preempted by prophetic counsel.

      1. Jeffrey, the thing I like most about your entire position is that YOU CARED ENOUGH to speak up about it. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we must let our thoughts and feelings about public matters be known as the Spirit leads us rather than shutting our mouths and turning our heads away. This is how the elect and searching in the world will know who we are and find kinship, and ultimately be led by the Spirit to find the restored gospel in its fullness. So, Thank You!!! (also, volunteering my services to pre-read any future thoughts and edit for mis-spells or leave-outs, the perils of writing online…your intelligence is showing!)

        1. I’m always looking for proofreaders. We post an article each week. If it’s something you’d seriously enjoy, I’ll be glad to recruit you.

  3. You’ve raised 7 reasons to be in favor of Prop 2.

    And then made 9 excellent points with which I have very little to quibble, which if I am summarizing correctly is. that it is wise to defer to revelation from prophets, even when, (and perhaps especially when,) reason and personal views contradict said revelation.

    However, your conclusion in tying Prop 2 to the list above seems to be tremendous exercise in begging the question:

    Where is a direct quote form someone sustained as a prophet, seer, or revelatior on the subject?

    Statements from attorneys, lawyers, and litigators, doesn’t really apply to your 9 things to consider.

    If there is a quote (which perhaps we may see a First Presidency statement (like the one on the inspired name of the Church) then it will need to be weighed accordingly.

  4. Thank you for this article. I firmly believe the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are like the watchman on the tower who can see the enemy afar off and warn the populace (including those not of their faith) of approaching danger. In my lifetime I have seen the church leadership come out on only a few social issues, but they have been right every single time. One that stands out was the church’s stance against para-mutual betting back in the 1980’s. The same arguments were raised then (freedom of choice, victimless vice, etc.) as with marijuana now. President Kimball was vilified then just as the current church leadership is now. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t long after Utah voters defeated the para-mutual betting initiative that the Supreme Court held that if a state allowed any form of gambling, they had to allow ALL forms of gambling. The result was states that only wanted to allow seemingly innocuous forms of gambling such as lotteries and para-mutual betting now had to allow casinos and all forms of gaming. As it stands, Utah and Hawaii are the only states that have no forms of gambling. President Nelson and the twelve apostles are not exactly stupid. Their numbers include two medical doctors who understand pain and suffering. They are not unsympathetic to those in pain. Quite the contrary, the leaders and members of the church are devoted to relieving suffering. It is for that very reason that they come out with firm stands on such social issues – and are willing to suffer ridicule and scorn. If they had only their own interests at heart, they would go with what is popular instead of that which will protect both individuals and society as a whole. Last April, President Nelson urged every member to receive revelation for themselves on such matters. Why don’t all of us try that? I have, and I’ve received my own answer. I will stand with the prophet on this one.

    From a personal standpoint on the use of marijuana, I once worked for a company with a defense contract and we had to fire two employees who tested positive for marijuana. Both were injured on the job (one fell down the stairs and the other nearly cut his hand off). They only injured themselves, but what if either of them had been driving a forklift or a company vehicle? What if one of them had made an error in designing or assembling a critical component in the aircraft we were building that resulted in someone getting hurt or killed? The company was forced to fire these two otherwise good employees because A) the government contract required it (also insurance) and, B) this small company could not accept the risk of allowing such behavior to continue.

  5. Dear Sir. Very thoughtful and insightful. I could spend hours sharing a similar journey and thought processes related to current social and political trends that are running contrary to the 1994 Family Proclamation, truly an inspired piece of work that anticipated where we are today. I live in Washington state, and 1/2 block from a recreational marijuana outlet which is less than a 1/4 mile from a primary and middle school. Families living in my neighborhood with small children are supposed to live in a drug free zone, yet, our zoning laws allow for this recreational marijuana outlet. Children are being taught about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and participate in state and national ‘say no’ to drugs and alcohol campaigns, yet, like with alcohol, walk past these establishments on their way to school. Parents and children do have it tough as they pick up beer bottles and roaches from their front yards. I digress. I am a public health researcher and have long been concerned about the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, the impact IT WOULD AND IS having on teenagers (e.g. am following the longitudinal Colorado RAND study studying the impact of legalization laws on teenage marijuana use) and the commoditization that always follows. Bio tech companies are now100% in the game to find new ways to enhance the psychoactive effects of recreational cannaboids (e.g. THC) and claim patents on these. The marijuana industry is fast becoming the top cash agricultural and bio-ag industry in our state (and also in California). This presents another set of environmental issues as the industry requires tremendous amounts of electricity and water. The ‘pot’ today is NOT the natural pot of 30 years ago. Veeping is the new means for ingesting THC cannaboids for recreational purposes using powerful THC synthetic compounds. We are now witnessing a new epidemic of veeping among high schoolers and young adults. A quick high, and, we still have no means to gauge ‘what is safe’ as the public now can legally consume these compounds – like we do the alcohol breathalyzer. A true nightmare, as I feared is unfolding. And, I am only looking at this from a public safety perspective as I can watch the comings, goings, and smokings of customers at the Herb shop right near my home. Our prophets see, know, and understand things far far more than we will ever know. Great commentary and food for thought.

  6. This type of thinking is one of the most destructive, soul-bending, agency-destroying, and outright saddening things about the church. It’s not unique to this church, because other churches (e.g., the Jehovah’s Witnesses) also enforce a “follow your leaders in absoluteness” view.

    I can’t express how absolutely horrible it is to read the words “I delight when the prophets turn out to disagree with me — precisely because it gives me an opportunity to show that I am not ashamed of them, and that I truly believe they are men of God.”

    This means that we must have no thoughts or opinions of our own, unless those thoughts or opinions agree with the prophets! If we somehow have some opinion contrary to the prophet, then that now becomes an “opportunity” to bend our will to theirs! I can’t stand this. What if we have a legitimate disagreement with their viewpoint? What then? What do we do? The choice is obvious, we should see it as some bizarre opportunity for “growth” and make ourselves agree with them, by praying until “the Lord confirms it is true.” Because, as we are taught and as we all “know,” there can be no other outcome than a confirmation that the prophet is correct and that we should follow him. If you haven’t received that confirmation, just wait, it will come eventually. So, for now, have faith and follow the prophet anyway.

    What if we simply never receive a confirmation that the prophet is correct, or we receive an answer that he is not? Well, if we don’t receive a confirmation, that is never allowed to actually mean that the prophet isn’t correct. It only means we haven’t yet received the inevitable confirmation. If we receive an answer that the prophet is incorrect, that obviously means our answer wasn’t from God!

    By following this method, there will never even be any way to discover if the church is true or not, if the prophet really is speaking for God or not? What if it WASN’T true? Pretend, for a second, that it wasn’t. What would happen if the prophet really wasn’t speaking for God? Then, we’d hear his teaching and pray about it. We’d ask God for a witness from the Spirit to confirm it’s true. If no witness came (because it wasn’t true), we’d move forward “with faith” anyway, because we BELIEVE the prophet is God’s mouthpiece! We’ll just keep praying, and keep praying until–finally!–we do feel that we’ve received an answer that he was speaking for God after all! Or, we’ll never receive an answer that he is, but this only means that this is a trial for us, that we must proceed with faith, and all answers will come “some day.” After all, everyone else has apparently received answers, and THEY all know the prophet is speaking for God. If WE don’t know, that means there’s some problem with US, not with the prophet.

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