TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

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bc_pg
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TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by bc_pg » 13 Jul 2012, 13:43

This is in regards the two temple questions that ask about sustaining our leaders - 1 directly & 1 indirectly by asking if we keep temple covenants:

So I have a question I am curious how you all would deal with. This issue definitely hits close to home with the current bishop of the ward I live in.

39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

This is a very insightful statement. The reality is that church priesthood leaders are just men. As such, sometimes they exercise unrighteous dominion in their leadership positions. Generally this is minimal or not a problem - however sometimes it can be extreme and even abusive.

How do you deal with this? How do you reconcile it with the command to sustain church leaders?

I really don't believe the intent of "sustaining leaders" is to suffer unrighteous dominion, yet I think that is exactly what often happens.

Side Note: There seems to have been a major shift in this since Joseph Smith's time. These days you would feel super guilty for voting against - I've never seen a vote be anything but unanimous - it kind of reminds me of the "free elections" previously held in Iraq. However when Joseph Smith tried to release Sidney Rigdon as his counselor the church voted against him and Sidney retained his position.

Note: I'm asking this because I suspect the answer(s) could be helpful for some.

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Brian Johnston
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by Brian Johnston » 13 Jul 2012, 14:33

bc_pg wrote:How do you deal with this? How do you reconcile it with the command to sustain church leaders?
I'll answer as I did in the TR series thread. "Sustaining" my leaders is not defined as being an obedient soldier and obeying orders from your superior officers, even if they are illegal (to put it in military terms).

"Sustaining" them is in helping them to be effective. If I believe they are exercising unrighteous dominion in a way that is causing harm, "sustaining" them would mean I would try to talk to them privately and let them know what I think. I could volunteer to help out or change things to make stuff easier for them, etc.

Disagreement can be done in a very uplifting and sustaining way. It can be done in a degrading way also that injures the community.

If I love someone, I should want them to be the best at what they are working hard to accomplish.
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 Jul 2012, 17:14

The reality is that church priesthood leaders are just men. As such, sometimes they exercise unrighteous dominion in their leadership positions. Generally this is minimal or not a problem - however sometimes it can be extreme and even abusive.

How do you deal with this? How do you reconcile it with the command to sustain church leaders?
1) by recognizing and admitting exactly what you just said. There's nothing "magical", in and of itself, that changes someone who is put into a position of leadership - man or woman. The only thing that changes automatically is the time commitment they accept.

2) by recognizing that increased responsibility pushes "the natural (wo)man" toward increased unrighteous dominion. It pushes "the unnatural (wo)man" forward to greater at-one-ment. It pushes most people who live somewhere between those extremes either or both ways.

3) by agreeing with Brian and defining "sustain" as "do my best to help someone" - and realizing that sometimes the best help I can provide is a different perspective - or a simple refusal to do something.

4) by not being a prick about it or refusing to do anything for the person but continuing to do everything I feel I can do in good conscience and balance.

5) by going above the person's head in extreme situations - always calmly and meekly and humbly, but clearly and precisely (and pointing out that I take my commitment to sustatin God the overall Church above my commitment to any one person.

If I am going to a Stake President, for example, about a Bishop, High Priest Group Leader, EQ President, etc., I always make it crystal clear that I am doing so out of genuine concern for the him and the Church itself - that I believe the problem I am trying to address is serious enough to be talking with him AFTER I've tried to talk with the other person. Again, as I say a lot, tone, attitude and appearance mean a lot in situations like this. I won't be stepped on, but I'm not doing any stepping on or punch throwing at any point in the process.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Forgotten_Charity
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 13 Jul 2012, 17:38

I sustain church leaders just like I sustain the president, my parents, my boss. They have a job to do, sometimes rather large and they need cooperation to get it done. However, I draw a soft line that's movable to acomadate everything else I need to do in life. I draw a hard line when something starts to hurt me or someone else following the instructions in either a physical or emotional way. No if, ands or buts. I choose not to follow a "arm of flesh" that will do so. However I will follow and substain to th best of my ability (which changes everyday as a side effect of being human) as long as it is not harming anyone in doing so(physically or emotionally).

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SilentDawning
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Jul 2012, 07:38

I'd try talking to them privately. if there was no satisfaction there, I would go over their head, but only in rare situations.

This has never happened to me in the church.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 14 Jul 2012, 16:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Gerald
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by Gerald » 15 Jul 2012, 09:37

We have such high standards for ourselves and others that it is not surprising that we frequently are disappointed --by ourselves and by others. I think sustaining means also being willing to forgive...even if the offending party never asks or wants our forgiveness. Being in any leadership calling is challenging. Even more so in an organization of volunteers who will quickly criticize any misstep or public fumble. I try to give my leaders the benefit of a doubt. I try to assume that they are good men and women who, with their own complex mixture of strengths and weaknesses, are trying to do the right thing. I imagine that there are a few leaders out there who are purposefully malicious but they are few and far between. In my experience, the leaders that I have disliked have been thoughtless or foolish or even mentally ill (I remember one particularly difficult woman who who served in the primary presidency while I was a teacher. In retrospect, I'm almost positive she suffered from a personality disorder of some kind.) Unrighteous dominion is not an action performed only by the evil and wicked. In fact, I'm sure the scripture was making reference to the kinds of human beings we all are: occasionally weak and silly.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Jul 2012, 13:32

I'm sure the scripture was making reference to the kinds of human beings we all are: occasionally weak and silly.


Amen.

When I admit I am prone to it and actually exercise it occasionally (or often, to a lesser degree), I am far less prone to criticize it when I see it in others - except in truly egregious cases.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

afterall
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by afterall » 15 Jul 2012, 14:36

Gerald, you might be interested in this quote I posted under book reviews regarding "Healing Your Church Hurts" by Stephen Mansfield.
"This is what we often forget when church becomes for us an anointed haven, when the grace is flowing and all is well. We become sentimental. In our minds we remake people into what we need them to be. We are not wise in our love, prudent in our commitments, knowing in our fellowship. And so the evil comes and we are first amazed and then destroyed and then knocked off our axis as though never to return." He gives a new insight on forgiveness that I had not been exposed to. I could go on and on, but will stop and let you read the book for yourselves. I especially liked the history focus of many people who are viewed as heroes such as St. Patrick, John Wesley, Vincent Van Gogh and even Bono of U2 and the things they went through in their lives. That was interesting to my family.

There's not a one of us who doesn't make mistakes and sin (or whatever term one is using). However, when there truly is unrighteous dominion and it truly does cause harm to someone, it can turn into a malicious act whether it started out that way or not. Bishops and stake presidents need to be very sure they have the ability to strengthen relationships when they start hurting someone under their dominion. I hope and do feel most are very careful and will check themselves immediately. However, I am aware of too many situations where some are not checking themselves or even recognizing the red flags the Lord may have built into the situation to alert them to their own weaknesses, not necessarily a red flag on the person they are exercising the unrighteous dominion upon.

When someone has truly been hurt, I hope they can be treated with love and compassion and reinforcement of what the gospel's really about and not be shunned or labeled. While we redirect for positive here, I also hope we can remain compassionate if someone is working through one of these situations. Those who have experienced a very negative experience with someone in authority over them ( and I use that term in the way some priesthood holders insist on using it) can experience a crushing disconnect between the church and God. Or worse, can feel as if God has abandoned them and then give up all hope.

afterall
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by afterall » 15 Jul 2012, 14:40

The priesthood holders I respect the most can handle situations being worked through and can look at themselves and correct themselves, rather than running to other priesthood holders for allies or to further strengthen their case. Having the ability to recognize when a misstep or mistake has happened and then to utilize the opportunity to make restitution, usually a simple apology, goes a long long way in a priesthood holder's effectiveness.

bc_pg
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Re: TR Question Offshoot - What about unrighteous dominion

Post by bc_pg » 15 Jul 2012, 14:47

Excellent replies:

Follow up question. What would you do if you attempted to speak with them privately and hit a dead end or were even punished by them for it?

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