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Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 17 Nov 2013, 20:39
by intothelight
So my struggle with the church started when a bishop went too far in trying to get me to go on a mission. I somehow knew I couldn't go, and found out later I had a illness which will probably be terminal in the next few years. I'm sure he had the best of intentions. It's what he was taught to do. But I had been raised 100% in the church, and all of a sudden not being able to be good enough in the eyes of something that's been such an integral and important part of your life up to that point - well, let's say it's taken me many years to get beyond that - and in reality, is something I'm still working on.

I don't hate the church - but I don't just accept everything they say anymore. I can't allow anything not perfect to have that power over me again. The consequences can be devastating. Again, the church I think is overwhelmingly good. Better surely than I could create myself. But total surrender and unconditional obedience - or even my imperfect attempt at providing that - can only safely be given to a perfect entity.

Regardless, here is my question. I don't pay tithing any more. I give 10% instead to LDS Philanthropies humanitarian aid and help the homeless. If I go in for a temple recommend interview, can I claim to be a full tithe payer? I don't not pay tithing out of spite. I'm sure that just like the church, if someone were to look at my finances, they'd see waste. I pray that God will forgive both the church and me for squandering the resources we have been given to some extent. But I feel like I have to do what I feel is right - and for now, that isn't tithing. Maybe will be some day in the future, but isn't right now. Let's assume that the ordinances the church rules withhold from some are important and good in some way or another. Is a well-meaning person barred from temple attendance, taking the sacrament, holding the priesthood, participating in blessings, and getting into the highest degree of glory? I don't know if Joseph Smith was a real prophet. And this isn't the result of me not asking. I have asked. Maybe I'm the reason why I haven't gotten an answer, maybe not - I don't know. But, despite this, I think many of the things about the church are very good - and would think that God wants me to have those things.

I guess what I'm really asking is whether or not you believe that God and the church are 100% in sync with one another. Do you believe that God can grant exception from a black and white church law, even when church leaders might say He doesn't?

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 17 Nov 2013, 20:50
by Curt Sunshine
I think the answer to your last question, here and even at the highest levels of the Church, is a resounding, "No." Pres. Uchtdorf said it explicitly in his Saturday morning talk in General Conference. Leaders are and have been wrong about things - even important things. I also think our scriptures, theology and scriptures show that God "exempts" people from various things for various reasons.

As for the question about tithing, we had another thread about that exact question a little while ago. I'll try to find it. The summary: It's up to you to declare your status - but not paying any tithing makes it hard / impossible to answer that temple recommend question with an honest, "Yes." If you give 10% to charity, especially LDS Philanthropies, you could say honestly, "I tithe faithfully" (and I would have no problem with that phrasing), but we all know that's not what the question means. I am fine answering with a simple "yes" or "no" to the questions, even if you interpret them differently than the person asking the question (since the questions are asked to you for you to answer for yourself), but this is one where you would have to be comfortable with an answer that well over 90% of the interviewers would not accept if you explained it to them.

That's your call. It's not mine. If it was me in your situation, I probably could feel good about the answer I gave above, but I'm very secure in my faith and my personal understanding, so you have to decide for yourself.

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 00:01
by Heber13
intothelight wrote:I give 10% instead to LDS Philanthropies humanitarian aid and help the homeless. If I go in for a temple recommend interview, can I claim to be a full tithe payer?
The temple recommend questions is a yes/no answer. You must feel good about your answer to the bishop. I could feel fine giving 10% to the LDS Philanthropies and consider that my tithing. I also believe others would tell me that strictly by the book, that is not tithing. And they would only count what they put in that box in the slip of paper as tithing. But in the end, the tithing settlement is for you to declare if you feel you are a full-tithe payer or not. If you say yes, that should be the end of it. It is between you and God.

How do you feel about it?
Is a well-meaning person barred from temple attendance, taking the sacrament, holding the priesthood, participating in blessings, and getting into the highest degree of glory?
They can be. The bishop is the judge, and has a handbook to guide him. But it will vary by bishop. "Well-meaning" isn't the bar they are looking for, they are looking for obedience. But...I don't know that they are looking to try to keep anyone from temples, sacrament, priesthood or blessings...they are simply looking for sins that would deem the person unworthy by their judgement. A well meaning couple in love who intend to marry, but have premarital sex, and confess to a bishop will likely not be allowed those things until after repentance. So yes...a well-meaning person can be barred. But that doesn't mean they go around looking to bar people. It is one reason I caution my kids from confessing to bishops...because once you say something...it is out there and out of your control a bit for a bishop to act upon. Consider things before opening up to bishops.

Now...the last part was if the Celestial Kingdom would bar well-meaning people. That...my friend...is a whole other subject. Because that is not up to mortal bishops or stake presidents to judge. That would be where God would judge, and how he judges us for our hearts is quite different than a temple recommend interview, IMO.
But, despite this, I think many of the things about the church are very good - and would think that God wants me to have those things.
I think so too. You don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I guess what I'm really asking is whether or not you believe that God and the church are 100% in sync with one another.
Nope. The church would have to be perfect if it was in sync. It's not.
Do you believe that God can grant exception from a black and white church law, even when church leaders might say He doesn't?
I don't think things are black and white. So any black and white law would be a shadow of a perfect law that God would govern by. His ways are higher than our ways. The church works with what it can. God would not be so constrained.

I think the closer you get to knowing God, the less the little imperfections of the church really matter, because as you said, there is goodness to be found, and that can be focused on without becoming fixated on the stuff that bothers you in the church.

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 01:12
by intothelight
I suppose there really is no answer to this question - at least if by answer we mean a black and white solution. I guess I knew this even when I posed the question. Perhaps introduced the discussion would be more accurate. But I do like to get the perspective of other people, so all your answers are much appreciated. I'd never say any of this to a bishop either. Or to pretty much anyone in my family. Thankfully, I have a brother who will think objectively about the church and struggles much as I do, so I can talk to somebody. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say our condition in the next life will be based on our hearts, and not our actions. The Atonement took care of the consequences of our actions. I'm not saying actions don't matter - but I think that a person with a pure heart will eventually overcome negative actions if given enough time - another thing provided to us in spades by the Atonement. For things that really matter, I feel quite certain that the legitimately well-meaning soul will not be subject to the consequences of an honest mistake. Not saying that a well-meaning person won't have consequences in life, but for things of truly eternal significance, I think they are covered.

Now, am I REALLY well-meaning? The honest answer is sometimes yes I am, and sometimes no I'm not. I think Faust said once that we are often not as guiltless as we think we are when trials come up.

When questions similar to this are posed, I think they are really just asking - even pleading - for acceptance. And I believe it's that unwillingness to accept any straying from the established doctrine that makes the haters of the church hate it so vehemently. You either come to church and pretty quickly adhere to the rules, or you leave.

So what is more important? The rules, or the people? Like everything, it's a balancing act. You can't completely dismiss the rules, but they can't trump everything else. I'm glad we have someone perfect who will work it all out.

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 09:15
by Life_Journey_of_Matt
intothelight wrote:So what is more important? The rules, or the people?
This is a wonderful question. Even Pope Francis has been posing this to his own people lately.

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 10:14
by cwald
Yes.

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 10:18
by Orson
intothelight wrote:So what is more important? The rules, or the people?
That question is easily answered if you know your point of reference:

For the health and vitality of the organization - the rules.

For the health and vitality of the members - the people.


The members do need the organization to fill the role of a framework ...so both do have a place, but I would lean more heavily on defending individuals.

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 10:24
by cwald
Orson wrote:
intothelight wrote:So what is more important? The rules, or the people?
That question is easily answered if you know your point of reference:

For the health and vitality of the organization - the rules.

For the health and vitality of the members - the people.


The members do need the organization to fill the role of a framework ...so both do have a place, but I would lean more heavily on defending individuals.


I think the organization is ALWAYS there to serve the individual and the people. Period. The members are more important than the organization, and when the two can no longer exist, the organization needs to either go away, or reform.

"God made the sabbath for man. He did not make man for the sabbath."

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 10:40
by Orson
cwald wrote:I think the organization is ALWAYS there to serve the individual and the people. Period. The members are more important than the organization, and when the two can no longer exist, the organization needs to either go away, or reform.

"God made the sabbath for man. He did not make man for the sabbath."
Yes Cwald, but the problem is no organization can simultaneously fill all the needs of all the different people. It would self-destruct in trying.

All organizations are abusive so some individuals, that is the nature of the beast. To completely eradicate that would be to end all organizations.


I am with you on the idea that we can do a much better job, we don't need to argue about that, but if we go to absolutes everything starts to fall apart.

Re: Does God Exempt Some Even Though Church Leaders Don't?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 10:48
by cwald
Orson wrote:
Yes Cwald, but the problem is no organization can simultaneously fill all the needs of all the different people. It would self-destruct in trying.

All organizations are abusive so some individuals, that is the nature of the beast. To completely eradicate that would be to end all organizations...
You know, you are right. Perhaps I've evolved into an Anarchists? Nyle from Mormon Expression had it right all along.