Online I have seen many people talking about this or that thing the LDS church is doing. All these things are helpful and certainly informative. However, these individuals or groups seem to never quite reach the logical conclusion for whatever reason. I wanted to just take a moment to list a few reasons that I think we should be greatly alarmed at our current situation. These are in no particular order and certainly are not a complete list by any view. If you don’t agree with one just skip to the next. It is important to not focus on particulars, but the whole picture.
1. Lead by Handbook
Several years ago, I remember being in a Bishopric meeting where we were discussing a very specific issue pertaining to an individual. There were differences of opinion and no clear direction. The Bishop thought for a moment and then announced that he was going to consult the handbook for further direction. Even at that time I thought that was incredibly strange. The Bishop looked up something similar in the handbook and then acted accordingly. I have always wondered why we didn’t just pray and ask God what he wanted us to do.
I don’t blame the Bishop and I know he was acting in what he thought was the best approach. However, this experience and many others show a legalistic approach to spiritual matters. This has never been how God has worked in the scriptures. Today everything is spelled out, sanitized, and run past a team of attorneys to make sure it follows the laws of man. The Holy Ghost though cares very little for the laws of man. Honestly, how can we be led by the spirit at all if we are told exactly what to do and what not to do and when to do it and when not to do it?
To illustrate this point, I just want to list some examples. Suppose God told the Bishop or Stake President that a sacrament meeting should last the entire two hours, be a time of quiet contemplation, or a time of singing and rejoicing. According to 126.96.36.199 the leader can’t do that. Suppose a leader wanted to show a portion of a movie that they felt was deeply meaningful. According to 38.8.11 they can’t do it. Suppose an Elders Quorum or Relief Society president felt God wanted them to discuss a specific issue with their group. According to 188.8.131.52 the leader can’t do that. They must discuss a conference talk instead.
I understand why the church uses a handbook. However, if we really think God can lead us then we should figure out how to listen or stop pretending that we are led by God. If God wants something from us and then we tell him no because the handbook says otherwise, then what is the god that we are actually worshipping?
2. Taught from Conference
In the LDS church we have a general conference every 6 months where we receive the current thoughts and priorities of the leaders. We then spend the next 6 months discussing the talks every other week until the next conference and then repeat this process. On the surface this sounds like a positive concept. However, if we are really honest with ourselves then all we are doing is repeatedly reiterating the thoughts of someone else. If they are wrong, then we shouldn’t be doing this. If they can’t be wrong, then we should be worshipping them as gods.
Why echo the words of another when we have the words of God readily available? Could we not spend one week in classic Sunday School and then another week discussing our personal scripture study? Could we not spend one week instead discussing needs and concerns of individuals and what is keeping them from God? Could we not spend one week instead discussing how to help the group come unto Christ and enjoy his presence more fully? Could we not spend one week instead discussing the specific things that God wants the group to discuss? There are so many uses for that one week and I really think echoing the words of another, regardless of how well meaning the person is, is a very poor use for that time.
The entire concept of General Conference actually reminds me of Jeremiah 23. God was upset at prophets for endlessly quoting others and then declaring it as a genuine revelation from God. Today I see this exact concept. The leaders endlessly quote each other and then we endlessly quote them. All it takes is for one leader to be wrong about something for this idea to fully permeate the entire church. Imagine if a leader is wrong and then another and so on. Why take the words of a man when you can get the words of God instead? Jeremiah 23 reads:
“Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets,” saith the LORD, “that steal my words everyone from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,” saith the LORD, “that use their tongues, and say, ‘He saith.’ Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams,” saith the LORD, “and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,” saith the LORD.Jeremiah 23:30-32
3. Altering of Scripture
In 1876 Brigham Young authorized the adding of 26 sections to the Doctrine and Covenants and the removal of one section, which was the Article on Marriage. These changes then precipitated the removal of the Lectures on Faith from the 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, by Talmage and others, because they contradicted D&C 130 which was added by Brigham. Then in 1981 two sections were added for no apparent reason. One section was a private dream, and the other was a vision Joseph received which has large sections removed in the canonized version we have. This may not seem like a problem at first, however it has huge implications.
I do believe in continuing revelation, and I certainly don’t think canonized scriptures are set in stone. I welcome new revelation and know that we will receive many new scriptures in the future. However, just because a leader like Brigham or Talmage says something is good or bad that doesn’t make it true. If this is the case, then aren’t we governed by the whims of our leaders? This is especially a problem when a council of leaders meet to remove canonized scripture.
Some claim that the Lectures on Faith were never canonized and shouldn’t have been there to begin with however this is quite easily provably false. Adding or removing from the scriptures, also means that we have had several generations of people that have been raised with completely different scriptural understandings than previous generations. Of course, this can be a positive thing however it can also be a negative one depending on perspective. We today are bound by the scriptural understanding of our previous leaders which doesn’t make any sense.
This also fails to take into account the idea of common consent. Shouldn’t we have a say in what we claim as scripture or not? Shouldn’t we know the events that led up to the reasons to add or remove from the scriptures so we can have an informed choice? Shouldn’t we be able to discuss the theological implications of the changes? Today we have no say in anything the church does and are literally presented with the change and told to “sustain” the change on the spot. This has never been how God has worked. How can I sustain anything if I know almost nothing about it?
4. Elevate Our Leaders
In the LDS church, leaders are put on a pedestal and seen as being spiritually elevated from the people that they are called to serve. This is manifest in many ways including how people will stand when an apostle enters a room, a “higher” leader can override a “lower” one, and how we incessantly talk about their thoughts and opinions. This is also manifest in seemingly small ways including how the Bishop and his councilors sit on the stand during a meeting. In this case, they are literally physically separated and elevated from the congregation for no reason at all.
We also must wait for the Bishop or other presiding leader to take the sacrament first before we can, and we need their permission before we can even do the sacrament at home. I remember being on a long weekend hike where an individual made sure everyone knew that he was authorized from his Bishop to perform the sacrament in a forest in the middle of nowhere. This is frankly absurd when you consider it.
We also must have the Bishop’s and Stake President’s approval to be considered worthy to go to the temple. In addition, we must meet with the Bishop for forgiveness of what the LDS church considers serious sins. As a consequence of any disciplinary action, we then must meet with the Bishop or Stake President until they feel that we have sufficiently repented. It is all formulaic and serves to further ensconce, in our minds, that we can’t rely on God directly and must instead rely on God through the efforts of another.
The absurdity of this whole thing is highlighted when you consider that Elder Haynie in his April 2023 talk discussed how others flattened their water bottles differently simply because President Nelson did. We have had other similar talks in general conference that focus on an aspect of our leaders and then discuss how that is worthy of emulation. This was very blatant in a 2014 talk by Elder Walker where he literally said that as we followed the President of the church of the time then we would get closer to Christ. If I was the president, then I would have stopped his talk and immediately corrected things. However, that is not the world that we live in currently.
In discussing this with others, a natural objection has always been that without all this order and ceremony then the church would be chaotic and lawless. However, upon inspection this doesn’t make any sense. I am not suggesting that everyone do whatever they feel like at the time. I am suggesting though that if we are led by God then God will lead us according to how he sees fit not how our leaders, who are as clueless as us, see fit.
5. No More Revelation
In considering the possible apostasy of the LDS Church the lack of official revelation should be red flag #1. The last canonized section of the Doctrine & Covenants is D&C 138, which was received in 1918 and was a private dream. The last one before this was received in 1844. Therefore, we can say that all canonized revelation, for the church, was received about 180 years ago.
Of course, this is not to say that we are not getting any revelations or God is not guiding us or the church. However, this is to say that if God is giving us, “Thus saith the LORD” revelations then we should add them to the scriptures for the benefit of everyone. If God is not giving us these revelations, then we really need to ask ourselves why this is the case. No revelations like this for almost 200 years seems like an incredibly huge problem to me. There is so much God has to give us and that we want to know, yet it appears that the heavens are silent.
This is also further complicated in that the very concept of revelation has been changed and, in many ways, greatly watered down. Today revelation is equated with inspiration, and because of this redefinition we are told that revelation abounds. In reality though, inspiration abounds and there is an actual famine of God’s literal words today. Why should we consider ourselves God’s people if he doesn’t talk to us?
6. Change Ordinances
Recently I compiled a list of all the notable changes to the temple ordinances and found that there have been more than 50 substantial changes. If we allow for minor changes, then that count easily exceeds 100’s. I do admit that minor changes such as whether someone stands or not at a certain time probably don’t matter. Many will also highlight the differences between ceremony and covenant changes.
However, it is very hard to imagine that the much larger changes don’t matter at all. These large changes include removal of penalties, oaths, and altering covenant wording and who is being covenanted with. For instance, women used to covenant with their husbands to obey them as they obeyed God. Now women covenant directly with God. I think the later one makes a lot more sense, however what does that mean for the millions of women who covenanted directly with their husbands? Why is the covenant being changed if it was given by God. If it wasn’t given by God, then why were we covenanting that way to begin with?
In this regard, I can’t help but think of a scripture in Isaiah. I think there is a very good reason that Christ himself commanded us to search Isaiah, because in my understanding everything we really need to know is already in Isaiah.
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate;Isaiah 24:5-6
We have transgressed God’s laws, changed his ordinances, and broken the covenant of our Fathers. As a result, we have been spiritually devoured and have been left desolate. Very soon we will be physically devoured as we have now been left to suffer the consequences of our actions.
7. Partnership with Babylon
Scripturally we are told that during the end times Satan will rage in the hearts of men. Scripturally some have even described Satan as being the god of this world. Naturally if this is the case then you would expect that God’s people would be doing something quite a bit different from what the world does. This is apparent when God mentions to Isaiah in Isaiah 55:8 that man’s ways are not God’s ways, and his ways are higher than man’s ways.
However, today we see the exact opposite. We have seen partnerships between the LDS church and the United Nations, and we have seen partnerships between the LDS church and governments. This is not to say that the LDS church needs to be a silo. However, it does seem inconsistent with scripture to conclude that the church of God should align at all with organizations like the United Nations that openly want to take away our rights, our sovereignty, and completely undermine our entire food system.
The more that we partner with and integrate ourselves with Babylon, then the harder it will be to separate ourselves from it. We already know that Babylon is on a downward trajectory and that eventually it will collapse completely. Therefore, it really makes no sense that we should flaunt our alignment with them at all. If we need to align for some temporary purpose, then shouldn’t we do so on our terms and not their terms.
Many members today seek after the ambitions and cares of Babylon because they mistakenly believe they are the cares and ambitions of God. This is quite obviously not true when you actually read the scriptures. God’s cares, wants, and desires are in almost every case totally different from those of men. We should in every way possible flee from the world, not fully embrace it and celebrate this fact.
8. No More Spiritual Gifts
In the early church we had dreams, visions, healings, and miracles. Today we are told that these things also happen, but are “too sacred” to discuss. If I search Lds.org for the phrase “too sacred” then I get over 100 matches. These are all describing how amazing things happen, but they don’t want to discuss them. I can understand not discussing them with the general population. However, what about other members in the temple, or in a special meeting format. Not discussing them at all seems like it contradicts the scriptures which are full of many instances where these sorts of things were documented.
Certainly, I am not saying they can’t happen, however if they were institutionally more common, then many things would be different in the church today. I do admit though that whether the church has spiritual gifts or not is an individual matter pertaining to each individual themselves. We naturally group everyone together into a concept called “church”, however ultimately we are all individuals with individual access to God.
On this topic though, it was very interesting to me to research what highly favored of the Lord meant and the signs and miracles associated with that. Alma 9:20-22 describes this in some detail which I would encourage you to consider. However, to very briefly consider this we can ask ourselves if we personally or collectively as a church have any of the following: direct revelation from God, visited by angels, spoken to by God, or have miracles of healing. If we don’t then we have a lot to work on. We recently had a worldwide sickness where the mighty power of God could have been demonstrated. However instead we aligned with the world and were told to shelter in place and avoid contamination. My Bishop even directly told me that I was not to administer to sick people at that time.
9. Focus on Ordinances
Recently, in the LDS church we have seen a much higher focus on Christ. On the surface this is very nice as we discuss and focus more on Jesus. However, personally it seems this focus ultimately translates not to Christ and his life, but to temple ordinances. Therefore, when we speak of Christ in church, we are really meaning LDS temple.
This honestly may seem a bit drastic at first when you consider it. However, it is quite apparent in conference talks like President Freeman’s from October 2023. In this talk she equates following Christ with being on the covenant path which ultimately ends in the LDS temple. Another instance of this is from the Elder Soares talk about how the temple is a symbol of us becoming united in Christ. A last instance of this idea is from President Nelson’s talk in the same conference where he introduces the concept of “Think Celestial”. In his talk he directly equates temple service with coming to God.
Spending more time in the temple builds faith. And your service and worship in the temple will help you to think celestial. The temple is a place of revelation. There you are shown how to progress toward a celestial life. There you are drawn closer to the Savior and given greater access to His power.President Nelson – Think Celestial!
The temple is certainly a very nice place, and I enjoyed my time there. However, I think focusing on the temple and equating it with God or God’s plan gives us misplaced priorities. Certainly God can be found in the LDS temple. However, I think all things testify of God and show us of his love for his children.
In my mind though, a daily walk with God is fundamentally different than what regular temple attendance would be. For a few years I regularly attended the temple, even attending weekly and assisting with some of the ordinances. I was glad to be doing that at the time. However, in retrospect, I was focusing on the ordinance and not on God. I was focusing on the words and actions and not focusing on the giver of the actions.
10. Tithing to Access God
In order to attend the temple and receive, what is considered to be an essential ordinance then members must get a temple recommend. During this process they are asked whether they pay their tithing. For many years I thought this was an honest, but maybe misplaced question. It wasn’t until I really started to experience things outside of my comfort zone that I saw things differently.
In the church there has been a lot of debate about whether tithing should be based on a person’s net or gross income. The church doesn’t take an official stance on this subject, they just mention that tithing is on your income. However, what if your entire income is needed to support yourself or your family? What if your income is not even enough to do so? These people then either don’t pay tithing and feel guilty or they do pay tithing and they suffer financially.
In the United States we have numerous social programs to help in cases where people are financially struggling and have also been quite blessed with financial prosperity. Therefore, paying tithing in whatever form you feel appropriate is relatively easy to do. However, this is not the case in many other countries. President Nelson in a 2018 talk in Kenya said that paying tithing was the way they could escape from poverty yet almost 90% of Kenyan’s are living in poverty.
This whole thing also begs the question as to why should they even have to pay to begin with in order to enter the temple? If the temple is required, then shouldn’t the entrance requirements be as low as possible? Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to get people to enter and qualify for the temple?
This is not to say that people shouldn’t have to sacrifice in order to follow God. I truly think sacrifice is greatly missing from religious discussions today. However, I don’t think that a financial sacrifice from the people who can afford it the least is what God wants from his people. If there is a financial sacrifice that is needed, then it should be from the people that can afford it the most.
What Can We Do
I certainly hope that after considering this it has become clearer that something is currently wrong. All is not well in Zion, and I think we have a lot to do before we can become acceptable again to God. There are many reasons that the Iron Rod is the word of God and not the words of men. This is of course because a firm anchor will prevent us from swaying constantly with every whim of our leaders. All it takes is one change here and one change there, before we are completely off course.
I think it is also very important to keep in mind that we can’t correct this situation ourselves, or really even try. Ultimately, God will correct this situation and we must trust in him and his timing. It would be interesting though if someone stood up in church and told their leaders that this or that was unscriptural. However, ultimately that would lead nowhere.
It is, however, our god given right to oppose anything that we feel is wrong. This of course doesn’t have to be malicious. In the early church the principle of common consent was practiced, however today that has been perverted into “sustaining your leaders”. According to President Nelson, in a 2014 talk, sustaining your leaders means to help them fulfill their calling. Doesn’t this mean then that we should sustain everyone in everything unless we are a terrible person? Of course, changing definitions makes it much easier to frame an argument, however it doesn’t change the truth.
If we feel the church is off track and out of the way, then why sustain it and its leaders? Of course, we want them to do good and fulfill everything that God wants them to do. However, that doesn’t mean I have to go along with it or comply with them. When they meet privately to make governing decisions for the whole church and then inform us with no notice whatsoever, then why sustain that decision simply because it was made by a leader of the church? God doesn’t work like this, and he doesn’t expect his people to be blind followers simply because a leader said or did something.