In September (2014) the Rexburg Standard Journal enjoyed an exclusive interview with Mormon apostle Jeffry Holland. Journalist Emmilie Whitlock reported on Elder Holland’s remarks. One topic the Mormon apostle discussed was the “challenging times” in which we live, especially in regards to the family.
“ ‘One thing that is truly unique in our time is the assault on the family, and it may be a true characteristic and indicator of what we would say is the “last days,” the “last dispensation,” that the adversary would seem to be attacking the family in a way that probably hasn’t been known down through the ages of time and the dispensations of the gospel and the chapters of human history,’ Holland said.
“This requires attentiveness, he said.
“Holland said it is interesting that 20 years ago, the men and women in leadership positions in the church talked about the importance and role of family even though no one was questioning the nuclear family unit.
“ ‘It was common practice and accepted by everyone,’ Holland said. ‘Well now, it isn’t common practice. It isn’t accepted. And that’s just evidence of revelation, prophesy if you will, of the Lord speaking well before the problem.’
“And prophesy has always been the Lord’s way, he said.
“ ‘It’s a little bit like Noah building a boat when it’s a perfectly gorgeous day out,’ he said. ‘I’m glad those things are in place. We would be scrambling trying to get that kind of message out 20 years too late.’”
Elder Holland is mistaken in his timeline. For example, Christian author and psychologist James Dobson began his ministry, Focus on the Family, nearly 20 years before the “men and women in leadership positions in the Church” were talking about the topic. Well before the mid-1990s (Elder Holland’s date) Focus on the Family radio broadcasts and publications were reaching around the world, alerting people to the importance of the role of the family and warning of the consequences of the “breakdown of the traditional family and its negative effects on the culture at large.”
Also, it’s interesting that in the mid-1990s the LDS Church published “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This is touted within the Mormon Church as “a prophetic document,” “that came from God,” written in “prophetic language,” “inspired, revealed direction from the Lord,” that “fits the Lord’s promise when he said, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ (D&C 1:38).” Yet it has recently been pointed out at the exmormon reddit forum that the Proclamation was drafted with the assistance of the Church’s attorneys at the law firm of Kirton McConkie. It was produced for use in an amicus brief that the Church filed in response to a 1994 challenge to traditional marriage in Hawaii. Contradicting Elder Holland’s claim, 20 years ago people were actively “questioning the nuclear family unit.”
In Mormonism, this kind of get-on-the-band-wagon prophecy is nothing new. Before the 1833 Mormon revelation on health was proclaimed, the Temperance Movement was sweeping across America. People everywhere were talking about the detrimental health effects of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. Joseph Smith added his voice to the others in the form of his revelation now called the Word of Wisdom.
Likewise, Joseph Smith’s 1832 Civil War Prophecy was proclaimed in the midst of public discussion regarding the tensions between the northern and southern states, and followed closely on the heels of a nearby newspaper’s reprint of a New York Courier article that spoke specifically about South Carolina’s discontent and the “probabilities of dismemberment” as a result. Again, Joseph Smith’s revelation was but another voice weighing in on a topic that had already captured the public’s interest.
Similarly, the 1978 revelation now known as “Official Declaration 2” (which removed the long-standing Mormon Church restrictions against people of African descent) came in the midst of strong and vocal public opinion that rejected discrimination against African Americans. Beginning in the 1950s, the American Civil Rights Movement had put racism at the forefront of American society; great strides were made toward ending racial segregation in the United States. While the Mormon Church was a hold-out, it finally got on the bandwagon with Spencer W. Kimball’s 1978 revelation/announcement granting equal Church rights to “worthy” people of African descent.
The Mormon Church has a funny way of defining prophecy and revelation. But I’m glad that on some issues it eventually decided to choose the right.
Sort of reminds me of “psychics” who claim, after the fact, that they predicted an event or catastrophe. Sometimes these folks sort of swerve into something and contend that it was their ability to foretell the future that was in play.
I have a different take on what exactly a “prophesy” is. Given Hollands example, any forecaster could claim to be a prophet. It’s not that difficult to spot a trend if you’re tuned into the “leading indicators” of that trend.
Quite frankly, I remember in Catholic school in the 1950s having the nuns preach to us about the importance of the nuclear family.
Nothing new here folks except an opportunity for an LDS leader to attach his church to the spotting of a trend that was obvious as far back as the late 60s. It was in the days of “open marriages” and all sorts of relationship experimentation (see “Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice) that it all started to unravel. It was obvious.
If anyone did anything to destroy the nuclear family it was Joseph Smith and his introduction of plural marriage into his religious experiment. He didn’t live with these women in any sort of familial relationship. They were basically concubines he kept for his own pleasure. He destroyed families and relationships by taking women married to other men as his “wives”. He took what were basically children and collected them for his own pleasure.
His eventual end could have been predicted without the claim of prophesy.
This caught my eye also:
“………..it may be a true characteristic and indicator of what we would say is the “last days,” the “last dispensation,”…………”
Now that would be an interesting thing to study, Mormon teaching on the end times. From memory I seem to recall something about Jesus going to Jackson County Missouri upon his return???? I’ll have to look it up.
“…….that the adversary would seem to be attacking the family…..”
Who exactly is the “adversary” in Mormon lore? Since Mormons have a different god, actually gods, a different Jesus, a different Holy Ghost and a different plan of salvation, doesn’t it follow that they have a different adversary? I believe this adversary was the bad seed of the Mormon heavenly father and heavenly mother.
BTW, has the LDS church ever gotten over its attitude about those folks with “dark skin”. They carry the mark of Cain, right? Nothing too prophetic in the LDS church’s flip on letting blacks into the priesthood while they are still thought of as being less valiant in the “pre-existence”.
One other thing to note. Jesus told us one of the things to key into regarding “end times” was the proliferation of false prophets. I would say that the LDS church fits nicely into that category of those who would profane the name of God, reject the cross and establish themselves as gods.
I did a quick search and found sort of a puff piece article on the Mormon Missouri connection with the Garden of Eden. This gives us a flavor of Joseph Smith the great prophet prognosticator. The LDS church, along with its prophets, have a long history of misfires and just plain dumb prophetic utterances.
That’s why it was necessary for the LDS church to most recently haul out the “folklore” and “opinion” labels to slap on the truly inane utterances of their past prophets and leaders. Remember, this is not your great grandfathers Mormonism. Those folks had a totally different vibe going than Mormons today.
The best Jeffrey Holland could do was try to make some connection between what the LDS church had to say about the disintegration of families and what’s going on today and calling it prophetic. I think Sharon’s got it right in calling it band wagon jumping. About all these leaders do today is act as moral cheerleaders for the troops. Anything that even approaches prophecy isn’t gone near. That’s because they don’t want to go out on the limb. In the old days these dudes could prophesy all day long and accept for those in the immediate vicinity, no one else outside the sect would hear about it.
I doubt very much if those hearing Smith give his prophecy thought of it as folklore or opinion.
“Mormons believe that in June 1838, Smith received a revelation from God that this Mormon farming settlement of between 500 and 1,000 above the Grand River was to be called Adam-ondi-Ahman — a translation from “the original language spoken by Adam,” according to the church, that means “Valley of God, where Adam dwelt.”
“Church doctrine makes reference to the place as the site where Adam and Eve went after God banished them from the Garden of Eden. It’s also regarded as a gathering place for the faithful at the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
Yup that’s it. The Garden of Eden in Missouri. It’s just like the Broadway musical “Book of Mormon” says it is.
The Mormon leadership has an adoring and complaint constituency that has a couple of operating principles. These principles has as the foundation that the leadership can never be wrong. Mormons will say, “When the leaders speak, the thinking has been done” and “Follow the leaders. They will never lead you astray.” I would say to this, “Hogwash!”.
Any group of individuals who will not question the leadership is not just courting disaster, they are living that disaster and abdicating their personal responsibility. The disaster is that these compliant individuals can be shaped, molded and led wherever the leaders decide they should go. That’s why there is such a cookie cutter congregation among the Mormon membership.
In her testimony of coming out of Mormonism, Mitz Nelson talks about how her husband use to drive her crazy by wearing a colorful shirt to church on Sunday. She related that this is just not done. It’s a white shirt with a tie that’s the culturally approved attire. He of course was being rebellious because he had had enough of the LDS church and particular its teachings and history.
So when Jeffrey Holland says that the LDS was ahead of the curve and prophetic in pointing out the disintegration of the family, the members grab onto it like it was a message from God.
I think that to consider that the church and its leadership could be wrong about something is a place the LDS members do not want to go. Because if that’s true, what is the total universe of things these guys have gotten wrong?
A little investigation will yield some pretty embarrassing information. As has been pointed out, the escape clause for Mormonism is the process of “continual revelation resulting in more light”, dismissing something as “folklore” or “folk doctrine” and the newly dipping the toe in the water trial balloon of “it’s just the prophets’ opinion”. This is really dangerous ground for the LDS church and I think woe onto any member who actually believes this.
I know for the average chapel Mormon any thought that the LDS church or the leadership could be wrong is unthinkable. The entire structure of this organization is built on these modern day prophets. What the prophets say is more important than scripture.
There is a cost attached to putting ones trust and confidence in leaders. They are often wrong. To out-source the responsibility for truth to men who claim to be hearing from God, is very bad policy. I like what Christian apologist and defender of the faith Walter Martin use to say, “Question everything. Even what I tell you.” That’s a good policy and advise. One that Mormons would do well to employ. Take a little personal responsibility.
Great article Sharon. This is another example of how Mormon leaders try to convince people that Jesus is directing their preaching . To safe guard the family in these last days we have God’s Word the Bible ( and some common sense ) to guide us . Mormon leaders aren’t needed at all , it’s that simple . But there is one important issue that Elder Holland should be very concerned with which is connected with the last days , and Jesus in Matt 24 :11 alerted all of us to the danger it poses — false prophets . Some of these prophets can dress well , be polite, and make decent neighbors , but they have not been appointed by Jesus . Mormon leaders are a good example of such prophets .They have used Bible verses relevant to maintaining strong moral families , but sadly they’ve drifted far from the truth about God , Jesus , and how to receive salvation , and correct teachings about the family they may offer can not make up for that . It’s that serious .
Your premise about the church getting on the prophecy bandwagon in the 1990’s regarding homosexuality and the breakdown of the family are incorrect. See the following excerpt from “Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future”, Spencer W. Kimball, Acting President of the Council of the Twelve,Address delivered at general conference Saturday morning, April 3, 1971. I urge you to read the whole talk, and possibly post in on your website to correct your false premise. There are many more examples of like talks given by General Authorities.
In contrast hear the strong voice of a prophet. Peter prophesied:
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them. …
“And many shall follow their pernicious ways. …” (2 Pet. 2:1–2.)
Only this month the press quoted the retired head of a populous church proposing “revival of old-style betrothals which would permit young unmarried couples to sleep together with the church’s blessing,” and “it would not be regarded in the moral sense as fornication.”
And now, the voice of a commentator: “Recently, the screen industry solemnly announced that henceforth perversion and homosexuality would no longer be barred from the screen. … We are drowning our youngsters in violence, cynicism and sadism piped into the living room. …” (Jenkins Lloyd Jones.)
Quoting from fairly recent publications: “The __________ church conference today approved recommendation that homosexuality between consenting adults should no longer be a criminal offense. …”
The voice from a much-read magazine: “… a group of __________ ministers in San Francisco thinks the churches ought to drop their strictures against homosexuals. …”
It was reported that groups of ministers and their wives attended a party given by homosexuals and lesbians to raise funds for the perversion program. The magazine quoted: “… that all Bay area schools would have to close down immediately if all homosexuals currently working in the school systems were discovered and in keeping with state law, dismissed.” (Newsweek, February 13, 1967.)
The minister quoted is reported to have said: “… two people of the same sex can express love and deepen that love by sexual intercourse.” (Ibid.)
Those are ugly voices—they are loud and raspy.
Why do we speak in this vein? Why do we call to repentance when there are such pleasant subjects? It is because someone must warn the world of its doom if life does not change directions.
We remember Pope’s verse:
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
(Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man,” Epistle II, line 135.)
Some voices must cry out against them. Ours cannot remain silent.
To the great Moses these perversions were an abomination and a defilement, worthy of death. To Paul it was unnatural, unmanly, ungodly, and a dishonorable passion of an adulterous nature and would close all the doors to the kingdom.
When parents are indiscriminate in their sex behavior and when writers, authors, religious leaders, and others condone such transgression, how can we save from the darkness the bewildered, frustrated youth searching for an example, a hitching post, and something right in which to believe—a safe harbor.
“The group that tolerates sexual anarchy is endangering its very survival,” says sociologist Sorokin.
One prominent voice booms out that there are many steepled edifices in which the word sin has not been mentioned for a long time, and a preachment against it cannot be remembered.
In direct contrast to the permissive voices above comes a voice of authority from the Lord’s church:
“… Man is a biological unit,” said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “an animal, but he is more than this, he is the temple of an immortal spirit; that spirit can be defiled by the flesh, and defilement comes when the laws of chastity are violated.
“Our very civilization itself is based upon chastity, the sanctity of marriage, and the holiness of the home. Destroy these and Christian man becomes a brute.
“… the family relationship continues through eternity. It is the loftiest and most sacred human relationship we know.” (Conference Report, October 1938, p. 137.)
The voice of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in unmistakable terms warns:
“… sexual sin—the illicit sexual relations of men and women—stands, in its enormity, next to murder. The Lord has drawn no essential distinctions between fornication, adultery, and harlotry or prostitution. Each has fallen under his solemn and awful condemnation. … [Such cannot] … escape the punishments and the judgments which the Lord has declared against this sin. The day of reckoning will come just as certainly as night follows day.”
Then speaking of those who condone and justify evil whether from press or microphone or pulpit, they continue:
“They who would palliate this crime and say that such indulgence is but a sinless gratification of a normal desire, like appeasing hunger and thirst, speak filthiness with their lips. Their counsel leads to destruction; their wisdom comes from the father of lies.” (Message of the First Presidency to the Church, Improvement Era, November 1942, page 686.)