Authoritarianism and Legalism… “I wish you could understand that God requires obedience”

“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
 “Legalism, in Christian theology, is a usually pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigour, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law at the expense of the spirit. Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God’s grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption.” (wikipedia)

Thoughts About Human Authority and Human Law

When I was quite young and impressionable, it was not uncommon to get home after school and find my mother cozied up on the couch or her bed, engrossed in a thought provoking article from the Readers Digest. (back then they had some really good articles) I had quite a close relationship with my mother and I would always report to her after school before going off to cause havoc in the neighborhood.

Frequently she would engage me in discussing things she had been reading about. She was a master teacher and she would take these opportunities to get me thinking about deep things.

On one occasion she had been reading an interesting article about the military, the dynamics of war,  and what had made some of the generals so successful as leaders, or something along those lines.

During this particular discussion I remember quite vividly how she taught me about the importance of the “chain of command” in the military. She painted some pretty interesting scenarios to help illustrate how a group effort will quickly disintegrate if the designated followers refused to follow the orders of the commanding officer.

She effectively pointed out to me that it was not the responsibility nor was it appropriate for a buck private to be critical of how the officer in charge was running the outfit, nor was it acceptable to deviate from the  orders that were given.

She emphasized the importance of authority and how authority needed to be respected and followed. She also went into great detail regarding the need for rules, regulations and laws, in running any kind of large organizations, including countries. Hence, the need for governments to enact laws that needed to be heeded. She warned about the consequences of not following the rules and respecting authority, particularly in the military. She taught me about what a “mutiny” was and what a military “court martial” is.

She even touched on the concept that many people ascribe to, that a person acting as an agent, in behalf of another person, organization, or legal entity, is not personally responsible for the actions they take in behalf of the person, organization, or legal entity they are acting as an agent for.

After doing a pretty good job of getting me on board with some of these general concepts, she then threw a real curveball at me.

She asked me something like:

what do you think a military person should do who is commanded to do something that is required according to the rules of military conduct and according to the orders received by the commanding officer, yet the orders are contrary to the person’s moral judgment and integrity and furthermore, contrary to the commandments of God?

Had she asked me that question before the discussion that preceded the it, I suspect the answer would have come quickly and effortlessly. But she had done such a good job of extolling the virtues and necessity of respecting human authority and human laws, that I was in a bit of a quandary in knowing how to answer her question.

Needless to say, an interesting discussion followed.

I am so grateful for a mother that engaged me in deep moral and religious concepts. The impact of a righteous mother on her children are among the most important priesthood responsibilities that a mother has been given, as the designated “helpmeet” in the family organization, in my opinion.

But I digress.

This post is not about the importance of Moms. It is about the role of AUTHORITY and LAW in the gospel of Jesus Christ and its relationship with the church.

A few weeks ago, a person that reads my blog, forwarded me an email that he got from a person that was concerned about his spiritual welfare.

The person who sent the email to my friend, is a published author of at least one LDS book and he is probably more knowledgeable about the scriptures than the average member of the church.

The email was so incredibly provocative, fascinating, and indicative of how many Mormons think, that I could not resist asking my friend if I could post some of the contents of the email on my blog. I have received permission from my friend, and indirectly from the author of the email, on the basis on anonymity, to post it.

I am not going to share my response to my friend. I don’t think I even need to. The readers of this blog probably already know what I had to say about it and how I feel about authority.

Here are some excerpts from two emails that were sent to my friend from a concerned person. Since I am not providing the emails that my friend wrote to the author, you may need to read between the lines for context in a few places. Tithing is one of the issues briefly mentioned. Denver Snuffer is another one. I have made a few minor alterations to avoid providing exact quotes, that might have otherwise, showed up elsewhere.:

” But what you are also not understanding from my perspective is that Joseph Smith’s understanding, like everyone else’s is incremental.  Therefore, the original intention of Joseph Smith doesn’t have much to do with the intention at the end.”

“I wish you would come to agree on the idea that Heaven has legal authority, just as there is legal authority on the earth.  Authorized, legal officers have the right to do what they do, [regardless of whether their decisions are inspired or not] and that is their calling.”

“ not standing in their way is the way you can go about your own business and your own beliefs, just submitting to them, giving that which is their due in the important things (like ordinances, tithing, callings, etc).  And I’m not saying that you are wrong about tithing.  I’m saying that these guys have the legal authority to require of us that which they require of us, whether they are right or wrong.”  

“And so, on matters of obedience, we obey, not because we agree with them, but out of acknowledgement that they are legal officers who are performing their duties.  I wish I could communicate this to you in such a way that you could believe what you want, but be in legal conformity with the legalities of the things of heaven.  They are two separate things.  One is the ideal.  The other is the reality”

“I really, seriously wish you could understand that God requires obedience and loyalty to things that are not right sometimes, only because he allows these men to fulfill their duties. It is what we have been asked to do.  And by self sacrifice to that, we make ourselves legally bound to the law of heaven.  Things will be fixed in their time.  For now, there is obedience.  I really wish you could understand these concepts.”

“Not that you are wrong in many of your beliefs.  It’s just that, you aren’t submitting yourself to the legal requirements to qualify for the blessings of eternity because you want to protest the things that you know are not right.  Please think these things through.  In other words, it is not about what you know is true, or what you believe.  Its about submission to the imperfection until things are made perfect.  Submission to legal authority is the weightier matter here.  If only you could see that your idealism is going to have eternal consequences.”

 “You cannot have everything the way you’d like it to be at this time, so you have to take what you can get.  That is why, right or wrong, tithing as it is preached from the pulpit is what we obey.  That doesn’t mean it is the right implementation.  It means the legal authority has made it a mandatory thing to be in conformity with legalities, and without obedience to the legalities, you are out of conformity with that which qualifies you for your blessings.  Please try to understand that concept.

“As an example.  I know plural marriage is real and true, and that I have a right to it by inheritance in that which will be mine in eternity.  I know that in eternity I will be a polygamist.  So why don’t I just go be a polygamist and join the AUB?  Because then I will LOSE my blessings.  Why would I lose my blessings?  Because the legal course of heavenly law that I have to conform to is to wait until my inheritance is legally given, not taking it of my own accord to assert my rights as I perceive them without legality.”

The type of thinking displayed in the above comments is not exclusive to Mormonism. Americans have been conditioned to this kind of thinking, particularly when it comes to the military and law enforcement. It is very difficult to break the paradigm once people have become indoctrinated.

The following video is an interesting attempt by a well meaning gal to help those in law enforcement to differentiate between which kinds of orders they should follow and which ones they should not follow, once the crap hits the fan in this country.

the life you save my be your own...” (because law abiding citizens are going to start shooting back!)

9 Responses to Authoritarianism and Legalism… “I wish you could understand that God requires obedience”

  1. JLC says:

    Unbelievable. Well not really. It’s where we are at, but still…Unbelievable!

    • “Unbelievable. Well not really. It’s where we are at, but still…Unbelievable!”

      I must agree JLC. It is unbelieveable but not really. LOL

      I just got two emails from people regarding the post. The first one said this:

      “talk about the the philosophies of men not even caring about mingling scripture

      20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
      21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 130:20 – 21)

      The second one said this:

      i am still reeling from the stank of that load of rubbish from the “concerned” author to his/her friend. it is amazing how sensitized i have become to such nonsense. on the flip side, it is incredibly scary how desensitized i was, and most others are, to such faith-destroying concepts.

      • Regarding that second observation- ” it is incredibly scary how desensitized i was“, the same is true for me.

        I used to agree with what the concerned person said.

        I keep reminding myself that I was in the exact same boat as well. For that reason, I am not posting the content in the email in the spirit of mocking a specific person, only to learn from the email and to use it to demonstrate how entrenched the distorted concepts pertaining to legalism and authoritarianism have become within the church.

        I really need to stress that point. I am sincerely not mocking an individual. I know I have accepted false teachings in the past and I am sure there are concepts I currently misunderstand. I simply think the topic is an important one and I have never seen anyone articulate that point of view quite so well and so adamantly. Hence, I felt it could be instructive, or at the very least, provide a few talking points for people to discuss.

        It is all a matter of perspective, I am sure there are lots of people that would read the emails and our comments and wonder why we don’t get the importance of law and authority!!!!!

  2. stockoneder says:

    Authority is a myth created by evil people who want to control, exploit, rob and live off their neighbors. Nobody, irregardless of what gang or group they belong to, has any moral right to initiate force against another person and force is only moral in self-defense.
    The people who live off others(ruling class) came up with the concept of authority to allow themselves the greatest ability to effect their will on people. They call their threats laws and then use those ‘laws’ for their benefit.
    If you didn’t believe in rulers and in being their subject they would have little to no power over you as there are way more ‘subjects’ than rulers.
    But when you believe in them and their claimed right to rule you and to initiate violence against you if you disobey them, you have rejected the freedom God gave you and wants you to have.
    We learn this fact in Mosiah 23: 7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king. . . . 13 And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.
    In 1 Samuel 8 We learn rulers are a punishment for rejecting God.
    God wants His people to rule over the kingdoms of man as we learn in D&C 103 5-10:
    “But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them. Behold they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies from this very hour. And by hearkening to observe all the words which I the Lord their God shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given to the saints, to possess it forever and ever.
    “But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them. For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the savior of men; and inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of men.”
    Nephi taught taught us this in 2 Nephi 4:34:
    O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
    All political rulers qualify as the arm of flesh and also head a process which systemically break the following 4 commandments found in the BOM, D&C and BIble:
    21 Thou shalt not kill.
    22 . . .Thou shalt not steal.
    23 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
    24 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.
    Where did they get the exemption from God allowing them to disobey these commandments? If you support or obey your rulers(representatives?) who are all wicked and who all break God’s commandments what does that say about you?
    The city of Enoch and the city of Zion show what the Lord will do when His people live His laws and trust in him:
    13 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the
    cmountains fled, even according to his command; and the drivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so
    epowerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.
    14 There also came up a land out of the depth of the sea, and so great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off and went upon the land which came up out of the depth of the sea.
    15 And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God;
    17 The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish. (Moses 7)

    All nations feared His people. Nowadays people fear the state not God or His people. And anybody telling you to obey, support and be subject to the state isn’t a ‘friend’ of the Lord and you shouldn’t listen to that person no matter what their title is.

    • stockoneder

      You have compiled some wonderful passages there.

      I particularly loved this snippet

      for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another

      Interesting how that general concept interconnects between multiple topics including consecration and temporal equality as well as the fact that the true gospel makes all believers esteemed as being equal with each other.

      mortal “authority” and “law” results in bondage.

      “And the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David”

      Section 44 revealed that the law of consecration and the obtaining of power from the spirit would have prevented the enemy from having power over the saints.

      Ultimately, every bond that oppresses the saints from corrupt manmade laws will be broken when the servants return.

      That your enemies may not have power over you; that you may be preserved in all things; that you may be enabled to keep my laws; that every bond may be broken wherewith the enemy seeketh to destroy my people.

      The mindboggling thing is that many Americans don’t even know that they are in bondage..

  3. Fusion says:

    Fom reading all the above I feel Thomas Monson is a/the king in LDSLand and his cronies are the very kingmen of the lds people, and simply coz they DESIRED it. And thus, power to the people became power from the people and eventuated into no power for the people at all.

    I used to think this was true from Brigham on down, but I am convinced it started with Joseph. Lucky for him he was chastened with the rod of men…and that the Lords precious grace and mercy will not depart from him…bless his soul.


  4. The Glider says:

    Speaking of the Arm of Flesh – I got this invite this morning:

    At this high-level national conference and exhibition, find out the latest information on:
    • Almost $600 billion for fiscal year 2014 Defense appropriations
    • More than $98 billion for fiscal year 2014 procurement
    • More than $16 billion for Army procurement, including $5.2 billion for aircraft; $1.6 billion for missiles; almost $1.5 billion for ammunition; $1.6 billion for the procurement of weapons and tracked Army combat vehicles; and $6.4 billion for the acquisition of tactical and commercial vehicles; information systems; communications and electronic equipment of all types; defense energy; and other support equipment, generators and power units, material handling equipment, medical support equipment, environmental restoration, and more.

    I see the frailty of the Arm of Flesh daily, and our attempts to maintain control and influence of Mother Nature (not to mention over the hearts and minds of men). The answer isn’t in the next appropriations bill, or a new system/program! They only give hollow fences to help us willingly ignore our fears.

  5. JennyP1969 says:

    “I know plural marriage is real and true, and that I have a right to it by inheritance in that which will be mine in eternity…”

    Watcher, what does he mean “by inheritance”?

    And what is personal integrity if you are supposed to obey something against your beliefs?

    This email from this person has really troubled me these past few days. But your mom’s stuff…….is good stuff.

    • Good question.

      I don’t know what he means by having a right to it by inheritance. I guess he feels that those men who are righteous will receive an inheritance in Zion of not only land, but women.

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