Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers

A few weeks ago I was searching online for some information about karaoke places around Provo that allow you to rent private rooms for groups, and that was when I happened upon this site - LDS Skinny Dipping. It piqued my curiosity, so I began digging around the site and was surprised to learn that there seems to be a somewhat thriving community of LDS members who enjoy naturism, aka nudism. What I found most interesting was the extent to which these people will go to find gospel-reasoned justification for the activities that they engage in, noting the difference between social/chaste nudity v. worldly nudity. Here's a quote from the preface to the site:
Understanding and respecting nature does not make us "the natural man." We obey natural laws just as we obey spiritual laws - as both come from the same divine source. The natural man is one who does not master his appetites and passions. The natural man reacts, rather than responds - is given to rash action, rather than considered response. The natural man is driven by selfish interests, by animal-like lusts and desires - not by principles and disciplined thinking.

Being naked IS natural, but it is not undisciplined, unprincipled, and inconsiderate of others. It is a form of humble vulnerability - not a lustful feast of the flesh, but an act of contrition and discipline. Rather than fear the flesh or give into the flesh, the honest nudist seeks to master the flesh. He is committed to common decency, and shows self-mastery when naked. This makes a bold statement as to the inherent goodness of man. It's a valiant, and dignified statement. No matter what we wear, we are not subject to the lusts of the flesh but strive to live in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord.
And in their forums they'll go on to talk about general conference talks and how they haven't specifically ruled out naturism/nudism, and that they're good for another six months, or they'll cite some obscure quote by some ranking leader in the church from years ago and how that leader went swimming naked, or something to that effect, as if those things are justification for the behaviors they'd like to engage in.

Anyway, the point is that people will find a way to justify anything. They will twist and bend words and ideas until they are no longer recognizable in an attempt to justify their own beliefs or behaviors. Such is very much the case when it comes to this issue of same-sex relationships.

I'm pretty sure that I already quoted this talk at length awhile ago, and Dave quoted it on a blog post last week as well, but I think it deserves some further highlighting given the exchange that I just posted earlier.

About a decade ago, Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the 12, gave a talk bearing the same name as the title of this post. You can find the talk by clicking here. Here are some relevant excerpts to the exchange I had a few days ago:
Brothers and sisters, the exact time of the Second Coming is known only to the Father (see Matt. 24:36). There are, however, signs that scriptural prophecy relating to that tumultuous day is being fulfilled. Jesus cautioned several times that prior to His Second Coming, “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). As Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our duty to be watchmen on the tower, warning Church members to beware of false prophets and false teachers who lie in wait to ensnare and destroy faith and testimony. Today we warn you that there are false prophets and false teachers arising; and if we are not careful, even those who are among the faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will fall victim to their deception.

President Joseph F. Smith gave wise and clear counsel that applies to us today:

We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known His mind and will to the world. … And the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil; they lose sight of the true order through which the blessings of the Priesthood are to be enjoyed; they step outside of the pale of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an imposter” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 41–42).

When we think of false prophets and false teachers, we tend to think of those who espouse an obviously false doctrine or presume to have authority to teach the true gospel of Christ according to their own interpretation. We often assume that such individuals are associated with small radical groups on the fringes of society. However, I reiterate: there are false prophets and false teachers who have or at least claim to have membership in the Church. There are those who, without authority, claim Church endorsement to their products and practices. Beware of such.

...President Joseph F. Smith warned when he spoke of the “proud and self-vaunting ones, who read by the lamps of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves, and so pose as the sole judges of their own doings” (Gospel Doctrine, 381).

...False prophets and false teachers are also those who attempt to change the God-given and scripturally based doctrines that protect the sanctity of marriage, the divine nature of the family, and the essential doctrine of personal morality. They advocate a redefinition of morality to justify fornication, adultery, and homosexual relationships. Some openly champion the legalization of so-called same-gender marriages. To justify their rejection of God’s immutable laws that protect the family, these false prophets and false teachers even attack the inspired proclamation on the family issued to the world in 1995 by the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.

Regardless of which particular false doctrines they teach, false prophets and false teachers are an inevitable part of the last days. “False prophets,” according to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “always arise to oppose the true prophets” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 365).

However, in the Lord’s Church there is no such thing as a “loyal opposition.” One is either for the kingdom of God and stands in defense of God’s prophets and apostles, or one stands opposed.
It's funny how something like this issue all of a sudden sparks my interest in politics and culture again. There are two things that are sure to spark all of my ire, 1) when my neighbors downstairs bang on our floors as if they think we're being loud on purpose, and at times when we're not even being very noisy, and 2) this issue of same sex marriage, and pretending that they are spiritually inspired when their views are in clear contrast to the expressed positions of the church.

I've made a similar statement to this a number of other times on my blog, but we really need to make an effort to be informed on the issues that confront us as a nation, and be ready to take a stand for those things that we believe in. Most importantly, we need to be truly guided by the spirit in our efforts as we become more expressive of those opinions. I love how Elder Ballard puts it:
As members of the Church, each of us needs to model what it truly means to be a believing and behaving Latter-day Saint. Our example will have a powerful effect on others, making the restored gospel become much more relevant, meaningful, convincing, and desirable to them. Let us, each one, radiate to others the joy, confidence, love, and warmth of being part of the true Church of Christ. Our discipleship is not something to be endured with long face and heavy heart. Nor is it something to be jealously clutched to our bosoms and not shared with others. As we come to understand the love of the Father and the Son for us, our spirits will soar, and we will “come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy” (D&C 45:71).

Let us reach out in friendship and love to our neighbors, including those of other faiths, thus helping to build better family-to-family relationships and greater harmony in our neighborhoods. Remember, too often our behavior is a bigger deterrent to others than is our doctrine. In the spirit of love for all men, women, and children, help them to understand and to feel accepted and appreciated.

Let us remember that it is our duty to be faithful to the restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes faith—real faith, total and unreserved—to accept and strive to live prophetic counsel. Lucifer, the adversary of truth, does not want us to feel or exhibit that kind of faith. He encourages disobedience, planting defiance in the hearts of the unwary. If he is successful, they will turn away from the light into the darkness of the world. Our safety, our peace, lies in working as hard as we can to live as the Father and Son would have us live, in fleeing from false prophets and false teachers, and in being anxiously engaged in good causes.

Such is our mission and duty in this life.

No comments: