A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Worshipping Men, No Can Do

Elder Bednar visited our stake June 15th - 17th to reorganize our stake presidency.  He met with the youth on Friday night, the leaders on Saturday afternoon, and the adults on Saturday night. He presided at the general session on Sunday.

In May, the stake president went around to each of the wards in the stake. He spoke for quite some time and asked the members to spiritually prepare to be taught by an apostle of the Lord.  At Elder Bednar’s request, we were asked to be in our seats 30 minutes before the meeting started. 

We were working outside on Friday afternoon and lost track of time.  Our youth didn’t make it to the Friday night meeting until 6:50 p.m.  The parking lot was full, but abnormally quiet.  The stake president was out in the parking lot with two chairs reserving parking spaces.  He had his cell phone and was awaiting the arrival of the apostle and general authority.  As our youth walked into the meeting, they noticed the total silence.  It was a marvel to see so many youth completely quiet. 

Elder Bednar walked in at 7:00 p.m. and almost everyone stood up to welcome him.  I wonder why he had everyone arrive at 6:30 p.m. when he barely showed up on time. What’s all this standing up for an apostle business?  When my family came home and told me what had happened, I was troubled.

This same behavior continued throughout the weekend. Elder Bednar would come in at the last minute, and almost everyone would rise to his or her feet. At the close of the general session, the congregation was instructed to wait at their seats while the visiting authorities exited. Once again, the congregation rose to their feet as the procession departed.

We should be ashamed of our damning behavior.  It would be almost impossible for any man to be humble and continue being the object of such fawning, praise, adoration, and worship.  All of this flattery leads to over-inflated heads and egos. We are the ones who put these men into office by our sustaining vote. They aren’t there because they have earned the status of our God.

During the Friday night meeting, Elder Bednar told the youth that when the quorum of the twelve meets, they rise to their feet as President Monson walks in the room.  Even Elder Packer, who experiences great pain when he stands, makes the sacrifice to rise for President Monson. This sounds too much like the scribes and Pharisees. 

 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

What does it mean to sit in Moses’ seat? Are the scribes and Pharisees the leaders of Christ’s church? Did they claim to possess the same power and authority given to Moses?

 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Why are we to observe and do their words but not follow after their actions?

 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

Why do they want to be noticed by men?

 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

Why do they love and expect special treatment? Why do men seek a red seat? 

And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

Why do these church leaders want to be highly thought of and appear religiously superior? How does Christ feel about being supplanted by the scribes and Pharisees?  What is Christ’s position?  What is our position? Are humans to be put one above another?

 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12 

What is the role of the great ones? How does a great man see himself? Will he ever draw attention to his greatness? 

The Scribes and Pharisees have the seniority thing so deeply rooted in them that when they left the woman who was caught in adultery, they went out in order of their seniority.  “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” John 8:9. In our day it would be comparable to two or more apostles walking through the doorway in order of their seniority.  It looks kind of ridiculous, but seniority and position seem to give the impression of supremacy.

A few years ago, we were invited to the wedding ceremony for a general authority’s daughter.  Even though we were invited to the ceremony, we were told that we were not allowed to come to the private reception held for church authorities.  Family and friends waited outside while church leaders paid their respects to the bride and groom. Something didn’t feel right.  Why don’t our leaders want to socialize with us who they lead? Family and friends participated in the public reception held later that evening.

Is this kind of elitist idol worship going to save us? Can anyone but the Lord, Jesus Christ redeem us?  Should we put anyone except God on a pedestal?  Then why do we do it?  If everyone is doing it, do we have to join in?  How does idol worship damn its participants?

“But behold, I trust that ye are not in a state of so much unbelief as were your brethren; I trust that ye are not lifted up in the pride of your hearts; yea, I trust that ye have not set your hearts upon riches and the vain things of the world; yea, I trust that you do not worship idols, but that ye do worship the true and the living God, and that ye look forward for the remission of your sins, with an everlasting faith, which is to come.” Alma 7:6


  1. The common hoi polloi is not allowed in to mingle with the high and mighty? Unbelieveable in this day and age! Disgusting really. This leader worship is idolatry and we will be damned for it.
    No wonder the best Nephi can say about us is that we Gentiles won't be completely destroyed. We deserve it.

    Thanks for another great post. I've really enjoyed the latest bunch.


  2. You hit this one right on the money, Jennifer. Although most members have become accustomed to turning into awe-struck idolators in the presence of Mormon "Royalty," what really left me slack-jawed at your report was the account of the wedding.

    Apparently some of the rank and file can be admitted into an LDS temple wedding, yet banned from the reception! And I'll bet most of those who were excluded never questioned the appropriateness of their exclusion, but simply accepted the fact that there are two separate classes of Mormons, and that they belong to the lesser class.

    1. Family and friends were invited to participate in the public reception held later that evening. It seems kind of odd that there would be two separate receptions.

    2. I'm sorry that this was your experience with General Authorities of the church. It would definitely have felt as if they encourage a gap between themselves and the general church membership. This, however, has not been my experience. We have been fortunate over the years to have several visiting authorities stay in our home, including memebers of the Quorum of Seventy, a past General RS president and an Apostle. In each case, our guests couldn't have been more gracious or loving. The past RS president want to play cards, one member of the Seventy asked if we could turn on the tv on Sunday to check the football scores and the apostle took an impromptu trip to Home Depot with my husband where he engaged nearly everyone he met in conversation. There were no special arangements for him at the several meeting over which he presided, nor was there standing upon his entrance or exiting.

      At a recent family funeral, two general authorities were in attendance. They both arrived early, accompanied the family to the gravesite, and returned to the church to sit through the obligatory luncheon of ham and funeral potatoes.

      I have found these men and women to be humble, loving and filled with kindness and goodwill. I admire their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families. I am grateful for the blessing they brought to our home and the way the made one as "rebellious and proud" as I feel accepted and approved.

      So sad that other have had such negative experiences and hope that isn't the norm.

    3. Stephanie, It sounds like your husband is a stake president, mission president, or leading authority.

      I realize that not everyone is caught up in idolizing the church leaders, but it is becoming more prevalent. It’s not going to help anyone. I believe it will actually damn its participants.

      I’ve also experienced the positive side of things. Over 20 years ago, Dallin Oaks came to our wedding reception in Orem. He spent the evening chatting and visiting with our family. There was no special treatment, and I don't think he expected it.

      Times are changing, and the attitudes of leaders and members are also shifting.

      We write this post hoping the apostles will get the message and teach the people the inappropriateness of standing for them or any other man. It would be very easy for the apostles to be in their seats 10-15 minutes early and ask the people to remain seated when they enter the room. Jesus Christ is the only one who deserves our honor and praise.

      We also write in hopes that the members of the church will see the damning affects of this kind of idol worship and simply stop doing it. Hero worship will stop if there isn’t a fan club.

    4. I'm so relieved to hear that you had a good experience with Elder Oaks and I understand the point you were making with this post. I totally agree that any form of idol worship directed towards those in what some consider higher callings in the church is sadly misdirected and should be discouraged. We should all be striving to remain humble servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and ministers to His children. I appreciate your posts and allowing my experiences to be included. My very best to you.

  3. Well at least they don't have us kneel when they enter a room. Then again maybe standing is just as bad.

  4. I have family in Paradise, and they're good people. However, the traditions of their fathers (my fathers too) are very, very strong. Unfortunately, the Church teaches, and most believe, that strict obedience to the traditions of our fathers (i.e., the precepts of men mingled with scripture) will save them.

    I have tried to help my family awaken, but the universal response has been fear for my eternal salvation and concern that I'm in danger of apostasy for even suggesting that we would be better served by replacing our mantra of "follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way" with follow Christ, follow Christ, He is the way. Not that they disagree that following Christ is a good idea, but I think they believe the best way to follow Christ is to follow the prophet.

    1. Adam, many of us are faced with the same dilemma.

      “For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.” 2 Nephi 30:10 It's interesting that the Lord takes credit for this great division among the people.

      The cry of apostasy is being sounded in both camps. Each of us has to come to the Lord to discover who the real apostates are. The Lord is the only one who can truthfully answer this question.

  5. I was reading a thread not long ago and someone quoted that scripture about do what they say. Another person replied and said that the Inspired Version reads differently. (Apparently, we do not have all of Joseph Smith's words in our JST.) It puts a different light on things, and I thought you might find it interesting:

    All therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.

    I don't have an Inspired Version of the Bible, so I cannot say if the quote is accurate, but I trust the person who quoted it.

    I think we do a disservice to the general authorities when we treat them with reverence, and when their every implied suggestion is turned into a commandment. We should be supporting them by treating them as if they are each just another person. (And we should be treating all people with respect, but no person with awe or reverence.) There should be no SPECIAL treatment for them. Because if there is, these men can be snagged in the nets of pride and entitlement and all of the other things on the list that the D&C declares means, "Amen" to a man's priesthood. We put their souls in jeopardy when they are above doctrine, above scriptures, above the Holy Spirit, and beyond question.

    1. Toni, This makes a lot more sense and has been my experience, "All therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not."

      Does anyone have an inspired JST version of the Bible? I would be interested in reading the inspired JST version.

    2. Matthew 23:3 (KJV)
      3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

      Matthew 23:2 (JST)
      2 All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.


    3. Adam, thank you for the reference

    4. Thanks, Adam. The whole book right there. That is so cool.

  6. Its sad that so many partake in this idolatry. It is cultural and not scriptural. I met Dalin Oaks when he came to my ward earlier this year. There was no special treatment for him, even when he was in Elders quorum. He spoke to me personallyand was very gracious and engaging and he waited by the door and shook hands with every single member as they left. That was a brilliant lesson in how a true man holds himself when hes in a position of power. He struck me as having a healthy sense of humility especially considering his position and this sort of treatment that I have no doubt that he recieves.

    If all general authorities carried themselves the way he did and if more people had the attitudes Ive read here, our church would be much better for it. But the sense of humility and graciousness and approval that I felt when he visited gave me warm fuzzies. Had I been party to the two recpetion bs I would have been likely to have made a scene. And I am simply speechless when someone throws the apostasy card at me for these scripturally sound philosophies.

  7. Elder Holland came to my stake conference a few years ago. He arrived early and gave a wonderful message. After the meeting he stayed on the stand and met everyone that wanted to meet him. He talked with each individual. Many years ago while serving as a missionary I had the opportunity to meet President Hinckley. He had a very busy day but he took a few minutes to talk to me. He didn't need to do that. He could have walked by and just said hello but he didn't. He was surrounded by dignitaries but for a couple minutes I was the only one he was focused on.

    I think some may "worship" the church leaders. I stand when the Prophet enters the room not as a sign of worship but as a sign of respect. It is the same as standing when greeting someone. We should be careful to not assume what are in the hearts of others.

    Maybe Elder Bednar hit traffic or was visiting a needy individual and that delayed him. Maybe he wanted the congregation to sit and listen to the prelude music and feel the Spirit in preparation for a spiritual experience. I don't know. I would be careful casting judgments on others.


Thank you for posting