The past two years, I have had, perhaps, I'm estimating, 50 or more people tell me that I need to understand where they are coming from, and then tell me something about my life that reveals how little time they have spent trying to understand where I am coming from. This note is not to attack these people, but rather to address the situation. I would say that about half of these people were beside themselves with anger at me and my differences, and about half spoke with love and sincerity, but with a lack of education, experience and understanding. This note is for the second half.

I am tired. It becomes exhausting to explain to everyone. It is exhausting to justify yourself to everyone. I know I have been rude in response a handful of times, but I have tried hard, much more often than not, to always take the opportunity to turn the other cheek, and to treat people, who perhaps did not always deserve it, with respect and dignity. I hope that, as you read this, you can treat me with that same respect. If you are one of the few that I have treated with disrespect, and unkindness, I am truly sorry, and I hope we get a second chance.

There are many reasons for people to feel the need to contact me... and, by this, I mean that I have taken stances, made choices, and have beliefs that offend people. I never take a stance, make a choice, or have a belief to offend, but rather because I believe it is right. I hold myself to a stronger moral code now, than I believe I ever had before, because I take extra care now to look at each of my decisions and analyze what is the right and wrong way to do things. I am an atheist. I am a communist. I am transsexual. I lived as a lesbian. I am not spiritual. I live with my significant other. I am an ex-Mormon, and what some might wrongly consider to be an anti-Mormon. I do not believe in an afterlife. I make day-to-day choices, for instance, I occasionally drink an alcoholic beverage, that most people I was raised with do not think is morally right. Take your pick. There are many reasons for people, "as my friend", to tell me that I'm wrong, and that I will never be happy.

But they forget that everyone is made happy for different reasons. Happiness is complicated because people are complicated, and what might make one person at peace with themselves will cause chaos in another. I am more happy, and more at peace than I have ever been. This is because I have taken the things that make me, Jack Kadin Steele, happy, and I have put them in the forefront of my mind when I make decisions that will affect my life. The path I have chosen in my life may very well make another person miserable. I have known a few that it has.

There are three different types of pursuits of happiness:

"Dr Martin E.P. Seligman, a proponent of positive psychology, has identified three types of happiness.

Pleasant life.A pleasant life consists of having as much pleasure as you can, as many of the positive emotions, and learning some of the dozen or so techniques that actually work for increasing the duration and intensity of your pleasures. There are shortcuts to the pleasures. You can go shopping; you can watch television; you can take drugs. These things do not lead to true happiness.

Engaged life.An engaged life is being one with the music, being totally wrapped up in the people you love or what you're hearing. There are no shortcuts to the engaged life. The engaged life can only be had by first knowing what your highest strengths are, your signature strengths, and re-crafting your life to use them at work, in love, in leisure, in parenting and in friendship.

Meaningful life.A meaningful life consists of again knowing what your highest strengths and talents are and using them in the service of something that you believe is bigger than you are." -- "The Three Types of Happiness" (

Because of the popular teachings of the Mormon religion, the popular belief is that people who leave, or people who decide to take a different route in life than that "intended" are doing so because they are lazy, tired of following the rules... following a pursuit of pleasure. I am sure that there are people who leave the LDS religion and lifestyle because they are "tired of following the rules", but most of those who I have met who have left have left for reasons that are much deeper, and much more understandable when explained. It's a tragedy that they do not get the chance to explain more before a judgment is unwittingly cast. It is a huge jump for someone who does not know me to assume that they know better than I something as tied to myself as my happiness and my identity.

So you will understand my story better, I will tell you briefly why I left the Mormon religion, and then give the reader an argument that gives the possibility for a Mormon belief in a separation of birth sex and gender identity, and then I tell you what makes ME happy-- truly happy-- and that will, perhaps, begin to explain why I have taken the measures in my life that I have.

I left, little known to many, 3 times... because I never truly left the first two times. I continued to wonder if I would go back, and still wanted to, in a way.

The first time, I left because I [believed I] was gay, and I accepted and loved myself, and knew I could never continue to immerse myself in an environment that was not affirming of my whole self, which included the part of me that loved-- what I believe to be the most beautiful contribution a person can make to this world.

The second time, I left because I saw the effects of the spiritual abuse in the life of my loved one. I felt like I could never support anything that hurt someone as deeply as she was hurting, especially when I loved her as deeply as I did.

The third time I left was the most meaningful to me, and the final time, and it is because of this final reason that I will never be coming back... I finally left because I discovered enough things about past and present Church history that could be backed up factually, that implicated the leaders and doctrine in what I believed and continue to believe are a number of moral and ethical wrongs that affect the majority of the Church members, and many, many non-members.

And that third reason could ensue an entirely different topic, but I'm going to leave that to people who would like to message me about specifics... because, honestly, there are too many branches on that tree for me to span each one of them... Does that make sense?

(I apologize in advance to my gender-queer friends that this argument does not yet account for them... Help me out, eh?)
Why I believe Mormons should accept the belief of the separation of gender identity and birth sex, based on their own beliefs:

PRESUMPTION 1: God has power to make our bodies a certain way, to match our inner spirit. "We are a child of God"; "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God."

PRESUMPTION 2: God wants us to be either MALE or FEMALE. "Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents...Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

FACT 1: 1 out of 100 human bodies varies from the standard primary and secondary sex characteristics. 1 out of 100 people are intersex, which means that their bodies differ from standard male or female bodies. This may mean you are one of the 1/20,000 men who have male bodies and two X chromosomes, or it may mean you have both male and female genitalia, or ambiguous genitalia. (Intersex Society of North America:

CONCLUSION 1: God has limited to no power when he creates our bodies, because he wants us to be one way but some bodies don't match their spirit. This leaves the possibility that there are people with spirits that did not match their bodies, leaving the possibility for transsexual people to not be confused but be complaining of a legitimate problem within their body.

CONCLUSION 2: God has power, but does not wish for all of his children to have bodies that match their spirits. This leaves the possibility, again, that there are people with spirits that do not match their bodies, leaving the possibility for transsexual people to not be confused but be complaining of a legitimate "problem" within their body.

My concern with this topic is: What does the Church expect the intersex member to do, since your choices in life, as a member, are so dependent on whether you are female or male? Who do they marry? Do they receive the priesthood? It seems like the conclusion is that they either decide what sex they are-- not by their body (birth sex), but who they feel they are (gender identity), or that they stay in limbo until they are resurrected.

An inappropriate response to this conundrum is that we can't know the mysteries of God. When God says the world is one way, and we can see in front of our noses the exact opposite, it is no longer about the mysteries of God, but the mystery of why God may be ignorant of his own world.

For more information, which I would recommend to those who know little to nothing about transsexualism, you are always welcome to ASK ME QUESTIONS, and you could also read the introduction to Becoming a Visible Man ( by Jamison Green, to start off.

And for the third and final section of this particular note, I will telll you what makes me-- Jack Kadin Steele-- incredibly happy, and at peace with himself and life. It is a happiness that is based in pursuing both an engaged life, and a meaningful life, with spurts of a pursuit of a pleasant life. It is not a set of spurts of happiness, but rather things that create a resounding, long-lasting, deep happiness.

It makes me happy to base my beliefs about how the world works on what I can know to be truth, evidence and proof that can be empirically tested. For instance, because there is no empirically testable evidence to become proof of a being that has power or influence in my creation or life, I do not believe in one. This means lots of things in my life, one of which is that I do not base my actions off of what someone has told me an unprovable being wants me to do. This makes me happy, because I can feel confident that I am not basing my actions off something I have no basis of knowledge in. I am also happy when I test my beliefs of how the world works, so I can be sure to continue to see if 1) I am happy where I am in life, and 2) I believe truth.

It makes me happy to be true to who I am. There will never be another me. I am unique, and special, and happy to be so. I am good enough as I am, and intend to treat myself as such, whether I'm gay, transsexual, or anything else. I am happiest when I treat myself and others with respect, dignity, and kindness, finding beauty in the world around me, whether it be in the vivid colors of the flowers, the excited explorations of my daughter-kitten, or the beautiful feeling of waking up with someone I love beside me. It gives me happiness to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those in need of comfort. It makes me happy to laugh when I can, and cry when I need.

It makes me happy is to surround myself with affirming people in my life. This doesn't mean that I surround myself with yes-men, but rather that I surround myself with people who will be looking out for me, based on what they know of me and what I need, not just what they think I need, that they will bring out the best in me, and encourage me to be the best that I am, and appreciate the best that is in me. I am happiest when I try to continue to always grow, to always become better.

What I've written here is just a taste of my story, and of myself. It is why I will never be Mormon again. It is why I am happy living the life that I am, the way that I am, with the people I am. If you want to talk more about this, you're welcome to comment here, or message me.

I hope you at least start thinking, with some things in mind, of where I may be coming from. I've spent years where you are, and the last two, especially, trying to understand where you are coming from... I don't ask for you to give me 21 years of your life thinking about this, but some common decency, like thinking in depth about where I may be coming from, may be nice before you write me with a judgment on my life. I don't know how many of you would want me writing and making judgments on your lives... I think it's fair to ask that you please extend me the same courtesy. Thank you.


So, I know I've posted several long posts recently, but I am *horrible* at remembering things I need to post, so I'm going to post this, and then get off of here. Don't worry! I'll try to give you some space!

Anyway, this is a segment of chapter 1 of the book Becoming a Visible Man about the difference between gender and sex, and how we know what we are.

How Do You Know?

"You all know what sex you are, right?" That's how I like to start. To most students I look like a professor, a psychologist, or a businessman. I am short, athletically built, with a full, trimmed beard, a balding head, and a deep voice. I seek out the students' eyes, as many as will meet my gaze. They are a melange of ethnic backgrounds, ages, and life experiences, a generation or two different from the much more homogeneous group with whom I attended college in the late 1960s, and I think how much richer education can be today with so many diverse viewpoints close at hand. That is, provided we are not afraid to listen and give credence to different voices.

Most of the students look blankly at their papers or at the empty chalkboard behind me, but a few stare quizzically at me. Some look at me and look away. Are they afraid? am I fearful of their judgment, or of their misunderstanding? Can I get through their preconceptions, their resistance, and their various cultural positions that I have no time to explore? I am not their instructor; I'm merely a guest lecturer the instructor wants them to meet. I only have an hour or so with them, and-- like everything else-- mine is a topic that can be explored in so many ways. I can only skim the surface with hem. I can only hope to awaken them, to alert them to the possibilities.

"Come on," I encourage them. "You all know what sex you are, right?"

A few students nod in affirmation.

"So, how do you know? Without looking down... no cheating, now... How do you know what sex you are?"

Now some of them start to laugh. "Your mother tells you," someone suggests.

"And you believed her?" I ask, smiling. "Seriously, how do you know?"

"By your chromosomes?" someone asks.

"Okay, I don't mean to embarrass anyone, so don't volunteer information you are not comfortable sharing, but how many people in this room have had their chromosomes checked?" I inquire. In over ten years of lectures like this, speaking to several thousand people, I've encountered only three individuals who confessed to having had their chromosomes checked, all for development-related anomalies. This time not one hand is raised. "Right," I explain. "It's rare that any of us knows what our sex chromosomes actually are. Did you know that 1 in 20,000 men have to X-chromosomes, rather than one X- and one Y-chromosome? they don't find this out until their female partner can't get pregnant and doctors eliminate her infertility as the reason. Sure, there are plenty of reasons for a man to be sterile, but one possibility is that he has two X-chromosomes. One in 20,000 men is a 46-chromosome, XX male; ten percent of those have no Y-chromosome material. That's a pretty high number for something we are led to believe is impossible. That statistic is from Chapter 41 in the 13th edition of Smith's General Urology, a standard urology textbook And what does that tell us about the Y-chromosome? Not that you need a Y to be male, but that you need a Y to make viable sperm. Maybe! Because there are two species of small rodent-type mammals, called mole voles, in which there is no Y chromosome, yet they are still reproducing both males and females, still procreating just as other mammals [Graves, 2001]. So, if you can be a man with two X-chromosomes, and at least in 20,000 men is, what makes you a man?" Some students, particularly males, are scowling now, confused, possibly getting angry. "That's right: it's all more complicated than we've been led to believe."

"We can identify the sex chromosomes in a developing fetus, but geneticists will tell you we have no idea what genes are firing. We especially don't know what genes are firing during embryogenesis, when the embryo is formed. Our science so far understands certain clusters of gene firing, like those that control the development of limbs or cause the webbing between the fingers to go away, but we do not understand the sequence of gene firings necessary to create an unambiguous male or female result, regardless of what the sex chromosomes are. The fact is, both the XX and XY karyotypes have bi-potential; that is, either karyotype can produce a male or a female result depending on which genes fire. There are gene expressions in each pair that can go down what we might call a male pathway or a female pathway. Those gene expressions, which trigger myriad events in the future, and which combine with myriad other expression events to form combinations we cannot anticipate, are the root of what we don't yet understand about the generalizations we've labeled 'female' and male'.

"According to the Intersex Society of North America, 1 in 100 people have bodies have bodies that differ from standard male or female. That means that one out of one hundred bodies has some quality that doctors would specify as an abnormality of sexual differentiation. Roughly 1 in 1,000 births involves what's called 'ambiguous genitalia,' in which the doctor can't tell by looking whether the infant is a boy or a girl. One in 1,000 births! That's a pretty high number. and what do you suppose they do in such a situation? Until recently, the standard has been that the doctors will decide what sex to assign the child, based on what kind of genital reconstruction surgery would be easiest or most effective from the doctor's point of view. But now this policy is hotly debated. Do you think they get it right every time? Do you think just because your genitals are a certain shape that this tells you what sex you are?" Horrified looks cross some students' faces. "So how do you know what sex you are?"

"By how you feel?" someone usually suggests. It seems to be the only avenue I've left open to them.

"Certainly that's a big part of it. Most people have feelings that correspond to the type of body they have. We sometimes think of feelings as something having to do with feeling attracted to another person, but certainly we all have feelings about ourselves, too. We have feelings about how we look, and how our personalities and interests correspond with those of other people with whom we identify. Now, what we're talking about today is not sexual orientation. I'm not talking about to whom you are attracted or what kind of sexual role you like to play. I'm talking about your relationship to your own body.

"Most people do feel connected to the type of body they have; that is, generally, the female type or the male type. And people may be attracted to people who have opposite-type bodies, or people who have similar-type bodies, or maybe they're not attracted to body types at all, but to individual people regardless of their bodies, but when we start connecting only feelings about bodies to sexual response and bringing in very complicated social ideas about sexual behavior it's easy to become confused about which idea or feeling or belief leads to what other specific idea, feeling or behavior. So let's not complicate matters just yet with too much talk about sexual attraction and relationship entanglements, though we certainly need to acknowledge that these are important aspects of our social lives that are strongly influenced by our relationship to our own body. What I want to focus on right now is the relationship one has with one's own sense of self, in their body, and the individual's sense of how that body fits or relates in the world. It can help us to understand this if we talk not just about sex, but about gender, too. Sex and gender are not the same things. Who can tell me the difference between sex and gender?"

The students are all watching me closely now, and several volunteer guesses; sometimes someone comes very close to the response I'm seeking. Still, it's likely that I'll need to explain: "Sex is a system of classification that divides body types based on presumed reproductive capacity as determined typically by visual examination of the external genitalia. There's a second meaning of the word 'sex,' which is that sex is also an activity we can engage in, and that activity has complex social meanings itself. We sometimes use the word 'love' as a euphemism for the second meaning of the word sex-- having sex and making love. That second meaning leads us right back into sexual orientation, so for now we're going to discuss sex as just that system of classification of body types.

"The language we use to discuss sex as biology is derived from the study of plants. Our science about human sexuality is still very young. Plant biology? People have been studying plants for thousands of years, and we think we have them down pretty well. But we don't understand much about human sexuality. We've only been studying it seriously for a little over a century. It's not as simple as Xs and Ys or in-ies and out-ies. Science cannot tell us exactly what events must occur in the development of a human embryo that will give a completely male or female result. Remember, we don't know, in full scientific detail, what constitutes human maleness or femaleness. We're not plants that can be classified by the color of our petals or the shape of our leaves. We're much more complex than the color of our skin and hair or the shape of our genitals. We have social characteristics, too, like gender and sexual orientation, and maybe more characteristics that we don't yet know about. If we look closely enough at people we can see that none of these things-- sex, gender, or sexual orientation-- is the same, or are they necessarily casual factors in relationship to each other, though they are certainly intertwined. But for now, to recap, sex is a system of classification of bodies that we call 'male' and female.'

"So, what's gender? Gender is another system of classification that describes characteristics and behaviors that we ascribe to bodies, and we call those characteristics and behaviors 'masculine' or 'feminine'. For example, we perceive a high-pitched voice as feminine and a low-pitched voice as masculine; or we think of fine-motor skills-- the ability to do small dexterous work with the fingers-- as feminine, and brute strength as masculine. And, as individuals, we can both express and perceive these qualities, these characteristics and behaviors, so it's an interactive system, this thing called gender. You may see a very beautiful woman, with long hair and a gorgeous body, and think of her as very feminine, but when all of a sudden she lifts up a park bench and says 'not another step closer, or I'll shove this down your throat' in a deep, menacing growl, you may realize there's more to her than meets the eye. So, if you had that experience, what would you think?

"She's really a man," someone will suggest. After all, they may know I'm there to discuss transsexualism. They want me to get to the juicy part. But I haven't finished laying the foundation yet.

"What makes you think that?"

"Women don't do those things."

"Well, yes, generally, most women can't lift park benches, and most women don't have really low voices. But that doesn't mean this particular woman is not a woman. It could simply mean she's a woman who has a low voice and great strength. I notice you said, 'She's really a man.' I think it is interesting to consider why it's so tempting to conclude there is a deception going on. What makes us so confident that we know what's real? I see this as a cognitive process: we make assumptions based on what we observe, and when we find our observations were incorrect according to some arbitrary system of categorization, instead of recalibrating our categories we react with shock, horror, shame, anger, embarrassment, whatever, toward that person or object about which we were incorrect. It can't be our fault if we were wrong in our categorization; it had to be that we were either deceived, or we wouldn't have been wrong at all. I think it's fascinating that we perceive it this way, instead of saying to ourselves, 'Wow, she's strong, and beautiful, and what a sexy voice, and I guess I'd better back off because it seems she means business!"

"So we make assumptions about what is real or possible based on the gendered characteristics and behaviors that we learn in our culture. Another interesting thing about these gendered qualities is that the category they're assigned to can change between cultures, or change within a culture over time. What were decidedly masculine once, like the occupations of secretary, telephone operator, bank clerk, and tailor, went through a feminine phase and are now more gender-neutral. Another example of this kind of shift occurred in the 1960s and 1970s when some American men began to wear their hair long (again, after a few generations where short hair was the fashion), and people thought a man with long hair was trying to be a woman, or at least was expressing himself as a feminine man, whereas no men can have long or short hair and it's far less likely to be interpreted as a gender statement.

"Changing hairstyles often challenge gender norms. More than a few long-haired men in the 1960s were beaten up because they challenged gender norms. We experienced a culturally similar, though not as physically painful, shift when women began to wear jeans everywhere, not just in the barn. And a man with fine-motor dexterity will be praised for it if he applies his abilities to tying fishing flies, or building model railroads or ships in bottles, or playing a musical instrument, but he'll be ridiculed if he likes to crochet doilies. We tend to prefer our male-bodied people to have masculine gender characteristics, and when they don't, particularly if the dichotomy is highly visible, it can make some people uncomfortable, even angry, when they feel they don't know how to classify the person they are observing, or when the other person's gender qualities threaten the observer's sense of confidence in her or his own gender. I find this level of response to gender variance fascinating. How is it that someone else's gender can throw a person's sense of confidence or solidarity out of balance? What cognitive mechanism is at work here, and what purpose does it serve? We learn as young children that behaving according to our assigned gender role means doing expected things based upon conformance to the sex we appear to be. If our sex and gender correspond, that's not too difficult for most of us, and we assume everyone feels about themselves the same way we do, and experiences similar difficulty or ease in adjusting behavior and appearance to conform to the gender norms of our culture. And if we travel to a new cultural environment, we quickly learn any new gender norms because we want people to perceive us as 'who we are.' If those new gender norms went against our ability to internalize or express them, we would experience tremendous discomfort.

"Like sex, gender is also more than one thing. It's more than the external presentation of gendered qualities. It's also one's deeply felt sense of self. That's what we call gender identity. Gender could be what we call male and female from a social standpoint, without regard to the need for reproduction, and it could be that there are more than two genders. Similarly, intersexed people potentially demonstrate that there are more than two discrete sexes, even though we tend to classify everything in these dichotomies of female and male, feminine and masculine.

"Perhaps this computer analogy will be helpful: think of sex as the hardware; gender as the software. In between there is an operating system that allows the software and hardware to give meaningful instructions to each other so they work together to accomplish tasks. It's easy to see how that works if a person's sex and gender are aligned, but what happens if your body doesn't match your sense of self? Think about that for a moment. Imagine you are exactly who you know yourself to be, you feel great about yourself, you have plans for your future, but when you look down your body is the opposite sex from who you know yourself to be. You know you're a woman, but you have to dress like a man, you have to behave like a man, because you have a male body. And you guys who know you're guys, you have all the feelings you know so well, but imagine your body is female. What's more valid: your feelings and your certain knowledge of yourself, or your body, the thing that other people see which signals to them what they can expect from you? Imagine what it would feel like to live with that discrepancy. That's something that many transgendered people feel, what they have to deal with every day.

"For transgendered and transsexual people, their sense of self doesn't line up with their body in various ways, or they may be perceived as belonging to one sex or gender when they actually belong to the other, or they don't feel they belong at all. But people seem to be more closely connected to their gender than to their sex. That's hard to grasp if your sex and gender are aligned, but not so difficult if you are one of the millions of people who are to some extent in-between. All the evidence of that physical body doesn't mean much when a person has a gender identity that doesn't match that body. Gender identity-- the sense of self-- is stronger than the body, and will find a way to manifest itself.

"To return to the computer analogy, one of the things we really don't know about in people is the interface between the software and the hardware. Take that male person with masculine characteristics: he may actually feel feminine, no matter what he looks or acts like. Or you might see a male person with feminine characteristics and assume that he is gay, but he may very well be straight or bisexual. And he might think of himself as masculine, no matter what you might conclude from observing him. Or he could think of himself as androgynous, and still have a prideful sense of himself as male and as a man. You simply can't tell by looking at someone what his or her sexual orientation is, or what the person's gender identity is. You may see aspects of the person's gender, just as you may see aspects of the person's sex, as in secondary sex characteristics, but those may or may not be the aspects with which the person identifies or experiences affinity, and those may not be the aspects that define that individual as to their gender or their sex by any particular standard. For example, we think of thick body hair as a masculine trait because it is more common for males, but many women have significantly visible hair on their arms or faces. Hair on her arms won't make a woman feel she's a man, nor does it necessarily detract from her femininity. If a woman wears jeans it doesn't mean she has a masculine gender identity. And if a woman is attractive and seems feminine to you, sir, it doesn't mean she is attracted to men, or even that she think of herself as a woman.

"This is very complicated human behavior. We can reduce it to this: if you're a girl, and you want to wear lipstick because you like the way it makes you look and feel about yourself, and you're not allowed to wear lipstick, you may be able to divert your desire to wear lipstick, but that desire to express that gender-related characteristic will surface somehow, whether by finding times and places where you can wear lipstick with impunity or by finding some other way to express the same motivation. If you're a girl in a male body, those feelings don't change just because you're in a male body. It's your gender identity that's in the driver's seat.

"If you think it's difficult for you to understand, think of how it feels to be someone like that. While it is true that such feelings may indicate a delusional or dissociative disorder, we tend to think everyone like that is crazy somehow, that the feeling that your body doesn't match your sense of self is always some kind of delusional state. Or we tend to blame the person whose gender characteristics don't match their physical sex as if it is that person's fault for making us feel confused. Wrong. It's our fault for not being secure and sensitive enough to allow that person a vehicle for honest self-expression. I challenge you to consider why it would ever be necessary, except to survive under coercion, to conform to someone else's notion of maleness or femaleness, either biologically or socially.

"I'd like you to think about both sex and gender difference as variations, not as deceit or defects, but as natural diversity that occurs with surprising frequency in human beings. We are not cookie-cutter men who all have penises that look exactly alike, who all feel the same way about ourselves or about women, and we are not all cookie-cutter women who like exactly the same clothes or want to wear the same hairstyle, and none of us focus on our gender or sex all the time... there are other things to think about in life. Yet if we don't find a point of comfort or balance between our gender identity and our social interactions, no matter who we are, we won't be able to find peace in any aspect of our lives."

Then I tell them: "I learned about this because I was born with a female body." If they weren't paying full attention before, they are now.

Students seem to like the shock factor. Sometimes the instructor will tell the class in advance that they will have a transsexual speaker at their next session, and students are disappointed when they see me because they think the transsexual couldn't come after all. They think they know what transsexual people look like, and I don't fit the picture. But rather than confronting them with the nutshell version of my life story, I like to provide a frame of reference, some context for relating to experience that differs from the presupposed, to encourage people to think in new ways about something most of us take for granted, but that some of us struggle with our entire lives.

-- a segment of Chapter 1, Becoming a Visible Man by Jamison Green


These are some references that clarify the "God will never allow for his people to be led astray" doctrine of the Mormon Church

They aren't in any particular order.

I'd like to add Mormon Think as a source also. They discuss a variety of pertinent issues to the subject.

This is a discussion of a general conference talk by Elder Richard Poelman that was altered by the LDS Church. The talk was about the differences between the Gospel and the Church, and we were to follow the gospel, but not always the Church. The leaders of the LDS Church changed the talk to make it look like he'd given a talk discussing the relationship between the Gospel and the Church, and how we should follow what our leaders tell us to... the opposite of what Elder Poelman said the first time.

This is from a site refuting Mormon Fundamentalism. It addresses God's connection to His prophets.

Would God Ever Allow the President of the Church to Lead Church Members Astray?

Perhaps the most important doctrine found in all of Mormon Fundamentalism is the idea that, at some point after 1830 (when the Church was organized), leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have guided the Church into apostasy. This notion, when fully embraced, seems to justify the opposition and criticism launched from "Mormon Fundamentalist" camps against the Church.

God Controls Church Leadership

Regardless of what critics believe about Church leaders, it should be obvious that the Lord controls who is presiding as Church President. The Church President is always the "senior apostle" living upon the earth. Seniority is determined by the timing of their ordination as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (not upon the date they are ordained an apostle). Calls to be members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles come through the Church President.

Church Presidents are released from their callings through death.

Clearly, Heavenly Father controls both the calling and releasing of men who serve as Church President.

Would God Ever Permit His Prophet to Lead the Church Astray?

Since God is in control, is it possible that He would ever permit His Prophet to lead His Church astray? President Brigham Young gave an answer:

"The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth." (JD 9:289,

Wilford Woodruff also echoed this plain teaching:

"[T]he Latter-day Saints throughout Israel should understand that the First Presidency of the Church and the Twelve Apostles are led and guided by the inspiration of the Lord, and the Lord will not permit me, nor any other man, to lead the people astray." (given October 25, 1891,

God Already Knows How His Prophets Will Lead

It makes no sense to believe that God would purposefully call a man to be an apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who would later as Church President lead Church members astray. Heavenly Father knows each of us intimately including any man called to lead His Church. He knows how each of us will respond to challenges and Church responsibilities. How does He know?

Prior to our mortal births, we lived with Heavenly Father for a very long time. Elder John Taylor, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained, "although we came into corporal existence here, we existed

In addition, God is not ignorant of the future: "all things are present before mine eyes" (D&C 38:2, see also Moses 1:6). The Lord knows "the end from the beginning" (Abr. 2:8). In ways we currently cannot understand, everything is an eternal "now" before the Lord.

In calling men to lead His Church on earth, the Lord was never choosing individuals He was unfamiliar with. No surprises were awaiting Him (or are awaiting Him) as He watches and prompts His prophets on earth. We might ask critics of the Church: "Why would our loving Heavenly Father ever call someone to be President of His Church who would subsequently lead sincere Church members down the wrong path?" The answer: He wouldn’t and He didn’t.

Members are Righteous, but not Perfect

It is true that the Latter-day Saints are not perfect. Church members could be more righteous. However, their imperfections have never been so severe as to cause Heavenly Father to jettison His Church by giving His Saints uninspired leaders. Divine gifts and inspiration are for individuals who "seek" to keep the commandments (D&C 46:9), to those who "sincerely strive" to do His will (D&C 109:68) and to be "followers of righteousness" (Abr. 1:2). This level of obedience has always been present

Through the Church, the Gospel "Rolls Forth to Fill the Whole Earth"

In 1831 the Lord revealed:

"The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth." (D&C 65:2.)

Here Heavenly Father compares the gospel to a stone which is destined to "roll forth until it has filled the whole earth." The Lord in 1831 could make that prophesy because He knew every man who would be called to lead His Church until the millennium would be ushered in. God knew how readily every one of His prophets, each serving as Church President in his respective time, would receive revelation to guide His Church.

God could also see current missionary efforts bringing to pass the final gathering, now occurring at an astonishing rate. He could also see these days when temples would dot the earth bringing sacred ordinances to Church members in distant lands. The destiny of this Church was plain before the eyes of the Lord.

A simply review of the position of all Mormon Fundamentalist groups today shows that their ideas and "gospel" are not "rolling forth to fill the whole earth." Plainly they are not.

Jesus Christ Leads this Church

Any person who now criticizes the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will, in some future day, come to know that his or her criticisms were actually directed at guidance given by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

A talk by Boyd K Packer, the first half of which addresses lower leaders' obligation to the Gospel and higher leaders.

Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council

By Elder Boyd K. Packer

May 18, 1993

The twelfth chapter of Alma is like a field of precious stones lying about on the surface. I have picked one very small one, very precious one, only fifteen words, to use as my text. "God gave unto them commandments, after [first] having made known unto them the plan of redemption." (Alma 12:32)

Thirty-eight years ago I came from Brigham City to the office I now occupy in the Administration Building to see Elder Harold B. Lee, who, next to President Joseph Fielding Smith, was the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve. I had just been appointed the supervisor of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. I knew there were serious problems in the system and I wondered why they had not appointed someone with more experience.

Elder Lee had agreed to give me counsel and some direction. He didn't say much, nothing really in detail, but what he told me has saved me time and time again. "You must decide now which way you face," he said. "Either you represent the teachers and students and champion their causes or you represent the Brethren who appointed you. You need to decide now which way you face." Then he added, "Some of your predecessors faced the wrong way." It took some hard and painful lessons before I understood his counsel. In time, I did understand, and my resolve to face the right way became irreversible.

One of the early lessons was also my first lesson in correlation. The seminaries were sponsoring speech contests. They were very successful -- much better than similar contests sponsored by the Mutual Improvement Association. It was an ideal gospel-centered activity for seminaries. They were succeeding beautifully under able teachers who could assist even the shy students. We were instructed to discontinue them!

There was something of an uprising among the teachers. They accused Superintendent Curtis of the Young Men and President Reeder of the Young Women of being responsible. Perhaps they were. The teachers wanted Brother Tuttle and me to plead their cause before the Brethren. The logic was all on our side. Nevertheless we remembered the counsel of Brother Lee, and really, just out of obedience, we declined.

Later I could see that the seminaries served then only a very small part of our youth; the MIA, all of them. A B-minus program reaching most of the youth would, in the aggregate, bring better results than an A-plus program which reached relatively few. It wasn't until many years later, when some other problems arose, that I could see that those contests, even though they were gospel centered, pulled the teachers into an activity-oriented mind-set and away from the less exciting responsibility of teaching the Old and New Testaments to teenagers. Finally I could see that the very success of the program was an enemy.

Other lessons followed, some of them hard ones. I was asked to write an article for the Improvement Era. It was returned with the request that I change some words. I smarted! The replacement words didn't convey exactly what I was trying to say. I balked a bit, and was told that Richard L. Evans, then of the Seventy and magazine editor, had asked that the changes be made. I remembered Brother Lee's counsel. I had to submit. Now, though that article is piled under thirty-five years of paper, I'm glad, very glad, that if someone digs it out, I was "invited" to change it.

After one of my first general conference talks, I received a call from Joseph Anderson. In a very polite way he said that President McKay and his counselors suggested that I add one word to the text of my talk. Would I mind doing that? Actually the word was in my text, I just failed to read it at the pulpit. A most embarrassing lesson -- the First Presidency! It was easier when Elder Evans corrected my work; even easier when one of my associates was kind enough to do it.

Only last Friday while putting together some things for a presentation, I read part of it to some brethren from BYU. I noticed they looked at one another at one place in my reading, and I stopped and asked if there was a problem. Finally one of them suggested that I not use a certain scripture that I had included even though it said exactly what I wanted to convey. How dare they suppose that a member of the Twelve didn't know his scriptures! I simply said, "What do you suggest?" He said, "Better find another scripture," and he pointed out that if I put that verse back in context, it was really talking about another subject. Others had used it as I proposed to use it, but it was not really correct. I was very glad to make a change.

Now you may not need a correlating hand in what you do, but I certainly do. This brother lingered after the meeting to thank me for being patient with him. Thank me! I was thankful to him. If I ever make that presentation, it will only be after some of our Correlation staff have checked it over for me.

Now I give you all full credit for knowing more about your work than anyone else -- more, certainly than the staff of the Correlation Department. That is how it should be, for you are hired or called to be a specialist. I also know from experience how easy it is to get turned around, and, as Brother Lee warned, to face the wrong way.

However much you know about your work, I doubt that you know, or have the time to learn, as much as do the Correlation staff about how your work interacts with everything else that is going on. The Council of the Twelve Apostles is the Correlation Committee, with the President of the Twelve and the two senior members acting as the executive committee. Correlation is the one department where they are hired to be generalists. They represent the Brethren in pointing out to you areas where you, in one detail or another, might, in the interest of the overall program, need to make an adjustment or two.

The principle of correlation is a sound principle. Except for its having been established, we could not now possibly administer an ever-growing multi-national and multi-lingual church. The full purpose for its having been established, I know, is yet to be realized. If we neglect it, we will pay a very, very heavy price one day. The value of having struggled through those years, and there aren't many around who struggled through those years, will one day be apparent. The greatest use of this is yet to come.

The responsibility to effect a reduction and simplification in programs was assigned by the First Presidency to Correlation Department. We have been only modestly successful at best. Perhaps just to have slowed the growth is enough reward for all the effort that has been put in. There are isolated success stories. The Music Department, catching the vision, reduced five manuals of 190 pages into one manual of 18 pages. They did it themselves, and they count themselves better for it.

Perhaps too many of us are strong advocates of our own specialized work or are such strong protectors of our own turf that we face the wrong way -- maybe just sideways. Simplification and reduction must come. Simplification and reduction will come! If we cannot do it on our own -- and we seem to be in that circumstance -- the future will see us doing, in anxious haste, that which we might have done with deliberate care had we followed the vision which has been given to us.

Surely you have been anxiously watching the worldwide evaporation of values and standards from politics, government, society, entertainment, schools. Could you be serving in the Church without having turned to those pages in the revelations and to those statements of the prophets that speak of the last days? Could you, in working for the Church, not be conscious of or have ignored the warnings? Could you be blind to the drift that is taking place? Are you not conscious of the drift that is taking place in the Church? Could you believe other than it is critical that all of us work together and set aside personal interests and all face the same way?

It is so easy to be turned about without realizing that it has happened to us. There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems so reasonable and right.

The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. Our local leaders must deal with all three of them with ever-increasing frequency. In each case, the members who are hurting have the conviction that the Church somehow is doing something wrong to members or that the Church is not doing enough for them. To illustrate, I will quote briefly from letters on each of those subjects. They are chosen from among many letters which have arrived in the last few weeks. These have arrived in just the last few days.

The Gay/Lesbian Challenge

The first is from a young man, possibly a gay rights activist:

"May 3rd marks my 18th year in the Church. As a gay Mormon, I have witnessed and experienced first-hand during those eighteen years what it's like to be a homosexual in a Church which is sometimes less than accepting of its gay members. My experiences have run the range from incredible, Spirit-filled and loving encounters with members, Bishops and Stake Presidents to a laughable run-in with a departing Mission President. May I share with you some of the more permanent and meaningful memories?"
After a page or two of those, he said:

"So in a spirit of friendship I offer that which I have to give -- the life experience of a gay Mormon. At your convenience I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the issues facing gay Latter-day Saints and the Church. The purpose for meeting is not to debate, or to presumptively call you to repentance, or to be called to repentance myself for being gay. The point is to meet together and share what we have for the good of The Kingdom and the furthering of the Will of the Lord on Earth."
The Feminist Movement

The next quotation is from a woman who is hurting, and perhaps wonders if anyone but the feminists care about her problems:

"I'm upset that I was always advised to go back and try harder only to get abused more. I need some comfort, I need solace, need hope, need to know Heavenly Father sees all that I have endured. What hope do I have for a chance to live with Heavenly Father? If temple marriage is the key to the celestial [kingdom], where am I? Outside gnashing my teeth for eternity? Help me."
The Scholars

The last is from a self-described intellectual:

"My concern is that the Brethren are contending with the church's own scholars. ... In the Catholic Church, the great scholars' efforts were used by the Church to refine and strengthen the doctrine (St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, for example). In our Church, the scholars are put down, even banished [and he names three of them, and they would be names all of whom you would know]. Once again I extend an offer to you to be a peacemaker between the Brethren and the scholars, if you wish me to attempt it, since I know so many in both groups. More than that, I understand the mind-sets of both groups."
These letters and hundreds more are from members who are hurting or leaders who are worried. I might say here that I can see in the last few weeks a change in the letters coming in. There isn't time to talk about it now, but out in the Church there is another growing group of the discontented. That is the rank and file who are trying to do what they are supposed to do and feel neglected as we concentrate on solving the problems of the exceptions.

Those who are hurting think they are not understood. They are looking for a champion, an advocate, someone with office and influence from whom they can receive comfort. They ask us to speak about their troubles in general conference, to put something in the curriculum, or to provide a special program to support them in their problems or with their activism.

When members are hurting, it is so easy to convince ourselves that we are justified, even duty bound, to use the influence of our appointment or our calling to somehow represent them. We then become their advocates -- sympathize with their complaints against the Church, and perhaps even soften the commandments to comfort them. Unwittingly we may turn about and face the wrong way. Then the channels of revelation are reversed. Let me say that again. Then the channels of revelation are reversed. In our efforts to comfort them, we lose our bearings and leave that segment of the line to which we are assigned unprotected. The question is not whether they need help and comfort. That goes without saying. The question is "How?" The Prophet Joseph Smith, when he organized the Relief Society said, "There is the need for decisions of character aside from sympathy."

Working Mothers

To illustrate principles which apply to all of these problems, I have taken one common one -- working mothers. President Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk to wives and mothers. There was a reaction within the Church. (Ten years ago, that would not have happened.) That was very interesting, because if you read his talk carefully, it was, for the most part, simply a compilation of quotations on the subject from the prophets who have preceded him.

Some mothers must work out of the home. There is no other way. And in this they are justified and for this they should not be criticized. We cannot, however, because of their discomfort over their plight, abandon a position that has been taught by the prophets from the beginning of this dispensation. The question then is, "How can we give solace to those who are justified without giving license to those who are not?"

The comfort they need is better, for the most part, administered individually. To point out so-called success stories inferring that a career out of the home has no negative effect on a family is an invitation to many to stray from what has been taught by the prophets and thus cause members to reap disappointment by and by.

I think President Thomas S. Monson may not appreciate what I am going to say now. I know of no one who maintains such a large private ministry of counsel and comfort in the midst of heavy pressures of office than does Brother Monson. He says very little about it, but he visits the sick, hospitals, homes, comforting, counseling, both in person and in writing. However, I have never heard him over the pulpit, nor have I read anything in his writings -- not one thing -- that would give any license to any member to stray from the counsel of the prophets or to soften the commandments that the Lord has given. There is a way to give comfort that is needed.

If we are not very careful, we will think we are giving comfort to those few who are justified and actually we will be giving license to the many who are not. The process of correlation is designed to keep us from making mistakes in manuals, in publications, in films, in videos, in those specialized programs which are justified.

Those fifteen words from Alma state: "God gave unto them commandments, after having made known to them the plan of redemption." There are many things that cannot be understood nor taught nor explained unless it is in terms of the plan of redemption. The three areas that I mentioned are among them. Unless they understand the basic plan -- the premortal existence, the purposes of life, the fall, the atonement, the resurrection -- unless they understand that, the unmarried, the abused, the handicapped, the abandoned, the addicted, the disappointed, those with gender disorientation, or the intellectuals will find no enduring comfort. They can't think life is fair unless they know the plan of redemption.

That young man with gender disorientation needs to know that gender was not assigned at mortal birth, that we were sons and daughters of God in the premortal state.

The woman pleading for help needs to see the eternal nature of things and to know that her trials -- however hard to bear -- in the eternal scheme of things may be compared to a very, very bad experience in the second semester of the first grade. She will find no enduring peace in the feminist movement. There she will have no hope. If she knows the plan of redemption, she can be filled with hope.

The one who supposes that he "understands the mind-set of both groups" needs to understand that the doctrines of the gospel are revealed through the Spirit to prophets, not through the intellect to scholars.

Only when they have some knowledge of the plan of redemption will they understand the supposed inequities of life. Only then will they understand the commandments God has given us. If we do not teach the plan of redemption, whatever else we do by way of programs and activities and instructions will not be enough.

"God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption." We face invasions of the intensity and seriousness that we have not faced before. There is the need now to be united with everyone facing the same way. Then the sunlight of truth, coming over our shoulders, will mark the path ahead. If we perchance turn the wrong way, we will shade our eyes from that light and we will fail in our ministries.

God grant that a testimony of the redemption and knowledge of the doctrine will be so fundamentally in our minds and in our hearts that we will move forward with his approval. This Church will prevail. There is no power in existence that can thwart the work in which we are engaged. Of that I bear witness, and of him who is our redeemer I bear witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Original copyrighted 1993 by LDS Church. Paragraphing changed.

A lesson from the institute manual (directly sanctioned by the high leaders of the LDS Church) concerning the teachings of the prophets

(3-7) The Lord Will Never Permit the Living Prophet to Lead the Church Astray

The following are three testimonies which show clearly that the Lord will never allow his prophet to lead the Church out of the path of truth:

“I bear you my solemn witness that we have a living prophet, seer, and revelator. We are not dependent only upon the revelations given in the past . . . we have a mouthpiece to whom God is revealing his mind and will. God will never permit him to lead us astray. As has been said, God would remove us out of our place if we should attempt to do it. You have not concern. Let the management and government of God, then, be with the Lord. Do not try to find fault with the management and affairs that pertain to him alone and by revelation through his prophet.” (Harold B. Lee, “The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” in Charge, p. 112.)

“I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting, I drove him home. . . . When we got to his home I got out of the car and went up on the porch with him. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78.)

“I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Wilford Woodruff, in “General Conference,” Millennial Star, 24 Nov. 1890 [52:741]; or The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff,pp. 212–13.)

A man who is out of harmony with the Lord will never lead the Lord’s church. God will not permit it. The following quotations make that clear:

“Safety is in following divinely appointed leadership and counsel. . . .

“The keys of this power and authority center in the president of the High Priesthood of the Church. It is not given to any other man to so represent God here upon the earth. . . .

“God will not suffer his Church, established for the last time in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times when a restitution of all things is to be accomplished, to be led by a fallen prophet, or by someone whom he does not want.” (Delbert L. Stapley, in Conference Report, Apr. 1952, pp. 49–50.)

“I testify in the name of Israel’s God that He will not suffer the head of the Church, him whom He has chosen to stand at the head, to transgress His laws and apostatize; the moment he should take a course that would in time lead to it, God would take him away. Why? Because to suffer a wicked man to occupy that position would be to allow, as it were, the fountain to become corrupted, which is something He will never permit.” (Joseph F. Smith, in Journal of Discourses,24:192.)

A talk by Ezra Taft Benson about "fourteen fundamentals in following the prophet"

ELDER Ezra Taft Benson
February 26, 1980
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am honored to be in your presence today. You students are a part of a choice young generation--a generation which might well witness the return of our Lord. Not only is the Church growing in numbers today, it is growing in faithfulness and, even more important, our young generation, as a group, is even more faithful than the older generation. God has reserved you for the eleventh hour--the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It will be your responsibility not only to help bear off the kingdom of God triumphantly but to save your own soul and strive to save those of your family and to honor the principles of our inspired constitution.

To help you pass the crucial tests which lie ahead I am going to give you today several facets of a grand key which, if you will honor them, will crown you with God's glory and bring you out victorious in spite of Satan's fury. Soon we will be honoring our prophet on his eighty-fifth birthday. As a Church we sing the song, "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet." Here then is the grand key: follow the prophet. And here now are fourteen fundamentals in following the prophet, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet--the President--and says: "There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom his power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred." Then in section 21, verses 4-6, the Lord states:

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to "give heed unto all his words"--as if from the Lord's "own mouth."

Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtiand in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: "You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them."

When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, "Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God." Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: "There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now," said he, "when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books." That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: "Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth." [in Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18-19)

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean "Todays News Today." God's revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each week in the Church Section of the Deseret News, and any words of the prophet contained each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the general conference addresses, which are printed in the Ensign magazine.

I am so grateful that the current conference report is studied as part of one of your religion classes--the course entitied "Teachings of the Living Prophets," number 333. May I commend that class to you, and suggest that you get a copy of the class manual at your bookstore, whether you're able to take the class or not. The manual is entitled "Living Prophets for a Living Church."

Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

President Wilford Woodruff stated: "I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)

President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident, which happened to him:

I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home....Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: "My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, "But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray." [In Conference Report, October 1), p. 78]

Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. We haven't yet had a prophet who earned a doctorate in any subject, but as someone said, "A prophet may not have his Ph.D. but he certainly has his LDS." We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you'll be blessed and time will vindicate you.

Sixth: The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.

Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel, but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, "Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you" (D&C 21:4).

And speaking of taking counsel from the prophet, in D&C 108:1, the Lord states: "Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed".

Said Brigham Young, "I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture" (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot], 13:95).

Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

"Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear," complained Nephi's brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, "the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center" (1 Nephi 16:1, 3). Or, to put it in another prophet's words, "Hit pigeons flutter."

Said President Harold B. Lee:

You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life.... Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow.... Let's keep our eye on the President of the Church. [in Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. "Even in the Church," said President Kimball, "many are prone to garnish the sepulchres of yesterday's prophets and mentally stone the living ones" (Instructor, 95:257).

Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on.

How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.

Said President Marion G. Romney, "It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets." And then he gives this illustration:

One day when President Grant was living, I sat in my office across the street following a general conference. A man came over to see me, an elderly man. He was very upset about what had been said in this conference by some of the Brethren, including myself. I could tell from his speech that he came from a foreign land. After I had quieted him enough so he would listen, I said, "Why did you come to America?" "I am here because a prophet of God told me to come." "Who was the prophet;" I continued. "Wilford Woodruff." "Do you believe Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God?" "Yes, I do." "Do you believe that President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet of God?" "Yes, sir."

Then came the sixty-four dollar question. "Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?" His answer, "I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old age assistance."

Now I tell you that a man in his position is on the way to apostasy. He is forfeiting his chances for eternal life. So is everyone who cannot follow the living Prophet of God." [in Conference Report, April 1953, p. 125]

Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning. There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men--between the prophet and the politician or professor. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, "Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire" (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173).

Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay, and applying it to the man's eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6-7.) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. [Isaiah 55:8,9]

Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter--temporal or spiritual.

Said Brigham Young:

Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs... .

In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, "Ye Elders of Israel.... will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?" Not one of them could do it....

I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. [Journal of Discourses, 10:363-364]

Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.

When a people are righteous they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord Himself said, "Great are the words of Isaiah" (3 Nephi 23:1). Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government.

Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them; otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion--speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet.

In the Book of Mormon we read:

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches--yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. [2 Nephi 9:28,29,42]

Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn't exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out.

As we come closer to the Lord's second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them.

Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord refers to the First Presidency as "the highest council of the Church" (107:80) and says, "whosoever receiveth me, receiveth those....the First Presidency, whom I have sent" (112:20).

Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency--the living prophet and the First Presidency--follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.

President Harold B. Lee relates this incident from Church history:

The story is told in the early days of the Church--particularly, I think, at Kirtland--where some of the leading brethren in the presiding councils of the Church met secretly and tried to scheme as to how they could get rid of the Prophet Joseph's leadership. They made the mistake of inviting Brigham Young to one of these secret meetings. He rebuked them, after he had heard the purpose of their meeting. This is part of what he said: "You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God and sink yourselves to hell." [In Conference Report, April 1963, p. 81]

In a general conference of the Church President N. Eldon Tanner stated:

The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday moming, telling us what our responsibilities are... .

A man said to me after that, "You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn't right, and it doesn't appeal to them, then that's different." He said, "Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn't want."

I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow. When we decide that there are some of them that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not to follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep. [In Conference Report, October 1966, p. 98]

"Look to the Presidency and receive instruction," said the Prophet Joseph Smith (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 161). But Almon Babbitt didn't, and in the Doctrine and Covenants section 124, verse 84, the Lord states:

And with my servant Almon Babbitt, there are many things with which I am not pleased; behold, he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even that of the Presidency of my Church.

In conclusion, let us summarize this grand key, these "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," for our salvation hangs on them.

First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

Sixth: The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.

Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning.

Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.

Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.

Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church.

Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency--the living prophet and the First Presidency--follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.

I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. if we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain. How closely do our lives harmonize with the words of the Lord's anointed--the living prophet, the President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency?

A collection of quotes from church leaders about the thinking being done, and other related quotes

Did they really say that?

The thinking has been done

last revised 2.15.08

"Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the prophets, seers, revelators' of the church, is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the lord's anointed... and retain the holy spirit in his heart. This sort of game is Satan's favorite pastime, and he has practiced it to believing souls since Adam. He wins a great victory when he can get members of the church to speak against their leaders and to do their own thinking."

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."1

Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945
"I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212-213.)
In LDS scripture:

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Wilford Woodruff, Excerpt regarding Manifesto/between Official Declarations #1 and #2)

“Give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you...his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. (D&C 21:4-5)


The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are “found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a bade in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray....” ( Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 9:289)

“...learn to do as you are told. ...if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it, none of your business whether it is right or wrong.” (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 6:32)

“If you do things according to counsel and they are wrong, the consequences will fall on the heads of those who counseled you, so don’t be troubled.” (William Clayton’s Journal, p. 334)

“God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me to be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 363/History of the Church, 6:319-20)

“I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13:95)

“Recently, at the Church-wide fireside meeting held for the women of the Church, Young Women President Elaine Cannon made the following statement: “When the Prophet speaks,....the debate is over.” (Ensign, November 1978, p. 108). I was impressed by that simple statement, which carries such deep spiritual meaning for all of us. Wherever I go, my message to the people is: follow the prophet.

“Why else has the Lord placed prophets on the earth through the dispensations of time? In his infinite wisdom, and as part of the plan of life and salvation for his children, God has given us the blueprint to follow, the leadership to direct us and keep us on course, and the Church organization to help us lay the foundation and develop the skills, or make the preparation necessary, to lead us back to our eternal home. It is foolish to suppose that men can be left to their own devices and accomplish what God intended for them....

“It is difficult to understand why there are many people who fight against the counsel of the prophet and FOR the preservation of the very things that will bring them misery and death.... Latter-day Saints should be able to accept the words of the prophets without having to wait for science to prove the validity of their words. We are most fortunate to have a living prophet at the head of the Church to guide us, and all who heed his counsel will be partakers of the promised blessings which will not be enjoyed by those who fail to accept his messages....We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over.” (The Debate is Over, President N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign, August 1979, p. 3)

Ezra Taft Benson’s famous "Fourteen Fundamentals in following the Prophet:"

The Lord Will Never Permit the Living Prophet to Lead the Church Astray:

“I bear you my solemn witness that we have a living prophet, seer, and revelator. We are not dependent only upon the revelations given in the past...we have a mouthpiece to whom God is revealing his mind and will. God will never permit him to lead us astray. As has been said, God would remove us out of our place if we should attempt to do it. You have not concern. Let the management and government of god, then, be with the Lord. Do not try to find fault with the management and affairs that pertain to him alone and by revelation through his prophet.” (Harold B. Lee, “The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” in Charge, p. 112)

I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting, I drove him home.... When we got to his home I got out of the car and went up on the porch with him. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said, ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78)

“The older I get and the closer the contact I have with the President of the church, the more I realize that the greatest of all scriptures which we have in the world today is current scripture. What the mouthpiece of god says to His children is scripture. It is intended for all the children of god upon the earth. It is His word and His will and His law made manifest through His ordained and anointed servant to the world. What the President says is scripture, and I love it more than all other. It applies to me today specifically, and to you all.” (President Henry D. Moyle, “Beware of Temptation,” as quoted in Teachings of the Living Prophets, Religion 333 Student Manual, p. 19)

The Latter-day Saints do not do things because they happen to be printed in a book. They do not do things because God told the Jews to do them; nor do they do or leave undone anything because of instructions that Christ gave to the Nephites. Whatever is done by this Church is because God, speaking from heaven in our day, has commanded this Church to do it. No book presides over this Church, and no book lies at its foundation. You cannot pile up books enough to take the place of god’s priesthood, inspired by the power of the Holy Ghost. (President Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1916, pp. 55)

“Occasionally misinformed members of the Church will maintain that, although they accept the standard works as divinely inspired, they are reluctant to give equal credence to pronouncements of the living prophet. Such individuals are pursuing an inconsistent course and “err, not knowing the scriptures” (Matthew 22:29), for the scriptures themselves plainly testify of the fact that we must give heed to the living prophets (see D&C 1:14, 38; 21:1, 4-5). (Teachings of the Living Prophets: Religion 333 Student Manual, p. 20)

“Though the prophet may step out of his official role in dealing with the daily affairs of life, he can never divest himself of the spirit and influence which belong to the sacred office which the Lord has placed upon him. The faith and readiness to do the work of the Lord which fitten him for his high office, shape his life in harmony with the eternal principles and purposes of the gospel. Though often he lives under inspired guidance, which makes him great among men, and therefore, his unofficial expressions carry greater weight than the opinions of other men of equal or greater gifts and experience but without the power of the prophetic office. It would be wisdom on all occasions and with respect to all subjects in any field of human activity, to hearken to the prophet's voice. There is safety and ultimate happiness in following the counsel that may be received from the prophet.” (Apostle John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 237)

“I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.

“An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be....

“I testify that if we shall look to the First presidency and follow their counsel and direction, no power on earth can stay or change our course as a church, and as individuals we shall gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal glory in the world to come.” (President Joseph Field Smith, Conference Report, April 1972, p. 99/Ensign, July 1972, p. 88)

“These apostles and prophets, the revelators of God, were to act as a protection for the people against false prophets and false teachings. Therefore, if somebody secretly comes to you claiming to have had a secret revelation and trying to lead you astray, all you have to do is remember that this person is not an apostle. If you want to know what the word of God is, go to the Council of the Twelve or the First Presidency. They are the foundation of the Church; they will keep you on the right track so that you will not need to worry.” (Elder Mark E. Peterson, Speeches of the Year, 1979, p. 184, quoted in Teachings of the Living Prophets, Religion 333 Student Manual, p. 30)

“We must not only set the Church and its program as the rule by which we judge everything else, we must also remember that the path of safety lies well within the guidelines and standards set forth by the prophets. (Teachings of the Living Prophets, Religion 333 Student Manual, p. 41)

“A part of the propaganda is that there is no warrant for official interpretation of the doctrines and standards of the Church, that everyone may read and interpret for himself, and adopt only so much of the doctrine as he chooses, and that he may classify the revelations as essential or non-essential. These propagandists are either ignorant of or ignore the Lord’s declaration that ‘no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.’ (2 Peter 1:20). They disparage orthodoxy as such and pride themselves on liberal thinking. Many of them maintain their loyalty to the Church, and some may honestly believe they are doing the Church a favor and a service in advocating their so-called broad-minded concepts.

“Unfortunately, some people within the Church subscribing to these views do not realize that they are falling into a trap themselves. They are giving aid and comfort to the foe; they are undermining their own testimonies and those of others. I warn the Church against them, and I warn them against themselves; and I plead with them to desist, to abandon their agnostic discussions, and to join with the faithful in promoting the cause which in their hearts they once loved, and I think they still love.” (President Stephen L. Richards, in Conference Report, Oct. 1951, pp. 116-17)

“They are just men, you might argue. No, they are not just men. They are chosen above all other men, and they are the servants of the Lord....” (Apostle Boyd K. Packer, Obedience, BYU Speeches of the Year, pp. 6-7)

Some Latter-day Saints mistakenly think they can sustain the prophet while refusing to sustain a local ecclesiastical leader. Elder Boyd K. Packer states unequivocally that an individual who does not sustain his local leaders will not sustain the President of the Church:

“A man who says he will sustain the President of the Church or the General Authorities, but cannot sustain his own bishop is deceiving himself. The man who will not sustain the bishop of his ward and the president of his stake will not sustain the President of the Church.” (Follow the Brethren, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, pp. 4-5)

The Consequences of Following or Rejecting Prophets

Both in ancient and in modern times, the Lord has spoken to mankind through prophets, but most have not listened to the inspired messages. Instead they have followed the alluring voices of the world. Of what value is following prophets? Are the blessings we will obtain worth the sacrifices? What will happen to those who reject the counsel of prophets? How serious is it to neglect this counsel? Ponder these questions while you read this chapter. Remember that we all have free agency—we can accept or reject what prophets say—but we cannot determine the consequences of our choices. Those consequences have been made very clear. If we follow the direction of prophets, we will find happiness and eventually obtain our exaltation. If we reject the counsel of prophets, we will find unhappiness and lose the blessings of eternal life. (Teachings of the Living Prophets, p. 54)

"We cannot oppose the Lord's prophets without bringing upon ourselves the Lord's displeasure. Rejecting the prophets causes the Lord to withdraw his Spirit. When that takes place, the spirit of the adversary has greater influence over us, as the following statements attest:

"When you hear a man talk against the authorities of this Church and kingdom, you may know he is sliding down hill. He does not know what spirit influences him; he is ignorant that he is in the dark; and, unless he retraces his steps quickly, he will go overboard. You may set that down as a fact all the time. Why? Because, if this is the Church and kingdom of God, and the President is the elect of god, and his council and the Twelve and others are the elect of god, and you seek to injure them, you run a great risk, and will be found fighting against God; for Jesus says, ‘He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth me, and he that rejecteth me rejecteth him that sent me.'" (John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 7:325)

Those who speak evil of the Lord’s anointed are in great jeopardy because they are sowing in themselves seeds of spiritual death. President Harold B. Lee gave the following testimony and warning:

“Mark well those who speak evil of the Lord’s anointed for they speak from impure hearts. Only the ‘pure in heart’ see the “God” or the divine in man and accept our leaders and accept them as prophets of the Living God....

“I want to bear you my testimony that the experience I have had has taught me that those who criticize the leaders of this Church are showing signs of a spiritual sickness which, unless curbed, will bring about eventually spiritual death. I want to bear my testimony as well that those who in public seek by their criticism, to belittle our leaders or bring them into disrepute, will bring upon themselves more hurt than upon those whom they seek thus to malign. I have watched over the years, and I have read of the history of many of those who fell away from this Church, and I want to bear testimony that no apostate who ever left this Church ever prospered as an influence in his community thereafter.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1947, p. 67, as quoted in Teachings of the Living Prophets, Religion 333 Student Manual, p. 56)

“One who rationalizes that he or she has a testimony of Jesus Christ but cannot accept direction and counsel from the leadership of His church is in a fundamentally unsound position and is in jeopardy of losing exaltation.” (Ezra Taft Benson,Teachings of the Living Prophets, Religion 333, Student Manual, p. 56)

“I clearly saw and understood, by the spirit of revelation manifested to me, that if I was to harbor a thought in my heart that Joseph could be wrong in anything, I would begin to lost confidence in him, from one degree to another, until at last I would have the same lack of confidence in his being the mouthpiece for the Almighty....

“I repented of my unbelief, and that too, very suddenly; I repented about as quickly as I committed the error. It was not for me to question whether Joseph was dictated by the Lord at all times and under all circumstances....

“It was not my prerogative to call him in question with regard to any act of his life. He was God’s servant, and not mine. He did not belong to the people but to the Lord, and was doing the work of the Lord.’ (In Journal of Discourses, 4:197)” (InConference Report, Apr. 1982, pp. 90-91; or Ensign, May 1982, p. 64)

On one occasion that Prophet Joseph Smith warned the Saints that criticism would eventually lead to apostasy.

“There is the man who, to satisfy his own egotism, took a stand against the authorities of the Church. He followed the usual pattern, not apostasy at first, only superiority of knowledge and mild criticism. He loved the brethren, he said, but they failed to see and interpret as he would like. He would still love the Church, he maintained, but his criticism grew and developed into ever-widening circles. He was right, he assured himself; he could not yield in good conscience; he had his pride. His children did not accept his philosophy wholly, but they married out of the Church, and he lost them. He later realized his folly and returned to humbleness, but so very late. He had lost his children. ‘It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.’” (President Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1955, pp. 94-95)

“...Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church. He knows whom he wants to preside over this church, and he will make no mistake. The Lord doesn’t do things by accident.....

“Let’s keep our eye on the president of the Church.” (President Harold B. Lee, inConference Report, Oct. 1970, pp. 152-53)

Brigham Young said, “You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of god and sink yourselves to hell.” (President Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 81)

“The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer. (President David O. McKay, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” in Speeches of the Year, 1980, p. 30)

General Conference:

“Let no arrogant, self-assured, self-styled intellectual discard the truths there taught and the testimonies there borne, nor argue with the messages and instructions there given” {in General Conference} (Spencer W. Kimball, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, May 1968, pp. 2-3)

“{General Conference} is one of the most important events of the present day. Many do not so regard it, even among the Latter-day Saints. But for those who appreciate its true significance, it is of transcending importance for in it PROPHETS OF GOD SPEAK, living prophets.

“When God gives a message to mankind, it is not something to be lightly cast aside. Whether He speaks personally, or through His prophets, He himself said, it is the same.

“And in this conference HIS PROPHETS SPEAK!” (Elder Mark E. Petersen, Why the Religious Life, pp. 203-4)

Revision of 2.15.08:

Some Mormons might point out that the concept of "the thinking hasn't been done" is sufficiently rebutted by a 1945 letter by LDS president George A. Smith. FAIR article

One letter in response hardly undoes the preceding bundle.


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