Timely quotes on the passing scene–Part 3: The Abuse of President Uchdorf

In another desperate attempt to imply that one can do or say anything and remain a member of the Church in good standing, some are quoting President Uchdorf:

Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.

— Dieter F. Uchdorf, “Come, Join With Us,” Ensign (November 2013).

Things Unsaid

There are a number of things which President Uchdorf does not say in this sentence:

  • He does not say, “regardless of what you teach to others as the truth, there is room for you.”
  • He does not say, “regardless of what you induce others to do, there is room for you.”
  • He does not say, “regardless of how you try to force Church leaders to act through public-pressure and political tactics, there is room for you.”
  • He does not say, “regardless of what truths you deny and what untruths you spread, there is room for you.”

Things Unquoted

There are also a number of phrases from the very same talk which rather undercut what those charged with apostasy would like us to conclude.

President Uchdorf said:

[A non-member] met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”

We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”

If God requires everything of us, that would seem to include such things as:

  • our desire for power and control
  • our desire for prestige or dominance
  • our desire to use pressure tactics to push for change
  • our doubts, our worries, or our hangups.

This leads to another of President Uchdorf’s quotes, which those circles who support or encourage apostates have treated with considerable scorn:

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.

We consecrate our doubts through our walk of discipleship. We do not fondle them, spread them, or loudly declare that others should share or embrace them.

Some might say, “I don’t think I could live up to your standards.”

All the more reason to come! The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted. It is filled with people who desire with all their heart to keep the commandments, even if they haven’t mastered them yet.

No one is perfect with the standards of a Christian life. But, there is no room for those who decry such standards, or teach others to violate those standards, or who argue that such standards are oppressive or evil:

None of us is quite as Christlike as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

All are welcome who are likewise engaged. But, it is a huge strain to believe that President Uchdorf meant that it’s OK to be part of the Church while flaunting our sin, denying that it is sin, or encouraging others to sin, to “call good evil, and evil good.”

Will we also go away? Or will we, like Peter, hold fast to the words of eternal life?….I plead with all who hear or read these words: Come, join with us. Come heed the call of the gentle Christ. Take up your cross and follow Him.

This last is the core of President Uchdorf’s message–join with us in Christian discipleship. And, that includes taking up the cross, and following Him. Or, as he said elsewhere:

Brethren, discipleship is a lifelong journey following our Savior. Along our metaphorical path from Bethlehem to Golgotha, we will have many opportunities to abandon our journey. At times it will seem that the path requires more than we had wished for. But as men of the priesthood, we must have the courage to follow our Redeemer, even when our cross seems too heavy to bear. [“Four Titles,” Ensign (May 2013).]

To take up the cross is to bear our burdens, our weaknesses, and our thwarted desires. There may be sins we desperately want to commit–we should, instead, take up the cross and not commit them. There may be things we don’t want to do, but should–we should take up the cross, and do them.

We must “hold fast to the words of eternal life”–embrace the scriptures, not denigrate them as nineteenth-century fictions concocted by a fraud.

There is room for everyone who wishes to follow Christ, and will show it by their acts.

If you do not wish to follow Christ–if you wish to deny him, reject his divinity, mock his atonement, criticize those whom he has called to lead, deny his commandments and teach others to neglect them: you may well find (to our chagrin but not our surprise) that there is no place for that. As President Uchdorf taught elsewhere:

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences. [“Four Titles,” Ensign (May 2013).]

His invitation is to this unity–a unity of belief in the gospel, and commitment to obey. If we reject that belief and fight against it and urge others to adopt our way of thinking, if we disparage and actively work against commandment keeping in ourselves or others–we may find ourselves on the outside, looking in.

Other ignored addresses

Those who are anxious to twist President Uchdorf’s words also ignore other counsel which he has given that does not mesh with their view that you can say anything and do anything and remain a member of the Church in good standing.

For example:

Those who are selfish seek their own interests and pleasure above all else. The central question for the selfish person is “What’s in it for me?”

Brethren, I am sure you can see that this attitude is clearly contrary to the spirit required to build God’s kingdom.

When we seek self-service over selfless-service, our priorities become centered on our own recognition and pleasure.

Past generations had their struggle with variations of egotism and narcissism, but I think today we are giving them serious competition. Is it any coincidence that the Oxford Dictionary recently proclaimed “selfie” as the word of the year?…

What is the remedy?

The answer, as always, lies in the words of Christ…. [“Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?,” Ensign (May 2014).]

Such teaching requires that we lay aside our priorities, obsessions, hang-ups, and hobby-horses. Once again, we must embrace Christ and his word–which leaves little room for one who would deny Christ, ridicule his word, and urge others so to do.

When we are tempted to do things we should not do, let us listen to the loving warning of trusted family and friends, our beloved prophet, and always the Savior.

Church membership involves things we will and won’t do. What is to be done for those who urge us to ignore the prophets, ignore the Savior’s teachings, and do those things we should not do? Are we really to believe President Uchdorf thinks such people should be given free reign?

Often we devote our best efforts in pursuit of a hobby, a sport, vocational interests, and community or political issues. All these things may be good and honorable, but are they leaving us time and energy for what should be our highest priorities? (emphasis added)

Many of those currently charged with apostasy have political priorities that are very dear to them. Some seem to put these priorities over their covenants, over their obedience to Christ and his prophets. They encourage others to do likewise.

I wonder why they cling so tightly to one (misinterpreted and decontextualized) sentence from one Church leader, when that same leader and dozens of others have also clearly taught that what they are doing is wrong?

Are they trying to persuade us? Or themselves?