I didn’t think too much of it. I had faith that they’d bring their concerns to their stake president, as President Utchdorf recommended, and hopefully they’d be able to resolve their doubts. They braved downtown Salt Lake during conference, so they must be serious about getting to the bottom of whatever was bothering them.
The next Monday I had institute, and of course the dissenting vote was being discussed in every class. My teacher asked for our thoughts, and one student’s response got me thinking. I’ll spare the details, but this young man could not stop going on and on about how angry those five individuals made him feel and how it just made him want to sustain the other apostles that much more fervently. Okay, that’s understandable—a strong testimony does that. But then he started going in about the infallibility of the prophets and how you should never question what they say or do. And the more he talked, the angrier he got. What startled me the most, though, was that my institute teacher agreed with him.
I’m no theologian or religious scholar. I’m in temple prep right now and I’m so in over my head I can almost hear the Spirit banding it’s head against the walls of my brain. But if I know one thing, there’s a lot of danger in this kind of automatic anger. It’s no secret that some leaders of the church have not been the best of men. Accidents happen, but Heavenly Father has a funny way of correcting his children—and that’s through dissenting votes.
I took a class on dystopian literature this semester and aside from it being a fantastically thought-provoking class, it also made me make a lot of connections in my own life. In almost every novel, we saw the gross perversion of religion from an institution of spirituality to an institution of corruption. And in almost all these works, that gross perversion started with unquestioning obedience to the religious leader.
Okay, I’ve probably made at least one person mad at this point. Before you tear my comment box below to bits, keep reading. Heavenly Father does not want unquestioning obedience. That’ what Satan wants—no agency, no freedom, no thought. Heavenly wants obedience all right, but he wants genuine obedience. He wants us to learn for ourselves the blessings of obedience and to be happy in our obedience to Him. And part of that obedience might be to offer a dissenting vote if you know something about a leader being sustained that may compromise their ability to serve God. By nurturing an instinctual distain for anyone who doesn’t agree with us creates a very toxic “us vs. them” mentality. This mentality squelches the growth of the church and helps the population of protesters outside the conference center grow.
We all know how awkward it is to stand at the crosswalk while they’re chanting. Let’s not make more of them.
Maybe that kid in my institute class was prompted to say those things because he has a deep love for the prophet and that was how he chose to express it. Maybe what I interpreted from this student was different than what my institute teacher interpreted. Maybe those five people really were members in good standing or maybe not even members of the church at all. If they were members, though, I commend them for their courage, and I pray that they’ve been able to actively dissect their feelings and find a solution.
I have a strong testimony of the prophets of our day. I whole-heartedly sustained them as prophets, seers, and revelators and I’m so grateful for the guidance they offer us here on earth. I know that Heavenly Father chose them to be His messengers, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I also believe that the dissenting vote plays a vital role in maintaining the spiritual, pure nature of Christ’s Church, though, and I’m so happy that Heavenly Father gives us this opportunity to take an active role in building Zion.
TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS!
What was your initial reaction to the dissenting vote?
Any good links to other opinions?
Share your testimony of the prophet!