A Man of God Would Despise The Idea

 

Within the church we can have a strong focus on obedience, which I do believe is a virtue, but I also believe that as is true for all of the principles of the gospel, it can be easily misunderstood and used in ways that I do not believe God intends for us. Because of these misunderstanding some critics many rightly point out that we follow some without truly thinking whether that is right. I do not believe this applies to most members, but I do believe we need to have a greater focus on what it actually means to be obedient so that we do not engage in practices that are potentially harmful for our progression.

Commenting on this situation in the Millennial Star, Samuel W. Richards appeared to share this concern when he wrote that “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea…”

***Retraction*** In the audio file I attributed this to Joseph Smith, which I looked deeper into, and it appears to actually go to Samuel W. Richards who was the editor at that time.

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One thought on “A Man of God Would Despise The Idea

  1. On a different page I was just asked about the context of this quote, which made me want to share the full quote, and where it can be found. This podcast is not really about providing historical context to the quotes, and instead is focused on simply popularizing them, but if you ever have questions please feel free to ask.

    Here is the full quote.

    “Because of…the apparent imperfections of men on whom God confers authority, the question is sometimes asked,—to what extent is obedience to those who hold the priesthood required? This is a very important question, and one which should be understood by all Saints. In attempting to answer this question, we would repeat, in short, what we have already written, that willing obedience to the laws of God, administered by the Priesthood, is indispensable to salvation; but we would further add, that a proper conservative to this power exists for the benefit of all, and none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood. We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do any thing they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God, who seeks for the redemption of his fellows, would despise the idea of seeing another become his slave, who had an equal right with himself to the favour of God; he would rather see him stand by his side, a sworn enemy to wrong, so long as there was place found for it among men. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty (!) authority, have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their Presidents, they should do it without asking any questions.

    When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience, as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves, and wish to pave the way to accomplish that wrong; or else because they have done wrong, and wish to use the cloak of their authority to cover it with, lest it should be discovered by their superiors, who would require an atonement at their hands.

    —”Priesthood,” Millennial Star 14/38 (13 November 1852), 594–95

    http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/…/collection/MStar/id/37806

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