So, let’s take a bit of a breather from the facts for a second. Let’s see what we have:
We have a charismatic founding Mormon leader who pretended to know things that he clearly didn’t know. This is a man who took advantage of his position and abused his power with his female followers. We have subsequent leaders who were willing to lie and fudge in order to cover their similarly unpopular and immoral behavior.
We have a series of church leaders making confident and bold truth claims for decades only to be replaced and downgraded by the advice to followers to just “rely on the Spirit.” This of course comes only after the actual evidence that surfaced failed to sustain and support those truth claims.
We have leaders calling for “no middle ground” and saying that the gospel and especially the Book of Mormon is either 100% true or it’s all a fraud.
Everything in the Church — everything — rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon…
Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, or else he did not. And if he did not, he is not entitled to retain even the reputation of New England folk hero or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, and he is not entitled to be considered a great teacher or a quintessential American prophet or the creator of great wisdom literature. If he lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he is certainly none of those.”
(Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, “True or False,” New Era, June 1995, Page 64)
“We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith. When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, “Yes, sir. That’s the miracle of it.” That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud.
I knew a so-called intellectual who said the Church was trapped by its history. My response was that without that history we have nothing. The truth of that unique, singular, and remarkable event is the pivotal substance of our faith.”
(Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith,” October 2002 General Conference)
Therefore, what am I to do when I discover the Book of Mormon and the Mormon leaders to be so greatly lacking in trustworthiness? Should I actually call the leaders’ bluff and say the whole thing is indeed a hoax and a fraud? Or, should I disregard the Mormon Church’s black & white thinking and try to find my own middle way? Is there a way to not throw the baby out with the bathwater?
Once the foundation of my testimony eroded, that whole “testimony shelf” came crashing down on me. There are things that had bothered me about the church over the years but that weren’t big enough alone to make me doubt. These are things less about history and more about doctrine and practices. But they became more distasteful to me as I realized they were symptoms and signs of a corrupt system rather than just humans operating under a perfect God.
The Mormon church gets a lot of airplay for being “family-friendly” and “family-oriented.” Mormons and non-Mormons alike buy it.
I didn’t and I don’t. Many others don’t buy it either.
- It’s not very family-friendly for parents and other loved ones to have to sit outside the temple while their own children’s wedding takes place without them.
- It’s not very family-friendly for parents of young children to spend enormous amounts of time on their church callings.
- It’s not very family-friendly for a mother of 6 young children to have to sit alone each week while her bishop husband sits on the stand.
- It’s not very family-friendly for those older children to have to babysit and care for their younger siblings.
- It’s not very family-friendly for those younger children to have teir older siblings as parents.
I don’t believe Mormonism was very family-friendly to my family of birth nor to my wife and children.
I have wanted to be a Dad ever since I was a teenager and place a high value on my family. So, a few years ago I spent considerable time studying the biographies of several latter-day prophets such as Gordon B. Hinckley, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Spencer W. Kimball, etc. to see how to be a better father. I wanted to find out more about these men and what made them tick. Hopefully, so I could become a better man of God, more like them. What I found, however, was very little of what I wanted to emulate. Here were men I am supposed to admire but who spent very little time with their families. Most of them fully admit, almost in a bragging way, that their wives single-handedly raised their children as they were constantly away on church assignments. Basically I was shocked that I was letting men who were lousy parents counsel me on good parenting practices. They offer excellent lip service to families in talks and meetings but in actual practice they don’t measure up in my opinion.
In the August 2001 Ensign, Russell M. Nelson proudly echoed this sentiment that in the church fathers are dispensable:
I remember when I was a resident in a large hospital in Boston. I was off duty every other night and every other weekend. On nights off, I arrived home to my wife and our four children after the babies’ bedtime. I departed in the morning before they were all awake. In order for me to attend sacrament meeting, I had to trade hours of duty with some of my Jewish or Seventh-day Adventist colleagues. They were willing to cover for me temporarily on my Sabbath as I covered for them on theirs. Incidentally, I enjoyed some of my very most successful home teaching experiences on those highly prized nights off.
I pay tribute to Sister Nelson, this magnificent wife and mother who has always been supportive. When people have asked her how she managed with 10 children with so little time available from her husband, she has responded with a twinkle in her eye, saying, “When I married him, I didn’t expect much, so I was never disappointed.
You young women can learn much from Sister Nelson’s example. Sustain your husbands in their important work, and don’t be selfish in your expectations. (Russell M. Nelson, “Identity, Priority, and Blessings,” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 6)
Frankly I don’t see his familial neglect as anything admirable. And why wasn’t he with his wife on his “highly prized nights off” rather than off home teaching? It is true that in the church wives shouldn’t expect much from their husbands but is it really “selfish” for the wives to want it? As I look around at local leaders I see the same practices. Time spent in church service is time away from their families and I don’t think it is a stretch of the imagination to see that their families suffer. I believe mine did. They would consider their family blessed, I know, but the horror for me was that I could see the writing on the wall. I was headed in that direction and I didn’t want to go there.
When I say I could see the writing on the wall, I mean I was already spending a couple of nights away from home or on the phone for my church calling. As a Seminary Teacher I spent every night preparing a lesson. Later as an Executive Secretary to the bishop I was spending about two nights a week and all day Sunday on the calling. One of my patriarchal blessings (yeah, I’ve had three) promises I’ll have even more leadership callings. This is all time that I would rather be spending with my family. At one time my wife was Relief Society President while I was Executive Secretary. We were rarely at home with our kids at the same time. Yet in the church, positions like these are badges of honor, callings from God and we’re counseled heavily not to refuse them. I didn’t like my callings and I didn’t like the time they took away from my family. It certainly is at odds with a system of belief that claims to be so “family oriented.”
As a young gay man I’ve obviously had internal battles in my life for which I’ve failed to find any comfort let alone answers within the gospel. If God runs the church, am I so worthless that he couldn’t reveal simple answers about life and human behavior that would help me? I experienced the occasional mocking and snide comments in Elder’s Quorum by people who had no idea of my personal pain. There was the occasional reference to homosexuality in hushed revolting tones by the General Authorities. But mostly I experienced apathy.
Why was I being told what color of shirt to wear, what I could and couldn’t drink, how many earrings my wife could wear, what movies to watch, and who I needed to visit, become friends with and when, but I was left out in the cold when it came to substantial things that would help me in my spiritual life? It seemed that the church is “straining at gnats.” I shelved those thoughts.
I’ve also had the chance to travel in my life and actually live abroad both on my mission and later. I often felt like the gospel was an odd fit and not really easily compatible with the cultures I encountered. In essence, it was a great find for some people but it just didn’t mesh culturally, spiritually or logically with the vast majority of people. In other words, it wasn’t universal.
Many of the instructions and guidelines in the Church Handbook of Instructions are rules that serve the institution of the church rather than the individual and are clearly created by aged, white North American men. For example, is it really true that the piano, organ and occasionally the violin and flute are the only instruments in the world capable of conveying God’s spirit? Yet, those are the only instruments allowed in any LDS sacrament meeting in any part of the world. Additionally, the North American white man’s suit, white shirt and tie are the expectation and sometimes the requirement whether you’re in Brazil, Japan or Nigeria. It isn’t appropriate everywhere. Is the God of the Chinese, the Russians and Peruvians an old man with North American tastes and preferences?
Even in the U.S., the church’s standardized use of the Scouting program as the vehicle with which to teach young boys character and prepare them for manhood is rigid and inflexible. It’s much easier to create a standardized program and require compliance than it is to mold programs to meet individual needs. Molding, however, isn’t allowed in the church. If a young boy’s interests lie elsewhere or the scouting program isn’t serving his needs, he and his parents are guilt-tripped into compliance both socially and institutionally. It’s part of the “follow the prophet” mantra. The prophet said this is the “inspired” program for young boys and so it is, regardless of that one boy’s needs. The implication is that something must be wrong with the boy if he has no desire or inclination towards scouting. Clearly, scouting isn’t the only way available to teach values. The fact that there’s an institutionalized program isn’t even the problem. The problem is that individual adaptation is not allowed.
This “one size fits all” mentality permeates the church and it has always bothered me. I shelved those thoughts.
Internal Doctrinal Issues
Teaching Seminary was probably what made me put more things up on that “testimony shelf” than any other. I taught the Old Testament one year and Church History (D&C) the next. I read those scriptures daily to prepare for lessons. Often the lessons in the manual required mental gymnastics to convey the message the church wanted rather than the one actually in the book of scripture.
The Old Testament is full of examples of prophets who lie, cheat, fornicate and yet still maintain God’s approval. God orders the killing of (or actually kills them himself) hundreds of thousands of people, which is hard to rationalize under any scenario but especially in light of 9/11. The 9/11 terrorists were religious men who mistakenly thought they were doing God’s will. How is that any different than Deuteronomy13: 6-10 where God commands the killing of someone who chooses a different religion? If God is the same yesterday and today, how could these biblical characters maintain the spirit of God with them and do these horrible things in the name of God? (See also Exodus 22:20, Exodus 32:27-28, Numbers 31:14-18, Leviticus 27:28-29, 2 Kings: 2:23-24, 2 Samuel 6: 6-7, Deuteronomy 3:3-6, Deuteronomy 22:20-21). How could I be unworthy for temple attendance by drinking a cup of coffee, when the men who received the Old Testament and modern temple ordinances from God did all these atrocious things in the name of God?
In similar fashion, I found that the Church uses scriptures and science only when it benefits the organization’s claims. As an illustration, word-print studies that show several authors contributed to the Book of Mormon are held up as evidence to the LDS faithful, while similar studies that attribute Genesis and other Old Testament books to multiple authors are ignored (LDS believe it was Moses only). Science is applauded when it seems to coincide with an LDS claim and ignored when it doesn’t. I shelved those thoughts.
Likewise, the Word of Wisdom isn’t taken literally. If it were, LDS wouldn’t be eating very much meat at July 24th picnics and hot chocolate would be forbidden while iced coffee would be OK. The Word of Wisdom speaks against “hot drinks,” so why are iced tea and iced coffee not OK? They’re not hot but they contain caffeine. Hot chocolate contains caffeine. Why is that OK? Recent medical studies touting the benefits of tea, wine and coffee in moderation are ignored, of course. I have always found it odd that someone who drinks tea is excluded from temple attendance while an obese, food addicted bishop is likely doing the excluding based on “the Lord’s law of health.” The whole thing is nonsensical if you actually read it.
While scriptures such as these aren’t taken literally when it’s inconvenient to do so, much more significant biblical teachings are interpreted literally hard-line when a metaphorical interpretation would make more sense. The story of the flood, the tower of Babel, not to mention other fantastic Biblical and Book of Mormon stories that contradict solid scientific information and common sense are accepted at face value. I put those thoughts on a shelf and trusted in LDS leaders.
There are also several teachings by leaders of the church that I believe do more harm than good. Elder Russell M. Nelson taught the following:
“Divine love is also conditional. While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us-and certain divine blessings stemming from that love-are conditional.”
“Understanding that divine love and blessings are not truly ‘unconditional’ can defend us against common fallacies such as these: ‘Since God’s love is unconditional, He will love me regardless …’; or ‘Since ‘God is love,’ He will love me unconditionally, regardless …’ These arguments are used by anti-Christs to woo people with deception.”
“The full flower of divine love and our greatest blessings from that love are conditional-predicated upon our obedience to eternal law. I pray that we may qualify for those blessings and rejoice forever.”
(Russell M. Nelson, “Divine Love,” Ensign, Feb. 2003, page 20)
Interesting that the Prophet, Seers and Revelators can’t agree on this notion.
I testify that he (Jesus Christ) assisted in the creation and management not only of this planet, but other worlds. His grasp is galactic, yet he noticed the widow casting in her mite. I am stunned at his perfect, unconditional love of all. Indeed, ‘I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.'”
(Neal A. Maxwell, “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King,” Ensign, May 1976, page 26)
“A person’s ability to love unconditionally can have powerful effects. Seeing another person in an eternal perspective, knowing that he is of infinite worth, helps us to look beyond his weaknesses.”
(“Unconditional Love-The Key to Effective Parenthood,” Family Home Evening Resource Book, Building a Strong Family, page 238)
I think unconditional love is something a parent can’t deny. I don’t care what Elder Nelson believes, I love my children unconditionally and I believe God feels that same conviction towards me. There are many other LDS quotes that prove Elder Nelson is wrong, but the point is that the church leaders contradict one another so often that the church really isn’t the steady guiding North Star that the leaders would like you to believe that it is.
The proof is often in the practice and I’d have to say that the practice in the LDS church in this one point leans more towards Elder Nelson’s perspective – love and acceptance are conditional. As far as loving God coming before loving family, I cannot see how there can be a conflict if you’re talking about true acceptance and regard for another person, and concern for their well-being. As the Bible and other wise men have said, God IS love, and I believe that all loving action brings us closer to God and exemplifies god-like behavior. Loyalty to a church or religion might lead one to alter ties with a family member, but not love of God.
The LDS marriage ceremony is void of anything referring to unconditional love such as “for better or worse.” Instead, it’s made clear that our eternal love is dependant upon the behavior of our spouse. It’s no wonder that many LDS marriages end in divorce when one spouse expresses a disbelief in the gospel. We basically marry the church and not each other. Without the gospel, the other spouse loses all his or her value since you can’t make it to the celestial kingdom alone. This perpetuates a behavior where people who are married to a non-member or unbeliever are tortured mentally and depressed over the loss of blessings. It’s a shame that unconditional love isn’t a more powerful force.
All too often, the church creates a pretend disease and then steps in with their pretend cure. But without the church, that problem never would have existed in the first place. Take the spouse married to an inactive or non-member for example. In many religions it’s not an issue, especially if the non-believer is willing to go along with the religion to a point. In Mormonism, however, it’s a serious source of tension and discord if both spouses aren’t temple recommend holding believers. The believing spouse then seeks out the comfort of the church even more devotedly for refuge from her lack of “priesthood in the home” or to compensate for her lack of eternal blessings. She resents the other spouse for not giving these things to her. Yet, it’s the church that created the “problem” in the first place by teaching that those things need to be present for a happy marriage.
There are millions of couples in the world with deep, abiding love who have never heard of the priesthood or the temple. The wife isn’t just enduring until she’ll be sealed to a worthy man in the afterlife (as one of many plural wives most likely). I fail to see where the comfort is in that for her or her children.
In fact, rather than solve a complex issue of family life, the doctrine of temple marriage often only creates more confusion and frustration. Where’s the comfort for the man who marries a young widow who was sealed to her first husband? He’s unable to be sealed to his wife and knows that all his children will go to her first husband in the afterlife. I bet that does wonders for their relationship and intimacy. Where’s the comfort for the woman who marries the widower knowing that she’ll be just one of many wives sealed to him? How is this family friendly and supportive of life’s most difficult questions? Sometimes the church creates more problems than it solves.
Most religions believe in eternal families. They believe in an afterlife surrounded by loved ones in peace and happiness. But the LDS church has repackaged and marketed that belief as their own glorious doctrine. The irony is, however, that the under the LDS system, far fewer families will be eternal since it’s rooted in performance-based criteria which very few earthly souls will ever meet. LDS doctrine even has families broken up as unworthy brothers and sisters fail to make the cut. So who really believes in eternal families?
The teaching that chastity can be “taken” from someone rather than only surrendered is emotionally damaging and abusive to people who have suffered sexual abuse.
In Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball quoted Heber J. Grant as saying,
…There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity — realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world.
I beg to differ but I’d rather have my son or daughter’s life than have her lose it as Spencer W. Kimball counsels,
Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is absolutely no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.
Yeah, there’s “no condemnation” but it’s clear that church leaders believe that virtue can be “stolen.” Imagine the thoughts that an abuse victim suffers when he or she learns that it would have been better off to be dead than have someone “take” their chastity. Imagine the guilt this perpetuates in an already suffering individual who needs comfort and refuge only to find that the church provides none for them. In that sense, I do believe the church is damaging.
The October 17th, 2003, Deseret Morning News headline reads “90% of Provo rapes not reported to police.” In the report, a BYU police officer explains that LDS religious beliefs are the reason:
[BYU Police Officer Arnie] Lemmon said most Provo residents are religious and have a tendency to stigmatize discussion of sexual assault and sometimes to demonize the survivor.
[The Mormon rape victim] said something that blew me away. She said, ‘I should have died before I let him do that to me,’ Lemmon said. “I was troubled that she had to believe that.”
Lemmon read from a letter written by a BYU rape victim who shared a similar belief. “I’m a perversion to the good saints of my church,” wrote the victim, who said she wished she were dead. Tragic thoughts like these are common among rape victims in Provo, Lemmon said.
This type of blaming the victim is also evident in a talk by Richard G. Scott. At the end of an attempt to comfort abuse victims he offers the following:
The victim must do all in his or her power to stop the abuse. Most often, the victim is innocent because of being disabled by fear or the power or authority of the offender. At some point in time, however, the Lord may prompt a victim to recognize a degree of responsibility for abuse. Your priesthood leader will help assess your responsibility so that, if needed, it can be addressed. Otherwise the seeds of guilt will remain and sprout into bitter fruit. Yet no matter what degree of responsibility, from absolutely none to increasing consent, the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ can provide a complete cure. (See D&C 138:1-4.) Forgiveness can be obtained for all involved in abuse. (See A of F 1:3.) Then comes a restoration of self-respect, self-worth, and a renewal of life. (Richard G. Scott, “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Ensign, May 1992, 31)
An untrained priesthood leader is supposed to assist a childhood abuse victim ascertain their level of responsibility for being abused! Those few sentences undo whatever compassion Elder Scott was trying evoke and make it apparent that leaders of the church are just old men in suits trying to sound authoritative about which they know very little.
Critical Thinking Discouraged
Mormonism encourages premature, inappropriate and inauthentic commitments, which creates enormous levels of guilt, shame and loss when the growing healthy soul finally begins to question those commitments and begins to dismantle them. For example, is eight years old really old enough to make a commitment that then will be held over the child’s head for the rest of his or her life? Perhaps they’re able to decipher right from wrong at that age but later they’ll be persuaded to make decisions based on the covenants they made at a mere eight years old. They’ll be told that they already committed to believe and follow the church’s instructions and so the guilt trip follows.
LDS converts are baptized without a solid awareness of what will be expected of them in the future. Home teaching obligations, temple ordinances such as the endowment (not to mention garments!) and other LDS teachings that deeply affect personal time and space, are conspicuously absent from the missionary discussions. On my mission, we were encouraged to baptize people quickly who had no real grasp on the huge commitment they were getting themselves into.
In a similar move, the church encourages marriage for young people still learning who they are, as well as marriage for people who shouldn’t marry, or shouldn’t marry until later in life.
I think Mormonism stunts growth by denying people the opportunity to explore, practice and learn. It promotes rigid, defensive, judgmental personalities–painful to be and painful to be around.
It creates self-critical personalities, who often then battle depression.
Another flawed idea is that when someone “doesn’t get it”, they must be living unworthily – yet another tool to keep questioning minds closed. I once heard my bishop declare from the pulpit that he’s never known anyone who doubted their testimony that was keeping the commandments. Uh, yeah, I’ll go talk to him! The more I think about it, the less I am able to differentiate that line of thinking from what cults do to program their members not to leave. How is it any different? If you disagree you’re bad!
The church also teaches contradictory and conflicting messages such as the “The Glory of God is Intelligence”, but then they label intellectuals as “The enemy of the church.”
Mormon women are marginalized, and most certainly not seen as equals with men in the church. Just because many women in the church say they’re fine with the oppression doesn’t mean it’s not there. Many women clearly are fine with it and don’t want anything more. But the church’s lip service to impartiality of the genders is belied in the actual day-to-day practice of Mormonism. Since power can almost always be boiled down to the money, I wonder if there are any LDS women who are authorized to sign checks on behalf of the church. I doubt it.
Women often feel guilty, depressed or just unworthy when they don’t fit the mold of LDS womanhood. Perhaps she doesn’t like cooking or sewing. Perhaps she can’t sing or play the piano. Perhaps she can’t have children or is only able to have one or two. God forbid she should only WANT one or two! I’ve been in several bishopric meetings in different wards where a woman in the ward was ridiculed behind her back for daring to express an opinion. I shelved those thoughts.
Why can’t a woman open a Sacrament Meeting with prayer (at least they can’t in my stake) and why couldn’t they even pray in Sacrament Meeting until 1978? Why does a man (priesthood leader) always speak at general women’s meetings but I have yet to see a woman speak at a stake or general priesthood meeting? It may have happened but it’s definitely not a regular occurrence. The message then is “women need to learn from the men but the men have nothing to learn from the women.”
The priesthood often trumps women’s decisions in their leadership callings. The women are told to ask the Lord for inspiration and submit suggestions but then that inspiration is minimized as the priesthood does whatever it wants or whatever it was going to do in the first place.
Prophetesses are spoken of in the Bible. Why can’t a woman hold the priesthood? I know, I know, a man has the priesthood while a woman has motherhood. Still, a man gets the priesthood AND fatherhood. A woman only gets motherhood. Many women will say they don’t want the priesthood, but what about the woman who does? Is she bad? And what about the man who doesn’t want it? In fact, most LDS women today would be shocked to find out that in the early days of the church women often gave blessings and anointed the sick, ordinances reserved for men in the modern church. They were previously done, however, with the knowledge and blessing of the prophets. Wouldn’t it be even more family oriented for my wife to join me in naming and blessing our newborn infants rather than sitting passively in the congregation while male friends and relatives participate in this rite of passage?
The current LDS policy only remains exclusionary because the leaders say so. There’s no scriptural basis for it. Just like there was no scriptural basis for the racist policies that kept the priesthood from blacks and discouraged interracial marriage.
I’ve been told that “Our leaders are human beings with weaknesses like everyone else and they make mistakes too.” OK, then if they’re human, why don’t they behave like humans are expected to and humbly admit mistakes, repair damage and behave in an open, adult and non-manipulative way?
If repentance is one of the basic principles of the gospel, why are there no examples of our leaders repenting for their behavior as leaders? Isn’t leading by example the most powerful way to teach? Wouldn’t that tend to draw others to Christ more powerfully than the “all our decisions are inspired” image they staunchly uphold?
They can’t stand up in General Conference and claim special links to divinity by saying,
- “Follow the brethren. They’ll never lead you astray.”
- “When the prophet has spoken, the thinking has been done”
- “Whether it be by my own voice or the voice of my servants it is the same.”
These are not the statements of men asking to be accepted as ordinary humans. It is hypocritical of them to make these statements and then turn around and wonder why they’re not given the benefit of the doubt. Their own statements require a higher standard, I believe. “Where much is given, much is required.”
Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Unfortunately the evidence doesn’t corroborate their stories.
I have some level of sympathy for these modern leaders. They’ve attained a position that they’ve always revered and upon arriving they must be suffering incredible cognitive dissonance. The fear they must experience if they ever allow themselves to humbly admit that the emperor has no clothes is surely much more intense than mine. No, they most likely formulate a rationale in their mind to support their claims to higher contact.
Instead of the extraordinary claims common in the early days of the church, for example, modern General Authorities hedge their bets by claiming that they’ve had experiences that they can’t talk about because they’re “too sacred.” I’ve had special experiences that I could easily label as “too sacred to talk about” if I wanted to and thus self-justify my high calling and position. It would be a good tool!
It’s interesting that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and all the ancient prophets always spoke freely of their sacred experiences. In fact, their calling was to witness of these occurrences. Temple ceremonies are explained in detail in the Old Testament and Joseph Smith never failed to produce details of spiritual experiences with God and angels. In John 18:20 Jesus says that everything he has ever spoken has been in public, never in secret.
Actually SACRED and SECRET were not synonyms as used now in the church. Secrecy is repudiated in the Bible and the Book of Mormon (See Deut. 13:6, 2 Kings 17:9, Job 20:26, Ps. 10:8, Luke 8:17, Luke 11:33, John 7:4, 2 Nephi 9:9, 3 Nephi 9:9, Ether 8, Ether 11:15, D&C 42:64 and Moses 5:51 among many others). Why then this sudden secrecy with today’s modern “special witnesses?” Aren’t they refusing to do what they’ve been called to do; that is, witness regarding something special that they’ve experienced?
I have yet to hear something truly special from a modern church authority that can’t be heard every fast Sunday in my own ward.