New Harmony: Is it bedrock truth or a regional standard?

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  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Sept. 8, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    Although he speaks in vagueries, at least this author is cognizant of cultural Mormonism and feels the need to point out how contradictory it is to many genuine gospel teachings. As a non-Utahan convert, there has thankfully never been any confusion about these matters to me. I have met or spoken with many for whom there has been though—and many, sadly, leave the Church because of it.

  • NDM Vienna, Austria
    Aug. 29, 2013 1:13 a.m.

    When Elder Richard G. Scott of the Twelve (who, by the way, cautioned our stake conference in 1992 that many members would be surprised how few bedrock, unchangeable absolutes there are in our faith) encouraged us to abandon those cultural elements that conflict with the Gospel, I began thinking what some of those might be for an American like me. I came up with pride (USA! USA! We're number one!), lust for vengeance (the person who did this to me must pay!), pursuit of material wealth (what we call the "American dream" is 100% temporal), the unfortunate flip side of our otherwise laudable work ethic (I will withhold my charity, as this man has brought his misery upon himself), and our worship of worldly acclaim and a pre-defined standard of beauty (celebrity magazine hottest/sexiest proclamations). I've done my best to change these and other culturally based failings in myself ever since.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Aug. 27, 2013 5:25 p.m.

    Silverprospector -- Just to clarify, this isn't an opinion; it is an observation of fact that I know. You're wrong when you state that "nobody knows."

    But you are correct in saying that there are people that say they know something that isn't so. These are opinions and, in cases of genuine expressions, delusions. People are naturally and innocently insecure, desiring to find answers and cling to them. And being wrong isn't evil -- unless intentional (that exists, too).

    You don't KNOW "it isn't true." Which is it with you? Delusion, overstatement or deception? Because I "KNOW" this is the Savior's Church I can accept that you maybe don't know that yet. I know some people can function with just strongly believing that. But I also know some people KNOW it.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Aug. 27, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    Silverprospector -- "KNOW" may perhaps be a term subject to semantics. So let me be clear in saying of my use of the word "KNOW" that it is different from saying "I believe" or "in my opinion." In terms of the LDS "Church" there is a mixture of the three, as well as regional, cultural and current things which I don't believe or which are in my opinion unnecessary, wrong or just goofy. Actually the same applies to secular education as mankind learns and changes paradigms every terrestrial orbit of the sun.

    Speaking of that giant flaming orb, I KNOW it doesn't move relatively speaking and that it "rises" every morning and "sets" every night, whether we see it or it is obscured by clouds or eclipse or I never go outside, because the earth is spinning. I also KNOW that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, and that, though evolving and in many ways imperfect, the LDS church is in the fact His church, THE CHURCH. I also KNOW there are more good people outside that church than in it -- in other faiths and no faith at all.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Aug. 24, 2013 7:24 p.m.

    Brahmabull "Can anybody answer if the word of wisdom is a core doctrine? If so why has it changed since the time it was revealed? What about the temple ceremony? it has changed too. Please clarify."

    It's not as hard as you think.

    The Word of Wisdom is scripture. I believe interpreting was supposed to be up to the individual. However, cultural bias seeped in and the people demanded a strict line to judge others...what about caffeine? what about ice tea? what if I drink my soup? Finally the Church drew a line and put it into the Church Handbook; no coffee, no black tea. The Saints dumbed their own law. Something to be learned here about the danger of cultural bias.

    As for the temple ceremony; I think most is instruction led by the current prophet. I hope to see a time when we as a people will be ready for a 15 minute or less session. Change is inevitable and does not shake my faith.

  • Silverprospector SAN ANTONIO, TX
    Aug. 24, 2013 8:43 a.m.


    I wasn't trying to offend you. I was stating that even though you say you know the church is true, it is still your opinion. I make no apologies for that statement as I am trying to illustrate something. I have heard many catholics say they KNOW their church is true as well. I have heard many people from other faiths claims the same thing. So can they all be true? Are all the other people wrong about their knowledge that their religion is true while you are right? It is an opinion. Nobody KNOWS, they may believe very strongly, but they can't all know because then all religions would have to be true because they all claim to know. Know and belive aren't interchangeable. And as much as you know it is true, I know it isn't true. How does that work?

  • @Charles not from utah, 00
    Aug. 23, 2013 4:19 p.m.


    How arrogant can you be? I'm sure you didn't realize it but you just arrogantly told me what I know or don't know. Can you explain how you can tell me what I know of don't know? Exactly, it's impossible for you to tell me what I know or don't know.

    When I say I know something, I know it. No need to apologize but you might want to be careful in telling others what they do or don't know.

    @BYU Joe: I'm not sure you know what the definition of Zion actually is. You might want to do some homework and understand that Zion can be anywhere. As for the rest of your diatribe, it's actually people like you who project your bias on those who live in Utah and make claims that people in Utah never make.

    Utah definitely has it's own LDS culture and it is by ward, stake and city in the state. But so does California, Idaho, AZ and every other place that has members. I think you have some self-reflection to do before you insult an entire state again.

  • Spider Rico Greeley, CO
    Aug. 23, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    I couldn't have put it better Jack

  • Jack Aurora, CO
    Aug. 22, 2013 9:38 p.m.

    Your comment only illustrates what was recently posted. There are misunderstandings as to what a core doctrine is and what isn't. You apparently misunderstand the concept of obedience to commandments, of which the Word of Wisdom is one. Obedience is required to enter the temple, and those who cannot obey cannot stand the requirements and covenants of the temple. Temple ceremonies have changed, that is true, but the changes do not involve changing the ordinances, only the manner and time of delivery. If I remember correctly, you have made it clear that you are not a member, so it really shouldn't matter to you if that is the case. It all boils down to this: if this is the Lord's Church, then you aren't going to change it. If it isn't, what is done or taught doesn't matter. Elder Hallstrom said it best when he separated the testimony of the Gospel, and the testimony of the Church. We attend church to strengthen our testimony of the Gospel.

    Aug. 22, 2013 7:28 p.m.

    For those that miss understood my comment about the "Mission Field" - I was not calling it that - I was point in out that people in Utah often call every place not in Utah the "Mission Field" - Which I find goofy.

    I was pointing out that too often people in the Great State of Utah think that it is Zion. I love the state and hate the idea that people come there because they like it and then immediately want to change it - but it is not zion and not all things done in UT translate beyond its borders. Hence the idea of regional or cultural difference.

  • EricC Sacramento, CA
    Aug. 22, 2013 6:53 p.m.

    I like Jerry Johnston's columns a lot. I thought this was a good one, but I would be interested in perhaps a future article could go a little deeper into this subject with a few more examples. I've personally never heard anything about sandals not being appropriate foot wear in church. At any rate, I appreciated this article and would like to know more in a future article.

  • Silverprospector SAN ANTONIO, TX
    Aug. 22, 2013 5:57 p.m.


    That you KNOW the church is true is still only your opinion. It only means it is true in your mind, not actually factually true. Remember, fact Vs. opinion.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 22, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    Spider Rico

    If the word of wisdom isn't a core doctrine then it shouldn't be required to enter the temple. And if the temple ceremonies have changed, but the doctrine around them haven't changed then why did they change them? It seems to me if Joseph Smith wrote them down just as god revealed them to him then there would be no reason to change them. Doesn't add up.

  • @Charles not from utah, 00
    Aug. 22, 2013 5:08 p.m.

    It's crystal clear that many people don't understand the difference between policy, opinion, and doctrine.

    White shirts are not and have never been doctrine. There is logic and commonsense to asking them to wear white shirts.

    Pantyhose wearing is not doctrine. Never has been, never will be. It's some misguided soul thinking he has received revelation on the matter when he hasn't.
    Facial hair is not doctrine. Never has been, never will be. Same as above.

    I find it interesting that LDS folks don't really know the differences. Those who have left the church and those who aren't members won't understand them.

    Keeping the commandments, prayer, tithing, the Resurrection, the Atonement are all core doctrines. Just as the New Testament supplanted the Old Testament so new revelation supplants older revelations.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth. That's what I refer to when I say the church is true.

    California is NOT the "mission field" and is just a quirky as any other place. Good try though!

    I KNOW it! I LOVE it! I LIVE it! Everyone should!

  • Spider Rico Greeley, CO
    Aug. 22, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    This back and forth about the pantyhose is exactly what this article is about. Sometimes local leaders can go a little far in their ideas about what is appropriate by recommending things beyond what the Church asks. Whether someone chooses to adhere to those and whether that means they are or are not sustaining their local leaders should be a personal matter between them and God. We should not judge this person if we feel the leader is correct/incorrect.
    As for bedrock principles - the word of wisdom is not an eternal principle but is "sent greeting; not by commandmen...Given for a principle with promise adapted to the capacity of the weak..." It is proclaimed in the very scripture itself that it is adaptable.
    The Temple ceremonies have changed over the years but the changes within have not affected the bedrock principles of the Church.

  • Danite Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2013 4:47 p.m.


    Assuming you are asking answer your question, no the word of wisdom is in no way a core doctrine. Parts of the temple ceremony are absolutely doctrine and other parts are cosmetic to encapsulate the core doctrines that are present. In many ways there are very few "doctrines": these would include the atonement, the priesthood, the plan of salvation... They don't change. Principles attached to core doctrines are universally applicable and therefore from time to time adapted for greater application. The word of wisdom and parts if the temple ceremony would fall under this later category.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 22, 2013 4:16 p.m.

    Can anybody answer if the word of wisdom is a core doctrine? If so why has it changed since the time it was revealed? What about the temple ceremony? it has changed too. Please clarify.

  • Filo Doughboy Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 22, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    No, Craig Clark. Not even close to the former zealot Saul,/Shaul, the "unsaved" non-spiritually-birthed "Pharisee of Pharisees", tribe of Benjamin executioner. That Torah/law self-appointed Taliban mercenary was tracking infidels, if you will, into Syria. And that aspect of his dogma was not scriptural; it was man-made tradition. As Jesus often said, "You have heard, but it is written..."

    That Paul had a radical encounter with the risen Jesus Christ. "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the High Priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1-2)

    You really need to read all his letters to see his total transformation. But a caveat is in order:

    Beware reading God's Word, lest you are touched by His Spirit and powerfully transformed into one of His followers. That is what happened to many of us who were bent on defending our beliefs and took that dangerous foray into the Word of God, "living and powerful..."

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 22, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    I took it upon myself to do an internet search.

    From Meridian Magazine, "The Proclamation on the Pantyhose" 8/31/2011:
    "I recently met a lady from the mainland when we were both doing presentations at BYU-Hawaii. Talk turned to life in the islands, and she asked me how I enjoyed living in paradise. Among other things, I mentioned that one of the first things I had done when I moved here was ditch all my pantyhose, a welcome change. In response she told me that in her stake in Utah the stake president had made a request that all sisters from then on wear pantyhose to their Sunday meetings. I asked her how that dictum had been accepted."

    "most likely did not happen"

    Because you weren't there to witness it?

    I understand you are incredulous. Hard to believe. The person who told me said she was told it by a friend who lived in the stake where it happened. She told me how her friend came to the decision of whether to conform or resist the policy.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 22, 2013 12:54 p.m.

    Filo Doughboy,

    “....Biblical followers are called to defend God's pure Word, in gentleness and love (Peter, Timothy, Jude). That is not an attack or bash, but a reasoned defense per the Apostle Paul."

    Is that the same Paul who after seeing the light on the road to Damascus took the fury he once heaped on followers of Jesus and redirected it against Jewish law? It seems the need to bash was the one thing about Paul that went unaltered by his great epiphany. Mormons and fundamentalists seem to share a mutual selectivity in interpreting Paul. Some might even call that common ground.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    Aug. 22, 2013 12:53 p.m.

    @ Truthseeker - SLO, CA - re:DanMaloy "The person who told me is a very well respected leader in our Stake. I'm sure there's a lot more "interesting" stories out there. Believe it or not, LDS leaders can come in all shapes/sizes with varying degrees of judgement just like the real world."

    Have you ever heard of the 'telephone game'?

    You stand in a circle and one person whispers something into the person's ear next to them. That person in turns whispers what they THINK they heard into the next person's ear and so on around the circle until the last person says out loud to the group what they heard from the second to last person.

    Invariably, what the last person says out loud to the group makes the first person bust out laughing.


    Because what the first person ACTUALLY said to the second person was NOTHING at all like what got passed to the last person.

    Get my point?

    Again, I say what was (supposedly) said about open toed shoes and pantyhose most likely did NOT happen at all or was greatly misunderstood.

    Possible? Sure.

    Plausible? Hardly.

  • GeoMan SALEM, OR
    Aug. 22, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    LDS Liberal,
    I'm throwing in the towel after two pages of comments, so I don't know if someone has already addressed your "concern." Just because something isn't against the Word of Wisdom doesn't mean that it isn't reasonable to want to avoid it (i.e. added caffeine) as part of an everyday beverage. FYI, Barq's Root Beer is available with and without caffeine. There is so much sugar and flavoring in soda pop that the caffeine does nothing with respect to the flavor of any of these beverages. That is why several brands of root beer and orange pop are produced both ways, without any label difference beyond the fine-print list of ingredients.
    Try not to be quite so smug. It tends to give liberals a bad name.

  • Filo Doughboy Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 22, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    Fred in Okla City, c'mon out to 'Oklahoma West' and we'll answer your questions. You might wanna 'peer into a hat' though; your crystal ball has too many bodies in one person. Very similar to JS's misunderstanding that modalism is the definition of the Biblical Triune God, 'all stuffed into one large person'...

    Families share computers, not screen names; evangelical Protestants share Gospel doctrines, not their traditions; Born-Again believers share the new spiritual birth, but not necessarily the same ecclesia. Visit any Bible Belt preacher who honors a literal, innerant Word of God for verification.

    FYI: The Pentateuch (Latin, Five Books) is the Torah (Heb, Law: Genesis-Deuteronomy).
    The New reveals the Old Testament fulfilled. Choose either to examine, but only both together will be God's complete Word.
    And all NT books point to Christ and His Bride. That is the millenia-long bedrock of Biblical Christianity.

    A hard sell, but Biblical followers are called to defend God's pure Word, in gentleness and love (Peter, Timothy, Jude). That is not an attack or bash, but a reasoned defense per the Apostle Paul.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Aug. 22, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    Ah, "cultural mormonism".

    Having lived outside of Utah for all but one of my 52 years, I indeed have seen that "Happy Valley Mormonism" is a culture, one that has been exported, to varying degrees.

    Here in Dallas, we have an eclectic LDS mix - Texas native 1st and 2nd-generation converts, Utah LDS transplants and non-Utah LDS transplants. So we see various LDS cultures.

    Is it forbidden to let a service technician in the home if the Dad is not present?
    Do you HAVE to have 8 pass the sacrament if there are only 100 in attendance in August because 1/2 the congregation are on their annual pilgrimage to (mecca) "Zion"?
    Does the Bishopric HAVE to keep their suits on in church when it's 105 degrees outside and the AC fails?

    Luckily we have an accepting, loving ward with a variety of cultures, races, backgrounds.

    I was once asked to speak to the 11-yr-old boys at a Priesthood Preview. I thought the Bishop's head would explode when I started out, "Do you have to wear a white shirt? NO."
    But I diffused with, "Now let me tell you why you might WANT to"....

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Aug. 22, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    Living in absolutes leads to the dark side - Obi One; Jedi Master

    The Book of Mormon warns of those that have "stiff-necks". We should look at things from many points of views with a neck that can turn.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Aug. 22, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    @The Scientist "When the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency say that, then maybe it can be taken as truth?"

    I believe in line upon line and precept upon precept. Hearing truth is not the same as understanding truth. Things that are taught are interpreted prematurely or without complete understanding all the time. Just like science.

    Aug. 21, 2013 9:59 p.m.

    Building a solid testimony on true and trustworthy doctrine of the Church is a worthy and necessary goal for every member. Thankfully, we can receive conviction with the help of the Holy Ghost, but that will require study and seeking for your lifetime. You will always be increasing doctrinal surety if you read the standard works, listen to conference, and work to align your life to that of Jesus Christ. I consider such effort to be the most important thing to do to show your sincerity before God. The doctrine is for everyone in the world who desires to believe. Joseph set the pattern with turning to prayer with earnest seeking. As you do these things you can develop judgement as to what is merely custom or passing fashion. Jerry was not attempting to say all there is to say, but giving you something to prompt your own inquiry in this important endeavor. We are never alone when we seek our Father's desire in our life!

  • Deliriousdd Benicia, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:27 p.m.

    I would have to disagree with your seminary teacher friend. I have had many religious discussions lately those not of our faith. Those discussions have reminded me just how many "core" doctrines there are in the gospel. Just try answering some of their questions without teaching some of those " core" doctrines.

    But my biggest concern is that too many people in the church today believe that the gospel is more flexible than it really is. The trend is to adopt worldly thought and beliefs. While wearing flip flops to church might not cause someone to stray from the path, jumping on the "politically correct" band wagon might. There needs to be a distinction between non-doctrinal topics, such as what kind of shoes we should wear, and core doctrine confusion such as the trend to push for women to be given the priesthood.

    But even though teachings such as having only one ear piercing may not seem like core doctrine, we show our level of obedience and faith by how we react to such counsel when it is given. Is your purpose to encourage people to ignore these kinds of council?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:00 p.m.


    The person who told me is a very well respected leader in our Stake.

    I'm sure there's a lot more "interesting" stories out there.

    Believe it or not, LDS leaders can come in all shapes/sizes with varying degrees of judgement just like the real world.

  • Timj South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:25 p.m.

    A good friend, an active member of his singles ward, was told by his stake president to shave his beard. Given that, I wouldn't be surprised by a stake president who gave instructions about panty hose and open-toed shoes. Being a stake president doesn't mean you can't say stupid things or believe--and pass on--stupid beliefs. They're just people, after all.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    Aug. 21, 2013 5:52 p.m.

    @ Truthseeker - SLO, CA - "An acquaintance told me recently about a Stake Pres. who admonished the women in the Stake for wearing "open-toed" shoes and not wearying pantyhose."

    I doubt VERY much that this is true.

    Come on, this isn't 1922.

    Is it 'possible'?


    Is it 'plausible'?


    Once again, an UNsubstantiated rumor that makes LDS leaders look like fools.

  • Brother Benjamin Franklin Orem, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    I am not going to be taken in by the well meaning but incorrect claims posted here by people affiliated with the Church.

    They need to listen carefully to people from outside the faith.

  • Danite Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 4:52 p.m.


    With all due respect brother, you are misinterpreting that passage. Yes woman were apostles in the sense of the requirements found in Acts (in fact Mary Magdalen would have been the 1st apostle) but they did not fill the position of one of the 12 called with Priesthood authority. As one studies the New Testament, it becomes clear that woman had a large role in the church but never do we see them in hierarchical, ecclesiastical roles.

  • Danite Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 4:38 p.m.

    @BYU Joe,

    You're right, you don't live in Zion so I guess I'll take your advice and ignore your post.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 21, 2013 3:58 p.m.


    "Many Mormons, I suspect, feel a bit shaken when something they’ve held as irrefutable is suddenly adjusted by the powers that be.

    Adjusted by the powers that be is a perfect description.

    The powers that be certainly professed many things that future powers that be looked back and called it the opinion of a fallible man.

    The LDS are prolific note takers. They record everything. Past leaders made countless statements that were certainly meant to be accepted as "truth".

    And as hindsight is 20/20, and as our scientific knowledge grows, or as societal norms change, adjustments to truth were required."

    What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (D&C 1:38)

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    Aug. 21, 2013 3:27 p.m.

    The person from Bakersfield, CA (with multiple screen names) said:

    "It's your heritage, your religion. Own it and go with the flow. I did for 40 years, until I was challenged to compare my shifting foundation to the solid Biblical one."

    Which "solid Biblical one" did you compare it to?

    The Pentatuch?
    The Torah?
    The Complete Old Testament?
    The New Testament?
    The individual books of the New Testment before they were put together as the New Testament?
    The Complete Old and New Testament? (Hebrew or Greek?)
    The King James Version?
    The New English Translation?
    Etc, etc, etc.

    And was that comparison done with a Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. understanding?

    Because depending upon which you used, would determine the understanding you received. Is it your opinion that with all these versions and interpretations of the Bible your current religious belief is still a "solid Biblical one"?

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Aug. 21, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    What I get from this is that their are cultural and regional aspects which come in to play. We all live according to the same commandments and covenants.

    Even some missionaries in Polynesia are directed to dress more like the natives. People have different holidays which they celebrate; and as long as alcohol or immorality isn't involved, there is no problem.

    The religious leaders in the Savior's time tried to pin everyone down to an exact specification of even how many steps a person could walk. Such rules had nothing to do with doctrine and yet, we are all inclined to, in addition to learning line by line -- adding line upon line of rules and regulations with the excuse that they are preventing mis deeds. "I teach correct principals and let them govern themselves" was Joseph Smith's explanation of why most Mormon settlements seemed to run so smoothly.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 21, 2013 3:12 p.m.


    "....The word of wisdom has changed, so is that not a "bedrock" doctrine? So has polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, and many others. So that leaves us with what as actual "bedrock" doctrine?"

    I cite two essential components that define Mormonism and distinguish it from the rest of Christianity. First is its conviction that it is the restored church and restored gospel of Jesus. Second is its belief in the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. If you can’t accept some form of both of those claims, there’s not much point in being a Mormon other than honoring tradition or family legacy.

    The changes in church practices that have occurred may affect Church doctrine over time. Mormonism is what we these days call a work in progress.

  • Samson01 S. Jordan, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    What is meant when we say the church is true?

    That really is an interesting question.

    There are many things I hold as truth:

    -My reliance and faith in Jesus Christ as my only pathway back to the Father.

    -Covenants are a necessary part of my eternal salvation.

    -The Priesthood is a necessary component to the covenant making process with God.

    -The priesthood is rightfully held and exercised within the LDS church today.

    -That the Lord guides the LDS church through this priesthood organization.

    So... When I say that I know the church is true, It is based on those beliefs.

    Do I hold the church up as flawless? Do I wait with baited breath to jump through every hoop a Bishop or Stake President or any other leader chooses to throw at me? No.

    I have had to learn to be forgiven of my own shortcomings. I have come to expect this.


    I also had to learn to forgive leaders and the very church itself for their shortcomings.

    It has been liberating. I feel that my involvement with the church has facilitated a wonderful spiritual journey that has been very fulfilling!

  • moniker lewinsky Taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    May it please the moderators:

    I understand that there is a difference between bedrock principles and cultural norms. But it seems to this apostate that it has become a bit too easy to chalk any and all mistakes, lies, and inconsistencies up to misunderstanding on part of the membership.

  • Pavalova Surfers Paradise, AU
    Aug. 21, 2013 2:51 p.m.

    Some great comments here. It's interesting that some of the "Utah cultural" issues make their way out. For example in WA the young men in the ward have to wear a suit to officiate in the sacrament service. I was just in UT for my sons farewell and did not see that take place.

    The color of the shirt, or the wearing of a suit does not determine the faithfulness of the young man, nor does it take away the spirit of the ordinance. Just my thought anyway.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    What about the chain e-mails that get passed around wards and end up in talks? Does anybody think to fact-check them before repeating or forward them? Most of the time they are entirely or substantially false. It takes 2 seconds to fact-check using snopes.

    Among the things my kids have been taught by teachers in seminary or other church classes:

    "Great calamities will befall CA if Prop 8 doesn't pass." (oh, really? now you are a prophetess? thanks for injecting anxiety over something my child has no control over)

    "There are no missionaries serving in San Francisco."

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 21, 2013 2:07 p.m.


    You say that the scriptures and the modern-day prophets words are the bedrock, but what if modern day prophets words contradict previous prophets words in the scriptures??? The contradictions do exist.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    With so much confusion over what is foundational, absolute "truth" and what is not, it makes me wonder to what are Mormons referring when they say "I know the Church is true"?

    What exactly is the Holy Ghost "witnessing" about being "true"?

    I guess the professional Public Relations firm the Church hired can come out with an official statement on that matter?

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:46 p.m.

    So what are those few "bedrock" doctrines that can't change? And why then have the bretheren not clarified this? The word of wisdom has changed, so is that not a "bedrock" doctrine? So has polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, and many others. So that leaves us with what as actual "bedrock" doctrine?

    The seagulls story is nice, but so are the three nephite tales, cain as bigfoot tales, john the revelator tales, and other tales of mormon folklore. Most likely they aren't true but are just that - folklore. I would caution anybody who even partially bases their testimony on these flimsy stories - they aren't true.

  • nosaerfoecioveht NSL, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    I appreciate what's been said about political affiliation.

    As a conservative Mormon from Utah, one of the best and smartest people I know holds liberal political views. He is currently serving as a mission president.

    While I disagree with him politically, I believe his heart is in the right place and I certainly don't think God loves him any less because he views are different from mine.

    I think there is room for more understanding and love from both sides of the isle in politics, especially among members of the church.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:35 p.m.

    Having just returned from an adult institute class here in town, I can say that the scriptures and the words of modern-day prophets ARE the bedrock of the Church.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    An acquaintance told me recently about a Stake Pres. who admonished the women in the Stake for wearing "open-toed" shoes and not wearying pantyhose.

    The acquaintance's response was "we will be asked to do even harder things in the last days."

    Power corrupts.
    All I can say is, power can have a corrupting influence, no matter what level one is in the church.

    What I would like to know is, when a leader makes bad judgement calls what recourse is there? There seems to be a "glass ceiling" whereby the average church member has no power. The Church appears to be "top-down" and zero "bottom-up."

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    Are we heading in the direction of an Orthodox vs. Reformed LDS Church?
    It was quite liberating for me when the Brethren retracted the concept that the Family Proclamation is revelation.
    Then Elder Christofferson narrowed the definition of revelation (using an example from J Reuben Clark that was apocryphal from HIS father about something Brigham Young might have said) to rare pronouncements by the Prophet.
    Such adjustments by the Brethren make rationalization that much easier.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    It is interesting how some former members who have left the Church are still railing against it. I have never heard or seen people of other faiths who become Latter-Day Saints demean their past religious affiliation, They live their new lives with joy and with no animosity to the past

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    How do you know someone is a mormon? When you move into a neighborhood they'll bring you cookies, if you don't agree to go to church with them they never speak to you again.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:42 p.m.

    I think it is terribly sad that so MANY commentors on virtually every Deseret News article about the LDS church turn it into a "bash the Mormons" event.

    One poster above claims that no Latter-day Saint understands what Mormonism is.

    What a shame, because the claim is so patently false.

    'Mormonism' is Christianity lived to the fullest. It is all Christian-based truth that has been revealed to mankind thus far.

    It is 'love your neighbor' and 'turn the other cheek'.

    It is 'be patient' and 'serve your fellow man'.

    It is 'family'. It is 'believe in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ'.

    It is knowing that God requires obedience but yet understanding that obedience alone will not save anyone from physical death or spiritual sorrow. It is knowing that ONLY Jesus Christ can, and will, do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

    I have a friend who left the LDS faith because he claimed Mormons do not "teach the Jesus of the Bible".


    His problem is that he's been inactive for over 20+ years and has forgotten virtually everthing we believe and will no longer read the Book of Mormon to see for himself.

  • RGinSG Saint George, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post/article. I could add all sorts of examples, but won't. Well, maybe one thought... ascribing doctrine to political ideologies is dangerous and ultimately divisive, especially among members of the church.

    Suffice it to say that we all need to sort out what's doctrine and what's cultural tradition. Then be ready to be surprised when the prophet speaks.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:26 p.m.

    @ no fit in SG - St.George, Utah - "Some of our very good Utah friends have recently found a non-denominational church. They excitedly shared their fervor for this, as they explained some specifics to us. Their "clergy are so loving and accepting".They explained that there are "no rules for how they must dress when they attend the services".
    "All people are welcome, no matter their race, economic status, lifestyle". "The message is very basic explaining what Jesus asked his followers to do with their lives".
    We were told it is a place they "so look forward to attending each Sunday". "No one judges us. They just love us, no matter what!""

    Sounds to me like just about every LDS ward I've ever visited in my entire life. Wards in Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, South Korea, England, and, yes, even Utah. Yes, Utah!

    LDS members are human, and as such, they are imperfect. Many, MANY anti-LDS posters want to talk incessantly about 'bad' Mormons. To them, you'd think we are all nothing but selfish, pushy idiots.

    Believe what you want.

    I know better.

  • Maureen Fepuleai New Zealand, 00
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    Love love love this article! Thank you for writing and sharing it! I live in New Zealand and I am Samoan so I completely understand what you saying, especially about sandals/Jandals lol. It got me thinking about a lot of other "church traditions" that as a Young'un, I had grown up believing to be doctrine and absolute. I'm an adult now and I know better. It is an interesting journey to teach others, especially those of our brothers and sisters from more indigenous cultures, the difference as well. Thank you for writing this, it was an entertaining start to my day! I'm teaching in RS this first Sunday coming up - I think I've just found a direction for my lesson to go in :-)

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:23 p.m.

    BYU Joe says "And yes I am a California Mormon so I am guessing that since I don't actually live in 'Zion' but in the 'mission field' you can ignore my post.'

    Why the needlessly defensive conclusion? Up until that point I was right with you. Did the popular Utah Mormons pick on you while you were at BYU?

    As a Utah Mormon married to a Missouri Mormon, I kinda sorta get where you're coming from, but it's nonsense. My wife has always had this thing with "Utah Mormons" thinking they're extra-special, more righteous, etc. Thing is, I remember being on my mission in Texas and thinking how the California Mormons frequently seemed keen to "out-cool" us Utah Mormons. It was probably not really true, same as your implication that Utah Mormons believe they're somehow better than "mission field" Mormons.

    But you have to admit, release time for seminary is a nice bonus for living in Utah. No 5AM alarms for this guy, unlike my poor non-Zion resident kids.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:22 p.m.

    I have a better title for this. Many LDS just go with the flow, and are often shocked to learn the truth contained in the scriptures is not the same as the "faith promoting rumors" that often get around.

    To "LDS Liberal" oh the irony. I thought liberals loved everybody and accepted everybody. Why do you "loathe the cultural Utah Mormons"? That doesn't seem very Christlike.

    As for you caffine complaint. You and others who are love it so should think beyond the recreational use of caffiene. There are people who have serious caffiene addiction problems. Addiction to chemical substances goes against LDS teachings. You should read "The Energy Drink Epidemic" in the Ensign.

  • Spider Rico Greeley, CO
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    Out-of-Utah Mormon here - attended BYU, didn't notice a difference between Utah Mormons and other Mormons. Except the California Mormons that always said everyithing they hated in life was because of the Utah Mormons. So I'd say it's more a California Mormon problem than a Utah Mormon problem.
    @ Everyone else - The best thing you can do is hold true to you and your testimony and ignore everyone else. If someone thinks you shouldn't wear pants why does it bother you? Is is shaking your testimony? Did someone actually say something to you or are you just worried about it yourself? Simmer people.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    Go Utes,

    "....My stake presidency apparently believes that the presence of facial hair is an absolute blockage to having the spirit...."

    A stake president is an ordinary person whose disposition for nitpicking can reflect his own prejudice. But in an authority-centered Church that admonishes members to “follow the brethren”, show humility, and learn obedience, such situations breed personal resentment that simmers and sometimes erupts in conflict. It can lead to local Church authority taking disciplinary action, not so much for having facial hair but for not respecting Priesthood authority. Hearts are broken but it’s the ‘offending’ member who must then show repentance, after which "an increase in love" can be shown to him.

    Disciplinary actions for disobedience go back to the days of Joseph Smith who had no tolerance for challenges to his authority, and yes, the conflicts often were personal in nature. The LDS Church is still growing up. As long as it treats its members like children, it will have difficulty in becoming a religion for adults.

  • flatlander Omaha, NE
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:07 p.m.

    I think that many of the writers must live in wards or stakes that are upper income and have time to worry about some of these spiritual issues like sandals, denim, nylons, white shirts etc. our wards and stakes are large in territory and have section 8 housing, food stamps, goodwill vouchers, no fathers and or mothers in the home, mental health group homes etc so were are happily at the level of clean clothes whether denim or not, whether white or not, whether closed toes or not.

    I understand the article and due to my old age I have seen many "doctrines" turn out to be cultural beliefs but I would need more words than allowed to detail them.

  • Semper Fi Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:05 p.m.

    Thanks for the article. We have a large and active former-LDS population in our churches here. We actively witness and proselytise to our Mormon friends and neighbors. We give each other the heads up on LDS current events and articles that are helpful in teaching other evangelicals to understand current Church teachings. We reach out to them, as they reach out to us and our families in sharing our faith.

    Although this article was not deep or substantive, it reveals the essence of modern Mormon thought. Nobody really knows what is true and full Mormonism, unless they are up on all GConference talks and most recent updates. It is confusing for the non-LDS, but formers understand the 'modern prophet-leads us' concept. Catholics and Greek Orthodox can fathom it, but Sola Scriptura Protestants cannot get over the changes and reversals. It is too fluid for them, but once they "get it", they start watching GC and reading articles.

    We give out as many Books of Mormon as our LDS neighbors, but that does not answer the doctrinal changes. Please have more articles in the future.

  • Wookie Omaha, NE
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    Bedrock denotes foundation. The leaders of the Church have been clear on truths vs untruths. Just follow the the teaching of the Prophet, God and His Son and everything else will sort itself out.


  • costanza1980 Idaho Falls, ID
    Aug. 21, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    I agree that he really doesn't say much here. I do agree, however, that there are a lot of the church "doctrines" or "principles" that are really just traditions.. I would've liked a few more examples.

  • Semper Fi Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 11:43 a.m.

    The most difficult thing for a seminary teacher is which "truth" to teach. The historic, founding bedrock principles- or the current, revised/reversed bedrocks.

    The second most difficult subject is which version of history to present:
    * The persecuted saints and new leader- or the illegal destruction of a printing press.
    * The 'Piutes did it' and the Iron County Militia backed 'em up- or John D., Col. Dane, and Bishop Klingensmith got over-zealous from all those firey SLC Tab sermons.

    Yup, it's a tough calling. I only subbed for a few weeks for a pregnant friend, but could never adequately answer a pesky student about how many wives JS lived with. He had taken friends to the Visitor's Center short bio of the Prophet and his signature legislation of D&C 132 never came up in the video. Started me researching...

    That was several revelations ago. Man-made can be man-changed. Embrace your beliefs.

  • UU32 Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    patriot - the "service you render" is extremely important. In order to be like our Savior, we need to love our neighbor as our self. In order to Love, you need to serve.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 11:25 a.m.

    there is really only ONE bedrock principle that church members need concern themselves with and that is a persoanl testamony and spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. If you do one thing in your life ...and one thing only...then becoming a true deciple of Jesus Christ would be it. Everything else pales in comparison. It doesn't matter the clothes you ware or callings you hold or the even the service you render. What matters most is your relationship with Christ. If you are a deciple of Jesus Christ then all the atttributes of Moroni 7 regarding charity will follow and as Paul taught unless you have charity you are nothing.

  • Go Utes Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    Had to chime in here about a gripe I have along these lines. My stake presidency apparently believes that the presence of facial hair is an absolute blockage to having the spirit. For any stake callings, they have asked each brother that has been wearing a beard, etc. to shave it as a pre-condition for accepting the calling. They acknowledge that this is not a Handbook thing, but they want everyone to "emulate the Brethren." This is a prime example of their cultural/world view gone crazy. I have never had facial hair (other than after a few days of camping before I come home), so I am not bothered by this for personal reasons. I just think the stake presidency is way out of line on this. If someone is worthy to hold the calling, proceed. Equating the presence/lack of facial hair with spiritual strength or weakness is very misguided. Why can't we just get to the basics in church and stop with this (and other similar) insanity?

  • Tzadikim Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    It's your heritage, your religion. Own it and go with the flow. I did for 40 years, until I was challenged to compare my shifting foundation to the solid Biblical one.

    I will say that my grandparents' generation had a more solid commitment to their leaders than current members with whom I speak. They were, however, quite upset about the reversal of The Principal, their surety to the celestial kingdom via the bedrock of plural/celestial marriage. But since no prophetic discourse dealt with the effects of the 1890 reversal, they chalked it up to a very testing God, (who also liked to test Abraham in the desert with human sacrifice.)

    When I became a born-again believer, my sweet grandmother sent me articles and testimonies of "the One True Church". She curiously never answered all my questions about the changes to the BoM, the temple endowment, the priesthood proscription, JS' Biblical rewrites, the revelation reversals, etc.

    The title of the article answers its own question. The only bedrock is your current prophet. Mormonism 101.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    "Not long ago, I heard a Brigham Young University professor say that he felt members of the church would be surprised at how few 'bedrock, unchangeable absolutes' there really are in the church. A great many teachings, he said, are adjustable. And those teachings change to help the church mold itself to new eras and new groups."


    For some reason, passages about "line upon line" and milk vs. meat come to mind.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    It’s human nature to seek corroboration for one’s personal views in the belief system he or she was brought up in. So why should it be surprising that there are big differences between what any given Church teaches and what its individual members think it teaches?

  • Tzadikim Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    Okay, okay. Wake up and smell the decaf. There is no bedrock, which becomes no-rock whenever the current prophet deems it so. Why I railed on the Pope to my Catholic friends (from '51-86') is now an embarrassment. They were right all along: We have a man/prophet/leader-centered church also.

    Journal of Discourses: Historical.
    The First Vision: Which version?
    Prison time for polygamists: Still living with those affects in my family today.
    Temple rituals: Which era?
    Book of Mormon most correct book: Which edition?
    "No black man will ever hold the priesthood", BY: Which century?
    John D. Lee: Adopted son, personal friend of BY, until 1877...

    Let BYU Joe write an article for DN. It will be more substantive.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:29 a.m.

    Some of our very good Utah friends have recently found a non-denominational church.
    They excitedly shared their fervor for this, as they explained some specifics to us.
    Their "clergy are so loving and accepting".They explained that there are "no rules for how they must dress when they attend the services".
    "All people are welcome, no matter their race, economic status, lifestyle". "The message is very basic explaining what Jesus asked his followers to do with their lives".
    We were told it is a place they "so look forward to attending each Sunday". "No one judges us. They just love us, no matter what!"

    Aug. 21, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    Yes, I too was looking for those examples of what are regional preferences and was a little disappointed when the article ended without them. But, upon a little reflection I can see that the point of the article was not to tell us, but to invite us to discover what our own personal preferences might be. The scriptures and the general handbook of instructions are the places to find the bedrock (book 2 of the general handbook is available on line). If it cannot be found in there then it is probably a personal or regional preference.
    I have spent time with several general authorities and I can tell you that they, like the rest of us, have personal preferences, however, they will also be the first to tell you that what they are about to suggest is a personal preference.
    I was outside the Newport Beach temple and was a little stunned to see a brother wearing a suru (looks like a skirt) as he went into the temple, I got over it when I recognized that this was probably entirely appropriate in his native land.

  • DaveKnowsWhatsUp Bloomington, IN
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:20 a.m.

    Adalaide, my convert wife wears pants to church whenever she feels like it, and it's perfectly fine. She looks nice and respectful. I couldn't care less if she is in a skirt or pants, she is there, and that is what should matter.

  • DaveKnowsWhatsUp Bloomington, IN
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    BYU Joe, very well said...your level of understanding can only come from having experienced many of these judgements. Having grown up in "Zion" I know what you're talking about, unfortunately it took me years to actually learn it.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    Some people know all the words of a song but never get the passion or the emotion of it.

  • Adalaide OREM, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    You'll find if you read the label that the Barq's root beer sold at BYU (and in much of the area) is caffeine free. The first time I bought one for the purpose of a pick-me-up and found out it had no caffeine I felt robbed.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    I think there are a few cultural quirks that come out where there are a lot of mormons that would not exist elsewhere.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    I was at BYU re-education this week.

    Even with the recent posting on the LDS church website

    'On Wednesday (Aug. 29, 2012), "the church does not prohibit the use of caffeine” and that the faith’s health-code reference to “hot drinks” “does not go beyond (tea and coffee).”

    I STILL only found "de-caffeinated" Coke and Diet Coke in the Cougar Café.

    [I LOL even harder to find Barq's Root Beer being sold there, which DOES have caffeine in it.]

    BTW - the same rules apply to even something as serious as abortion.

    The Church is politically "neutral" about it.
    But encourages it's members against.
    And is not even 100% against it, even allowing FOR it under certain circumstances.

    Cultural YES.
    Doctrinal, absolutely NOT.

  • socorny Canyon Country, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    How do you know if someone is an atheist? Don't worry, they'll tell you.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    @BYU Joe

    "And yes I am a California Mormon so I am guessing that since I don't actually live in "Zion" but in the "mission field" you can ignore my post."

    Well, this life-long Utah Mormon agrees with the list that you included. I had forgotten many of them.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    Great article,
    I couldn't agree more.

    I LOVE the LDS Church!

    [I loathe the cultural Utah Mormons.]

  • Tad TOOELE, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    @bribri86 LDS mythology holds that Joseph Smith re-translated the Bible to re-insert those things that were removed. He missed a couple or insertions and obfuscations. 1 Corr 14: 34-35 (Women should not speak in church) appears to have been added after the fact from a marginal note, not the words of Paul. Romans 16:7 ("Salute Andronicus and Junius, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.") Junius is much more likely to be correctly translated as Junia, likely a female Apostle. In this case, the anti-female bias was just preserved by the church's leaders. Female Bishops and Elders Quorum Presidents - Why not, there was once a female Apostle.

  • Deanvrtc Vancouver, WA
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:19 a.m.

    Regional leadership of the church are often left to decide how they should best implement the "written in stone" council from the twelve and first presidency. Often, that gets "sideways". Area Seventy and stake presidents do their best, but in the end, its the "doctrine" that should be the bedrock of meetings and discussion. Spending too much time with incorrect behaviors, is like treating the symptoms of the cause.Personally,I believe its the, baptism, repentance, charity,that should be at the core of church discussion. The rest will follow and we should all NOT judge each other.

  • Observation Deck American Fork, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:19 a.m.

    I have long submitted that there is the "Doctrine" of the Church and the "Culture" of the church. And those who have a testimony of the Doctrine can move around the world and not be offended or upset that cultural differences mean the gospel principles are practiced differently. Some examples are glaringly different... for example, in Hawaii I saw young polynesian men wearing a suru... a "skirt". Wearing their cultural traditional dress didn't take away the priesthood with which they blessed the sacrament.

    Unfortuneately, we find people within the church with testimonies based on cultural items, and they get bent out of shape or question leaders who decide to make girls camp a 3 day camp instead of a 5 day camp, or heaven forbid... elminate the pinewood derby.

    Testimonies of doctine keep us on solid ground.

    Aug. 21, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    BYU Joe, you forgot no earrings for men, only one earring per ear for women, people with tattoos should be avoided. Invite the new neighbor to Relief Society then if she won't go, ignore her for the rest of her life. Don't spend money to go to a sporting event on a Sunday but it's okay for the LDS player to earn his living on Sunday.

  • Adalaide OREM, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    I suppose maybe it is because I didn't grow up LDS but there are few things I have taken as fundamental truths. One that has annoyed me is that somewhere along the line as a child or young man my husband was taught that men wear white shirts and black pants to church. That isn't a rule! I wear pants to church to cover up a medical condition that is simply awkward to be stared at for or answer questions about. Instead I find people stare at me for wearing pants as if I'm doing something wrong. As soon as someone can find me the rule about how women aren't allowed to wear pants (and I suppose while we're at it probably aren't allowed out of the kitchen either if we're making up stupid rules) I'll wear dresses again. Worrying about "rules" for what to wear to church is silly, we don't go to look at what people are wearing or to be seen. We go for the message.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    Bro. Benjamin,

    I guess it depends on what you are looking for in a church and what experience you are hoping to have. I personally like the idea that while God loves me, He wants to help me become better and lose the things that keep me from reaching my potential. If I thought He would just let me do whatever I wanted, there really wouldn't be much point for me in going to Church. There has to be something to strive towards while at the same time offering us the love and belief that we can improve.

    As for BYU Joe's list, that seems to resonate as the kind of things someone in California might obsess with but someone in Ukraine or China could care less about.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    How about love and acceptance no matter what?
    Too many kids are excluded because they aren't wearing a white shirt. Where is the logic and true religion in that sort of behavior and thinking?

  • NT SomewhereIn, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:06 a.m.


    "You can't imagine how many times I had to correct stuff my kids were told by seminary teachers."

    You have 200 words...let's hear a few

  • NT SomewhereIn, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:05 a.m.



    but let's be careful - - the discussion of rainbow jello might get divisive

  • DanB Portland, OR
    Aug. 21, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    About 10+ years ago here in Portland, Oregon, a letter was sent to Portland Stake Presidents from "one of the brethren" admonishing men to only wear white shirts to church and to have clean shaven faces.

    Our Stake President chose to read it to the Stake and instruct each Bishop to read it in Priesthood opening exercises. I was the ward mission leader and we actually had investigators there in the meeting not dressed in white shirts when it was read.

    There were some men in our ward whose spouses and children had never seen their faces without beards or mustaches. Some complied, some didn't, a few left the church over it. The stake president didn't tie "worthiness" to hold office or get temple recommend to it.

    Funny thing is, when we got a new Stake President, he had been living in a neighboring stake when this letter came out. His Stake President chose to not read it. When we asked him about the letter, he had never heard of it.

    Also, we never could get a handle on who exactly this letter came from. It was definitely not from the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve.

  • Tilka PORTLAND, OR
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    usually it is the seminary or institute teachers that preach the regional standards. You can't imagine how many times I had to correct stuff my kids were told by seminary teachers.

  • E.S Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    To the Scientist:

    Only the President of the Church has authority to say what is doctrine and what is not. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve work together to clarify principles and doctrines, but only the President of the Church can say if thats righ or not.

    Aug. 21, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Part Two...

    Every nit picky idea that a talk, prayer or blessing must be given as it was seen on TV during general conference. Table clothes for any lesson taught by a woman.

    Using the term "Great and Spacious Building" for everything that happens outside of Utah. In fact Utah itself. The idea by too many that big money equals spiritual success. A misunderstanding of the term forgiveness. The idea that we too often think that we are neither the adulterous woman at the well or the stone casters but just bystanders that are in agreement with Christ. Think again - we are both.

    Bedrock Principles:

    Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Through him we are saved. His teaching of love, compassion and kindness are essential to being happy. Those thing which lead to Christ are of God. Those things which don't are not. And No those things which lead to Christ or away from him are NOT always the same for everyone.

    And yes I am a California Mormon so I am guessing that since I don't actually live in "Zion" but in the "mission field" you can ignore my post.

  • dumprake Washington, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    And the point of this rambling is what? The implication here is that everything in the church, including its doctrine is in flux and subject to change. "regional standards?" where did that term come from? How about going a bit deeper and uncover why some members feel it's appropriate to disrespect the church, the temple, the holy places by the way they dress? and this would apply in west Africa as well as in Bountiful, Utah. It isn't about shoes, it's about modesty, and respecting sacred places.

  • CWEB Orem, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    To Brother Benjamin Franklin:

    "You say your standards are malleable and adjustable, yet you will not allow gays and lesbians any more privilege than to join in your services. That does not reflect well on your faith.

    You say this, and yet the faith demands a strict compliance to following the commands of a president. They may be helpful requests that lead to better living, but that is not my point here. My point is they are not bendable."

    You miss the point completely Bro. B. God's doctrinal laws have NEVER changed. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Gays and Lesbians can go to the temple if they act not on their preference...same as a single heterosexual has to practice restraint. God does not bend His commandments to fit your idea of right and wrong. He knows more than you, and that is why there are prophets...always have been. If the whole world became gay, how many children do you see down the road? The whole point of life/existence is to have children, gain experience, and return to live with God. You don't have to like our something else.

    Aug. 21, 2013 8:40 a.m.


    Coke. Decaffeinated Coffee. Length of Shorts. What is actually an "R" rated movie. Two Piece Bathing Suits. Missionary Farewells. Glen Beck. Being a member of the GOP. Being a law and order type vs being and ACLU type. Medical Marijuana (honest use - not an excuse). Jello. What constitutes a LDS Funeral (really you have to serve funeral potatoes?). Wearing a cross.

    Turning down a calling. Viewing someone that smokes as a bad person (no matter how good they might otherwise be.) Not becoming an Eagle Scout equals failure. If you don't work on a farm. If you don't like to be called "Brother" or "Sister." Not being active in Ward Social Activities - even if you are spiritually active and attend all other meetings.

    Being a church leaders is what counts - if you do not move up in callings you must not be as important.

    White Shirts (seriously we ask people in other countries to change formal regional dress to wear our IBM based White Shirt and Ties and then judge them if they don't).

    Part two coming...

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    Re: "I just wonder why the LDS Church has not been so malleable with regards to gay marriage, to abortion, and to other things."

    Probably because of those pesky bedrock issues of decency, sin, obeying God, and esteeming His commandments above the blather of the short-sighted mockers in the "great and spacious building."

  • bribri86 Phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    Vague examples, and no real thought put into this article. Since there are so few 'concrete' doctrines does that mean we should expect homosexuals be allowed to proudly function in the church soon? Women to hold and officiate in priesthood offices such as bishop and elders quorum president is right around the corner? Maybe all we need to do is protest and we'll see the church 'change with the times' like everyone is saying. This article is way too misleading and suggestive. DN should screen these better. We don't need additional controversy.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    Re: "Is it possible that as science continues to expand our thinking - that even "Bedrock Principles" will change?"

    Uh, no. That's what makes them bedrock principles.

  • bw00ds Tucson, AZ
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    @morpunkt "high skirt lines" Not sure what you mean by that "standard" because I have never heard of it. Can you clarify? My understanding is that high skirt lines are not OK, they must be at least knee length (or a tad longer). BTW, the white shirt standard came about from Pres. David O. McKay. He's the one who "made it up."

    Yes, I agree that the article would have served us better if there were some examples. That's why we have comments like that of "Brother Benjamin Franklin." You see, there are some points of doctrine that are mot malleable, like abortion and gay marriage. They are not malleable because they are, in fact, doctrine. We are considered to be "weird, thick, and closed-minded?" Well, how about God, then? He is not malleable with his doctrines such as "Thou shalt not murder," and "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

    I hate to break this to you members along the Wasatch Front, but did you know that Jello doesn't have to be green? Jello, being highly malleable, can be any color you like. Yes, yes, I shattering. Sorry. :)

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    Nice and timely piece- as discussion continues about activity rates and other such things it can be insightful to consider what really matters- my stake has been having the denim and electronic devices wars- in a series of letters we have been told that wearing denim and sandals to church and using electronic devices is inappropriate along with a few other things- then the inevitable judging begins- Oh look they are wearing denim- oh look they have their iPad out- yet half the kids are not in church on any given Sunday, drugs are a problem, divorce, financial failure and on and on we go but we will judge over the type of cloth you are wearing (not length or fit just type)- seems like we miss the mark but that is just one persons opinion however it does seem more acute here along the Wasatch Front than anywhere I have been

  • Brother Benjamin Franklin Orem, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:57 a.m.

    I think the comments and article are excellent. The author is clearly insightful regarding the topic and it leads me to ponder many things.

    I just wonder why the LDS Church has not been so malleable with regards to gay marriage, to abortion, and to other things.

    You say that your standards are malleable and adjustable, and yet you will not allow gays and lesbians any more privilege than to join in your services. That does not reflect well on your faith.

    You say this, and yet the faith demands a strict compliance to following the commands of a president. They may be helpful requests that lead to better living, but that is not my point here. My point is they are not bendable. That does not reflect well.

    The reason people see members of your faith are weird, thick, and closed-minded is because you are unwilling to expand your viewpoint beyond your own doctrines and anything that conforms to it.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:51 a.m.

    Is it possible that as science continues to expand our thinking - that even "Bedrock Principles" will change? From evolution to gay rights, science is "adjusting" the bedrock.

  • Reader Sandy, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:48 a.m.

    This article seemed seemed generic, pointless, and incomplete. There are a number of things members do or believe in the church that are based on tradition rather than doctrine often don't know the difference. I had hoped this article might have discussed some of these in a thoughtful way. Instead, the author just made a few light comments touching on the idea and then the article ended.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:37 a.m.

    I appreciate the focus in many congregations outside the US on core topics e.g. faith, charity, sacrifice, repentance, etc. The things that really focus on the behavioral traits that make us better, more loving people and bring us closer to God are the ones that matter most and are really timeless. I feel that often where we have larger LDS populations, we tend to lose focus on these things and detour off on the "cultural" truths mentioned here.

    I find actually in going back to old Conference talks in the last 50 years that there is not a lot of change in what the General Authorities are talking about. Missionary work is as important now as it was in the days of Pres. Kimball. Elder Ashton talked about how we should treat one another in ways that are especially relevant today (see "Bashing").

    The idea that one political view i.e. American Conservatism or Liberalism is aligned with LDS principles is another of example of a regional standard. God is not of one US political party and there are members in other lands who are surprised by the zeal of some of us in the Mountain West.

  • Soccer Coach 18 Syracuse, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    Would have been nice to see some examples of each? This article really tells us nothing.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:18 a.m.

    White shirts only?
    High skirt lines are OK, but showing even slight cleavage isn't?
    Who makes up these "standards"?

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    These thoughts are right on, and it IS difficult to separate truth from culture at times. I am grateful for living prophets who help us sort through these things and make clear the difference.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Aug. 21, 2013 6:42 a.m.

    "a Brigham Young University professor say that he felt members of the church would be surprised at how few “bedrock, unchangeable absolutes” there really are in the church"

    When the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency say that, then maybe it can be taken as truth?

    Perhaps the problem Jerry is writing about is created by a lack of clarity about who is and who is not authorized to speak the "absolute" truths of Mormonism.

    That's not a problem we atheists ever have to worry about.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 21, 2013 6:16 a.m.

    Mr. Johnston is always interesting. Always thought provoking.

    Thank you.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 21, 2013 6:02 a.m.

    "Many Mormons, I suspect, feel a bit shaken when something they’ve held as irrefutable is suddenly adjusted by the powers that be."

    "Adjusted by the powers that be" is a perfect description.

    The "powers that be" certainly professed many things that future "powers that be" looked back and called it the opinion of a fallible man.

    The LDS are prolific note takers. They record everything. Past leaders made countless statements that were certainly meant to be accepted as "truth".

    And as hindsight is 20/20, and as our scientific knowledge grows, or as societal norms change, adjustments to "truth" were required.

    And you are worried about what constitutes a sandal?