a couple of weeks ago i read some negative comments about my church. and while that is not altogether uncommon (unfortunately), it still is hard to have something that is so important to me criticized. one of the comments that really disturbed me was the notion that we blindly follow our leaders without questioning or thinking for ourselves. for days that comment bothered me (because i know it's not true) and i began a study on the topic of faith.
i follow our prophet because i have received a personal witness from the holy ghost that he has been called of god to lead us. joseph smith, who restored the church of jesus christ said, "it is the privilege of the children of god to come to god and get revelation. god is not a respecter of persons, we all have the same privilege." i have asked god and i have received an answer through his spirit. i know that president thomas s. monson is a prophet of god, that he is our modern day moses or abraham, called to lead us today. i don't pretend to understand the reason for everything we are asked to do, but that doesn't change the fact that i know god has called a prophet and i will follow him. abraham didn't understand why he was asked to sacrifice isaac (especially considering the promise god had made to him. a promise that seemed like it would be fulfilled through isaac), but he went forward with faith. it takes faith to be obedient. elder r. conrad schultz, a leader of my church said, "'faith obedience' is a matter of trust. the question is simple: do we trust our heavenly father? do we trust our prophets?"
in speaking to students at harvard law school 2 weeks ago, elder dallin h. oaks, a modern day apostle said, "some wonder how members of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints accept a modern prophet's teaching to guide their personal lives, something unusual in most religious traditions. our answer to the charge that latter-day saints follow their leaders out of "blind obedience" is this same personal revelation. we respect our leaders and presume inspiration in their leadership of the church and in their teachings. but we are all privileged and encouraged to confirm their teachings by prayerfully seeking and receiving revelatory confirmation directly from god."
elder schultz also spoke about the idea of "blind obedience":
"one of the sneaky ploys of the adversary is to have us believe that unquestioning obedience to the principles and commandments of god is blind obedience. his goal is to have us believe that we should be following our own worldly ways and selfish ambitions. this he does by persuading us that 'blindly' following the prophets and obeying the commandments is not thinking for ourselves. he teaches that it is not intelligent to do something just because we are told to do so by a living prophet or by prophets who speak to us from the scriptures. our unquestioning obedience to the lord's commandments is not blind obedience. president boyd k. packer...taught us about this: 'latter-day saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. they are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of god. ...we are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see'" (emphasis added by me!).
i know those were some long quotes, but their words were too powerful to paraphrase. i am so grateful that god loves us enough to call a prophet in our day, just as he did anciently. the world is a confusing place and i am grateful for the guidance that god provides us today through his prophet. it brings me such peace and direction and in my life. and i am grateful i don't have to just take someone else's word for it (or follow "blindly"). i know we can learn truth for ourselves from the source of all truth. i know god can teach us through his spirit because i have experienced it. and i am grateful that he continues to teach me and strengthen my faith as i seek it. i love how my faith grows and as it grows, my desire to be obedient and more christlike grows as well.
i am obedient not because i am blind. i am obedient because i can see!