Monday, July 25, 2011

The Lack of Abuse in the LDS Church - Explained

The other day one of my counselors and I somehow got on to the subject of abuse in the Catholic Church.  My counselor asked me why I thought that cases of abuse were so incredibly rare amongst leaders in the Mormon Church. After a moment of reflection I explained to him that it was because in our Church we call people into leadership positions using the Gift of Discernment.

The Gift of Discernment is one of the gifts of the Spirit and amongst my many gifts it is without question my favourite. According to lds.org this gift includes perceiving the true character of people and the source and meaning of spiritual manifestations.  Someone with this gift present cannot be deceived any more than you and I could deceive the Lord Himself. 

This was highlighted in the Liahona in this example given by a former mission president:
* “While I was a mission president in Texas, I was informed that a particular missionary had lost his testimony and wanted to go home. Some checking disclosed that doubts of the divinity of his call had been planted in the young man’s mind by an investigator. In an interview with the so-called investigator, I experienced special powers of discernment that enabled me to know that the man was a minister of another faith, posing as a college student and pretending to be an honest investigator of Mormonism. Confronted with the knowledge that had been revealed to me, he became confused and admitted his fraud. With the deceiver out of the way and the truth known, the missionary stayed and completed an honorable mission.”

This type of situation is common amongst LDS leaders especially those of us who hold the priesthood office of Bishop.

It is important to understand that as per a priesthood manual at lds.org ** “a bishop is called by inspiration of the Lord and ordained by a stake president under the direction of the First Presidency of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve. 

Can you imagine for example if someone who abused children were to be called as a bishop? This could never happen because it would mean that the stake presidency that discussed and submitted the name did not have the spirit of discernment guiding them.  Furthermore before being called to the position bishops have to be approved in writing by The First Presidency.  So for such a man to become a bishop it would mean no less than 6 righteous men (3 of whom are sustained as prophets, seers and revelator’s one being the actual prophet and president of the church) were lacking the Gift of Discernment, which, as I have mentioned, is the ability to perceive the true character of people.

I am thankful that the Lord is at the helm guiding this church and testify that the spirit of discernment is alive and well and daily guides those of us who are in positions of trust, and I leave these thoughts with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Verily President, these are wise words that many members should take heed of. Too often when a bishop, alone in a room with a 13 year old girl asks details questions about her sexual self-exploration, parents view that as a form of pedophilia or perversion. But they need to realise that he is acting with the power of discernment and he derives no sexual satisfaction from those detailed description, only sadness that the adversary has influenced one so young.

Mark Hofmann said...

Amen!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining that, President. A sister in my stake told our bishop that her husband was beating her and that she had left him in fear for her safety and the safety of her young children. The bishop must have discerned that the man was secretly repentant (regardless of never even having admitted he was committing this violence) because he instructed that sister to return to her home and reconcile with her husband. Sadly she ignored his counsel. Some people just don't understand that gift of discernment bishops are privileged to hold.

Anon said...

Thank you for explaining why my bishop gave me a calling to serve with my abusive husband. I couldn't understand why the bishop didn't discern the husband as abusive and call him to repentance, but instead placed me in a position to receive more abuse, at church and at home. Now I understand God wanted me to endure even more.

Porter said...

President, I am gratified to hear your views on this, but sadly there are many circumstances (particularly in Utah) where bishops, stake presidents and others use their positions to commit fraud on others. Many such cases in Utah are detailed on an interesting blog
called: Utahsecuritiesfraud.com


There is one article there about a guy named Dean Udy who was a Stake President and later a Regional Representative when he scammed people in his stake for about $20 million! There are other stories about scam artists who were church leaders as well.

So how do you explain this? Perhaps the general authority who called Mr. Udy to all of those positions were unworthy that day (due to personal sinful behavior) so they temporarily lacked discernment? Are you saying that general authorities never make mistakes?

I'm sorry to ask such faithless and difficult questions.

Anonymous said...

Anon, you do realize that you agreed to be beat by your husband while you were still in the spirit world. Now all you have to do is understand this is God's plan for you, and you will be rewarded if you endure to the end.

Stake Pres. said...

Thank you for your comments. Keep in mind at the time of the calling the person being called is worthy. Sometimes after being called Satan wins them over and they use their power in unrighteousness hence many are called but few are chosen.

Michael Carpenter said...

The spirit of discernment must have been taking a vacation back in the 1980's when the church was buying Mark Hoffman's forgeries.

Anonymous said...

If I might venture, in a spirit of meekness, to add to the Stake President's inspired explanation, it must be kept in mind that evil speaking of the Lord's anointed is a sin, and the witness of sinners is not trustworthy. Seen in this light, the accusations against President Udy need present no challenge to the faithful. Indeed, our faith may be strengthened thereby.

I was deeply impressed by the power of the account of discernment in the Texas mission. I have little doubt that the minister was an experienced and dangerous opponent to the true Church. He probably had decades of experience in the ministry, and perhaps upon his retirement from active preaching, he seized the opportunity to pass incognito as a simple college student of the Elders' own age, as a means of gaining their trust by guile. How piercing the Mission Presidents' discerning gaze must have been, as it penetrated the seemingly perfect disguise! I can almost see with my spiritual eyes the expression on the face of the impostor as he stood confounded before the majesty of true priesthood authority.

Brother Mobegone said...

I feel inspired to add to something mentioned by a previous anonymous poster about the pre-mortal existence.

Indeed, we did agree and probably even volunteered to go through certain trials and tribulations in this life. Things we needed to refine us, and prepare us for our divine progressions to perfection and eventual Godhood (assuming we teach that).

So while the President speaks correctly about the spirit of discernment, we must also remember that a "fallen" priesthood leader, such as a bishop, may actually be playing a key role in the divine plan for someone's life. For instance, perhaps some choice spirit needed to learn to endure through pain, and prove she would have the strength to not leave the Lord's church due to an offense. So in the pre-mortal realm she agreed, or even chose, to be abused sexually or otherwise by her bishop. Of course when the abuse happens, it is natural to start asking questions about "why" and "how". But we would be short-sighted to view this as proof that God's holy prophets and Stake Presidents are lacking in discernment! For in fact, perhaps it was the very gift of discernment that caused them to call this bishop, thus helping a choice sister to fulfill her pre-mortal wishes and prove herself able to endure to the end as a faithful member of the church!

Perhaps this rubs some the wrong way, but we must remember that God's ways are not our ways! All callings are divinely inspired, and no matter what may happen we must trust and believe that there is a higher purpose that we cannot see.

I bear my humble witness of the work of President Paternoster, and do so in the name, even the name of him who is our older brother, and the older brother of Satan, but who conquered his brother even Satan, yea even the savior. Amen.

Brother Heber said...

Mark Hofmann said...
Amen!

July 25, 2011 8:25 AM

Mr. Hofmann you should be ashamed of yourself for your brazen lack of respect for the Lord's anointed. Please remember, Mr. Hoffman, that fools mock but they shall mourn.

I relish the day when I may witness your time in front of the judgement bar of God. I am sure in that day we will hear from the prophet, even Gorden B. Hinckley, that he was fully aware of your lies, but did not want to take away your agency so he went along paying you large sums of money for forged documents that were rightly hidden away in the 1st Presidencies vault.
You sir, will soon find out what it means to be in true darkness while us saints bask in true glory.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks Prez! Now I know that the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father (a bishop 3x over) was simply my imagination or a nightmare that seemed real. I'll make sure to tell that to my friend's foster child, a girl who was removed from her father (priesthood holder who also went through discernment). All of the social workers and therapists must simply be being deceived by the great deceiver, Lucifer himself!

Thayne said...

I have only two words to say in reply to your post:
"Mark Hoffman"

Cindy said...

We do not chose to be sinners in the pre-existance. The bishop who abuses a young woman choose to follow Christ just as much as the young woman he abused. What we did choose in the pre-existance was to have free agency. God is just, and he wants for us to all make righteous choices and he knew that by giving us free-agency or moral agency that we would sometimes fail. It isn't because he didn't love us it's because he knew it was the only way to offer Godhood to us. If we came here with no free agency we would never have learned to think for ourselves and therefore could never have become Gods. God can not punish the abuser or liar or murderer or what ever if he makes decisions for them. Maybe leaders are placed in positions not to allow them to sin but to test them in hopes that they will withstand the temptations of sin. There are many things that will happen to us in this life that we did not agree to but happen because God allowed the free agency of man and they used that free agency to make sinful choices. God knew this was going to be the price of free agency and so he offers us the love and sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, to take away the pain of not only our sins but the pain caused by the sins of others.

Stake Pres. said...

Thank you Cindy. That was an excellent comment.

Alger's Fannie said...

I agree with Cindy. God gave us all sorts of wonderful things to test us. He gave us mosquitoes, holocaust, Down’s syndrome, natural disaster, conjoined twins, baby cancer, and AIDS all for our own good. Isn’t the lord wonderful to allow tsunami’s to kill and maim ten’s of thousands as well as give us imperfect leaders all to help us grow and one day live with him? I super happy God let my brother die of a slow neurodegenerative disease, and I was touched when the then bishop told us the experience was for “our good.”

Thanks President Paternoster, I’m yet again touched by your humble message.

Spencer L. Jensen said...

I, too, can bear witness of the priesthood power of discernment during my tenure as a temple cafeteria worker.

On several occasions, a visitor would attempt to enter through The House of the Lord's lobby into the starting-to-get-creepy area and pull out a wrinkled temple recommend. The other brother in white could be heard to say "That's not going to scan."

Then sure enough...the bar code was not receptive to God's infra-red UPC scanning device! As foreseen...by an attentive, worthy priesthood holder exercising his very powerful power, even the Priesthood Power of Discernment.

Kade said...

Oh if we could go back to the days of the Bible when the prophets and other leaders on the earth were truly inspired. Like when Lot had to truly sacrifice when the Angles of the Lord visited his house. You see the people of Sodom wanted Lot to hand over the Angles so they could "know" them or in other words have a rape party with them. Lot of course did not want this to happen, so doing what any loving father and good leader of the church would do, he was willing to offer up his two daughters, who happened to be virgins, so the people could rape them instead. (Genesis 19: 5-8) Later we learn that the daughters were so thankful for a great leader their dad was that they wanted to give back to him as much as possible. What better gift to give your dad then fruits of his on posterity. So they came up with a plan to get him really drunk and have sex with him. Luckily nature was on their side, and I am sure God had a lot to do with it as well, because they both ended up getting pregnant (Moses 19: 31-36). A very similar story is found in Judges 19: 23-24 where a levite priest was spared of getting a good old fashioned butt rape because his friend was willing to offer up his daughter, who also happened to be the preist's cocubine, to be raped instead. Except the sad part in this story is that she was raped so bad throughout the whole night, that the next day she was found dead at the doorstep. So when the levite priest found her dead at the doorstep, he did what any loving priesthood holder would do... He took a knife and divided her, together with her bones into twelve pieces (Judges 19: 25-26, 29). And don't forget about the great prophet Moses, who when he learned about how is army had spared Midianites women and children from being murdered, was so mad that he gave orders to kill all of the boy children and the women who were not virgins. Fortunately he told them they could spare the virgins and keep them for themselves (Numbers 31:18) And who can forget the leadership Moses displayed when a man was found gathering sticks on the sabbath day? The Lord commanded Moses that the man should be stoned to death. Of course Moses being the faithful priesthood holder that he was, followed the counsel of the Lord and had the congregation cast rocks at the man until he was dead (Numbers 15). It's no wonder why today we have such high moral standards, when the biblical Prophets and leaders of the church provided us with such great moral wisdom. I am sure glad we have the Bible, so that we can learn fundamental truths that help establish the moral principles of our day.

Joseph K. Packer said...

Michael Carpenter if your sarcastic comment has anything to do with the picture in which the murderer appears in the Godly presence of the servants of the Lord Spencer Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney, Gordon B Hinkley and my great uncle Boyd K. Packer, the Lord guided the prophets of the God through this ordeal so they could gain experience and could teach us how to protect ourselves from fraud. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I testify that our prophet Thomas S. Monson talks to God like a man talks to another man, in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Samuel the Lame'innit said...

What a wonder post President! However, it seems that there are apostates among us. For instance, Cindy said "It isn't because he didn't love us it's because he knew it was the only way to offer Godhood to us." She clearly did not watch our dear recently deceased President Hinckley on Larry King. Here is an excerpt from this interview: Larry King-"...For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?" President Hinckley-"I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, 'As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.' Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about." So, Cindy, I'm not sure where you got the idea that God was going to offer us Godhood?!

Joseph K. Packer said: 'I testify that our prophet Thomas S. Monson talks to God like a man talks to another man.' Again, in an interview with Larry King, the following took place: King-"When you pray, what is that? What's occurring? Are you talking to God? You're a prophet, so God talks to you." President Hinckley-"I'm talking to God, yes. I do pray. Of course I do." So, Joseph, our Prophet communicates with God the same way we do; through prayer?!

It is time for these apostate members of the church to come back into the fold. We welcome you with open arms! Although in order to restore you into full membership, you will need to first meet with your bishop or stake president (count yourself lucky if you live in President Paternoster's stake) and confess your sins and present him with a tithing cheque for the full amount that you would have paid had you remained true and faithful in all things.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across this blog. Does your area authority know you write it/wrote it? I am absolutely certain they would not approve. And this post? Could it be anymore false and completely wrong? What an absolute disgrace to the LDS church and proof that so many in positions of leadership should not be. Thank God for accountability for people like you even if it doesn't come much, much later.

Anonymous said...

Why was the power of discernment so apparently absent from the first two decades of church history con artistry? www.mormonleaks.com (watch the last 4 slideshows, GREAT AND WONDERFULLY DOCUMENTED RESEARCH went into this.)

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