Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Obedience at others expense

Obedience at others expense

There's a lot of emphasis on obedience in our church. We're taught that it's essential for our spiritual safety to be obedient to our leaders. I feel that obedience to god is important, but it's important to have evidence that what you're being instructed to do is god's will.“ People should each stand for himself, and depend on no man or men."  TPJS pg. 238.   We should be depending on the scriptures and god for instructions. If there's good evidence that what someone is encouraging us to do is of god, we should consider it, and see if it is something god would have us do. Obedience is only good if it's from the right source. Was it good for the Nazis to be obedient to what they were being instructed to do? Many would be upset that I would even make an attempt to compare these two things. There's more similiarties than most would think. I've had some good leaders that I believe were sincerely trying to do god's will, but that doesn't mean I should do whatever I'm instructed to by any church leader.

In my Psychology class this semester we learned of the famous Stanley Milgrim obedience experiment. He tested nearly 1000 participants, by having them come and sit in front of a machine with switches labeled of voltages. They were told they were the teachers. There were learners strapped to a chair wired to the electric shock machine. Those called learners were in on the experiment and in reality received no harm. There was a man in a white lab coat who seemed to be in a position of authority. He would ask the person in the chair a question and if the person got it wrong he would instruct the teacher to administer an electric shock to the learner. The learner would yell out in pain as if he were really being shocked to fool the teacher.

In this experiment the labels of the shock ranged from 15 volts a slight shock to 450 degrees fatal. At times when the machine was set at 150 volts the learner would yell out " I don't want to do this experiment anymore. Often times the teacher would show signs of distress, and ask if they could stop shocking the learner.  "The man in the white lab coat would insist to the teacher " It is essential that you carry on." The teacher often didn't want to administer what he thought was an electric shock, but he did because that's what he was being asked to do. Even when the man in the chair would cry out that he had heart problems, or quit yelling all together, implying that he was dead the teacher often times continued on. It was surprising that 63% complied to the man in white lab coat all the way to the fatal last switch.

It goes to show that many will follow someone that they deem as having authority to the point of it hurting others.

It reminds me a lot of a blog post I read, from another blogger. He talked of how before someone is put to death, every bit of evidence is examined. The same can't be said for those being ex-communcated.  From my understanding  Stake Presidents are  ex-communicating members because they are being instructed to from their leaders. In their minds this is destroying the Eternal Life of this person. I would guess that some Stake Presidents don't want to do this, and feel conflicted inside. But when all is said and done it's easier to go along with what we're being told to do, than it is to to go against it.

In both the experiment and with these ex-communications the one following orders strongly believes that what they are doing hurts the other person, but they're still doing it. My belief is the same way in the experiment the one in the chair isn't being electrocuted, those that are being ex-communicated aren't losing their chance for salvation.

 Being in the church doesn't bring salvation the way many suppose

In Doctrine and Covenants 76 in describing those who will be in the Celestial Kingdom it says that " They are the who received the Testimony of Jesus." The common belief is that this is simply believing in Christ. But Joseph Smith claimed that the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. TPJS pg. 160  I had an Institute teacher try to tell me that we all had the spirit of prophecy to a small degree if we believed in Christ, but that didn't make sense to me. How many members do you see go around prophesying? I've never heard a General Authority prophecy let alone any other member. From my understanding receiving the Testimony of Jesus is when Christ appears to you and gives you his testimony  that you will be saved. If this has happened then it wouldn't make sense that being ex-communicated could break this. As another blogger put it "the church can't take away what it hasn't given."

Milgrim's experiment is a controversial one because of the distress it caused to those who were asked to electrocute others. It's made me ponder if one day those who are performing the ex- communications will be distressed by the things they've done. I wonder if  they are those who are being talked about in this scripture  " For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed."  - 2 Nephi 19:16  I like to avoid absolutes, but based off study and experience it seems like a strong possibility. 

Why is the church ex-communicating people?

There's a lot of possibilities for this, but it seems to me that they want people to be afraid to share their ideas and the things that they're learning. When one is exed they can become an outcast from their friends and family. One of the greatest instincts we have is to belong. No one wants to outcasted, so many stay quiet.  There was a philosopher named David Hume who summarized " Truth springs from argument among friends." If only the churches ideas and explanations are being heard then that's what many will believe. " For there are many blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, and who are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." D&C 123:12 If we don't hear both sides then we can't really have an idea of truth. Shouldn't the truth be able to stand by itself, despite what others say? Is it really necessary to ex-communicate people for sharing things they're learning from their gospel study? I feel that my faith in Christ has increased from the study of those who have been ex-communicated for apostasy. 

As I studied the words of some church leaders, I found myself more confused than before. Me and my mom were talking about prophets last night and me referring to an author who's blog I read, asked her " How do you know he's not a prophet? I don't know he is, but I believe, and you don't know he's not" She replied back " I know he's not because he's been ex-communicated."  The minute someone is ex-communicated they lose their validity among many members. It's sad because truth is truth regardless of where it comes from. But if you ask me the church doesn't want its members reading evidence against it, because I believe if most members really looked into this stuff, they would be convinced. Instead of continuously searching for truth we're being told that we have it, and that we don't need to look any further. Then we're being instructed by what seems to me to be The philosphies of men mingled with scripture. It's funny how we don't see scriptures like this being used and discussed in Sunday School lessons " Yea how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides." Helaman 13:29

Maybe one day those being ex-communicated will be in the scriptures. Just like many read and learn about Milgrim's experiment, and shake their heads at those administering the electricity, people will be shaking their heads over what is going on today in the church. Maybe those who were ex-communicated for sharing their ideas, will be admired the way that people like Abinadi or even Galileo are today.  I pray that the lord will have mercy on those who are simply following orders, and casting out good people.


  1. The sad truth is that "just following orders" is a poor excuse, and does not acquit a person of responsibility for war crimes, so why would it acquit people of spiritual war crimes? Too many of us simply have abdicated our moral agency to others. This is never a good idea, even when placing your agency into the hands of someone you trust. Without individual choice and accountability we never develop the attributes necessary for exaltation.

    Excellent Article!