Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Believe in the Organization of the Church

Articles of Faith #6
[I] believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

I apologize ahead of time for any heaviness of spirit or lack of vibrancy in this post. It covers a subject that is rather raw and tender for me right now. It is, nonetheless, one of the base tenets of my faith, and is a principle of the Gospel I treasure.

Although many of our Church leaders go by slightly different names (patriarchs vs. evangelists, bishop vs. pastors) I believe that our Church structure mirrors that which Christ established. To me, it is not important that it be the same in every little detail, but that the hierarchy of Christ's Priesthood authority be established and maintained.

I believe that the Priesthood is not only the authority from God to act in His name, but is both the right and the responsibility to stand in His stead, to act as if He were here to act. Each office of the priesthood, particularly the higher priesthood (or Melchizedek priesthood) holds keys to certain aspects of God's power, different ways to serve His children.

No matter the man who holds a current priesthood position, no matter his behavior and action, his office deserves respect. I know from experience that men called to Priesthood leadership positions do not always have the Spirit whispering in their ears, feeding them every word to say and every action to take. Some men take advantage of their temporary power to hurt the innocent in horrific ways. The Priesthood does not make angels of men, but it does show them a better way. It teaches leadership through service and love. Not all will listen, but some will. The Lord calls imperfection in order to show that His perfection is enough to cover even the most horrible and grievous sins.

I am comforted to know that the power of the Priesthood is a conditional power. All my obedience to the Priesthood, all of my covenants to respect it, regards the priesthood, not the holder of it. If a man attempts unrighteous dominion, he no longer wields the Priesthood power. It is a power that intrinsically can only be used to invite and persuade.

There are many who despise the male-only priesthood. There are those who cannot understand the closed-door order of bishops and stake presidents which make it difficult if not impossible for higher appeals. I know that this structure exists as it does and is ordained of God as such to maximize each of our potentials for glory. I have known many men who wield their Priesthood in deep reverence, awe and respect. I am grateful for their humble service. I would not have it any other way.

I do not lust after that power for myself. I do not often feel a need for it. I do feel compassion for those who struggle with the organization of the Church for whatever reason. It can be a heavy, frightening burden. To those who do, I echo Ray's admonition on his blog: put down that burden and pick up the burden of Christ. It does not seem natural—it isn't natural—but it is right and good. This I have learned for myself.


  1. SilverRain, I appreciate so much your testimony of the inspired nature of the organization of the Church in this dispensation, and your respect for the way God has chosen to have His priesthood power exercised in our time. Your words are even more powerful because you seem to have had some very challenging experiences with leaders in the past.

    I feel very fortunate that my Priesthood leaders have almost always been wonderful examples of men who, as you put it, "wield[ed] their Priesthood in deep reverence, awe and respect," serving in humility and with great dedication.

    I know that because of mortal weakness some leaders have abused their sacred trust, but fortunately, I believe that the vast majority are doing their best to love and serve those for whom they have been given responsibility.

    My heart also goes out to those who struggle with the way things are organized in our time; and your advice (and Ray's) seems to be an effective way of dealing with that particular burden. I personally have found peace regarding this issue; and, I have seen countless examples of how blessings can come into our lives through the power of the Priesthood as it is presently exercised in the LDS Church.

  2. It is so easy to question the leadership of the church, question their decisions, their judgment, even their choice of words. It is not as easy to have a firm belief in their calling and to follow with faith.

    I love your testimony and your thoughts.

    Thank you.

  3. "I am comforted to know that the power of the Priesthood is a conditional power."

    Amen, and amen.

    Thanks, personally, for the link. To be sited on a blog I love to read by one of my favorite commenters in the entire Bloggernacle is cool.


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