By Cordell and Janice Vail
03 Aug 2003
A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail
Consequences of leaving the Church
Consequences of leaving the Church
I am not sure you were asking me a question or just expressing your frustration.
Assuming you may have been at least reaching out for answers may I share with you my feelings?
One of the things that I have had to do to gain a testimony of the restored gospel is to gain a testimony of the Living Prophet. By that I mean a testimony that God really does talk to him. That implies that he does not make mistakes. To me it does any way.
You seem to be struggling with polygamy. Your statements make it sound like maybe the prophet did that to some extent on his own rather than as a command from God.
It is my supposition that if the prophet does things as a man and not as a prophet then our whole church is a great fraud (as President Hinckley said in his last conference talk). If God did not tell Wilford Woodruff to stop polygamy by revelation (I don't mean inspiration I am talking about hearing God's voice.... Revelation) then we have no leg to stand on as a church.
You also made mention of some of the wording of the old temple ceremony. Again if that ceremony was given by revelation then how could Brigham Young (who received the revelation to the wording) say to God... hay God... I don't like those words.
I don't know if you are old enough to have ever heard the words but if you are not then I think you may have read them in some anti-Mormon book. If you have if you will read them again you will see that the covenant was that "we would rather give up our lives than to reveal the covenants to the world". No one was threatening us as the anti-Mormons purport. I find that a striking contrast to what the so called secret societies of the world say in their covenants (for example the Gadianton Robbers in the Book of Mormon) where they say "We will kill you if you reveal the covenants we have made". To me that is a very clear counterfeit of a true principle.
You say you have a problem with Brigham Young's teachings. There again I think we need to be very careful in taking what is written as what he actually said. If you have read much of the works of Cook and Ehat you will see they have compared the scribes that took down the conference talks and you find a very different writing from each scribe of the same talk. So I only accept something from that era that was taught if I find it written the exact same way more than once or in other words the consistent teaching of the majority of the brethren.
Harold B. Lee and Joseph Fielding Smith both counseled us or warned us that there were times coming in the church when we may again see some of the leading brethren fall away. Elder Lee was the first but may not be the last. Both President Lee and President Smith said that if we will always follow the majority of the brethren... the consistent teaching of all the brethren we will never be deceived. I find that comforting counsel. If I do not find all the general authorities teaching it then I do not consider it the consistent teaching.
The last thing that I would like to say is something that I found in the teachings of Brigham Young that literally changed my life and gave me a unstoppable anchor in the church. He said that the church is like the old ship Zion upon the sea. And some become disgruntled with it and jump over board while at sea before the ship has reached the port.
I ask you, if you leave the church, if you take your children out of the church, where will you go. If you jump into the ocean to swim with the sharks what will happen to your children. Where will you find what the church offers to you. Where will you find a church that can teach them of eternal families and eternal marriage. Where will you find a church that will teach them morality and the sacredness of marriage. Where will you find a church that can give them the gift of the Holy Ghost (no one has it but us). Where will you find a church that will offer them the blessings of the Priesthood (no one has it but us). If you let Satan start to plant seeds of doubt in your heart because of some of the things that may or may not have been said in the past by general authorities then what will you have left. If you find that Gordon B. Hinckley says something that you do not agree with does that change Joseph Smith? Does that mean that God the Father and Jesus Christ did not appear to Joseph Smith because Gordon B. Hinckley said something you do not agree with. If Spencer W. Kimball gives the priesthood to the blacks for the first time in history since Adam and you do not agree with that, does that mean that we do not have the Holy Ghost and do not have the priesthood? If that is true then how could the Holy Ghost be talking to us every single day. How could he have saved my life by letting me hear his voice while I was a soldier in Vietnam. How could all those people that I have blessed have been healed if I do not have the priesthood. If now I decide that something that was taught in 1884 was not to my liking does that undo all the blessings I have given that healed people? Does that mean that I should now start looking at pornography or taking drugs or being unfaithful with my wife (and even if that does not happen to you it will happen to your grand children if you leave the church)
So I ask you, what is there anywhere on this earth that is better than the church that you can find? Where can you better raise your children and grandchildren than in the church? When I look at my friends who are not members of this church and some of the problems they have had with their children, I am just astonished. I am astonished at what the church has given me to help me raise my children.
You can leave the church, but I promise you that if you do you will be leaving something that is more precious than anything on this earth. More precious in an eternal perspective than is even imaginable.
But only you can decide that.
My advice as your friend would be to spend less time reading the history of the church and more time listening to the current conference talks and reading the scriptures. That is just my opinion but I have seen so many of my friends start reading the history of the church and then for some reason become disgruntled and jump off the ship. What a tragedy.
I bear you my witness that Joseph Smith did see God the Father and Jesus Christ. I know that with every fiber of my being. I know that I do have the Gift of the Holy Ghost in my life every day of my life. I can hear his voice. He talks to me. It is a gift that no other church on this earth can offer. And I was blessed to have it. All I have to do is live the commandments and it is my eternal gift. I know that we do have the power of the priesthood. I know that because I have felt it in my being as I have used it to bless the lives of others. I have been blessed many times to do things that I could have never done as a man. God like attributes. Powers that only God has, he has lent to me, through me, to do His work. Noting that Brigham Young, or any other person in the church could have said or ever will say can change those experiences. I know that his priesthood is real. I know it is the beginning of Godhood in our lives. God is lending us a little of His power to let us see what we will do with it. He has even lent to us the power of pro-creation for a little season to see what we will do with it. In the next life only Gods will have that power. We have it now just as a test to see if we can be true to the faith and use it in our families in sacredness. If we abuse it we will in the eternities lose it all. Satan's greatest punishment was not that he could not have a body in this life or the next. His greatest punishment was that there will never be any little Satans. Not now or ever. It will all end with him. There could be no greater punishment that to have your eternal progression cut off. In effect leaving the church is the same as if you would have gone with the 1/3 of the hosts of heaven in the pre-existence. You lose your power of the opportunity to attain to Godhood. What greater sorrow could there be than that?
I pray for you as my friend that you will not leave the church nor do anything that would cause your children to leave the safety of the church. If pray that you will not forsake your testimony of what you do know is true for the few things that you do not understand. If you can not understand them right now then leave them alone.
I like to look at what the prophets taught in the past in the light that there must have been a reason in that time and place for what they said. I must realize that we may not be living in the same circumstances now as in that time. I like to look at it that way rather than to think of them as having taught something that is wrong.
I send you my prayers and my blessing
Your friend in cyberspace and eternity too I hope