MD Podcast – Blind Obedience

by: Bill Reel

August 2, 2014


Mormon Discussion Podcast Takes a look at the subject of Blind obedience and how the culture and Doctrine can at times be conflicting.

Some leaders have tried to explain that unquestioning obedience is not “blind” obedience but rather “faith” Obedience.  We are a faith of mixed messages on this topic.  We want people to follow the brethren.  We have a song “Follow the Prophet”.  And we call those who no longer follow…. apostates.  But in reality does the Doctrine teach us something different?

Where do you draw the line between faithful obedience and blind obedience?

Must dissent be kept private?

Can I disagree with Church leaders out loud?

What situations have you put your foot down and dissented openly?

The podcast episode is found here

Bill Reel is the host of Mormon Discussion Podcast.  The podcast tries to deal with the tough issues forthrightly while “leading with faith”.

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25 Responses to MD Podcast – Blind Obedience

  1. ji on August 2, 2014 at 9:31 PM

    Perhaps there can be no honest discussion when the word “blind” is included in the title, as the well is already poisoned. The original posting further errs in positing dissent as the alternative to blind obedience. I have to wonder if the original posting is really an invitation for honest discussion, or merely a subterfuge?

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  2. ElZorillo on August 2, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    Every member of the church has the right to have the Holy Ghost confirm in a direct and personal manner the divine basis of any commandment…just as they should presumably have received regarding the veracity of the Book of Mormon, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the atonement. If a person chooses to obey any commandment without having excercised the right to receive (and, therefore, without having received) said confirmation from the Holy Ghost, then they indeed are guilty of “blind obedience” and, in my humble opinio, of being a dumb ass. If a person excercised this right, and subsequently chooses to obey based on that spiritual confirmation, then they are not following blindly, as their spiritual eyes are obviously wide open.

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  3. Howard on August 2, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    Personal revelation is better than reason because it is God’s reason custom tailored to fit us. Revelation via the President of the church is God’s reasoning for the church in general, filtered through the President’s own bias, your specific mileage may vary. The problem is in the last 170 years this has been very rare and OD2 was a simple wordless confirmation. The more common Q15 study it out and ask type of inspiration amounts to the brethren’s reason rubber stamped by God. So by turning off your reason and “following the prophet” with very rare exception you are choosing to follow the reasoning of a committee of old Utah men who are far better administrators and businessmen than they are prophets. The weight of their biases can easily be seen in the failure of policy regarding blacks. That policy has since been corrected but the underlying problems that led to it remain today.

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  4. ElZorillo on August 2, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    If I believed for one minute that the church is run by a gerentocracy (rather than the Lord Himself)…as “Howard” (who is a far better blogger than he is a Latter Day Saint) evidently does, I would be outta here! Luckily I have taken the time to obtain that testimony!

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  5. billreel on August 3, 2014 at 6:09 AM

    My point in the podcast was to help people see that no Church deserves our blind obdience (following leaders regardless of any other conflicting feeling). I know people who pray once about the new church president and if they feel good about that then they choose to follow everything that leader says no matter what that is. Instead I would argue that when we are uncomfortable with something said we should pray about it on a case by case basis and we should also feel comfortable setting that aside which does not mesh with the feelings of the spirit and with our conscience

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  6. billreel on August 3, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    JI – I would love to better understand why you feel like I baited and switched you on “Blind” obedience?

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  7. Howard on August 3, 2014 at 6:57 AM

    According to Hugh B. Brown’s memoirs this is how it works:

    (An idea) is submitted to the First Presidency and Twelve, thrashed out, discussed and rediscussed until it seems right. Then, kneeling together in a circle in the temple, they seek divine guidance and the president says, ‘I feel to say this is the will of the Lord.’ That becomes a revelation. It is usually not thought necessary to publish or proclaim it as such, but this is the way it happens.

    See ya!

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  8. […] how continuing revelation ironically prevents updating policies, how the CoJCoL-dS could repent, Mormonism and obedience, and those pesky fossils! Plus, BYU gets a surprisingly high academic ranking for a […]

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  9. Jack Hughes on August 4, 2014 at 1:14 AM

    I echo the sentiment that the “blind” qualifier shows the author’s bias. It would be more productive just to analyze the principle of obedience in general, and demonstrate the spiritual effectiveness of different kinds of obedience.

    We are taught that obedience is “the first law of heaven”. I believe that obedience is also the lower law; the higher law being the spirit, or divine intent.

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  10. Geoff -Aus on August 4, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    I read a post that said that “obedience was the first law of heaven” has no basis in scripture, and there is no revelation saying that. It first appeared in the 1880s.

    I do not believe obedience in isolation is a gospel principle. In fact I am not sure it is not the opposite. Obedience to a particular Gospel principle yes but not obedience as a principle on its own.

    When I have said this I have been quoted “if you love me keep my commandments” but this is saying obey gospel principles, not be obedient.

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  11. Hedgehog on August 4, 2014 at 4:33 AM

    I enjoyed the podcast. I think it behooves us to use our prayerful judgement.

    Geoff, my very first post covered the topic:

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  12. ji on August 4, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    billreel (no. 6) — The notion of ignorant people blindly following (because they’re so ignorant) goes all the way back to the rabid anti-Mormons in Joseph Smith’s time. It wasn’t true then, and isn’t true now. However, you present it as true, even while you’re saying it shouldn’t be so. Your message, as I take it: All those ignorant Mormons should change their ways and stop believing in blind obedience. Forthrightly leading with faith? I don’t see it.

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  13. Mormon Heretic on August 4, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    ji, it seems to me you are making some HUGE leaps here, and haven’t listened Bill’s podcast. Perhaps you should listen before you comment further, because it seems to me you have TOTALLY missed Bill’s point.

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  14. ji on August 4, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    I haven’t listened to the podcast — but then, my point has nothing to do with the podcast…

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  15. brjones on August 4, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    At the very least, perhaps you could try confining your attacks to things the author actually said, Ji. The OP never used the word ignorant, which you falsely ascribed to him twice. The ironic thing about your comments is that anyone inclined to think mormons are ignorant is not going to find any greater justification for such a belief in this thread than your posts. Grow up.

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  16. ji on August 4, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    Ease up, guys — billreel asked me a question in no 6, in response to my no. 1, and I answered his question with an honest answer in my no. 12 — can’t he and I have a conversation? There’s no need for bullying. Maybe I was right in my no. 1 in wondering if there can be honest discussion?

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  17. Mormon Heretic on August 4, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    JI, I think if you listen to Bill’s podcast, you will find that he and you have MUCH more common than you and I. Seriously, give him a listen, and I think you will be impressed.

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  18. Hedgehog on August 5, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    ji, possibly you have not heard members say things which to me are utterly terrifying – about how the prophet will never lead us astray, or how even if what we are asked to do is wrong it doesn’t matter we should still do it and will be blessed for obedience. I’ve heard members put those sentiments much more succinctly than I’ve managed here, and it absolutely chills me. There would seem to be a problem in some areas of church culture, and my experience being as it is, I don’t have a problem with the title. The podcast itself is more nuanced.

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  19. ji on August 5, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    Sure, I’ve heard members and those who present themselves as members say strange, even terrifying things. Yes, there are blessings associated with obedience. Look at D&C112:20 and D&C 84:36-38 — the word obedience is not used there, but there are important principles at play. Anyway, while the Lord our God commands obedience to His commandments, and commands us to receive His servants, He never commands blind obedience — he wants willing and knowing and sustaining obedience.

    All by myself I can never correct the long-standing historical tradition of accusing Latter-day Saints of blind obedience, either culturally or doctrinally — so the stereotype continues, untrue and unkind as it is — but that’s the purpose of stereotypes. When I see people perpetuating the stereotype, I will sometimes want to call them on it.


    I think I will listen…

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  20. Hedgehog on August 5, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    ji, I know there are blessings of obedience. But I do think that on some occasions there may be greater blessings from thinking things through and making our individual choice, when we are faced with instructions that go against our conscience.
    To me the title did not suggest that blind obedience was the teaching of the church, or even that most members believe it is, only that the podcast was going to discuss that particular issue.

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  21. Geoff -Aus on August 5, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    As I said @ 10 there is a difference between the obedience culture we have in the church, and obeying principles.

    The obedience culture includes so much more, such as; you can not, and should not even consider questioning anything from SLC, no differentiaton between Declarations, proclamations, conference talks, or anything else a GA says, Apostles all have the same view on everything, and that they are not only in total agreement, but infallable, the need to sanitise history, to support the infallability mith, no differentiation between the Gospel, the church, and conservative culture, the Lord will not allow the church to be lead astray, no communication allowed with leadership, never refuse a calling, the ever darkening world, etc etc

    Those who do not accept this view of the church/world, are spiritually inferiour, and will not be given major callings.

    It may be different in some places, but the above is certainly the view of all the leaders I have contact with, and the majority of the members.

    I had believed that the first presidency was trying to move us away from this culture to “love is the first law of heaven” but think this may have been stopped, as evidenced by the treatment of OW?

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  22. billreel on August 9, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    With all this discussion, I can’t wait to see what people say about the next post!!!! hmmmmm

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  23. ji on August 9, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Hedgehog (no. 20) —

    I don’t understand why it is necessary to draw such a distinction between (a) being obedient; and (b) “thinking things through and making our individual choice” — our God wants both (a) and (b), and we should individually strive for both (a) and (b). In some particular cases, it might be that (a) is more important. In others, it might be that (b) is more important. But in general, both are important. When we forcibly make the distinction in a Latter-day Saint setting, we are (maybe subconsciously, maybe purposefully) pointing to certain other members as (a) and pitying (or scorning) them while judging ourselves as better because we”re (b). Similarly, the original posting made a distinction between “blind obedience” and “faithful obedience” — so sad.

    billreel (no. 22) —

    If your goal was to solicit comments painting “obedient” members as “being a dumb ass” and “turning off your reason” and so forth, you were successful. I still think the stereotype of Latter-day Saints as blindly obedient, both culturally and doctrinally, is unkind and untrue, but the notion is alive and well. Note: Even so, I understand there is a grain of truth in every stereotype — not every Latter-day Saint is perfect yet.

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  24. Mormon Heretic on August 9, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    If your goal was to solicit comments painting “obedient” members as “being a dumb ass” and “turning off your reason” and so forth, you were successful.

    I shouldn’t speak for Bill, but where in the hell did that thought come from? It surely didn’t come from Bill. You are making HUGE LEAPS once again.

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  25. Hedgehog on August 10, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    ji, ” our God wants both (a) and (b)”
    If we’re talking about obedience to God as dictated by the spirit then you and I have no disagreement at all. It is the culture of obedience to leaders as opposed to the God/ the Spirit I object to. That is what I was referring to with my thinking things through remark, ti include asking ourselves what does the spirit direct. Sure, most times the direction of the spirit likely is to do what the leader asked. But not always. And we need to be aware of the distinction. In my experience, too many are not.

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